Authors: Joss Wood
When a one-night stand leads to a life-altering little surprise...
Her profession might be matchmaking, but businesswoman Brodie Stewart isn't interested in finding a husband. What she wants is sexy Mavericks CEO Kade Webb. Happily, the former hockey player is all in for a no-strings night of fun. Yet a few weeks later when Brodie realizes her flu is actually morning sickness, Kade is adamant that they raise their baby together. Brodie barely survived heartbreak before. Falling in love can't be part of their deal. But she has a sneaking suspicion her Mavericks baby daddy is forming a plan of his own...
“We can't be both friends and lovers, Kade!” Brodie protested.
“We can be anything we damn well want,” Kade replied. “But for now, why don't we try to be friends first, figure out how we're going to be parents together without complicating it with sex?”
He confused and bedazzled her, Brodie admitted. She couldn't keep up with him. She felt like she was being maneuvered into a corner, pushed there by the force of his will. “I don't know! I need to think.”
Kade smiled, stepped back and placed his hands into the pockets of his khaki shorts. “You can think all you want, Brodie, but it isn't going to change a damn thing. I'm going to be around whether you like it or not.” He ducked his head and dropped a kiss on her temple.
“You might as well get used to it,” he murmured into her ear.
* * *
Pregnant by the Maverick Millionaire
is part of the series From Mavericks to MarriedâThree superfine hockey players finally meet their matches!
Trapped with a Maverick Millionaire
you met Mac, the first of my panty-meltingly hot, unfairly talented and commitmentphobic Mavericks heroes. This is Kade's story. I have to say that I have loved every minute of dragging these stubborn guys to the altar.
Kade and Brodie each have massive issues around love and happiness, and when they meet again after six months, the chemistry between them is off the charts. They agree to a onetime thing, just to work it out of their systems. After their fantastic time together, Brodie and Kade talk about the fact that Brodie has donated a free matchmaking session to be auctioned at the Mavericks' Charity Ball, and Kade tells her that he'd rather be shot than be “matched” by her.
Then their world tilts upside down. At the auction, Mac's fiancÃ©e, happy and in love, puts in a preposterous bid for Brodie's services and gifts it, very publicly, to Kade, in the hope that the “elusive one” will find his match. Kade can't refuse and Rory has donated the matchmaking session and life is suddenly very complicated.
And how exactly are you supposed to find a guy his life partnerâeven though he doesn't want oneâwhen you are carrying his baby? And what do you do when you start having feelings for him when you aren't supposed to feel anything for anybody ever again? Read on to find out!
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Joss Wood Author
Pregnant by the Maverick Millionaire
's passion for putting black letters on a white screen is matched only by her love of books and traveling (especially to the wild places of southern Africa) and, possibly, by her hatred of ironing and making school lunches.
Joss has written over sixteen books for the Harlequin KISS, Harlequin Presents and, most recently, Harlequin Desire lines.
After a career in business lobbying and local economic development, Joss now writes full-time. She lives in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with her husband and two teenage children, surrounded by family, friends, animals and a ridiculous amount of books.
Joss is a member of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) and ROSA (Romance Writers of South Africa).
Books by Joss Wood
From Mavericks to Married
Trapped with the Maverick Millionaire
Pregnant by the Maverick Millionaire
The Last Guy She Should Call
Flirting with the Forbidden
More than a Fling?
One Night, Two Consequences
Her Boss by Day...
Behind the Headlines
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Smart. So, so, smart.
Courteous, hot, confident.
He was the entire package, a gorgeous combination of everything any woman would ever want or need for a flash-in-the-pan encounter. That being said, Brodie Stewart knew there were at least a billion women in the world who would slap her senseless for what she was about to do and she didn't blame them.
“Brodie? Did you hear me? I asked if you want to come upstairs,” Kade whispered into her ear, his hand on her rib cage, his thumb rubbing the underside of her right breast.
She licked her lips and tasted him on her tongue, inhaled the citrus and spice of his soap-scented skin and tipped her head sideways to allow his lips to explore the cords of her neck. Man, he was good at this, Brodie thought.
She should step away, she
should stop this
She'd been saying the same thing for three weeks. She shouldn't have waited for Kade every early morning on the running trail, shouldn't have felt the butterflies in her stomach when he loped toward her, a six-foot-plus slab of celebrity muscle. She shouldn't have laughed at his jokes, responded to his gentle flirting. And she certainly shouldn't have accepted his offer to return to his place for a lazy cup of Saturday morning coffee/sex after their seven-mile loop around Stanley Park.
As much as she wanted to know what that cocky, mobile mouth could do, she definitely should
have kissed him.
She'd thought she had it all worked out, had convinced herself she could handle this, him. It wasn't like she hadn't had sex since Jay. There had been a few guysâokay, twoâsince the accident a decade ago. On paper, Kade was perfect. The ex-professional ice hockey player, now second in charge of the Vancouver Mavericks, was resolutely single. Proudly unavailable and, unlike most females of a certain age, Brodie had no desire to change him. In fact, one of the reasons she'd said yes to his offer for coffee was because she knew exactly what he wanted and it wasn't a happily-ever-after with her.
Okay, it had been a while and she was out of practice, but why, oh, dear Lord why, couldn't she get past her hang-ups and have a quick tumble with the gorgeous, very practiced Kade Webb?
Maybe it was because something about him resonated with her, because he was more than a pretty package. Because his kisses were deep and compelling and made her quiver with more than a quick physical connection. He reminded her of love, of intimacy, of emotional connections.
She really didn't want the reminder.
Brodie peeled herself off Kade's wide chest and dropped a quick so-sorry kiss on his chin, her lips brushing the golden stubble on his jaw. She rolled off the leather couch, stood up and walked over to the floor-to-ceiling folding doors leading to an expansive balcony. Brodie placed her hand on the cool glass.
From this penthouse loft downtown he had the most amazing view of False Creek and the Granville and Burrard bridges.
It was a big-bucks view and absolutely fabulous. She took it in...and gave herself time to form a response to his question.
Reluctantly Brodie turned and placed her hands behind her butt, leaning against the glass. Her heart and libido wanted to return to his embrace, trace those long, hard muscles, taste his naturally olive-shaded skin, shove her hands into his loose, surfer-boy blond hair, watch those brown eyes deepen to black as passion swept him away. But her brain was firmly in charge and it was telling her to run, as far and as fast as she could, before she found herself in a situation that was out of her control.
God, he was going to think she was a tease, that she was playing him. She wasn't, not really. She was just protecting herself.
Emotionally. Psychically. In all the ways she could.
Brodie felt his eyes on her but stared down at her sneakers, wishing she was wearing more than a tight hoodie and running tights. She knew he was waiting for an explanation for her blowing hot and cold, for kissing him senseless and then backing away. She couldn't tell himâthis man she'd jogged with, who knew nothing more about her than her name and that she liked to runâthat even though she was crazy horny, the idea of sex,
, reminded her of intimacy and intimacy scared the skin off her.
He was supposed to be a fun time, a quick thing but, dammit, Kade Webb had stirred up emotions she thought were long dead. Of all the men in Vancouver, why him? He was such a clichÃ©âhandsome, wealthy, charming, successful. In Jane Austen's world he would've been called a rake and three hundred years later the moniker still suited him well.
Brodie sighed, wishing she'd played this differently. Everyone knew what a fitness fanatic he was, how fast he ran, and it was common knowledge that he ran most mornings in Stanley Park. She'd wanted to see if she could, in any way, keep up with him. Instead of keeping pace with him at the crack of dawn, she should've hung back and kept her distance. At first he'd been amused with her idea that she could match his long-legged stride, but she'd run track in college. She had speed and stamina on her side. When he realized he couldn't shake her he started bantering with her. Many runs and many conversations led to this morning's invitation for coffee/sex.
She'd enjoyed those random conversations so much she'd frequently forgotten she was jogging with the city's most elusive bachelor. To her, he was just a guy with a wicked sense of humor, a sharp brain and, admittedly, a very sexy body. Running alongside him had certainly not been a hardship. She'd actually taken pleasure in his appreciation of her.
So much so that she'd thought she was strong enough, brave enough, to have a casual encounter on a Saturday morning as any other confident, sophisticated, modern woman would. Yeah. Right.
“You've changed your mind, haven't you?” His voice was as rich as the sunbeams dancing across the wooden floor. Her eyes flew up to meet his and, to her relief, she didn't see any anger in his expression, just regret.
“I'm so sorry. I thought I could.” Brodie lifted her hands in an I-don't-know-what-happened gesture.
“Was it me? Did I do something you didn't like?”
Brodie blushed. “No, you're fabulous. God, you must know you kiss really well and I'm sure...” Her blush deepened. “I'm sure you do everything well.”
Kade pushed himself into a sitting position on the couch and placed his ankle on his knee. He leaned back and the muscles in his big arms flexed as he linked his hands behind his head, his expensive running shirt pulling tight across his broad chest. She could see the ridges of his stomach and knew the fabric covered a perfect six-pack of sexy-as-sin muscles.
Stop thinking about his body, his stomach, about those hard thighs...
“Maybe you'd feel more at ease if I tell you you're in control here. You say noâto anything, at any pointâand I'll back off,” Kade quietly stated.
This was a prime example of why she was attracted to him. Beyond the charm, beneath the sexy face and the scorching body, was the man she suspected the public never saw; someone who was thoughtful enough to put her at ease. Someone who could quiet her fears, who could make her consider casting off a protective layer or two.
Thoughtful Kade reminded her of Jay, which reminded her of the person she'd been before her life had been turned inside out. The open, happy, sunny girl who'd loved life with a vengeance. A young woman who had the world at her feet.
That was what scared her most about being with him. He made her remember who she'd been before she wasn't that person anymore.
Sex she could handle, but she was terrified of feeling good, contented. She couldn't deal with happiness.
Not when she knew how quickly it could be ripped away.
Brodie bit her lip and lifted her hands in the air. She saw a hint of frustration pass across Kade's face.
“Okay, then I really don't understand. You seemed to be as into me as I am into you.”
Brodie scratched the back of her neck. “Yeah, I'm a mess. It's difficult to explain but trust me when I tell you it's all me and not you.”
Kade nodded. “Oh, I know it's all you 'cause if I had anything to do with it then you'd be naked and panting right now.”
Well, there wasn't a hell of a lot to say to that. She should just go. “This was a very bad decision on my part.” Brodie moved away from the window and clasped her hands behind her back. “I'm really sorry to blow hot and cold.”
Kade stood up and raked his fingers through his hair. “No worries. It's not the end of the world.”
She was sure it wasn't, not for him. He'd had a variety of woman hanging off his arm since he was eighteen years old and new to the Mavericks. In sixteen years, that was a lot of women and a lot of hanging. With one call, one text message, he could have Brodie's replacement here in ten minutes.
So, there was an upside to this stupid scenario; she would never be one of “Webb's Women.”
As she walked toward the door, Kade's phone buzzed and he picked it up off the coffee table. He swiped the screen with his thumb and frowned as he read the text message.
“Quinn and Mac are on their way up,” he said.
Quinn Rayne and Mac McCaskill, Kade's best friends, his ex-teammates and current business partners. Yeah, she wasn't proud to admit that, like every other obsessed Mavericks fan, she read about their exploits in the papers and online. The women, although Kade wasn't quite as much a player as Quinn and Mac, the crazy stuntsâmostly Quinnâthe scandals... Quinn again. Actually, these days, it was mostly Quinn who gave the press grist for the mill.
Brodie glanced at her wristwatch. It was 7:36 a.m. on a Saturday morning. “So early?”
“Yeah, weird.” Kade stood up and walked across the expansive loft to the kitchen area. He opened a huge fridge and pulled out two bottles of water. He waved one in her direction. “Want one?”
Brodie nodded and easily caught the bottle he lobbed in her direction. “Thanks.” She gestured to the door. “So, I think I should go.”
Kade nodded his agreement, saw she was struggling to crack the top and walked toward her. He took the bottle, opened the lid and handed it back to her. “There you go.”
“Thanks,” Brodie said and gestured to the couch. “Sorry, you know...about that.”
Kade's expression was pure speculation. “Maybe one day you'll tell me why.” They heard a clatter of footsteps outside the door. “My boys are here.”
“I'll get out of your way.”
Kade moved past her and opened the door to his friends. Brodie opened her mouth to say a quick hello, but her words died at the looks on their faces. They pushed past her to flank Kade, looking pale. Their eyes were rimmed with red.
“What's wrong?” Kade demanded, his voice harsh.
Brodie watched as they each put a hand on Kade's shoulders. Her stomach plummeted to the floor at their expressions; she recognized them instantly. They were the bearers of bad news, the harbingers of doom. They were going to tell him his life was about to do a 180.
She'd seen the same expression on her aunt's face when Poppy had told her that her parents, her best friend, Chelsea, and her old friend but new boyfriend Jay were dead, along with six other people, in a nightmarish accident. They'd been on their way to a dinner to celebrate her twentieth birthday and apparently life had thought being the lone survivor of a multivehicle crash was a suitable gift.
Why was I left behind?
“Tell. Me.” Kade's snap brought her back to his hall, to the three men looking like the ground was shifting under their feet.
“Kade, Vernon had a heart attack this morning,” Quinn said, his words stilted. “He didn't make it, bud.”
She saw the flash of denial on Kade's face, the disbelief, and she quietly slipped out the door. Grief was an intensely personal and private emotion and the last thing he needed was a stranger in his space, in his home. Besides, she was still dealing with her own sorrow, still working through losing her own family, her closest friend and the man whom she'd thought she'd marry.
, she thought.
So, so sorry
. A long time ago she'd had a brave heart and a free spirit and she hoped the news of his friend's death wouldn't change the core of who he was, like the same kind of news had changed her.
changed her and she wasn't that free-spirited girl anymore. She walked back into her real life knowing she certainly wasn't the type of woman who could handle sexy, bachelor millionaires tempting her to walk on the wild side.
Six months later
Brodie typed her client's answer into her tablet, hit Enter and looked up. Dammit, she thought, instantly recognizing the interest in his eyes. This appointment was already running overtime and she really didn't want to fend off his advances.
This was one downside to dealing with male clients in her matchmaking business. Because she was reasonably attractive they thought they would skip the sometimes tedious process of finding a mate and go straight for her.
“What type of woman are you looking for?” she asked, deliberately playing with the massive-but-fake emerald-and-diamond monstrosity on the ring finger of her left hand.
“Actually, I was going to say a tiny blonde with a nice figure but I'm open to other possibilities. Maybe someone who looks like you...who
you. I have tickets for the opera. Do you like opera?”
Ack. She hated opera and she didn't date her clients. Ever. She didn't date at all. Brodie sent him a tight smile and lifted her hand to show him her ring. “I'm flattered but I'm engaged. Tom is a special ops soldier, currently overseas.”
Last week Tom had been Mike and he'd been an ace detective. The week before he'd been Jace and a white-water adventurer. What could she say? She liked variety in her fake fiancÃ©s.