Read The Army Doctor's Christmas Baby Online

Authors: Helen Scott Taylor

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Medical, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Holidays, #Inspirational, #Military

The Army Doctor's Christmas Baby

The Army Doctor's Christmas Baby

By

Helen Scott Taylor

*

Copyright © 2013
Helen Taylor

Cover design © Helen
Taylor

*

The right of Helen Taylor to be
identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance
with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

This is a work of fiction. All
the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the
author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or
names. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead,
is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of
this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Copyright owner.

Chapter One

The taxi pulled up outside a quaint thatched pub with
twinkling Christmas lights strung along the eaves and around the mullioned
windows. Kelly Grace hugged her long fleece coat tighter over her scanty
clothing. On this cold winter's evening the place looked welcoming, but the
last thing she wanted to do was go inside. She had made a huge mistake.

"I can't do this," she said to her best friend,
Maj. Cameron Knight. He and his wife, Alice, were crammed in the back of the
taxi with her.

"Come on, Kell, you promised," Cameron said.

She hadn't promised, but in a moment of weakness she had
agreed to deliver a singing telegram to one of Cameron's friends at his
birthday party.

Now she had cold feet. In fact, in the skimpy bunny girl
outfit she had cold everything. She'd worked for a singing telegram service
when she was a student. Back then, walking into a room full of strangers in a
weird costume hadn't bothered her. Ten years later she wasn't as confident,
even after a glass of wine to bolster her courage.

"You look lovely, Kelly," Alice said with a smile,
understanding Kelly's fears although Cameron was plainly oblivious.

Cameron handed some cash to the taxi driver and reached
across Kelly to open the door. "Let's hurry. I don't know how long Sean
will stay. It wasn't easy persuading him to come. I want him to have a bit of
fun tonight. He works so hard, he deserves it."

"Hey." Kelly dug in her heels and stayed put.
"What do you mean by fun? I agreed to sing 'Happy Birthday' and give the
man a quick kiss. That's all."

"I know. But you'll hang around and chat with him,
won't you?"

"Yes. If he wants me to. But I'm not an escort
service."

"I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable." Cameron
looked mortified.

Alice giggled. "I can't imagine Sean needs help getting
a date if he wants one."

"He told me he doesn't have time to date," Cameron
said. "But every man needs female company occasionally. He's a nice guy,
Kell. I think the two of you will hit it off. I only want you both to be
happy."

Cameron was matchmaking. Kelly almost laughed at the irony.
She opened the car door and stepped out into the freezing cold. Tiny specks of
ice swirled in the wind, stinging her exposed lower legs. She shivered. This
was not a night to be clad in nothing but fishnet pantyhose, stilettos, and a
black swimsuit. Oh, and bunny ears; how could she forget those?

Cameron slid out behind her, circled the vehicle, and helped
his very pregnant wife to stand and carry the cake box. Alice was normally
small and delicate, but right now her belly was nearly as round as she was
tall. She must be uncomfortable, but Kelly would swap places with her in a
heartbeat. Alice had everything Kelly longed for—an adorable toddler, a baby
due any day, and Cameron.

Kelly's breath rushed out in a smoky plume of regret and
sadness. She turned away from the sight of the man she loved with his arm
curved protectively around his wife as he helped her cross the slippery car
park.

A burst of warm air fragrant with the smell of wood smoke
and cooking met Kelly as she pushed open the pub door and stepped into the cozy
interior. A log fire crackled in the hearth and low oak beams decorated with
horse brasses crisscrossed the ceiling. In the corner, a modern silver and
purple Christmas tree looked as out of place as Kelly felt. She hesitated and
waited for Cameron and Alice to catch up.

"Where's the birthday boy?" she asked.

"His name's Sean."

"I know." She'd heard of Col. Sean Fabian; all the
army doctors and nurses she worked with had. He and Cameron's brother had
designed battlefield protocols for treating serious trauma that were used by
military medics across the globe. She'd partly agreed to this crazy scheme
because she wanted a look at the army's famous plastic surgeon.

Cameron took the cake from his wife and stepped past Kelly.
"Sean's in the other bar. He'll be easy to spot. He's the only guy with
blond hair." He set the box on the polished oak bar and pulled out the
cake. "Let's put the candles on, then Alice and I'll go in. Give us a few
minutes before you follow with the cake."

"Fine." Kelly kept her coat buttoned, acutely
aware of the men in the bar eyeing her fishnet-clad legs.

Alice held out a hand. "Let me take care of your purse
for you."

Kelly handed it over. "Thanks."

"Sean really is a nice guy," Alice said.
"Don't be put off by his looks."

"What's the matter with him?"

"Nothing, believe me. Nothing at all." Alice gave
an enigmatic smile before waddling across the room towards the lounge bar.
Meanwhile, Cameron had pushed five candles in the chocolate icing and lit them.

"There you go. All ready." His lips quirked in a
mischievous grin. "Do I get a sneak peak at the bunny girl outfit?"

"No. You'll see it soon enough." Kelly shoved him
in the direction Alice had gone. "Go and make sure your wife is
comfortable."

"Yes, ma'am." He saluted and headed across the
room. "Don't be long," he threw over his shoulder as he left.

The tiny candles atop the cake splintered into starbursts of
light as sudden tears filled Kelly's eyes. Now that she'd left the army, she
would miss Cameron so much. The thought of never working with him again twisted
a painful knot in her chest.

A corner of Kelly's heart would always belong to Cameron,
but she liked Alice and wished them only good things. Still, she had put off
telling Cameron that she'd resigned from the army. When she did, he was bound
to ask questions she didn't want to answer.

Unbuttoning her coat, she pulled it off and hung it by the
door, suddenly not caring who saw her in the skimpy outfit. What did it matter?
In a few weeks she would be working for a charity, nursing poverty-stricken
children in Somalia. It was unlikely she'd see any of the people here again for
a long time.

She just had to get through the next few weeks. Christmas
was a time for children and families, a tough time for her. She normally liked
to be overseas in a field hospital somewhere.

Ignoring the blatant stares, she grabbed the cake and
followed her friends. She needed to deliver it before the candles burned down
to stubs in pools of wax, ruining the delicious chocolate icing Alice had made.

Kelly peered around the door into the crowded interior of
the lounge bar. Groups of comfy sofas dotted the room and the hum of happy
conversation filled the air. She spotted the army group standing by the bar and
noticed the back of a blond man's head.

Cameron caught her gaze, grinned, and nodded.

"Happy birthday to you," she sang and stepped
forward, holding the cake aloft. As one, the group turned and most joined in
the song as if they had been expecting her.

Curious to meet this brilliant army doctor, she fixed her
gaze on Col. Sean Fabian. As he met her gaze she stumbled, nearly dropping the
cake, the familiar words to the song dying in her mouth. Oh my goodness! The
man was stunning, his eyes an extraordinary aquamarine color, like nothing
she'd ever seen before. Alice's strange comment about not being put off by his
looks suddenly made sense. He was so good-looking, it was intimidating.

Kelly's cheeks heated with embarrassment—if only she'd taken
a moment to check her makeup in the restroom when she arrived. Somehow she
closed the distance between them and held out the cake.

"Happy birthday," she mumbled.

A grin kicked up the corners of his mouth. He gave her a
crooked smile, dimples appearing in his cheeks, those incredible eyes sparkling
with pleasure. Her stomach flipped and she struggled to draw in air. No way
could she kiss
this
man in front of everyone. No way.

"Thank you very much. This looks delicious." His
gaze flicked from the cake to her face as he took the chocolate confection and
placed it on the bar.

"Kiss, kiss," Cameron chanted and some of the
others joined in.

Although it would be embarrassing to kiss Sean, it would be
more embarrassing to refuse. She really had no choice. Obviously a gentleman,
he waited for her to make the first move.

Her high heels brought her eye to eye with him. In a dreamy
daze, Kelly stepped forward, rested her hands on his lapels, and leaned in. His
fingers gripped her waist, gentle yet firm. The wool of his jacket brushed her
skin, making her feel vulnerable, wearing so little while he was fully dressed.
He smelled delicious, spicy, with a hint of baby powder that squeezed her
heart.

"I don't know your name," he whispered as if for
her ears only.

"Kelly Grace." Her words were little more than a
breath of sound as she leaned closer, his mouth mere inches from hers.

Her eyelids fell as their lips touched, barely a kiss, but
enough to wipe her mind in a heady rush of sensation.

For the first time in seven years, she wanted to melt into
the arms of a man who wasn't Cameron Knight.

***

Eyes closed, Sean inhaled Kelly's floral fragrance and
flexed his fingers against her waist. His heart pounded as he pressed his lips
to hers in a sweet kiss. He hadn't touched a woman since his wife, fearing any
intimacy would rouse painful memories. Yet kissing Kelly was nothing like
kissing Eleanor. There was a gentleness about Kelly that put him at ease.

Instinct demanded he draw her closer and kiss her properly,
but a busy pub was not the place for that.

Opening his eyes, he took half a step back and reluctantly
let his hands drop to his sides. Kelly glanced at him beneath her lashes then
averted her gaze, somehow managing to appear demure even though she was dressed
in little more than her underwear.

He shrugged off his jacket and settled it around her
shoulders. Covering her up seemed silly, given the circumstances, but he sensed
she was uncomfortable. "Is that better?" he asked softly as she
adjusted the jacket swamping her slender form.

"Yes, thanks."

"I don't usually bother much about my birthday, but
you've made this one to remember. Would you like a glass of champagne?"

"That sounds great." She flashed him a smile, a
hint of vulnerability in her warm brown eyes that made him want to wrap a
protective arm around her. He settled for placing a hand on her back and easing
closer to her side as he handed her a full glass.

Sean's younger brother, Daniel, grinned, giving him a
thumbs-up. The bunny girl was the sort of entertainment Daniel would have
booked, but as he'd flown in from New York a couple of hours ago, that was
unlikely. The only other one of Sean's friends who'd pull a stunt like this was
Cameron.

He checked Kelly had enough champagne, then touched her arm.
"Excuse me a moment. I'll be right back."

He edged through the crowd and offered Cameron his hand.
"Thanks, mate. That was a nice surprise."

Cameron shook his hand and slapped him on the back.
"You're welcome. I thought you and Kelly Grace might hit it off. We've
been stationed overseas together many times and she's a great girl."

So Kelly was an army medic. Sean glanced back at the
beautiful woman, her thick mass of dark hair glinting with mahogany highlights,
her shapely legs so long they seemed to go on forever. Sean might have found
time to ask Kelly out, but he didn't date anyone he was likely to work with.
His job at the military hospital was too important to risk compromising it in
any way.

With a sigh of regret, he shouldered back through the crowd
to her side. True to form, Daniel had moved in to flirt with her, his date
scowling beside him. Sean gave his brother a hands-off look.

Daniel grinned, unabashed, and looped his arm around his
date's waist. "Well, you're another year older, and I'm jet-lagged so I'd
better head off and get some shut-eye. Are you coming to Mum and Dad's for
Christmas?"

"Maybe. I'll see how it goes."

"In other words, no," Daniel said.

Sean shrugged. It was no secret that he and his father didn't
get along. Ever since Sean left his father's exclusive cosmetic surgery clinic
in London to join the army, relations had been chilly.

"Okay, well, I'll see you sometime over Christmas,"
Daniel said. "I want to see my two little nieces. I have lots of fun
presents for them."

"You're welcome anytime. You know that." Daniel
might have his faults, but Sean's twins, Zoe and Annabelle, adored him—probably
because he was a big kid at heart.

Sean embraced his brother and gave a wry laugh when Daniel
play-punched him in the stomach, catching him off guard.

"You're getting slow, old man. I thought you army guys
had lightning-fast responses."

"The only thing I do lightning-fast these days is fall
asleep when my head hits the pillow. Looking after two babies and working full
time will do that for you." Not that he minded; his career and his girls
were his life—they were all he needed. Or he'd thought they were until an
attractive bunny girl walked into his life and woke up his libido.

He cast Kelly a longing glance as she sipped her champagne
and smiled, appearing far more relaxed now Cameron had moved to her side. Kelly
Grace was a beauty indeed, but even if she weren't out of bounds, Sean had his
hands full with his girls and his job. He didn't want the extra complication of
a woman in his life. He'd been there and done that. In his experience, women
caused nothing but trouble and heartache.

***

"Are you sure you don't mind giving me a ride? I can
call a taxi." Kelly slipped her arms in her sleeves as Sean held up her
coat.

"Of course I don't mind. The army housing is on my way
home."

Kelly had planned to share a taxi home with Cameron and
Alice but they'd rushed off to the hospital. Alice's back had started aching
and she was worried the contractions had begun.

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