Authors: Helen Scott Taylor
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Medical, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Holidays, #Inspirational, #Military
Kelly went in the restroom with Alice and waited while she
used the toilet. She came out and sat on the velvet bench, rubbing her belly.
"The pain is definitely coming in waves. I've done all
the classes and I'm still not sure if they're contractions. What do you
think?" She turned a questioning gaze on Kelly.
Kelly smiled weakly. "You'd best ask Olivia. I've never
given birth." She was tempted to add that she never would. A sudden urge
filled her to share her burden, but this was not the time or place. Alice had
enough on her mind.
Kelly sat beside Alice and rubbed her lower back as Cameron
had earlier. "Does that help?"
"Yes, thanks. If you like, you're welcome to come and
see the baby as soon as he's born."
"I'd love to. I'm a sucker for kids, especially
"I remember how good you were with Sami when I was
first admitted to the field hospital in Africa. I don't know what I'd have done
without your help. I don't think I ever thanked you properly."
"No need. I was happy to lend a hand."
"I'm so pleased you hooked up with Sean. The two of you
look good together. I hope it works out."
Kelly had always wondered if Cameron's wife knew of the soft
spot she had for her husband. She had an inkling that she did.
"Thank you. I owe you one for getting me the bunny girl
Alice laughed, then winced and pressed a palm to her belly.
Kelly rubbed her back some more.
The restroom door opened and Olivia hurried in, Cameron on
her heels. He rushed to Alice's side, put his arm around her, and helped her to
her feet. "I've called the hospital. They're expecting us. We'll stop at
home for your bag on the way."
"What about Sami?"
"Don't worry. Everything's arranged. Olivia and Radley
will follow us and take him home with them."
"Good luck," Kelly said, pursuing them out.
Cameron smiled at her over his shoulder, a warm, friendly
smile full of affection, a smile that triggered so many happy memories.
"Thanks, Kell. Have a lovely Christmas with Sean."
Kelly stood at the open door of the pub, Sean's arm around
her shoulders against the chill. Together they watched Cameron and Alice drive
off, followed a few moments later by Radley and Olivia.
"Funny to think that by this time tomorrow there will
likely be a new little Knight in the world," Sean said. "Nature's a
"A Christmas baby." Kelly's sigh of longing spread
a smoky plume through the cold air.
What a strange evening. In the quiet back of the taxi on the
way home from dinner, Sean slid his hand over Kelly's and squeezed. The car
passed along the narrow country lanes, the River Thames on their left,
moonlight painting ripples of gold on the water.
"Are you all right, Kell?"
"Hmm." She didn't even look at him.
She seemed withdrawn, almost sad; he had no idea why. His
instinct was to take her in his arms to comfort her, but he wasn't sure that's
what she'd want. They'd both been happy after the visit to Santa with the
girls. He'd hoped the date would go well and bring them even closer.
He'd been resisting the temptation of Kelly ever since the
night he met her at his birthday party. In the end, his rule of not dating
women he worked with or employed had fallen by the wayside.
And he was glad. After a year in an emotional desert, he had
found an oasis. These last two weeks he felt as though he'd been poised on the
edge, too scared to take the leap and try love again.
Staring at Kelly's profile in the dim light, he realized
he'd already leaped the first time he kissed her. Now he was falling. If he
didn't trust her to catch him, he was going to hit the ground with an almighty
painful thud when she left.
The twins had formed a strong attachment to Kelly as well.
Monique was supposed to provide female company for them, but she would never be
anything more than an employee.
Did he want his girls raised by an employee? No. He wanted
them to have a mother, to experience the love and stability of a proper family.
It was time to let the past go. Eleanor had done her best to make him
miserable, but he wouldn't allow her continue to rule his life.
Kelly was everything Eleanor hadn't been—kind, thoughtful,
caring, and loving. She filled his dreams at night and his thoughts during the
day, even though he tried to banish her and concentrate on his work. She had
woken his libido and reminded him that he was missing a loving woman in his
Tonight it was time to trust this woman who had moved into
his house and stolen his heart, and share all he had to give.
The taxi turned through the open gates to River View House
and stopped outside the front door. Sean pulled some money from his wallet and
handed it to the driver. "Can you take the babysitter home? It's only a
couple of miles down the road."
The man nodded. "Sure thing. Thanks, mate."
The cold air hit Sean's face as he climbed from the vehicle,
but his blood surged hot through his veins in anticipation.
Kelly waited for Sean to round the car and open her door,
then stepped out and accepted his arm to walk to the house. A strange
melancholy had fallen over her when Alice and Cameron left for the hospital, as
if this baby of Cameron's marked the end of an era. Really, the end of the era
had come over a year ago when Cameron married Alice.
It wasn't that Kelly wanted to go back in time and have
Cameron for herself again. She simply wished for a chance to relive those early
hopes and dreams, the promise for the future she'd felt when she and Cameron
dated during his first posting in Germany.
They'd been young and innocent then, before they were
stationed in a war zone, before she found out she couldn't have children.
"You're very quiet." Sean curved his arm around
her back as he unlocked the front door.
He smiled and stepped aside for her to enter first. The
sound of the television blared from the sitting room. She couldn't face
watching the babysitter flirt with Sean right now. She felt old and
world-weary. "I'll go and check the girls. Will you send Lisa home?"
"Okay. I won't be long."
Sean strode along the hall towards the kitchen and Kelly
mounted the stairs. She paused just inside the door to the babies' bedroom,
listening to the soft sound of their breathing.
Both girls slept peacefully. Kelly adjusted Annabelle's
covers, then gently touched the cute curl that fell across Zoe's forehead. They
might be identical twins but she could tell them apart easily. They were so
different in personality and behavior, each one a little darling in her own
Much as she enjoyed being with Sean and looked forward to
dating him, the girls each held a corner of her heart as well. She had fallen
in love with all three members of the Fabian family.
Voices sounded downstairs, then the front door closed, followed
by the familiar tread of Sean's footsteps on the stairs.
"All okay?" he asked from the doorway. The hall
light silhouetted the masculine outline of his broad shoulders and narrow hips,
shooting a burst of longing through her.
Longing that might be doomed to remain unfulfilled.
A relationship with a man who already had children sounded
like the answer to her prayers. The trouble was Sean's first wife had left him
with such painful baggage, he might never be ready to move on.
She stepped aside as Sean moved to peep at Annabelle and
Zoe. "They look peaceful."
"Are you sure you're okay, Kell?" Sean grasped her
fingers and brushed his lips across her palm. Streamers of sensation ran up her
arm. Every time he touched her, nerves sparked beneath her skin like fireworks.
Drawing her closer, he stroked a hand up her back to caress
her hair. "It's thirty minutes until Christmas Day."
She followed his gaze to the illuminated clock on the
nursery wall. "So it is. After the drama with Alice, I'd nearly forgotten
it was Christmas."
"I hadn't." He grinned, those sexy dimples
appearing on his cheeks.
He took her hand and tugged her out onto the landing, a
mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
"What's going on?" He definitely had something on
Holding both her hands, he backed up, taking her with him
towards his bedroom door. He stopped outside and pulled her into his arms. She
splayed her palms on his chest, felt the firm contours of muscles beneath his
shirt. Her gaze met his, her whole body tingling.
"I want to make love with you, Kelly."
The teasing look on his face was gone, an intensity of need
in his eyes.
She trembled inside, excited but nervous of taking this
step, and risking her heart. "You do realize that technically tonight was
only our first date?"
"Let's not get bogged down in technicalities. I prefer
to follow my instincts. Right now my instincts know exactly what I want.
He lowered his mouth to hers. Kelly melted in his arms at
the smooth, warm brush of his lips. The gentle caress of his hands wiped away
all thought. Her instincts knew what she wanted as well.
Happiness flooded Sean's senses the moment he woke to the
sweet floral fragrance of Kelly. She was still here, in his bed. Last night was
not a dream. He hadn't realized how lonely he'd been until this wonderful woman
came into his life.
He rolled on his side and watched her sleep, her dark red
hair spread across the pillow, wild and thick. He'd never known a woman with
hair like hers. She had so much of it. In contrast, the rest of her features
were neat and small. Her dark lashes lay in perfect crescents against her
cheeks, her upper lip a bow, her bottom lip soft, full, and, as he'd discovered
last night, very bitable.
She'd loved him with a passion and energy that left him breathless.
He gently stroked some hair away from her face so he could
see her better. A faint sigh whispered between her lips and her eyelashes
fluttered in her sleep. Dreaming of him? He hoped so.
Why had he ever thought that dating her would be enough? He
wanted this woman in his life full time, living in his home, and sleeping in
his bed. She was so unlike Eleanor it was as though they were different
species. She would never lie to him, deceive him, or hurt him as Eleanor had.
Sean trusted Kelly with the most precious things in his
life, his sweet angels, Zoe and Annabelle. He could trust her with his heart as
He watched her for a while as the wintry sun fought back the
lingering darkness and light filtered into the room. He grew impatient to talk
to her and wanted her to wake up. They only had a week left before the New
Year. After that he was due back at work, unless he extended his leave. He
didn't want to waste a moment of their time together.
She stirred and he took the opportunity to pull her into the
curve of his body. With a murmur, she came to him all soft, sleepy, and
"Sean," she whispered.
He snuggled her closer, relishing the slide of her skin on
his. "Merry Christmas, darling."
Her eyes blinked open and she rubbed them. "Are the
A slow smile spread across her face. She wriggled against
him, making his breath catch in desire. "Merry Christmas to you too. Has
Santa remembered to put the girls' presents under the Christmas tree?"
"Santa might have been too busy last night enjoying
himself to think of that. He'll do it in a little while." Sean was not
about to leave her arms to lay out gifts. There would be plenty of time for
that later. Right now he wanted to be with Kelly. His instincts demanded he make
love to her again, but while they had no other distractions he needed to talk
to her, to let her know exactly how he felt.
Kelly stretched, arching her body against Sean's in a
dreamy, semiconscious daze. She loved this man, loved everything about him. He
was kind, generous and caring, the sort of man any woman would be lucky to
share her life with. The fact he had the face of an angel and the body of a
Greek god didn't hurt either.
In the heat of the moment last night, she had nearly blurted
that she loved him but held back, frightened of scaring him off. After all,
he'd said he wanted to take things slowly. But she'd fallen into the trap of
hiding her feelings before. She'd spent years loving Cameron without telling
him. She wasn't going to make the same mistake again.
She stroked a hand through his mussed hair and across the
rough stubble on his jaw. She loved him in his army uniform all polished
without a hair out of place, and she loved him just as much all ruffled and
naked in bed.
He caught her hand and pressed a kiss to her palm. The long,
tapered fingers of his clever hands stroked her skin, fingers so skilled with
fine surgical work, and so skilled at bringing her pleasure.
He kissed the tip of her nose, her cheeks, and her lips,
lingering over the last. When he pulled back, he smiled. "I've changed my
mind," he said. "I'd like you to stay here if you want to."
Kelly's heart jolted. "As in…live with you?"
"I love having you here, Kell. I know I wanted to take
things slowly and date, but we're already way past that stage."
Relief burst through Kelly so potent it was almost painful.
"I love you," she whispered. "I know we've only
known each other a short while, but I do."
She met his intense blue gaze. Waiting, hoping he might
return her feelings.
only been a short while, but when you
know, you know. I love you too." He hugged her so tightly she could hardly
For long moments they simply held each other, heart to
heart, skin to skin. She pressed against him, wanting to melt into him so they
never had to be apart.
"So you'll stay?" he said.
"How could you doubt it?"
"I hoped I hadn't put you off. I was overthinking
things, letting my past dictate my future."
"I forgive you." She tapped him on the end of his
nose as he sometimes did to her, and he laughed.
"We make a good team caring for the children."
"I don't expect you to do all the child care and
household tasks, though. I know you want to continue nursing."
"Let me think about it. I love looking after the
girls." At this moment, Kelly couldn't get her thoughts in order to make
any decisions. Her heart danced, happiness bubbling inside her like a bottle of
champagne ready to pop its cork. Then she remembered the au pair.
"What about Monique?" Kelly didn't want to put
anyone out of a job, but the prospect of an au pair living with them 24/7 was
"Monique thought she might have to stay in France to
care for her grandmother. I'll give her a call tomorrow and tell her my plans.
I'm sure she won't mind."
A sleepy murmur issued from the baby monitor on the
nightstand, followed by soft chattering.
"Annabelle, I bet," Kelly said.
Sean nodded. "Looks like it's time to get up."
Much as Kelly loved being curled in bed with Sean, she was
looking forward to seeing the girls. This would be a wonderful Christmas Day,
her first Christmas playing mum to this family she hoped might one day really