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Authors: Wendy S. Marcus

The Nurse's Newborn Gift

BOOK: The Nurse's Newborn Gift
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Brought together by a baby...

Nurse Krissy Peniglatt promised her best friend she'd have his baby through IVF if he didn't make it home from the front lines. When the time comes to make good on her promise she's confident she can handle being a single mom. If only Spencer Penn, the baby's godfather, will agree!

There's always been tension between them, and yet the warmhearted woman Krissy has become takes Spencer's breath away. But can he convince Krissy he wants to be a real daddy for her newborn baby?

Nurses to Brides

The Peniglatt sisters find their happily-ever-afters when wedding bells ring!

The Peniglatt sisters couldn't be more different—Kira is Miss Responsible while Krissy is the family wild child! Their only similarity is their total dedication to caring for others.

These hardworking nurses don't have much time for love. Until two very special men walk into their lives, determined to sweep them off their feet!

The Doctor She Always Dreamed Of

Can Derrick tempt Kira to believe in forever?

and

The Nurse's Newborn Gift

Will single mum Krissy let Spencer into her life...and her heart?

You won't want to miss this sexy and emotional duet from the fabulous Wendy S. Marcus!

Dear Reader,

I'm thrilled to be back with two brand-new Medical Romances about Kira and Krissy Peniglatt—two very special sisters who work hard to care for and give to others without expecting anything in return.

In
The Doctor She Always Dreamed Of
, Kira is a no-nonsense professional, working on the business side of nursing. Rather than enjoying the glitz and glamour of New York City, she divides her time between her job as director of case management at a large insurance carrier and caring for her severely brain-injured mother. With no time to spare, she gave up on finding love a long time ago. But she's never met a man like Dr. Derrick Limone—a man willing to do anything to spend time with her.

In
The Nurse's Newborn Gift
, Krissy is a laid-back traveling nurse who's in the process of changing her carefree life to keep a promise to her dead best friend—a soldier killed in the war. Having his baby, giving his parents the gift of a grandchild they can dote on and love in his absence, may seem extreme to some, but not to Krissy. She's waited five years, and she's ready to do it all on her own. But Spencer Penn, the baby's godfather, has other ideas.

I hope you enjoy reading Kira's and Krissy's stories as much as I enjoyed writing them! To find out about my other books, visit
wendysmarcus.com
.

Wishing you all good things,

Wendy S. Marcus

THE NURSE'S NEWBORN GIFT

Wendy S. Marcus

Books by Wendy S. Marcus

Harlequin Medical Romance

Beyond the Spotlight...

Craving Her Soldier's Touch
Secrets of a Shy Socialite

When One Night Isn't Enough
Once a Good Girl...
The Nurse's Not-So-Secret Scandal
NYC Angels: Tempting Nurse Scarlet

Visit the Author Profile page at
Harlequin.com
for more titles.

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This book is dedicated to my readers. Thank you for reading and reviewing my books. I love chatting with you on social media!

With special thanks to my son, who didn't want to have his name mentioned in one of my books, for helping me with the athletic-training aspects of this story. Any errors are my own.

Thank you to my wonderful editor, Flo Nicoll, for always pushing me to do my best.

And thank you to my family, for supporting me in all that I do.

Praise for Wendy S. Marcus

“Wendy S. Marcus is a special author for me... Read this and you'll get an enthralling contemporary love story.”

—
Goodreads
on
Craving Her Soldier's Touch

“If you are looking for a read that will have you laughing, crying and sighing, while being swept up in sweet yet hot romance, I highly recommend
Craving Her Soldier's Touch
.”

—
Goodreads

“If you are looking for a smart, sexy, heartwarming contemporary medical romance that is hard to put down, I highly recommend you try
Tempting Nurse Scarlet
!”

—Goodreads
on
NYC Angels: Tempting Nurse Scarlet

PROLOGUE

K
RISSY
P
ENIGLATT
REMEMBERED
the middle-of-the-night telephone conversation like it'd taken place yesterday as opposed to two years ago. Her best friend in the whole world, Jarrod, had called two days before he was scheduled to deploy for his first tour of duty overseas in the Middle East. A courageous U.S. Army soldier, prepared to give his life for his country, his nineteen-year-old self struggling a bit with the finality of the deed should he be unlucky enough to perish in battle.

“Promise me, if I manage to get myself killed, you'll do it.”

He'd been there for her after her father had left when she was ten years old and after her mother's attack and subsequent severe traumatic brain injury shortly after she'd turned fourteen. He'd comforted her and consoled her and cheered her up time and time again, year after year, asking for and expecting nothing in return.

Of course, Krissy would do anything he asked of her, anything to put his mind at ease, to keep him focused on staying alive rather than what would happen if he...didn't. But,
“You're not going to get yourself killed,”
she'd told him.
The response had been automatic. She'd refused to even consider the possibility of a life without Jarrod in it. They'd been inseparable for over a decade. Sure, her leaving for college and him enlisting in the army right out of high school would change things between them. To be expected. But it was only supposed to be temporary. A few years apart, then they'd be ready to start their adult lives, together.

Well, not
together
, together, but inseparable once again, maybe living in the same apartment building, or in the same town at the very least.

“My mom can't stop crying,”
Jarrod had said
. “My dad can barely look at me without tearing up.”

They were such a kind and caring couple. An only child, Jarrod's parents' lives revolved around him. No parents loved their son more than Jarrod's parents loved him
.
Lucky for Krissy that love had extended to Jarrod's best friends as well. On some level, she'd actually felt closer to his parents than to her own. She owed them so much.

“I need to know,”
he'd said, uncharacteristically emotional
, “if my life is cut short, that some part of me lives on, that my parents have a grandchild to love and spoil. Because losing me...”

He didn't need to finish. Losing him would be devastating, to his parents and to her.

The anguish in his voice had made her willing to say anything, to
do
anything to make it go away, to bring back the kind, happy, always joking boy she'd loved like a brother. So even though she'd never expected to ever have to follow through, she'd agreed.

“Okay. I'll do it, but only if you manage to get yourself killed, which you aren't going to do, so this conversation is a total waste of time.”

* * *

A short two years later, twenty-one-year-old Krissy stood all alone, her body feeling weighted down by hundred pound blocks of ice, the chill in her bones in direct contrast to the beautiful, bright sunshiny spring day, as she stared at the casket that held the remains of her best friend in the whole world. The service long over, only a few mourners remained, mulling around over by their cars. But Krissy couldn't bring herself to leave, knowing once she did, the workmen standing off in the distance would lower Jarrod's body into the cold, dark ground, and she'd never again be as close to him as she now stood.

Her heart ached, literally hurt, every time she thought about never seeing him again, never being on the receiving end of one of his powerful hugs, never hearing his annoying snort-laugh that always got her snort-laughing too.

A tear trickled down her cheek.

Who would she share good news with? Who could she count on to cheer her up when she had a bad day? Whose visits and phone calls would give her something to look forward to? Who would ever understand her and love her and accept her, as is, like Jarrod had?

No one.

Out of the corner of her eye, Krissy saw Jarrod's mother, Patti, walking toward her. A quiet, plain woman, with short darkish hair, a figure that tended to run toward chubby, and a heart filled with love, she looked like she'd aged twenty years in the past two. “Come on, honey.” She put her arm around Krissy's shoulders and tried to steer her away. “We have a room reserved at a local restaurant. Jarrod wanted a party, so we'll give him a party.”

“And it's not a party...” Krissy started.

“Without Mom's caramel, fudge brownies with walnuts for dessert,” Patti finished sadly, repeating what Jarrod would have said if he'd been alive and able to talk.

The fact that he wasn't, and never would be again, sent another wave of tears flooding Krissy's raw, sore eyes.

Patti pulled her into a hug, not as wonderful as one of Jarrod's, but close. “I swear that boy could eat a whole pan by himself.” She rubbed Krissy's back. “I put a batch in the casket with him,” she said quietly, almost numbly. “Along with a picture of the two of you from graduation. Gosh darn it, this is so unfair.”

“I know.” Krissy squeezed her tight, well acquainted with the unfairness of life.

“Come on, you two,” Jarrod's dad, Bart, said. A tall, solid man, like his son, he put a strong arm around each of them. “Time to go.” He walked them away from the casket that held her best friend, away from the grave where he would lay for eternity...alone. “He lives on in our hearts,” Bart said, walking slowly. “We may not have a piece of him to hold on to, but as long as we think about him and remember him, he'll never be fully gone from our lives.”

But they
could
have a piece of him to hold on to, if Krissy did what she'd promised to do.

CHAPTER ONE

Five years and
seven and a half months later

K
RISSY
SAT
ON
the bed in her temporary bedroom at her sister Kira's house in White Plains, New York, home from a mostly fantastic six-month assignment, that'd actually turned into seven months, in Hawaii, sorting through a mess of papers. She moved the real estate listings into one pile, time to find a place of her own and set down some roots. Help Wanted printouts got their own stack, her days as a traveling nurse over, it was time to figure out what she wanted to do going forward, in a job that would keep her in one place, but no rush on that. For the time being she was happy to work as an office nurse in her soon-to-be brother-in-law's family practice.

That left pictures and mementos of all the fun times she'd had with Zac, her ex-traveling nurse buddy/friend with benefits/almost but not quite a boyfriend. She scooped those up and dumped them in the trash basket on the floor, time to move on.

Krissy had waited long enough. She had a promise to keep.

And Zac, for as often as he'd professed his love for her, which happened pretty regularly after orgasms—back when they used to have sex, before her successful artificial insemination—didn't love her enough to give up his carefree existence to settle down with her and start a family. Especially, he'd made sure to point out, a family that included another man's child.

Which was probably a good thing since Zac was everything Jarrod had hated in Krissy's boyfriends. Stuff that made him fun—he partied hard, didn't take life too seriously, and couldn't care less what people thought of him—would have made him a bad parent. Which is probably why, while their last goodbye had caused some tears—seemed tears came rather easily these days—the ache in her heart had been short-lived.

Krissy found the manila folder she'd been looking for when she'd first gotten the bright idea to dump out the box. The sight of her name written in Jarrod's scrawl still gave her a pang of loss in her chest, bringing on the memory of his funeral, the party afterward, where she'd sat in the back and kept to herself, and the talk she'd had with his parents before heading home.

“He left it all to you,”
Patti had said, handing Krissy the manila envelope she now held in her hands
. “His savings, some certificates of deposit, and his car. And you're the sole beneficiary on his military life insurance policy.”
Patti had stared into Krissy's eyes, looking for answers. One question was obvious: Why would he leave everything to you?

At the time, Krissy couldn't do more than stare right back in bewilderment, shocked and overwhelmed by what Jarrod had done. For her. For the son or daughter he would never know. His confidence that she would do what she'd promised to do had made her love him and miss him even more.

When Krissy had regained her composure, she'd briefly considered telling Jarrod's parents of her promise. But she'd decided against it, wasn't ready to make the commitment, or to get their hopes up. She'd only been twenty-one years old, for God's sake, just starting out, and in no way ready to have a baby.

But now, at twenty-six, almost twenty-seven years old she felt...ready. Well, as ready as a woman about to become solely responsible for the life of another human being could feel. Sure, it would have been nice to have a man who loved her and was eager to accompany her on this journey, but three boyfriends had been quick to skedaddle upon learning of her plans to have her dead best friend's baby. Fine. She never loved any of them as much as she'd loved Jarrod, anyway. And settling for Zac would have been a horrible mistake. Thank goodness he'd seen that, when she'd been too worried about the responsibility of caring for and raising a child, alone, to see it for herself.

“I
can
do it on my own,” she told the baby in her belly, hoping it couldn't sense her self-doubt. “I'm going to be a great mom,” she told herself, remembering what a wonderful mother her own mom had been, before the brain injury. If Krissy could manage to be half as wonderful, it'd be enough.

“I
will
do it on my own.” She'd given herself five years to mature and prepare. Five years to travel and have fun and live life to its fullest before settling down to raise her child. Five years to find a man worthy of being her baby's surrogate daddy. Didn't happen.

“Alone is fine.” Thanks to Jarrod and years of hard work and careful spending, she had plenty of money. She was used to living independently and had excellent nursing skills, which would surely come in handy during any bouts of baby choking or illness. Not that she planned on having to do everything on her own forever.

Surely Jarrod's parents would help with babysitting...if they were still local. She swallowed back the guilt of waiting so long as she opened the large tan envelope and pulled out the letters inside, all but one still sealed, each labeled by Jarrod with specific instructions.

#1—For Krissy—Open after my funeral

She'd read that letter so many times she could recite it from memory.

#2—For Spencer—When you're ready to give it to him

Spencer, of all people! Why did he want Spencer to be the baby's godfather? Spencer hated her. And, as of junior year of high school, the feeling was mutual.

#3—For my mom and dad—To explain our agreement

She planned to hand-deliver that one after the birth of the baby.

#4—To my son on his tenth birthday

#4—To my daughter on her tenth birthday

She caressed her pregnant belly, knowing that it would be Jarrod's son who would be getting letter number four on his tenth birthday.

“Stop putting it off.” Krissy reached inside to pull out a piece of paper that had Jarrod's parents' home telephone number on it. God willing it hadn't changed. With a deep, fortifying breath, she picked up her cell phone and dialed the number.

First ring.

She twirled the post earring in her left ear, an annoying nervous habit Jarrod would have been sure to point out.

Second ring.

Suddenly parched, she reached for the glass beside her bed and took a sip of water.

Third ring.

She started to plan her message.
Hello Mr. and Mrs. Sadler. It's
—

“Hello?”

Krissy recognized Patti's voice immediately, so familiar it brought on a rush of emotion. She swallowed. Wasn't ready—

“Hello?” Patti said again.

Stop being an idiot
. “Hi, Mrs. Sadler,” Krissy said. “It's me—”

“Krissy! Oh, my word. How are you, honey? It's been...so long.” Patti may have started out happy to hear from Krissy, but the sadness tinged with disappointment and hurt in her ‘It's been...so long' was unmistakable.

“I know,” Krissy said. “I'm sorry. I...” How did one adequately apologize for failing to keep in touch with a woman who'd been like a mother to her throughout high school? For failing to be there for a woman who had been there for Krissy when her own mother couldn't be? For failing to offer her love and support to a sweet and caring woman who'd been dealing with the worst tragedy a mother could face, the death of a child?

“I...” Krissy tried again. But how could she adequately explain that she'd tried to stay in touch, and she had, for a good year after Jarrod's death. But hearing the complete desolation in Patti's voice during each phone call had been too difficult? That it made Krissy feel things she didn't want to feel when she'd been trying so hard to move past the pain? That knowing she held the key to Patti and Bart's happiness, in the form of a grandbaby fathered by their beloved son, but not feeling ready to give up her freedom to have that baby at such a young age, made her feel guilty and selfish and just plain terrible?

“I'm sorry,” she said again. It would have to do until she could explain further.

“I'm sorry, too,” Patti said. “I've missed you. Now tell me everything. What have you been up to?”

Easy as that, sweet Patti moved past what a terrible friend Krissy had been.

An hour later they were all caught up—getting caught up on the happenings of Patti and Bart had taken less than five minutes, because not much new had happened in their lives. They were in the same apartment, working in the same jobs, still mourning the loss of their son. They were going through the motions of life but not really living. It would have broken Jarrod's heart to know. It made Krissy feel even more awful for waiting so long to give them a grandchild to dote on.

But in six weeks, all that would change. She wanted to tell Patti, wanted to hear the joy in her voice and give her something to finally be happy about, but not yet. Not until Patti could hold a happy, healthy baby in her arms. Mr. and Mrs. Sadler had been through too much, couldn't handle any more sadness if anything were to go wrong with the birth, or God forbid, if the baby wasn't born healthy.

Krissy forced out the question she'd called to ask. “I'm wondering if you know how I can reach Spencer Penn?”

“Of course. Spencer is such a dear. He stops by for Sunday dinner every couple of months.”

Shoot. Leave it to Spencer to screw up her plans. “I thought he was living out in California. Wasn't that why he hadn't attended Jarrod's funeral?”

“Oh, no. He was only out there for a week or two, taking his sister to look at colleges. I told him not to cancel his plans that Jarrod would understand. Now hold on a minute. Let me get his number from my address book.”

Take all the time you need. Can't find it? No worries
. Krissy was in no rush. She'd already put this off longer than she probably should have.

“Here it is.” Patti read off the number. “If you don't mind me asking, why do you need it?”

Because your son has a sick sense of humor and I'm trying to do the right thing and abide by his wishes for Spencer to be our baby's godfather
, even though the thought made her a bit nauseous.

“I was under the impression,” Patti went on, “that the two of you weren't friends anymore.”

No. They weren't. Not since that night... “I need to talk to him about something important,” was all Krissy said, hoping Patti would leave it at that.

Thank goodness she did. “Don't be a stranger,” Patti said. “If you have some time, we'd love to see you.”

Soon, if things went as planned, they'd be seeing quite a lot of her. “I'd like that. I'll be in touch.” After your grandson is born.

* * *

A week later, on a Friday evening after work, Krissy sat in her parked car, watching the clock, not wanting to show up too early. She'd kept the heat on, because an April evening in New York was not near as warm as an April evening in Hawaii. Or maybe it was nerves giving her a chill.

It'd taken days of back and forth messages to set up a meeting with Spencer, the pain in the butt. He kept suggesting various bars in White Plains, all relatively close to where she worked, saying a neutral location with lots of witnesses was safest for both of them. Seemed the years hadn't managed to mature him any.

Regardless of the fact she wasn't drinking any alcohol these days, the topic they needed to discuss would be better dealt with in private. So Krissy had insisted on meeting him at his apartment—which, as it turned out, was also relatively close to where she worked.

Learning that had been a bit unsettling.

The christening, the confirmation, and maybe a few milestone birthday parties was all the time she'd planned to have to tolerate Spencer. The bare minimum required for her son to get to know his godfather. Heaven forbid Spencer wanted to play a bigger role in her child's life.

No. Tonight she'd set some ground rules.

Krissy eyed the clock then the distance between her parking spot and the front door of Spencer's fancy high rise. Six minutes should do it, only because she wasn't walking all that fast these days.

At seven o'clock, on the dot, Krissy knocked on Spencer's door.

A few seconds later, it opened and ho-lee cow. The years had been good to the now very handsome Spencer Penn. He must have grown a foot since high school. His lean, teenage soccer player physique? Gone, replaced by muscles, defined, sexy, desirable muscles that were prominent beneath the short-sleeved black polo shirt and tight fitting khaki pants he wore. His thick, wavy, always mussed—in a lead singer of a boy band kind of way—dark hair? Gone, replaced by a shortish, surprisingly appealing, buzz cut. His smooth, boyish face? Gone, replaced by sculpted cheekbones, sexy scruff, and full, kissable lips...that were smiling as part of a ‘You like what you see?' expression.

Shoot. Krissy focused in on his light brown eyes, smart eyes that, like Jarrod's, could always seem to tell what she was thinking.

Spencer looked her up and down his gaze settling on her midsection, “Still have a sweet tooth I see.”

Any attraction she may have been feeling vanished. Poof! Gone. “Can you manage to
not
be obnoxious, for at least the next five minutes?” If she'd cared one bit what Spencer thought of her, she'd have changed out of her work scrubs and freshened her makeup or run some gel through her short hair. But she didn't care. Krissy handed him Jarrod's letter. “This is why I'm here. And I have no intention of standing out in the hallway like an annoying salesman while you read it. So either invite me in or I'm gone.”

Without saying a word, he stepped aside and Krissy walked into his apartment. Feeling awkward, and not wanting to stand there while he read Jarrod's letter, Krissy asked, “Where's your bathroom?”

Spencer looked up from the envelope he'd been staring at but hadn't yet opened and pointed down the hallway to the right. So that's where Krissy headed.

BOOK: The Nurse's Newborn Gift
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