The Secret Baby Scandal: The Count's Secret Child\The Sandoval Baby (Harlequin Presents) [Aug 23, 2011] Lucas, Jennie and Hewitt, Kate
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Jennie Lucas's parents owned a bookstore and she grew up surrounded by books, dreaming about faraway lands. At twenty-two she met her future husband and after their marriage, she graduated from university with a degree in English. She started writing books a year later. Jennie won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest in 2005 and hasn’t looked back since. Visit Jennie’s website at: www.jennielucas.com
Kate Hewitt has worked a variety of different jobs, from drama teacher to editorial assistant to church youth worker, but writing romance is the best one yet. She also writes short stories and serials for women's magazines, and all her stories celebrate the healing and redemptive power of love. Kate lives in a tiny village with her husband, four children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.
Holding her sleeping baby against her chest, Carrie Powell looked up at the French castle in the moonlit night. She shivered as a warm breeze blew tendrils of hair across her hot skin.
After a year of cold silence, Théo St. Raphaël, Comte de Castelnau, had finally sent for her. He finally wished to meet their three-month-old son.
Carrie's shivering intensified as she stared up at the castle where Théo had first seduced her, before he'd abandoned her in Seattle two weeks later, leaving her pregnant and alone.
Once, she'd loved him more than life. She'd thought he was her knight in shining armor, this titled tycoon who'd made his own fortune. She'd loved him with blind, girlish devotion—her only lover, the only man she could even imagine loving.
Carrie took a shaking breath. She'd been such a fool.
Growing up, her older brothers had rolled their eyes at the way she saw the best in people. Even her parents had teased her—dreamy, cheerful Carrie with her head in the clouds, who defended people who cut in line at the supermarket or were rude for no reason at all. But those people were doing the best they could, Carrie thought. The grumpy woman who cut in line at the grocery store might have some private tragedy or worry she could hardly bear. Carrie tried to like everyone. She'd maybe disliked one or two truly unpleasant people in her life, but she'd certainly never hated anyone. Until now.
"Come, mademoiselle" the bodyguard said, holding out the baby seat he'd taken from the luxury sedan as the driver retrieved her luggage from the trunk. "We are late."
Grabbing the handle of the baby carrier, she glared at him, then sighed. He'd practically kidnapped her from her parents' house, but the man was just doing his job. The one she really blamed was his boss.
Setting the baby carrier down on the cool grass, she gently tucked her sleeping baby inside the padded frame and wrapped a warm blanket around him. She certainly hadn't planned on Henry wearing footsie pajamas when he was introduced to his father for the first time, but the baby was exhausted and had only slept an hour on the private jet. An hour more than Carrie had.
Every muscle in her body felt tight as she rose back to her feet, lifting the handle of the baby carrier to gently sway her baby back and forth.
After deserting her when she needed him the most, yesterday Théo had sent his bodyguard to collect her without even the courtesy of a phone call. But what should she expect of a man so selfish, so ruthless, so cold?
Thank heaven she'd stopped loving Théo long ago. There was only one thing left between them now. One thing that mattered. Emotion choked Carrie's throat as she looked down at the downy head of her tiny sleeping baby nestled against his soft blue blanket.
Even though she hated Théo with all her heart, she would not deny him the chance to meet his son.
The bodyguard held the door open, waiting for her. "Mademoiselle, s'il vous plaît."
Carrie stared past him into the dark entrance of the castle, suddenly nervous. She glanced at the bodyguard. "You will stay with us?"
The man shook his head. "He wants to see you alone."
Alone. Carrie bit her lip. "But you'll be back in the morning to collect me?" she persisted. "Or sooner? Later tonight?"
The man's face was blank. "That is as Monsieur le Comte wishes."
Monsieur le Comte? Had she just gone back in time to some feudal age where everyone trembled and obeyed Théo as master? Carrie took a deep breath, clenching her hands into fists. Well, not her. There'd be no more trembling and no more obeying. She would go into Gavaudan Castle and be coldly polite. She'd show Théo the beautiful child he'd unthinkingly rejected, and by this time tomorrow he'd be bored with them both. She and Henry would be on their way back to Seattle, secure in the knowledge that Théo would never trouble them again.
Lifting her chin, Carrie gripped the handle of the baby carrier and slowly walked inside the darkened foyer. Her feet felt as heavy as bricks. Once inside, she heard the crystal chandelier chiming discordantly above them and terror seized her heart.
Her hands shook so violently she set the baby carrier down on the marble floor as she turned back with desperation. "But, really, I don't mind if you stay—"
"Bon courage, mademoiselle," the bodyguard said.
The driver set her luggage inside the foyer and the men closed the door behind her with a sonorous bang.
Carrie was alone inside the castle. With her baby. And with Théo. Her hands shook as she looked around, trying to calm her fiercely beating heart.
The shadows of the silent castle were all around her. As she looked at all the dark hallways leading off the foyer, memories went through her like waves. She heard the echoes of their playful lovers' laughter, like ghosts of their former happiness.
Down that hall, she remembered, Théo had fed her strawberries and champagne in the glorious warmth and flowers of the summer garden. Through that door, in the two-story library, he'd read her poems in French. She'd felt the dark heat of Théo's eyes, heard the beauty of the language as it shaped his beautiful, sensual lips. She hadn't understood his words, but she'd known their meaning: desire.
Carrie's eyes fell on the sweeping staircase. He'd carried her up those stairs as if she weighed nothing at all. He'd laid her upon his enormous bed and he'd seduced her, taking her virginity, kissing and suckling and soaring her to the heights of ecstasy. She wrapped her arms around her jean jacket. She could still feel his arms, feel his lips, feel his hard muscular body against hers as he'd pressed her back on the bed and caressed her naked skin as she trembled and shook and cried out beneath him……
She heard a noise behind her, and whirled around with a low gasp.
Théo St. Raphaël, Comte de Castelnau and lord of Gavaudan Castle, stood in the open doorway, his powerful body a dark shadow.
"Théo." She whispered his name with the French pronunciation—hard T, silent H.
He was breathtaking, almost terrifying in his masculine beauty. He was so dark. Black hair, black trousers, black shirt open at the neck. Dark stubble covered the hard line of his jaw. But it was the expression in his piercing eyes that was darkest of all.
Across the shadowy foyer, his black eyes glittered at her. "Enfin."
His low, deep voice went through her like a hot knife through her heart. Carrie couldn't move. Couldn't even breathe as he moved toward her, stalking her, never taking his eyes from hers.
"I have waited." Stopping in front of her, he looked down at her. "For too long," he murmured, "I have wanted you."
She could hardly believe she was standing in front of him now, close enough to feel the warmth of his body. She had to tilt her head way back to look up into his hard, handsome face. Théo. A lump rose in her throat. Théo, in the flesh. The
man she'd once loved, the man who'd left her, the man who'd dropped her so completely he'd never even given her the chance to tell him she was pregnant.
For almost a year Carrie had dreamed of what she would say to him if she ever saw him again. She had a little speech prepared, practiced many times during long, lonely nights, that she planned to deliver in the same cold, dispassionate tone that he'd used when he'd left her that morning in the hotel room.
But in the shock of the moment her entire speech fled from her mind. She felt overwhelmed by the intensity of his closeness. Her body trembled from her hair to her earlobes to her toes as she looked into his darkly handsome face.
He reached out a hand and stroked along the top edge of her shoulder, over her jean jacket, up her neck to her cheek. Cupping her face, he tilted up her chin, and she couldn't fight. Couldn't even protest. She just trembled.
"Now, at last," he whispered, lowering his mouth to hers, "you will be mine."
And, ruthlessly, he kissed her.
His lips were hot and hard against hers, bruising her mouth, sending sparks of electric current sizzling down the length of her body. As one of his hands roughly cupped her chin, his other arm wrapped around her body, holding her tight, pressing her breasts against his muscular chest. She felt trapped, overpowered by the strength of his body, by the force of his overwhelming hunger. And out of nowhere she suddenly realized that, against her will, she was kissing him back.
His lips gentled against hers, caressing and luring where a moment before they had demanded and roughly taken. She felt his tongue flick against hers, luring her into a deeper sensuality as his hand stroked lightly against the skin of her cheek. She felt feminine, vulnerable beneath his masculine power.
His hand tilted back her head, exposing her throat. His fingers moved through her hair as he kissed down her neck. A gasp of surrender escaped her as his lips moved down her skin. His caress was smooth as silk, his jawline and upper lip rough as sandpaper, and as he nipped at the sensitive corner between her neck and shoulder all her nerve endings sizzled. Her breathing was hoarse and she sagged in his arms. Her eyes were closed, her body shivering with need from a year of repressed, agonized desire.
"I missed you, ma petite" Théo whispered, his lips brushing her ear. "And I see you missed me."
She'd missed him?
Carrie's eyes flew open at his smug male satisfaction. She remembered months of ignored messages, the nights she'd spent sobbing for him with a broken heart after he'd deserted her without explanation. Pride stiffened her body. With a gasp, she ripped away from him, drawing back her hand in fury.
But before she could give ...
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Book Description Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0373130155
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