When Jeb McCabe gave Laramie, Texas, the scandal of the century by leaving his bride at the altar, he garnered the reputation of the most notorious bachelor in town. So what's the handsome heartbreaker doing playing nanny to Cady Keilor's young nephews?
Cady desperately wants a baby of her own.
But before she adopts, she's practicing for motherhood by babysitting her sister's rambunctious brood for two weeks. The cowboy she's always been sweet on is just along for the ride—after Cady bets him he can't last a week!
It turns out Jeb's a natural at parenting, and Cady badly needs his help. The question is: Does playing house make Jeb yearn for the real thing? He is a McCabe, after all—and the name is synonymous with family!
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Cathy Gillen Thacker is a popular Harlequin author of over one hundred novels. Married and a mother of three, she and her husband resided in Texas for eighteen years, and now make their home in North Carolina. Her mysteries, romantic comedies, and family stories have made numerous appearances on bestseller lists, but her best reward is knowing one of her books made someone's day a little brighter.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The young assistant's jaw dropped when Jeb McCabe paused in the doorway of the elegantly appointed office. She turned to the stunning boss-lady Jeb had come to see. "Wow, Cady, you weren't kidding when you said you knew just the right guy to hire! That, is one sexy cowboy."
Grinning, Jeb strolled into Cady Keilor's office on the executive floor, of the Texas Star Marketing Group. "Did you pay her to say that?"
Cady tossed him a wry look before giving him a warm and welcoming hug. "No, I did not. And for good reason. Your considerable male ego does not need any further boosting."
"Hey—" Jeb spread his hands wide "—can I help it if I'm just naturally drop-dead handsome?"
Cady rolled her eyes. Making it clear that she had never found him in the least bit sexually attractive. Which was why, Jeb thought, they were such good pals, and had been since they were in high school. Because, given the lack of chemistry on her part, nothing else was ever going to be possible.
"So I...made a mistake then?" The tenderfoot next to Cady cringed in embarrassment.
The twenty-something kid reminded Jeb of Cady in her pre-executive days, when she'd constantly been in the shadow of her glamorous and accomplished older sister, Suki. The days before Cady had come into her own, too.
"Jeb isn't the spokesperson for the Hanover Horseshoes," Cady explained kindly. "I haven't selected anyone yet for the campaign."
"Oh. Dear." The young woman blushed to the roots of her carrot-red hair.
"It's okay," Jeb quipped with exaggerated seriousness. "I'm often mistaken for a male model."
"Actually," Cady murmured, turning her gaze back to Jeb, "in your rodeo days, you graced more than one fancy poster, McCabe."
But his rodeo days—and the "heartbreaker" phase that had deliberately followed—were long over.
Not about to go down memory lane, he turned to the awkward apprentice. "And you're...?"
She clutched her notepad and pen to her chest. "Ma-rissa Adams, Cady's new administrative assistant."
Jeb tipped the brim of his hat at her. "Pleased to meet you, Marissa. I'm Jeb."
"Nice to meet you, too," she murmured shyly.
Cady gathered up the reports on her desk and put them in a folder. Conversationally, she continued, "Jeb is an old and very dear friend from my hometown of Laramie."
Jeb gave her an exaggerated once-over. That they had an audience made the mutual ribbing all the more fun. "Watch who you're calling old, sweetheart." He sent Cady a teasing look. "You're the one with the birthday coming up."
She winced at the mere mention of the upcoming celebration.
Jeb realized the age thing remained a sore subject. Although he didn't see why, since he and Cady had been born in the same calendar year and he was happy. Maybe it was because they both wanted such different things out of life?
Determined to lift the sudden downshift in the mood, he informed the still confused Marissa, "I had my birthday a couple of months ago. I'm thirty-four."
Cady made a face at Jeb, resenting his easy acceptance of his age.
Which prompted him to add, even more devilishly, "And available." He winked playfully at both women. "In case anyone is asking."
Shocked, Marissa laughed out loud.
"Jeb's kidding," Cady corrected sternly, as if a great faux pas had been made. "He's not available."
Actually, he was.
He mocked Cady with an indignant look.
Cady lifted a staying hand. "There's no question Jeb is a nice and very charming guy, Marissa. He's from a great family and he makes a terrific pal, but...beyond that."
Jeb was off-limits.
And not just to Cady's assistant.
Legend had it, to any woman with any sense.
Marissa still looked confused, so Jeb added the facts. "What Cady won't tell you is that I got cold feet and left my fiancée at the altar ten years ago. I haven't been serious about a woman since. Bottom line," he confessed matter-of-factly, "I'm a very bad bet. So, you and every other woman in this workplace would be wise to stay away from me."
Marissa sighed. "That's too bad," she said wistfully, not all that discouraged. "Because you really are cute— for an old guy."
This time, Cady laughed. Then, getting back to business, she handed the folder to Marissa.
Still smiling shyly, her assistant swept out shutting the door behind her.
Once Cady and Jeb were alone, he couldn't help but confront her about her comments. "Must you always warn women away?" he demanded. If he didn't know better, he'd think she was jealous. Or, as she had claimed on more than one occasion, just way too picky on his behalf.
Cady shrugged, not the least apologetic, and replied frankly, "She's too young for you. And way too naive. You'd break her heart in no time flat and you wouldn't mean to."
"Or she'd break mine," he ventured.
Abruptly, Cady looked as distressed about the possibility as he felt. Then she smiled, obviously knowing, as did Jeb, that that just wasn't possible. He'd have to be interested first... And unbeknownst to Cady, the only women who really intrigued him were stunning Texas go-getters like the gal in front of him.
He moved closer to the floor-to-ceiling windows and turned his eyes away from her all-knowing gaze, to the spectacular view of downtown Houston. Another beat of silence fell. Their arsenal of repartee momentarily exhausted, the only thing left was an overabundance of feeling he was determined not to give in to.
"So what is this news you had to tell me in person?" he asked finally, noting the way Cady's stylish dress clung to her figure.
Maybe it was because she was so much smaller and more delicately built compared to his own tall, rangy frame, but he always felt the need to protect her.
She flushed and finally lowered the barbed wire fence she kept around her heart. "I'm sorry I was so mysterious on the phone."
Jeb took in the riot of pink color staining her pretty face, the uncertain twist of her soft, voluptuous lips. He wondered if she knew how pretty she looked, standing there in the late afternoon sunlight. Or how much he wished he could go after her, with any chance of success.
He shrugged, letting her know her demand was no big deal. "I was in the vicinity anyway, delivering livestock for a county rodeo." Working to keep his feelings in check, he nudged her arm playfully. "And you're still stalling. My question is... why?" Usually, Cady cut straight to the chase.
She tensed and turned toward him, resting a buff bare shoulder against the wall of tinted glass.
In deference to the intense summer heat, she wore a sexy-as-all-get-out hot pink sheath and matching heels. She ran a hand through her hair, pushing the thick, golden-brown mane away from her face. Her whiskey-colored eyes turning serious, she gazed up at him. "You remember the adoption service I signed up with four years ago?"
The one that had put her through a ton of home studies and evaluations, with very little result? Jeb studied the complex emotions in her wide-set eyes. "The Stork Agency," he recollected easily.
Cady's chin trembled with excitement. "Well, it's finally happened. They think they might have a baby for me. I still have to meet the pregnant teenager. Because it's an open adoption, and we'll be in contact with one another as the child grows up, we're going to need to feel compatible with each other, to proceed. But there's a chance I'm going to get the baby I want so very much."
"And you're nervous," Jeb guessed.
Cady knotted her hands in front of her. She drew a long, quavering breath. "Very."
Silence fell as they contemplated how much was suddenly on the line.
"What if she doesn't like me?" she asked finally.
Jeb bolstered Cady's flagging spirits with a reassuring look. "That's impossible."
"What if she doesn't think I'm mother material?"
Jeb had never met a more loving, caring woman. "We know you are."
Cady swallowed, still on edge.
He covered her hand with his own and gave her a searching look. "What is it you want to ask me?"
Cady relaxed and lifted her face up to his. "Will you come with me?"
There were a million reasons why Jeb should say no. And a very compelling one why he should say yes. They were friends and she needed him. He wasn't going to let her down.
He drew her close for a warm, companionable hug. "Of course I will," he murmured.
Cady instantly felt better the moment Jeb said yes, and even more comforted when he wrapped her in a friendly bear hug that spoke volumes about his casual affection for her.
The truth was, she always felt good when she was with Greta and Shane McCabe's oldest son. Calmer, more content somehow. As if no matter what happened, everything would turn out all right.
Part of it was the fact she and Jeb were both native Texans and had never lost the inherent practicality and friendliness that came from being reared in a small West Texas town.
Laramie was a place where kindness was de rigueur and neighbors looked out for each other. Self-made men and women abounded, and families like her own—of more modest beginnings—were treated with the same respect as prominent families like the McCabes, Car-rigans, and Lockharts.
Ambition combined with hard work was a commodity everyone shared. Hence, the possibilities for everyone's future seemed limitless, because one never knew when a big idea or a bold business plan, or even a personal quest—like the one she had now—would come to fruition.
When they were kids, Jeb had been part of the popular crowd. As had Cady's older sister, Suki.
Cady had ...
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Book Description Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Brand new!. Bookseller Inventory # 16F-09-BZ1
Book Description Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0373753675
Book Description Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0373753675
Book Description Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110373753675