Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – One Night with the Army Doc, by Traci Douglass

We’re welcoming Traci Douglass back today with an excerpt from her debut Medical Romance, One Night with the Army Doc.  Enjoy!!  Traci will be joining us in a regular blog spot in the next few months.

9781335663689

Is it enough to convince her to stay…?

Filming the latest episode of her TV show, diagnostician Dr Molly Flynn clashes with privacy-loving ex-army doc Jacob Ryder! But as friction turns into flirtation does she dare believe they might have a future…together?

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m surprised you came here to Alaska,” Jake said finally, after pulling a black “Anchorage Mercy” T-shirt over his head. The clothes helped, covering all that forbidden flesh. “Doesn’t your network usually prefer more glitzy locations?”

“MedStar thought a sports star case would draw in more viewers, so here I am.”

“That simple, huh?”

“That simple.” Molly wiped her face on her towel then slung it around her neck, her nerve endings on high alert with him sitting so close. “Why are you so against the media?”

“I was raised to keep my head down and stay humble. Doing good should be its own reward. And I’ve had some bad experiences with reporters in the past.”

Jake leaned against the wall beside her, his arm brushing Molly’s and sending a fresh explosion of sparks through her system.

“So… Molly Flynn. Daughter of the famous Roger Flynn?”

She cringed, staring across the empty gym. “Yes.”

“We spent a whole semester in medical school studying his suture techniques.”

She gave a derisive snort and he narrowed his gaze, his expression thoughtful.

“Must be hard, living up to that kind of perfectionism.”

“You have no idea.” Head lowered, Molly poked the toe of her running shoe into the car- pet. “Everything in my household was performance-based. Everything.”

“Ouch. I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

Outside, the world might be pure chaos, but in here with him all seemed oddly private and safe. But cracks were appearing in the logical wall she’d built to keep him away—the one that told her touching him, tasting him, would be wrong. Jake was so close now that Molly could see the tiny flecks of gold in his stormy gray eyes, and all her practical ideas and reasons evaporated.

“For what must have been a tough childhood,” he said, his voice gentle, husky as he leaned closer still.

She didn’t move away. “It wasn’t like I was abused or anything.”

“No.” His gaze lowered to her mouth. “But I bet you weren’t nurtured either.”

“Nurtured?” The invisible cord between them tightened, the word squeezing Molly’s heart like an embrace. “N-no. I wasn’t.”

“Such a pity…” Jake frowned, his lips hovering over hers for a brief second before capturing them in a light kiss.

Warning bells clanged in the back of Molly’s mind, telling her this was happening too fast. Telling her she’d only be hurt by this man who saw too much, who fought as fiercely for what he believed in as she did. But instead of pushing Jake away Molly twined her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, craving his taste more than she craved her next breath.

Jake groaned low and slipped one hand around her waist while the other cupped the back of her head as he deepened the kiss. Molly opened her lips, welcoming the gentle sweep of his tongue and his minty, sweet flavor. It was nice and wonderful and…

Over.

Cursing, Jake pulled away and grabbed the cell phone clipped to the waistband of his shorts, blinking down at the screen with a frown. “Sorry. I’ve got a critically ill patient in the ICU. He’s stabilized enough to get a CT scan. They’re taking him now.”

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Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Retro excerpt from Amy Andrews

This year’s RITA competiton saw 2 medical romances final in the short contemporary romance category. Scarlet Wilson’s book,  The Doctor and the Princess,  and my book, A Christmas Miracle.

The RITA award ceremony is held  in about 5 weeks time so I thought you might enjoy a little snippet from my book. Happy reading!

ritaCOVER

Reid and Oscar stayed in for close to an hour. He was so excited to be out in the deeper water, splashing around with the rest of their fellow ocean-goers, that Reid was determined to stay as long as Oscar wanted.

His mother needn’t have worried about them being separated. For all his bravado, Oscar clung to him like a monkey, his breathing fast and excited as they’d waded in together.

Still, it didn’t stop Trinity from pacing up and down the shoreline. She was easy to spot in bathers that would have been perfectly at home at Bondi a hundred years ago. Compared to the other scantily clad women she stuck out like a sore thumb, covered neck to knee, her hair stuffed up inside her big, floppy hat totally obscuring her face and eyes.

Even so, he could feel her gaze firmly fixed on him.

Well, Oscar anyway.

Reid, on the other hand, could hardly take his eyes off her. She might not have been exposing much skin but it was the first thing she’d worn that actually showed off her body and what she actually had going on under clothes that usually hung.

It was a novelty to be able to see she actually had a waist. And breasts that looked as if they’d fill a man’s hand. He’d known they were there. Had felt them pressed to him, mashed up against him that day on her bed, but to see them… Or glimpse their outline anyway.

He’d spent an inordinate amount of time while playing with Oscar hoping she might get wet.

‘Can we go out to Eddie?’

Pops was out in shoulder-deep water chatting to some other old guy and, while Reid was confident in his own abilities, he’d promised Trinity he wouldn’t take Oscar out deep.

‘Not this time, dude.’

Oscar took it on the chin as he did everything else. He was a good kid. Well behaved, not prone to sulking if he didn’t get his way. Trinity had done an awesome job with him, considering their circumstances.

Not that he was any closer to knowing what her true circumstances actually were. She might have relaxed around him but chatty she was not.

Oscar absently traced the outline of his eagle wings tat with one pruned finger. ‘I like your tattoos,’ he said.

Reid grinned. Oscar hadn’t really mentioned them before—to him, anyway—which was unusual. Most kids were agog. ‘Thank you. Tattoos sometimes frighten kids but not you, huh?’

He shook his head. ‘No. Mummy has a tattoo.’

Reid blinked. Oh, does she now? He glanced at her staring at them from the shoreline in her neck-to-knee gear. He really, really wished he hadn’t known that. He was going to be thinking about it way more than was good for his sanity.

Already questions about where and what rose in his throat. But he was not going to pump her kid for information that was none of his damn business.

Oscar shivered and goose bumps broke out on his arms. Reid was pleased for the distraction. ‘Cold, little dude?’

‘No.’

Reid gave a half-laugh. He was on the cool side himself now but, on closer inspection, Oscar’s lips were a nice shade of purple-blue and he was pretty sure Trinity would bundle him straight out if she were here. Because that was what a responsible parent did.

He’d never given a lot of thought to being a parent. A father. He’d assumed he would be one day but, at thirty-four, maybe he’d missed that boat?

Oscar’s teeth started to chatter.

‘Your teeth are chattering.’

‘They’re j…just exci…excited.’

Reid laughed again. Excited teeth. Kids!

‘Yeah, I don’t think your mum is going to buy that, dude, and she’ll have my—’ He cut himself off before he said ass on a platter. ‘I’ll be off her Christmas card list.’

Oscar nodded, resigned. ‘Yeah. She always worries I might catch a bug and have to go to hospital.’

It was a natural thing for mothers to worry about, even though Reid knew no one caught a bug just from being cold. But there was a gravity to Oscar’s words that told him it was a legitimate fear of Trinity’s.

That Oscar had been in hospital before.

He opened his mouth to press for more then shut it again. He wasn’t going to ask about that any more than he was going to ask about Trinity’s tattoo. He should just man up and do it himself—the hospital thing, not the tattoo thing—instead of waiting for her to open up to him.

Maybe he would ask her. In a few weeks.

In the meantime, he didn’t want to start on the wrong foot by handing over a hypothermic child. He motioned to his grandfather to let him know they were heading back. ‘Okay, let’s go in.’

Oscar sighed and put his head down on Reid’s shoulder. It fitted perfectly. Reid’s heart gave a strange little kick and the feeling of restlessness that had dogged him since coming back to stay with Pops stilled. After a moment’s hesitation, he placed his chin on top of the snowy-blond head and strode out of the ocean with him.

**************************************************************************************

If you enjoyed this excerpt you can buy the book at all good online retailers. Here is the Amazon link. Currently its only $2.99 for Australian and NZ readers via Amz Oz, Kobo, iBooks and Google!

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Healed by the Single Dad Doc, by Annie Claydon

9781474074957

Could single dad Ethan be the one…

…to put Kate together again?

When kind-hearted single father Dr Ethan Conway comes to vet Kate Foster’s rescue one night, it forges an unexpected bond between them. Could Kate be the perfect woman for Ethan and his young son to let into their life? If Kate can learn to trust again and let Ethan help her perhaps they can both move on—and be a family!

 

 

Chapter 1

Dr Ethan Conway was no stranger to the saving of lives. And also no stranger to the desolate feeling of having to accept that sometimes there is nothing that can be done.

And Jeff wasn’t ‘just’ a dog. He was Ethan’s dog. The gentle, giant Newfoundland would be over ninety now in human years. Old age was finally catching up with him and, if his gradual decline over the last three weeks hadn’t come as any surprise, it had still been hard.

‘All right, Jeff. She’ll be here in a minute.’ Ethan had parked the car in the empty forecourt of the veterinary surgery, and he twisted round in his seat. Jeff lifted his head slightly at the sound of his name and Ethan reached back, stroking the dog’s head. Jeff had been with him for nine years, through love and loss, dreams and shattered hopes, and the thought of losing him now hurt.

It’s okay to be upset about this.

The words of the pretty red-haired vet who’d seen Jeff last week sounded in Ethan’s head. He’d explained to her that, in the scheme of things, this wasn’t so bad and she’d cut through his bravado with one look.

Another car swung onto the forecourt, its headlights blinding him for a moment. It stopped at an interesting angle, taking up two parking spaces, and the driver’s door opened. Kate Foster got out, hurrying across to where Ethan’s car was parked.

‘I’ll straighten it up in a minute…’ Ethan wound the driver’s window down and she grinned at him. ‘Have you been waiting long? I’m sorry, my last call took a bit longer than I anticipated.’

‘I was early. And it’s good of you to see us so late in the evening.’

She brushed the idea away with a wave of her hand, even though Ethan knew from his earlier conversation with the receptionist that Kate had been working all day. Despite that, she was all fresh-faced energy as she craned her neck through the window of his car, her gaze seeking Jeff out.

‘Hello, Jeff. How are you doing, old boy?’

Jeff’s tail thumped on the seat and he raised his head again. Kate smiled, and Ethan provided the answer to her question.

‘He’s been a lot more comfortable since you saw him last week. I’ve been giving him the medication regularly.’

She nodded. ‘Good. Let’s get him inside and I’ll take a look at him.’

Kate unlocked the main door of the surgery and waited while Ethan unclipped the car safety-harness. Jeff lumbered slowly inside. The door slammed behind them and she squeezed past him in the narrow entranceway, leaving a scent of fresh air and flowers behind her as she walked through the darkened reception area and opened a door to the surgery at the back, flipping on the light.

‘Bring him through…’ She held the door open and Ethan bent, ready to lift the large dog up onto the examination couch. ‘That’s okay. Sit down there with him. He didn’t much like it up on the couch last time, did he?’

She’d only seen Jeff once before but she remembered. Ethan sat down gratefully on the long vinyl-covered bench which ran along one wall of the surgery, and Jeff sprawled on the floor next to him, leaning against Ethan’s legs.

‘You’ll be okay there for a moment? I’ve got to go and get my bag from the car.’ She gave a smiling shrug that, for one moment, dispelled the weight in his heart. ‘I should probably take another shot at that parking bay, too. I’m told the white lines are there for a reason.’

‘We’ll be fine. Call me if you need someone to wave you in to your space.’

She chuckled, and it occurred to Ethan that parking in a straight line wasn’t much in Kate’s nature. At work, she was thoughtful and methodical, but everything else she did betrayed a deliciously free spirit.

He heard the sound of the front door closing behind her. Then silence, broken only by the faint whisper of a car engine. A dull thud, and then silence again.

‘Better go and see if she needs some help, Jeff.’ Ethan shifted Jeff to one side a little and got to his feet. As he did so, the sound of a scream made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end…

 

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Falling for his Best Friend

 med4

by Emily Forbes

They’ve been friends forever…

When nurse Kitty Nelson becomes a surrogate for her sister, her best friend, paramedic Joe Harkness, is right there for her. But as Kitty’s pregnancy blossoms, Joe begins to see her in a very different light! Finally admitting a connection he’s never felt with anyone else, is it too late to convince Kitty they’re meant to be?

This is my current release and it is also one of the books on our  VALENTINE’S DAY GIVEAWAY! Don’t miss out, it is running until the 13th February 2018. If you haven’t entered yet here is the link ….

Valentines day giveaway 2018

Good luck and Happy Reading!

If you do miss out here are the buy links for my book:

Mills & Boon UK

Mills & Boon Australia

Harlequin

Other bookstores

And you can keep up to date at my website https://www.emily-forbesauthor.com/

 

 Falling for His Best Friend

Kitty was starting to feel more like her normal self. Her morning sickness was abating and, at twenty-two weeks, she was now feeling like she thought she was supposed to – a glowing, pregnant woman. She hadn’t gained much weight yet except for in her breasts but she felt voluptuous for the first time in her life and it was making her feel very feminine. She knew it was hormonal but she was constantly thinking about sex. She hadn’t had sex in six months, nearly seven, and she was beginning to think she might go crazy unless she did something about it.

And it seemed she wasn’t the only one as she sat with Lisa and a couple of other nurses at the Manly Pier Hotel and the talk turned, inevitably, to men and the lack of good ones.

Kitty was enjoying the evening. It was good to be out and nice to have the focus off the pregnancy for a little while. At home it had become the number one topic of conversation and she was looking forward to talking about the things she used to discuss with her girlfriends. The pub was busy, the line at the bar a couple of people deep. It was her turn to buy the drinks but she didn’t feel like fighting her way through the crowd. Like a knight in shining armour Joe appeared and offered to place their order.

‘You and Joe aren’t an item?’ one of the nurses asked, continuing the conversation as she watched Joe walk to the bar.

‘No. Just friends,’ Kitty replied.

‘With benefits?’ Victoria asked.

‘No.’ She shook her head.

‘He’s hot.’

He did look good tonight she thought although she had to pretend she hadn’t noticed. He wore his favourite jeans, they were her favourites on him too, they hugged his arse and highlighted what she considered to be one of his best features. A white t-shirt hugged his chest. It was a simple outfit but it showcased his body to perfection. He was fit and muscular with just the right amount of confident swagger she thought as she watched him leaning on the bar. His dark hair was casually perfect, he looked like he hadn’t made a huge amount of effort, as if he got out of bed looking like this – relaxed and gorgeous with a cheeky grin for whichever female he was talking to.

She had to agree with Victoria. Joe was hot but she’d long ago taught herself to ignore it. They were friends, first and foremost, and she was too afraid of ruining the status quo to ever test the boundaries of that friendship. She needed him as a friend and she wasn’t going to risk their relationship by blurring the lines.

‘Is he single?’ Victoria asked as they watched Joe return to their table.

‘He’s single,’ she admitted.

He delivered their drinks with a smile, making the dimple in his chin flash and Kitty noticed that Victoria couldn’t take her eyes of him. He didn’t stay, choosing instead to go out to the deck where some of his mates were drinking, and Victoria’s gaze followed his path through the crowd.

All the talk about men and, more specifically, Joe, had Kitty flustered. She couldn’t think about him and sex in the same conversation. She’d trained herself not to and besides, he’d never even hinted that he’d be willing to cross that line in the sand.

But what if he did? What would she do?

She shook her head.

She’d be crazy to even consider it. She wasn’t prepared to risk the friendship of a lifetime for a brief encounter between the sheets. Even if her hormones were going crazy there were others ways to scratch that itch. Kitty drained her water glass and stood up as the DJ played his first track. The pub was full of good-looking young men, Joe was not the only eligible bachelor here, she thought as she dragged Lisa onto the dance floor.

 

 

 

Joe could see Kitty on the dance floor from his vantage point on the deck. She looked particularly beautiful tonight. He knew she was suffering a little from morning sickness but she had a pregnancy glow and by the evening she was obviously feeling, and looking, better. Her hair was thick and glossy and her skin was luminous. She moved well, she was the epitome of someone who danced as if no one was watching and he took advantage of that fact to watch her.

She was normally slight but the pregnancy had added some curves to her bust and her hips he thought as he watched her hips move to the music. She let herself go to the rhythm of the song and Joe let his eyes follow her movements. There was something hypnotic, almost sensual, about her dancing.

He shook his head and turned away. He felt awkward and exposed now, he wasn’t used to thinking about Kitty in that sense. Of course he’d noticed little things about her before, the depth of her brown eyes, the curve of her lips, the twin dimples in her cheeks, but he’d never let himself entertain an image of her as a sexual being before. He’d always kept her firmly in the friend zone.

He turned his gaze to Lisa instead as he tried to get the image of Kitty’s hips out of his head and watched as the girls were joined by a couple of guys – strangers – or at least they were strangers to him. Not that who Kitty danced with was any of his business but Joe felt his hackles rise anyway as his protective, or should that be territorial, instincts came to the fore.

Kitty danced for a few more minutes but when Lisa’s boyfriend arrived she excused herself and headed to the bar, followed by one of the guys. Joe’s protective instincts kicked up another notch.  If this guy wanted a chance with Kitty he’d have to go through him first.

He pushed his way through the crowd and arrived at Kitty’s side just as the guy asked. ‘What can I get you?’

‘She’ll have a water,’ Joe answered.

The guy looked from Kitty to Joe. ‘I wasn’t asking you.’

‘And yet, I’m answering.’ His protective instincts were on high alert now, Kitty didn’t need a stranger buying her drinks, and as the guy half-turned away from Joe to face Kitty, obviously not about to listen to Joe, he couldn’t resist adding, ‘She’s pregnant, she’ll have a water.’

He saw the guy glance down at Kitty’s stomach. There were no visible signs of her pregnancy yet, not unless you knew her. Joe knew that her breasts were bigger and she was a little softer, a little more rounded, more voluptuous, but she was wearing a loose sleeveless top and jeans. All anyone else would notice was the size of her breasts. And Joe didn’t want other guys noticing that.

Her skin glowed. She looked beautiful. And cross.

She was glaring at Joe but he pretended not to notice.

The guy looked back at Joe. He looked irritated too but Joe didn’t care. ‘Are you the father?’ he asked.

‘No.’

‘Then what business is it of yours?’

‘It’s her brother-in-law’s baby,’ Joe stated flatly.

The look on the stranger’s face was priceless. If Kitty wasn’t still glaring at him Joe would have laughed. The guy looked completely horrified and he disappeared fast. Just as Joe had hoped.

‘What are you doing?’ Kitty turned on him.

‘What are you doing?’ he countered.

‘I was talking. He was cute.’ She was watching him walk away. ‘And now he thinks I’m a complete crazy.’

‘He wasn’t cute,’ Joe said. ‘And he looked about eighteen. No wonder he ran.’ He couldn’t help the smile that broke out on his face but Kitty was still cross.

‘Shit, Joe, I haven’t had sex in almost seven months, my hormones are going wild and I’m about to burst with frustration. I wasn’t going to marry the guy. It’s just sex.’

Just sex.

Joe saw red. He’d never understood that expression until now. Blackness encroached onto the edges of his vision as a red haze washed over the centre. His scientific background told him that the visual disturbance was due to a rush of blood through his body, and he would swear he could feel his blood pressure building, but he had a burning desire to punch something.

He didn’t want to think about Kitty having sex and certainly not with strangers. The very idea horrified him.

He was aware of other men looking at her with interest and listening to their conversation. He took a deep breath and tried to clear his vision as he gripped her elbow and steered her out to the relative quiet of the deck before any other strangers offered to help her out.

‘I was only talking to him,’ she argued, not prepared to let the discussion drop. ‘What’s the matter with you?’

‘You were talking to him but thinking about sex,’ he replied. ‘You don’t know anything about him.’ He knew he sounded like an irrational fool, Kitty was an adult and could make her own decisions, but he really didn’t want her thinking about having sex with strangers.

Kitty rolled her eyes. ‘If you hadn’t scared him off I might have found out more about him. That’s how meeting people works, Joe. You meet, you talk, you decide if you like each other.’

‘And then you have sex.’

‘That was my plan.’

‘But you’re pregnant.’

‘So? You think people don’t have sex when they’re pregnant?’

He didn’t want to think about her having sex, pregnant or otherwise, and not with strangers, that was for damn sure.

She was grinning at him now, the little dimples in her cheeks twinkling. He didn’t want her to think he was being funny, he was deadly serious. And he wanted her to take him seriously.

He was sorely tempted to offer his services but bit his tongue just in time. There was no way in hell that was a good idea.

She was waiting for his answer. Looking up at him with her big brown eyes, making it difficult to remember just why taking her in his arms and taking her to bed would be so terrible.

‘I don’t want to talk about you having pregnant sex,’ he said as he tried futilely not to imagine what her lips would taste like. Tried not to imagine how her breasts would feel under his fingers.

‘Why not?’

They were standing very close now and the noise from the bar receded into the distance as Kitty continued to look up at him, a challenge in her dark eyes.

Why not what? He couldn’t remember what he’d said. He couldn’t think straight when she looked at him like that. She was all lips and eyes and breasts and he was a mess.

Their conversation was forgotten as he stared at her lips. He thought about kissing her soundly, showing her what it was like to be kissed by someone who knew her well. Who cared about her. Showing her how much better that was than kissing a complete stranger. Why had he never kissed her before. He couldn’t remember.

Everything receded, the noise, the crowd, until there was just the two of them.

He searched for a good reason not to kiss her now and couldn’t think of one. The urge to kiss her was overpowering and he didn’t know if he could resist.

He bent his head.

She lifted her chin and tilted her head up to him.

***

 

 

Excerpts, Guest Blogs

Excerpt – Greyfriars House, by Emma Fraser

isbn9780751566123

Prologue

Charlotte

October 1984

The house looms behind me, grey and forbidding in the moonlight. From the turret window a light flickers so briefly I can’t be sure I saw it. Ever since I arrived on the island I have had the sensation I am being watched, that someone wants me gone. But I no longer trust my senses. There is so much that is strange about Greyfriars.

It is very still. As if the island is holding its breath. I move towards the shore. What my great-aunt has told me so far has shaken me. And there is more to come. More secrets to be revealed. I am not sure I can bear to hear them.

As I pick my way along the rough path I think regretfully of the torch left behind in the porch. But I persevere, wanting to put distance between me and the house. The moon and stars provide just enough light although every now and again scudding clouds obscure the moon and I am momentarily plunged into darkness.

I continue through the trees, innocuous in the daytime, but in the shifting darkness as sinister as watching sentinels. Then at last I am in the open again, the sea, glittering in the moonlight, stretching in front of me. I suck in lungfuls of salty air and my pulse slows.

A rustle comes from the copse behind me and my heart kicks as I whirl around. Something has moved within the shadows. I think of the ghostly presences my mother told me about, then immediately dismiss the thought with an impatient click of my tongue. The only ghosts are the ones in my head. Some placed there by Georgina, others of my own making.

Tiger has run off and I can hear cracking of branches as she sniffs amongst the piles of rotting leaves. A shape swoops over my head and I smother a cry. A flutter and a flash. It is just the owl that roosts in the eaves, returning with a mouse trapped in its beak.

It isn’t just the house that unsettles me, or the two women within, it is me, the way I feel inside. Untethered and adrift. A boat without an anchor at the mercy of the wind and tide.

I’d told myself I’d come here to find answers although I knew, deep down, I was fleeing from the world, my grief, my guilt, from having to make a decision about the rest of my life.

Tiger growls. She has emerged from the bushes and is standing in front of the copse of trees, her ears up, her tail rigid behind her. The hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I know she is there before I see her. The figure emerges from the shadows, her face hidden. I have seen her before. Edith sleepwalking I’ve been told. I no longer believe it.

 

Greyfriars House‘ by Emma Fraser is available now in hardback and ebook, and in paperback in May, (available to pre-order from Amazon, now).

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Pregnant With his Royal Twins

thumbnail_IMG_1112Freya surreptitiously slipped the packet from her locker and into her uniform pocket, hiding it under her notepad. The lack of her period and the increasing nausea she was experiencing each morning seemed obvious signs enough, but Freya wanted proof. Scientific proof.

Night shift it might be, but to her this was morning, and walking into the staff room and smelling the strong coffee that had been put on to brew had almost made her share with everyone the ginger biscuits she had forced down for breakfast. It had taken a gargantuan effort to control her stomach, and a sheen of sweat had prickled her brow and top lip as she’d fumbled with her locker. Her fingers had almost tripped over themselves in her haste.

Heading to the ladies’ loo, she told Mona she’d just be five minutes and that she’d catch up to her at the staff briefing in a moment.

‘Okay, hun, see you in five.’ Mona smiled and headed off, her hand clutched around a mug of that nausea-inducing coffee.

The toilets were right next door to the hub, so Freya slipped in and locked the door behind her, leaning back against it, letting out a long, slow breath of relief. She took a moment to stand there and see if her stomach settled.

There didn’t seem any doubt about what was happening to her, but she needed to do this just the same. She pulled the pregnancy test from her pocket and stared hard at it, not quite believing that she was actually going to.

She’d always hoped that one day she would become a mother. But the actual chances of that ever happening to her had—she believed—become very slim the day she had been scarred for life. Because who would want her now?

‘Come on, Freya…you’re better than this,’ she whispered to herself, trying to drum up the courage to get herself through the next few minutes.

Freya loved the nightshift, working on Maternity here at Queen’s Hospital. There was something extra-special about working nights. The quiet. The solitude. The intimate joy of bringing a new life into the world and being with that family as they watched their first sunrise together. A new day. A new family. Life changing. Getting better. New hopes. New dreams. There weren’t the distractions of daytime—telephones constantly ringing, visiting families all over the place. It was secluded. Fewer busybodies.

It was the perfect hiding place for her, the hospital at night time, and those nights afforded Freya the anonymity that she craved. Lights were kept low. There were shadows to stay in, no harsh fluorescent lighting to reveal to her patients the true extent of her scarring.

It was better now than it had been. She had some smooth skin now, over her cheeks and forehead, where just two years before she’d had angry red pits and lines, her face constantly set and immovable, like a horrific Halloween mask.

Not now. Not now she’d had her many, many reconstructive surgeries. Thirty-three times under the skilled scalpel of her plastic surgeon.

And yet she was still hiding—even more so—in a bathroom. Her hands sweating and fidgety as she kept glancing down at the testing kit.

‘Only one thing to do, really,’ she told herself aloud, shaking her head at the absolute silliness of giving herself a pep talk.

She peed on the stick and laid it on the back of the sink as she washed her hands and then took a step back. She stared at her reflection in the mirror, refusing to look down and see the result. She saw the fear in her eyes, but she also recognised something she hadn’t seen for years—hope.

‘This is what you’ve always wanted,’ she whispered.

But wanting something and actually achieving it, when you believed it to be impossible, was another thing altogether. If it were possible then she’d finally get her childhood dream. To hold her own child in her arms and not just other people’s. To have her own baby and be a mum. Even if that meant she’d have to revert back to living in sunlight. With all those other people.

Even if they didn’t stare at her, or do that second glance thing, she still felt that they were looking. It was human nature to look at someone different and pretend that you weren’t. And your face was the hardest thing to hide.

Still…this wasn’t exactly how she’d imagined it happening. As a little girl she’d dreamt of marrying a handsome man, having his babies and being in a settled relationship.

She had no one. Even ‘the guy’ had been a mad, terrific impulse, when her body had been thrumming with joy about the fact that she was out amongst people, having fun, enjoying a party behind the veil of her fancy dress costume.

It had been so long since she’d last been to a social event. Too long. Years since she’d stood in a room full of people, chatting, laughing at poor jokes, being normal.

Mike had taken that away from her. That joy and freedom. His jealous actions had imprisoned her in a world of night and pain, surgeries and hiding. Feeling unable to show her face to the world without fearing people’s reactions. A frightened child turning away as if to clutch her mother’s skirts when a stranger did a double-take and tried not to look appalled or disgusted or worse.

The veil she’d worn that night had hidden everything. The high-necked Victorian steam punk outfit had hidden the scars on her neck that had not yet been tackled, and the veil had added a note of mystery.

That night people had looked at her with intrigue and with delight. They’d smiled…they’d complimented her on how wonderful she looked. Their words had made her giddy with happiness. She’d been normal there. Like them.

And then he’d been there. The guy. The pirate. He’d seemed uncomfortable. Had appeared to be waiting for enough time to pass so he could make his escape.

She knew how that felt. She’d felt a kind of companionship with him, despite their not having exchanged a word.

It had helped, of course, that he had seductively dark eyes and a wickedly tempting mouth, and she’d almost stopped herself. She’d taken a moment to register the fact that she was attracted to a man when the very idea of that had been anathema to her for so many years.

But not that night. The costume, the veil, had given her a sense of bravery she hadn’t felt for a long time.

‘I’m Freya. Pleased to meet you.’

‘Jamie.’

‘I saw you eyeing up the exit. Getting ready to make a break for it?’

‘I’ve been thinking about it.’

‘Please don’t. Stay for a little while longer. Let me get you a drink.’

It had been crazy how emboldened she’d felt. Her entire body had been thrumming with adrenaline and serotonin, her heart pounding like a revved-up engine. She’d felt alive, happy, normal again—having a conversation with an attractive man, feeling the thrill of first attraction.

Silly. Childish, maybe, when she really ought to have known better, but it had just felt so good!

He had made her feel that way. The way he’d looked at her, his eyes sparkling with inky delight, his full lips curved in a wicked smile. He’d laughed with joy at her anecdotes, had genuinely seemed happy to stay.

She’d felt warm and wanted again. Desire had filled her the second he’d let go of the stem of his glass and let his fingers trail delicately over the back of her hand. She’d focused on that movement, watched his fingertips on her skin—her very sensitive skin. She’d looked up and met his eyes, and the most extraordinary question had left her lips.

‘Are you married?’

‘No.’

‘With someone?’

‘No.’

‘Do you want to be?’

She’d startled herself with the sheer audacity of her question. That wasn’t her! Freya MacFadden did not proposition strange men!

She’d pulled her hand away then, retreating into the shell she was so accustomed to being inside. But then he’d reached for her hand again. Not to stop her from running away. Not to try and possess her or control her. But just to get her to make eye contact with him.

‘I’m guessing you didn’t mean to say that?’

‘No.’

‘Then we can both forget it. Don’t worry.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘Don’t ever be.’

He’d been so kind. So understanding. So she hadn’t bolted and neither had he.

They’d continued to sit with each other and talk about what the other guests were wearing and why the charity they were there to support was so important. They’d laughed and had a good time, enjoying each other’s company.

He’d offered to walk her out at the end, and she’d let him, intending to say goodbye at the door. To fetch her coat and leave. For ever to remain an enigmatic stranger at a party that he would remember with fondness. Like Cinderella leaving the ball at midnight, only without the glass slipper.

Freya let out a deep breath. She couldn’t stay here in the bathroom for too long. There was a hand-over from the day shift.

Freya loved her daytime colleagues, and they her, but she was happy when they went home. Because then she could begin to craft the intimacy that the night shift brought. Lowering the lights. Softening the voices.

It was time.

She couldn’t wait any longer.

It was now or never.

She looked down.

And sucked in a breath.

‘I’m pregnant.’

Pregnant With His Royal Twins is available from :

(Kindle, Amazon UK) January 2018

(Paperback, Amazon US) December 19th, 2017!

(Paperback, Barnes and Noble US) December 19th, 2017!

(Ebook, Nook US) January 1, 2018

 

 

Excerpts

Excerpt – A Firefighter in her Stocking by Janice Lynn

CHAPTER ONE

IT WASN’T EVERY morning that Dr. Sarah Grayson stepped out of her apartment and saw a couple making out.

It had happened, though.

Same man, different woman.

Nausea churned in Sarah’s belly. She ordered her eyes away, but since a nice, but somewhat bland apartment building corridor offered nothing to snag her attention, her gaze stayed put.

Making out in her hallway might be a bit of a stretch. Still, the couple stood in her rather hunky neighbor’s apartment doorway, sharing a far from innocent kiss.

Even if the kiss had been a mere lip peck, her neighbor’s lean hips wrapped in only a towel knocked innocent right out of the ball park. Home run.

Grand slam.

Sarah ran her gaze over his chiseled torso. He rated pin-up-worthy—centerfold, for sure. Part of her couldn’t blame the busty brunette for clinging to his broad shoulders. Or for totally ignoring the fact Sarah had stepped into the hallway. Common decency said they should pull apart and look a little embarrassed, right?

When Sarah’s gaze collided with piercing blue ones, her breath caught. No embarrassment in those magnificent eyes. Just pure unadulterated sexual temptation.

Good grief. He probably was a grand slam.

What eyes. A color so intense they pulled you in and made you feel as if you were drowning, made you want to drown in everything promised in the enticing blue depths.

Not Sarah, of course.

She was immune to playboys like this guy. She’d built up her defenses years ago while listening to her mother harp about the blight of good-looking, fast-talking men.

Adulthood had fortified her defenses.

Still, she wasn’t blind. Her neighbor was hot. She knew it and so did he.

Even as his lips lingered on the brunette’s, those eyes crinkled with bad-boy amusement. Probably laughing at the fact Sarah had taken up full-fledged voyeurism.

Gaze locked with hers, he pulled back from the kiss.

“Baby,” the brunette protested, still not noticing Sarah as she tugged downward on her cocktail dress skirt.

Good, the skimpy material barely covered her perfectly shaped bottom. A sticking plaster would cover more than the clingy sparkling spandex. Then again, if Sarah had curves like the brunette maybe she’d wear shrink-wrapped clothes, too.

She doubted it, but who knew? Sarah dressed to avoid drawing attention so she could focus on more important things than meaningless ogling. Either way, she’d never know because her stick-straight slender body lacked the brunette’s hourglass shape.

“Brandy, we have company,” her neighbor said, much in the way a parent would to a petulant child.

The brunette turned, flashing big almond eyes, raked her gaze over Sarah’s shapeless body beneath her heavy jacket, scarf, and hat. She dismissed Sarah’s importance and quickly turned back to towel boy.

He was better to look at than a ready-to-face-the-chill-of-a-Manhattan-November-early-morning Sarah.

Or Sarah on any morning, really.

“Jude,” the woman practically cooed.

So that was his name. Jude.

He’d tried talking to her a few times when they’d bumped into each other in the hallway, but she’d ignored him. What would be the point? She wasn’t interested in going through his revolving front door and he didn’t seem the type to want to just be friends with a woman. Plus, he made her feel uncomfortable. Not a creepy uncomfortable, just a very aware of how male he was uncomfortable.

Realizing she was standing in the apartment hallway, gawking still, Sarah turned from the couple, locked her deadbolt, and pretended she couldn’t hear Brandy begging to do anything he’d like her to do. Had the woman no pride?

Go home, girl. He used you.

Too bad Brandy’s mother hadn’t warned about men like him as Sarah’s mother had repeatedly done.

At the woman’s next words, Sarah’s cheeks caught fire. Nope, no pride whatsoever.

Sarah turned and her gaze collided with Jude’s amazing blue one again. She’d swear those eyes could see straight into her very being, knew her thoughts. Maybe they even had some type of superpower because her stomach fluttered as if it had grown thousands of tiny wings.

Nausea, she told herself. Men like him made her sick. Out all hours of the night, never seeming to work, always with a different woman. Sick. Sick. Sick.

Maybe he was a gigolo or some kind of male escort.

Her nose curled in disgust to go along with her flaming cheeks.

“I think you’ve embarrassed my neighbor.”

His voice was full of humor, which truly did embarrass Sarah. What was wrong with her? Standing in her hallway, as if frozen in place, ogling the man as if she’d never seen a bare chest.

She’d never seen one like his outside magazines and television, but that was beside the point.

She needed to get her voyeuristic self to work.

She couldn’t make out most of what Brandy replied but caught the words “prude” and “dumpy”. Ouch.

Refusing to look that way again, Sarah dropped her keys into the oversized bag she carried to work, and got out of Dodge before she had to listen to Jude’s reply.

She hurried down the stairs, through the apartment complex foyer, and out onto the sidewalk to walk the few blocks to the hospital. The cold November wind bit at her face, but her jacket shielded her from the worst.

Too bad she’d not had a shield against what she’d just witnessed. That image was going to be hard to erase.

No doubt her neighbor had dismissed her as unimportant just as the brunette had. Sarah didn’t care what he thought. Or what any man thought. She knew her strengths, her weaknesses. She preferred to be known for her brain and her heart rather than for outward appearances.

She was quite proud of who Sarah Grayson’s brain and heart was. A dedicated emergency room doctor whom she believed made a difference in her patients’ lives.

She wouldn’t let her revolving bedroom door neighbor make her feel badly about herself. After all, what did he do?

He never seemed to do anything.

Except beautiful women.

On that, the man was an over-achiever.

A neighbor from the floor below said she thought he came from old money. Either Sarah was onto something with her paid male escort theory, or he was nothing more than a carefree, lecherous playboy using his family to fund his depraved lifestyle.

Maybe she would get lucky and he’d move.

* * *

Adrenaline drove firefighter Jude Davenport as he pushed his way through the flame-filled building. Or maybe it was the heat that kept him moving. Sweat dripped down the back of his neck and his ears burned beneath his Nomex hood.

First checking temperature with his thermal imaging camera, Jude opened a door and thick black smoke billowed out, banking low.

“Engine Seven to command. We are entering structure and making a left-hand search.”

“Command copies Engine Seven is entering structure, making a left-hand search.”

As lead man, Jude crawled to the left-hand wall and, staying in contact with him, his partner made his way around the room, using his axe to search. Visibility was next to nil thanks to the rolling black smoke.

They had to find her.

A four-year-old little girl was trapped in this hellish inferno.

Somewhere.

Along with more than a dozen tenants, they’d already rescued her mother and sister. Jude did not want to have to look that woman in the eyes and say he’d not been able to find her daughter.

He knew first-hand the pain of losing someone you loved and that drove him as he crawled toward a closed door he could barely make out.

A child was in there, was alive. Every instinct said she was.

He just had to get there, get to her, and pray that when he did find her, that she was still alive and he’d be able to get himself and her out of the fire.

Finally, he reached the door.

Then what he’d been dreading happened, what he’d known was coming because of how long they’d been searching in the burning building.

The air horn on the truck blew.

Once. Twice. Three long times.

“Command to all units. Evacuate the building. Repeat, evacuate the building.”

He hadn’t needed the sound of the horn or command coming over the radio speakers in his air pack to know things were bad and the building was lost.

Things were bad.

Somewhere in this hellhole was a terrified four-year-old.

“Command says part of the stairs has collapsed,” his partner, Roger Woods, yelled. “We gotta go.”

Jude had to check the room. They were too close to turn back without doing so.

“Seriously, Davenport,” his partner called from behind Jude. “Don’t make me drag your butt out.”

“As if you could.”

Roger was one of his best friends and Jude trusted the man implicitly. There was a reason Roger was his partner. Because they had similar life philosophies. They valued others’ lives much more than their own. Roger wouldn’t turn back any more than Jude would. Not when they were so close to where the girl was supposed to be.

Finally Jude got to the door. Using the back of his wrist and his thermal imaging camera, he checked the door for heat.

Hot, but not unbearable.

He reached up, grabbed the handle with his gloved hand, and opened the door.

The room wasn’t quite as smoke-filled as the one he was leaving, but visibility was still barely above zero.

Reaching again for the camera hooked to the strap of his breathing apparatus, Jude scanned the room. The left and right walls glowed white, indicating that there was fire on both sides of the room. Jude was pretty sure the wall not lighting up, the opposite wall from him, was an exterior wall, which was good, because he was also pretty sure they weren’t going out the way they’d come in.

Then, with the aid of the TIC cutting through the smoke and steam, the image of a little body not moving made his heart pound.

“Davenport? Do you hear me? Get out now,” Command screamed in his ear.

It wasn’t the first time Command had screamed at him.

He prayed it wasn’t the last.

He didn’t answer his boss. What was the point? He wasn’t going anywhere. Not without the girl. He wouldn’t leave her. He couldn’t walk out of a burning building when the child’s thermal image was in his sight. Reality was that Command wouldn’t want him to. None of their crew would exit when a fire victim was within sight.

“There she is.”

“Thank God,” Roger called from behind him.

“Engine Seven to Command—we need a ladder to fourth division A-side window for rescue.” God, he hoped there was a window on the exterior wall because he couldn’t see a thing. “We have one victim.”

Command acknowledged, repeating the call.

“Keeley?” Jude yelled, hoping the girl could hear him above the fire’s loud roar. Hoping that she’d answer, that she’d move.

She didn’t.

Please, don’t let us be too late.

He couldn’t see her with his bare eyes, but used the camera to guide himself toward her. The room was a sweltering hot box.

Then the thermal image on his TIC moved and Jude wanted to cry out in relief. She was alive. Who knew how much smoke she’d inhaled, what kind of burns she might have endured, but she’d moved so there was hope.

“Keeley,” he called again, crawling toward her. “We’re here to get you out of this place.”

He had no idea if she could hear him over the deafening sound of the fire destroying the building. If she could, he wanted her to know he was on his way.

Finally, he reached the far corner of the room where she was huddled beneath her mother’s bed.

Coughing, the little girl stared at him with watery eyes, but didn’t make any move toward him or respond to his motioning for her to come to him. Was she asphyxiated?

In his gear, he couldn’t fit under the huge low-rise bed she was hidden beneath and wasn’t quite sure how he’d move the massive bed with her beneath it without risking hurting her, but he had to get to her fast. They had to get out of the building pronto.

“Keeley, we have to go.” He tried again, tugging on the corner post of the solid wood monstrosity without any success. Was the thing nailed down? “Come to me, honey. Let me carry you out of this place.”

“Don’t leave me.”

He could barely make out her words. Maybe he even lip-read them more than heard them, but they rang loudly through his very soul.

As did the terror in her big puffy eyes as she coughed again.

“I won’t leave you, Keeley. I promise. Crawl to me, Keeley.” He purposely said her name over and over, hoping to get through to her, to let her know to come to him. He stretched his arms as far beneath the bed as he could. “Just move close enough that I can pull you to safety, Keeley, so we can get out of this building.”

He heard a crash and knew another section of the structure had given way.

Any moment the building could come collapsing down.

They had to go now.

“Keeley, come to me,” he pleaded, pushing against the bedpost again to see if it would move. Nope. The piece was solid, low to the floor, and heavy as hell.

He and Roger could stand, use their weight against the frame to see if they could shift it, and pray Keeley got out of the way if they did manage to move the massive piece of furniture.

She was crying, but she scooted forward a little, then back to where she’d been against the exterior wall.

Precious seconds were ticking by. Despite his protective gear, Jude could feel the worsening heat.

Instincts kicking in that said bad was about to get a whole lot worse if he didn’t get her and get her now.

“I know it’s scary, Keeley, but you’re going to have to crawl to me so I can pull you to safety.”

That was when she moved.

Finally.

“Just a little closer, Keeley.” He reached as far as he could beneath the bed. “Just a little closer.”

Then her hand touched his glove.

“That’s it, Keeley. Just a little more.”

His hand closed around her wrist and he pulled her to him.

“I’ve got her.”

He wrapped his arms around her, just as a window burst out on the exterior wall.

Thank God. An exit.

No doubt the aerial truck platform was just outside the window and some of his guys were waiting to pull Roger, Keeley, and him through to safety.

Thank God.

“Don’t leave me,” the girl repeated, clinging tightly to him and then going limp in his arms.

“Never,” he promised again, praying he’d not been too late.