Hello everyone. Today I thought I’d share an excerpt of my new release, Healed By His Secret Baby. This was the first book I wrote after having a year off, due to various reasons and this story came to me almost fully formed.
I hope you enjoy the excerpt!
So, this is it. My final wish. And I’m sorry I’m asking you to do this, but I truly have no one else. You’re the only one I trust, and you’ve always been there for me, and now I’m asking you to be there again. But this time it’s for Tori and that way you can’t say no!
I never told her father. You know why, and it was the right thing to do at the time, but as I get closer to going, I can’t help but think of my darling little girl having no one in the world she’s related to. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And it’s a lonely place. She’ll have you, her godmother, but…she has a father out there and he could be amazing!
So, I’m tasking you with this. Find him. His name is Cole Branagh and he’s a doctor. A GP. And if he’s a doctor then surely he cares about people? I’m hoping he has a good heart. I’m hoping he can be everything she needs.
I want you to find him, and if you think he’s a good man then let him know about Tori.
I need you to find her daddy.
I know you’ll make the right decisions.
Much love to you, always and for ever,
LANE PUT DOWN the note and exclaimed, ‘Why are you making me do this?’
She went to scrunch it up in frustration but then stopped, thought better of it, and instead stared with defeat at the Liberty Point Surgery, a small general practice nestled in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water. As if just staring at the building long enough would make this whole sorry mess disappear.
He was in there. Cole Branagh.
Dr Cole Branagh.
The man who’d slept with her best friend when he really ought to have known better than to take advantage of a woman whose inhibitions were in question because of her alcohol intake.
Lane knew exactly what type of man he’d be. A charmer. A user of women. The type to hang around in bars looking for lonely easy pickings. This Cole Branagh bloke had got exactly what he wanted from Skye and nothing more.
Just like Simon.
And here she was, sitting in her car, feeling trepidation about going in there because a man like that wouldn’t want to know about his dead one-night stands, or babies they didn’t know they’d fathered. Men like that didn’t care.
Lane had uprooted her own life just to find this slime ball and have her theories proved right! Surely this was going to be a waste of time? Skye had told Lane all she needed to know about this Cole Branagh!
It had been quite easy to find him on the internet. Liberty Point Surgery’s website helpfully had a staff page with a smiling photo of each member of staff and a short paragraph explaining a bit about who they were. Probably to make them seem human.
Who would want to have a go at medical receptionist Mary when they knew she knitted hats for the preemie babies up at St Luke’s?
Cole was the only one who had no photo and his paragraph was missing. There was just his name and a list of his qualifications.
Dr Cole Branagh, BM, MRCGP, DGM, DFFP, DRCOG
Such an impressive array of letters. She’d had to look them up to see what they meant. Bachelor of Medicine. Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Diploma in Geriatric Medicine. Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning. Diploma of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists…
She’d laughed cynically at those last two. This man who knew so much about the best way to have a baby, was a man who had no idea he had an eight-month-old daughter. Wasn’t that ironic?
Sighing with irritation, she folded Skye’s letter and slipped it back into her bag as she stared once more at the surgery building, delaying for just a few more moments. It looked quite nice, as surgeries went. Modern. Redbrick. It even had hanging baskets filled with flowers in glorious pinks and greens.
She’d been lucky they’d needed a temporary healthcare assistant. Lane had registered with an agency in order to get the post there and her mum had stepped in to babysit Tori whilst she discovered if this Dr Branagh could be trusted to know that he had a child.
She flipped down the visor to see the photo she’d tucked there. It was of her and Skye. Tori’s mother was blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, with one arm around Lane, wearing a silly paper party hat. It had been taken just one year away from a diagnosis that would change everything.
‘I can’t believe you’re making me do this, Skye,’ she said out loud. ‘Who am I to be judge and jury?’
You’re Tori’s legal guardian, that’s who. It was as if Skye’s voice came to her. You made me a promise. On my deathbed. You can’t break it! She could almost hear the devilish chuckle in her friend’s voice.
No. She wouldn’t break it. She’d sworn it, holding Skye’s hands, squeezing them tight as her best friend in the whole wide world had taken her final breaths.
She’d almost lost herself afterwards. The intense grief had pulled her towards an unimaginable darkness.
She and Skye had been friends for ever. Since infants’ school. Skye had seemed strange to Lane at first. Someone without a mum? Or a dad? But they had bonded instantly and stuck by each other’s side through everything.
Until the very end.
Only baby Tori had kept Lane going. Going through the courts to get official guardianship. The little girl laughed and smiled just like her mummy! Tori was all she had left of Skye. And now she had to decide if some man—whom she didn’t even know!—could be a father to that precious little girl. That some sleazeball from a bar would have to be in their lives.
It wasn’t fair.
She hated him already. But Skye, bless her heart, had thought that he deserved a chance to know his daughter. That he deserved a chance to show that he could be a good man and a good father.
‘He’d better be some kind of unbelievable saint,’ she said out loud to the photo. ‘That’s all I’m saying.’
Five minutes later, she was walking inside the surgery, headache brewing, with her backpack over her shoulder, trying to look as if she wasn’t an undercover spy on a secret mission, but just an ordinary agency healthcare assistant, ready to start her new posting.
But when she got inside, she saw a crowd of people huddled around a person lying on the floor, and her instincts immediately kicked in.
She dropped her bag. ‘Let me through! I can help!’ she said as she barged her way through, pushing and shoving, desperate to give assistance.
Only she burst through to the front of them to see a woman lying on the floor, looking up at her with curiosity, whilst kneeling beside her was a very handsome man who had clearly been in the middle of some kind of demonstration.
‘Hi,’ he said, one eyebrow raised in question.
Lane glanced again at the ‘patient’. A woman who seemed to be totally unhurt, with a big smile on her face. A woman who was conscious. Breathing. Absolutely fine.
She could only blush as around her one or two people chuckled. ‘What—what’s going on?’ she stammered.
The man smiled. ‘First aid demo. I’m showing our patients how to put someone into the recovery position.’ He pointed at one of the walls. ‘There are posters.’
She followed his finger and noticed that every wall, and even the door through which she’d walked, had a large poster on it, stating that all were welcome to attend an emergency first aid demo to be held at the surgery today. A demo that would be run by Dr Cole Branagh.
How had she not noticed? Had she been so absorbed in trying to look normal?
Lane swallowed hard and turned back to face the man who had now taken the hand of the ‘patient’ and was helping her gently to her feet.
Tori has his eyes.
He didn’t look anything like the charming Lothario weasel she’d pictured in her head. Annoyingly, he had the audacity to be extremely handsome, and she could understand how Skye might have fallen for his charms. The females all around him seemed to be gazing at him with appreciative eyes and he clearly thrived on their attention. Their adulation.
He was probably used to having women throw themselves at his feet.
Well, not me, Dr Branagh.
‘Right. Okay. Sorry I interrupted.’ She grimaced and turned away, trying to control the heat flaming in her cheeks, and pushed back through the assembled throng to get to the reception desk, where she introduced herself in a low, embarrassed voice. ‘Lane Carter…agency HCA.’
The woman on Reception was Mary, knitter of preemie hats—she recognised her from her research—and she smiled at her. ‘Oh, yes, we’ve been expecting you. You’re in Treatment Room Two. This is your card for the computer.’ She passed over a temporary locum ID card that hung from an NHS lanyard. ‘Let me show you where everything is.’
An unexpected baby made him a father…
But she’ll make them a family
GP Cole Branagh’s cozy Cotswolds surgery is all he wants and needs. Which is why he’s determined to help beautiful new nursing assistant Lane Carter get settled quickly! Until she rocks his world by introducing him to her baby goddaughter, who she’s caring for…and reveals he’s the father. Cole knows he’ll need Lane’s help navigating unexpected parenthood—he’d just never planned on needing her, too…