AT THE TYCOON’S COMMAND, a Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT #3 (Jared-Chloe)
‘‘Get over here right now.’’
Kim sat upright and tried to shake the sleep from her mind as she attempted to make sense of the call. ‘‘Jared? Is that you?’’ Sarcasm enveloped her words. ‘‘Does this mean you need someone to change the channel on your television for you? Do you have any idea what time—’’
‘‘Now—I need your help right now. Hurry!’’
The phone line went dead as he hung up without even saying goodbye. Kim was wide awake and angry. She reluctantly climbed out of bed, then stood in the middle of the room as a realization struck her. The edge in his voice seemed to be desperation more than anything else, and he had said he needed her help. Was there a genuine problem to deal with? Was he okay? Had he been injured? Was he ill? A new surge of panic rushed through Kim. He said he needed her help, and it sounded urgent. She threw on her clothes, then dashed to her car.
A few minutes later she arrived at Jared’s house. Before she could ring the bell, the large double doors swung open. The sight and sound that greeted her were the last things she would have imagined.
Jared held a crying toddler in his arms. The look on his face was a clear combination of panic and stark terror.
‘‘Do you know anything about babies?’’
‘‘I used to baby-sit a lot in high school and college.’’
‘‘Good.’’ He frantically held the noisy bundle toward her. ‘‘That makes you an expert in my book.’’
A startled Kim took the child from him. ‘‘Where did—’’
‘‘I changed her diaper and tried to feed her, but she won’t stop crying.’’ Jared looked at Kim, his eyes pleading as much as his tone of voice. ‘‘Can you do something? Can you make her stop crying? Crying this much can’t be good for her. She’ll make herself sick.’’
Jared wore only a pair of jeans. He was bare footed and bare chested. His broad shoulders, hard chest and strong arms brought back memories of their lovemaking. His tousled hair made him look as if he had just climbed out of a warm bed, the same bed she had shared with him a couple of nights ago. Her heart pounded a little harder. She quickly turned her attention to the crying child, as much in an attempt to rid her mind of the erotic thoughts prompted by the sight of a half-naked Jared Stevens as it was to tend to the needs of the toddler.
‘‘You said her. What’s her name? How old is she? Whose child is she? Where did she come from?’’ It was quite a revelation. This very assertive, take-charge man appeared to be genuinely afraid of the noisy little girl.
Jared seemed not to hear her questions. ‘‘Can you make her stop crying? I didn’t know what to do.’’
Kim looked around. They were standing in the doorway, the cool night air streaming in around them. She didn’t see any other people, nor did she see anything that might belong to the toddler. She tried again to get Jared’s attention. ‘‘Where are her parents?’’
‘‘She was given to me. That makes me responsible for her.’’
‘‘Someone left this child here?’’ Her incredulity at what he had said came out in her voice. ‘‘What in the world are you talking about?’’ She kicked the front door closed and headed toward the living room, looking for a place to sit down.
‘‘No, not there.’’ A moment later they arrived at the den. A bit of frustration pushed at her. His thoughts and manner were totally scattered, and she didn’t seem to be able to get through to him with her questions. She spotted a duffel bag next to the sofa and a blanket on the floor.
‘‘Jared…’’ Kim watched as he paced up and down. She put a little more volume into her words. ‘‘Jared, could you please spread the blanket on the sofa so I can put her down?’’
His head snapped up and he looked at Kim as if he had just become aware that she was in the room. ‘‘What? Oh…the blanket…the sofa…sure.’’ He did as she asked.
‘‘What’s her name?’’ Kim placed the toddler on the blanket. She managed to suppress the amused chuckle that tried to escape when she saw the ludicrous way the diaper had been put on the child. Jared had definitely been way out of his element when he had tried to change the little girl.
‘‘Her name is Chloe.’’
Kim opened the duffel bag and searched through the items to see what supplies were available for taking care of Chloe. There was one small box of disposable diapers, pajamas, some cookies, a drinking cup and a raggedy teddy bear. She adjusted and fastened the diaper so it was a proper snug fit, then handed the stuffed bear to the little girl, who eagerly took it from her.
Kim sat on the edge of the sofa and held Chloe in her arms until the child had quieted down. She continued to rock her until the toddler fell asleep. Her attention was focused on the little girl, but she caught glimpses of Jared out of the corner of her eye. He was staring at her with what seemed to be a combination of admiration and gratitude. She gently placed Chloe on the blanket and pulled the other side over the child to keep her warm.
Kim stood up, took a deep breath and slowly expelled it. ‘‘I think she’s finally asleep.’’
‘‘Yes…I noticed the quiet.’’ The relief echoed in his words and showed on his face. ‘‘Thanks for your help. It never occurred to me that it would be as easy as giving her a teddy bear.’’
She shot Jared a curious look. ‘‘Well, it wasn’t quite as easy as all that. She was very upset, and I’m sure she was also scared being taken from her bed in the middle of the night and handed to a complete stranger.’’
Kim sat on the sofa and fixed her gaze on Jared. She saw the uneasiness in the depths of his green eyes. ‘‘Now that you have me over here at this horrible hour, I think you owe me an explanation. What is this all about? What did you mean when you said someone gave Chloe to you? Who left her? Who are her parents? Why did they leave a little girl here in the middle of the night?’’
Jared took a steadying breath as he ran his fingers through his dark hair. ‘‘I’m not sure I know the complete story. I’m told that Chloe is eighteen months old.’’
Kim paused as she turned the next question over in her mind before asking it. ‘‘Are you her father?’’
AT THE TYCOON’S COMMAND, a Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte is a Harlequin reissue in ebook, available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com (do search for author name Shawna Delacorte). Also available at Barnes and Noble in NookBooks www.bn.com and from Amazon for the Kindle atwww.amazon.com Information is available on my website www.shawnadelacorte.com
EMPLOYED BY THE ENEMY:
Working for Jared Stevens was not how teacher Kim Donaldson wanted to spend her vacation, but doing so would pay off her father’s debt and end the long-standing feud begun by their grandfathers. If only Jared hadn’t matured into a handsome man with a magnetic appeal and a smooth, sexy voice that made concentrating extremely difficult.
Reformed playboy Jared was nothing like his unethical father. He was hard working and responsible…and his attraction to his newest employee was immediate and powerful. Jared found their passionate battles in the office led to steamy lovemaking in the bedroom. But could a woman who no longer trusted find love with a man afraid of commitment?