A CHRISTMAS BABY IN TEXAS
Globe-trotting security systems troubleshooter Brian Kincaid has no plans to change his easy-going bachelor lifestyle. Until he discovers he’s the single parent of a ten-month-old son he never knew he had.
Moving to tiny Redfish, Texas, where his two brothers and their families live, and hiring single mom Faith McClain as his live-in nanny, provide a temporary solution to this unexpected dilemma. Though his attraction to his son’s tempting caregiver complicates the situation, Brian is confident he’ll be soon be able to take over on his own…once he gets the hang of caring for a baby.
Abandoned by her boyfriend when he learned she was pregnant, Faith has had to depend only on herself. Becoming nanny to Brian’s son Will, allowing her to stay home with two adorable babies, is exactly the job she’s hoped for. After all she’s been through, surely she’s too smart to fall for her sexy boss and his precious son, no matter how appealing they are.
Both Brian and Faith are crazy about the babies. Will it take a Christmas miracle to convince this committed bachelor and the gun-shy single mother to believe they can find true and lasting love—with each other?
Brian Kincaid didn’t much like lawyers. Especially not the kind who’d track him down while he was with a beautiful brunette. The kind who’d insist on meeting with him without telling him why really yanked his chain. But Brian knew lawyers. So he figured it would be easier to agree to see the guy than to try to put him off.
That didn’t mean he was happy about it. In fact, he was in a pretty poor mood by the time he arrived at the address the lawyer had given him. Obviously, he thought, eyeing the weathered building near downtown Dallas, this wasn’t one of the more successful attorneys. Unless he was just cheap.
“Thank you for coming,” Harry Riffkin said, showing Brian into a cramped office that had seen better days.
“You didn’t give me much choice. What’s all the mystery about?” He refused the offered chair, hoping the man got the point that he was in a hurry. He had a lunch date with a blonde he’d met the night he flew back from China, three days ago.
“Sorry about that, but this kind of news is best given in person.” Instead of telling him, though, the lawyer sat, steepled his fingers and looked pensive. Annoyed, Brian decided to take a seat after all.
“Do you recall a woman named Adrianna Shipley?”
Brian shook his head. He remembered faces. He didn’t do as well with names. “I need a little more information.”
“She was a flight attendant for American Airlines. That’s where you met. You had a relationship with her nineteen months ago.”
Nineteen months ago? He counted back. “Yeah, I remember her. Blond, short.” And built. Really built. “Talked a lot.” He now remembered she’d been amazing in bed, too. But he couldn’t recall much else about her. “I wouldn’t exactly classify what we had as a relationship. We saw each other only a few times.” It had been fun while it lasted, but neither of them had wanted anything serious. The women he dated rarely did, and that was exactly the way he liked it.
“You saw her enough times to father her son,” the lawyer said drily.
His stomach sank. Then anger kicked in. “So that’s what this is about. A paternity scam. How gullible do I look to you?”
“Ms. Shipley has named you as her ten-month-old son’s father. Are you denying paternity?”
“Hell, yes.” Brian stood and paced the small room. “I know damn well we used protection. She’s lying. The question is, why’d she wait so long? Did her alternate plan fall through?”
“Are you telling me it’s impossible that you’re the father of her child?”
He started to say just that but hesitated. “I’m saying it’s unlikely. Does she want money, is that it?”
Riffkin shook his head. “No, not money.” He paused. “Adrianna Shipley is dead. She died in a car accident five days ago. According to her will, you’re her son’s only living relative.” He leaned his forearms on the desk and pinned Brian with a surprisingly stern look. “What she wanted, Mr. Kincaid, was for you to take responsibility for your son. Your now motherless son.”
Brian had a bad feeling. A very bad feeling. Condoms weren’t foolproof. And he’d definitely had sex with Adrianna. But footloose Brian Kincaid, world traveler, a father? Stunned, he sank back into the chair.
“I know it’s a shock, but there’s a simple way to prove—or disprove—Ms. Shipley’s claim. Anticipating you would want proof, I contacted a DNA lab. They already have a sample from the child. I was told we can have the results by day after tomorrow if you go down there today.”
Brian’s head was spinning. Hello, Daddy. No, he couldn’t be a father. Could he? “All right. I’ll take the test.” What choice did he have? “Where’s the kid now?”
“He’s with a friend of his mother’s, Kara Long. I have a letter that was to be given to you in the event of Ms. Shipley’s death.” He picked up a sealed envelope and handed it to Brian. “She also left one for Mrs. Long, detailing her wishes regarding her son. I’m sure she’ll be happy to share it with you in the event your paternity is proved.”
Brian took the envelope and stared at it a moment, then ripped it open.
It’s true. All you have to do is look at him to know he’s yours. Take good care of him and tell him his mother loved him.
He turned it over but that was it. Three lines? Three lousy lines to drop this bombshell? “That’s it? That’s all she left for me?”
“It’s all I was given. There may be more information, records and such, among her belongings. It’s not unusual that she left little with me. Most people don’t expect to die at her age.”
“She thought about it enough to leave me a letter. And to contact a lawyer.”
Riffkin spread his hands. “A precaution, merely, to protect her child.”
“She should have told me.”
“I agree. However, she didn’t. And you’re a hard man to get hold of, Mr. Kincaid. It’s taken me a few days to track you down.”
“I’ve been working overseas.”
“Yes, it’s fortunate you came back to the States when you did.”
Fortunate for who?
Riffkin tapped his fingers on the desk. “Uh, I get the impression Mrs. Long would like to get this matter taken care of as soon as possible.”
“That makes two of us,” Brian said, standing. “Where’s this DNA lab?”
Riffkin handed him a piece of paper with two addresses on it. “The top one is the lab. The one below it is Mrs. Long’s address, in case you’d like to see the child. She lives in the same apartment complex Ms. Shipley lived in.”
Brian didn’t answer, just took the paper and left. Seeing the child would make this experience even more surreal than it already was. On the other hand, he wouldn’t get the results for two days. If the baby looked nothing like him, he might sleep easier. One way to find out.
Brian heard children shrieking, a woman hollering and a TV blaring in the background. None of that freaked him out. His brother Mark’s house always sounded like a riot was going on in it. His brother Jay’s place wasn’t much better. Each of them had three kids of varying ages and kids were not quiet. That was only one of the reasons he was glad he didn’t have any. He liked peace and quiet.
Yeah, and what are you gonna do if this kid is yours? If you’re a dad? He shook his head to clear the thought and knocked.
He had to pound on the door three times before it was answered. “Well, well.” A clearly exhausted woman leaned against the doorjamb and looked him up and down. “You must be Brian Kincaid.”
“That’s right. How did you know?”
“The lawyer gave me a heads-up. And you fit Adrianna’s description. Tall, dark and too damn good-looking to be for real.”
He smiled at that. He was beginning to remember more about Adrianna. She’d had a smart mouth.
“She didn’t mean it as a compliment.” Leaving the door open, Mrs. Long turned away. “I’ll get his things.”
“Wait a minute. I don’t even know if he’s my kid. I just came to—”
She interrupted him. “Are you going to take him or not? I need to know because if you aren’t, I’m calling Child Protective Services today. I have four kids of my own under the age of six and a husband who thinks helping with child care means taking out the trash.”
“You can’t seriously expect me to take a kid I don’t even know for sure is mine.”
“You or CPS,” she said adamantly. “Look, I didn’t even know Adrianna that well. When I said I’d do this, I never expected her to die, and I sure as hell didn’t sign up to be her baby’s permanent guardian.”
Foster care. That’s where he and Jay would have ended up if Mark hadn’t taken them in when their mother had left them. No son of his—if this was his son—was spending any time in foster care. “I’ll take him.”
She’d named him William but had called him Will. The birth certificate said Brian Kincaid was the father. But Adrianna hadn’t made a single attempt to let him know he was a dad. Not once. After they’d been together that handful of times, she hadn’t called him again. But then, what she knew about Brian probably didn’t make her think of him as prime father material. His job as a computer specialist—a troubleshooter for computer security systems for large companies—took him all over the world. Not to mention he was always sure to make it clear that he was not into serious relationships. Never had been, never would be.
But now he had to figure out how to take care of a ten-month-old for at least two days. Once she’d been assured he would take Will, Kara Long had been helpful. Sort of. When pressed, she’d shown him how to change a diaper and told him how and what to feed the baby. She said Adrianna would have everything he needed at her place. Then she gave him a key to Adrianna’s apartment and told him to make himself at home. Brian had to make two trips from Kara’s to Adrianna’s, struggling with a car seat and more crap than he had ever hauled around for any of his trips, before he could come back for the kid. Finally, he went back for the baby and fought down a feeling of panic when Kara handed Will to him.
“Don’t worry. One is nothing. Try dealing with two-year-old twins and a four- and five-year-old.” Then she shut the door in his face.
Will promptly started to cry. Oh, shit. What am I supposed to do now?