Read Prescription: Marry Her Immediately Online

Authors: Jacqueline Diamond

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Prescription: Marry Her Immediately

BOOK: Prescription: Marry Her Immediately
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“We’ll have separate bedrooms, of course…” Quent said, answering Amy’s unspoken question

Then mischief glinted in his smile. “But we don’t have to keep it that way. You might find having me around more tempting than you expect.”

Amy didn’t doubt that. She was all too aware of his muscular strength as he guided his car. But she reminded him, “We’re doing this for the kids.”

“You know I love them,” he said.

Amy nearly stopped breathing until she heard the word
them.
For a moment she’d thought he was going to say he loved
her.
“I never saw you as the daddy type,” she said unsteadily.

“People change,” he answered.

“Yes, they do…” she murmured, wondering if he’d ever change enough to want to be a husband, as well as a father.

When that happened, she could only hope
she
was the one he fell in love with….

Dear Reader,

Our yearlong twentieth-anniversary celebration continues with a spectacular lineup, starting with
Saved by a Texas-Sized Wedding
, beloved author Judy Christenberry’s 50
th
book. Don’t miss this delightful addition to the popular series TOTS FOR TEXANS. It’s a marriage-of-convenience story that will warm your heart!

Priceless Marriage
by Bonnie Gardner is the latest installment in the MILLIONAIRE, MONTANA continuity series, in which a “Main Street Millionaire” claims her “ex” as her own. Jacqueline Diamond pens another charming story in THE BABIES OF DOCTORS CIRCLE series with
Prescription: Marry Her Immediately
. Here a confirmed bachelor doctor enlists the help of his gorgeous best friend in order to win custody of his orphaned niece and nephew. And let us welcome a new author to the Harlequin American Romance family. Kaitlyn Rice makes her sparkling debut with
Ten Acres and Twins
.

It’s an exciting year for Harlequin American Romance, and we invite you to join the celebration this month and far into the future!

Melissa Jeglinski

Associate Senior Editor

Harlequin American Romance

PRESCRIPTION: MARRY HER IMMEDIATELY
Jacqueline Diamond

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The daughter of a doctor and an artist, Jacqueline Diamond claims to have researched the field of obstetrics primarily by developing a large range of complications during her pregnancies. She’s also lucky enough to have a friend and neighbor who’s an obstetrical nurse. The author of more than sixty novels, Jackie lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons. She loves to hear from readers. You can write to her at P.O. Box 1315, Brea, CA 92822, or by e-mail at [email protected].

Books by Jacqueline Diamond

HARLEQUIN AMERICAN ROMANCE

79—THE DREAM NEVER DIES

196—AN UNEXPECTED MAN

218—UNLIKELY PARTNERS

239—THE CINDERELLA DARE

270—CAPERS AND RAINBOWS

279—GHOST OF A CHANCE

315—FLIGHT OF MAGIC

351—BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS

406—OLD DREAMS, NEW DREAMS

446—THE TROUBLE WITH TERRY

491—A DANGEROUS GUY

583—THE RUNAWAY BRIDE

615—YOURS, MINE AND OURS

631—THE COWBOY AND THE HEIRESS

642—ONE HUSBAND TOO MANY

645—DEAR LONELY IN L.A….

674—MILLION-DOLLAR MOMMY

687—DADDY WARLOCK

716—A REAL-LIVE SHEIKH

734—THE COWBOY AND THE SHOTGUN BRIDE

763—LET’S MAKE A BABY!

791—ASSIGNMENT: GROOM!

804—MISTLETOE DADDY

833—I DO! I DO!

855—DADDY, M.D.

875—KISS A HANDSOME STRANGER

889—SURPRISE, DOC! YOU’RE A DADDY!

913—THE IMPROPERLY PREGNANT PRINCESS

962—DIAGNOSIS: EXPECTING BOSS’S BABY
*

971—PRESCRIPTION: MARRY HER IMMEDIATELY
*

HARLEQUIN INTRIGUE

435—AND THE BRIDE VANISHES

512—HIS SECRET SON

550—CAPTURED BY A SHEIKH

Chapter One

The newborn waved
her tiny fists as she lay along Dr. Quentin Ladd’s arm with her head cradled in his hand. Her face, still red from the journey into life, quirked with a hint of a smile.

“Seven pounds, three ounces. Ten fingers and toes,” he told her, and double-checked the name on the bassinet. “Lisa, you passed your first test with flying colors. Next stop, Harvard.”

Baby-blue eyes blinked at him, not quite focusing. Then she sneezed.

“That’s good,” Quent said. “You can clear your airways with the best of them. I knew you were a winner.”

He’d made a thorough test of her reflexes, heartbeat, breathing and other parameters. All normal. He was glad for her sake and for that of her numerous doting relatives, who had overflowed the waiting room during her birth.

It was one more happy event for Doctors Circle, a private hospital and clinic established in Serene Beach, California, to ensure the best care for mothers, would-be mothers and their babies. As a newly minted neonatologist, Quent had been thrilled when he was invited to join the staff a couple of months ago.

While he was
gently replacing the baby beneath her warmer light, Lisa’s gaze connected, ever so briefly, with his. A sense of wonder spread through Quent as the little girl’s future shimmered before him, from her first step to the day she would hold a baby of her own.

Where had all that come from? It wasn’t as if he were going to be spending a lot of time with this particular infant, cute as she was. But it gave Quent a gut-level appreciation for the joy he saw on the faces of new fathers. Babies had always interested him from a clinical point of view, but lately he’d begun to take a more personal interest. This was the most intense experience yet.

Perhaps it was because he’d spent so much time this past year with his now fifteen-month-old niece and four-year-old nephew. Or maybe it had something to do with finally, at age twenty-nine, having finished his training and taken his place as a full-fledged specialist.

Turning away, he stripped off his gloves and picked up his clipboard to finish his notes. Then, smiling, Quent paced through the dimly lit nursery, saying hello to babies he’d checked in the past day or two. He would see them again when their parents brought them for regular care at the Well-Baby Clinic in an adjacent building, where he spent most of his hours.

Before leaving the nursery, he removed his white coverall and stuffed it into a laundry container to be sterilized. A nurse, Sue Anne, greeted him with a flare of interest on her face.

Quent wasn’t sure why he didn’t invite her to join him for dinner, since it was almost five o’clock on a Friday night. She was pretty and friendly, and, until recently, he’d enjoyed playing the field. These days, though, he’d lost interest in spending time with anyone except his best buddy.

Having a woman, even
a colleague like psychologist Amy Ravenna, as his best buddy was unusual, he supposed. Still, they’d started attending ball games and playing sports together as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and going with the flow suited Quent.

Speak of the devil, when he emerged from the nursery, there she stood, Amy in the flesh, gazing through the window at the babies. Among the usual scattering of cooing grandparents, aunts and uncles, her tall, slim figure stood out.

In profile to him, Amy studied first one baby, then another. As the staff psychologist, she must be treating the parents of one or more infants, Quent figured. Checking out the newborns apparently figured into her counseling strategy, although he could have sworn he saw wistfulness in her expression.

He’d never met anyone with such an intriguing mixture of professionalism and tomboy enthusiasm. It amused him to see how, this late in the day, her black French braid was beginning to unravel behind her tailored suit jacket.

“Hey,” he said.

Startled, Amy swung around. “Oh! Hi, Quent.” He noticed, as he did every time he saw her, how stunning she was, with her high cheekbones and lively dark eyes, and how utterly unaware she was of it. No wonder she had to fend men off with a stick.

“What brings you here?” With a teasing note, he added, “Coming to see me, I hope.”

“As a matter of fact, yes. Before I left for the day, I wanted to ask you about the rain,” she said.

“It’s raining?” Mid-November
was well into the southern California rainy season, but it had been only partly cloudy earlier this afternoon.

“Not yet. It’s in the forecast for tomorrow. We’re supposed to catch the tail of a hurricane that’s lingering down off Mexico,” Amy said. “Do you want to cancel our plans?”

“I’m not afraid of a little water. Are you?” He already knew the answer, but challenging each other was part of the fun.

Soon after he’d arrived in Serene Beach, he’d run into Amy at the sports-oriented Paris Bar and recognized her as a colleague. That first night, they’d battled each other at video games until their eyes crossed from overuse. Soon they were jogging together, watching ball games and simply hanging out after work, with no strings attached. Amy was never flirtatious as other women were.

At first, that had been a relief. Lately, it had occurred to Quent that maybe, being four years older than him and accustomed to more sophisticated men, she considered him too young for anything more involved than going to the movies. He might surprise her one of these days.

“Afraid of water? Certainly not.” She sniffed in feigned indignation. “The fact is, I figured you might wimp out on me. It’s going to be hard enough jogging in the sand when you’re not used to it, without having to deal with a downpour, too.”

“If you can handle sand, so can I.” He couldn’t resist adding, “I’ll probably run you ragged.”

“I’ll bet you won’t.” The way Amy lifted her chin reminded him that she’d held her own in a household with three brothers.

“You’re on for tomorrow,” he said.

“My place.
Three o’clock.”

“I’ll be there.” He was looking forward to it.

A
MY JOGGED
in place, waiting for the light at Pacific Coast Highway to change. The rain was so heavy, she could hardly see the signal.

“I thought you could handle anything,” Quent challenged. Beside her, he stood grinning cockily, not seeming to mind that the downpour had flattened his thick blond hair and made his T-shirt cling like a second skin to his sculpted chest.

“So I lied,” she said, tearing her gaze away from his muscular build.

Everything was fine as long as they kept things on a buddy level. Amy would rather shrivel up and get rinsed down the drain than let Quent know that she found him just as irresistible as did all the nurses and receptionists who gossiped about him at work.

He assumed, because she encouraged him to, that Amy knew the ropes. She made frequent, joking references to her active social life and many admirers because that was a lot more comfortable than letting him, or anyone other than her closest friends, know the truth.

She was a tomboy who rarely dated. Always had been and, like it or not, probably always would be.

Amy wished she knew how to be more feminine, but, until she’d met Quent, she hadn’t had a good enough reason to venture outside her comfort zone. Now she didn’t know where to start. Maybe, with him, it was too late.

At one point this afternoon, they’d drifted a short distance apart while jogging. The next thing she knew, a lushly built woman in tight exercise shorts and a halter top had fallen into step with Quent and was inviting him home for a drink.

The woman hadn’t even
known his name! Where did she get the nerve? Or the courage?

Amy wished she knew how to flirt so easily. She wished she were smaller and daintier with a large bust and full lips.

On the other hand, Quent hadn’t accepted the offer, had he?

The light changed. “Go!” Amy said, and shot forward.

Although she’d been faster off the curb, Quent’s long stride caught her up by the time they’d crossed the six lanes. With her peripheral vision, Amy could see the hard muscles pumping in his thighs and buttocks as he passed her.

Determined not to be left behind, she put on a burst of speed and moved ahead. Growing up in a family of men, she’d learned to push herself to the limit.

Quent made no effort to reclaim the lead. He seemed content to match her pace as they traversed the funky neighborhood, whose narrow streets and pocket-sized dwellings belied its exorbitant real-estate prices.

Living near the beach wasn’t cheap. Amy was grateful that she’d managed to find a condo that suited her budget.

A quarter mile farther on, they arrived breathless at her complex. The condos were two stories high except for hers, at one end. Due to the lay of the land, if it had had more than one story, it would have blocked the view from an expensive home located behind it. Serene Beach had an ordinance protecting properties’ views.

As the two of them hurried along the walkway, rain streamed into the unoccupied swimming pool and a couple of palm trees swayed in the stiffening wind. This was turning into a gale.

Amy unlocked
her door. “Coming in?”

She wasn’t sure what she hoped he’d say. They usually met in neutral places, only entering her condo for a game of darts or to grab a beer from the fridge. Partly by choice, she hadn’t visited Quent’s apartment at all.

There was no sense in tormenting yourself with what you couldn’t have. Or, more accurately, with what you doubted you could handle.

“That’s the best invitation I’ve had all day.” With a grin, he waited for her to enter, then followed her in.

There was no turning back now. Not that she expected anything much to happen.

While Quent waited, dripping, in the tiled entryway, Amy retrieved a couple of towels from the bathroom and tossed him one.

“Great,” Quent said, drying his face. “This will greatly lessen our risk of hypothermia.”

“Spoken like a doctor.”

“I’m not entirely kidding. I can hear your teeth chattering,” he said.

Okay, so she was shivering in her running clothes. Big deal. “I’ll be fine as soon as I make coffee.” Amy pulled off her sodden shoes and dropped them in a corner. “No, wait. I’m out.”

“You’re out of coffee?” Quent said. “That’s un-American.”

“I think I’ve got a bag of microwave popcorn left.”

“Just one?”

“I didn’t make it to the supermarket this week.” Amy swiped the towel across her legs.

When Amy was twelve, her mother had run off with another man, and she hadn’t wanted to become a substitute housekeeper for her brothers and her father, a chiropractor. As a result, she’d avoided cooking and shopping as much as possible.

Unfortunately,
her youthful habits had become in-grained. Amy had developed such a mental block that, even as an adult, she procrastinated about any kind of shopping. If her friends Natalie and Heather hadn’t pushed her to find furnishings for her condo, she might still be sleeping on a futon.

“I’ll make the popcorn. You go change.” Quent caught her shoulders and steered her toward the bedrooms.

Amy wasn’t sure which pleased her most, his touch or the fact that he was taking care of her. Not that it meant anything. He was her buddy, that was all.

“Need a dry sweatshirt?” she asked. His thin running shorts looked like the type to dry quickly and, besides, she definitely didn’t have anything that would fit him there.

“Sure,” he said. “As long as it doesn’t say 49ers on it.”

“I hope you don’t think I would sully my house with a Chargers sweatshirt!” Amy retorted.

They both claimed fierce allegiance to their home teams. She wasn’t sure either of them really meant it, and, since Serene Beach was located between the two teams’ territories, their rivalry never amounted to more than a little teasing.

Come baseball season, no doubt they’d simply switch the names of the teams and continue their rivalry. Or, more likely, by then Quent would have found himself a girlfriend and wouldn’t have time to kid around with her. Amy’s throat tightened at the prospect.

In a bedroom that featured sports posters above a light-oak bed and bureau, she stripped off her soaked garments. After a moment’s debate, she pulled on a forest-green sweater over a pair of jeans and brushed her long black hair out of its ponytail. She added a touch of lipstick, which was as much makeup as she usually wore.

Amy regarded herself
in the small mirror above the dresser. Darn, she couldn’t see the whole picture. Come to think of it, she didn’t own a full-length mirror, because she so rarely needed one.

What was she fussing about anyway? she asked herself grumpily. It wasn’t as if Quent was going to suddenly notice she was a girl. Or as if she wanted him to, given that he’d made it clear when they’d first met that he was bent on sowing his wild oats after years of grinding away at his medical studies. The last thing Amy needed was to lose her heart to a man who was only looking for a good time.

Remembering her promise to provide him with warm clothing, she prowled through the closet. From the back, she lifted out a bright-pink sweatshirt bearing the image of a black cat. Her friend Natalie Winford, who was soon to become the bride of the clinic’s administrator, had bought it for her at the nearby Black Cat Café as an impulsive gift.

Pulling it off the hanger, Amy scooted past the second bedroom, which served as a home office, and the third one, which was empty. The combination living-dining room had the usual assortment of furniture, thanks to her friends’ supervision, but Amy had augmented the decor with a few touches of her own.

There was, for instance, the electronic dartboard on one wall. Also, a video-game system dominated the dining table. To Amy, they made the place feel like home.

There was no sign
of Quent. Judging by the mouth-watering scent, he’d kept his promise to make popcorn.

She found him in the kitchen, larger than life and twice as sexy, leaning against the counter. When Quent wasn’t working or otherwise active, he always seemed to be leaning on something, Amy mused.

The first time she’d seen him, he’d been holding up one wall of the hallway between her counseling office and the Well-Baby Clinic. She had the same reaction now that she’d had then: a racing heartbeat and a melting sensation in her core.

BOOK: Prescription: Marry Her Immediately
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