Read The Bachelor's Baby (Bachelor Auction Book 3) Online

Authors: Dani Collins

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The Bachelor's Baby (Bachelor Auction Book 3)

BOOK: The Bachelor's Baby (Bachelor Auction Book 3)
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The Bachelor’s Baby

A Bachelor Auction Novella

Dani Collins

 

 

The Bachelor’s Baby

Copyright © 2015 Dani Collins

Kindle Edition

The Tule Publishing Group, LLC

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

ISBN: 978-1-942240-39-6

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dear Reader

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Epilogue

The Bachelor Auction Series

About the Author

Dear Reader,

When I wrote my first Montana Born book, Hometown Hero, I wasn’t thinking it would turn into a series. Marietta is a small town and, as authors, we try to cross-over each other’s stories and settings to provide a stronger feeling of community for the reader. It wasn’t in my mind at the time to create that within my own series of books.

But I had no sooner turned in Hometown Hero when I was asked if I wanted to write a Christmas story. It made sense to me to open Blame The Mistletoe at a cocktail party in the home of Skye and Chase from Hometown Hero. Marietta is a small town. I made Blake and Skye from neighboring ranches, so she would have extended an invitation to her lifelong friend. The stories were only loosely linked, but again, I really wasn’t planning to write a series.

Then the bachelor auction came along. I was still writing Liz and Blake’s story and had no idea who my characters for the auction would be. I had Blake’s sister, Meg, come home unexpectedly for Christmas. Family does that, right? Just for good measure, I had her remark on the ‘sold’ sign on the ranch down the road. I figured that would be a good place for a bachelor to live. And I very briefly mentioned Liz had a brother, just in case he might make a good bachelor.

Linc Brady bought that ranch and he is
not
Liz’s brother. No, you’ll meet Liz’s brother, Bastian, in my bride story, which is coming out this May. Because, apparently, I
have
written a series. And this is Book Three, both for me and within the Bachelor Auction series.

This is also one of the sexiest, most hilarious premises I’ve ever been lucky enough to be part of. I hope you enjoy my renegade from the oil rigs. And if you’d like to be notified when the next in this series becomes available, please sign up to my newsletter through my website at
danicollins.com
.

Chapter One


M
eg Canon often
reminded herself she was lucky, especially when she didn’t feel it. Today was one of those times. She was lucky to have been adopted into a good family. She was lucky to still have her brother. She was lucky to have caught a few breaks with her career. She—

“Oh, why
me?
” she railed aloud as the truck fishtailed, refused to catch as she tried to recover, then spun before the back end hit the berm of snow at the side of the road, jerking her to a stop.

Part of her believed in karma. Therefore, she knew exactly what she’d done to deserve her misfortune. Self-disgust roiled in her like a washing machine full of dirty laundry these days. Once she’d realized her mistake, she couldn’t stop thinking about it: the one thing that had burned in her psyche her whole life, the obsession that had driven her to Chicago and into television—the search for her birth parents—had set her up for exactly what she was suffering. She was reaping what she’d sown. She had no one to blame but herself.

And because her mind was so deep in her own self-reproach, she had let the damned truck hit a patch of ice and slide its back tires into what would have been the ditch if it wasn’t overflowing with a winter’s worth of plowed snow.

“Curses!” She’d only gone six miles from the end of the ranch’s driveway, but it was a mile to the next neighbor’s, then another down their drive.

And it was winter in Montana. Butt freezing cold out there.

“Lucky,” she muttered facetiously, mentally listing the ways this could have been worse: There were places the road edged a twenty foot drop into the river. Another car could have been involved. She could have hit a deer.

This was an inconvenience. Just like the way she’d had to change her routines in Chicago was an inconvenience. If she would just quit thinking of herself as a victim and accept her situation, she’d be fine.

But every little change made her feel like she was hiding from herself and that made her squirm.

She stared into the blinding afternoon of sparkling hills. The storm two days ago had flash frozen layers of snow onto the trees and fence rails. The February days were slowly getting longer, but the sun was still low, bouncing along the tips of the mountains in the distance. The peaks looked like whipped cream against the intense blue of the sky. Deceptively soft and pretty.

It was a gorgeous day. A perfect day to get out of a crowded house to pick up a few groceries.

Heck,
she
was the inconvenience, not really having absorbed at Christmas that if her brother was engaged, it meant his fiancée and her daughter were moving into the ranch house.

It shouldn’t break her heart to pack up all her things to make room for them. Blake deserved this and Liz was amazing. Meg loved that Blake was finally happy, that he was getting married and, if her suspicions proved true, expecting a baby. Meg even adored Liz’s teenaged daughter. She wanted this for Blake and his son, Ethan.

But the timing sucked. She’d always been comforted by the knowledge she could bolt back to Marietta at any time, especially lately when things were so awkward in the city.

Now she was battling the painfully familiar gloom of rejection and isolation, all too aware that this was the feeling that had propelled her to Chicago in the first place. She’d been determined to find her birth mother, had basically advertised herself on national television, hoping for a miracle reunion. What she’d got was a persistent fan that made her uncomfortable.

Her deepest heartache—being abandoned—was now something she was begging for.
Leave me alone
.

Gripping the steering wheel, she told herself to get it together. It was time to let go of her obsession and enjoy her job for what it was: a successful and lucrative
career
.

She also had to buck up, get out of the truck, see how deeply the wheels were buried, and dig them out. Blake kept a pile of gravel and a sack of salt in the bed of the truck for exactly this situation.

At the very least, getting out to curse at the ditched wheels would be cathartic.

With an angry groan at herself, she threw herself out of the truck and slammed the door.

The dry, subzero temperature stole the air from her lungs, making her nostrils pinch and her earlobes sting where they poked out from beneath the edge of her chic city hat. She hugged herself against the cold and watched her breath cloud, forcing herself to absorb the barren desolation around her. To accept it.

It was time to accept that she was alone. She wasn’t going to find the magical connection that would ease the ache inside her. She couldn’t rely on Blake and Ethan to caulk all the holes in her soul.
She
was the solution. She had to fix herself.

Her breath released in a big cloud of resignation, loud in a world that was utterly silent. No animals, no birds, not even a predatory cat. She’d been stalked by a young cougar once, when she’d been a teenager riding her horse. It had been a scary half hour, more because she’d feared she would have to shoot it and hadn’t been sure she’d have the nerve. She liked cats. In the end, a spooked pheasant had sacrificed its life for hers.

The fan in Chicago had given her a similar feeling. Was the guy just curious? Or dangerous? He’d been confronted and warned, which was a relief, but guilt squirmed in Meg. How was she different from him? Hadn’t she pieced together the backgrounds on countless women, even tailed a few, trying to figure out if they could have been her mother?

Shivers from the bitter cold gripped her, but a strange level of peace returned to her psyche as she absorbed what had once been a very familiar atmosphere. Winter in Montana. No traffic. No people. No problems beyond the basic one of survival.

For the first time in weeks, her brain calmed. Despite the desolation around her, she always felt safe here. The potential stalker wouldn’t know her as Meg Canon or think to look for her here in Marietta. On air she was Virginia Leonard, her birth name. In her head, in her soul, she was Margaret Canon. Meg.

Funny how she hadn’t realized that until this moment.

She always felt better when she let go of that other person she was trying to be and embraced herself. Why had she never noticed that before?

She was so absorbed in relief, as tension and anxiety eased, she didn’t hear the engine or crunch of tires on the snow-encrusted road. When a shiny black pick up truck stopped in front of her, so did her heart.

The tinted window slid down and the man behind the wheel was unfamiliar, but she was only here a couple of times a year so she didn’t know all the faces in Marietta anymore.

Oddly, she wasn’t afraid, despite the caution that city-living had instilled in her. Logic told her to shift her weight toward the door of the truck, but for all she knew, she’d locked herself out. And this was Marietta. He wouldn’t have stopped to hurt her. He’d stopped to—

“Need some help?” he asked.

His voice was made for broadcasting, deep and rich with calm authority. So was his face, with his chiseled jaw and steady gaze beneath straight eyebrows that bent perfectly at the outsides to set off his startling green eyes and sharp cheekbones. He wore a closely shaved beard that framed a mouth that wasn’t too wide. It was full-lipped without being pouty. His upper lip was not as full as the bottom and it was just a little bit asymmetrical, so he looked like he was suppressing a hint of humor.

He was easily someone you could stare at for an hour.

He was easily someone she was gawking at.

“No,” she answered belatedly, shaking off her fascination, not feeling the cold all of a sudden. In fact, she was growing hot from deep within.

Wow. She hadn’t felt such instant attraction in… Her mind wasn’t even working. A while. A very long while.

It was embarrassing to be this affected. She was worse than Bambi’s mom, standing here dumbly fascinated.

BOOK: The Bachelor's Baby (Bachelor Auction Book 3)
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