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Once pregnant twice shy, p.1
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       Once Pregnant, Twice Shy, p.1

           Red Garnier
 
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Once Pregnant, Twice Shy


  What’s one impulsive night between old friends?

  Tied together by tragedy, business tycoon Garrett Gage has always vowed to protect Kate Devaney—at all costs. What he doesn’t expect is that she’d someday need protection from him. When did Kate blossom from an orphaned little girl into a breathtaking woman? And what possessed him to forsake a deathbed vow and take vulnerable Kate into his arms, into his bed?

  Now that they’d been intimate, things have changed—more than Garrett could possibly know. Kate is carrying his child. And along with that, a secret that could change everything….

  “Tell Me Why You’re Leaving. Is It Because Of Me?”

  He couldn’t seem to help himself, and lifted his finger to trace her lips. Her breath caught, and his face darkened as he watched.

  Kiss him, tell him it’s him and that he’s going to be a father!

  But while all these impulses rampaged through her, she drew back an inch, considering it a good moment to retreat before she truly lost her senses. She’d lost them once. Now she was pregnant. She didn’t want to castigate him for that night, a night she had been wishing and praying someday happened. But she didn’t want him to pay his whole life.

  She simply loved him too much.

  * * *

  If you’re on Twitter, tell us what you think of Harlequin Desire!

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  Dear Reader,

  I’ve wanted to write Garrett and Kate’s book ever since I wrote Paper Marriage Proposition and I got to meet them. I could feel their chemistry leap off the pages, and it wasn’t even their book yet. In Julian and Molly’s story, Wrong Brother, Right Kiss, you get to meet them, too, and once more I couldn’t wait to write their love story.

  Once Pregnant, Twice Shy wasn’t an easy story to write. It turns out they both want each other, but they’ve spent years denying themselves—it was really hard to get them to finally drop their walls. They needed time and little sparks of realization to really realize what they had going on between them. I guess it’s not easy to reel a man like Garrett Gage in, but when you do, he’s all in. I hope you enjoy their story like I did!

  With love,

  Red

  ONCE PREGNANT, TWICE SHY

  Red Garnier

  Books by Red Garnier

  Harlequin Desire

  Wrong Man, Right Kiss #2248

  Once Pregnant, Twice Shy #2298

  Silhouette Desire

  The Secretary’s Bossman Bargain #2028

  Paper Marriage Proposition #2064

  RED GARNIER

  is a fan of books, chocolate and happily-ever-afters. What better way to spend the day than combining all three? Traveling frequently between the United States and Mexico, Red likes to call Texas home. She’d love to hear from her readers at [email protected] For more on upcoming books and current contests, please visit her website, www.redgarnier.com.

  As always, with my deepest thanks to everyone at Harlequin Desire—who make the best team of editors I’ve ever come across! Thank you for making this book shine.

  This book is once again dedicated to my flesh-and-blood hero and our two little ones, who, it turns out, are not so little anymore.

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Excerpt

  Prologue

  He was the sexiest best man the maid of honor had ever seen, and he wouldn’t stop looking at her.

  Stomach clenched tight with longing, she stared into his gorgeous obsidian eyes and wondered how she was going to have the courage to tell him that their one incredible night together, that night that should have never happened but did, had resulted in a little surprise on the way.

  That the stork would be paying them a visit in eight months or so.

  The thought alone made her legs tremble. Clutching her white orchid bouquet with trembling hands, Kate Devaney forced herself to focus on her sister, Molly, and how stunning she looked up on the altar in her snow-white wedding gown next to the drop-dead-gorgeous groom.

  The fresh noon sun lit her lovely pink-cheeked face, its warm rays illuminating the couple as they stood before the priest. They were surrounded by an explosion of white casablancas, orchids, tulips and roses. The train of the bride’s wedding gown reached almost to the end of the red velvet carpet, where the guests sat in rapt attention on rows and rows of elegant white benches. Molly’s voice trembled with emotion as she spoke her vows to Julian, her best friend for forever, and the man she’d always loved.

  “I, Molly, take you, Julian John, to be my husband...”

  Kate’s heart constricted with emotion for her little sister, but no matter how much she fought the impulse, her eyes kept straying to the right side of the groom...to where the best man stood towering and silent.

  Garrett Gage.

  Her tummy quivered when their eyes met again. His eyes were hot and tumultuous, his jaw set tight and square as a cutting board.

  He’d been looking at her for every second of the ceremony, his palpable gaze boring pinprick holes through the top of her head.

  What a pity that his fiancée wasn’t at the wedding, so that he could go and stare at that blonde and leave Kate alone, she thought angrily.

  But no, he haunted her. This man. Day and night she thought of him, wanted him, ached for him, while every second of the day, she tried futilely to forget him.

  For the past month, it had been a struggle to ignore the enticing memories of the things he’d said to her, a struggle not to remember the way he’d held her in his strong, hard arms like she was more precious than platinum.

  She’d told herself, every night for the past thirty nights, that they would never work, and when she’d finally heard of his upcoming marriage, she’d had no other choice but to believe herself.

  It was fine. Really. She hadn’t wanted to marry him. She would never marry unless she could have what Molly and Julian had; if Kate couldn’t have a little piece of real love for herself, then she’d rather be alone.

  So tomorrow she was leaving. She had a one-way ticket to Florida. Miami, to be precise. Where she could begin a new life and never have to see the man she loved with another woman again. But before she left, she must let him know the truth. A truth she had been carefully keeping to herself for a month, not wanting to detract from the joy of Molly’s big day.

  Molly was her only sister; Kate had practically raised her since they had both been orphaned as little girls. She wanted Molly’s wedding day to be perfect.

  Yes, Kate was pregnant, but there was still plenty of time to find the right moment to tell Garrett about it. If only he’d stop looking at her like he wanted her for lunch, making her insides twist and clench with yearning.

  “You may now kiss the bride!”

  Startled, Kate couldn’t believe she’d missed so much of the ceremony, and then she watched as the handsome, blond-haired Julian lifted Molly in his arms as if she weighed no more than a feather and kissed the breath out of her.

  Arms twining around him, Molly squeaked in delight as Julian swung her full circle, still kissing her. But he pulled back with a frown and murmured, “Oh, crap!” when he rea
lized Molly’s train had gone round and round both their bodies.

  When they looked down to the coil around them, they both burst out laughing, then they started kissing again, Julian’s open hands almost engulfing all of Molly’s petite face as he cradled it.

  “I got it,” Kate said, laughing as she easily detached the train from her sister’s dress. With Molly in his arms, Julian hopped out of the tulle and carried her down the aisle to the cheers and claps of their guests and the blaring sound of the “Wedding March.”

  They looked so happy, so in love, as they headed for the beautifully decorated gardens where their outdoor wedding celebration was to take place, leaving Kate behind with a pair of stinging eyes, the train and the best man.

  As Kate began gathering what felt like a hundred miles of tulle, Garrett came over, bringing her the other end of the train. She couldn’t seem to look up at him. “Thanks,” she said, and felt her cheeks burn. God, why was she even blushing? They’d grown up together. He should be a man she was comfortable with and instead she was a wreck just wondering how she was going to tell him.

  Despite how much it hurt her to know he was marrying someone else, she didn’t want to ruin his life, because he’d always protected and cared for her. Always.

  And she feared this news was going to be a whopper for him.

  Suddenly his tan, long-fingered hands captured and stilled hers, and she held her breath as the warmth of his palms seeped into her skin. She looked up and into those riveting onyx eyes, her lungs straining for air.

  “Tell me if I’m mistaken—” his voice was low, his eyes so unbearably intimate she could die “—but did my brother just marry your sister?”

  She wouldn’t stare at his beautifully shaped lips as he spoke. She wouldn’t. But, oh, God, he was so handsome she could burst from it. “It only took a full hour, Garrett. You couldn’t have missed it,” she said, trying to keep her voice level.

  And yet, maybe she was hallucinating, but...was he staring at her lips? “Apparently I did.”

  “You were standing right there. Where were you? Mars?” She straightened and rolled her eyes, ready to leave, but his voice, the intensity in his words, stopped her.

  “I was in my bedroom, Kate. With you in my arms.”

  She went utterly still, her back to him, while every inch of her body fought to suppress a tremor of heat that fluttered enticingly down her spine. His words seduced her body and soul in ways she couldn’t even believe were possible. Her legs felt watery, and every pore in her body quivered with wanting of him. His words transported her to his bedroom. To his arms. To that night.

  No, no, no, she couldn’t do this here. She just couldn’t.

  Shaking her head almost to herself, she started down the beautiful red path that led to the Gage mansion, painfully aware that he followed.

  “Kay, I need to talk to you,” he said thickly.

  That low, coarse timbre managed to do sexy things to her skin, and her physical response to him irritated her beyond measure.

  “If it’s to tell me about your wedding, I already know. Congratulations,” she said in a voice as flat as the bottom of her shoe.

  “Then maybe you can tell me the details, since apparently you know more about it than I do? Dammit, I need to talk to you somewhere private.”

  He grabbed her elbow to halt her, but she immediately yanked it free. “I need to talk to you, too, but I’m not doing it here. Nor am I doing it today.”

  He followed her again with long, easy strides, the determination in his voice nearly undoing her. “Well, I am. So just listen to me.” He stopped her again, forced her to turn and stared heatedly into her eyes. “I don’t know what happened to me the other day, Katie.... What you told me left me so damn winded, I swear I didn’t know where to begin....”

  She covered her ears. “Not here, please, please not here!”

  He seized her wrists and forced her hands down. “I know I hurt you, I know you don’t want me to apologize, but I need to say I am sorry. I am sorry for how things have gone down and for hurting you. I’m sorry how it happened, Katie. I wish I’d done it differently. If I could take it back, I would, if only to get you to stop looking at me like you are just now.”

  His apology was the last straw. It really was. The last. Straw. “You wish to take the night back, that’s what you wish?” The pitch of her voice was rising, but she couldn’t control the hysteria bubbling up inside her chest, couldn’t stop herself from incredulously thinking, How can I take back the baby you gave me, you ass! “Oh, you’re something special, do you know that? You’re something else. I can’t even believe I let you put your filthy paws on me, you no-good—”

  “Goddammit, I really didn’t want to do it this way, Kay. But you’re giving me no choice!” Teeth gritted, he scooped her up into his arms and stalked across the gardens toward the house.

  “Wha—” The tulle train fell inch by inch from her grasp and trailed a path behind them as she kicked and squirmed and hit his chest. “Garrett, stop! Put me down! What are you doing?”

  He kicked the front doors open and carried her up the stairs, his jaw like steel, his hands blatantly gripping her buttocks. “Something I should’ve done a long, long time ago.”

  One

  Two months earlier...

  This was hell.

  The Gage family mansion was lit up with light and music and flowers tonight. All the movers and shakers in San Antonio seemed to be having a good time, a good wine and a good laugh. But Kate had gone well past purgatory an hour ago and was now sure that this night, this endless night, was nothing other than hell.

  With a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, she watched the striking couple across the glittering marble floor.

  “Garrett,” the slight, sensual blonde gushed to the tall dark man, “you’re just like fine wine, better and better with age.”

  Garrett Gage, the sexiest man on the planet, and the devil in Kate’s hell, ducked his head and whispered something into the woman’s ear with a wicked gleam in his dark eyes.

  How many nights had she dreamed Garrett would look at her like that? Not like a little girl, but like a woman?

  In a black suit and blood-red tie, with his dark hair slicked back to reveal his chiseled features, standing proud and imposing like the media baron he’d become, Garrett Gage could cause lightning to strike. He could make butterflies rise in your stomach. Make the earth stop. Make your heart thump. He could make you do anything just for a chance to be the one woman at his side.

  For years, Kate had thought that feeding him, seeing him enjoy and praise her creations, was good enough. The next best thing to having sex with him, she supposed. But now it just pained her to cook and cater for a man who didn’t even notice that she, Kate Devaney, the woman who made the chocolate croissants he so loved, was on the menu, too.

  If only one of her waiters hadn’t failed her at the party tonight, Kate might have showcased her new dress with just the right amount of hip sway to finally draw Garrett’s discerning eye. But with a tray fixed permanently to her shoulder, no one spared a glance at the glossy satin dress she wore; she was just passing the food.

  “Darling, be a dear and bring over some of those cute little shrimp skewers with the pineapple tips,” a woman said as she swept up a crab-and-spinach roll and guided it to her lips.

  “Orange-pineapple shrimp? It’ll be right over,” Kate said.

  Grateful for the distraction, she swept back into the kitchen to load up a new tray. Usually the sight of her workers milling about the three-tiered cake and pulling out mouthwatering snacks and hors d’oeuvres from the oven would fill her with satisfaction. But even that didn’t lift her spirits tonight. Eight more weeks, Kate. Just two months. And then you never have to see him with another woman again.

  As she carried a new tray
into the busy living room, it struck her that she was going to leave behind this house with so many good memories, and this family who’d practically raised her as one of their own. She’d been so happy here; she’d honestly never imagined leaving until her feelings for Garrett had become so...painful. Moving to Florida was the best thing to do—the healthiest. For her. To be away from that hardheaded idiot!

  “Mother tells me you’re leaving.” Julian John fell into step beside her as she navigated past a large group. Kate had been so deep in thought that she started at the low, sensual voice.

  She glanced up and into the gold-green eyes of the youngest Gage brother, a beautiful man with a heartbreaking smile who was known to be guarded and quiet—except with Molly. He was only two months away from marrying Kate’s perky and passionate younger sister and officially becoming her brother-in-law. But if Julian already knew about her departure—who else did? Her stomach cramped in dread.

  “I can’t believe she’s told you. I asked her not to tell.”

  Julian plucked a shrimp skewer from the tray and popped it into his mouth. Like all Gage men, he had massively broad shoulders, and his symmetrical, masculine face looked as if it had been cast in bronze. “Knowing my mother, she probably thought you meant not to tell the press—and that would exclude its owners.”

  Kate smiled. At seventy, still stout and active, the Gage matron was a force to be reckoned with. She was the proud mother of three strong, successful media magnates—not that Landon, Garrett and Julian John were powerful enough to keep the sassy woman from having her say.

  She glittered tonight in a high-end ruby-colored dress, which was completely undermined by the plain black bed slippers she wore. Comfort, to her, was everything. She didn’t care what others thought and had enough money to ensure that everyone would at least pretend they thought the best of her.

  She’d been the closest thing to a mother to Kate, who’d grown up without one. At the tender age of seven, she and her bodyguard dad had moved in to this very house where Garrett’s birthday celebration was being held. Her father had died shortly after, leaving Kate and Molly orphans, but this house had remained their home.

 
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