Authors: Sharon De Vita
“It can’t be easy being a single parent,”
Lucas said softly.
Katie smiled. “I don’t think it’s ever easy being a parent, single or otherwise. But yeah, being a single mom does present some additional problems.”
She met his intense gaze, wishing her heart wasn’t beating so fast. “It’s been hard being the one who always has to make and enforce the rules. And sometimes it would be nice to just have someone else to bounce things off of, and sometimes it would be nice to just have twenty-four hours…. But no matter how rough it gets, Rusty makes it all worth it.”
“Yeah, he is an incredible kid, Katie,” Lucas agreed, touched by the depth of her feelings for her child. He reached across the table and covered her hand with his.
He’d been itching to touch her from the moment she’d opened the door to him tonight….
Most of us look forward to October for the end-of-the-month treats, but we here at Silhouette Special Edition want you to experience those treats all month long—beginning, this time around, with the next book in our MOST LIKELY TO…series. In
The Pregnancy Project
by Victoria Pade, a woman who’s used to getting what she wants, wants a baby. And the man she’s earmarked to help her is her arrogant ex-classmate, now a brilliant, if brash, fertility expert.
Popular author Gina Wilkins brings back her acclaimed FAMILY FOUND series with
Adding to the Family,
in which a party girl turned single mother of twins needs help—and her handsome accountant
, a single father himself, is just the one to give it. In
She’s Having a Baby,
bestselling author Marie Ferrarella continues her miniseries, THE CAMEO, with this story of a vivacious, single, pregnant woman and her devastatingly handsome—if reserved—next-door neighbor. Special Edition welcomes author Brenda Harlen and her poignant novel
Once and Again,
a heartwarming story of homecoming and second chances.
About the Boy
by Sharon DeVita is the story of a beautiful single mother, a widowed chief of police…and a matchmaking little boy. And Silhouette is thrilled to have
by talented author Leslie LaFoy in our lineup. When a woman who’s inherited a hockey team decides that they need the best coach in the business, she applies to a man who thought he’d put his hockey days behind him. But he’s been…blindsided!
So enjoy, be safe and come back in November for more. This is my favorite time of year (well, the beginning of it, anyway).
About the Boy
SHARON DE VITA
This one’s for the great Chicago police officer,
Sue Hennighan, and her husband, the Sarge, for extending
their hands in kindness, sympathy and friendship and
especially for sharing the antics of their fabulous,
mischievous son, Sean. Make your mom proud, kid!
Books by Sharon De Vita
Silhouette Special Edition
Child of Midnight
The Lone Ranger
The Lady and the Sheriff
All It Takes Is Family
The Marriage Basket
The Marriage Promise
With Family in Mind
A Family To Come Home To
About the Boy
Lady and the Legend
Kane and Mabel
Baby Makes Three
On Baby Patrol
Baby with a Badge
Baby and the Officer
The Marriage Badge
Anything for Her Family
A Family To Be
My Fair Maggy
Daddy in the Making
I Married a Sheik
a former adjunct professor of literature and communications, is a
bestselling, award-winning author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction. Her first novel won a national writing competition for Best Unpublished Romance Novel of 1985. This award-winning book,
, was subsequently published by Silhouette in 1985. With over two million copies of her novels in print, Sharon’s professional credentials have earned her a place in
Who’s Who in American Authors, Editors and Poets
as well as the
International Who’s Who of Authors.
In 1987, Sharon was the proud recipient of
’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Writing.
Sharon met her husband while doing research for one of her books. The widowed, recently retired military officer was so wonderful, Sharon decided to marry him after she interviewed him! Sharon and her husband have four grown children, five grandchildren and currently reside in the Southwest.
Lady Louella’s Monthly Astrology Newsletter
With summer ending, and fall about to arrive, some challenges and changes are in store for all of us who reside in Cooper’s Cove.
As I predicted last month, we now have a new police chief with the retirement of longtime Chief Amos Mayfield, and we also have a new editor of the
newspaper, my very own beloved daughter, Katie Murphy.
But beware, children, Mercury will go retrograde early in the month, creating havoc and problems, especially for our newest citizens. So beware and take care as tempers and patience fray. Remember the road to our one true path and our one true partner is not always a smooth or welcome journey.
With a return to school and preparation already under way for the Halloween Festival, it will be a very busy time. But I predict that though the festival will be a joyous success once again, there will be a setback, a major scare that will throw the entire town into an uproar of fear before the situation is finally, successfully resolved.
On a more joyous note, I see two weddings this month. One will be an elopement and a glorious surprise for everyone—including the blushing bride! I’m afraid the other wedding will be a bit rougher going, looking quite bleak before the clouds clear and happiness descends. But as with all things, time, patience, love and understanding will work wonders.
Until next month, wishing you only the brightest stars…Lady Louella
ady, I hope you have a
good explanation. Or a really good lawyer.”
Lucas Porter scowled down at the slender figure kneeling in the dark, apparently digging up his backyard. Even with a full moon, he couldn’t see much of her with only the small beam of his flashlight, but he could see enough to know it was a woman.
Although he wanted to get a better look at her, as a cop, common sense had him taking a step back—just in case she was armed—and cursing the fact that he hadn’t taken time to grab his gun.
He was lucky he’d grabbed his jeans.
When he’d heard a noise in the yard, he’d just assumed it was a stray animal, so he’d grabbed his flashlight, yanked on his jeans and headed outside to investigate.
In the week since he’d moved to Cooper’s Cove and taken over as police chief of the small four-person department, he’d learned pretty quickly that this really was the proverbial small, sleepy little town that was practically a crime-free zone.
But after working undercover for fifteen years in the crime-choked, bustling streets of Chicago, the relative peace, calm and quiet of Cooper’s Cove, Wisconsin, had seemed the ideal tonic for all of his ills.
“Lawyer?” the woman repeated absently, not bothering to glance up as she continued to dig, intent on her mission. “Don’t be ridiculous. What on earth would I need a lawyer for?”
“Well, how about we start with trespassing, then move right along to say…vandalism?” he asked, going down on his haunches so he was eye level with her, trying hard not to be intrigued by this little bundle of femininity who smelled like heaven, but was apparently short a few buds in her bouquet.
“I’m not vandalizing,” she corrected. “Just digging.”
“Digging?” he repeated with an absent nod as her scent swirled around him. It was something sweet and sultry, meant to linger in a man’s mind like a haunting melody. “Yes, I can see that,” he admitted. “But what you call digging, I call vandalizing, not to mention trespassing. And all things considered, trespassing and vandalizing the police chief’s backyard in the middle of the night probably wasn’t a real smart move.”
“Police chief?” The woman chuckled again. “Amos Mayfield has been the police chief of Cooper’s Cove for over thirty years and trust me, this isn’t his house.”
“Amos Mayfield retired over a week ago,” Lucas informed his trespasser, and the woman’s hands and her gardening spade froze in the dirt.
” she said.
“A week ago,” Lucas admitted. “Went to live with one of his daughters,” he added conversationally.
Katie Murphy’s stomach felt as if it dropped and rolled right over her tennis shoes. She swallowed hard. “And I suppose next you’re going to tell me that
the new police chief? And this is
house?” she asked weakly, realizing the man was probably sizing her up for a straightjacket. Or a jail cell.
Good grief! Katie’s eyes slid closed and she wished she could just disappear into the hole she’d just dug.
“Look, I’m really sorry,” she stammered, shoving her hair out of her face and trying to smile. “I uh…know…know how this looks, but—”
“Trust me, you don’t,” he insisted. “I’m Lucas Porter, chief of the Cooper’s Cove Police Department.” He extended his hand and Katie looked down at her own hands, filthy with dirt. She wiped them down her jean shorts before taking his hand and allowing him to help her up. Instinctively, her hand warmed and tingled from his touch and it totally unnerved and distracted her since she’d hadn’t felt that kind of sizzle from someone’s touch in years.
“Now that we know who I am, how about you tell me who you are?” he asked, a glint of humor in his eyes as he studied her.
“You mean besides Cooper’s Cove resident lunatic?” she asked, shoving her tangled hair out of her face again as he nodded. “I’m…I’m uh…Katie Murphy, Lady Louella’s daughter.” Nervous, Katie rubbed her dirty hands up and down her shorts, wondering how she was going to explain to her son that she’d spent their first night home in Cooper’s Cove—in a jail cell.
Well, maybe if she talked fast and explained the situation she might be able to talk her way out of this. Hey, it always worked for her mother, she might as well give it a shot.
“This was my mother’s house before she sold it to you. Before she sold it she was supposed to retrieve something from the backyard, something that belongs to my eleven-year-old son Rusty, something he and his dad planted in the backyard a few years ago.” Almost breathless, she rushed on. “But my mom forgot, so that’s why I’m here in the middle of the night, trespassing and digging up your—”
“Wait.” Confused, Lucas held up his hand. “Take a breath here, Katie,” he said with a laugh. “Because you are making me seriously dizzy.” He hesitated for a moment, trying to put the pieces together. “Lady Louella is your
” He went from confused to surprised in a split second. “Lady Louella, that sweet little woman who runs the Astrology Parlor down on Main Street and sold me this house is your
” He simply stared at her. “
“Afraid so,” Katie admitted with a small smile and a shrug. “But I’m a little old to be called little Katherine, don’t you think?” Her smile widened. “I much prefer Katie.”
He nodded, too stunned to do much else. He was having a hard time reconciling the headstrong, mischievous little girl Lady Louella constantly talked about with the gorgeous woman standing in front of him.
Wanting to get a better look at her, Lucas stepped closer. The yellow halogen light from the alley cast a long, soft shadow over the yard—and her.
The skintight, threadbare jean shorts she had on hugged her butt and waist like Saran Wrap, and her thin cotton top, which was a shade of peach that only made her fair skin seem more translucent, hinted at the delicate curves beneath.
Her hair was a mass of red, gold and auburn curls that fell to her shoulders, cascading around a face that was nothing short of breathtaking. Pale, delicate skin, big curious green eyes, and a faintly full bow mouth had Lucas wanting to swipe his suddenly damp hands down his jeans.
He had to admit little Katherine was stunning. She had the kind of looks that made a man feel as if he’d been blindsided by a right hook.
He realized with a start that he felt something he never thought he’d feel again. Lust. Pure, unadulterated lust, and it threw him off balance simply because he was certain he’d buried those kinds of feelings when he’d buried his wife, along with his son, two years ago.
The feelings, the stark awareness of this woman and everything about her, was arousing a whole host of emotions he’d long thought buried, emotions he no longer
himself to feel.
She shifted and he caught another hint of her lush, feminine scent, and it immediately distracted him again. Keeping a steel band tightly around his emotions the past two years had not been a hardship, at least not until this moment.
And the fact that this woman had made him
something—something he thought himself immune from—instantly made him wary of her.
Trying to shake off his feelings, Lucas looked at her carefully, trying to get his thoughts in order. “Now what’s this about your mother burying something—”
“No, not my mother,” she corrected, then sighed. “My late husband, Jed. He was a pilot in the National Guard, and five years ago, shortly before he left for his annual two weeks of active duty, he and my son Rusty buried a time capsule in the backyard. See, Jed was going to be gone for Rusty’s first day of school, and he felt terrible about it, so the two of them decided to do a sort of a special father-son project to kind of make up for Jed not being here on such an important day.”
“Okay, I got it so far,” Lucas said with a nod, remembering how excited his own son had been on the first day of school. It was a bittersweet memory, and immediately jolted Lucas’s heart when he realized there would be no more “firsts” in his son’s life. The pain came hot and fast, spearing his heart and leaving it aching in a very familiar way.
“Anyway, Rusty and Jed planted this time capsule, and they’d made plans to retrieve it when Jed came home two weeks later.”
Lucas nodded. “Okay, I got that much.” He hesitated, still trying to put the pieces together, then he looked at her carefully and saw the haunting sadness in her eyes. He recognized it simply because he saw the same look in his own mirror every morning. “But your husband didn’t come home, did he?” he asked quietly, realizing she’d said
“Jed’s engine malfunctioned during maneuvers in the mountains. His copter crashed, killing everyone on board.”
“I’m so sorry,” Lucas said, feeling helpless to offer more. He wished he could tell her he knew how she felt, because he, too, had lost his spouse as well as his son. But he hadn’t actually been able to talk about them aloud yet, even though it had been almost two years.
The wound and the ever present guilt that his family was dead and he was alive was still too new, too fresh, and far too painful. He didn’t know if he’d ever be ready to talk about what had happened.
“Thanks. Anyway, to make a long story longer, last winter my mom had a slight stroke and couldn’t take the stairs in this house any longer, so she moved in with my Aunt Gracie and decided to sell the house.” Katie shrugged. “When my mom sold the house, she completely forgot about Rusty’s time capsule.”
“So…what?” Lucas asked with a frown. “You just remembered the time capsule today and decided to wait until the middle of the night to come dig it up?”
“Well, yes. And no,” she admitted with a laugh, seemingly realizing how ludicrous this really sounded.
“Well that certainly clarifies things,” he admitted with an amused smile.
“Rusty and I just moved back to Cooper’s Cove today. We bought a house here and tomorrow we move in, and I’d promised him he could bury his treasure box in our backyard, but—”
“Why didn’t you just buy this house?” Lucas asked more out of curiosity than anything else, glancing at the two-story white clapboard he now owned. It really was too big for one person, and clearly it was a family home, but he’d fallen in love with it the moment he’d walked inside of it, maybe because of the family feeling he got whenever he’d entered it.
“I can’t take the steps, either,” Katie admitted. “I’ve got a bum knee. Old track injury that makes daily steps an impossibility.”
“Okay, got it,” he said with a nod. “So you and your son bought your own house—”
“Right, and tomorrow when we move in, Rusty’s going to want his time capsule so he can bury it in our own backyard, but since my mom forgot about it, she asked me to come retrieve it before Rusty realized she’d forgotten something so precious to him.”
“Okay.” Lucas nodded, realizing this story was too far-fetched not to be the truth. But the cop in him knew he’d better ask a few more questions, check her and her story out a bit more—just to be on the safe side. “You said you and your son just returned to Cooper’s Cove?”
“That’s right,” Katie said. “We’ve been living in Madison for a little over five years, since shortly after Jed died.” She shrugged. “Jed and I met when I was in first grade, we were sweethearts all through school and married two weeks after my high school graduation so I never had a chance to go to college. Once he was killed, I realized I had to go back to school if I wanted to be able to properly support myself and my son.”
“Rusty and I moved to Madison so I could attend the state university. I graduated with a degree in journalism, and took a job with the
Madison Free Press
in order to get some experience before returning home here to take over the
Cooper’s Cove Carrier.
” Lucas said slowly as everything inside of him stilled. Reporters had made his life a nightmare after his wife and son had been killed, hounding him, his friends and his colleagues in an effort to get any tidbit of information, sensationalizing the story and his personal tragedy for their own profit.
There seemed to be nowhere he could run, nowhere he could hide to get away from the media’s endless questions and prying eyes. And the experience had left a very bitter taste in his mouth for the press and their unscrupulous tactics.
“Actually, I’m not just a reporter, but also the new managing editor,” Katie said with pride. “The
Cooper’s Cove Carrier
has been in my dad’s family for generations.” Cocking her head, she realized Lucas’s face had changed, darkened, and suspicion glinted in his eyes. It immediately put her back up. “Something about reporters you don’t like?” she asked, deliberately keeping her tone light.
He hesitated for a moment. “I can think of a lot more important ways to make a living than snooping into other people’s lives,” he said very slowly, unable to conceal his disdain.
she repeated, indignant at his words and tone. Katie slapped her hands to her slender hips, her gaze challenging. “Is that what you think I was doing here tonight?
Snooping on you?
” She glared up at him, stunned by his audacity.
“I don’t know,” he said quietly, his natural suspicions about reporters kicking in. “Why don’t you tell me?”
Temper simmering, Katie took a step closer to him, not caring that he towered over her. “I
you what I was doing here,” she said tightly. “Now you can believe me or not. Quite frankly I’m too tired to care. But, for the record, I don’t go around snooping into other people’s lives or their business, nor do I do my investigating by sneaking around in the middle of the night. I’m a professional, and pride myself on doing my job with character and integrity, and I expect to be treated with the same courtesy you’d treat any other professional, whether you like my profession or not.”
Coming home hadn’t just been a decision, but a carefully planned
that had taken her almost six long years of hardship and worry to accomplish. She’d worked too hard and too long to have someone disparage her or her occupation just because of some preconceived notion or opinion.