Bodyguard's Baby Surprise

Passion flares when Payne Protection's newest recruit puts everything on the line to protect the mother of his child...

Threats are nothing new for FBI special agent Nicholas Rus. But when a night of passion with girl-next-door Annalise Huxton puts her in the crosshairs, Nick knows he has to do something drastic. He'd do anything to protect her—and her surprise baby bump!

Annalise has always had feelings for Nick, but that doesn't mean she trusts him. Sure, he quit his job to become her personal bodyguard, but he went MIA after their heated night together. As their pursuers circle ever closer, Annalise lowers her guard, allowing their mutual desire to resurface. Nick has proven his intent to keep her and the baby safe, but can a reckless indiscretion lead to a lifetime of happiness?

“Baby?” a deep voice—even gruffer with emotion—repeated the word.

Her heart rate quickened more as she glanced up into Nick's handsome face. While he looked like every one of the male Paynes, she had no doubt that this man was Nick—for so many reasons.

First off was that quickening of her pulse, that tingling of her skin. Annalise reacted to Nick as she did to no one else. Secondly, and probably the reason she reacted that way, was because he was the most handsome man she'd ever seen. His eyes were bluer than his brothers', his features sharper, his jaw squarer. And finally, the other men had all seen her pregnant and had known that she was. It was clear that Nick had had no idea. Those bluer-blue eyes were wide with shock as he stared down at her belly.

“You're pregnant?”

Don't miss the previous books in Lisa Childs's thrilling Bachelor Bodyguards series.

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Dear Reader,

Bodyguard's Baby Surprise
is the
third book in the Bachelor Bodyguards series. For the past year, FBI special
agent Nicholas Rus has been on the outside looking in on the Payne Protection
Agency and the Payne family. But when the girl who literally grew up next door
to him is in danger, Nick ditches his career to become her very personal
bodyguard. Annalise Huxton doesn't remember a time when she hasn't been in love
with Nicholas Rus. But, determined to be a loner, Nick has always pushed her
away—until one night six months earlier when they made love. Ever since that
night, Annalise has been in danger...and pregnant.

The baby is a surprise Nick never saw coming. He never saw
his feelings for Annalise coming either until he's afraid that he might lose
her—forever. But Nick doesn't know how to give or receive love. So all he can
offer Annalise is his protection, especially since he feels responsible for her
being in danger. In his years with the Bureau, he's taken down a lot of
dangerous criminals who could be using her for revenge against him. If he can't
keep her safe, Nick could lose Annalise before he ever figures out how to show
her his feelings for her and his surprise baby.

I hope you enjoy this latest book in the Bachelor Bodyguards
series.

Happy reading!

Lisa Childs

Bodyguard's Baby Surprise

Lisa Childs

Ever since
Lisa Childs
read her
first romance novel (a Harlequin story, of course) at age eleven, all she wanted
was to be a romance writer. With over forty novels published with Harlequin,
Lisa is living her dream. She is an award-winning, bestselling romance author.
Lisa loves to hear from readers, who can contact her on Facebook, through her
website,
lisachilds.com
, or her
snail-mail address, PO Box 139, Marne, MI 49435.

Books by Lisa Childs

Harlequin Romantic Suspense

Bachelor Bodyguards

His Christmas Assignment

Bodyguard Daddy

Bodyguard's Baby Surprise

Harlequin Intrigue

Special Agents at the Altar

The Pregnant Witness

Agent Undercover

The Agent's Redemption

Shotgun Weddings

Groom Under Fire

Explosive Engagement

Bridegroom Bodyguard

Hotshot Heroes

Red Hot

Hot Attraction

Visit the Author Profile page at
Harlequin.com
for more titles.

Get rewarded every time you buy a Harlequin
ebook!
Click here to Join Harlequin My Rewards
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For my mother, Mary Lou Childs, who passed away while I was writing this book. She loved babies and dedicated her life to raising not just hers, but her grandchildren, as well. She was an amazing, generous, loving woman who will be dearly missed.

Prologue

H
and shaking, Nicholas Rus pushed the door through the broken jamb. His other hand grasped his weapon. “Stay back,” he told the woman who stood behind him—too close. Despite the chill November air, he could feel her warmth.

Annalise was always warm—in temperament and temperature. With her yellow blond hair and bright green eyes, she was like summer sunshine. No matter how many times he had pushed her away and called her a pest when they'd been kids, she had always come back with a smile and a hug. Her hugs were the only ones he'd known in his adolescence.

“I forgot you don't like people getting in your personal space,” she murmured. But before she stepped back, she touched him—as if she couldn't help herself. Her fingers brushed across the back of his jacket. Despite the layers of leather and cloth separating them, he felt that touch.

“I don't want you getting hurt,” Nick said. “Someone could be in there.”

“There was,” she said. “I was in there. Whoever did this—” she gestured with a shaking hand at the broken door “—was long gone then.”

He wasn't so sure about that. What if the person had still been inside? What if that person had hurt Annalise? Nick shuddered.

“So they're longer gone now,” she said.

“You shouldn't be here,” he said. And neither should he. He hated this house. He had always hated this house. Not that there was anything wrong with the two-bedroom bungalow; it was the feeling that being inside it had always given him that he hated. His stomach muscles tightened into a tight knot of dread—the same miserable feeling he'd had every time he'd walked through the front door—and even when he'd been a kid, that had been as seldom as possible.

Drawing in a deep breath, he forced himself to cross the threshold. Despite what he said, he didn't protest when Annalise followed him—like she'd always followed him—and flipped on the lights.

“Why's the power on?” he asked. He hadn't paid a bill since
she
had died. He had done nothing with the house—except try to forget about it.

For once Annalise was quiet. But it didn't last long. She reluctantly admitted, “I've been paying the utilities.”

“Why?”

“So the pipes won't freeze,” she said matter-of-factly, “so it'll be ready when you want to come home.”

He snorted. This house, in the lower middle-class area of Chicago, had never been home to him. “I left this place when I turned eighteen.” And he had never looked back until his mother had died.

“That was when you joined the
Marines
...” Her voice cracked with emotion.

She had been upset when he'd joined. She'd been only twelve and hadn't understood how badly he'd needed to get away. But that wasn't why she was emotional.

“I'm sorry,” he said. That was why he'd come back—not to deal with the house but because he'd known Annalise needed him. Actually, she didn't need him. She needed her brother, but nobody knew where Gage was. He had disappeared behind enemy lines.

“It's not your fault,” she said.

Nick blamed himself. Annalise hadn't been the only Huxton who'd followed him around; Gage had, too. He was only three years younger than him, so he'd joined the Marines three years after Nick had. He'd also followed Nick's path after the corps—to college for a criminal justice degree and then into the FBI. The one thing Gage had done that Nick hadn't was reenlist. And that move had probably gotten him killed.

She touched him again, her hand reaching for his—for the one that didn't still grasp his weapon. She was right that he didn't need the gun. There was no one inside the house anymore. The intruders had done their damage—overturning furniture and even smashing holes in the drywall—and left.

“It's not your fault,” Annalise said again, as if she somehow knew how guilty he felt about Gage.

She was also right when she'd said earlier that he didn't like people getting in his personal space; he didn't like anyone getting too close to him. So he pulled his hand from hers to pick up an overturned chair.

“I had nothing to do with this mess,” he agreed—though he had created one for himself in River City, Michigan—some three hours north of where he'd grown up.

“The house has been sitting vacant for too long,” Annalise said.

She
had been dead for almost a year now.

“You should let me either rent it or list it for you,” she said. Annalise was a real estate agent and property manager. She'd done well for herself—probably because of her natural warmth. People trusted her.

Even Nick trusted her, and he'd never trusted easily.

She moved around the room, picking up things. The overhead can lights glinted off her pale blond hair and made her pale skin even more luminescent. She looked like an angel.

“Give it away,” he said. “Maybe the fire department will take it and burn it down for practice.” He liked the idea of burning up all those horrible childhood memories—of coming home from school to find his mother drunk or drugged out of her mind.

If not for the Huxtons living next door...

Annalise and Gage's parents had taken care of him like he was one of theirs. But they didn't live next door anymore. They had retired and left Chicago for a warmer city—in Alaska. They'd found a friendly little town they loved. With Gage gone, Annalise was all alone now.

She sighed. “If you don't want to keep it, let me sell it for you. I can make you some money.”

“I don't want it,” he said. “The house or the money.” He had the only thing he'd ever wanted from his mother: the truth. She'd written it down in a letter he hadn't been given until after her death.

“I took some things out of the house that I thought were yours,” she said.

He shook his head. “I didn't leave anything here that I wanted. I don't want any of it.”

“Nick...” She obviously didn't understand his bitterness. She couldn't. She was too kindhearted to harbor resentment.

“I'll sign it over to you,” he said. “You can do whatever you want with it.” Maybe that would keep her busy enough to keep her mind off Gage.

The skin beneath her green eyes was dark—as if she hadn't been sleeping. And her full lips weren't curved into their usual smile. He missed her smile. He had missed her.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

She nodded—too quickly. “Of course. I told you no one was here when I found the house like this last week.”

“I wasn't talking about the house.”

Her lips lifted now, just slightly, as if she forced the smile. “You're talking about Gage.”

He'd tried to bring Gage up earlier, but she hadn't let him. She'd changed the subject. He waited for her to do it again.

“You know he's fine,” she said.

“I hope so.”

“I know so,” she said. And her smile widened as she summoned her faith. He'd never known anyone as optimistic as Annalise. “How about you?” she asked. “Are you okay?”

He was worried about Gage. But he wouldn't admit that to her.

“Tell me about them,” she said. “About your family.”

She'd been there when he'd read the letter his mother's lawyer had given him. Annalise had always been there. Maybe that was why he'd missed her so much the past several months.

“The Paynes are not my family,” he said.

“You all have the same father,” she said.

“And they resent me for that.” Like she should have resented him for Gage joining the Marines.

“Then they're idiots,” she said.

“They're not,” he said. And his instant defense surprised even him. But the Paynes were good people who'd been hurt—whom he'd hurt with his mere existence. They had every reason to resent him—to look at him like they did—with anger.

Annalise looked at him now, and her green eyes filled with warmth and compassion and something else—something he'd seen in her gaze and no one else's. “Nick, I know you don't like it, but I have to...” And she hugged him like she always had, her arms sliding around his waist.

But it didn't feel like it used to. Annalise wasn't a child anymore. She hadn't been one for a long time. Her breasts were full and soft against his chest.

“It's not that I don't like it,” he said. It was that he liked it too much. Maybe because it had been so long since anyone had showed him warmth. Or maybe because it was Annalise.

But he lifted his arms, and after holstering his weapon, he slid them around her. She tensed in his embrace and glanced up at his face. “Nick...?”

Then he lowered his head and brushed his mouth across hers. And the chaos wasn't just in the house anymore. It was in his heart, his mind, his body. He knew he was about to make another mess, but he couldn't stop himself. He couldn't stop kissing Annalise.

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