Read The Army Doctor's Baby (Romance Novella) Online

Authors: Helen Scott Taylor

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The Army Doctor's Baby (Romance Novella) (3 page)

BOOK: The Army Doctor's Baby (Romance Novella)
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Another frustrated sigh.

"So, you'll come?"

"I guess."

"Don't wait too long. George gets bigger every day."

"This stinks. I'm too young to have a kid. I've got plans."

"Olivia has plans as well. She's had to adapt. You can too."

Cameron grunted in response.

"Call Olivia and tell her when you're coming."

"Maybe. See you, man."

Radley flopped back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. Had he done the right thing? What would Olivia's reaction be when Cameron contacted her? A sense of regret washed through him, and he pushed it away. It was best for George to have his father in his life. It would also help Olivia to feel that she belonged in the family. Yet part of him wished he hadn't called his brother.

***

"We're going for a ride in my car. That'll be fun, won't it?" Radley jangled his keys over the baby in his arms to attract his gaze. George's arms and legs waved like crazy and he made the grunting sound that signaled he was excited.

If Radley had known beforehand that he would spend most of his time watching out for a mother and newborn when he arrived home on leave, he might have stayed away. But he was enjoying his time with Olivia and George. He didn't even mind that his mother had a couple of weeks working full time to cover for a sick colleague, which meant that for the last week, Radley had been pretty much tied to the house all day.

At some point he needed to go house hunting for his own place, but that could wait. He had four weeks' leave after his tour of duty and eight weeks of regular leave that he hadn't taken, plenty of time to find somewhere.

A noise sounded on the stairs. He glanced up from his position by the front door to see Olivia descending. He snatched a breath and blew it out. His gaze trailed up long, slender legs. She always wore sweatpants in the house, but today she had on a blue dress that hung to midthigh. Man, did it suit her. "You look nice."

She stepped off the bottom step and approached, a tentative smile on her face. "It's the first time I've been out since your mum brought me and George home from the hospital. I know I'm only going back there for a checkup, but I thought I should make an effort."

Her long dark hair glided around her shoulders as she moved. Her eyes looked bigger than usual, outlined with makeup, while her glossy pink lips were far too tempting.

She must have noticed his appraisal. Her hand went to her mouth, and tiny lines appeared between her eyebrows. "I haven't overdone the makeup, have I? It's been such a long time since I wore any."

"No, you look great. I'm just not used to seeing it on you, that's all."

The tentative smile came back to her face. "That's okay, then." She turned her attention to her son. "Hi, sweetie. Are you being a good boy?"

In answer, the little boy in Radley's arms farted loudly. Olivia burst out laughing and so did Radley. A moment later the baby noisily filled his diaper.

"That sounded like a seven or eight on the Richter scale," Radley said. "I reckon that was his loudest poo yet."

Olivia clutched her stomach. "Don't make me laugh. It hurts." When she had recovered, she wiped tears of laughter from her lashes. "Only a man would say something like that."

"I aim to please." Radley grinned, happy to have amused her. She was far too serious most of the time. If she wasn't looking after George, she had her head buried in a law book or her college notes. He admired her determination to pass her exams, but she needed to give herself a break sometime.

"Better out than in, I guess." Olivia turned back to the stairs. "If you carry him up, I'll change the dirty bottom."

Chapter Three

When Olivia finally stepped out the front door, after she'd changed George's diaper and most of his clothes, a practical family SUV stood on the gravel. "I expected you to own something sporty."

"I used to."

Olivia waited for more explanation, but that was all Radley said.

He opened the back door and settled George in the car seat, which was already fixed in place. He bent and fiddled with the straps. "How the heck does this thing fasten?"

Olivia bit back her laugh. She didn't mention that it had taken her and Radley's mother a good ten minutes to figure out the fastenings when they first put George in the seat.

She squeezed into the doorway beside Radley. He angled his body to give her room and she ended up with her shoulder against his chest. She blinked slowly, a little dazed by his spicy masculine fragrance. She loved being close to him. There was something about him that drew her like the proverbial moth to a flame. She enjoyed his touch when he took George from her arms and the times he'd put his arm around her waist or shoulders.

"Are you going to strap him in, or do you plan to just stand here all day. Not that I'm complaining."

"Sorry, I was thinking." Olivia's face heated. She bent her head over her son and snapped the plastic clips together.

"Ah, I see. Easy when you know how."

She stepped back. Radley's hand rested warm and firm on her back while he opened the front passenger door for her.

George went to sleep once the car moved off, and they drove in silence for a few minutes. Olivia glanced at Radley's tight expression. She'd spent a lot of time with him this past week and he was generally chatty and friendly, very easy to get along with. This was the first time she'd seen him like this. She hoped he wasn't getting tired of having to help her. The poor man had hardly had a moment to himself since he arrived home.

"Is something the matter?"

He glanced at her as if he'd forgotten she was there. "Just lost in the past."

"Not a happy past by the look of it."

"No."

She waited, hoping for more.

After a few moments he laughed wearily. "I was married. Did you know that?"

"Your mum mentioned you were divorced."

"My wife was pregnant."

Trepidation shot through Olivia. If something had happened to Radley's child, then expecting him to help her with George was unfair. It must bring back sad memories. "I didn't know. What happened?"

"Turns out it wasn't my baby."

"Oh, Radley. I'm sorry." Olivia laid a hand on his arm. The pain in his eyes pinched her heart. The woman must have been a fool to cheat on a good man like Radley. She'd give a lot to find a husband like him.

"This car always reminds me. I bought it to bring my baby home from the hospital." He glanced over his shoulder at George. "At least it's finally proving useful."

"I'm sorry we've brought back such painful memories. If you'd rather not help me with George anymore, I'll understand. I'm sure I can manage."

"Don't be daft. You've still got weeks until you can drive or lift anything." Radley rubbed a hand over his face. "Anyway, I like helping you."

"Okay, if you're sure."

He nodded.

They drove the rest of the way in awkward silence.

Radley wove the car through the traffic, turned into the hospital gate, and found a parking space. He cut the engine and sucked in a breath. "Look, forget I mentioned my wife. I don't know why I did. I don't normally talk about her."

Before Olivia could answer he was out of the car and had the back open to retrieve George's stroller. She supervised while he lifted her baby out of the car and loaded the stroller with the baby essentials.

After a short walk and elevator ride, they reached the clinic. She checked in and they found seats. A few minutes later, the doctor who had delivered George stepped out of a consulting room and called her name. The pretty blonde doctor came towards them and held out her hand. "My goodness, Radley, how are you?"

"Tina. I didn't know you were working here." They shook hands.

Olivia's doctor nodded towards George. "Is he your son?"

"No, my brother's."

Tina smiled with what looked like relief. "We should meet for a drink and catch up. I'd love to hear what it's like to be an army doctor. I might consider it myself."

"Okay, sounds like a good idea. Give me your number. I'll call you."

Olivia folded her arms and tapped her foot as the blonde doctor reeled off a phone number while Radley tapped it into his phone.

"I'd better get on or I'll get behind. See you soon," the woman said to Radley. Then she beckoned Olivia inside.

"I'll keep an eye on George," Radley said with a smile.

Olivia followed the tall blonde into the consulting room. In the past, she hadn't paid much attention to what the doctor looked like, but the woman was quite pretty, and blonde, of course. Men liked blondes. She slumped down in the chair.

The doctor examined her tummy and pronounced that she was healing well. The bruising was still evident but starting to fade, and it was less sore.

"Another four weeks and you should be back to normal. Is the father around to help you?"

"No, Cameron's in Germany." Olivia didn't tell her that they hadn't spoken for months.

"I feel comfortable handing your care over to your general practitioner now. I'll write to Dr. Knight and let her know. Are you still staying with her?"

"The plan is for me to stay with the Knights until the New Year. By then I should be back on my feet and ready to cope alone."

"Great. And you've got Radley to help. He's a great guy. Do you know if he's seeing anyone right now?"

Olivia was tempted to lie, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Tina had always been nice to her and was a good doctor. She might be just what Radley needed to move forward and put the past behind him. "I don't think so."

"Great. I've had a thing for him since college." She laughed and put a hand on Olivia's arm. "Don't tell him that."

Olivia mimed zipping her lips.

"Thanks."

They both stood, and Tina saw her to the door. "Take it easy and enjoy your baby for a few more weeks before you do anything too demanding."

Olivia smiled and nodded.

Back outside, Radley stood as she approached. "All okay?"

"I think so. She doesn't want to see me again."

"That's good. Let's get you two home. George is gnawing his fist."

"Uh-oh. We only have a few minutes before he starts crying for his food."

As they traveled down in the elevator, Olivia couldn't stop herself questioning Radley about Tina. "Are you going to take Tina up on her invitation?"

"I might. We were at college together. I didn't know her well, but she's an okay sort. If she's interested in joining the army, I should make the effort to give her some time."

Mentioning the army was just a line to get him interested, Olivia longed to say. Could he not see that? She drew in a breath and let it go. She mustn't interfere in Radley's private life. What he did in the evening was none of her business.

***

"Have some more bacon. You need to eat plenty while you're breast-feeding." Sandra leaned over Olivia with strips of bacon balanced on a spatula, ready to put them on her plate.

"Gosh, no more, thank you. I've had plenty, honestly." The kitchen table was laden with toast, butter, jam, fruit juices, yogurt, and breakfast cereals—a normal thing in the Knight household. Radley seemed to eat like a horse, although where he put it she didn't know. There wasn't an ounce of fat on the man, probably because he was up early every day running.

Sandra turned to Radley and dumped the rest of the bacon on his plate. He didn't seem to notice, his attention was fixed on the real estate listing of houses for sale. Every morning details arrived in the mail from real estate agents and every morning he leafed through them and tossed them in the trash.

After a few moments he sat back with a sigh. "I've changed my mind. I don't want an apartment. They all look like prison cells. I'm going to look for a place around here."

"If you end up working at the local military hospital, it'll take at least forty minutes to get in during rush hour. You know that, don't you?" Sandra said.

"I don't care about the commute. I want a decent house with a garden and at least three bedrooms."

His mother frowned as she took her seat and buttered some toast. "Do you have a family tucked away somewhere I don't know about?"

"I will someday. If I'm going to buy a place, I want it to be future proof."

"Makes sense, I guess," Olivia said, although she didn't like the thought of Radley with a wife and children. But it would happen one day so she'd just have to get used to the idea.

He tore open the last envelope and pulled out another property detail sheet. "This is more like it." He perused it then gave it to his mother, who nodded as she chewed.

"Can you afford this much?"

"Yes."

He retrieved the paper and laid it beside Olivia's plate. "What do you think?"

It was a pretty cottage with a fountain in the front garden and a long backyard that appeared to have a field on one side and woodland on the other. It was her dream home. If only she could afford a place like this, a place where George would grow up with plenty of room to play, where he wouldn't be breathing in horrid city fumes that might give him asthma.

The thought reinforced her determination to pass her exams and secure a training contract in a good law practice. As a successful lawyer, in a few years she would be able to buy a home like this for her son.

"It's lovely. I think you should check it out."

"Want to come with me?" Radley tossed his napkin on the table and stood. "I'm going to head on over there today and look at the outside."

Olivia's heart jumped, then fell. "I can't. I've only got a few weeks left before my exams. I need to work."

"Ease up on yourself," Sandra said. "It's Saturday and a lovely day for this time of year. Take a break."

Olivia was tempted, really tempted. She wanted to see the cottage so she could visualize it and imagine it was hers. That would give her even more incentive to work hard and make the dream a reality. She also wanted to spend time with Radley.

"Come on, Livi." Radley smiled down at her. "You know you want to."

"Oh, all right."

"Great. You prep George. I'll bring the car around."

An hour later, after George had been changed, fed, and changed again, she finally had him ready. Radley carried him out and secured him in the baby seat. Then they set off for the village of Fordbridge.

They drove along pretty country lanes bordered by hedges. Some hardy wildflowers still dotted the hedgerows with color, even though the weather had turned cold and they'd woken to a crisp frost that morning.

"Fordbridge is on the canal." Radley pointed as they rounded a bend and the waterway came into view. Long colorful barges of blue, green, and red lined the bank. "When we were kids, Cam and I used to cycle out here to fish. We would sneak onto the vacant barges sometimes as well. They're rented by vacationers in the summer, but most of them are moored up and left empty in the cold weather."

Olivia tried to imagine Cameron and Radley as boys, cycling along the canal towpath, and fishing together. She found she could quite easily. Cameron had behaved like a big kid in college so she didn't need to stretch her imagination far.

"Here's the village." Radley glanced around as the country lane wound between some picturesque stone cottages. "It's so long since I was here I'd forgotten what it's like. Check the directions on the realtor's details."

Olivia dug in the bag at her feet and pulled out the sheet of paper. "Take a right after the Hunter's Moon Pub. Then we should see the property on the right. It sounds as though it's on the edge of the village."

The pub was an ancient beamed building that had probably stood at the center of the village since Elizabethan times. "I like the look of that," Radley said as he slowed to take the turn. "Hope it's walking distance from the house."

A couple of minutes later he eased up on the gas and stopped. The cottage was as pretty as the picture, with roses over the door and a tiny stone fountain on the patch of lawn. A sign on the gate read
Brook View Cottage
.

When the car stopped, George woke and made his excited grunting sound. "There, see, the little guy likes it already."

Olivia gave Radley an eye roll, but she smiled as well. "It is a cute place."

"Don't call it cute, please," Radley said. "Guys don't buy cute places."

"Okay, quaint."

"Better. I can do quaint. That has an old-fashioned ring to it."

Radley came around her side of the car and lifted George out of his car seat. The tiny boy curled his fists in Radley's sweater and pumped his legs. "You are such a funny little guy." Radley kissed the top of George's head. Olivia's stomach did its usual flip when she saw the two of them together.

BOOK: The Army Doctor's Baby (Romance Novella)
10.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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