Authors: Helen Scott Taylor
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Anthologies, #Contemporary, #Collections & Anthologies, #Holidays, #Inspirational, #Military
The Army Doctor's New Year's Baby
Helen Scott Taylor
Copyright © 2014
Cover design © Helen
Edited by Pam
The right of Helen Taylor to be identified as the author of this work
has been asserted by her in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act, 1988.
This is a
work of fiction. All the characters in this book have no existence outside the
imagination of the author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing
the same name or names. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons,
living or dead, is purely coincidental.
reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
Fabian's breath misted before him in the cold as he strolled along Park Lane in London's fashionable Mayfair district. Black cabs whizzed past, ferrying New
Year's Eve revelers to parties while Christmas lights glittered among the icy
branches of the trees in Hyde Park.
This was Daniel's first time wearing dress uniform since he’d graduated
from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst six months ago. Satisfaction filled
him at the respectful glances from people he passed. He was proud to be a
member of the British Army Medical Corps, proud to be part of an organization
that provided a service for his country.
Too much of
his life had been wasted on the wrong career and pointless relationships with
women he didn’t care about. Now he had turned over a new leaf. His New Year's
resolution was to make a worthy contribution to the army, to forge a future he
could be proud of.
his destination and joined the other guests in army uniform heading through the
front entrance of the Dorchester Hotel for the Royal Army Medical Corps' New
Year's Eve Ball.
stepped through the door, his new commanding officer approached as if he'd been
lying in wait. "Major Fabian, thank goodness you're here. Can I ask you a
huge favor?" Col. Duncan Mackenzie dragged a worried hand over his dark
hair. "Would you escort my sister, Megan, into the ballroom? I forgot I
was supposed to do it. Now I've committed to take another woman in."
suppressed an ironic smile. He'd pledged to devote himself to the army during
his first year of military service, with no distractions of the female kind.
Yet every time he attended a social function, people tried to hook him up with
reluctance, he had no intention of turning down Colonel Mackenzie's request. He
didn't want to start off on the wrong foot with him. "I'd be delighted to,
call Meg and see where she is." Duncan pulled a mobile phone from the sporran
hanging over the front of his kilt and held it to his ear.
Dan, how are you doing?" Two young doctors who'd been in Daniel's class at
Sandhurst stopped to chat about their first postings.
both joined the army straight out of medical school. Daniel envied them for
having no doubts about what they wanted to do. He'd wasted eight years working
as a cosmetic surgeon in his father's exclusive London clinic before he found
the strength to leave and go his own way. His father hadn't spoken to him
Meg's coming down," Duncan said. "We'll meet her by the
followed the Scotsman through the milling crowd in the reception area. Standing
at just over six feet it was rare he felt small, but the colonel's tall, burly
frame dwarfed him.
approached the elevator, the door slid open. A group of attractive women in
evening dress stepped out. The blonde and brunette he hadn't met but recognized
as the wives of Radley and Cameron Knight. The small woman with bright red hair
in an elegant side-swept chignon must be the colonel's sister. A tartan sash
made of the same fabric as Duncan's kilt draped across her long green dress.
off to tear our husbands away from the bar. See you inside," the brunette
said to Megan, then she and the blonde left.
Mackenzie's attention moved to Duncan. She pinned him with a look that left no
doubt who was boss in the Mackenzie household. The Scotsman dutifully bent and
kissed her cheek.
look bonnie tonight, Meg."
narrowed. "What have you done wrong?"
Duncan cleared his throat. "Can't I compliment my sister without an ulterior
her bright red lips together, creases appearing between her eyebrows. "You
forgot you were my partner again, didn't you?"
Meg. Colonel Maitland asked me to escort his daughter. I agreed without
"Oh, Duncan. Every year you do this to me." Lines of irritation bracketed her mouth, her
full lips pursed, signaling her displeasure. She was a tiny thing, her face fine-boned,
her skin pale, a smattering of freckles across her nose and arms.
pretty, she was not the sort of woman Daniel dated. He wasn't quite sure what
to make of her.
worry," Duncan said. "Major Fabian will walk you in."
Duncan glanced his way and Megan's gaze followed, pink staining her cheeks. She examined
him with warm brown eyes flecked with green and gold. As their eyes met,
something inside Daniel flipped over with a bump that momentarily fogged his
Fabian, meet my baby sister, Megan Mackenzie."
much of the baby, thank you, Duncan. Anyone would think I was still in
caught Daniel's lips. She had the most adorable soft Scottish brogue and enough
attitude to cut a man down to size—even a colonel.
pleasure to meet you, Miss Mackenzie."
Dr. Mackenzie, actually. My brother might believe I exist solely to keep house
for him, but I don't."
She held out
her hand. Daniel gripped her slender fingers. She squeezed back, shaking firmly
as if they were sealing a business deal. Megan Mackenzie had a confident,
capable air that belied her fragile appearance. She was rather like the little
terrier he'd owned as a boy that always put his brother's Alsatian in its
your career very seriously, Meg," Duncan said, a note of frustration in
his voice that hinted at a long-running disagreement.
to answer someone who greeted her and Duncan angled his head towards Daniel,
speaking out of the corner of his mouth. "I wouldn't dare do
jumped back to them. "I heard that, Duncan Mackenzie." She placed a
hand beneath his elbow and pushed him on his way. "Off you go to find this
woman who is more important than me."
Duncan gave her a pained look, but didn't argue. He simply did as he was told. Nodding at
Daniel, he headed off into the crowd.
When Duncan had disappeared, Megan turned her gaze on Daniel. He grinned; he couldn't help
himself. For a few moments, her lips flattened as if she were determined to be
annoyed, then she gave up and smiled, her eyes sparkling.
apologize that you've been stuck with me, Major Fabian. I appreciate your
willingness to step in for my brother, but if you have other obligations, I'm capable
of walking into the ballroom alone." She dropped her gaze, looking down to
straighten her tartan sash. She was obviously embarrassed to be foisted on him.
Maybe she wasn't quite as confident as she pretended?
stole through him—an unfamiliar desire to ease this woman's discomfort and make
her feel valued.
do me a service if you allow me to escort you inside. I came alone as
well." Although Daniel had no problem with his single status, Megan didn't
need to know that.
She glanced at him again, her self-assurance revived. "Well, thank you,
Major Fabian. I'll be delighted to walk in with you."
out his elbow for Megan to slip her hand through. She rested her slender
fingers on his forearm. They joined the crowd in army uniform approaching the
were painted bright red, matching her lips and the stripe in her tartan. He
nodded towards her sash. "Is that the Mackenzie plaid?"
and this is our coat of arms." She touched a brooch holding the sash in
place on her shoulder. "A blessing and a curse," she added softly, as
if to herself.
rather like the idea of having a family heritage and a coat of arms. My family
has nothing like that." In fact, his family was falling apart at the
seams. He hadn't spoken to his father for nearly a year, and now his mother had
gone off with another man. Apart from his brother, Sean, the army was all he
the laird's daughter carries with it obligations and expectations that make
life difficult. Even in this day and age it means I can't marry just anyone. I
fear it might be my destiny to keep house for my brothers for the rest of my
flicked up to him and away, pink tingeing her cheeks. "Forgive me, Major.
I'm sure you don't want to listen to me complaining."
when women talked about relationship problems, Daniel switched off. Yet Megan
Mackenzie's lifestyle sounded so different from his own that it interested him.
He wanted to keep her talking.
have such a lovely voice, everything you say is music to my ears." Daniel
winced inwardly the moment the flattery slipped out—a habit so ingrained, he
spoke without thinking. He knew instinctively Megan would not appreciate that
type of comment.
him a disbelieving glance, then burst out laughing. "Do women really fall
for lines like that?"
do," he admitted ruefully. "Although it's true, I love listening to
deepened. She looked down, but not before he caught her smiling to herself.
the entrance to the ballroom and paused to stare over the spectacular room with
its chandeliers and mirrored walls, the décor rich gold and blue tones.
In a few
minutes, they'd arrive at her table and he'd have to give her up. He didn't
want to. It would be a pleasure to spend more time with Megan.
know where you're seated?" He hoped there was a chance they might sit
speculative gaze lingered on his face for a few moments. "I won't know
until after the auction."
auction the seats?" That didn't make sense. People were already sitting at
melodic laughter rang out as she shook her head. "You're obviously a first
timer if you don't know the drill. They auction the women."
been to such events in his former life, glamorous occasions where high society
women took part to raise funds for charity. He'd always found it an amusing
diversion, but the thought of Megan going to the highest bidder put his back
only for fun. Men bid on the woman they want to dine with. It's simply a way of
raising money for the Heroes' Kids Fund that supports the children of
servicemen who die in action. They do very well from the auction and everyone
enjoys the evening."
undertone in her voice belied her reassuring words. She wasn't any more comfortable
with this than he was. He led her out of the crowd to the side of the room and
moved in front of her, shielding her from view. "You don't have to take
part in the auction if you don't want to. I'll go and tell whoever's organizing
it that you've withdrawn."
He had the
irrational urge to take her hand and walk out, retreat with her to a quiet
restaurant where they could dine together in peace.
you for your concern, but I'm fine." She gave a small smile. "My
brother Blair runs the charity, so I have to take part." She nodded
towards the far end of the room where a group of women was gathering. "I
need to join them. Dinner will start soon."
walked her down the side of the ballroom. Her fingers stiffened against his arm
as they approached the stage. He placed his hand over hers and squeezed in
silent support. Her gaze rose to his, grateful and a little haunted. Something
jolted in his chest as if his heart had jumped and turned over.
What was it
about Megan Mackenzie that got to him? These feelings were unfamiliar.
the edge of the chattering group of women. Daniel gave her up with a large dose
of reluctance. After such a short time in her company, it was amazing how
possessive he felt about this woman.
you for walking me in, Daniel. I appreciate it. Maybe I'll see you again
for a few moments, searching for something more to say, not wanting to leave.
He had to consciously turn away to break the spell this unusual woman had cast
over him. He wandered back towards his table, glancing over his shoulder to
where the auction candidates were lining up. With her old-fashioned tartan
sash, Megan looked small, vulnerable, and strangely out of place among the
fashion parade of glamorous females. He wanted her to sit beside him during
dinner. It screwed up his no-women pledge, but this was just one evening.
Surely that wouldn't hurt?