Title: It Had to be You
Author: Livia Quinn
Genre: Small Town Military Romance
Love happens when you least expect it. . .even when you resist.
Jed Summers has had a change of heart.
When he and Samantha Larue started dating he’d known she was pregnant and still he found her wildly attractive. But when their relationship turned more serious, Jed ended it, telling her he’d sworn off marriage and kids years ago after an abusive childhood. After following her around for six months, as if he still cared, he delivered Sam’s baby and now, every time he sees her and little Nina, he wonders if he made the biggest mistake of his life.
New developments from Jed’s past turn his long- held ideas upside down then Sam is threatened and her secret is exposed, leaving her feeling vulnerable. Can he convince her to give him a second chance?
On a hot humid early morning in August, Officer Jed Stern's favorite place to run was the parade route around downtown Larue, especially when he ended his six-mile trek at the Main Street dock. The only thing between the town and the Rainbow Bayou harbor were the storefronts along the brick walkway and the grassy park where early bird locals and tourists gathered to buy beignets and cafe au lait from a kiosk at the center of the promenade. As proprietors prepared to open for business and a colorful tour boat coasted by in the calm waters, Jed paid a lanky teenager for a bottle of water and downed it in several swallows.
. . . As he turned a scene nearby had him ducking behind a big sycamore tree, his heart suddenly running faster than it had in weeks, even during his intense workouts.
But it wasn’t the discovery of a most wanted criminal or a crime in progress that had his heart pounding. The woman on the other side of the expanse of well-manicured grass was tall and curvy, with long dark hair and, Jed knew, eyes so green you lost your train of thought when she turned them on an unsuspecting member of the opposite sex. Jed had personal experience with those eyes.
Sam tossed her head attempting to flip her thick mane out of her face as she bent over to clasp her little girl’s tiny hands between her fingers, helping her lift herself up into a standing position. Jed smiled at the baby’s happy gurgle and as if his feet had a mind of their own, he left the shelter of the tree and sauntered toward the pair.
Nina saw him first. Her eyes lit up and she lifted one foot as if to walk toward him, then wobbled back and forth. When she rolled back on her heels Sam let her fall onto her padded butt probably just to show her falling wasn’t failure. That was his Sam—wrong, not his Samantha any longer. He’d fixed that, hadn’t he? It had been several weeks since they’d spoken, just the two of them, but surely they could carry on normally regardless.
Instead of trying to stand again, Nina proved she was as determined as her mother when she got something in her head. Off she went crawling on hands and knees for all she was worth in Jed’s direction. He laughed at the speed at which she outdistanced Sam, catching her off guard. Then he watched as Sam's gaze shifted from quizzical at Nina to frowning at him. So much for normal.
“Zhe, Zhe!” Nina cried, raising her chubby little arms up in the air toward him. He laughed. With a sigh, he admitted his pleasure that his mother’s namesake wanted his attention over her mother’s. He didn’t see Nina often, but there was a definite connection between them, as if she remembered his hands were the ones that caught her when she came into the world last Christmas Eve.
Now, as he watched her race toward him, he shook his head. What was he supposed to do? He reached down as always and hooked her under the arms with hands and launched her into the air, eliciting a squeal of delight from her and a gasp from Samantha. Catching her firmly he brought her face down to his and let her smack him open mouthed on the lips. Her legs kicked furiously and Jed wondered if he set her down right then if she would take off across the grassy lawn.
“Hey, baby girl,” he crooned. “You’re about ready to run your first toddler race aren’t ya?”
Sam looked like she didn’t know what to say. She just stood there, her hands fiddling with the zipper of her thin jacket. Jed held Nina in the crook of one elbow while he waited for her to say something.
Finally, she said, “What are you doing in the park?”
Just as he said, “You girls having a morning run?”
She shook her head and smiled. “You’d think, wouldn’t you? She's not old enough but she seems to think all it takes is determination and it will happen.”
Sounds like her mother, Jed thought, and Sam eyed him as if she expected him to say that aloud. He shrugged. It was that silent communication that had been a part of their relationship from that first day he’d been introduced to her at the station. He didn't want to ruin his good mood at this impromptu meeting by thinking about the reasons why they hadn’t lasted. But somehow the reasons intruded.
Their breakup hadn't been Sam's fault though come to think of it she hadn't put up much of a fight. As a young man, Jed made a decision, swearing off alcohol and kids, long before he'd known he would meet someone like Sam and this sweet little girl.
"I guess I'd better get Nina on over to mother's and get to work."
With Nina wiggling in his arms blowing bubbly kisses at him, her eyes sparkling with love, damned if he could figure out how to fix it.
"Okay." He kissed the baby and handed her back to her mother. They were careful not to accidentally make contact with the other. He attempted a smile but knew he didn’t pull it off. Lifting his hand in a failed attempt to seem casual, he said, "See you around."
Books 2 Read https://books2read.com/ithadtobe
Amazon US https://kdp.amazon.com/dp/B07H9PW76N
Amazon CA https://kdp.amazon.ca/dp/B07H9PW76N
Amazon UK https://kdp.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07H9PW76N
Amazon AU https://kdp.amazon.com.au/dp/B07H9PW76N
Apple Books https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1436190726
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Livia moved from D.C. to Louisiana where the weather and culture of the region inspired her writing, including her storm faerie, Tempest, and her contemporary romance series, The Calloways of Rainbow Bayou. She’s stored up fodder from her jobs as mail lady, salesperson, plant manager, business owner and professional singer to share with readers. Think of her as her characters’ biographer! On the bayou, she is protected from the alligators and bears by her husband and feisty Pomeranian, Dusty.
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