Title: The Cowboy’s Twin Surprise
Author: K. T. Byington
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
When a little surprise changes her life, Jessie McKinnon has less than nine months to figure it out. A job at Chase Tanner’s ranch seems like a good short-term fix until she can get herself settled elsewhere, hopefully before she even begins to show.
Left to care for his abandoned twin baby nieces, Chase can’t believe his luck when Jessie offers hope of reining in the chaos his life has become. There’s only one problem—the feisty redhead from his past has the potential to break his heart all over again.
The list of needed items scribbled on the back of an envelope seemed longer now than it had when he’d jotted things down. As the automatic doors swooshed open, Chase stepped into the warm grocery store, relieved he wasn’t lugging the girls in there with him. Shopping with babies? He hadn’t tried it yet, but he sure couldn’t imagine it ending well.
Visions of ugly scenarios plagued him. Packages of bread pulled off lower shelves, boxes thrown from the cart by tiny hands, maybe broken pickle jars, juice and glass everywhere. Anything could happen. And, of course, the inevitable dreaded moment would likely arrive requiring… “Clean-up on aisle three, aisle four, aisle five…” The store manager would wish he’d followed the trio around with a mop and bucket by the time they reached checkout.
Chase cringed. The outing could easily culminate in a total meltdown of two adorable children—girls he’d give his own life for in a heartbeat.
But, man, he did not want to take them shopping.
Grabbing a cart, he headed for the primary target: a display of diapers at the front of the store.
How lucky he’d been to run into Jessie. Unbelievably so. If only he could convince her to sign on with them as temporary nanny.
Maybe even go the distance until Charlotte returns?
“Yeah, right,” he mumbled aloud, tossing a box of tea bags into the cart. “I’m gonna invite this woman to move in with me…the same gal who just asked if I was stalking her when we were teenagers.” And they both knew she’d accused him of worse in earlier days.
What were the odds she’d accept a job working for him?
Zip. Zero. Nada.
“Sure, I’ll take the job,” Jessie said as she adjusted her seatbelt.
Had he heard correctly? “You kiddin’ me?” Chase stared at her for a moment, stunned by her answer. Then the first glint of real hopefulness he’d had in a while sparked a smile.
“To be honest, the employment agency hasn’t found anything for me yet.” She shrugged casually, like it made all the sense in the world. “These babies need someone who knows what they’re doing, which you clearly do not. And, let’s face it, I need a paycheck. I can’t deplete my savings on a hotel room. I need income and a temporary place to stay, so I don’t have to go begging to my siblings for a roof over my head.” She pressed her hands together calmly. “We can help each other temporarily. At least until you find a full-time nanny, and I find a house to buy and a real job to hold me over while I try to build up a law practice.”
Daisy squealed, causing Poppy to join in with happy noises. Chase chuckled as he guided the truck from the parking lot. It was almost as if the babies understood their salvation had arrived. And she just happened to have a law degree, killer legs…and the ability to break his heart. All over again.
He shook his head. Never underestimate a woman. And never try to understand one. Just when he was sure she’d say no, she accepted his offer. Unbelievable.
Then he realized he hadn’t responded. “Well, that’s just about the best—and most insulting—thing I’ve heard all day.” He scratched his chin contemplatively. “I’m not doing so badly, am I? I mean, they’re clothed, fed, and fairly clean.”
“You’ve managed to keep them alive so far.” She shoved a handful of long hair over her shoulder and gave him the thumbs up. “You’re hanging in there. I can’t imagine Charlotte dumping this overwhelming responsibility on you, with no warning, and expecting you to succeed. What was she thinking? Did she even leave necessities for the girls?”
“She was staying with me, so there are clothes, a few toys, and some baby food.”
“Did she leave baby gates or anything to corral them?”
“Gates and several playpens. I wouldn’t have survived an hour without them. The girls are crawling everywhere and starting to walk a little, too.”
A gush of wind blew a small piece of tree branch across the hood of the truck. Chase looked toward the darkening gray sky of winter bearing down on them. A few fat, white flakes hit the windshield. I need to get the babies home.
“The temperature is dropping, the snow is already starting to fly, and these roads will freeze up fast.” He adjusted the heater. “How about we leave your car here in town? I’ll send Milo and one of the guys to pick it up later. That way, you can ride with us to the ranch, and I’ll know you’re not slipping and sliding on ice. Or worse.”
“Overly concerned about my general safety?” she asked with the sharp lift of one brow. “Or just afraid you’ll lose me in a ditch somewhere and be back to square one, looking for a nanny?”
“All of the above.” He pulled in behind the only small, sleek sedan parked in front of the employment agency. “Let’s get whatever you need most. The car might have to sit here for a couple of days.”
Jessie had no more than one foot outside the truck when Poppy started to cry, followed quickly by Daisy.
“She’ll be right back, girls.” He shook his head as he exited the vehicle.
They can’t possibly understand this situation. Why are they so finely tuned to react to everything? Some kind of baby instinct?
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What I love most about the holiday season:
Watching classic Christmas movies while enjoying a cup (or two) of hot chocolate and some sugar cookies with buttercream frosting.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
Sweet serendipity. It’s a heartwarming story of two people discovering that sometimes the best things in life are the surprises. (And there’s hot chocolate and plenty of snow along the way!)
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.
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Runs July 1 – 31
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K.T., former legal assistant and probate paralegal, enjoys cooking and baking, including preparing some of the scrumptious recipes that housekeeper Birdie served up in this story. She also loves vacations at the beach, dining out, watching old movies, and, of course, writing more stories.