NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
He’s about to find a baby on his doorstep …
and his assistant in his bed.
Austin Prescott is a lot of things. Ex football player. Sports agent. And as of this morning? Father. Finding a baby on his doorstep should have been a joke but the pink sticky note and baby carrier she came in is deadly serious.
What’s an out of his depth bachelor to do? Call his tempting and beyond gorgeous executive assistant and beg her to move in.
Quinnlyn Stone agrees to help Austin until he can straighten out his messy life. It’s just another item on her very long To-Do list. It’s absolutely not because she’s attracted to her very single and extremely handsome boss.
Close quarters. A baby. Undeniable chemistry. What could possibly go wrong?
Austin needs an executive assistant and fast. He is having major surgery soon and has to have someone capable he can trust to handle things while he is unable to.
Quinnlyn Stone almost didn’t get the interview, Austin was about done for the day. She did however impress him in more ways than one. First she didn’t attempt to come on to him, in fact she let him know in no uncertain terms her feelings regarding successful athletes and presented her qualifications professionally. All of which gets her hired on the spot.
Now Austin has definitely felt an attraction as does Quinn, but after a kiss while he was recuperating they are both very aware and avoiding acknowledging it.
When the unthinkable happens and Austin finds a baby on his doorstep, everything, and I do mean everything, goes haywire. Austin calls the one person he can count on and trust, Quinn.
That doesn’t go exactly as he planned but dang if she doesn’t get things organized quickly.
I’m not sure which amused me more, Austin shopping for baby necessities or the family meeting. I was laughing out loud at both.
This is a favorite scene, a bit longer than normal but required.
“You do know if Austin’s your daddy, you’re a very lucky girl. Once he gets the hang of things,” she said as she put the powder into the bottle.
The baby gurgled, and a few minutes later, bottle made, Quinn settled into the couch in the big family room and popped the nipple into the baby’s adorable puckering lips.
While Quinn fed Jenny, memories of her days doing the same thing for her family members came back to her, her younger cousins especially, and she remembered that there were times she really had enjoyed taking care of them. Like now when this sweet girl chugged her bottle as fast as she could, looking up at Quinn with wide eyes. Eyes that reminded her very much of her good-looking daddy’s.
She shook her head and let the baby finish, burped and changed her, and waited for Austin’s family to descend en masse.
A little while later, the doorbell rang, and still holding the baby because she’d been crying earlier, Quinn answered, catching sight of Bri on the other side.
Drawing a deep breath, she let the other woman in. “What’s the emerg … en … cy?” Bri’s voice trailed off as she zeroed in on the infant in Quinn’s arms. “What the fuck is that?” She shook her head, her gaze never leaving Jenny. “Never mind. Iknow it’s a baby but what’s it doing here?”
Bri stepped inside and Quinn closed the door. “I think that’s your brother’s story to tell, but isn’t she cute?” She turned the baby to face Bri, who looked at the infant, eyes huge.
“Nope,” Quinn cut off Bri’s question. “Not answering.” Explaining the situation was definitely Austin’s job.
Bri frowned, obviously not liking being in the dark. “Okay, then what are you doing here with the baby?”
Quinn sighed and readjusted Jenny against her. “Austin called me and that’s all I’m going to say. Come in. Is the rest of the family on their way?”
Bri nodded. “Mom should be here any minute. Damon’s in town so he’s coming,” she said of their youngest sibling, who played football for Ian’s team, the Miami Thunder. “Jaxon is between games so he’s coming, too.”
The baseball player brother, Quinn thought.
“And of course, Braden is halfway around the world with Doctors Without Borders,” Bri said of her twin. She sighed at that.
“You miss him, don’t you?” Quinn had heard the twins were close.
She nodded. “It’s hard when he’s not always available to talk.”
“I get it. I’m close with my siblings, too. Not that I have a twin. I’m sure that bond is different.”
Bri smiled. “It is.”
“Well, come on in. Coffee’s available. Your brother only has a single-cup brewer, but I’ll make you some.” Quinn turned and started for the kitchen, Bri right behind her.
“Thanks but I can make my own. You’re his business assistant not his housekeeper,” Bri said, shooting her a knowing look. One that said she was very at home in Austin’s house.
Quinn refused to think too hard about that and settled the now quiet baby into the carrier as the doorbell rang again. “I’ll go let them in. Can you keep an eye on the baby?” she asked Bri.
Austin’s sister nodded but she narrowed her gaze. “I don’t like not being in the loop.”
Quinn chuckled. “All will be revealed in due time,” she said and headed to let the other family members in.
* * *
Pulling in a calming breath, Austin let himself into his house, braced for whatever reaction his family had to his supposed baby. He felt bad that he hadn’t gotten back in time to do the explaining, but Quinn was more than capable of handling his family. He left the truck in the garage, planning to get his brothers’ help unloading the packages.
“Hello!” he called out.
“In the family room,” Damon yelled back.
“And you have some explaining to do.” That was Bri.
He groaned and walked into the room. As expected, his family began shouting questions at him the second they saw him.
His mother walked up to him. Not surprisingly, Jenny was in her arms. His mother loved babies. She constantly hounded her kids to get married and give her grandchildren, and Austin wondered if she’d gotten her wish.
Her concerned gaze rested on his. Always put together, her blondish-brown hair hanging to her shoulders, her makeup fresh, Christine Prescott was special. And she was an amazing mother. She’d done her best to protect her kids from their father, Jesse, when he was in one of his moods. Over the top with his expectations. If she had one flaw, it had been that she hadn’t left her husband, but she’d loved him and kept hoping her influence would fix things.
“Is she yours?” his mother asked, rubbing Jenny’s back as she spoke.
His siblings grew silent as they waited for his answer.
Austin swallowed hard, surprised Quinn hadn’t revealed what little they knew about the baby, and he met Quinn’s gaze, the unspoken question obvious.
She looked at him with sympathy in her eyes. “Not my story to tell.”
He blew out a breath and began to explain. “I found her on my doorstep last night with a note saying she’s mine.”
“Jesus, Austin, ever hear of wrapping it up?” Damon asked from his seat on the couch.
He shot his brother a dirty look. “I did. But you know as well as I do, shit happens.” He met his mother’s gaze. “That’s all I know right now. I called Ray Benson, my lawyer. He’s going to arrange for a paternity test. I’ll also turn the tapes from my house cameras over to a PI Ray uses, after I take a look and see if I recognize whoever left her.”
“Jenny,” his mother said. “Whoever left Jenny on your doorstep. She’s a baby with a name.” She continued to run her hand over the infant’s back, and Jenny had her head resting on his mother’s chest.
Even he wasn’t immune to the sight of the sweet little thing in his mom’s arms. But she was quiet for his mother. For Quinn. For him she shrieked like he was hurting her somehow.
“I know, Mom.”
“But you haven’t looked at her or asked to hold her since you walked in.”
He hated the disappointment in her voice and expression. For his whole life, he’d strived to make his parents proud, but especially his mother. He cringed at the way she was looking at him now.
But it wasn’t like he wasn’t doing things for the baby. “I just spent the last two hours loading up my credit card with things for her. For Jenny. I don’t know if she’s mine and I’m trying to adjust.”
“I don’t care if she’s yours or not. She needs love and affection. Attention, and it’s not Quinn’s responsibility.”
“I didn’t mind helping out, Mrs. Prescott,” Quinn said quietly.
With the sound of her voice came the reminder that she was witnessing what felt like his shame. That he’d probably been responsible for creating a baby he hadn’t known about. That his mother thought he was dropping the ball now.
“Call me Christine and I know you don’t mind. I just want my son to understand this baby is his responsibility … at least until we know whose baby she is. Although looking at these familiar blue eyes, I have a pretty good idea.”
Austin reeled at the fact that his mother was confirming what his gut already knew. He leaned against the nearest wall, totally floored. It was one thing to suspect Jenny was his child, another to have the closest person to him validate it.
“Mom, I need help,” Austin said in a low voice. “I need you.”
His mother patted his face. “Honey, this is where a man shows his true colors. I get that you need help, but I have a cruise for my high school reunion that I organized and I’m leaving in the morning. I can’t not show up. I’m the one in charge. I’m sorry. I’ll be here for you when I get back on Friday. I promise.”
Shit. He’d totally forgotten her trip. “It’s okay. I’ll figure something out.”
Bri rose to her feet. “I’ll stop by when I can but I have that trip to LA with Manuel Rodriguez. It’s his first major sponsor photo shoot and I promised I’d be there. What about a nanny?” she asked.
“I’ll look into hiring someone, but it’s going to take time to vet people. I can’t just trust anyone.” He knew he couldn’t ask his brothers. They both had team responsibilities, and if the idea of taking care of an infant scared him, he doubted his bachelor brothers with full-time careers were any more capable of handling the baby.
No more than Austin himself. He had a business to run, and though he could take time off if he needed to, the fact was, he didn’t know how to deal with Jenny on his own. He was at a total loss and didn’t know who to turn to or what to do.
“I’ll do it. I’ll move in and help,” Quinn said, striding over to his mother and sliding a protective hand over little Jenny’s head.
Everyone’s eyes whipped toward her in shock but none more than Austin’s.
Carly Phillips. Dare to Resist (Kindle Locations 791-864). CP Publishing.
With Quinn moving in to help temporarily, things start heating up between them.
Austin has some major obstacles to overcome as does Quinn.
I absolutely loved the progression of this story, from the history of Austin’s relationship to the Dares to Quinn’s feelings about motherhood.
This is definitely a must read series for me and I hope it will be for you as well.
5 Contented Purrs for Carly!
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Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels featuring hot men, strong women and the emotionally compelling stories her readers have come to expect and love.
Carly’s career spans over a decade and a half with various New York publishing houses, and she is now an Indie author who runs her own business and loves every exciting minute of her publishing journey. Carly is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs (two wheaten terriers and one mutant Havanese) who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.