Title: The Daddy Coach
Author: Karen Muir
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About The Daddy Coach:
Hoping to vindicate her brother, botanist Gina Dunn poses as a nanny to the man she believes framed him. Even though she grew up in a dysfunctional home, how hard can it be looking after twin four-year-old boys? If she can nurture rare orchids, surely she can handle this.
Instant fatherhood hits contractor Will Sinclair hard when his twin sons he didn’t know existed come to live with him. The rebellious boys reject Will as their real dad, forcing him to turn to Gina, his new nanny, for her “expert” help.
Interacting with Will and his boys as a “daddy” coach, Gina starts to crave the family she’s always longed to have. But Will’s reaction when he learns of her deception isn’t her biggest fear––one of two men she loves is lying…
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He opened the front door and met the scared puppy look in her eyes. Did she think he planned to scold her or make a scene? The thought rankled.
“Hello,” she said. “Thanks for doing this.”
He nodded. “Come in.”
She brushed past him carrying a flat of vibrant purple and yellow plants. “I brought pansies for the back yard.” She studied them intently, as though reluctant to meet his gaze. “The boys love picking flowers, and these will grow lots of new blooms.”
She knelt to place the box on the floor. Will watched with the painful awareness he was seeing her for the last time. She wore snug jeans that revealed her shapely legs, and a pink flowered tee-shirt that clung to her breasts. She looked hot, and he fought a traitorous urge to move closer.
Facing him finally, she squared her shoulders. “I want to tell you again how sorry I––”
“Why did you make love with me?” His words spilled out, bitter and harsh.
Her eyes widened in alarm. “I tried to tell you who I was. But you said you wanted a time just for us, and…I wanted it too. More than you will ever know.” Her mouth tightened. “I know it was wrong.”
“No man likes being played for a fool.”
She laid a tentative hand on his arm. “The only fool was me. Lying to you was the worst mistake I’ve ever made.”
He wanted to believe her. She was one of a kind–funny and smart and achingly lovely. Thanks to her, his sons called him Dad. He stood motionless and stiff, fighting the strong urge to take this beautiful woman into his arms and kiss her soft, lying lips.
Hands clenched, he stepped back and moved to the foot of the stairs. “Harry, Ian come down. Gina’s here.”
Thumping sounds came from the bedroom overhead, and seconds later both boys ran down the stairs, each of them carrying a plastic sack.
Gina grinned and knelt to put an arm around each of them. “Hi, guys. I’m going to miss you terribly, but I brought you some flowers. I know you’ll take good care of them.”
She showed them the plants and talked about their care. Will watched her with the boys, relieved by her cheerful, matter-of-fact manner. Tears and melodrama were the last things Ian and Harry needed. She was keeping her promise.
Things went well until the boys opened their sacks and presented her with gifts. He watched in astonishment as Harry gave her his new compass.
“It shows you where north is, he explained. “And you can wear it around your neck.” He held it up by its lanyard.
Not to be outdone, Ian handed Gina his Green Dragon kite, the one he loved flying when they went to the beach. Will was touched by his sons’ generosity, knowing how much each item meant to them. Gina was dearly loved.
When she stood and their eyes met, he knew she shared his awareness. His chest tightened and his vision blurred. He had never felt this connection with a woman before, and the need to let her go was a knife thrust to his heart.
Gina’s eyes shimmered with tears. “Thank you, boys,” she said. “I’ll take very good care of these things.”
Her voice wavered, and he feared she was going to lose it.
“Are you okay?” Harry asked.
“No.” She pulled a tissue from her purse. “I’ve got something in my eye.”
She dabbed her face with the tissue, then smiled and bid them a brisk goodbye. Hugs for the boys, a handshake for Will. She stepped back to survey them one last time, and for a moment she seemed to have something in her eye again. Then, with a cheery wave she was out the door.
Will watched her from the porch, Ian and Harry clinging to his legs. He felt empty inside, like a chunk of his soul had been ripped out.
“I want her back,” Harry said mournfully.
“Me too,” Ian echoed.
Me three. Gina’s visit had brought no closure for any of them, only regrets. He loved her, God help him, but he could never take her back. She’d cut him so deep he might never heal.
About Karen Muir:
A sense of humor was a must when Karen taught elementary grades and Head Start, and she’s always loved books and movies that make her laugh. Karen’s Fish Out of Water series from Entangled Publishing deals with heroines thrust outside their comfort zones. Their first meetings with their heroes tend to be quirky. An English Lit major at the University of Washington, Karen now reads mostly genre novels. Contemporary and historical romances and mysteries are my favorites. She loves camping–out in the wilds and close to nature–with all the comforts of our motor home. Sitting by a clear mountain stream with a good book to read is her idea of heaven.
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