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Their Very Special Gift [Secure eReader]
eBook by Jackie Braun

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Would the most precious gift of all save their marriage? Reese Newcastle and her husband, Duncan, used to be able to finish one another's sentences. Now, neither is sure what the other is even thinking. Years of trying for a baby has driven a wedge between them. But Reese has a chance to make her long-cherished dream of motherhood come true--by adopting a little baby. Duncan has never stopped loving Reese, and will do anything to make her smile again. Could this adorable baby help heal their hearts and remind them why they first fell in love?

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Romance
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2007




CHAPTER ONE

Two weeks later…

DUNCAN shifted his Mercedes into Park and switched off the ignition, but he made no move to get out. He stared at the ranch with its charming red brick facade and canvas-awning-covered windows. The place wasn't big. In fact, at twenty-five hundred square feet, it was the smallest one-story in their tasteful, older Grosse Pointe neighborhood. But he'd always liked the inviting look of it. Unlike his parents' mammoth Lakeshore Drive estate, this place had seemed like a home.

Not any longer, of course. No. Now it was just a house.

What am I doing here?

For the millionth time he wondered why he hadn't refused to come back, why he hadn't just said no when Reese had asked for his help. The answer he kept coming up with was not one he liked.

He still loved her.

Even though she had broken his heart with her accusations and had pushed him away with her single-minded obsession over the past several years, he still loved her. And so he was back, not as her husband but as her means to an end.

The adoption agency had called. A birth mother had picked the Newcastles as parents for her baby. Reese, of course, was elated, ecstatic even, and, not surprisingly, desperate. Neither the folks at Loving Hands Adoption nor the young mother knew that the Newcastles were living apart, their marriage in such shambles that they were heading for divorce. Reese had never notified their caseworker and Duncan certainly hadn't thought to call Jenny Lawford after he'd moved out on that bleak January night.

Hell, he hadn't told anyone that he and Reese were having problems, let alone considering calling it quits. He hadn't said a word to his parents or his friends. Even his secretary didn't know he was sleeping at a hotel, taking his meals at restaurants or ordering them through room service. Why broadcast failure? It wasn't, Duncan told himself, that he'd been holding out hope for reconciliation.

Of course, if he had been, Reese's proposal of the day before would have pretty much snuffed out that possibility. She'd dropped by his office unexpectedly in the late afternoon, and, he could admit, he'd been happy to see her…right up until the point she'd revealed the actual reason for her visit. She'd told him about the agency's call and then she'd asked him to move home.

She needed him to pretend that everything was fine for the six months or so it would take until the adoption petition was finalized in family court. After that, they would go before a judge again—this time for their divorce. In return for his help in securing the adoption she'd promised to cut him loose quickly and cleanly.

As Duncan sat in his car he rubbed a hand over his eyes, remembering how Reese had offered that up like some kind of damned grand prize.

"I'll make the divorce easy for you afterward," she'd said. "I won't ask for anything but what I came into our marriage with. It goes without saying that I won't expect you to pay child support or have a relationship with the child in any way. I know how you feel about adoption."

Now she knew? Before, every time he'd tried to broach the subject, she'd cut him off or dismissed his concerns. He'd stared at her, wondering how it was possible for two people to talk to one another and yet fail to communicate. Not surprisingly, she'd taken his silence to mean something else entirely.

"You can even have the house."

"I don't want the damned house," he'd told her. Had she really believed it would sweeten the deal to throw in the deed to the place where he'd once known such joy?

"Then what do you want? Name it and I'll give it to you." God, she'd been so eager in her desperation that it had made his heart ache all the more. "This might be my last chance, Duncan. I'm begging you."

It hadn't escaped his notice that she didn't use the more inclusive "our" in referring to chances. And, in fairness, why would she? Adoption was her answer to their reproductive problems. He'd never accepted it as their solution. He'd never given up on the idea of a biological child. He still wasn't sure he could feel for a baby what he should feel if the child wasn't of his blood.

"You could apply as a single mother," he'd reminded her, his gut clenching over the words. "There was an unmarried woman in the education classes we had to attend. Or you could hire an attorney and go the private route."

"I know. I know."

She'd looked so weary then and he'd understood why. Private adoption held its own set of perils, which was why they had ruled it out from the onset. Birth mothers could change their minds after expenses had been paid and after infants had been placed, and adoptive families had no recourse.

As for their agency, because it was so small it only allowed singles to adopt special-needs children or those who have been removed from their biological parents' homes for abuse or neglect.

"I want this baby, Duncan," Reese had said. "I'm thirty-six, looking at thirty-seven in June. All of my friends are mothers. Even my younger sister is expecting. I can't keep waiting. I just can't. It's been so long already."

Her voice had broken and her eyes had filled. Duncan had known right then what his answer would be. He'd always hated to see her cry. It made him feel powerless, inadequate. As they'd stood in the sterile confines of his downtown Detroit office, it had reminded him of the many ways in which he already had failed her. He was a man of action, a mover and shaker adept at making deals, at making things happen. Why, why couldn't he find a way to fix their fertility problem?

Copyright © 2007 by Jackie Braun Fridline.


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