Firefly Glen: Winter Baby (Harlequin Signature Select)
uncomfortably in her throat. For her? Who could it be? She mentally scanned the few possibilities. She had told the school, of course, in case her replacement teacher had questions. And her mother, on the off chance that she and Husband Number Four would worry.
    And Ed.
    But Ed wouldn’t call. Would he? She had left a curt sentence on his answering machine. I’m going to stay with my uncle for a while. And then, almost an afterthought. I know you’ll be gone by the time I get back. Have a nice life.
    So it couldn’t be Ed. He was officially off the hook, and he’d probably take the fastest jet he could find to California, thanking his lucky stars she hadn’t made a scene. Of course, someday they would have to talk. She didn’t want any money from him, but still…someday there would be issues of what to tell the baby. And would Ed want to know when the baby was born? Would he want information, pictures, visits… rights?
    She knew she had taken the coward’s way out, leaving that message. Perhaps in their future lay unpleasant negotiations with lawyers, difficult conversations with their families, wrenching decisions about a thousand little things. But not yet. Please. She wasn’t ready yet.
    She must have looked frozen, because Ward frowned, tilted his head and gave her a quick, assessing glance. Then, before she could will her hand to reach out, he brought the telephone back to his own ear.
    â€œSarah’s not available,” he said in a voice of gruff authority. “I said she’s not available. If you’d like, I’ll take a message.”
    He listened a minute, muttered another syllable or two, then pressed the disconnect button and lay the phone facedown on the end table.
    â€œThat was Ed,” he said casually, his gaze on the chessboard. “He still sounds constipated. Your move.”
    Obediently Sarah studied the pieces, but she couldn’t help smiling. Oh, how she loved this tough and wonderful old man! She could just picture Ed right now, staring in outraged disbelief at the dead receiver. He wasn’t accustomed to being thwarted. He liked being the boss—at work, and, she realized now, even at home with her.
    In a twisted way, he probably would actually have enjoyed fatherhood. All that power, all that sheer physical superiority.
    She shuddered slightly, thinking of it. She stared down at her doomed queen and came to a decision.
    â€œYou know, it may be inevitable, but I don’t feellike surrendering tonight.” She looked up and gave her uncle a crooked smile. “Let’s finish this tomorrow.”
    He leaned back in his chair, stretching so broadly it made the old wood and leather creak. “Good idea. I think we both could use some fresh air,” he said. “Feel like taking a walk around the lake?”
    She darted a glance at the windows. “It’s still snowing, isn’t it? Won’t it be awfully cold?”
    Ward laughed as he headed across the room, making for the hallway, where the coats and hats were kept. “Of course it’s cold, Short Stuff. That’s the point, isn’t it? Otherwise you’d be back in Florida, working on your suntan and bickering with your boyfriend.”
    He was right, of course. The minute they stepped outside, she knew it. Here was a new world, a world of such mysterious beauty that Ed and his temper immediately faded to total insignificance. Even her pregnancy seemed merely a simple, uncomplicated truth, one small detail in the huge, unstoppable rhythms of nature. She couldn’t worry. She couldn’t plan. She could suddenly do nothing but admire this amazing, magnificent landscape.
    With a strange sense of excitement, she curled her fingers inside the cashmere-lined gloves her uncle had loaned her. “I love it,” she said, tucking her arm through his. “And I love you. ”
    He made a low growl in his throat. She had violated one of his

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