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Alaskan Nights, Baby Surprise

Written by Catherine Mann

Though Glenna and Broderick Steele are still newlyweds, trouble is brewing between them. They’ve always shared an intense attraction; their feuding oil baron families kept them apart for years. Only an abandoned baby—and their white-hot passion—finally brought them back together. But a convenient marriage, even one filled with great sex, doesn’t mean their issues have disappeared. And now, Glenna has discovered she’s unexpectedly pregnant! With her marriage in turmoil, she’s uncertain of Broderick’s reaction. This baby surprise could be the final straw…or a joyful revelation that will finally lead to happily ever after…

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Chapter One

Take your hand off my butt,” Glenna Steele whispered through gritted teeth, angry and, yes, more than a little sexually frustrated over her relentless attraction to the hunky cowboy mogul.

“I’m your husband.” Broderick Steele also happened to share the chief financial officer position with her at Alaska Oil Barons Inc.

“Take your hand off my butt, husband,” she hissed, keeping her voice low so the others wouldn’t hear her. This was supposed to be a daylong corporate retreat at their office complex to build goodwill for the people employed by the newly merged Mikkelson and Steele family oil companies—her family’s and his.

This trust exercise was going nowhere fast, for Broderick and for her. She’d done her best to release control and fall back into his arms, as per the retreat leader’s instructions. But she was still too tense from the latest argument with her new husband.

Broderick’s hand slid away from her bottom in a tingling caress as he settled her on her feet again. His molten brown gaze locked with hers. Her heart pounded faster as her body betrayed her.

Light streamed through the two floor-to-ceiling windows along the massive conference room walls, sunshine glinting off his jet-black hair. She clenched her hands into fists at her sides to keep from stroking a lock from his forehead, because if she did, she would linger along the handsome lines of his face as she’d done so often during the past few months since they’d married.

Their marriage had been rocky of late, and the last thing she wanted was an all out battle in front of the other employees. Not that she intended to let him cop a feel.x

This muscular man was as rugged and solid as the Alaskan mountains in the distance. A man of wealth who still worked the land and tended his own horses.

And a man so hot she sometimes thought he could melt all the Alaskan snow with one steamy look.

Also, a stubborn man who looked too sexy in his casual wear for the day’s event, showcasing a plaid shirt, faded jeans and cowboy boots like he invented them.

Damn him.

Their latest argument before the corporate retreat had been the culmination of a weeklong battle over their different approaches to…everything. From their newly combined, shared duties as joint CFOs to how to raise their infant daughter. A couple of days ago, Glenna had even brought up the possibility of spending some time apart after this retreat.

Something had to give.

She shot him a terse smile before turning to the retreat leader. “Next.”

Glenna made fast tracks for the refreshments table loaded with china, crystal and cuisine from a highly rated chef. She could feed one craving, at least. So much for the group exercise to blend her family and Broderick’s for a cohesive business merger—and a cohesive marriage.

When Broderick’s widower father and Glenna’s widowed mother decided to hook up last February, it sent the whole family into turmoil. Their parents had announced that they actually planned to get married and blend their family oil businesses, which had been competing for decades. And even more shocking, they expected everyone in their families to get along or leave the company.

With such different corporate cultures, that was easier said than done. Thus, this retreat.

Sometimes she thought Broderick was clueless as to just how frustrated she was. He had even mentioned having more children right away, but she’d been hesitant to add to their family too soon, unable to squelch the occasional insecurity that he’d only married her for the baby.

And soon things would get even more complicated, if her suspicion was true.

Three chocolate-covered strawberries and a sparkling water later, her older brother joined her at the table.

“Everything okay?” Chuck Mikkelson was in the running to take over as CEO for the newly combined companies, but his own marital problems pulled him away from the office more often than not these days.

Glenna felt Broderick’s stare on her but refused to look his way, afraid her sadness would show in her eyes. Although, apparently, she wasn’t fooling anyone. “Marriage is difficult.”

“True enough.” Chuck’s gaze gravitated to his wife, Shana, currently pulling off the trust exercise with one of the Steele sisters.

“Broderick and I have wanted each other for so long. I just expected that would make it…easier somehow.” She dropped another lime into her crystal water glass, then sipped slowly, carefully.

She and Broderick had indulged in a college fling, but because their families had been business rivals—deeply so—they’d gone their separate ways after one passionate weekend. Glenna had even married another man, a man she’d loved. He hadn’t been a faithful husband, but they’d been working on saving their marriage before he’d died.

And then Broderick reentered her life, just as everything in her world turned upside down with her mother’s engagement announcement.

Then, during one of the forced family gatherings, a baby girl was left on the doorstep with a note from the mom stating she didn’t know who the father was. She had narrowed it down to either Glenna’s dead husband…or Broderick.

Glenna and Broderick had cared for the little one together until the paternity issue was definitively settled. Their time together had rekindled their attraction, and they’d fallen in love, gotten married.

The infant turned out to be Glenna’s dead husband’s child, but Glenna and Broderick both loved the baby so much, they adopted her, and now she was approaching her first birthday.

“We absolutely love Fleur. But we’ve both had a tougher time adjusting to our new life than we expected. Balancing work and family—we both have such different approaches to things.”

The minute the words about the struggles of parenthood left her mouth, she wanted to pull them back. Her brother and his wife had struggled with fertility problems for years.

“Chuck, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s okay,” her brother cut her off. “There’s no need to apologize. Everyone’s struggling right now under the weight of so many changes. Cut yourself some slack.”

If only… Glenna wanted to think it was that simple and that life would settle soon, but the words of her argument with Broderick still filled her head. Broderick’s insistence that she expected perfection from him, his accusation that she was always looking for ways he would let her down since her first marriage had been troubled.

She’d retorted that he was just making excuses, chafing at losing his bachelorhood.

The fight had spiraled downward from there.

Yes, she was a detail-oriented person and he was more of a free spirit…that made working together tougher, too.

She thought about confiding in her brother but quickly discarded the possibility. She didn’t want to bring her family into this. The last thing they needed was further dissension.

Glenna squeezed her brother’s arm. “Thank you for caring. I appreciate it.” Over his shoulder, she saw her husband approaching, long strides carrying him past the group leader setting up a karaoke machine—heaven help them. “Now, take your wife some of these chocolate-covered strawberries. They’re amazing.”

She set aside her glass and adjusted the paisley scarf she’d thrown on at the last minute to cover the spit-up on the shoulder of her purple sweater. Chin tipping, she faced her scowling husband. “Broderick, this isn’t the time or place for the two of us to talk.”

He held up his cell phone. “Glenna, the babysitter paged my assistant.”

Her chest constricted with fear. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing major. A low-grade fever.” His voice was steady with reassurance, but there was no missing the concern knitting his forehead. “But Fleur’s fractious and the sitter is at her wit’s end on how to console her.”

She didn’t even think twice about turning her back on the meeting. Right now, her focus was fully on her child and husband. She and Broderick were in sync on this, at least. Parenting. Sometimes it felt like that was all that kept them together—and that terrified her.

Was it wrong of her to wish for reassurances from him? To wish for a sense that he respected and treasured her in spite of their different personalities?

Her first marriage had been so difficult. She’d hoped for better this go-round. She needed that assurance, especially before the time came when they added another child to their family.

She clasped her husband’s hand—the same hand that she’d evicted off her butt—and held tight. But then, she’d never had much willpower when it came to this man.

Worst of all, he knew it.

His love for their child wasn’t in doubt. But Glenna didn’t want him staying with her out of obligation. Yes, a couple of days ago she’d discussed the possibility of time apart, but a lot had changed in the span of forty-eight hours…

Since now she suspected she was pregnant.

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About the author

Writing military romances seemed like a natural fit for me - since I'm...

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Catherine Mann

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