Publisher: Siren Publishing
Heat Level: Scorching
When Bowen finds out the love of his life is marrying his brother, he hauls his ass across country to stop the wedding. The last thing he expected was a pint-sized little girl running down the aisle calling him daddy. One look in her eyes and he knows that Caitlin is his. With the wedding off, Bowen demands time to get to know his daughter and has no intention of ever letting Lorelei go again.
As a web of lies makes itself known, Lorelei and Bowen realize they still love each other as much as they did before. Barely able to keep their hands off one another, is it any wonder they decide on a quick engagement, hoping for happily-ever-after this time?
Bowen isn’t backing down this time, he’s making Lorelei his in every way that counts.
Bowen looked at the clock on the dash as he entered his hometown city limits. The wedding was about to start, and he was going to be late. He’d wanted to get at least cleaned up a little before showing up. His hand rasped against the whiskers on his chin. It had been two days since he’d last shaved. The T-shirt he wore was wrinkled and probably smelled since he hadn’t done laundry in over a week.
He’d woken two days ago, realizing he couldn’t let her go through with it. The logical part of his brain said he should stay gone, let Dex and Lorelei go on with their lives, have their happily-ever-after. But then those damn emotions, the ones he always shoved down deep, had reared their head, demanding that he do something before he lost the woman he loved forever.
For two months he’d stayed faithful to Lorelei, hoping she was doing the same. Then he’d talked to Dex and heard the happiness in his brother’s voice. He’d joked and said Dex must have met a woman. His brother had dealt the killing blow that he’d been spending time with Lorelei and that he still loved her. Bowen had gone out that night and gotten shitfaced. It had been oh so tempting to tell his commanding officers to fuck off and go AWOL just to be with Lorelei again, beg her to wait for him. Giving her the freedom to be with someone else had been the dumbest thing he’d ever done.
When Dex had told him of his engagement to Lorelei, Bowen had decided he wouldn’t return home when his service was up. He’d gotten out of the Marine Corps months ago and had hit the road. He’d bought a truck and just traveled from one town to another, losing himself in a different woman a night. It hadn’t worked though. When he closed his eyes, it was still Lorelei’s face he saw, her body he felt pressed against his. He’d often wake and think he smelled her perfume in the air. Knowing she was about to say vows, to bind herself to his brother forever, had left him shaken but determined.
They’d had only one night together, but he’d known there was something between them. There was a connection he’d never felt with another woman and knew he never would. Lorelei was it for him. If he couldn’t have her, if she denied him, he didn’t know what he’d do. Probably hit the road again. He didn’t think he could stand to see her with Dex all the time, sit back and watch them have kids. The envy and jealousy would eat him alive.
He whipped into a parking space in front of the small church and jumped out of the truck, slamming his door and practically running toward the double doors, his dog tags jangling against his chest. Even though he was finished with the Corps, he wasn’t quite ready to let go. The dog tags were part of who he was. He burst through the entrance, and his heart nearly seized as he saw Lorelei at the front in her ivory dress, her hands clasped in his brother’s. He started down the aisle, and their attention focused on him. When he didn’t slide into a seat, he saw the nervousness in his brother’s eyes. The bastard had a right to be nervous, trying to steal his woman.
A small spot of pink began hurtling toward him, a child he hadn’t noticed, her sable curls bouncing with each step. He froze, not knowing what to expect. Did Dex and Lorelei already have a child together? His brother had never mentioned a daughter.
“Daddy!” the child cried, throwing herself at him. His reflexes being better than most people’s, he easily caught her, pulling her into his arms.
There were murmurs in the church as everyone stared at him. Almost as if they knew something he didn’t. As he studied her face, he realized he was staring at a miniature version of himself. His heart kicked, and the world narrowed. He had a daughter? Why hadn’t Lorelei said something? Why hadn’t his brother? Their deception cut him to the quick. He returned his gaze to the couple at the front of the church.
“I object to this wedding.”
The murmurs grew to a dull roar as everyone had something to say at once. He heard the different voices, everyone expressing their outrage and shock over his interruption. Lorelei looked scared, her eyes wide with fright as her gaze darted from him to their daughter and back again. She damn well had a right to be scared, keeping something like this from him! Because of her omission, he’d missed years of his daughter’s life. If she’d only told him, he’d have returned to her, taken leave and asked her to marry him. He’d have done the right thing by her.
“Bowen,” Lorelei said softly. “I can explain.”
“Oh, you will, sweetheart. But first, you’re going to change out of that dress.”
His daughter patted his cheek. “Daddy, why’d you take so long to come see me?”
He mustered a smile for her. “I’m sorry, honey. I’m here now, though, and Daddy isn’t going anywhere.”