Passion's BabyBy: Catherine Spencer
“I never took you for a coward, Liam.”
“Sometimes a clean break is best. The sole reason I came here was to be alone. The same’s true for you. We were each doing fine, as long as we kept our distance. But it’s not too late to reverse the damage.”
“Not for you, perhaps.”
“What’s that supposed to mean, Janie? Are you saying you might wind up…?
“Pregnant? Isn’t it a bit late for you to be asking me that?”
“Could you be pregnant?”
“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. If you happen to bump into me six months from now and I’m big as a house, you’ll know—”
“Janie!” he exploded. “This isn’t something to be taken lightly. If you find—”
“Don’t worry, Liam, I won’t come running to you, not when you’ve made your feelings so plain.”
“Your being pregnant would change a lot of things.”
CATHERINE SPENCER, once an English teacher, fell into writing through eavesdropping on a conversation about Harlequin romances. Within two months she changed careers and sold her first book to Harlequin in 1984. She moved to Canada from England thirty years ago and lives in Vancouver. She is married to a Canadian and has four grown children—two daughters and two sons—plus two dogs and a cat. In her spare time she plays the piano, collects antiques and grows tropical shrubs.
AFTERWARD, when it was too late to go back and do things differently, Jane looked for someone to blame for the chain of events which led to her first meeting with Liam McGuire.
Her grandfather topped the list, because he was the one who’d assured her, “You’ll have our half of the island all to yourself this year. Steve’s spending the summer with his married son in California.”
But when she discovered that her grandfather’s old fishing buddy hadn’t bothered telling anyone he’d decided to rent his place to someone else while he was away, she tried shifting the blame to him. In all fairness though, Steve had the right to do as he pleased with his own property and, on top of that, was getting forgetful in his old age, so perhaps he couldn’t be held accountable.
Of course, there was Liam McGuire himself, surely the messiest man ever born and one who needed to have someone wash out his mouth with soap to cure his bad language. The way he could curse would make a sailor blush! But again, if she were to be scrupulously objective, Jane had to admit that, as the legal tenant of Steve’s house and with a signed lease to prove it, evil-tempered Liam McGuire was under no obligation to live up to her personal standards of socially acceptable behavior.
So, stymied on that front, also, she then tried blaming her dog. If Bounder hadn’t had such a passion for wrapping his jaws around whatever was handiest and offering it as a gift to whomever he happened to meet, she might have been able to acquit herself with a modicum of dignity. On the other hand, if she’d done a better job of training him when he was a puppy, he wouldn’t have developed such bad habits.
So, much though she loathed having to admit it, when all was said and done the blame ended up where it really belonged: squarely on her own shoulders. Which was why, in the middle of the morning on the first day of what was supposed to be her summer of spiritual and physical renewal, she found herself huddled behind a chunk of rock on the beach below the cottages, her face flaming with embarrassment and her heart staggering with shame.
“I’d have been better off staying in town,” she muttered dolefully to Bounder, who alternated between fixing her in a meltingly sympathetic gaze and staring longingly at the waves breaking on the sand, forty yards away.
But the kind of serenity she craved wasn’t to be found in the hectic bustle and pace of Vancouver’s streets, so she’d returned to the haven of her childhood. Arriving at her grandfather’s cottage late the previous night, she’d climbed the winding stairs to the big square room under the eaves, crawled under the goose feather quilt on the high brass bed, and fallen asleep to the sound of waves breaking on the shore and the smell of the sea filling her lungs.