The Surgeon King's Secret Baby
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A family by New Year’s Eve?
Reagan Cote left war-torn Hermosa thinking the gorgeous surgeon she’d shared a brief affair with was lost on the front line. So she clung to the child she was carrying.
While Kainan Laskaris’s voice is damaged, he’s alive. And when he finds Reagan in Toronto and discovers he’s dad to their sick baby boy, he asks her to marry him. Now he’s king of Hermosa, he needs a queen and heir, but before she’ll accept, Kainan must prove that marrying Reagan means more than claiming his kingdom.
Thank you for picking up a copy of The Surgeon King’s Secret Baby.
I have to say this book was one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to write, because of the piece of me that goes into writing all my books. It was emotional. Still, this story needed to be told—but I can tell you it was a challenge, writing a book with a hero who had no voice!
Kainan has had a lot put on his shoulders, and his life is changed after the war that broke out in his country—as lives are always changed after war.
Reagan has never really had love, but she finds something special with Kainan and then thinks she’s lost it.
Writing about strong heroines is one of my favourite things to do. I was always taught to be strong and independent, and what Reagan endures when she gives birth to her medically fragile son alone is what makes her a superhero in my eyes.
I remember vividly being in Reagan’s shoes, but thankfully my son didn’t have the severity of illness that Reagan’s son did.
I hope you enjoy Kainan and Reagan’s second chance at happiness.
With warmest wishes,
The Surgeon King’s Secret Baby
Books by Amy Ruttan
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His Pregnant Royal Bride
Hot Latin Docs
Alejandro’s Sexy Secret
The Hollywood Hills Clinic
Sealed by a Valentine’s Kiss
His Shock Valentine’s Proposal
Craving Her Ex-Army Doc
Convenient Marriage, Surprise Twins
Visit the Author Profile page
at millsandboon.co.uk for more titles.
This book is dedicated to all the mothers waiting
next to their child’s hospital bed.Waiting for a miracle.
And this book is also dedicated to all those doctors
out there who perform those miracles on tiny humans.
Isla Hermosa—war-torn country
“I NEED A unit of packed cells—stat!” Reagan shouted over her shoulder. But no sooner had the words left her mouth than another explosion rocked the mobile hospital unit.
She had a wounded man open on her table, and instinctively she threw her body over her patient’s to try and prevent dust and debris from entering into the exposed body cavity.
After working in this war-torn place for over a year, throwing herself over a patient came as second nature. It shouldn’t have to, but such was the nature of war.
Isla Hermosa had been a beautiful, peaceful country once. A paradise in the Atlantic for vacation-goers. A country founded by Spanish and Greek settlers over seven hundred years ago, full of pristine beaches and tall palm trees.
Now the beach they were on just held the charred remains of its tall palms, and the blue sky was blackened with plumes of smoke rising from the capital. Dust filled the hot air, making it hard to breathe. There was no relief.
It was not ideal to be operating out in the open like this, but it was stiflingly hot on the beach, and being closed up in a tent in this humidity would not make matters any better. What they needed was a hospital, but that was impossible. Most of Isla Hermosa had been taken over by the rebellion, and Canadian peacekeepers, along with those on Isla Hermosa who remained loyal to the dysfunctional Hermosian King Aleksander, had been pushed out of the city and back to the Atlantic Ocean.
The mortar fire stopped and Reagan went back to work on saving this Hermosian soldier’s life. As a trauma surgeon for the Canadian Armed Forces she had seen her share of war-torn countries. As soon as she’d had her medical training she’d joined up for active duty. She wanted to serve her country. To prove to herself.
She shook that thought away and continued her work. It wouldn’t matter soon. Her agreed-upon tour of duty was ending and she had to return to the attending position that was waiting for her in Toronto.
She didn’t know quite what she was going to do with herself back there, besides work. During patients there was down time, card games and a camaraderie. She didn’t really have any one in Toronto. The people she served with were like a family. Not like her family, though. Not really, because her real family was cold and barely in her life.
The people she served with were her family.
In Toronto she’d be all alone. Again.
Toronto was her home town in the sense that she had been born there, and knew it well. She had a job waiting for her, but it wasn’t really home. Her parents weren’t there anymore.
Her parents had retired and moved to warmer climes while she’d served. They hadn’t even told her that they sold her childhood home until a letter she’d sent them came back marked “Return to Sender.”
Only the Canadian Army had ever wanted her, but she had to return to Toronto. She’d served the time she’d signed up for and her leave of absence from the Toronto hospital was ending.
The friends she’d made here would forget her soon enough. No relationship ever lasted and that was fine. She was used to that. She didn’t want to rely on anyone.
Her parents had taught her well. They’d always told her to make a life for herself. Not to rely on them. So she didn’t.
I wish I had someone.
She was annoyed that she’d let that little thought sneak in.
Get a grip on yourself, Reagan.
Now was not the time to get maudlin.
“The packed cells you were looking for,” a rich, deep voice said, and her body instantly reacted.
Dr. Kainan Laskaris, the foremost trauma surgeon in all of Isla Hermosa, stood beside her. Kainan always unnerved her. He made her feel exposed, vulnerable, as if he knew the pain she was hiding. Knew all her insecurities.
He was the first man in a long time to unnerve her in a good way.
“Thanks,” she said, barely glancing at him.
When she’d first arrived there she’d tried to keep him at a distance, but it had never worked. He’d wiggled his way in and, though they didn’t really talk much about personal stuff, she enjoyed his company. And he was a damn fine surgeon.
He hung the unit of packed cells, calmly drowning out the chaos of the war that was going on in the background.
His presence made her very aware of how very close the quarters were in this tent, but he helped her focus. He distracted her from all that was going on outside.
“How do you keep such a calm demeanor?” she’d asked, the first time they’d worked together on the wounded during mortar fire.
“I drown it out. I ignore it. I think of it as thunder, or something else, and focus on the person in front of me. I try to picture my patient’s life and on my duty to return this patient to those who love him or her. Clear your mind and picture the life you’re saving.”
It had worked. The tactic had worked and helped her focus.
She was going to miss working with him.
“Do you need help, Dr. Cote?” Kainan asked, but he was already pulling on a pair of surgical gloves.
If he had been any other surgeon she would have barked orders to him, as she outranked most in her unit, but there was something about Kainan that commanded respect.
She could never turn him down, and she didn’t want to. He knew what she needed in surgery without asking. He was like a second set of hands for her.
“Thank you,” she said. “Are there no others?”
“No, the fighting is ending. The rebels are being driven back—that’s the last report that I heard.”
Kainan went straight to work, helping her repair the damage to the soldier.
He shook his head and tsked in disgust. “This situation should never have happened.”
“I agree,” she responded.
She didn’t know much about what had caused the once peaceful island kingdom of Isla Hermosa to erupt into revolution, but she knew it had something to do with King Aleksander, after he’d been crowned after his father’s death.
The former King, Mateo, had been instrumental in aligning his kingdom with Canada, and had had a good relationship with the country and good trade agreements.
King Mateo had been a great king for more than fifty years, but his eldest son, Aleksander, was not proving to be so great.
Isla Hermosa had severed its ties with Spain five hundred years ago, so when the revolution had broken out Canada had promised to help. Isla Hermosa had called to Canada and Canada had responded.
Which was why she was there.
“I hope this is over soon,” she said as she finished her repair of the spleen. “My orders came in last night and I’m shipping out tomorrow.”
There was a hint of disappointment in Kainan’s voice, which made her heart skip a beat.
Don’t get hung up. It’s probably nothing. You’re a good surgeon and he can see that.
The mortar fire had become distant and the unit of soldiers that had been lying in wait to protect the hospital began to move. Tanks were soon going by, kicking up dust.
Reagan cursed under her breath and covered her patient again.
Kainan helped her. She was very aware of his body close to hers as they protected their patient.
“I thought you would stay until the end,” he said, after the roar of the tanks had died down.
They went back to work as the dust settled.
“No, a new unit has come in to relieve us. They’ll stay until Isla Hermosa is back on its feet.”
“That could be some time,” Kainan muttered darkly. “I wonder if Isla Hermosa will ever recover from this.”
“Hopefully it will. Your country has seen enough bloodshed.”
“Yes.” There was sadness in his voice.
She wondered if he’d lost loved ones. They worked well together, and he was a brilliant surgeon, but they didn’t delve much into personal issues beyond the sphere of this surgical unit.
Which was fine with her.
Even though she knew little about Kainan, there was still camaraderie between them. They’d experienced the war together here, patching up soldiers and civilians. They were friends and she’d miss him.
Even though it would be good to put some distance between them. She didn’t want to do something she’d regret.
Live a little.
“I’ve grown accustomed to working with you,” he said, and those dark eyes held her captive.
It thrilled her, unnerved her, this effect he had on her.
Reagan smiled behind her surgical mask. “I like working with you too, but it looks like this is the end.”
Kainan nodded. “I guess so.”
Reagan finished her repair and began to close up. Her patient would be taken to Spain which was the closest hospital they could get to, where he would be monitored in a military hospital. At least now he would survive the journey.
They didn’t say anything as they prepared the soldier for transport, loading him onto the waiting helicopter that would carry him to an American aircraft carrier. A medical plane would take the soldier on to Spain.
When Reagan pulled off her surgical mask and gloves she let out a sigh of exhaustion. She had been working straight for almost twenty-four hours, since the peacekeepers had been pushed back to the beach. It was late afternoon, and though the sun was no longer beating down on them it was still sweltering, and she had the urge to run into the ocean and cool herself off.
Except for the fact that the beach was littered with boats belonging to the allied forces coming ashore.
Kainan was staring back toward the hill where the tall, ancient city gates were. There was smoke rising from the city and he was frowning.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
She wanted to tell him she knew how he felt, but really she didn’t. She didn’t know what it was like to lose the country of your birth. To have it mangled and everything destroyed.
She couldn’t even imagine what he was going through.
“You okay?” Kainan asked.
Reagan closed her eyes and shook her head. “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m just exhausted.”
He cocked his head to one side, those dark brown eyes penetrating her to her very core, and she fought back the urge to run her hands through his thick chestnut curls.
“I think there is more. Sadness has come over you.”
“I was just thinking of leaving here. I was thinking...” She trailed off, getting choked up.
She didn’t want to tell him that she was sad she was leaving the people she considered friends, the people who were like her family, in order to return to a lonely life in Toronto.
It had never bothered her until now.
“I hate leaving a job undone. There is so much work here, but my tour is over.”
He sighed and dragged his hand through his hair. “Yes, there will be many pieces to pick up once the dust settles, but Isla Hermosa will rise again. There have been other wars, other strife that has hit our shores, and we have stood the test of time.”
Reagan smiled and they walked in silence back to the tent. There were no more critical patients. Just those with minor wounds that were being made ready for transport off the island.
“Captain Cote, you’re officially off duty,” said Major Smart as she came to the hospital tent. “You’ve done a wonderful job, but we’re getting ready to pull out. The next rotation is here and you need your rest.”
“When does my transport leave, Major?” Reagan asked.
“Zero one hundred. I suggest you get some rest—and that’s an order.”
Reagan saluted Major Smart and stood there for a few moments. She had been relieved of duty and at one in the morning she’d leave Isla Hermosa and head back to Petawawa, before being formally and honorably discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces.
“You hungry?” Kainan asked. “You look like you need food and rest.”
“I do—but don’t you have to move to the front with the Hermosian Army?”
Kainan shook his head, a strange expression crossing his face. “Not yet. I have time. Why do you think I came here to help with the wounded when our mobile medical unit is further up the line?”
Reagan smiled. “I’ve just got used to seeing you hanging around these last few months. Usually getting in my way.”
Kainan grinned that mischievous grin which always caused her pulse to race. If they weren’t here in the middle of a war... But they were, and Kainan was off-limits. She was leaving in a matter of hours and she wasn’t even sure that she’d ever see him again.
“You have a beautiful smile, Reagan.”
A blush crept up her cheeks. “What?”
“You never smile for me. You’re always so serious.”
“This is war. I don’t feel much like smiling.”
Kainan stopped and took her hand, those intense dark eyes focused on her. She wasn’t used to that. She wasn’t used to the attention.
“You look tired, Reagan. You need sleep and food.”
It wasn’t a request, it was an order, and technically he outranked her. Kainan placed his hand on the small of her back and led her toward the mess tent.
She was so exhausted that she let him get food and a Thermos of coffee, but he didn’t let her sit down at a table. Instead he led her outside.
“Where are we going?” Reagan asked tiredly. “The beach is full of armed personnel.”
“We’re not going to the beach. We’re going to my tent. It’s in a shady spot and we won’t be in any danger.”
“There was mortar fire not that long ago,” she said, falling into step beside him.
Kainan sighed. “The rebels have surrendered and there’s a cease-fire. We should be at peace for a while.”
Kainan’s tent was on the edge of the Hermosian camp that bordered the Canadian forces’ camp. And it was in a shady spot, with camouflage netting. They took a seat down in the sand under the awning, and felt the breeze blow in off the Atlantic.
Reagan closed her eyes and let the cool air wash over her.
“Here, drink this.” Kainan passed her some coffee.
“I’m supposed to be resting.”
She took a drink of the dark, sweet Hermosian coffee. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been able to savor a cup of coffee. Usually she downed it quickly, burning her tongue in the process, as she tried to patch together the wounded soldiers and the unfortunate civilians who’d got in the line of fire.
“If you go to bed now you will be even more tired by the time your transport comes because you won’t sleep when you’re so stressed. Unwind and relax.”
“This is nice,” she admitted.
“I will miss you,” he said out of the blue, and he smiled sadly at her. “You have been a great friend and you’re an amazing surgeon. I’ve enjoyed working with you.”
Reagan was shocked, but pleased, and she squeezed his hand. “Ditto.”
“Really?” he asked, surprised.
“You could’ve fooled me. You’re so closed-off around me sometimes.”
“Then why will you miss me?”
Kainan grinned. “Because you’re brave, compassionate...”
“You just called me closed-off,” she teased.
“Compassionate with your patients. You have a kind heart.”
She blushed again. “Thank you.”
“You’re also beautiful.”
He ran his thumb across her knuckles. His hands were rough from the dry heat and the tough conditions, but they were strong, surgical hands. And the simple touch was both calming and exciting at the same time.
“You’re the most beautiful soldier I have ever seen.”
His eyes twinkled and he smiled, causing a dimple to pucker in his cheek under his stubble.
Blood heated her cheeks at the compliment. No one ever paid her compliments. She wasn’t sure how to take it.
“Why do you need my approval all the time, Reagan? For goodness’ sakes, leave me alone. You don’t need validation for something that is so ordinary.”
Her mother’s harsh words rang in her ears.
She began to tremble, thinking about her mother and the lack of parental compassion she’d had growing up.
“You’re trembling.” Kainan pulled her close and whispered, “Why?”
“Tired. That’s all.” She was lying, but she didn’t want to think of her mother now.
Kainan held her. She buried her head in his chest, drinking in the scent of him, and the human connection she hadn’t realized she’d been craving calmed her.
“Where are you going after we pull out?” she asked, still clinging to him.
“To the front lines,” he said tersely. “Tonight.”
Her heart skipped a beat. The front lines were dangerous. Even if there was a cease-fire, the capital city of Helicia had become a tangled mess of debris, mines and IEDs. The thought of him getting hurt scared her.
“You’re shivering again,” he whispered as he rubbed her back.
“I’m just worried about you advancing tonight.” She looked up at him. “It’ll be dangerous.”
He grinned at her. “I will be okay. I will worry about you too, you know.”
“I’ll be on military transport, headed back to Canada.”
“Things happen—and Canada is a long way away. A whole ocean divides us.”
He reached out and stroked her cheek, wiping the tears from her face, and before she knew what was happening he was kissing her. Tenderly at first, and then possessively, but it felt so good and she kissed him back, gripping the collar of his tattered linen shirt as if his life and hers depended on it.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered breathlessly against her mouth. “I don’t know what came over me. I’ve gotten so used to being around you, seeing you every day, just the thought of not seeing you...”
She should put an end to it, the kissing, but she just wanted to feel. She wanted to give in to the attraction she felt for him. The white-hot lust.
It would be once.
Just one time.
It had been so long since she’d been with someone, since she had any kind of intimacy.
“No apologies—and don’t stop.” She kissed him again, running her hands through his hair.
“Reagan, we need to stop.”
“I’m advancing and you’re leaving. What future do we have?”
“Right now, none. But I’m not asking for a future, Kainan. I just want to feel tonight. I just want a connection with you. I’ve been fighting it since I met you.”
He nodded, his gaze holding hers. “Me as well.”
“So don’t stop,” she whispered, pulling him into another kiss which seared her very soul.
He stood to his feet, helping her up. “Come.”
Reagan thought that he was going to take her back to her camp, but instead he led her inside his tent, taking her in his arms.
“I want you so much, Reagan. I wanted you the first moment I saw you. But I don’t want to make you a promise I may not be able to keep,” he whispered against her ear.
“I care for you too. And you don’t need to promise me anything. I just want this.”
“As you wish,” he said, before kissing her again, making her melt into his arms completely.
* * *
It was dark outside and she could hear movement. People on the move to the front lines. She rolled over in the narrow cot that she and Kainan were sharing and glanced at her watch. It was midnight. In an hour her transport would be leaving. She had to pack up what little gear she had and get to the rendezvous point.
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