Prognosis: A Baby? Maybe
ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
They made it to the bedroom at last
Lying with her head on Jason’s chest, Heather listened to the evenness of his breathing and waited for sleep to claim her.
They’d shared something tonight that ran deeper than a casual encounter. He’d felt it, too, she was certain.
She tried not to think about what might happen as a result. Perhaps, this time, there wouldn’t be any emotional fallout. Surely she hadn’t misjudged Jason’s capacity for intimacy.
A momentary uneasiness disturbed her tranquillity. They’d forgotten to take precautions. What if something came of it?
A longing jolted through her. A baby. To nurture a child through the miraculous stages of growth would be a joy almost as great as finding the love of her life.
As sleep began to claim her and she snuggled closer to Jason, Heather wondered whether it was possible that she might have both.
This month Harlequin American Romance delivers favorite authors and irresistible stories of heart, home and happiness that are sure to leave you smiling.
COWBOYS BY THE DOZEN, Tina Leonard’s new family-connected miniseries, premieres this month with Frisco Joe’s Fianc?e, in which a single mother and her daughter give a hard-riding, heartbreaking cowboy second thoughts about bachelorhood.
Next, in Prognosis: A Baby? Maybe, the latest book in Jacqueline Diamond’s THE BABIES OF DOCTORS CIRCLE miniseries, a playboy doctor’s paternal instincts and suspicions are aroused when he sees a baby girl with the woman who had shared a night of passion with him. Was this child his? THE HARTWELL HOPE CHESTS, Rita Herron’s delightful series, resumes with Have Cowboy, Need Cupid, in which a city girl suddenly starts dreaming about a cowboy groom after opening an heirloom hope chest. And rounding out the month is Montana Daddy, a reunion romance and secret baby story by Charlotte Maclay.
Enjoy this month’s offerings as Harlequin American Romance continues to celebrate its yearlong twentieth anniversary.
Associate Senior Editor
Harlequin American Romance
Prognosis: A Baby? Maybe
This book is dedicated to Marcia Holman with thanks
for her friendship and her expert advice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The daughter of a doctor and an artist, Jacqueline Diamond claims to have researched the field of obstetrics primarily by developing a large range of complications during her pregnancies. She’s also lucky enough to have a friend and neighbor who’s an obstetrical nurse. The author of more than sixty novels, Jackie lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons.She loves to hear from readers. You can write to her at P.O. Box 1315, Brea, CA 92822, or by e-mail at JDiamondfriends@aol.com.
Books by Jacqueline Diamond
HARLEQUIN AMERICAN ROMANCE
79—THE DREAM NEVER DIES
196—AN UNEXPECTED MAN
239—THE CINDERELLA DARE
270—CAPERS AND RAINBOWS
279—GHOST OF A CHANCE
315—FLIGHT OF MAGIC
351—BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS
406—OLD DREAMS, NEW DREAMS
446—THE TROUBLE WITH TERRY
491—A DANGEROUS GUY
583—THE RUNAWAY BRIDE
615—YOURS, MINE AND OURS
631—THE COWBOY AND THE HEIRESS
642—ONE HUSBAND TOO MANY
645—DEAR LONELY IN L.A.…
716—A REAL-LIVE SHEIKH
734—THE COWBOY AND THE SHOTGUN BRIDE
763—LET’S MAKE A BABY!
833—I DO! I DO!
875—KISS A HANDSOME STRANGER
889—SURPRISE, DOC! YOU’RE A DADDY!
913—THE IMPROPERLY PREGNANT PRINCESS
962—DIAGNOSIS: EXPECTING BOSS’S BABY*
971—PRESCRIPTION: MARRY HER IMMEDIATELY*
978—PROGNOSIS: A BABY? MAYBE*
435—AND THE BRIDE VANISHES
512—HIS SECRET SON
550—CAPTURED BY A SHEIKH
The last man in the world that Heather Rourke wanted to see stood in the doorway of her office. She glanced up questioningly, trying to mask her speeding pulse with an air of cool professional detachment.
“Now that we’re going to be colleagues, Doctor, I hope we can put the past behind us,” said Jason Carmichael.
Green ice, that’s what had formed his eyes in some glacial age when Neanderthals stalked the world, Heather thought. In this case, the Neanderthal had a degree from Harvard Medical School, short dark hair and a lean build beneath his expensive business suit. His collected manner failed to assuage her opinion that he was a semi-savage male who probably ate his steak sandwiches raw.
“As far as I’m concerned, there is no past,” Heather told the new head of the Infertility Clinic.
The latest addition to the Doctors Circle complex, the clinic was in the final stages of remodeling and would open officially in April, two months from now. Jason had arrived earlier this week but had been so busy that, until now, he and Heather had exchanged only brief, impersonal greetings. She wished they could keep it that way.
Ever since his appointment had been announced last fall, rumors had spread about her supposed dislike of him. They’d been right.
Some fellow staffers attributed Heather’s attitude to professional jealousy. Since she’d worked as an obstetrician at Doctors Circle for three years and had handled most of the infertility cases, she might have expected to be promoted to the post.
Others guessed that there was some personal conflict in their backgrounds. No one knew the truth, that she’d nearly made love to this man more than a year ago after meeting him at a convention. What a disaster that had been!
Heather hadn’t confided the story even to the few friends with whom she’d shared her other secret, that she’d given up a baby for adoption when she was fifteen. Although her daughter had reappeared in her life and, along with a baby granddaughter, was now very dear to her, Heather saw no reason to spread that information around Doctors Circle. In her opinion, the more private she kept her life, the better.
“Did you get my e-mail?” Jason said. “I expected a reply by now.”
“I’m not sure. Which e-mail was that?”
“I’ve only sent one.”
“Then no, I haven’t seen it,” Heather said.
Jason gritted his teeth. “I don’t see how you could have missed it. I sent it twice.”
“I’m sure it’s in the queue.” She gestured at the computer screen that dominated the scattering of files and medication samples on her desk. “I clear it every Friday.” Today was Wednesday.
Annoyance twisted his mouth. “You’ll find I’m a stickler for organization, Doctor. That includes keeping up with your messages.”
“I’m a stickler for being on time with my patients, even when that leaves me with a messy desk.” Heather checked her watch. “Why don’t you simply tell me what the message said? And why don’t we drop this ‘doctor’ nonsense and call each other by our first names?”
Judging by his frown, Jason wasn’t accustomed to being addressed so cavalierly. He’d better get used to it. People in Serene Beach, California, didn’t stand on ceremony. Especially her.
“Very well, Heather.” He emphasized her name. “I wrote to suggest that you and I walk through the new facility, unfinished as it is. I’d like to consult you about our planning.”
A blush heated her cheeks. With her short mop of red curls and sprinkle of freckles, Heather colored easily when embarrassed.
And she was embarrassed. She’d been giving Jason a hard time when all he’d wanted was to discuss the plans for the clinic. Although she hated paperwork and therefore hadn’t coveted the post of department head, she did want a say in how they set up staffing and scheduling.
So far, the two of them were the only doctors assigned to the clinic, although others would be arriving soon. His request was an appropriate professional courtesy.
“My four o’clock staff meeting got canceled. I could join you then,” she said. “Would that work?”
“Certainly.” Jason cleared his throat. “Listen, that isn’t the only thing I wanted to discuss. We have some unfinished business to clear up.”
Uh-oh. “Which business would that be?”
“Atlanta,” he said.
Heather definitely did not want to discuss the medical convention in Georgia where they’d met some fifteen months earlier. That unpleasant experience was best consigned to the scrap heap of memories.
What on earth had possessed her to go up to his room and throw her inhibitions out the window? Thank goodness he’d fallen asleep before they could consummate a passion that, in retrospect, struck her as incomprehensible. His crankiness the following day had made it evident what a close call she’d had.
“That business is finished. You dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s very succinctly the next morning.” She closed the file she’d been reviewing.
“I wasn’t at my best that Friday,” Jason said. If she hadn’t known him better, it might have sounded like an apology.
“Being hungover is no excuse for rudeness.”
“I can be difficult when I have a headache,” he said. “Who isn’t?”
“You must get a lot of headaches. You’re famous for your curt manner.” Heather lifted her coffee cup, discovered that it was empty and set it down again. “You reduced your secretary to tears yesterday, I heard.”
Usually, the efficiency of the grapevine at Doctors Circle drove Heather crazy. Once in a while, however, it came in handy.
“I didn’t expect her to react so strongly.” Jason ducked his head, and a well-shaped head it was, too, for a Neanderthal, she reluctantly conceded. “By the time I arrived, Coral had already unpacked all my files from Virginia. I suppose I overreacted, but she’ll have to repack everything when we move across the courtyard to our new quarters.”
“You’re the one who requested a secretary be hired before you got here. In any case, you could have sent her instructions, since you’re obviously a whiz with e-mail.” Heather got to her feet.
“I assumed she would liaise with my secretary in Virginia,” Jason said.
Heather decided it would be impolitic to mention how much she hated trendy words like liaise. “Coral’s new and I am sure she was trying to make a good impression.”
“I hope she’ll learn not to take things so personally.” He shrugged. “I get so focused on my work, I don’t always realize the impact of what I’m saying.”
“By the way, I believe Edith Krick has been assigned as your nurse. You’ll like her. She’s highly competent and she has a thick hide where cranky doctors are concerned.” Heather started for the doorway, but Jason was blocking her path.
Should she elbow him out of the way? Try to sidle past? The prospect of brushing against him sent an unwanted tremor through Heather.
She didn’t like being attracted to this man. It had been a big mistake the first time they met, and she never repeated a mistake if she could help it.
“Who did Edith work with before?” Jason asked, apparently unaware of her desire to exit the room. Typical of him to be clueless, she thought.
“An obstetrician who left last fall. I could tell you all about his divorce and why he decided to move to Connecticut, but I won’t. The story is as long as your arm.”
“Thank you. There are enough people gossiping around here already, I’ve gathered.” The man smiled. Heather couldn’t believe how human it made him look. Maybe Jason had some Homo sapiens DNA in him after all.
“I wouldn’t say people gossip at Doctors Circle. They just take a friendly interest in their coworkers,” Heather said with more than a trace of irony.
“How much of an interest?”
“They want to know every move you make and every word you say.”
“Then I’ll be careful how I move and what I say.” Jason straightened. For a moment, Heather thought he was going to move aside, until he planted himself even more firmly in her doorway. She glared.
“Is there a problem?” he asked.
Good heavens, was the man trying to be playful? She wasn’t in a playful mood.
“Nothing a well-placed kick to the solar plexus wouldn’t solve,” she said.
“Are you hinting that I’m in the way?” A sparkle flashed deep in those ice-green eyes. He was definitely joking with her. That, or he’d perfected the art of being a royal pain.
“It’s more than a hint. Put it in gear, please,” Heather said.
“I’ll be happy to move if you’ll answer one or two questions about that past you claim we don’t have,” Jason murmured.
“You didn’t have any questions the next morning.” Heather hoped no one overheard this conversation. She couldn’t even imagine the speculation it might provoke.
“I told you…”
“You had a headache,” she finished for him. “Correction. You were a headache.”
“I might have been a touch abrupt,” Jason admitted.
She refused to give him the satisfaction of letting him know how much his coldness had bothered her. “That was nearly a year and a half ago. I scarcely remember what you said.” Mischievously, she added, “Or what you did, either.”
“You concede that I did something?” He appeared torn between curiosity and something that, in an actual full-blooded human, might have been described as vulnerability.
“I concede no such thing,” she told him. “As I’ve mentioned several times, you fell asleep. Don’t ask me if you snored. I didn’t stick around.”
“I passed out,” Jason said ruefully. “Jet lag and a couple of drinks will do that to you.”
“Not to me,” Heather answered. “Well, if you don’t remember what happened, why don’t you accept my version of it?”
“You haven’t given me a version.” Up close, the man was taller than she remembered, most likely because she herself barely cleared five foot two.
“I told you, nothing happened. That’s as much of a version as I can muster.”
“Then why did I find your earring in my bed?” Jason demanded.
Behind him, someone cleared her throat. Heather’s blood ran cold. She felt like a kid caught with her hand in a cookie jar.
Jason must have had the same reaction, because he paled. Against his black hair, the high cheekbones and classic jawline stood out in stark relief.
“Dr. Rourke?” came the voice of Cynthia Hernandez, her nurse. “There’s a patient waiting in Room C.”
“I won’t delay you.” Jason shifted backward, careful not to bump the dark-haired nurse behind him. That wasn’t easy, since Cynthia, six months pregnant with twins, nearly filled the hallway. “See you at four o’clock at my office.”
“I’ll be there.” Heather took the patient’s chart from Cynthia and read the cover page. As soon as Jason was gone, she said, “What did you overhear?”
“Nothing, and I wouldn’t repeat it if I had.” The nurse strolled with her down the hall. “If your earring ended up in Dr. Carmichael’s bed, I’m sure it was perfectly innocent.”
“Yes, it was.” Heather hoped Cynthia was as good as her word. She’d always been trustworthy until now.
Heather also spared a moment to wonder how long Jason would go on refusing to take her word for what had—or rather, hadn’t—happened. She hoped she wasn’t going to have to tell him the whole truth. After the way he’d behaved the next morning, he didn’t deserve to know.
Now that they were colleagues, they’d soon put it all behind them, she figured. It hadn’t been such a big deal. Doctors always let their hair down at medical conventions. They didn’t always take their clothes off, of course.…
She entered the examining room and smiled at the woman sitting on the examining table. Rita Beltran beamed back. Pregnant with triplets after two years of infertility treatments, she’d been floating on a cloud for months.
Heather shoved Jason Carmichael out of her mind. Her heart belonged to her patients, and success stories like Rita’s made all her efforts worthwhile.
FROM HIS TEMPORARY, second-story office in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Jason stared across the courtyard. Even in late February, people lingered at the small tables around a fountain. For this time of year, the Southern California weather was remarkably pleasant compared to what he’d grown up with in Boston.
The courtyard connected a trio of buildings: the three-story Birthing Center to the north, plus two curving Spanish-style wings, including the West Wing where he stood. At the plaza level, a couple of workmen were carting boxes into the facing East Wing. He assumed the cartons contained acoustical tiles, since that’s what the men had been installing yesterday when the center’s administrator, Dr. Patrick Barr, had shown Jason around.
His own clinic. Even stripped to raw flooring and taped windows, it had been gorgeous.
Although he’d loved his work in Virginia, Jason knew he’d made the right decision by coming here. At the larger, better-established facilities where he’d trained and done research in reproductive endocrinology, he’d earned a name for himself. Although he’d enjoyed the prestige, what he loved most was helping eager couples have children.
Established by Dr. Barr’s late father, Doctors Circle had significantly improved infant and maternal health in the community. Now it was about to move on to the cutting edge of infertility treatments. Jason treasured the opportunity to put his signature on this new clinic.
Heather Rourke’s presence had had nothing to do with his decision to accept the job. Nor had it discouraged him from taking it, either. She had an excellent reputation and they should work well together, as long as she was willing to accept Jason’s leadership.
He intended to keep their relationship strictly professional in spite of that irrepressible spark in Heather’s eyes. In spite of a feminine way of moving that even a white coat couldn’t disguise. In spite of a figure that, while petite in the right places, was also lusciously rounded in others.
In the past, Jason’s experiences with romance had ended in unhappiness and anger. That kind of turmoil threatened to interfere with work, which was and always would be his number-one priority. Some men might be cut out for marriage and children, but not him.
A tap at the door drew his attention. George Farajian, chief of the Ob/Gyn Department, poked his graying head into the room. “Okay to come in?”
“Of course.” Jason turned away from the window.
“I can’t believe how organized you’ve got the place already.” The obstetrician indicated the neatly labeled file cabinets and alphabetized shelves of books.
With a twinge, Jason recalled how he’d chewed out his secretary for unpacking his boxes. If she hadn’t, however, he’d have spent the next month or so stumbling over them and cursing because he couldn’t find whatever he was looking for. He supposed he owed the woman an apology.
“I have to credit Coral,” he said. “She’s done a good job.”
“Glad to hear it. I believe she was hired specifically with you in mind. Now I’d like to introduce you to your new nurse.” George stepped to one side. “Jason, may I present Edith Krick.”
The center of gravity in the room shifted as the woman entered. Not literally, although she was heavyset, but emotionally. Dark-skinned, possessed of an inner certitude that bespoke years of experience, Edith had a knowing gaze that swept him assessingly.
They exchanged greetings and shook hands. All the while, Jason felt himself to be under critical scrutiny.
“Edith’s one of our best nurses,” George said. “She requested this assignment.”
“I wanted to work in the Infertility Clinic because I had one baby and never could have any more,” Edith told him. “I like to see women have as many as they want. It gets the love to flowing. You can’t ever have too much love in this world.” From her tone, it sounded as if she were challenging him to disagree.
“Heaven forbid I should stem the flow of love,” Jason said drily.
“I expect I’ll work real well with your secretary,” Edith went on. “Sometimes when a staffer is new in a place, she needs extra encouragement.”
So that was the problem. Obviously, Edith had heard about or witnessed Coral’s tears and didn’t intend to let Jason escape unscathed. Was this entire medical center full of hard-nosed women, he wondered, or was it just his luck to run into two of them on the same day?
George glanced from him to Edith and back again. Clearly, he hadn’t missed the undercurrents. “Is everything okay?”
“No problem,” Jason said.
“If you don’t mind, then, I’ve got some calls to return. Let me know if you need anything.” With a friendly nod, George departed.
“You play golf?” Edith asked.
“Occasionally.” Although the change of subject surprised him, Jason tried not to show it. “Do you?”
“No, but Dr. Farajian does. Plays every chance he gets,” said the nurse. “Sometimes with Dr. Sentinel. He’s our younger obstetrician.”
“How about you? How long have you worked at Doctors Circle?” Although Jason didn’t want to sound as if he were conducting an interview, it seemed important to take control and shift the balance of gravity back in his own direction.
“Ten years.” Apparently, Edith wasn’t interested in talking about herself, because she went on to say, “I suppose you know you’ve got patients scheduled starting on Monday.”
“That’s right.” Although the clinic might not be officially open, Jason wanted to begin screening patients and setting up treatment plans.
“One of them is Loretta Arista,” Edith went on. “She’s the public relations director here, and if she doesn’t get pregnant soon, she’s going to give up on having babies altogether.”
ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî