A secret baby brings ex-lovers together in this tale of lost memories and second chances.
Getting hit with divorce papers isn’t the fresh beginning Jake Holt wanted with Skye Taylor. But when he returns to their Texas hometown, he finds Skye has a child…and no memory of the couple’s painful breakup.
After a long coma, Skye doesn’t remember being swept up in a tornado or nearly losing her baby girl. Seeing Jake again rekindles their all-consuming passion. Then she starts to remember… Is their love strong enough to overcome the past so they can become a real family?
The Texas Cattlemen’s Club: After the Storm Book 5
Feb. 2015 from Harlequin Desire
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4 stars! “His Lost and Found Family by Sarah M. Anderson is a great read for anyone interested in amnesia story lines or that love quick great second chance romances.”—Harlequin Junkie
From RT Book Review’s FOREWORDS – THE BOOKS BEFORE THE BUZZ:Sarah M. Anderson is ready to take fans of her Texas Cattleman’s Club series on even more wild rides with a new entry in the series, this time centering around the aftermath of a natural disaster. Release date and title: TBA.
He was not going to be glad to be back, no matter what Amanda said. And he was not staying long, either. The look on Keaton’s face made it plenty clear he wasn’t welcome. Some things never changed.
Slowly, the noise level in the diner began to return to normal conversation levels. Still, Keaton said nothing. And Jake wasn’t about to fill the void. He had nothing to say to his brother.
Nothing polite, anyway.
Finally, Keaton cracked. “Bahrain?”
Jake nodded. “I run a successful information technology company that specializes in creating the IT infrastructure on oil drilling sites. We do jobs around the world. The Bahrain job was a major win—I beat out some NASDAQ companies for the right to that job.”
Of course, none of that information was exactly secret. If Keaton—or anyone else here in Royal—had really wanted to, they could have searched for Texas Sky Technologies online.
Keaton’s jaw worked. “Texas Sky, right?”
Jake stared at him. “You looked me up?” Had his brother…missed him?
“Yeah, I really had no choice,” Keaton replied with a snort. “Imagine my surprise when the people who answer your phones insisted that you didn’t have a brother. Like I didn’t even exist.”
Okay, so Jake maybe hadn’t talked about his family in warm, glowing terms with his employees, but that didn’t explain why his receptionist hadn’t forwarded the messages.
One other thing was clear from the way Keaton had said he didn’t have a choice—the man hadn’t missed Jake. “Did you ever consider it’s not the rest of the world, Keaton? Maybe you just bring that out in everyone.” He started to slide out of the booth. Sparring with his brother was not getting him any closer to finding Skye. He did not have time for this.
Keaton put up an arm to block Jake’s exit. “How long were you there for?”
Jake was stuck. He’d come in here to get information about Skye and he still had nothing. So he gritted his teeth and settled back in. This was for Skye. “Almost ten months. It was a year-long contract, but once you factor in the vacation time, it was just short of ten months.”
“So you have no idea, then?”
“No idea about what?” Which pretty much answered the question, but that was all Jake was going to give the man.
And just like that, the power balance in the booth shifted.
Jake took in the angry look on Keaton’s face and did what he had to. He blurred the truth. “Bahrain isn’t exactly a woman’s paradise. She wasn’t up to joining me on this job.”
“I imagine not.”
Jake didn’t like his brother’s sarcastic tone, and fought the urge to lunge over the table and grab Keaton by the collar. He wasn’t the same hotheaded kid. He was a businessman—a darned successful one at that. He could negotiate with businessmen from China to South Africa to Bahrain.
He would not let Keaton win. Not now, not ever.
So he let that nugget sit while he sipped his coffee. “Something you’d like to get off your chest, Keaton?” he finally asked.
“Did you at least have the decency to marry her?”
He. Would. Not. Kill. Keaton.
Not yet, anyway.
“Actually,” Jake said in his coolest voice, “I don’t see what that has to do with you in the least. What goes on between me and Skye is our business. Not yours.” He would absolutely not tell his brother a single iota of information more than he had to—and his questionable marital status was at the top of that list.
“You should have married her.” Keaton made a show of sipping his coffee.
Jake didn’t want to have his brother all up in his business like this. This was not how the plan was supposed to go. He was supposed to swing into Royal, find Skye, confront her if she was here and swing right back out again. Whatever problems he and Skye had were between the two of them. Keaton was not a part this. No one in their families was.
So much for that plan.
“Again, not your concern.”
“You’re so sure of that, huh?” Keaton shook his head in obvious pity.
Jake bristled. Why was Keaton insisting that he should have married Skye? The man had spent years trying to push Skye and Jake apart—not enter them into holy matrimony. “Positive.”
“Positive,” he said, his tone deadly serious. “Oh, yeah, you’re positive! You always did think you knew everything, didn’t you?”
That was it. Jake didn’t have to sit here and take this. Keaton was always doing this—lording it over Jake. Jake hadn’t missed his brother at all in four years. Not once. And this was why.
“Been good seeing you, Keaton. Give my best to Mom and Dad.” He tried to slide out of the booth but Keaton grabbed his shirt. Immediately, the conversation in the diner dropped to an audible whisper.
“I need to congratulate you, Jake.” The sarcasm had slipped back into Keaton’s tone and he had a mean glint in his eye. “You’re a father.”
Jake’s stomach dropped. It couldn’t be true. He and Skye had always been careful, always discussed waiting to start their family until they were a little better situated. No, he wasn’t a father because it just wasn’t possible. Instead, this was Keaton trying to screw with him, as always. He probably didn’t even know where Skye was. “Funny, Keaton. Real funny.” He shook free of his brother’s grip and bolted out of the booth. He tried to smile at Amanda as he all but bulldozed his way out of the diner.
As he walked, his mind raced through the options. He was going to kill his brother. Keaton had always been a jerk about Jake and Skye, but this? This took the cake. Jake was not a father. Skye hadn’t been pregnant when they’d called it a day.
He thought back to the last time he’d lain in bed with her in his arms. They’d gone out to dinner—a fancy thing, because he was making more money now. Business was good. He was trying to show her that he could take care of her, give her the very best in life. But dinner had been tense. They hadn’t spoken much. They’d had sex when they’d gone home, but it’d been…
It’d been missing the spark that had held them together for so long. The evening was supposed to be about showing Skye that they still had something worth saving. But apparently in the end, it’d shown them—her—that what they’d had was already gone.
A few days later, their world had erupted. Skye had insisted that, if Jake loved her, he’d go home to Royal with her and start a family. And Jake had insisted that, if Skye loved him, she never even would have asked him to come back to this pit of a town.
The fight had been—well, he tried not to think about the things he’d said. And he tried extra hard not to think about the things she’d said. He’d gone to a hotel the next morning and left for Bahrain the next week.
He could not be a father. He just couldn’t be. And if he was—that was a huge if—then Skye had even less business serving him with divorce papers. But he’d had no other contact with her. Not so much as a peep.
So Jake did the only reasonable thing. He ignored his brother—who had followed him out of the diner, calling his name—and kept walking. He wasn’t about to sit there and let his brother mock him. There were other ways to find Skye. Ways that did not involve additional humiliation at the hands of Keaton.
He made it to his Porsche Turbo and got the door open before Keaton caught up to him. “Wait,” he repeated, shoving the door closed.
“Go to hell. You want to mock me? Fine. But I don’t have to sit there and take it. For the record, I didn’t come back to Royal for you. I didn’t come back for Mom and Dad. I came back for Skye and Skye alone. We’ll deal with our relationship just like we’ve always dealt with things—on our own. You and the Taylors and this whole town can go to hell. I’ll even buy you a handbasket.”
Keaton leaned against the car door so that Jake would have to go through him to open it. Which was an option that was on the table, as far as Jake was concerned. “You pigheaded fool,” he started.
“That’s how you want to play this? Fine.” Jake’s hands curled into fists. “You’re nothing but a traitor. I wouldn’t trust anything you said even if you had it notarized. I tried that once, remember? I trusted you with my deepest secret and what did you do? You ran to Mom and Dad as fast as your chicken legs could carry you. You tried to break me and Skye up more times than I can count because being a Holt was more important than being with her. You are nothing to me, Keaton. We are not brothers. I am not a Holt. Not anymore.”
If Keaton was insulted by this tirade, he didn’t show it. Instead, he just kept on leaning against the door, looking at Jake as if he pitied him.
Jake had dreamed of calling his brother out. Dreamed of it. But saying those words to his face didn’t leave Jake with a sense of lightness or of closure. He only felt worse. And he’d long since vowed not to feel bad about his family. Those days were over. “Get out of my way, Keaton. Or I will get you out of my way. Last warning.”
“Her name is Grace.”
Grace. He wanted to tell Keaton to go to hell again, but his voice suddenly didn’t work, so he settled for glaring.
“She was eleven weeks premature,” Keaton went on. “She was in the neonatal intensive care unit for almost three months.”
Images Jake had seen in movies of tiny little babies hooked up to wires and tubes suddenly overwhelmed him. He struggled to ask, “The—the hospital? Wasn’t that hit during the storm?”
“She wasn’t in the hospital during the storm.” But damn the man, he didn’t elaborate.
They stood there for a moment. Jake realized he was breathing in great gulps, but he couldn’t help it.
“Aren’t you even going to ask?” Keaton demanded. He sounded frustrated.
“Anything, man. You’ve had absolutely no contact with Skye in the last four months—maybe even the whole time you were being a big shot in Bahrain. You obviously have no idea what’s going on.”
“Maybe I do,” Jake snipped, trying to keep his temper under control. He would not give Keaton the satisfaction of getting to him. He would not. “Maybe I’ve been texting with Skye this whole time. How would you know?”
“Because,” Keaton replied, anger and exasperation edging his voice, “Skye’s only come out of the medically induced coma the doctor’s had her in a couple of weeks ago. You can’t talk to a woman who’s been unconscious—oof!”
Whatever else Keaton was going to say was crushed out of him as Jake grabbed him by the shirt and slammed him back against the car. “She what?”
“She’s been out the last four months, Mr. Big Shot,” Keaton said as he tried to push back against Jake’s grip. It didn’t work. “And Grace is yours. She’s a Holt. All the tests came back that she was 99.9 percent positive for being a Holt, which means that her father is either me, Dad or you. And neither Dad nor I have so much as looked at Skye in four years. So it’s you. She’s your baby girl.”
The weight of these words made Jake’s knees weak. He had to step back and lean on the car’s hood to keep his balance.
His baby. His and Skye’s. Who’d been in a coma for months. While he’d been working in Bahrain.
Oh, God. What had he done?
“Where?” That was all he could get out.
“Skye’s still at the hospital. She’s awake, but she doesn’t remember much of anything that might have happened in the last few years. Couldn’t tell us anything about where you might be or why.”
“And…the baby? Grace?” The name felt strange on his tongue. His baby. Everything about that felt strange.
“Funny thing about her,” Keaton said, after a dramatic pause that made Jake want to tear his brother apart. “She’s been handed over to the closest living relatives. Which is me and Lark. You remember Skye’s older sister?”
“You and…Lark?” The way Keaton had said her name—in the same sentence as his own—there hadn’t been any sneer then. None of the mocking tone he’d always used when he talked about the Taylors.
“Yes. Me and Lark. We have her until Skye can take over. Or until your sorry ass showed up.”
“You’re taking care of Grace? With Lark? I thought—I thought you hated the Taylors. You hated them so much.”
That’s why he’d left. He might not care for Skye’s family, but he’d loved Skye since he was seven and she was six. She’d always been more to him than a Taylor. She had been his everything.
Keaton looked him in the eye. “Things have changed, Jake. Welcome home.”