New FREE Harlequin Online Read: An Officer and a Baby by Jessica Keller
Get ready for an amazing Sunday with this week’s FREE online read, An Officer and a Baby by Jessica Keller. Keep reading for the first chapter, and head on over to Harlequin.com to check out the rest of the story!
Struggling on her own with a newborn, widow Hanna Song is grateful for the offer of help that comes from Aiden Kline. Even if he is the police officer who’d delivered the news of her husband’s death months earlier. The kindness she receives from him, his sister and grandma renews her longing for a close-knit family of her own. And when they offer her and baby Cooper a place in their home, she can’t help feeling a particular tenderness for Aiden. But as Hanna’s first Mother’s Day approaches, she’ll have to ask herself if she’s truly ready to love again. Will Aiden be the one to give her the family of her dreams?
Officer Aiden Kline pulled the keys from his patrol car.
The report was that at three in the morning a frantic-sounding lady had hung up on the 9-1-1 dispatcher and they’d heard a baby crying in the background. When the dispatcher had called the number back, the lady had promised all was well and begged them not to send someone. But protocol was king and an officer had to respond to every call. Had to make sure all was well.
The address fell in Aiden’s assigned beat for the night—just like it had six months ago when duty had forced him to shatter the same woman’s world with the worst news an officer could deliver.
There was an accident. Your husband. He didn’t— I… I’m so sorry.
At the time, the new widow, Hanna Song, had grabbed Aiden’s arms and crumpled to the ground. Her black hair had draped across her face and fallen over her slender shoulders while she rocked back and forth. He’d stayed with her while she cried. While she’d shakily told him she had no one, no family nearby to call to be with her. He’d stayed until her tears became a hollow stare, when words and reassurances were better left unsaid. And he’d taken her to the hospital after she told him she was twenty weeks pregnant and felt lost.
Then they hadn’t spoken again. Not once.
He’d spotted her here and there around town. Heard about the birth of her son. But he’d gotten the feeling she wanted to avoid him. Of course she would. No doubt his presence brought up the painful memory.
Darkness hedged in the small cottage located next to the West Oaks Inn; a springtime sunrise was still a few hours away. The home belonged to the Ashbys, owners of the inn, but they had expressed a desire to use the old cottage to bless people—missionaries returning home, folks who worked for nonprofits and, as it was initially, the new pastor and his wife. Now a widow and her newborn.
Aiden’s boots crunched over the gravel that paved the walkway to the door. He swallowed hard and tugged at his collar. A baby’s high wail reverberated through the door, making him quicken his pace.
Newborns could be overwhelming and, while rewarding, they could also be emotionally draining. Especially when someone was juggling the work alone. A memory of Kimberly, his sister, struggling to care for Wyatt flashed to mind. Thankfully, he’d been able to talk Kim into moving home so he could help her raise Wyatt, just like he had talked their grandma into staying with him. Family was important—they were everything.
If Hanna had no one…
No wonder she’d called for help.
Despite feeling an internal tug to the cottage each time he passed on patrol, Aiden hadn’t stopped by to check on Hanna in the months since her husband’s death. He’d wanted to, but he also didn’t want to make things awkward. He had been the one to tell her the worst news of her life. His face probably wasn’t a welcome one. Still, he knocked.