Come Spend Christmas with the Burnetts
Joshua Burnett is the next Burnett the family ghost is ready to match. But he's been keeping secrets from the family. Secrets even his ghostly great-great-great-great-grandmother doesn't know. Maybe he's a womanizer for a reason until life delivers him a surprise he never saw coming.
Kayla Scott has lost everything she’s ever wanted in life. When she interviews for a nanny to the Burnett family, she gets an unexpected job opportunity – taking care of Joshua’s baby daughter.
Being forced together every day is bringing up emotions she'd long given up ever feeling. And Joshua is dead set against giving up his bachelorhood. He’s not even sure he wants the baby. Joshua’s ghostly ancestor has her work cut out for her on this one. Can she pull these two through facing their own demons?
Joshua Burnett liked women. Lots of women. And dating more than one at a time was never out of the question. The more the merrier. Date them, bed them, and then tell them . That was his motto and he lived by it religiously.
He rolled over in bed next to his latest conquest, Marcy Anderson. They’d been sleeping together for the last month, and he liked how it was all about the sex. No commitments, no promises of forever, nothing but a good time. And Marcy was the one who set the rules, not him.
But they fit very well within his own set of regulations.
Lying in bed, he glanced at her. “We’re still going to the rodeo tonight?”
“Yes,” she said, rising from the bed naked.
He liked her body, and he liked the way she enjoyed partying late into the night, having sex until dawn, sleeping until noon, and then afternoon sex. Every weekend, they stayed at either his place or hers.
She’d let him know right up front that she wasn’t interested in marriage or anything permanent and that was all he needed to hear. When the time came and he was finished with her, he’d say good-bye.
“Guess we better get up and get ready to go,” he said, throwing his feet over the side of the bed. It was the Friday after Thanksgiving and instead of fighting crowds at the mall, they had spent the day in bed.
He jumped into the and she joined him there.
“We’re invited to go out with the bull riders after the rodeo,” she said, washing his back.
“Sounds like fun,” he said, thinking how those men lived life on the edge and partied like it was their last night.
And it could be.
After stepping out of the shower, he pulled on a fresh pair of jeans, tucked one of his good shirts into his pants, and slipped on his boots.
Turning, he watched Marcy spray her hair, making certain the curls stayed in place. Her makeup was and he knew he’d be the envy of every cowboy at the rodeo tonight.
She turned and smiled.
“Yes,” he said. They started toward the garage. The sound of knocking on his front door had him frowning.
“Let me get that and then we’ll go.” It was probably one of the workers there to tell him something about the cattle.
After walking into his living area, he opened the front door, and his eyes widened.
An old girlfriend from over a year ago, Skylar Beal, stood in front of him, looking gorgeous, her blonde hair longer than ever, holding a baby.
“Skylar,” he said, surprised. She hardly seemed like the motherly type. “What are you doing here?”
She thrust the baby into his and he had no choice but to accept the child or let it drop to the ground.
“What the hell?”
Her brown eyes flashed with and she stepped back far enough away he couldn’t give her the baby back.
“It’s your turn. I haven’t gone out and had fun in ages, Josh. I’ve been pregnant dealing with Mia. Now it’s my turn for some fun. You can watch her for the weekend.”
The woman had completely lost it. “I’m not watching your kid. Why would I?”
The smirk he had hated from the day he met her filled her face. “She’s yours, hotshot. Deal with it. I had to.”
Terror filled his chest and his heart raced like a formula one driver’s car nearing the concrete wall.
“What? This baby isn’t mine,” he yelled.
Two big sapphire eyes popped and the baby’s bottom lip trembled before she belted out a cry.
“Now you’ve done it,” Skylar said, dropping a bag on the ground at his feet. “Her formula, diapers, everything you’ll need is here in this bag. I’ll be back late Sunday to pick her up. Have a great weekend getting to know your daughter Mia.”
Turning around in her cowboy boots, she all but ran down the stairs and jumped into her Corvette. The engine roared to and she backed out of his drive, spinning gravel as she took off.
Shocked, he stared down at the baby in his arms. This child was his? No…
What the hell was he going to do? He didn’t know anything about taking care of babies. What kind of mother just ran off and left her child with an amateur?
Marcy came up behind him. “Are you ready?” Her eyes widened with concern. “Where did the baby come from?”
“Skylar just dropped her off. Said she was mine.” He wasn’t certain he believed her, but what was he going to do? Her mother was gone.
The baby cried louder, and with disbelief, Joshua picked up the diaper bag, brought it into the house, and closed the door.
Marcy shook her head. “. I don’t do screaming babies or men with kids. It’s been fun, Josh. Call me if you get this straightened out. But not if you have a kid. Have a good night. I’m going to the rodeo.”
He could only watch as she picked up her purse and overnight bag and walked out the door. And just like that, she was out of his life. Probably forever.
Normally, he ended the relationship, not the other way around. He shrugged. “Oh, well. You ended that, Mia.”
While Marcy was a beautiful woman, they were a dime a dozen down at the club. Soon he’d find another.
“Women,” he said, gazing down at the child. “This is why I’ll never marry. What am I going to do with you? Do you like sports? Football? How about cartoons? What is going to make you happy?”
The baby’s bottom lip trembled and those eyes that he suddenly feared gazed at him. They were the same damn color as most of the Burnett men – startling blue eyes that gave them away.
How in the hell had Skylar had his child without telling him she was pregnant? No, she was just using and she’d be lucky if he didn’t call Child Protective Services on her.
But then he glanced down and gazed at the crying baby. What if she was his? And if his family learned about her, he would be in dog shit creek without a boat.
Opening the diaper bag, he glanced through the contents, not knowing what everything was for. Skylar hadn’t given him instructions on what to do.
How could he keep this child through Sunday? Today was Friday. That would be two whole days.
“What do you need?” he asked the little girl who couldn’t be more than three months old. “A clean diaper? A bottle? Tell me. A million dollars? Hell, I’d give you the ranch right now to keep you from crying.”
Where was she going to sleep? He didn’t have a crib.
He laid her on the carpet and then he went into the closet and came back with a fluffy blanket. Grabbing a baby blanket out of her bag, he laid a large quilt and then laid the child on her blanket.
“ said your name is Mia. Let’s start with changing your diaper. Maybe that would make you stop crying.” He took out a plastic-lined diaper from the bag.
He unsnapped the outfit she had on and pulled the wet diaper free.
“Can you please not poop until your mother returns,” he told her. “My weak stomach won’t be able to handle it, and where would I put the nasty diaper? It’s not like we have trash pickup every day out here on the ranch. Just hold your poop.”
The baby farted as if to not happening.
Those blue eyes gazed at him and he could see she wasn’t certain about him. Lifting her legs, he slid the fresh diaper beneath her and then pulled the tabs hoping it was tight enough. At least he didn’t get baby pee on him.
That would be gross.
“It would help if you could tell me if I was doing this right. You’ll cry if I get it too tight. You’ll wet on me if I get it too loose. I’m not cut out to be a babysitter or even a father. This is why I don’t have children.”
The baby stopped crying and gazed at him.
“Now what do we do?” he asked. “You’re too young to drink, but I sure could use a whiskey right now.”
She kicked her legs and he sat back on his heels and stared at her.
Was Mia his daughter? Was he a father?
“Damn, your mother has some questions to answer when she gets back here. In fact, I’m going to call her right now.”
He picked up his phone and dialed Skylar’s cell number which he still had in his contacts, miraculously.
“You have reached Skylar Beal. Joshua, you’re her father, deal with her. I’m on my way to a fabulous shopping trip that will end with a party I’m attending on Saturday night. Sex for the first time in months. Don’t call me again unless it’s an emergency.”
She’d changed her voice message just for him. Bitch.
Glancing down at the baby, he groaned. “Your mother comes from one of the richest families in Texas, why didn’t she hire a nanny? Was this her way of getting revenge?”
The baby kicked her feet and then blew him a raspberry and his heart melted a little. She was cute.
But he didn’t want marriage. He didn’t want kids. He didn’t want commitment. As a boy, he’d witnessed enough to make him positive he’d never get married.
Give him a woman like Marcy who only wanted mutual, gratifying sex and he was happy.
Suddenly the baby let out a squeal that quickly turned to tears.
“What’s wrong? What do you need?”
Running his hand through his hair, he shook his head. Sure he’d had brothers, but they had been close together. He’d never been around babies much. He knew nothing.
Crying, she looked up at him, and he wanted to jump in his truck and race after her mother. But there was no way his truck could catch her Corvette.
He was a player, not a father, and he had no idea what babies needed. And he hated her crying because it made him feel like he was failing her.
USA Today bestselling author Sylvia McDaniel has published more than eighty western historical , and contemporary romances. Known for her sweet, funny, family-oriented stories, Sylvia is the author of The Burnett Brides, Lipstick and Lead Series, Bad Girls of the West, and the Return to Cupid, Texas series.
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