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She’d been his best friend’s wife…then widow. And air force pilot Ryan Itani has been enthralled with the very idea of Faith Holmes even before they met. They say grief makes one do crazy things—well, chalk sleeping with Faith as one of them. Then finding out she was carrying his baby… What was a man of honor to do?
But Faith wasn’t about to let him into her home, much less her heart. If there was any chance to be a part of her and their child’s life, he needed to prove he wasn’t just another carefree flyboy. Ryan had risked life and limb before, but this was about to be the soldier’s most important mission.
Ryan heard a sound like omff and sprung up from his chair. Rushing around the partition wall, he saw a gray, short-haired cat zooming across the room toward him. He bent and scooped it up into his arms without thinking before it had a chance to tear behind the receptionist’s desk. When he straightened, he saw Faith in profile wearing a white lab coat, a skirt and pumps, her long, curling, dark hair rippling around her shoulders as she tried to restrain a scrambling Dalmatian puppy.
“Oh, no, Faith!” a short, blond-haired woman cried as she raced around the receptionist’s desk. “Put him down. You shouldn’t be holding a big dog like that in your condition.”
“It’s okay, I’m fine,” Faith managed to get out as she soothed the squirming puppy.
“Here, I have the leash. Stupid of me, I somehow disconnected him when I was trying to restrain him by the collar,” a frazzled-sounding, gray-haired woman in her fifties said as she grabbed Knuckles’s collar. She reaffixed the leash, and Faith bent to deposit Knuckles on the floor.
Someone tapped on his forearm and Ryan pulled his glued gaze off the vision of Faith. What had the receptionist meant when she’d said in your condition? Was Faith ill? he wondered anxiously. He handed Sheba-the-cat to a husky black man in his twenties, nodding once distractedly when the man offered his thanks.
Faith was giving the gray-haired woman a weary smile. “Just remember—shortest, locked position for the leash for future office visits, Mrs. Biddle.” She touched her belly as if to reassure herself.
It was a timeless gesture, and one Ryan immediately recognized. Lightening-quick reflexes were an absolute must for a fighter pilot, and Ryan was known for being one of the fastest responders. In that moment, however, he uncharacteristically froze. An iron hand seemed to have clutched at his lungs, making breathing impossible. A thousand images and memories swept past his awareness as if he were a drowning man. One seemed to linger on the screen of his mind’s eye: Faith answering the front door on Christmas Eve, her long, curling hair spilling around the snowy white robe she wore, her smile radiant, her large green eyes shining with emotion.
Ryan, I’m so happy you came.
Jesse would have wanted me to look in on you, make sure you were safe and sound.
He’d done more than just make sure Jesse’s widow was safe and sound, though. A hell of a lot more.
Faith looked around and saw him standing in the waiting room. The stretched seconds collapsed.
“Ryan,” she exclaimed in a shocked tone. The receptionist and all the patrons in the waiting room turned to gape at him. “What are you doing here?”
“I flew in for business,” he said shortly, referring to the new charter airline business he’d begun after leaving the Air Force last December. His gaze flickered downward over Faith’s belly before he met her stare again. He’d forgotten how vividly green her eyes were.
“I think we’d better talk,” he said.
She bit at her lower lip anxiously and took a step toward him. All the color had left her cheeks.
“Yes. I think we’d better.”