Giving away her baby for adoption was the second biggest mistake of Sierra Powell's life. But after a miraculous turn of events, she is reunited with her toddler son and they return to Arizona. Too bad Sierra's first mistake is waiting for her there--Clay Duvall, a much too charming cowboy. And onetime love of her life.
Clay is not about to let go of the opportunity to raise his flesh and blood. He proposes co-parenting--meaning Sierra and Jamie have to move close to him. Real close, as in onto his property. As far as Sierra's concerned, he has no say in her son's life; Clay was the one who walked out on their relationship.
Will the sparks between Clay and Sierra set off the formerly feuding Powell and Duvall clans...or will they rekindle an old passion?
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
April 01, 2012
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Excerpt from Baby's First Homecoming by Cathy McDavid
The Powell family home, more than a century old, had been transformed. Sierra Powell stood beside the open door of her Toyota SUV, assessing every change, comparing them to how she'd last seen the house, in shocking disrepair after ten years of chronic neglect.
Trees were trimmed, the yard's abundant desert flora and fauna manicured to tidy perfection. A fresh coat of dune-colored paint on the house's exterior gleamed to eye-squinting intensity in the midafternoon sun. Terra-cotta bricks lined the walkways to the front courtyard and back patio, resembling spectators at a parade.
The refurbishings pleased Sierra. It had taken a long time for her family to rebound from the emotional and financial ruin left in the wake of her mother's illness and death. These improvements to the house, she knew, mirrored the ones in her father and two brothers.
She envied them. The Powell men were healed and happy and well on the way to creating wonderful, exciting new lives for themselves while she had never been so terrified of the future or felt so alone.
What if her family rejected her? They certainly had good cause--she'd practically shunned them for almost two years. Now she'd returned, not just for her brothers' double wedding but to ask for her family's help, their love, their support, and, if they could see fit to give it, their forgiveness.
It wouldn't be easy. Sierra had made a lot of mistakes.
She stared at the back patio, working up the courage to head inside where her family and future sisters-in-law waited. Everyone was expecting her, possibly intending to confront her. There would be questions, especially when they saw the unexpected "guest" Sierra had brought with her and heard her request to--temporarily, she assured herself--move home.
By some miracle she'd been able to stand outside this long without being noticed. Maybe no one was home. She immediately dismissed that idea. Someone would be here to greet her. Her father at least, who'd insisted she come home for her brothers' double wedding.
Her brothers, Gavin and Ethan, could be elsewhere on the ranch--leading trail rides, teaching riding classes or otherwise making themselves scarce so she and her father could have a few minutes alone. She had hurt him the worst and owed him the biggest apology. It was he who had the power to grant or deny her request to stay.
Sierra might have been lost in thought indefinitely if not for a noise coming from inside her car. She opened the rear driver's-side door and stuck her head inside.
"Hey, handsome. You awake? How was your nap?"
Her son waved his pudgy fists and broke into a delighted grin that displayed six new teeth. His hazel eyes, the image of his father's, beamed at her as he babbled incoherently.
Her heart promptly broke open and spilled a torrent of love as it did every time he smiled or gurgled or nuzzled into her neck and sighed with baby contentment.
"Thank God I have you back," she murmured for the thousandth time, a catch in her voice, the wound within her still raw.
She didn't know what she'd done to deserve this reprieve.
This gift. This chance to right past wrongs. But she was bound and determined to turn her life around and make the best one possible for her and her son. If she needed to get on her hands and knees and beg her family, she would. He was that important to her.
"Let's clean you up a bit before we meet the folks." Using a cotton cloth, she wiped the smudges of dirt from his face and hands. "There. All better."
He kicked his feet, which were clad in white socks and brand-new red sneakers she'd recently purchased. In fact, she'd recently purchased all his clothes, the car seat, a portable crib and every necessity a child his age needed.
She reached onto the seat beside him and retrieved his favorite toy from where it had fallen. He grabbed the plastic pony and waved it in the air as if to say, Where have you been? I was looking for you, and stuffed the pony's entire head in his mouth.
With trembling fingers, Sierra unbuckled the car-seat straps. The distraction of caring for her son had worn off. She was once again dreading the prospect of facing her family.
They love you, she told herself. They will love Jamie, too.
But was it enough to make up for the last two years of shameful avoidance?
Drawing a deep breath, she hefted Jamie into her arms. When he was securely balanced on her hip and the diaper bag was slung over her shoulder, she picked her way slowly up the brick-lined walk to the back patio.
The kitchen door loomed ahead, the outline wavering as if she were seeing it though a very long tunnel. Her flats made scuffing sounds on the dirt and then clip-clopped across the Saltillo tiles, each beat matching her pounding heart.