March 29th, 2020
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Their forbidden love is about to start a war
But they can't stop themselves.

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Chocolate: Earths only hope in a romantic scifi adventure.

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What do you get when you cross a whip-welding, mask-wearing vigilante and a set of uber-wealthy telepathic twins, with a serial killer out for vengeance?

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The Girl He Left Behind

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Sometimes Love is Closer Than You Think

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Sweeping, emotional, witty, and sharp romance in the Cavensham Heiresses series

Excerpt of Baby, I'm Yours by Catherine Mann


Silhouette Desire
April 2006
Featuring: Claire McDermott; Vic Jansen
192 pages
ISBN: 0373767218
Add to Wish List

Romance Series

Also by Catherine Mann:

The Twin Birthright, May 2018
The Love Child, April 2018
Mass Market Paperback
The Double Deal, March 2018
Mass Market Paperback
The Baby Claim, February 2018
Mass Market Paperback
Pregnant by the Cowboy CEO, July 2015
Mass Market Paperback
Pursued by the Rich Rancher, June 2015
Way of the Warrior, May 2015
Rescue Me, February 2015
Shelter Me, August 2014
One Good Cowboy, April 2014
Yuletide Baby Surprise, October 2013
Playing For Keeps, April 2013
Free Fall, March 2013
All or Nothing, January 2013
Rescuing Christmas, November 2012
Guardian, September 2012
Under Fire, May 2012
Honorable Intentions, April 2012
Protector, March 2012
Hot Zone, December 2011
Billionaire's Jet Set Babies, October 2011
Cover Me, July 2011
Acquired: The CEO's Small-Town Bride, June 2011
His Heir, Her Honor, March 2011
His Thirty-Day Fianc, January 2011
More Than Words, March 2010
Mass Market Paperback (reprint)
Bossman's Baby Scandal, January 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Renegade, January 2010
Millionaire In Command, October 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Hotshot, May 2009
Defender, April 2009
His Expectant Ex, September 2008
Mass Market Paperback
Rich Man's Fake Fiancee, June 2008
Out Of Uniform, February 2008
The Executive's Surprise Baby, December 2007
Holiday Heroes, November 2007
Bet Me, August 2007
On Target, July 2007
Mass Market Paperback
Under the Millionaire's Influence, March 2007
Fully Engaged, November 2006
A Soldier's Christmas, October 2006
More Than Words, October 2006
Trade Size
Blaze of Glory, July 2006
Baby, I'm Yours, April 2006
Awaken to Danger, January 2006
Explosive Alliance, February 2005
Pursued, November 2004
Joint Forces, May 2004

Excerpt of Baby, I'm Yours by Catherine Mann

Charleston, S.C.: Three-and-a-half months later

"Claire, if you handle a man with as much finesse as you're using on that swizzle stick, it's no wonder you sleep alone."

Tucked in a corner of her bustling restaurant kitchen, Claire surrendered the pitcher of mint juleps to her sister before she sloshed ice onto the counter. "Swizzle stick? Either you're more innocent than you let on or you've just insulted some poor guy in a big — or would that be little? — way."

"Guilty as charged," Starr answered ambiguously as she assumed control of the fragrant mixed drink, sprinkling fresh mint leaves on top before passing it over to a waitress.

Claire picked through her herb garden in the open window while stifling the urge to blurt how she'd handled one man a little too well three-and-a-half months ago. Now, she had a permanent reminder of that weekend-long sensual feast last January.

Her hands shook as she snagged the empty bowl for parsley sprigs. "I'm too busy for a love life."

Today in particular, she had enough on her plate feeding the Beachcombers Bar and Grill Saturday lunch crowd while prepping for the packed week of catering events. Even with the help of her two foster sisters, co-owners in the business, soon she would be busier still with a baby on her hip. Not that she intended to let that information leak to the kitchen full of staff clanging pots and filling orders.

She had to tell the baby's daddy first.

And she would — after this week passed and she could compose herself with a long bubble bath. She'd only been delaying telling Vic out of practicality. Right? Ever reasonable, she always made the practical decision.

Except for once, and that whopper had landed her in the same shoes as her pregnant unwed mama. However, unlike her mama, Claire was blessed with resources and choices. No one would force her to hand over her child.

Starr rolled silverware inside napkins with lightning speed, pouring more of that frenetic energy into swaying along with beach music thrumming through the sound system. "Who said anything about love? I'm only talking about you getting out more, dating. Pencil in some fun time on that perfectly ordered daily agenda of yours."

Even Starr's dark hair snapped with energy, curls straining to pop free from the constraining long braid while Claire felt more like one of the wrung-out rags in the industrial sink.

"I am enjoying life since I love my work." Huffing a lank wisp off her forehead, she scooched closer to the counter to make way for a waiter balancing a corn-bread-stuffed catfish special.

Vic's favorite.

Her hand drifted downward. She stopped shy of her stomach, shooting a quick glance at her younger foster sister. Starr's eagle eye missed nothing, a skill gained from her time on the streets before she landed in the same foster home as Claire and their other foster sister, Ashley.

Claire eyed the swinging door with longing. If only she could dash out of the humid kitchen, away from too- discerning questions. But she couldn't risk leaving for at least an hour since Vic Jansen had parked his fine butt in her dining room for lunch.

"Work," Starr snorted. "Work won't sizzle you with a look or have you ready to climb out of your skin after a kiss."

Do not think of Vic. Vic's kiss. Vic's hard-muscled body under her hands, his tall strength covering her with such seductive gentleness and utter confidence in every deep stroke.

Uh-oh. Hormone alert.

Claire clipped a fistful of chives, ran them under the faucet and fanned them along the butcher block. "Cooking is relaxing." Order in the middle of chaos. "I had a blast decorating that baby shower cake last night, listening to the spring rain patter."

Until she'd fallen asleep in her frosting. Claire whacked the chives.

Work might not launch her hormones into overdrive, but it also didn't confuse her like the man eating in the next room. She needed reliability in her life, especially now. Even with its shoestring budget, her business provided more stability than any man with broad shoulders that screamed to her fingers explore me...

A crash echoed from the narrow hall.

Claire winced at the clatter of shattering china. Superstitious Starr snatched a saltshaker from the counter and pitched a pinch over her shoulder.

Another reason to keep quiet about the baby. Claire refused to let anyone label this pregnancy the latest in a gosh-awful string of bad luck alongside a leaky roof. A broken water pipe. A rotten board giving way on a porch she could have sworn was in pristine condition. All expensive repairs she could ill-afford if she wanted to keep the business.

Jeez, some days she almost wondered if somebody was out to ruin her — or her house.

Not a chance would she let that happen. This historic old wreck was the only real home she'd ever had. Her biological mother had skipped from apartment to apartment, shelters sometimes too, depending on her finances. Tina McDermott had tried her best to provide for her daughter, but as a seventeen-year-old single mother booted out by her parents before graduation... well, options sucked.

The Department of Social Services had removed Claire at age eight, after discovering Tina was leaving her child alone to work the midnight shift at a truck stop. The Department of Social Services had placed Claire in the care of a kooky, wonderful old woman with a dilapidated antebellum mansion, no money, and a half dozen foster daughters. Many more came and went, placed with permanent families. All but Starr, Ashley and her. When "Aunt" Libby died just over a year ago, she'd left the house to the three of them. Starting a restaurant together was a near- impossible dream, but one they held tenaciously.

Starr passed a basketful of rolled napkins to a busboy before turning back to Claire. "Maybe I'm being a little pushy today because I'm worried about you pulling off all these parties. No offense, but you look like hell."

"Not a problem. You're talking to me. Remember?" She picked up her knife and resumed chopping. "The Queen of Anal Retentive. Who wouldn't look like hell during a busy lunch hour?"

She couldn't control the exhaustion of her pregnancy, but she prided herself on her organizational skills, a matter of survival when she'd been living with Tina.

Claire chopped faster. Multiple orders echoed up to the high ceiling, along with the familiar clamor of clanging dishes, shouted calls for another pitcher of sweet tea.

Vic drank her sweet tea by the gallons.

Argh! Claire stared down at the pulverized chives. Couldn't she go at least ten minutes without thinking about the guy? Kind of tough to manage with an ever- present reminder of him in her belly frothing up morning sickness.

Morning sickness quickly segued into afternoon sickness, thanks to a lack of sleep and the clam chowder steaming aromas and heat from a ten-gallon stainless steel pot. No wonder she looked like hell. She felt like hell.


Starr grabbed the saltshaker.

Claire made a beeline for the door before the new waiter destroyed every dish in the place. She would just stay well clear of Vic. He had no reason to seek her out since a month after their encounter in his fishing boat, she'd told him she wasn't pregnant. Which she'd genuinely believed after a spotting episode.

A trip to the doctor for her stomach flu shocked the dickens out of her, then scared her silly because did spotting mean her baby was in danger? And suddenly the baby wasn't an accident or burden, but rather a little person she wanted so very much.

Sprinting for the hall, Claire hollered back over her shoulder, "Call Ashley and tell her we need help after she's done with classes, please."

Their reclusive younger sister preferred to hover in the background, but she wouldn't stay secluded in her dorm while their business went under.

Claire dodged a busboy with a tub of dirty plates on her way through the kitchen into the hall. A quick mental floor-plan check assured her Vic would be safely out of sight since he always chose the same corner table, number eight.

She screeched to a halt inches away from a mountain of broken china mixed with fried okra and baked chicken.

An overwhelmed waiter with a smooshed corn muffin in hand stared up at her. "Table eight needs to place an order."

And the bad luck just kept coming.

Where was a shaker full of salt when a down-on-her-luck girl needed it?

"Pass the salt, will ya?" Vic asked his brother-in-law, wondering how many more times he would have to come here before Claire finally talked to him. Face to face, and not in some terse little voice mail message...

No need to worry. You're off the hook. I'm not pregnant.

Great news. Back to his rootless existence living on his sailboat, as different from his old North Dakota prairie world as possible. Totally free. Except he had these two regrets.

And one of them was walking across the packed dining room of the best-loved new restaurant in Charleston. Right toward his table.

Claire. Her name whispered in his mind like the spring breeze drifting through the open windows, rustling the fishing nets tacked to whitewashed walls. She looked so pretty and fresh in her loose jean dress cinched tight by an apron. Ceiling fans clicked overhead, lifting a strand of her caramel hair free from her gold hair clamp.

She'd been the only thing keeping him going through that other regret. Until he'd messed it up by sleeping with her, then letting his commitment-phobe mindset show.

Claire glided to a stop, her dress swishing a gentle caress against his leg that sparked a not-so-gentle jolt of desire straight to his groin conveniently camouflaged by a tablecloth.

"Good afternoon, gentlemen, welcome to Beach-combers," she drawled, molasses-sweet tones sliding over his hungry senses. "What can I get for you this afternoon?"

How about a plate of forgiveness?

Excerpt from Baby, I'm Yours by Catherine Mann
All rights reserved by publisher and author

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