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Secret Identity, Small Town Romance
Available 4.15.24


Excerpt of Special Agent Nanny by Linda O. Johnston

Purchase


Colorado Confidential
Harlequin
September 2003
Featuring: Shawn Jameson; Kelley Stanton
249 pages
ISBN: 0373227256
Paperback
Add to Wish List

Romance Suspense, Romance Series

Also by Linda O. Johnston:

CSI Colton and the Witness, December 2023
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
The Soldier's K-9 Mission, May 2023
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book (reprint)
Shielding Colton's Witness, November 2022
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Guardian K-9 on Call, May 2022
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Trained to Protect, January 2022
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Uncovering Colton's Family Secret, November 2021
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Her Undercover Refuge, August 2021
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Colton First Responder, February 2020
Paperback / e-Book
Pick and Chews, May 2018
Paperback / e-Book
To Catch a Treat, May 2016
e-Book
Bite the Biscuit, May 2015
Paperback
Lost Under a Ladder, October 2014
Paperback / e-Book
Loyal Wolf, August 2014
Paperback / e-Book
Untamed Wolf, May 2014
Paperback / e-Book
Teacup Turbulence, January 2014
Paperback / e-Book
Covert Attraction, December 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Read Humane Hounds Abound, May 2013
Paperback (reprint)
Oodles Of Poodles, February 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Undercover Wolf, February 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Hounds Abound, April 2012
Paperback / e-Book
The More the Terrier, October 2011
Paperback / e-Book
Guardian Wolf, August 2011
Paperback
Beaglemania, March 2011
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Alaskan Wolf, December 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Feline Fatale, July 2010
Paperback
Howl Deadly, December 2009
Paperback
Awakening The Beast, October 2009
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Back To Life, June 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Never Say Sty, April 2009
Paperback
Alpha Wolf, January 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Double Dog Dare, June 2008
Paperback
The Fright of the Iguana, October 2007
Paperback
Meow is for Murder, February 2007
Paperback
Fine-Feathered Death, May 2006
Paperback
Sit, Stay, Slay, January 2006
Paperback
Nothing To Fear But Ferrets, August 2005
Paperback
Not a Moment Too Soon, November 2004
Paperback
Lawful Engagement, July 2004
Paperback
Guardian of Her Heart, February 2004
Paperback
Special Agent Nanny, September 2003
Paperback
Tommy's Mom, November 2002
Paperback
Operation: Reunited, March 2002
Paperback
The Ballad of Jack O'Dair, October 2000
Paperback
Winter Wonderland, October 1999
Paperback

Excerpt of Special Agent Nanny by Linda O. Johnston

“Okay, sweetheart. We’re here.” Not that Kelley had any doubt that her daughter Jenny, clad today in a flowered T- shirt and matching red slacks, knew full well that they’d arrived at the Gilpin Hospital KidClub daycare center. As soon as they went through the door into the main playroom, the blonde three-year-old had stopped prancing at her mother’s side and stood still, thumb in her mouth. With her other hand, she clutched Kelley’s mid-calf black skirt. Tears filled her brown eyes.

Before the fire, Jenny hadn’t been able to wait to come here to play. She had always dashed into the midst of the kids who started their day in this charming room adorned with bright rainbows on the walls. Mostly, the little ones congregated at one of the child-sized tables coloring until it was time for the caregivers to begin planned activities.

But since the fire, her daughter had demonstrated every symptom of separation anxiety: tears, protests, tantrums.

It broke Kelley’s heart every morning. But she’d spent days home with Jenny right after the fire. Took her to a kind counselor. When Jenny had started to recover emotionally, Kelley had returned full time to her demanding medical practice. Her office was in the adjoining building, and she spent a lot of time seeing patients in the hospital itself. She dropped in often to look in on Jenny, staying far in the background so her daughter, busy playing, wouldn’t notice her.

Once Jenny got used to being there each day, she seemed to thrive once more, with all the other children to play with and the excellent staff who watched over the kids while teaching them things commensurate with their ages and abilities.

But those first minutes, when she dropped Jenny off...

“Good morning.” At the gruff, masculine voice, Kelley raised her gaze from her daughter--until she stared into eyes the blue of a mountain stream sparkling in the winter sun. They looked about as icy, too. But the man behind them was one of the most gorgeous hunks Kelley had ever seen.

She felt her face grow pink at the direction her thoughts had veered. But that didn’t deter her mind from noting the breadth of shoulders beneath an off-white shirt and leather vest. Or the slim cut of faded brown jeans. Or the sturdiness of a set jawline, and short hair that was a cross between dirty gold and golden brown. And he wore cowboy boots.

“Good morning,” she returned, knowing her tone was quizzical. Was he the father of one of the half dozen kids settled at places along the tables? Kelley forced herself not to look at his hands to see if he wore a wedding ring. That wasn’t her business.

Besides, a man who looked like him had to be taken. Either that or he had a bevy of beautiful women at his beck and call.

Not that Kelley cared. She wasn’t interested in any man, great-looking or not. In her experience, not one was worth a fraction of the aggravation he caused.

“And who is this?” The man looked down at Jenny, who only clutched at Kelley’s clothes all the tighter.

The smile on the man’s face looked as if he had sucked on a lime.

“This is Jenny Stanton,” Kelley said, her tone cheerful for her daughter’s benefit. “Are you the daddy of one of the kids?”

“No, I’m the new teacher.”

What? Kelley stared. He certainly didn’t look like the other childcare providers, mostly college-age men and women who studied teaching and needed to earn money in their spare time. A few were career preschool teachers. But this man...?

He knelt in front of Jenny. “My name is Shawn,” he told her. Then he rose. “Shawn Jameson. And you’re Mrs. Stanton?”

No. Kelley nearly shuddered. She definitely wasn’t Mrs. Stanton. That implied she was Randall Stanton’s wife.

She hadn’t been his wife for two years now. And that was fine with her.

It was her turn to force a smile onto her lips. “I’m Dr. Kelley Stanton,” she told the man. “I’m one of the doctors on staff here.”

Was it her imagination or did Shawn Jameson’s straight, thick brows dip just a little before he resumed his uncomfortable smile? “Very nice to meet you, Dr. Stanton.” He stressed the word “doctor” but it did not sound like an apology, which she wouldn’t have expected anyway. But neither did she expect it to stop just short of an insult.

Didn’t he like doctors? If so, he shouldn’t be working in a hospital, even with children. Especially with children, since many were doctors’ kids. But maybe she’d imagined his reaction.

“Good to meet you, too,” she clipped out, then knelt, though she had to extract her skirt gently from Jenny’s hand. “Okay, sweetheart. Time for me to go, but I’ll be back for you soon.”

“No, Mommy,” Jenny said in her sweet little girl’s voice. “I don’t want you to go.”

Kelley inhaled, knowing the scene that was to come. Hating it, for she always felt as if she were hurting Jenny. “I have to, honey, but--“

“But we’re going to have a great time here today, Jenny.”

Kelley looked up in gratitude as Shawn Jameson took Jenny’s hand and tried to gently lead her away.

Jenny began to cry.

Shawn’s blue eyes widened. Surely that wasn’t fear Kelley saw in them. He glanced at her as if for help, but she mouthed, “Thanks,” and backed away. Jenny began to cry even louder.

The other children watched the exchange, eyes huge. The lower lips of a couple began to quiver, as if they might cry in sympathy for Jenny. Or for their own absent parents.

Obviously Shawn noticed, for he looked around nervously.

“Hey,” he said, grabbing a pad of paper and some crayons off the table. He appeared desperate. What was he going to do? “Do you have any pets at home, Jenny?”

No, Kelley wanted to tell him. Don’t remind her. Jenny wanted a puppy or a kitten. Having a pet was even a recommended therapy to help her recover from the trauma of the fire. But the timing wasn’t right.

If Kelley were a stay-at-home mom, the way Randall had insisted, there would be someone to take care of a pet. But that wasn’t reality. It wasn’t what Kelley wanted either for herself or her daughter. She wanted Jenny to have a strong role model.

Not the kind of role model Kelley herself had had.

“I don’t have no pets,” Jenny told Shawn, shaking her head sadly. But at least she was no longer crying.

“Would you like one?”

It was time for Kelley to intervene. The man couldn’t be allowed to distract her daughter by making

her feel bad about other things.

As Jenny nodded in response to his question, Shawn said, “Well, then, you shall have one.”

That was it. Kelley began crossing the room toward them, but Shawn Jameson must have noticed, for he held up one large hand. Kelley paused, but only for a minute. If he didn’t stop--

And then she got it. The man, kneeling on the floor beside the pint-sized table, was using the crayons to sketch on the pad. In moments, an outline of a fuzzy spaniel puppy took shape, one with big, sad eyes and a lolling tongue. And that with only a few strokes on the paper.

It was an adorable caricature.

“Here you are, Jenny,” Shawn said. “This is your new puppy. And--“ He made a few more strokes on the page. A child appeared beside the dog--a child with Jenny’s straight, blonde hair and soulful chocolate brown eyes. She wore a crown, like a princess.

“For me?” Jenny asked in obvious delight. Her tears had dried, replaced by a big, amazed grin.

“For you,” Shawn replied. “But you’ll have to think of a name for the dog.”

“Okay,” Jenny replied, her small brows knit as she gave the matter a lot of thought.

Before she came up with a name, the other kids were crowding around, looking at her drawing. Demanding, “Me, too, Shawn. Please. Me next,” all in a chorus that earned from Shawn Jameson a foolish, pleased grin.

Kelley turned toward the door. No matter what the man’s qualifications, he had obvious talent in one direction. And the kids loved it.

Maybe he would work out there after all.

Excerpt from Special Agent Nanny by Linda O. Johnston
All rights reserved by publisher and author

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