Today I am so pleased to welcome Annabeth Albert to Joyfully Jay. Annabeth has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Up in Smoke. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
There was a baby on Brandt’s front step. And not a cute, sleeping in a wicker basket cherub that might signal that this was some sort of dream, even though it was the middle of the afternoon and he’d been up for hours. No, this was a loud, unhappy, red-faced infant in one of those little car-seat carriers with a pink blanket in its lap, and no adult keeper in sight.
Someone had rung his doorbell though. It had taken him a minute or two to get to the door because he’d been on a ladder, painting. And he never got company out here, so he’d figured it was a package and taken his time. But was it long enough for someone to slip away? Fuck. This only happened in old movies, right? No one in their right mind would ever leave a baby for him.
“Hello?” He swiveled his gaze across the scrubby property. Thank fuck. There was an older RV at the edge of the drive, and there racing back toward the house was—
A memory. Rusty laugh, tickling his ears. Short dark hair the color of polished walnut. Piercing blue eyes. It had been months, but Brandt hadn’t forgotten the way those full lips had found their way to a smile, that sound of pure awe when the parachute deployed. Brandt might be easy-come-easy-go about most things in life, but there was no forgetting a moment like that one. But here? Now? Why?
Frowning, Brandt took a step toward the guy. Sean? Scott? Shane. Shane. That was it. Old West name, calling to mind a cowboy with a guitar and a horse with a too-serious name. “I know you.”
“Yup.” Shane nodded. He was hauling some sort of pink backpack over one shoulder. “Good you remember.”
“What are you doing here? Show in town?” Brandt proceeded cautiously. He’d never had a stalker before, let alone one with a kid, but he also wasn’t exactly an easy to track down person either. The possibility of this being some sort of freaky coincidence seemed small.
“Nope.” Shane knelt in front of the fussy baby, gently rocking the carrier. “There. There. We’re gonna get you changed and fed. Hang on a sec.”
“Uh…” Brandt moved so he was between Shane and the front door. He was a friendly guy, but his arm and neck hair kept prickling, telling him to not be too fast to invite this blast from the past in. “Didn’t know you had a kid. Wife back in the RV?”
Back at the sky diving school, Shane hadn’t exactly given off wife-and-kid vibes, but it wouldn’t be the first time Brandt was wrong in that regard. But Shane simply snorted, a sound of utter contempt.
“No wife. Not my kid.” Shane’s speech was clipped as he continued to rock the carrier, quieting some of the indignant baby sounds.
“You could say that.” Shane’s mouth pursed as he looked up intently at Brandt. “If you remember me, you should remember Shelby, right? My sister?”
Sister. Sister. Brandt racked his brain, sorting through the last year of his life. Yeah, Shane hadn’t been alone that day. Oh fuck. The sister. Long streaked hair. Adventurous but bossy. Kind of mean to her brother, which hadn’t sat the best with Brandt, especially considering it was the guy’s birthday.
“Yeah, I remember your sister. But that doesn’t explain what you’re doing here at my house now.”
“Four days ago Shelby turned up in Portland, baby in tow. Next morning, she was gone.”
“Hell. That sucks. You call the cops? I haven’t seen her since that jump, man. Not sure what you’re thinking…”
The baby gave another mad squawk. Baby. Shelby. Oh, hell no.
“Didn’t figure you’d seen her.” Shane continued to regard him coolly. “Had to track your ass down. Way more trouble than Shelby would ever go to.”
“But why…” Brandt trailed off as he considered the baby on his doorstep again. “You’re not trying to suggest—”
“Yep. She’s yours. Congrats. You’re a dad.”
Brandt made an inarticulate sound as he sagged against the wooden exterior of the house, world going gray around the edges. No fucking way.
Three Men and a Baby meets Backdraft with explosive chemistry and heartfelt feels.
Freewheeling smoke jumper Brandt Wilder thrives on adrenaline. He’s never met a parachute he can’t repair or a dangerous situation he couldn’t wrangle his way out of. He’s popular and fun-loving and not at all looking to settle down or form lasting relationships. It’s a lifestyle that’s served him well…right up until the day he finds a baby on his doorstep.
Shane Travis is used to putting his country music career—and his own happiness—on hold after his sister rolls through his life. Like last spring when she convinced him to try skydiving for his birthday—and she walked away with the hot parachute instructor.
Now he gets to deliver the piece of news that will upend Brandt’s carefree life: he very well might be a dad.
Shane’s niece is safe in Brandt’s strong, capable hands, but too many questions remain unanswered. Co-parenting while they sort it out leads to late-night talks, and soul-bearing confessions lead to a most inconvenient attraction. Still, Shane can’t leave this makeshift family behind—even if it means playing house with the one man he can’t resist.
- Book 1: Burn Zone (available now!)
- Book 2: High Heat (available now!)
- Book 3: Feel the Fire (available now!)
- Book 4: Up in Smoke (coming April 27)
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
Connect with Annabeth Albert
- Website: http://annabethalbert.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabethalbert
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabeth_albert/
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477494.Annabeth_Albert