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CONTESTS & FUN

with USA TODAY Bestselling Author 

Julie Miller!

 

 April Book Giveaway!
Entry Deadline April 24th


APB: Baby by Julie Miller
 

Congratulations to Lena Gerber of California! She won my March Book GiveAway Contest, and asked for a copy of one of my earlier titles, FORBIDDEN CAPTOR. Like many of you, she knew that Olivia Watson was getting married on Valentine’s Day.

This month, I’m giving away any available title from my backlist in print or digital format. Something suspenseful? Something sexy? Something with a paranormal twist? Winner’s choice (as long as title is available).

To enter, read the new
excerpt from APB: BABY. Here’s a look at my brand new May 24th release—the beginning of a brand new miniseries, The Precinct: Bachelors in Blue. What do you think of my brainy hero with glasses? Sexy, yes? To enter the giveaway, answer the question at the end of the excerpt and email me your answer, along with your contact information. My dog, Maggie, will put her nose to work and select a winner from among all the correct entries. Deadline to enter is April 24th.

 


 

 


 

 

   

Rules for Julie's Contests

  • One entry per person.
  • By entering, entrants grant permission for their name to be posted on the Julie Miller web site at www.juliemiller.org and in Julie's newsletter.
  • Winners will be chosen by random drawing from among all entries.
  • The odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.
  • Void where prohibited.


MEET JULIE!

April 13 - 16, 2016

RT Book Lovers Convention--Las Vegas

May 21 - 22, 2016

Just Romantic Suspense Blog


July 13 - 16, 2016
 

Romance Writers of American Conference—San Diego, CA

June 2016

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Julie in New York City at the 2015 RWA National Conference

Julie Miller RITA Finalist

Julie Miller at 2015 RWA Literacy Signing

 

Intrigue Authors Julie Miller and Delores Fossen at Harlequin Party, NYC 2015

The awesome sign made by Julie's roommates at the RWA 2015 Conference in NYC. Yes, I'm a RITA finalist!

Julie at the RWA Literacy Booksigning

 

Julie with fellow USA TODAY Bestselling Author Delores Fossen at the Harlequin VIP Party.

Author Julie Miller at Broadway production of WICKED

Author Julie Miller RITA Finalist

Author Julie Miller ready for 2015 RWA RITA Awards

Julie at the Broadway production of WICKED

Yes, I'm a RITA finalist!

Julie ready to attend the RITA Awards Ceremony

 


 

APPEARANCES

Julie Miller at the PRW 20th Anniversary

 
Julie's local writing group, the Prairieland Romance Writers, celebrates 20 years of excellence in romance fiction at an anniversary Open House in Grand Island, NE
 
Prairieland Romance Writers celebrates 20 years of excellence in romance fiction!

 

Author Julie Miller

Authors Scott and Julie Miller

Kearney, NE Booksigning, The Sequel Bookshop
Julie Miller, and Scott & Julie Miller

 

 

APB: Baby by Julie Miller

APB: BABY
Copyright ©2016 by Julie Miller
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
(Excerpt)

 

 

Chapter One

 

Niall stepped off the elevator in his condominium building to the sound of a baby crying.

His dragging feet halted as the doors closed behind him, his nostrils flaring as he inhaled a deep, weary breath, pulled the phone from his ear and checked his watch. Two in the morning.

Great. Just great. He had nothing against babies—he knew many of them grew into very fine adults. But he’d been awake going on twenty hours now, had been debriefed six ways to Sunday by cops and family and medical staff alike, hadn’t even had a chance to change his ruined fancy clothes, and was already feeling sleep deprived by switching off his typical nocturnal work schedule to be there for Liv’s wedding. No way was he going to catch a couple hours of much-needed shut-eye before he headed back to the hospital later this morning.

He put the phone back to his ear and finished the conversation with Duff. “You know we can’t investigate this shooting personally. There’s a huge conflict of interest since the victim is family.”

“Then I’m going to find out which detectives caught the case and make sure they keep us in the loop.”

“You do that. And I’ll keep track of any evidence that comes through the lab.”

“We’ll find this guy.” Duff’s pronouncement was certain. “Get some sleep, Niall.”

“You, too.” Niall disconnected the call, knowing he couldn’t comply with his older brother’s directive.

But it wasn’t the pitiful noise of the infant’s wails, nor the decibel level of distress that solid walls could only mute, that would keep him awake.

His brain’s refusal to let a question go unanswered was going to prevent his thoughts from quieting until he could solve the mystery of where that crying baby had come from, and to whom the child belonged. As if the events of the day—with his grandfather lying in intensive care and an unidentified shooter on the loose in Kansas City—weren’t enough to keep him from sleeping, now a desperately unhappy infant and Niall’s own curiosity over the unexpected sound were probably going to eat up whatever down time he had left tonight. Cursing that intellectual compulsion, Niall rolled his kinked-up neck muscles and started down the hallway.

Considering three of the six condos on this floor were empty, a retired couple in their seventies lived in one at the far end of the hall and Lucy McKane, who lived across the hall from his place, was a single like himself, the crying baby posed a definite mystery. Perhaps the Logans were babysitting one of the many grandchildren they liked to talk about. Either that or Lucy McKane had company tonight. Could she be watching a friend’s child? Dating a single dad who’d brought along a young chaperone? Letting a well-kept secret finally reveal itself?

Although they’d shared several early-morning and late-night chats, he and Lucy had never gotten much beyond introductions and polite conversations about the weather and brands of detergent. Just because he hadn’t seen a ring on her finger didn’t mean she wasn’t attached to someone. And even though he struggled with interpersonal relationships, he wasn’t so clueless as to think she had to be married or seeing someone in order to get pregnant.

So the crying baby was most likely hers.

Good. Mystery solved. Niall pulled his keys from his pocket as he approached his door. Sleep might just happen.

Or not.

The flash of something red and shiny in the carpetstopped Niall in the hallway between their two doors. He stooped down to retrieve a miniscule shard of what looked like red glass. Another mystery? Didn’t building maintenance vacuum out here five days a week? This was a recent deposit, and too small to identify the source. A broken bottle? Stained glass? The baby wailed through the door off to his right and Niall turned his head. He hadn’t solved anything at all.

Forget the broken glass. Where and when did Lucy McKane get a baby?

He’d never seen her coming home from a date before, much less in the company of a man with a child. And he was certain he hadn’t noticed a baby bump on her. Although she could have been hiding a pregnancy, either intentionally or not. He generally ran into her in the elevator when she was wearing bulky hand-knit sweaters or her winter coat, or in the gym downstairs, where she sported oversize T-shirts with one silly or motivational message or another. And then there were those late-night visits in the basement laundry room, where there’d been clothes baskets and tables between them to mask her belly. Now that he thought about it, Lucy McKane wore a lot of loose-fitting clothes. Her fashion choices tended to emphasize her generous breasts and camouflage the rest of her figure. He supposed she could have been carrying a baby one of those late nights when they’d discussed fabric softener versus dryer sheets, and he simply hadn’t realized it.

If that was the case, though, why hadn’t he seen the child or heard it crying before tonight? The woman liked to talk. Wouldn’t she have announced the arrival of her child?

Maybe he’d rethink other options. It was the wee hours after Valentine’s Day. She could be watching the child for a friend out on an overnight date. But why hadn’t Lucy gone out for Valentine’s Day? The woman was pretty in an unconventional kind of way, if one liked a cascade of dark curls that were rarely tamed, green eyes that were slightly almond shaped and the apple cheeks and a pert little nose that would make her look eternally young. She made friends easily enough, judging by her ability to draw even someone like him into random conversations. And she was certainly well spoken—at least when it came to washing clothes and inclement weather, gossip about the building’s residents and the news of the day. So why wasn’t a woman like that taken? Where was her date?

And why was he kneeling here in a stained, wrinkled tuxedo and eyes that burned with fatigue, analyzing the situation at all? He needed sleep, desperately. Otherwise, his mind wouldn’t be wandering like this.

“Let it go, Watson,” he chided himself, pushing to his feet.

Niall turned to the door marked 8C and inserted his key into the lock. At least he could clearly pinpoint the source of the sound now. The noise of the unhappy baby from behind Lucy McKane’s door was jarring to his weary senses. He was used to coming home in shrouded silence when his swing shift at the medical examiner’s office ended. Most of the residents in the building were asleep by then. He respected their need for quiet as much as he craved it himself. He never even turned on the radio or TV. He’d brew a pot of decaf and sit down with a book or his reading device until he could shut down his thoughts from the evening and turn in for a few hours of sleep. Sending a telepathic brain wave to the woman across the hall to calm her child and allow them all some peace, he went inside and closed the door behind him.

After hanging up his coat in the front closet, Niall switched on lamps and headed straight to the wet bar, where he tossed the sliver of glass onto the counter, unhooked the top button of his shirt and poured himself a shot of whiskey. Sparing a glance for the crimson smears that stained his jacket sleeve and shirt cuffs, he raised his glass to the man he’d left sleeping in the ICU at St. Luke’s Hospital. Only when his younger brother had come in to spell him for a few hours after Keir and Duff had hauled Liv and her new husband, Gabe, off to a fancy hotel where they could spend their wedding night—in lieu of the honeymoon they’d postponed—had Niall left Seamus Watson’s side. “This one’s for you, Grandpa.”

Niall swallowed the pungent liquor in one gulp, savoring the fire burning down his gullet and chasing away the chill of a wintry night and air-conditioned hospital rooms that clung to every cell of his body. It had been beyond a rough day. His grandfather was a tough old bird, and Niall had been able to stanch the bleeding and stabilize him at the church well enough to keep shock from setting in. He’d ridden with the paramedics to the hospital, and they had done their job well, as had the ER staff. But the eighty-year-old man had needed surgery to repair the bleeders from the bullet that had fractured his skull and remove the tiny bone fragments that had come dangerously close to entering his brain pan and killing him.

Although the attending surgeon and neurologist insisted Seamus was now guardedly stable and needed to sleep, the traumatic brain injury had done significant damage. Either due to the wound itself, or a resulting stroke, he’d lost the use of his left arm and leg, had difficulty speaking and limited vision in his left eye. Seamus was comfortable for now, but age and trauma had taken a toll on his body and he had a long road to recovery ahead of him. And as Niall had asked questions of the doctors and hovered around the nurses and orderlies while they worked, he couldn’t help but replay those minutes at the end of the wedding over and over in his head.

Had Seamus Watson been the shooter’s intended target? And since the old man seemed determined to live, would the shooter be coming back to finish the job? Was Grandpa safe? Or was his dear, funny, smarter-than-the-rest-of-them-put-together grandfather a tragic victim of collateral damage?

If so, who had the man with all those bullets really been after? Why plan the attack at the church? Was the Valentine’s Day date significant? Was his goal to disrupt the wedding, make a statement against KCPD, or simply to create chaos and validate his own sense of power? Even though others had been hurt by minor shrapnel wounds, and one man had suffered a mild heart attack triggered by the stress of the situation, the number of professionally trained guests had kept the panic to a minimum. So who was the shooter? Duff said he’d chased the perp up onto the roof, but then the man had disappeared before Duff or any of the other officers in pursuit could reach him. What kind of man planned his escape so thoroughly, yet failed to hit anyone besides the Watson patriarch? And if Seamus was the intended target, what was the point of all the extra damage and drama?

And could Niall have stopped the tragedy completely if he’d spotted the man in the shadows a few seconds sooner? He scratched his fingers through the short hair that already stood up in spikes atop his head after a day of repeating the same unconscious habit. Niall prided himself on noting details. But today he’d missed the most important clue of his life until it was too late.

His brothers would be looking into Seamus’s old case files and tracking down any enemies that their grandfather might have made in his career on the force, despite his retirement fifteen years earlier. Duff and Keir would be following up any clues that could lead to the shooter’s identity and capture. Frustratingly, Niall’s involvement with finding answers was done—unless one of his brothers came up with some forensic evidence he could process at the lab. And even then, Niall’s expertise was autopsy work. He’d be doing little more than calling in favors to speed the process and following up with his coworkers at the crime lab. Although it galled him to take a backseat in the investigation, logic indicated he’d better serve the family by taking point on his grandfather’s care and recovery so his brothers could focus on tracking down the would-be assassin.

Niall picked up the Bushmills to pour himself a second glass, but the muted cries of the baby across the hall reminded him that he wasn’t the only one dealing with hardship tonight, and he returned the bottle to the cabinet. He wanted to have a clear head in the morning when he returned to the hospital for a follow-up report on his grandfather. He could already feel his body surrendering to the tide of fatigue, and despite his unsettling thoughts, he loathed the idea of dulling his intellect before he found the answers he needed. So he set the glass in the sink and moved into the kitchen to start a small pot of decaf.

While the machine hissed and bubbled, he shrugged out of the soiled black tuxedo jacket and draped it over the back of a chair. After pulling out the rented tie he’d folded up into a pocket and laying it over the coat, he went to work unbuttoning the cherry-red vest he wore. Typically, he didn’t wear his gun unless he was out in the field at a crime scene. But with his family threatened and too many questions left unanswered, he’d had Duff unlock it from the glove compartment of Niall’s SUV and bring it to the hospital, where he’d strapped it on. Niall halted in the middle of unhooking his belt to remove it, opting instead to roll up his sleeves and leave himself armed. Until he understood exactly what was going on, it would be smart to keep that protection close at hand.

Whether it was the gun’s protection, the resumption of his nightly routine or the discordant noise from across the hall receding, Niall braced his hands against the edge of the sink to stretch his back and drop his chin, letting his eyes close as the tension in him gave way to weariness.

The distant baby’s cries shortened like staccato notes, as if the child was running out of the breath or energy to maintain the loud wails. Maybe Miss McKane was finally having some success in quieting the infant. Despite how much she liked to talk, she seemed like a capable sort of woman. Sensible, too. She carried her keys on a ring with a small pepper spray canister in her hand each time he saw her walking to or from her car in the parking lot. She wore a red stocking hat on her dark curly hair when the weather was cold and wet to conserve body heat. She sorted her jeans and towels from her whites and colors. Okay, so maybe she wasn’t completely practical. Why did a woman need so many different types of underwear, anyway? Cotton briefs, silky long johns, lacy bras in white and tan and assorted pastels, animal prints…

Niall’s eyes popped open when he realized he was thinking about Lucy McKane’s underwear. And not folded up in her laundry basket or tucked away in a dresser drawer, either.

Good grief. Imagining his neighbor’s pale skin outlined in that tan-and-black leopard-print duo he’d found so curiously distracting tossed on top of her folding pile was hardly appropriate. Exhaustion must be playing tricks on him. Pushing away from the sink, Niall clasped his glasses at either temple and adjusted the frames on his face, as if the action could refocus the wayward detour of his thoughts. It was irritating that he could be so easily distracted by curves and cotton or shards of glass or mystery babies who were none of his business when he wanted to concentrate on studying the events before, during and after the shooting at the wedding. Perhaps he should have skipped the shot of whiskey and gone straight for the steaming decaf he poured into a mug.

He added a glug of half-and-half from the fridge and carried the fragrant brew to the bookshelf in the living room where he pulled out a medical volume to look up some of the details relating to his grandfather’s condition. He savored the reviving smell of the coffee before taking a drink and settling into the recliner beside the floor lamp.

Niall had barely turned the first page when the infant across the hall found his second wind and bellowed with a high-pitched shriek that nearly startled him into spilling his drink.

Enough. Was the child sick? Had he completely misjudged Lucy McKane’s competence? Niall set his book and mug on the table beside him and pushed to his feet. Maybe the muted noise of a baby crying didn’t bother anybody else. Maybe no one else could hear the child’s distress. He was so used to the building being quiet at this hour that maybe he was particularly sensitive to the muffled sounds. And maybe he’d come so close to losing someone he loved today that he just didn’t have the patience to deal with a neighbor who couldn’t respect his need for a little peace and quiet and time to regroup.

In just a few strides he was out the door and across the hall, knocking on Lucy McKane’s front door. When there was no immediate response, he knocked harder. “Miss McKane? Do you know how late it is? Some of us are trying to sleep.” Well, he hadn’t been. But it wasn’t as though he could if he even wanted to with that plaintive racket filtering through the walls. “Miss McKane?”

Niall propped his hands at his waist, waiting several seconds before knocking again. “Miss McKane?” Why didn’t the woman answer her door? She couldn’t be asleep with the baby crying like that, could she? In a heartbeat, Niall’s irritation morphed into concern at the lack of any response. That could explain the infant’s distress. Maybe Lucy McKane couldn’t help the child. He flattened his palm against the painted steel and pounded again. “Miss McKane? It’s Niall Watson from across the hall. Are you in there? Is everything all right?”

He reached down to jiggle the knob, but the cold metal twisted easily in his hand and the door creaked open a couple of inches.

Niall’s suspicion radar went on instant alert. What woman who lived alone in the city didn’t keep her door locked?

“Miss McKane?” he called out. But his only response was the even louder decibel level of the crying baby. He squinted the scratches on the knob into focus and quickly pulled his phone from his pocket to snap a picture. A familiar glint of red glass wedged between the frame and catch for the dead bolt higher up caught his eye. The tiny shattered orb looked like the source of the shard he’d found in the carpet.

Finally. Answers. But he didn’t like them.

There were deeper gouges in the wood trim around it, indicating that both locks had been forced. His brain must have been half-asleep not to have suspected earlier that something was seriously wrong. Niall snapped a second picture. “Miss McKane? Are you all right?”

For a few seconds, the concerns of his Hippocratic oath warred with the procedure drilled into him by his police training. His brother Duff would muscle his way in without hesitation, while Keir would have a judge on speed dial, arranging an entry warrant. Niall weighed his options. The baby was crying and Lucy wasn’t answering. His concern for the occupants’ safety was reason enough to enter a potentially dangerous situation despite risking any kind of legalities. Tonight he’d forgo caution and follow his older brother’s example.

“Hold tight, little one,” he whispered, unstrapping his holster and pulling the service weapon from his belt. Although he was more used to handling a scalpel than a Glock, as a member of the KCPD crime lab, he’d been trained and certified to use the gun.

He held it surely as he nudged open the broken door. “Miss McKane? It’s Niall Watson with the KCPD crime lab. I’m concerned for your safety. I’m coming in.”

The mournful wails of a baby crying itself into exhaustion instantly grew louder on this side of the walls separating their living spaces. He backed against the door, closing it behind him as he cradled the gun between both hands. A dim light in the kitchen provided the only illumination in the condo that mirrored the layout of his own place. Allowing his vision to adjust to the dim outlines of furniture and doorways, Niall waited before advancing into the main room. He checked the closet and powder room near the entryway before moving through the living and dining rooms. Empty. No sign of Lucy McKane anywhere. No blood or signs of an accident or struggle of any sort, either. In fact, the only things that seemed out of place were the bundles of yarn, patterns and knitting needles that had been dumped out of their basket onto the coffee table and strewn across the sofa cushions and area rug.

He found the baby in the kitchen, fastened into a carrier that sat on the peninsula countertop, with nothing more than the glow of an automatic night light beside the stove to keep him company. A half-formed panel of gray knitted wool hung from the baby’s toes, as if he’d once been covered with it but had thrashed it aside.

Niall flipped on the light switch and circled around the peninsula, plucking the makeshift blanket off and laying it on the counter. “You’re a tiny thing to be making all that noise. You all alone in here? Do you know where your mama is?”

The kid’s red face lolled toward Niall’s hushed voice. It shook and batted its little fists before cranking up to wail again. Niall didn’t need to take a second whiff to ascertain at least one reason why the baby was so unhappy. But a quick visual sweep didn’t reveal any sign of a diaper bag or anything to change it into besides the yellow outfit it wore. Had Lucy McKane left the child alone to go make a supply run?

Niall moved the gun down to his side and touched the baby’s face. Feverish. Was the kid sick? Or was that what this ceaseless crying did to someone who was maybe only a week or so old?

The infant’s cries sputtered into silent gasps as Niall splayed his fingers over its heaving chest. Not unlike his grandfather’s earlier that day, the baby’s heart was racing. A quick check farther down answered another question for him. “You okay, little man?”

How long had he been left unattended like this?

And where was Lucy? There was no sign of her in the kitchen, either, despite the dirty dishes in the sink and what looked like a congealed glob of cookie dough in the stand mixer beside it. It seemed as though she’d left in the middle of baking a dessert. Why hadn’t she completed the task? Where had she gone? What had called her away? And, he thought, with a distinct note of irritation filtering into his thought process, why hadn’t she taken the baby with her?

“Hold on.” Niall’s gaze was drawn to a screwdriver on the counter that didn’t look like any piece of cooking equipment he’d ever seen his late mother or Millie Leighter use.

After a couple of silent sobs vibrated through the infant’s delicate chest, Niall pulled his hand away. Tuning out the recommencing wail, he opened two drawers before he found a plastic bag and used it to pick up the tool. The handle was an absurd shade of pink with shiny baubles glued around each end of the grip. He rolled it in his hand until he found what he suspected he might—an empty space in the circle of fake stones. Niall glanced back through the darkened apartment. The bead stuck in the frame of her door suddenly made sense. But even if his neighbor had lost her key and had to break into her own place, she’d turn on the lights once she got in. There’d be signs of her being here. And she’d damn well take care of the baby.

Unless she wasn’t the one who’d broken in.

“Don’t go anywhere,” he ordered needlessly. Wrapping the screwdriver securely in the bag, Niall slipped it into his pocket and clasped the gun between his hands again. “I’ll be right back.”

A quick inspection through the bedroom and en suite showed no sign of Lucy McKane there, either. He didn’t see her purse anywhere, and her winter coat and accoutrements were missing from the front closet. There was no baby paraphernalia in any of the rooms.

Had she been kidnapped? What kind of kidnapper would leave evidence like the screwdriver behind? Had she been robbed? Nothing here seemed disturbed beyond the topsy-turvy knitting basket, and anything of typical value to a thief—her flat-screen TV, a laptop computer—was still here.

More unanswered questions. Niall’s concern reverted to irritation.

This child had been abandoned. Lucy McKane was gone, and the woman had a lot of explaining to do.

Niall was surprisingly disappointed to learn that she was the type of woman to leave an infant alone to run errands or enjoy a date. She was a free spirit, certainly, with her friendly smile and ease at striking up conversations with neighbors she barely knew and ownership of far too many pairs of panties. But she’d told him she was a social worker, for pity’s sake. He wouldn’t have pegged her to be so self-absorbed and reckless as to leave a child in an unlocked apartment—to leave the child, period. If she’d left by choice.

With the mandate of both his badge and his medical degree, and three generations of protecting those who couldn’t protect themselves bred into him, Niall could not walk out that door and abandon this baby himself. So, understanding as much about children as his medical books could teach, he tucked his gun into its holster, pulled his phone from his pocket and picked up the baby in its carrier. He spared a glance at the soft wood around the deadbolt catch, debating whether or not he should retrieve the decorative bead jammed there or report Lucy as a missing person. Making the crying infant his first priority, Niall closed the door behind him and carried the baby into his apartment before dialing the most knowledgeable parent he knew.

The phone picked up on the third ring. “Niall?”

“Dad.” He set the carrier on the island in his own kitchen and opened a drawer to pull out two clean dish towels. A quick glance at his watch indicated that perhaps he should have thought this through better. “Did I wake you?”

“It’s three in the morning, son. Of course you did.” Thomas Watson pushed the grogginess from his voice. “Are you still at the hospital? Has there been a change in Dad’s condition?”

“No. The doctors are keeping Grandpa lightly sedated. Keir will stay with him until one of us relieves him in the morning.”

“Thank God one of my boys is a doctor and that you were there to give him the treatment he needed immediately. We should be giving thanks that he survived and no one else was seriously injured. But knowing that the bastard who shot him is still…” Thomas Watson’s tone changed from dark frustration to curious surprise. “Do I hear a baby crying?”

Niall strode through his apartment, retrieving a towel and washcloth along with the first aid kit and a clean white T-shirt from his dresser. “Yes. Keir will contact me if there is any change in Grandpa’s condition. I told Grandpa one or all of us would be by to see him in the morning, that the family would be there for him 24-7. I’m not sure he heard me, though.”

“Dad heard you, I’m sure.” Niall could hear his father moving now, a sure sign that the former cop turned investigative consultant was on his feet and ready for Niall to continue. “Now go back to the other thing. Why do you have a baby?”

Niall had returned to the kitchen to run warm water in the sink. “Can I ask you a favor?”

“Of course, son.”

“Dad, I need newborn diapers, bottles and formula. A clean set of clothes and some kind of coat or blanket or whatever babies need when it’s cold. A car seat, too, if you can get your hands on one at this time of night. I’ll reimburse you for everything, of course.” Niall put the phone on speaker and spread a thick towel out on the counter, pausing for a moment to assess the locking mechanism before unhooking the baby and lifting him from the carrier. “Good Lord, you don’t weigh a thing.”

“The baby, Niall.” That tone in his father’s voice had always commanded an answer. “Is there something you need to tell me?”

“It’s the neighbor’s kid,” Niall explained. “I’d get the items myself, but I don’t have a car seat and can’t leave him alone. Oh, get something for diaper rash, too. He needs a bath. I can use a clean dish towel to cover him up until you get here, although I don’t have any safety pins. Do you think medical tape would work to hold a makeshift diaper on him until you arrive?”

“You’re babysitting? I never thought I’d see the day—”

“Just bring me the stuff, Dad.”

Another hour passed before Thomas Watson arrived with several bags of supplies. His father groused about bottles looking different from the time Olivia had been the last infant in the house and how there were far too many choices for a feeding regimen. But between the two of them, they got the baby diapered, fed and dressed in a footed sleeper that fit him much better than Niall’s long T-shirt. At first, Niall was concerned about the infant falling asleep before finishing his first bottle. But he roused enough for Thomas to coax a healthy burp out of him before drinking a little more and crashing again. Niall was relieved to feel the baby’s temperature return to normal and suspected the feverish state had been pure stress manifesting itself.

The infant boy was sleeping in Thomas Watson’s lap as the older man dozed in the recliner, and Niall was reviewing a chapter on pediatric medicine when he heard the ding of the elevator at the end of the hallway. He closed the book and set it on the coffee table, urging his waking father to stay put while he went to the door.

He heard Lucy McKane’s hushed voice mumbling something as she approached, and then a much louder, “Oh, my God. I’ve had a break-in.”

Niall swung open his door and the dark-haired woman squeaked out a startled yelp as she spun around. She clamped a glove by one finger between her teeth and clutched her bare hand against her chest. Her green eyes were big, shadowed and yeah, maybe even a little bit afraid as she tilted her gaze up to his. Her rosy pink lips parted as she thumbed over her shoulder to the door that stood ajar behind her, but no words came out.

But he knew exactly what to say. “Miss McKane? You and I need to talk.”

Question: What kind of outfit is Niall wearing in this chapter?

 

 

 

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