One Night With You
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by Vanessa Devereaux
Description: Both nursing broken hearts, Dana and Mike meet at a New Year's Eve Party. When the clock strikes midnight, a tipsy Dana tells Mike her New Year's wish and that's to get pregnant. Mike, after being shot in the line of duty and being dumped by his wife, realizes he wants to be a father. When the two decide to have a baby without any strings attached, things get complicated and after they both realizing they're falling in love, there's no turning back.
eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: August 2011
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [219 KB]
Reading time: 142-199 min.
Dana reached up to press the doorbell. She'd come this far but now as she stood on the doorstep of her sister's house, she didn't think she could go through with it. She took a deep breath, trying her best not to think about the large group of people on the other side of the door.
Her humiliating incident had happened more six months ago but people were sure to still ask her questions. How was she doing? Had she been out on a date yet? Had she thought about cutting off Simon's balls for doing such a horrible thing to her on their wedding day? She smiled when she thought about that last one.
Dana hadn't seriously considered it, but her father had threatened something equally nasty when he'd been handed the bill for the lavish wedding that didn't take place. And it was a lot more than Simon's balls that were up for the chop.
The embarrassment of that day still hadn't gone away and some of the people who'd witnessed her humiliation would be here tonight. She couldn't face them right now. She was about to turn and run back to the safety of her car, when out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the drapes in the upstairs window being pulled back. Emily stood there looking down at her. Her sister had caught her trying to skip the party. Now she was in big trouble.
Emily tapped on the window and pointed her finger at Dana, almost as if she knew what her big sister had in mind...running, escaping, and avoiding people as she had since that awful summer day.
She had every intention of fleeing the scene but her feet wouldn't move and the next thing she knew Emily was opening the front door. The aroma of something that smelled like curry or barbecue sauce, and the sound of dance music invaded Dana's senses.
"Are you coming in or are you going to stand out there until next year?" asked Emily.
It was pointless to argue so she stepped inside. "I guessed you'd have enough food, so I brought drink instead."
She handed Emily two bottles of wine before taking off her raincoat.
"You look very nice tonight. Red really suits you." Emily was always free with her compliments.
Her sister put the wine bottles down on the floor so she could take Dana's raincoat and hang it on a peg in the hallway. The sound of people laughing and blowing noisemakers suddenly seemed too much for Dana, but she couldn't flee now.
"If it's okay with you, I won't stay to see the New Year in," said Dana. She smoothed out the creases in her dress and fingered her hair.
"Oh yes, you will, because it's out with the horrible year, in with a brand-new start. Didn't you know it's unlucky to celebrate on your own? Come on, I'll introduce you to a couple of Todd's new work buddies," Emily replied as she picked up the wine bottles and turned toward the living room.
Dana grabbed her sister's arm, almost causing her to drop both bottles onto the hardwood floors in the entryway.
"I hope you're not trying to set me up with anyone. I told you I'm not ready for that."
Her sister shook her head. She knew Emily was losing her patience with her over this I never want to get involved ever again attitude.
"All the guys are married or already in relationships. Well, the ones who are already here. I think the single guys will be along later."
Shit, she knew it. She put her hand on her sister's arm again and this time squeezed her flesh.
"Please don't pressure me. I want to heal in my own way."
"Jeez, Dana, I was only kidding with you. Now are you coming in to join the festivities, or volunteering to stand out here and be our coat-check girl for the night?"
Dana followed Emily into the living room where most of the guests were gathered around the Christmas tree or sitting on stools at the breakfast bar, eating, chatting...laughing.
"This is my sister, Dana. Dana, this is Elizabeth, who's also a detective in Todd's department, and this is her husband, Bob."
Elizabeth grabbed a napkin off the counter. "Excuse me while I wipe my hands. They're covered in sauce from those delicious chicken wings. Emily, you must give me the recipe."
"I can right now. Costco," she said.
"Here, let me shake your hand first as I'm sauce free," said Bob. He stood and put out his hand to Dana.
Dana took it and then shook Elizabeth's just as the doorbell rang.
"I'll just go get that, and Dana, help yourself to the food, and please mingle," said Emily.
She was gone before Dana could say another word.
"Now are you the sister who was supposed to have been married this past summer?" asked Elizabeth.
Dana squeezed her eyes shut. Yeah, she should have stayed at home.
* * * *
Mike dropped the razor into the sink, watching the blood from the nick on his face splash onto the white porcelain.
Second time he'd cut himself this evening.
He examined the damage. Just a year ago this would have been a piece of cake, but these days he couldn't shave without getting at least one nasty nick. Maybe his hand needed more therapy. In the rehabilitation center they'd made him use an electric razor, but he hated those damn things. Never could get the close shave he liked. Another drop of blood appeared on his face. Mike dabbed it with a tissue.
Maybe he should just forget about shaving tonight, or his face would be covered in cuts by the time he was done. Probably a sign he shouldn't go to the party. He hated them anyway. Small talk, a few drunks, always the odd obnoxious person or two, and the ones who couldn't mind their own business. He disliked those types the most.
However, Todd would probably keep phoning if he didn't show up. He knew his work buddy was making sure he wasn't spending his first New Year's Eve since the divorce all by his lonesome. Yeah, he couldn't fault the guy for thinking about him.
He splashed his face with some aftershave, grimacing when it found both cuts. Shit, that burned like hell, but nothing as bad as being shot. Still he'd had enough pain this year to last him a lifetime. If he could get by without so much as a paper cut for the rest of his days he'd be a happy man.
Mike walked into his bedroom and opened the closet door. He'd forgotten to ask Todd if jeans and a sweater would be okay attire or if they were going the dressy route tonight. Mike picked up his cell phone to call him, but instead threw it down on the bed. He wasn't in a dressing-up mood, so jeans it would be, and they'd have to like it.
He combed his hair, slipped on his overcoat, and turned off the lights. He'd stay for a few hours so it wouldn't seem rude, but after that he'd head home. There were worse things than being all by his lonesome while watching the clock turn time into another year.
* * * *
"So this is where you've been hiding?"
Dana held her chest when Emily's voice sounded behind her. She still hadn't expected her sister to track her down so quickly. Emily had always been good at that sort of thing since they were kids. Hide-and-seek wasn't a game Dana ever won when she'd played with her kid sister.
"I thought you might need some help putting more food on these plates." She grabbed a few of them and some mini quiches so her sister would think it was the real reason for her hiding out like this. However, it wasn't only hide-and-seek that Emily was good at. Reading people's minds was another of her talents.
Emily snatched the plate from her hand.
"Go in there and start mixing with people. It's an order."
"Yes, ma'am." Dana saluted. Which side of the family did her sister get that bossiness from? Neither of their parents had the trait.
"Sorry if I'm disturbing the two of you."
A man now stood in the doorway.
"Mike, so good to see you," said Emily.
She kissed him on the cheek before throwing her arms around him. "Mike, you remember my sister, Dana, from our wedding, don't you?"
"Sure I do. Good to see you again."
Mike had been Todd's best man, and she, Emily's maid of honor.
He stepped into the kitchen. Wait a second, hadn't Emily told her Mike's wife left him after he'd been shot and the divorce had just been finalized? Had she arranged for the two of them to meet at the party? Maybe his coming into the kitchen like this had been prearranged. Dana's heart beat faster and she was sure perspiration was breaking out on her forehead. Should've have guessed Emily would do something like this to me.
Mike crossed the kitchen and shook Dana's hand. She smiled at him. God, she hoped Emily wasn't really hoping to set them up tonight. He probably didn't want to get involved with someone any more than she did. And when that became apparent, she'd be humiliated yet again.
"If you want something to eat, feel free to help yourself," Emily told Mike. She stepped aside to show him all the food ready to go onto the buffet table.
"I have to say I'm famished," said Mike.
"Okay, dig in. And if the two of you don't mind, I have to go and check on something. I'll leave you to chat and get reacquainted," said Emily.
Bingo, I knew it.
Dana and Mike stood looking at one another for a few seconds.
She bit her lip and then smiled. He smiled back.
Think of something, break the silence, or this is going to be so embarrassing.
"That's a pretty dress you're wearing. Red looks good on you," he finally said.
Okay, it was small talk, but that was better than nothing.
"Thank you. It was a Christmas gift from my parents."
Silence again. This was becoming more agonizing by the minute. She couldn't compliment him on his jeans and sweater although they did look great on him. With his physique, probably a black garbage bag would look good.
"So what have you got to offer me...foodwise, I mean?"
Was he blushing? Or was it really hot in here? Maybe that's why she'd been perspiring earlier.
"Just about everything. Mini quiches, pigs in a blanket, bruschetta, chicken wings," said Dana.
"Did you hear my stomach rumbling while you were reciting all that?" He stepped toward the table while eyeing all the platters of food.
"There's enough food to feed the whole of Portland, so start digging in," said Dana.
Mike took a paper plate and reached for a handful of the pigs in a blanket.
"Someone must have known these are my favorites. My mom used to make them for my birthday when I was a young boy." He popped one into his mouth.
He had some shaving cream struck under his ear. Obviously he wasn't aware it was there. Dana reached up to wipe it away, but realized he might think she was being rude. She tried to ignore it, but the poor guy might be embarrassed if others saw it on his face. She raised her hand again, but this time Mike glanced sideways at her. She waved her hand about in the direction of the cream.
"Don't think I've been staring at your face, but you have shaving cream on the spot by your ear right there." She pointed to the exact spot.
"Jeez, I don't think I'll ever get back to my normal grooming standards." He took a napkin and attempted to clean it up, but didn't quite get everything.
"Here, why don't you let me do that for you?" Dana grabbed another napkin and dabbed the cream away while noticing a nick on his jawline.
"You cut yourself too?"
"Yeah, twice. Hope shaving is like riding a bike."
"You have to give yourself some time. I mean, after you..."
Will you listen to me? I don't want people prying into my business, and here I am bringing up a topic he'd probably prefer to forget. At least her incident hadn't been on the TV and in the newspapers. His had. He'd made the front page and the lead story on the five, six, and ten p.m. news the day of the shooting. At that time they didn't even know if he'd survive his injuries.
"After I got shot." He finished the sentence for her and wiped the napkin across his jawline.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have mentioned it."
"No problem. I've now accepted it's been a shitty year for me."
"Yeah, I've had one of those too. I'm sure you've heard all about it."
He shook his head while taking a bite of the pastry. "Hope you didn't get shot too."
She remembered he had a strange sense of humor when they'd chatted during the wedding rehearsal and dinner. That night she'd also been taken aback by how a cop could look like a model, six feet tall, wavy dark hair, blue eyes, strong jawline, great bod... But at that time she'd been a newly engaged bride to be, and he'd been there with his wife, so she hadn't given his good looks a second thought.
"You didn't know I got jilted at the altar?"
There, you see; she was making progress. She'd brought up the topic and was ready to talk about it with another human being.
"Holy shit, no... That was the guy you were with at Todd and Emily's wedding, right?"
Mike reached for another pig in a blanket. "So he just didn't show, or what?"
"Didn't put in an appearance until two days later when he told me he'd made a big mistake by thinking he wanted a wife and children."
This time Mike bit into a chicken wing and then wiped his mouth as he listened to her story.
"What a fucking jerk. I hope your brother-in-law's making sure he's getting so many speeding and parking tickets they're coming out of his ass."
Dana laughed. "You shouldn't give me any ideas."
"Don't think it can't be arranged. And there's me thinking I'm the only one who's had the year from hell."