Happily This Christmas (Happily Inc #6) by Susan Mallery



            “I want the house nice when she arrives,” he continued. “She’s having a rough time of it, what with being pregnant and all. If she was older, it might be easier, but she’s only twenty-one and—”

            “Joylyn is twenty-one and pregnant?” Wynn asked, her voice a little more shrill than she would like.

            Because him having a girlfriend wasn’t enough of a hit, she thought grimly. Sure, make her a toddler and pregnant.

            “What were you thinking? She’s way too young to be your girlfriend. How did you even meet? Were you hanging out at the high school, hoping to get lucky?”

            So much for her Garrick daydreams, she thought, wishing she hadn’t been stupid enough to believe he was crush-worthy. Yuck and double yuck. To think she’d wasted all that time thinking about him. No more sexy, possibly dangerous neighbors for her. That was for sure. She was going to go find a nonsexy, undangerous guy to fall for. She glared at Garrick, wishing she were physically strong enough to drag him to the door and throw him out. He was—

            “My girlfriend?” Garrick’s voice was nearly a yelp. “She’s my daughter.”

            They stared at each other. Wynn had a feeling she looked as shocked as he did. On the heels of that revelation came the admission that she really had to start thinking before she spoke and maybe not be so hasty about assuming the worst.

            “Oh,” she managed to say, just as the timer dinged.

            She busied herself removing the cookie sheets from the oven and setting them on the stove, then turned off the oven. She put down the hot pads, then drew in a breath and looked at Garrick.

            “We should probably start over,” she murmured.

            “You thought I had a pregnant, twenty-one-year-old girlfriend? Wouldn’t that make me a jerk?”

            While she wanted to say that it would, she wasn’t sure that was a good idea. “I’ll admit to some disappointment,” she said instead.

            “I would hope so. I’m thirty-eight. I don’t want to date someone in their twenties. What would we talk about?”

            “Some guys aren’t interested in conversation.”

            “That’s not me.”

            They stared at each other. Despite her embarrassment and a sizable dose of chagrin, she found herself noticing that he had really attractive eyes. Not just the unusual gray coloring but the shape. They suited his face and, well, the rest of him. Without wanting to, she remembered the interesting scars on his torso. Not that she’d been looking—he was the one who had chosen to mow his lawn shirtless the previous summer.

            She had no idea where the scars had come from. If she had to guess, she would say he’d been in more than one knife fight, but that wasn’t possible. The man was a police officer in Happily Inc. Guys who did that didn’t fight with knives.

            She put the rest of the cookies onto cooling racks, poured two glasses of milk, took the stool on the other end of the island and then reached for a cookie.

            “Hello,” she said. “I’m Wynn Beauchene, your neighbor. We don’t usually say much more than hi and talk about the weather.”

            Garrick smiled. “Hey, Wynn. I’m Garrick McCabe. I grew up here in Happily Inc and had my daughter when I was seventeen. I moved to Phoenix when I started college, mostly because Joylyn and her mom were there. I got on the Phoenix police force. When Joylyn went off to college a few years back, I returned to Happily Inc. Last year I bought the house next door.”