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Authors: Lucy Clark

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Series, #Harlequin Medical Romance

A Mother for His Twins

BOOK: A Mother for His Twins
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Jennifer looked down at where his hand lay on hers, amazed at how incredible it felt to have such a caring touch offered. It was what she’d missed the most.

Not having that one special person there to confide in. Not having the simplest of touches to let you know that someone cared about you. The companionship. The friendship. The deep, abiding relationship. Was it possible she could find something resembling those missing parts of her life with Jasper? She took a deep breath and slowly let it out.

Jasper’s twin girls were just gorgeous. It hadn’t taken her long to fall in love with these two adorable children who were so full of life—so spirited and accepting. Jennifer glanced at Jasper as he spoke to Lilly, smiling when he bent and blew a raspberry on Lilly’s neck, making her squirm and squeal with laughter.

How long would it be, she wondered, before she fell in love with their father?

Dear Reader,

When writing
A Mother for His Twins,
we knew we wanted to include the most adorable little girls, so innocent and lovable, just waiting for the right person to come along and be their new mommy.

Both Jennifer and Jasper meet in the lovely suburb of Parramatta. Each have experienced such heartache and pain in their pasts, but where Jasper had managed to move on, through the love of his girls, Jennifer was still trapped by the hurt. It was not only Jasper who was able to help Jen put her troubles to rest but also his sweet girls, Lilly and Lola. (Incidentally, our daughter chose the names for the girls!)

Setting the book in Parramatta was an easy choice. It’s an area that isn’t as busy as Sydney. Although there’s a lot of hustle and bustle, there is also the opportunity for delightful walks along the banks of the Parramatta River and catamaran rides into Sydney Harbour.

We hope you enjoy
A Mother for His Twins
and fall in love with those delightful little girls just as much as Jennifer and Jasper.

Warmest regards,

Lucy Clark

A MOTHER FOR HIS TWINS
Lucy Clark
BACHELOR DADS
Single doctors…Single fathers!

At work they are skilled medical professionals, but at home, as soon as they walk in the door, these eligible bachelors are on full-time fatherhood duty!

These devoted dads still find room in their lives for love….

It takes very special women to win the hearts of these dedicated doctors, and a very special kind of caring to make these single fathers full-time husbands!

To DT—my Scottish muse.
Psalms 34:17

PROLOGUE

‘I
’LL
get it. I’ll get it!’ Four-year-old Lola called as she raced towards the ringing phone.

‘No. I’ll get it. I’ll get it,’ Lilly contradicted, her little legs working as fast as they could to catch up to her twin.

‘Girls. Please. Settle down. Jen, can you get the phone, please?’ Sara begged, her hands all sticky with the bread dough she was kneading.

‘Sure.’ Jennifer shifted on the stool and reached for the phone receiver, which was situated on a high shelf specifically to prevent children answering it. ‘Hello,’ she said, the twins starting to whine and stamp their feet.

‘I wanted to answer it.’ Lilly wasn’t happy. ‘Daddy lets us answer the phone at home.’

‘It was my turn,’ Lola told her sister.

‘Girls. Shh. Jen won’t be able to hear.’

Jennifer smiled into the receiver as she watched the two girls put their noses in their air, cross their arms over their chests and stomp back to the room they’d been playing in. ‘Hello?’ she repeated and listened carefully. The line was crackling with static and for a moment she wondered whether it was a crank call or yet another telemarketer. ‘Hello?’ She tried again and this time heard a faint male voice.

‘Sara. Can you hear me? The line is bad.’

‘It’s not Sara.’ Jennifer raised her voice slightly. ‘Can I take a message?’

‘Sara? I still can’t hear you too well. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I’m going to be later than usual. I’ve got to get things ready for the new boss coming in on Monday. Can you take the girls to my house at five o’clock?’

‘I still can’t hear you all that well. Did you say take the girls to your house at five?’

‘Yes.’

Jennifer looked at Sara, who nodded. ‘OK. That’s fine.’

‘Thanks. Gotta go.’

‘OK. Bye.’ But her words fell on deaf ears because he’d already hung up.

‘Jasper’s obviously been caught at work,’ Sara stated matter-of-factly. ‘He works too hard.’

Jennifer settled herself on the seat again and watched her high-school friend turn a lump of dough into bread rolls. ‘So run through it with me again. How exactly is Jasper related to you again?’

‘Very loosely, but family is family as far as I’m concerned.’

‘I’m not criticising,’ Jennifer was quick to state. ‘You know how I feel about family, especially when my own home life was ridiculously lonely.’

‘You mean your parents having no time but for themselves and their careers? I do. Anyway, the link is that Jasper’s wife was Matt’s brother-in-law’s sister.’

‘Right.’ Jennifer tried to figure it out. Matt was Sara’s husband. They’d been married for the last ten years and had two boys who would be home from school very soon. ‘So Matt’s sister, Abby, is married to Don, and Jasper’s wife was Don’s sister?’

‘Very good, Dr Thorngate. I can see all those years at university have served you well.’

Jennifer smiled. ‘A very loose connection, but as you’ve said, family is family.’ Jennifer sipped at her cup of tea, her tone more solemn. ‘When did Jasper’s wife die?’

‘Three years ago. The twins had just turned one.’

She let out a slow breath. ‘That would have been so hard on him. A single parent to two very big handfuls.’

‘Yes. They’re gorgeous girls but totally full on all the time. It’s always go, go, go with them.’ Sara put the rolls onto a tray and put them in the oven to rise. ‘Jasper had good support, though. He’s close to his parents and his sister.’

‘Good support,’ Jennifer repeated softly, wishing she’d had more support when her own world had come crashing down eight years ago. Of course, Sara had been there for her, but Sara had been in a different part of the country and there had only been so much she could do. Now, though, Jennifer had come home. Back to Parramatta, an outer suburb of Sydney in New South Wales. Back to her old stomping ground. Back to where she’d first met Sara at school, back to where she’d originally gone to medical school and where she’d met Arturo. Next week, she’d be going back to the hospital where she’d studied as a medical student but now she’d be the head of the orthopaedic and trauma unit. It was a position she’d been striving for for far too long but finally, with a lot of hard work, commitment and sacrifice, she was making her dream come true. She just wished Arturo could have been there to witness it.

‘Yes, poor Jasper took it very hard when Elisha died. Ovarian cancer.’

‘Cancer in someone so young is never easy to deal with.’ Jennifer’s tone was quiet yet even she could hear the pain in her own voice. It didn’t seem like eight years since Arturo had died, also of cancer, but it was, and still Jennifer felt the pain
of his loss every single day. Thankfully, though, she had a very high-powered job and it was work that had kept her going. Work and Sara’s continuing friendship, which meant the world to her.

‘Anyway…’ Jennifer shook her head and pasted on a bright smile. ‘The girls are lovely and Jasper should be really proud of himself.’

Sara agreed. ‘I think he is. He knows how lucky he is.’

‘Where does he work?’

Sara stared at her for a moment, then quickly said, ‘Oh, no. I didn’t turn the oven on.’ She brushed the flour from her hands and quickly turned the oven on low. ‘The twins are so distracting sometimes. Absolutely gorgeous but distracting.’ She returned her attention to cleaning up her kitchen. ‘Looking forward to starting your new job on Monday?’

Jennifer shrugged, a little curious as to why Sara hadn’t answered her question. What was it about Jasper that was so secret? Was he a spy? Was he in the armed forces? Perhaps that was the case and given that Jennifer’s own parents had been military personnel, moving around for most of her younger life, Sara hadn’t wanted to mention it in case it upset her. She pushed the thoughts away. It didn’t really matter and Sara was obviously waiting for an answer to her question. ‘Yes and no.’

‘That doesn’t sound too good.’

‘It’s just apprehension and nerves. New hospital. New staff. New department.’

‘Which you’re in charge of. I thought you would have been happy to go back to your old hospital.’

‘I am. Sort of. I just really want to do well as head of department. I’ve been working towards it for so long.’

‘You’ll settle in fast enough. Make some new friends. You’ll be fine.’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘Let me guess. The boss doesn’t make friends easily?’


I
don’t make friends easily,’ Jennifer retorted. ‘Being the boss just gives me that extra edge where people leave me alone.’

Sara washed her hands then turned to look at her friend. ‘Is that what you really want? To come back to Parramatta and not make any new friends? To have everyone leave you alone like a princess locked in a tower?’

Jennifer shrugged and sighed. Was it? She’d told herself that this move back to Parramatta where she would start the job she’d been working towards for the past eight years was a fresh start. The problem was, she wasn’t quite sure
how
fresh starts worked.

CHAPTER ONE

J
ASPER
E
DWARDS
quickly packed his briefcase with a huge pile of papers, glad the amount would be drastically decreased after today. It was almost six-thirty in the morning and he needed to be leaving soon. He’d been up for at least an hour because Lola had been sneezing and coughing during the night. With the weather being so cold, it wasn’t uncommon. The problem was that when one child got sick, the other usually followed suit. He made a mental note to watch Lilly for the first signs of the cold during the next few days.

‘Feeling better, buttercup?’ he asked as he brushed a hand over her blonde ringlets and kissed her cheek, glad her eyes didn’t look so glassy this morning. At her nod, he scooped her up. ‘Come on. Let’s go wake Grandma and Grandpa. Daddy’s got to be at the hospital early this morning.’

‘Why?’ Lola asked.

‘Because the new boss is starting today.’

‘Why?’ Lilly chimed in, holding out her hands for her father to pick her up as well.

‘Because she is.’ Jasper balanced them.

‘Why?’ Lola asked.

‘Because Daddy didn’t want the job.’

‘Why?’ It was Lilly’s turn again and Jasper couldn’t keep his lips from twitching at their tag-team act.

‘Because Daddy wants to spend more time with his gorgeous girls, that’s why.’

‘Why?’ both of them asked together.

‘Because Daddy loves you both.’ He tickled their tummies and was rewarded with giggles from both, followed by coughing from Lola. They wrapped their arms about his neck and held on as he carried them through the ground floor of his house.

‘Be the giant, Daddy. Be the giant.’ Lilly demanded.

‘Yeah. I love the giant,’ Lola agreed.

‘I love him, too,’ Lilly added.

Knowing it would speed things up to acquiesce rather than argue, Jasper hunched his shoulders a little, maintaining his firm hold on each child. ‘Grrroooowwwlll. I’m the great big giant from the land of Giganticor.’ Jasper’s voice was deeper than usual, making both girls giggle again, their arms tightening with excitement about his neck as he crashed his way noisily up the stairs. ‘I’m here to give yummy little girls a ride to the land of Grandparents. Are you both comfortable?’

‘Yes,’ they said in unison, their voices radiating utter glee.

‘Grrroooowwwlll. Off we go, then.’ Walking with big steps and swaying from side to side, Jasper carefully made his way upstairs to his mother’s kitchen. The house was the perfect arrangement for all concerned. He and the girls lived on the lower level and his parents lived upstairs. They had their own bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and living areas, giving privacy where privacy was needed and security for the girls when Jasper was called to the hospital in the middle of the night. They communicated via an intercom so if he was called out, he could buzz through to his parents and they knew to check on the girls, who had a child monitor situated in their perfectly pink bedroom.

His mother was in the kitchen, making coffee, as he crashed towards her, still growling. ‘The granddaughter express from the land of Giganticor is here,’ he announced,
and Iris, his mother, came over and took the girls from him, one at a time.

‘Oh, thank you, Mr Giant. You are so kind to deliver such beautiful girls to me.’ When the girls were seated at the kitchen table, Jasper kissed his mother’s cheek then poured himself a cup of coffee.

‘Mmm. Just what the doctor ordered.’

Both girls giggled. ‘You say that every morning, Daddy.’ Lilly grinned up at him. ‘Can I have some coffee?’

‘I want some too,’ Lola added,

‘Ah. I believe Grandma has some yummy milk for you to have.’

‘I want the coffee one.’

‘I want it, too.’

Iris rolled her eyes. ‘And you say
that
every morning,’ she told her granddaughters. ‘Kiss Daddy goodbye or he’ll be late for work.’

Both girls puckered up and Jasper spent the next five minutes being smothered in kisses. ‘I think I need another shower,’ he remarked as he took the lunchbox Iris handed him.

‘Make sure you eat that breakfast muffin sooner rather than later, Jasper Edwards, or there’ll be trouble,’ his mother warned.

‘Yes, Mum,’ he replied with mock meekness, then winked at his daughters. ‘See you all tonight. Love you,’ he called as he headed back down the stairs.

‘Love you, too, Daddy,’ the girls yelled, loud enough to wake up their grandpa, which only made Jasper smile even more.

 

Jennifer walked through the hospital just before eight o’clock, eager to start work. The past week she’d spent at Sara’s, trying to finding a suitable apartment, had been busy but very
much the calm before the storm. The problem was, she hadn’t found an apartment near the hospital and most of her belongings were still in Melbourne. If she didn’t find a place soon, she’d have to put everything into storage and that was the last thing she wanted to do.

Anyway, she reminded herself, she would be spending most of her time here at the hospital, keeping busy. Work, work, work. She’d been thinking for some time that she needed to find a life outside work, but she was beginning to wonder if she ever would. Her one and only opportunity to have it all—to be a doctor, a wife and a mother—had been cruelly taken away from her when Arturo had died. Now that she’d achieved what she’d wanted to achieve professionally, she was beginning to realise how monocular her world was. For the past eight years she’d lived and breathed work, and it had been fine for the first few years. After that she’d simply fallen into a bad routine where she’d spent more hours than necessary at the hospital, too many hours studying for her doctorate and declining every social invitation that came her way.

In fact, for the past two years she’d barely received any social invitations, and while she tried not to let that bother her, telling herself it was just as well because she’d have had to turn them down anyway, quietly she was upset at the way her life was turning out. She knew Arturo wouldn’t be happy for her to be all alone and it was for that reason alone that she’d jumped at the chance to move back home to Parramatta. Here, at least, she had the hope of finding more depth to her life, mainly because when she reflected on her past, Parramatta was the one place she could remember being truly happy.

On the drive to the hospital that morning, she’d passed the high school she’d attended with Sara. She’d passed the medical school where she’d met Arturo on her first day. She’d
passed the gardens where Arturo had kissed her for the first time, and she’d passed the small hospital chapel where his memorial service had been held.

The hospital itself had changed a great deal since she’d been a lowly medical student but she was able to navigate her way to the orthopaedic department where her new office was situated. She walked up to the reception desk and was met by a smiling woman she guessed to be in her fifties.

‘Dr Thorngate?’

‘Yes.’

‘Welcome. I’m Martha. Come through. Dr Edwards—he’s been acting head of department—is in your office ready to give you a quick run down on things before ward round.’

‘Thank you.’ Jennifer followed Martha into a large office at the end of the corridor, feeling pleased and excited and ready to get to work. She’d really made it to the top. It all still seemed a little surreal. As she passed the door, she paused to glance at the name plaque. D
EPARTMENT OF
O
RTHOPAEDICS AND
T
RAUMA
. H
EAD OF
U
NIT
. D
R
J
ENNIFER
T
HORNGATE
. She’d done it!

‘Dr Thorngate,’ Martha said, breaking into her thoughts. ‘This is Dr Edwards.’

Jennifer turned her attention away from the door to look at the man sitting behind her new desk, in her new chair. He took his time standing, as though he didn’t care he’d been found riffling through her papers. There was confidence about him and she liked that. He wore dark trousers, a crisp white shirt and a colourful tie. The shirt, however, pulled slightly across his arms as he pushed on the desk with both hands as he stood. The fabric outlined two very firm and well-toned arms and she couldn’t help but note how broad his shoulders were.

His hair was dark brown and his eyes were a smoky grey,
filled with politeness as he came over and held out his hand. ‘Dr Thorngate. Welcome to Parramatta Hospital, although I understand from your file that you actually trained here.’

‘Medical school, yes.’ Why did she feel as though he was the boss and she was the new recruit? ‘Thank you for the welcome, Dr Edwards.’

‘Please. Call me Eddie. Most of the staff do.’

‘All right, Eddie. I understand you’ve been keeping the seat warm—literally.’ She pointed to the chair he’d just vacated.

He smiled at that and the effect made her do a double-take. Nice.
Very
nice. She swallowed and forced herself to look away. ‘That’s right.’ He turned to the secretary. ‘Martha, would you mind getting refreshments? I’m sure Dr Thorngate could do with a quick cuppa before ward round.’

‘Oh, I’m fine. I’ve already had two cups of coffee this morning.’ Jennifer quickly waved his words away, wanting to get control over her equilibrium. It wasn’t a common occurrence for her to be knocked off guard by a simple smile but that’s exactly what Dr Edwards…Eddie, she corrected herself…had done. With firm strides, she headed around the desk.

He leaned forward a little and raised his eyebrows questioningly. ‘Nerves?’

‘Uh…’ For a whole second Jennifer’s mind went blank. The man really was extremely good-looking and highly personable. If everyone in her new department was like him, she wasn’t going to have any trouble settling in. ‘Something like that.’

Dr Edwards smiled again. ‘Well, you’re probably going to need to top up at some point because you have an extremely busy day ahead of you.’ He didn’t move. Didn’t shift to the other side of the desk, as she’d expected him to. Instead, he stood there, his tall, firm body now close to hers. Close
enough that she could feel the heat radiating from him and smell the fresh scent of his aftershave. Spicy and woodsy. Nice.
Very
nice.

Jennifer closed her eyes for a brief moment, forcing herself to shift into professional gear. Dr Edwards was just another colleague and while he was her equal when it came to qualifications, he wasn’t head of unit, which, in context of the hospital’s protocols, made her his new boss.

When she next looked at him, it was to find him studying her with a degree of confusion. ‘Something wrong? Caffeine headache?’

‘No. No. Not at all.’

Jennifer fingered a pile of neat papers stacked on the desk as Martha left, closing the door behind her. ‘Is this the usual inheritance?’

Eddie laughed. ‘I’ve tried to clear as much of the backlog as I could but there are things I thought it better for you to deal with.’

‘Then why don’t you take a seat…’ she indicated the one on the opposite side of her desk ‘…and let me know what requires my urgent attention?’

Thankfully, Eddie took the hint and moved, pulling the chair up to the edge of the desk. He was still close, still crowding her a little, but thankfully now there was a large slab of wood between them rather than just a few inches of carpet. The man radiated charm, manners and had an abundance of sex appeal. As he pointed to a piece of paper, she checked his hands. Both ringless—although that meant nothing. Was he married? Engaged? Attached in some way?

She sat there, looking at him, and realised he was expecting an answer. Clearing her throat as well as her mind from distracting thoughts of her new colleague, Jennifer forced herself to concentrate.

‘I’m sorry. Would you mind repeating that?’

‘Is anything wrong? You seem a little…I don’t know…preoccupied, distracted.’ Now he was looking at her as if she couldn’t handle the job. Well, she knew she could and she was determined to show him just how well she could do it.

‘No. Let’s get things sorted.’ When she didn’t elaborate any further, Eddie repeated his initial question, which she answered knowledgeably and without vacillation.

‘Right, then. The next thing that requires your immediate attention is the new research grant. It’s due in on Thursday so there are only a few more days to finalise all matters.’

‘Who’s the supervisor on the project?’

‘You.’

‘Me? I’ve inherited a research project already?’

Eddie smiled again and once more Jennifer couldn’t believe how it changed his face. Where his initial smile had been polite and welcoming, even mildly humourous, this one made his eyes sparkle, his white, straight teeth bright and inviting. Laughter lines creased at the corners of his eyes and to top off the effect, he pushed a stray lock of hair back from his forehead and shrugged his firm, broad shoulders. ‘Nothing says “Welcome to the department” like inheriting a research project.’

Jennifer couldn’t help but return his smile. It was so very rare that she took an instant liking to people but Dr Edwards was proving himself to be one of them. ‘I guess you’re right. Who’s the assistant supervisor?’

‘I am. As you can see, most of the details are in place. I’ve had Martha schedule some time for you to come across to the laboratory tomorrow afternoon so we can go over things together. That way you won’t be making your decision based only on the theory and hard-copy explanations.’

‘Good. Thanks for organising that.’ She put the research papers in a pile. ‘I’ll read this tonight.’

They continued working and half an hour later, when Martha knocked on the door to say the eight-thirty ward round would start in five minutes, Jennifer looked at the large pile of papers she would be working her way through that night.

Eddie pointed to the pile. ‘I’m so glad that’s yours and not mine any more.’

‘You don’t like administration work?’

‘Not my favourite thing to be doing of an evening.’

‘Cuts into your social life?’ She’d said the comment in an offhanded manner and when he didn’t answer immediately, she looked up, surprised to find him almost frowning at her. It was on the tip of her tongue to apologise but he merely shrugged, the frown instantly disappearing.

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