Harlequin Special Edition November 2014 - Box Set 1 of 2: A Weaver Christmas Gift\The Soldier's Holiday Homecoming\Santa's Playbook

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Harlequin Special Edition November 2014 – Box Set 1 of 2
A Weaver Christmas Gift
The Soldier's Holiday Homecoming
Santa's Playbook
Allison Leigh
Judy Duarte
Karen Templeton

Harlequin Special Edition brings you three new titles for one great price, available now! These are heartwarming, romantic stories about life, love and family. This Harlequin Special Edition bundle includes
A Weaver Christmas Gift
by Allison Leigh,
The Soldier's Holiday Homecoming
by Judy Duarte and
Santa's Playbook
by Karen Templeton.

Look for 6 compelling new stories every month from Harlequin Special Edition!

Help Wanted: Husband

Jane Cohen is in a quandary: she needs a man for her baby plan. Love and marriage are nonnegotiable—it's the traditional route or bust. So it's time to cut Casey Clay loose—her friend with benefits doesn't do commitment. But this impossible, irresistible man sets the bar awfully high for her husband hunt!

No matter how deep Casey's feelings run for the sexy bar owner, when it comes to kids, he can't give her what she wants. And his secrets don't stop there. But as the mistletoe goes up around Weaver, 'tis the season for their moment of truth…and their shot at true love.

His back was still toward her.

He had a small scar over his right shoulder blade. She'd kissed her way over it dozens of times but had never asked what had caused it.

Why hadn't she asked?

Because she wasn't interested?

Or because she was afraid he wouldn't have told her?

She slowly propped the broom handle against the wall and walked over to him. Her hand wasn't entirely steady when she placed it on his shoulder, but it was a lot steadier than her insides felt.

He stiffened at her touch and looked at her.

She didn't know what was tormenting him.

And maybe comfort wasn't their thing.

But she did know what was.

She leaned forward and slowly pressed her lips against his. She felt him inhale slightly. Resistance, almost.

But not quite.

* * *

RETURN TO THE DOUBLE C:
Under the big blue Wyoming sky,
this family discovers true love

Dear Reader,

What is more guaranteed to shake up the status quo between two individuals who “think” they are perfectly comfortable with their friends-with-benefits relationship than tossing the desire to have a baby into the mix? It wouldn't matter which person in the relationship holds that particular desire, but in this case, it is Jane Cohen. And she knows as soon as she shares her dream of having a child with Casey Clay, he's going to bolt. And he certainly tries…much to her chagrin.

Toss in a man with plenty of secrets—which Casey definitely has—and there is surely no possibility of success between these two hardheaded souls.

Unless there is a lot of love in there that neither one has been willing to acknowledge.

That's the case here. At times I wanted to knock the heads of these two independent people together! And yes, as the author, one would think I should be able to better control those of my own creation. Not such an easy task, but in the end, certainly a worthwhile one. Because there was a lot of love between Casey and Jane, and getting them to unearth it seemed particularly worthwhile.

I hope you'll agree.

Best wishes and happy reading,

Allison Leigh

A WEAVER CHRISTMAS GIFT

Allison Leigh

Books by Allison Leigh

Harlequin Special Edition

§
The Rancher's Dance
#2110

§
Courtney's Baby Plan
#2132

§
A Weaver Proposal
#2174

~~Fortune's Perfect Match
#2191

§
A Weaver Vow
#2257

§
A Weaver Beginning
#2288

¤
Once Upon a Valentine
#2311

=
Fortune's Prince
#2335

§
A Weaver Christmas Gift
#2365

Silhouette Special Edition

∆
Stay… #1170

∆
The Rancher and the
Redhead #1212

∆
A Wedding for Maggie
#1241

∆
A Child for Christmas
#1290

Millionaire's Instant Baby #1312

∆
Married to a Stranger
#1336

Mother in a Moment #1367

Her Unforgettable Fiancé #1381

The Princess and the Duke #1465

Montana Lawman #1497

Hard Choices #1561

Secretly Married #1591

Home on the Ranch #1633

The Truth about the Tycoon #1651

All He Ever Wanted #1664

The Tycoon's Marriage Bid #1707

A Montana Homecoming #1718

***
Mergers & Matrimony
#1761

Just Friends? #1810

∆
Sarah and the Sheriff
#1819

∆
Wed in Wyoming #1833

**
A Cowboy Under Her Tree
#1869

¤
The Bride and the Bargain
#1882

*
The Boss's Christmas
Proposal #1940

~Valentine's Fortune #1951

∆
A Weaver Wedding #1965

∆
A Weaver Baby #2000

∆
A Weaver Holiday
Homecoming #2015

‡‡
The Billionaire's Baby
Plan #2048

¤
Once Upon a Proposal
#2078

§§
Fortune's Proposal
#2090

Harlequin E

◊
Destined for the Maverick

∆Men of the Double C
Ranch

§Return to the Double C

**Montana Mavericks: Striking It
Rich

***Family Business

¤The Hunt for
Cinderella

*Back in Business

~The Fortunes of Texas: Return to
Red Rock

§§The Fortunes of Texas: Lost…and
Found

‡‡The Baby Chase

~~The Fortunes of Texas: Whirlwind
Romance

=The Fortunes of Texas: Welcome to
Horseback Hollow

◊Montana Maverics: 20 Years in the
Saddle

Other books by this author
available in ebook format.

ALLISON LEIGH

There is a saying that you can never be too rich or too
thin. Allison doesn't believe that, but she does believe that you can
never
have enough books! When her stories find a way
into the hearts—and bookshelves—of others, Allison says she feels she's done
something right. Making her home in Arizona with her husband, she enjoys hearing
from her readers at
[email protected]
or
P.O. Box 40772, Mesa, AZ 85274-0772.

In loving memory of Saing.

Chapter One

“I
've decided to get pregnant.” As far as sweet nothings went, Jane Cohen's statement didn't rank very high on the scale.

Casey Nathaniel Clay
had
to have heard her wrong. Maybe his head was still reeling from the truly phenomenal sex. Outside of the bedroom, he and Janie couldn't seem to agree on the time of day. Inside the bedroom, though, they were like two halves of a whole.

But in the year since their relationship—for lack of a better word—had moved into the bedroom, not once had either one of them expressed an inclination to take things into the “serious” realm.

He levered himself up on his elbow and peered down at her.

Her long golden hair was tangled around her head, strands clinging to her cheeks and neck, sliding in loose curls down her chest, over her breasts that were still rising and falling as she caught her breath from not one but—hell, yeah, if he didn't mind counting 'em—two orgasms.

He dragged his stupidly reluctant gaze upward to meet her coffee-colored eyes. “What's that you say?”

She pressed her lips together. They were the same soft pink as her nipples. “Don't pretend you didn't hear me.” Annoyance rang in her voice as she impatiently pushed her hair from her face. “I was perfectly clear.”

Ordinarily, people tended to consider Casey a relatively intelligent guy. His degrees from MIT supported that opinion. But just then, he didn't seem capable of forming much of a coherent thought, much less a reasonable response.

What the hell are you talking about?
was in the forefront of his mind. And he was pretty sure that wasn't what Janie was looking for.

She seemed to know what he was thinking anyway, because her lips tightened even more.

Looking disgusted, she rolled her eyes and shoved his shoulders aside, disentangling her warm legs from his, and slid off the bed. “Cool the panic jets, Casey.” Her voice was tart as a bowl of lemon juice with the closest supply of sugar a few counties away. “I wasn't suggesting I wanted to get pregnant by
you.

The words stung more than she'd ever know.

He eyed her, wondering why he'd thought that getting into bed with the infernal woman was a good idea in the first place. But that was just what happened when a man followed his baser nature. “Then why on earth did you bring it up now?” he groused.

She made that impatient sound that only women seemed to know how to make, the sound meant to convey he was missing something completely obvious to anyone with a half a brain. The sound that pretty much meant he was dumber than a box of rocks. She retrieved her robe from the back of the bedroom door and slid into it, yanking the belt around her narrow waist.

The action only served to draw attention to her breasts.

They were perfect, those breasts. Surprisingly full for someone with such a lean, athletic figure. Her legs were perfect, too. And don't get him started on her butt—

“Because if I want to have a baby, all this has to change.” Her tone—superior and vaguely snooty—pulled his attention back to her face. She was waving her hand toward the bed. Toward him.

The pink robe was thin. It clung lovingly to her curves as she moved around the room, snatching up their strewn articles of clothing.

Again, he focused with an effort and bunched the blanket around his hips as he sat up. This particular turn of the conversation made sprawling there naked as a jaybird seem ill-advised. “Change,” he repeated warily.

She made that sound again and tossed him his jeans. She hadn't found his boxers yet, but he didn't care. He got off the bed and pulled on the jeans anyway. “Obviously, I can't proceed with my plan while we're—” she waved her hand again “—whatever we are.”

“Friends with benefits,” he hazarded. It was a safer definition than some he could have offered.

She snorted softly. “I think
friends
is overstating.”

He grimaced, not liking the fact that her words bit any more than he liked the way the night had taken such an abrupt turn south. “We're friends,” he grumbled. Maybe it was an exaggeration, but he was pretty sure it wasn't an outright lie.

Her eyebrows rose as if she didn't believe the claim any more than he did. She'd pulled on the pair of black horn-rimmed glasses that she rarely wore when she was working at Colbys, the bar and grill she'd bought five years ago. The lenses made her eyes look unnaturally large.

The first time he'd seen her wearing them, he'd decided the bookish glasses made her look even sexier.

Oddly approachable.

Times like this, he wished he'd never seen her in them, considering they'd ended up in bed together almost immediately after.

“Please,” she drawled. “In what way are we friends? There's nothing on which we
ever
agree.”

Even over that point, he had to differ. “You pour a decent beer. And you came to your senses finally and stopped charging to use the pool tables.”

“High praise. We don't have a friendship. We have a...a sexship.” She didn't look at him as she tossed him his T-shirt. It still hit him square in the chest. “I want to have a baby,” she said again. “But I have no desire to be a single mother.” She bent over again and the lapels of her robe gaped, giving him an eyeful of creamy skin. “Call me old-fashioned, but I intend to be married first.” She straightened and dropped his socks on the corner of the bed in front of him.

Here's your hat; what's your hurry?

“And then stay that way,” she added flatly. “My mom never married my dad. After she kicked him out, she struggled every single day raising my sister and me. Trust me. I am
not
doing that. I want a husband.”

His head felt oddly light. He sat on the bed and shoved his feet into the socks. “You told me you'd had one of those and couldn't imagine wanting another.”

“I don't want another husband like
Gage
,” she said, as if Casey was missing the point. “He was a complete workaholic.” She gave Casey a pointed look, evidently accusing him of fitting the description, too. “I want someone who will put
me
first.”

“Someone who'll let you run the show, you mean,” he muttered. One thing he'd learned about Janie Cohen was that she liked to think she was always in the driver's seat.

She gave him one of her snippy smiles. “At least
I
have a plan.”

He scratched his chin. He'd forgotten to shave before coming to see her. He usually tried to remember to, because her fair skin was so easily marred by his whiskers. But he'd had a long day and hadn't thought beyond seeing her as soon as possible. “Am I supposed to take some hint there that you think I don't?”

“I'm not talking about you.”

Maybe he'd spent too many hours studying computer feeds, because following her thought process was giving him a headache. “And the plan is to get a husband so you can get knocked up?”

“I'm a thirty-two-year-old woman,” she said. “Knocked up is for teenagers who don't know better.”

“Like your mom.”

She made a face and ignored that. “Obviously, I'm not getting any younger. So I need to get started.” She waved him out of the way and smartly flipped the sheets into some semblance of order.

He had the feeling he was being flipped away just as easily as the wrinkles in the fabric.

“Just like that.” He snapped his fingers in her face. “What are you going to do? Order yourself up some husband out of
Mail-Order Husbands Weekly
?”

She hesitated as if she was actually giving the idea some thought.

“I was kidding,” he said hastily.

“There are mail-order brides,” she said. “Guess there are probably mail-order husbands. But no.” She fluffed the pillows, put them back at the head of the bed and turned to face him, her hands propped on her narrow hips. She looked up at him through her glasses with her vaguely buggy brown eyes.

And he was damned if he didn't want to tumble her right back onto that bed and mess up the sheets all over again, even if she was annoying as hell.

“I intend to find a husband right here in Weaver.”

He barked out a laugh before he could stop himself.

“You think it's
funny
?” Her voice went silky but her eyes were as chilly as a Weaver winter. “You think I'm incapable of finding a man who might want to put a ring on it?”

“I think the pickings around Weaver are gonna be a tad slim for a woman like you,” he answered, trying unsuccessfully to curtail his untimely amusement. Their small Wyoming town wasn't exactly a mecca of single, eligible adults. Despite the consumer electronics company he ostensibly worked for, Cee-Vid, the town was first and foremost a ranching community. Always had been. Always would be. And Jane—for all of her talents—didn't strike him as a typical rancher's wife.

A niggle of guilt pricked his mind over that. Among his own relatives, he could count a passel of ranchers. None of their wives were particularly “typical” either. There were doctors, accountants, business owners...

Jane had propped her hand on her hip and was staring down her nose at him. Considering she was about a foot shorter, it was a feat he might have admired under other circumstances.


A woman like me
,” she repeated. Her eyebrow arched. “Want to explain that one, Clay?”

“Untie the knots in your little white panties, sport,” he returned. “I just meant you're a tad...classy...for some of the guys around here.”

She didn't look particularly soothed. “I run a bar where the dress code just means wiping the manure off your cowboy boots before you come in,” she snapped. “How on God's green earth does that make me classy?”

Stubborn. Headstrong. A straight shooter who didn't suffer fools. He kept the descriptors to himself. At one time or another—often all at once—they fit the woman standing in front of him. She was also beautiful as hell, uncommonly unpretentious and a challenge to his senses as well as his brain.

He dragged his T-shirt on over his head and pretended not to notice the way her gaze dropped, just for a second, to run hungrily over his abdomen before he yanked the white cotton over it.

Sex.

That was what the two of them were good at.

Exceedingly good at, they'd discovered. And, he'd thought, to their mutual satisfaction and content.

Now she wanted more. A baby. A husband.

“What about love?” he asked.

If he hadn't been watching closely, he might have missed the way her gaze flickered. “What about it?”

“That's usually the reason people get married, isn't it? What's in this plan of yours when it comes to that?”

* * *

It was the first week of September, but Jane still felt a shiver jolt down her spine.

She casually moved away from Casey, crossing the room to retrieve the garish Hawaiian-print shirt he'd been wearing unbuttoned over his T-shirt when he'd arrived. The garment was hideous in the extreme, but it smelled of him and that wasn't hideous at all. No. The scent was warm. Slightly spicy. Definitely heady.

She shivered again and turned to carelessly fling the shirt at him. She wished she could fling away the man's effect on her as easily. “I'm not looking for love,” she said blithely. “Just a—”

“Legitimate sperm donor.” As he caught the shirt, he seemed to look right into the depths of her with his silvery-gray eyes.

“Why does it even matter to you?” She kept her voice tart as much for self-preservation as from habit. Unless she was mindless with lust in his arms, it was always easier to spar with the tall man with the butterscotch-colored hair than have any sort of serious conversation. Mostly because she was never entirely sure what exactly he was thinking.

Despite his outwardly laid-back style, she'd never made the mistake of thinking Casey Clay actually
was
laid-back. He was too intense for that. And much, much too secretive.

When it came to him, sex was easy.

It was all the rest that was impossible.

“Be glad that I'm under no illusions that
you
might be a candidate,” she finished.

His mobile, scrumptious lips twisted wryly. “Janie.” He pressed his splayed hand against his chest. “I might be wounded.”

“But you're not,” she deadpanned, then rolled her eyes when his cell phone chirped and he grabbed it off the nightstand. “Naturally.” It wasn't the first time his phone had interrupted them. At least this time it had waited until
after.

She went into the adjoining bathroom while he answered. Not particularly proud that she tried to listen in but trying anyway, she twisted her tangled hair up into a clip at the back of her head.

However, his voice was low, his words brief, revealing as little as they ever did.

She returned to the bedroom just as he was pocketing the phone. “Let me guess.” She might not have overheard the reason he was being called away, but she had a good idea where he was going and she smiled facetiously. “Somebody's computer is on the fritz at Cee-Vid and you have to go save the day. Or the night, as it were.”

His gaze slid over her, setting off another darned shiver. “That's why I get the big bucks.”

Cee-Vid produced video games. He was in charge of the computer systems there, but she couldn't imagine what could be so critical at the business that he'd get called at all hours of the night in the way he often was even if he'd already been there all day.

She'd have suspected him of having a wife if Weaver weren't so small that such a fact would have been impossible to hide.

Everyone knew everyone else's business around town. Or so it had seemed to her since she'd moved there five years ago. As a result, it was still an amazing thing to her that they'd been able to keep their...encounters...private.

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