A Secret Colton Baby

By: Karen Whiddon

A new addition to Wyoming’s most scandalous family

Is Theo Colton the father of a baby dropped at his doorstep by a dying socialite? Even more shocked than the sexy bronc-riding champ is his beautiful cook, Ellie Parker. Just as she becomes the baby’s nanny, she discovers a terrifying stalker has followed her to Dead River.

What’s worse—as a mysterious virus quarantines the town, danger goes viral, too. But to Theo and Ellie, the biggest dangers are their sizzling attraction and profound new feelings. Can Ellie tame the cowboy who wants nothing more than a wild ride with women? Or must she deny her heart to save his life?

“Why’d you kiss me?”

The simple question took him by surprise. In all his life, he didn’t think a woman had ever asked him that question.

He had to think. He knew he could give her the glib answer, say something like, Because I wanted to. Which he had. But he figured he owed it to Ellie to give her the truth.

“When I saw him knock you to the ground, my heart stopped,” he answered quietly. “I jumped him. If not for my damn injuries, I would have had him. You would have been safe, and that piece of trash wouldn’t have bothered you ever again. My blood was pumping, but he got away, and I let you down. When I saw you watching me, you looked scared and disappointed and…”

He dragged his hand through his too-short hair. “I wish I was better with words. I’m not saying it right.”

* * *

The Coltons: Return to Wyoming—One family’s scandalous homecoming

Dear Reader,

I love the Coltons. Yes, I admit it. The Colton family is my guilty pleasure! I wrote Colton’s Christmas Baby in 2010 and ever since then, I’ve been hoping I could visit the family again. This time, instead of Montana, we’re in Wyoming. And yes, the story does have another baby. And more. In fact, there is so much going on in the little town of Dead River, Wyoming, that writing it was like watching a television drama. Something new lurks around every corner. Fascinating and fun.

I hope you enjoy reading this story—and Theo Colton’s journey toward happiness and love—as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Karen Whiddon

Chapter 1

A whisper of sound, so fragile it might have been only a fragment left over from a dream. Another woman might have burrowed back under the blankets, refusing to open her eyes as she willed herself back to sleep. Not Ellie Parker. Not only had the infant recently entrusted to her care awakened every protective instinct she possessed, but her past had made her overly wary.

The noise came again, an echo of a ghost. Heart pounding, she held herself utterly still while waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. Luckily, the full moon brought traces of silver to light the room.

There. Near Amelia’s antique crib that had been hastily brought down from the attic. A figure in black, wearing a hoody and a ski mask, reaching for the baby.

Leaping to her feet, Ellie screamed. Loud and shrill. The intruder froze, then ran for the window, yanking it open and racing away.

Baby Amelia began to wail, and Ellie rushed to her on shaky legs, trying to catch her breath.

“What is it? What’s going on?” Theo Colton’s deep voice, throaty from sleep and full of concern. He flicked on the light switch.

“A man,” Ellie gasped, pointing past where he stood, his broad-shouldered body filling the doorway. “Dressed in black, wearing a ski mask. He was trying to take Amelia.”

And then the trembling started. She couldn’t help it, despite the tiny infant she clutched close to her chest. Somehow Theo seemed to sense this, as he gently took her arm and steered her toward her bed.

“Sit,” he ordered, taking the baby from her.

Reluctantly releasing Amelia, Ellie covered her face with her hands. It had been a strange day, ever since the baby’s mother—a beautiful, elegant woman named Mimi Rand—had shown up that morning insisting Theo was the father and then collapsing. Mimi had been taken to the Dead River Clinic with a high fever and flu-like symptoms. Theo had Ellie looking after Amelia until everything could be sorted out.

But Theo had no way of knowing about Ellie’s past, or the danger that seemed to follow her like a malicious shadow. “I need to leave,” she said to him. “Right now, for Amelia’s sake.”

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