The SEAL's Secret Heirs(7)

By: Kat Cantrell






Two

Grace knocked on the door of Wade House and steeled herself for whatever was about to happen. Which was what she’d been doing in the car on the way over. And at her desk before that.

No one else in the county office could take on another case, so Grace had agreed to keep Maddie and Maggie under the premise that she’d run all her recommendations through her supervisor before she told the parties involved about her decisions. Which meant she couldn’t just decide ahead of time that Kyle wasn’t fit. She had to prove it.

It would be a stringent process, with no room for error. She’d have to justify her report with far more data and impartial observations than she’d ever had to before. It meant twice as many visits and twice as much documentation. Of course. Because who didn’t want to spend a bunch of time with a high-school boyfriend who’d ruined you for dating any other man?

Hopefully, he’d just give up his rights without a fight and they could all go on.

The door swung open and Grace forgot to breathe. Kyle Wade was indeed home.

Hungrily, her gaze skittered over his grown-up face. Oh, my. Still gorgeous, but sun worn, with new lines around his eyes that said he’d seen some things in the past ten years and they weren’t all pleasant. His hair was shorn shorter than short, but it fit this new version of Kyle.

His green eyes were diamond hard. That was new, too. He’d never been open and friendly, but she’d burrowed under that reserve back in high school and when he really looked at her with his signature blend of love and devotion—it had been magic.

She instantly wanted to burrow under that hardness once again. Because she knew she was the only one who could, the only one he’d let in. The only one who could soothe his loneliness, the way she’d done back then.

Gah, what was she thinking?

She couldn’t focus on that. Couldn’t remember what it had been like when it was good, because when it was bad, it was really bad. This man had destroyed her, nearly derailing her entire first year at college as she picked up the broken pieces he’d left behind.

“Hey, Grace.”

Kyle’s voice washed over her and the steeling she’d done to prepare for this moment? Useless.

“Kyle,” she returned a bit brusquely, but if she started blubbering, she’d never forgive herself. “I’m happy to see that you’ve finally decided to acknowledge your children.”

Chances were good that wouldn’t last. He’d ship out again at a moment’s notice, running off to indulge his selfish thirst for adventure, leaving behind a mess. As he’d done the first time. But Grace was here to make sure he didn’t hurt anyone in the process, least of all those precious babies.

“Yep,” he agreed easily. “I took a slow boat from China all right. But I’m here now. Do whatever you have to do to make it okay with the county for me to be a father to my daughters.”

Ha. Fathers were loving, caring, selfless. They didn’t become distant and uncommunicative on a regular basis and then forget they had plans with you. And then forget to apologize for leaving you high and dry. Nor did they have the option to quit when the going got tough.

“Well, that’s not going to happen today,” she said firmly. “I’ll do several site visits to make sure that you’re providing the right environment for the girls. They need to feel safe and loved and it’s my job to put them into the home that will give them that. You might not be the best answer.”

The hardness in his expression intensified. “They’re mine. I’ll take care of them.”

His quiet fierceness set her back. Guess that answered the question about whether he’d put up a token fight and then sign whatever she put in front of him that would terminate his parental rights. The fact that he wasn’t—it was throwing her for a loop. “Actually, they’re mine. They became wards of the state when you didn’t respond to the attempts we all made to find you. That’s what happens to abandoned babies.”

That might have come out harshly. So what. It was the truth, even if the sentiment had some leftover emotion from when Kyle had done that to her. She had to protect the babies, no matter what.

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