The SEAL's Secret Heirs(9)

By: Kat Cantrell

“You got me all figured out, seems like,” he drawled. “Why don’t you tell me why I didn’t hop on a plane and stick by Margaret’s side during her pregnancy?”

Couldn’t the man just answer a simple question? He’d always been like this—uncommunicative and prone to leaving instead of dealing with problems head-on. His attitude was so infuriating, she said the first thing that popped into her head.

“Guilt, probably. You didn’t want to be involved and hoped the problem would go away on its own.” And that was totally unfair. Wasn’t it? She had no idea why he hadn’t contacted anyone. This new version of Kyle was unsettling because she didn’t know him that well anymore.

Really, she wasn’t that good at reading people in the first place. It was a professional weakness that she hated, but couldn’t seem to fix. Once upon a time, she’d thought this man was her forever after, her Prince Charming, Clark Gable and Dr. McDreamy all rolled into one. Which was totally false. She’d bought heavily into that lie, so how could she trust her own judgment? She couldn’t. That’s why she had to be so methodical in her approach to casework, because she couldn’t afford to let emotion rule her decisions. Or afford to make a mistake, not when the future of a child was at stake.

And she wouldn’t do either here. Maddie and Maggie deserved a loving home with a family who paid attention to their every need. Kyle Wade was not the right man for that, no matter what he said he wanted.

“Well, then,” he said easily. “Guess that answers your question.”

It so did not. She still didn’t know why he’d come home now, why he’d suddenly shown an interest in his daughters. Whether he could possibly convince her he planned to stick around—if he was even serious about that. Kyle had a habit of running away from his problems, after all.

First and foremost, how could she assess whether the time-hardened man before her could ever provide the loving, nurturing environment two fragile little girls needed?

But she’d let it slide for now. There was plenty of time to work through all of that, since Maddie and Maggie were still legally in the care of Liam and Hadley.

“I think I have enough for now. I’ll file my first report and send you a copy when it’s approved.” She had to get out of here. Before she broke down under the emotional onslaught of everything.

“That’s it, huh? What’s the report going to say?”

“It’s going to say that you’ve expressed an interest in retaining your parental rights and that I’ve advised you that I can’t approve that until I do several more site visits.”

He cocked his head, evaluating her coolly. “How long is that going to take?”

“Until I’m satisfied with your fitness as a parent. Or until I decide you’re unfit. At which point I’ll make recommendations as to what I believe is the best home for those precious girls. I will likely recommend they stay with Liam and Hadley.”

Without warning, Kyle was on his feet, an intense vibe rippling down his powerful body. She’d have sworn he hadn’t moved, and then all of a sudden, there he was, staring down at her with a sharpness about him, as if he’d homed in on her and her alone. She couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe.

It was precisely the kind of focus she’d craved once. But not now. Not like this.

“Why would you give my kids to my brother?” he asked, his voice dangerously low.

“Well, the most obvious reason is because he and Hadley want them. They’ve already looked into adoption. But also because they know the babies’ needs and have already been providing the best place for the girls.”

“You are not taking away my daughters,” he said succinctly. “Why does this feel personal?”

She blinked. “This is the opposite of personal, Kyle. My job is to be the picture of impartiality. Our history has nothing to do with this.”

“I was starting to wonder if you recalled that we had a history,” he drawled slowly, loading the words with meaning.

The intensity rolling from him heightened a notch, and she shivered as he perused her as if he’d found the last morsel of chocolate in the pantry—and he was starving. All at once, she had a feeling they were both remembering the sweet fire of first love. They might have been young, but what they’d lacked in experience, they made up for in enthusiasm. Their relationship had hit some high notes that she’d prefer not to be remembering right this minute. Not with the man who’d made her body sing a scant few feet away.

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