Exclusive Excerpt: Wonder With Me - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby comes a new story in her With Me In Seattle series…

Reed Taylor doesn’t pay much attention to the holidays—until he receives a surprise present. Four-year-old Piper is the daughter he never knew about, and with the death of her mother, is also now the roommate he never expected. He’s determined to make their first Christmas together one she’ll never forget.

Noel Thompson has gotten her share of strange requests in her career as an interior designer. The call to design a beautiful home for Christmas is more like a dream come true. And that was before she met her new employer—sexy and mysterious, he’s everything she ever hoped Santa would bring her.

As Noel showers his home with holiday spirit, Reed showers Piper with love. And the busy life he’s created for himself no longer seems nearly as important as the one Noel is helping him build with his daughter. But if he can’t convince his decorator to stay, this could be the only year he feels the true wonder of the season.

Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.

Series:

With Me In Seattle

Can be read as a standalone

Book Type:

Contemporary Romance

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Exclusive Excerpt: Wonder With Me
By Kristen Proby

Exclusive Excerpt: Wonder With Me

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby comes a new standalone story in her With Me In Seattle series, out tomorrow! Get a sneak peek from WONDER WITH ME below…

“Mr. Taylor?”

“Yes, Becca.” I sit back in my desk chair, pull my glasses from my face, and rub my tired eyes. A glance at the time tells me I’ve been staring at the computer for a few hours. The interruption is welcome.

“You have a visitor, sir.”

I frown at my assistant, who’s hovering in the doorway of my office. Becca’s been with me for a couple of years. She’s young and driven. And unlike most of the other assistants I’ve had, she’s focused. She’s never come on to me, and I swear she knows what I need before I do.

Becca’s a gem.

And she’s currently watching me with hesitation written all over her face.

“I never have visitors, unless they’re scheduled appointments.”

“I know. If you’re busy, I can ask them to come back. But I don’t think you’ll want me to do that.”

Now, I’m intrigued.

“No, it’s fine. Send them in.”

She nods and turns away, and I stand to stretch my legs as I wait for this unexpected guest to walk through the door.

I tug my suit jacket on just as a woman walks into my office, holding hands with…

A little girl.

They must have the wrong office.

“Reed Taylor?” the woman asks as she directs the child to sit in one of the two seats in front of my desk and hands her a stuffed bunny to cuddle.

“Yes, ma’am. And you are?”

“Melinda Hale. Mr. Taylor, I’m with the Department of Child Protective Services.” She glances at the girl, whose head is bowed. “And this is Piper.”

I shift my gaze between Ms. Hale and Piper, my eyes narrowed.

“Hello, Piper.”

“Hello,” the little girl whispers as she tugs the bunny to her chest. She’s dressed in jeans and a hoodie from Old Navy, and her dark hair is pulled back into a long braid.

“I’m sure you’re wondering why we’re here.”

“I’m hopeful you’re about to tell me.”

Ms. Hale smiles, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. She pulls a file out of her briefcase and sets it on my desk, opens it, then passes me a letter.

“You should read this first.”

The mystery of all of this is starting to grate on my nerves. I consider myself a patient man, but I’m also an efficient one.

Just get down to business, for Christ’s sake.

I open the letter and frown as I read the words before me.

Reed,

I know this is a shock. Everything has happened so fast, and I know I should have reached out to you, but well, it seems I’m not strong enough to.

Piper is a sweet little girl. You’ll love her, I promise.

Please take good care of her.

Warmly,

Vanessa

I fold the letter and look up to Ms. Hale. “Vanessa Downey?”

“That’s right. Do you confirm that you had a relationship with Ms. Downey that ended roughly five years ago?”

I blow out a breath. Did I have a relationship with her? Vanessa would have liked that. I never committed to anything so permanent with her.

I did, however, date and have sex with her.

“I did.”

“Mr. Taylor, Ms. Downey passed away a few days ago. She’d been sick.” She glances down at Piper as the little girl scowls and squeezes her bunny tighter. “Well, all of the information is in this folder.”

She closes the file and passes it to me.

My stomach is filled with lead. I know the next words about to come out of her mouth before she says them.

“Piper is your daughter, Mr. Taylor. Of course, we’ll schedule a DNA test—”

“That’s not necessary,” I say, interrupting her. My eyes are on Piper as she hugs her bunny. “She looks just like me.”

Piper looks up at me, her big, round, brown eyes a bit scared and sad.

“Actually, it’s the law,” the woman replies. “We have to make sure we’ve placed the child with a direct relative, of course. We’ll be in touch, and will check in periodically until the results of the test come in.”

“Fine. What about Vanessa’s family?” I ask Ms. Hale without looking away from my daughter.

My daughter.

“Vanessa didn’t have any immediate family,” she explains. “If there are extended family members, we haven’t found them.”

My gaze whips to Ms. Hale’s. What kind of a jerk am I that I didn’t know that Vanessa didn’t have family? “Who attended the funeral?”

“There hasn’t been one yet,” she says. “Of course, she had friends, but there hasn’t been time—”

“I’ll see to it.”

She closes her lips and sits quietly, watching as I smile at Piper.

“Piper, I’m very sorry for your loss.” I circle my desk and squat beside her, careful not to touch her. I don’t know anything about children. I’m way out of my element here, but this isn’t about me.

Christ, the poor child probably doesn’t understand what’s happening around her.

“Thank you,” she says in a tiny voice. “Do you know where my mommy is?”

Well, hell.

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