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Authors: Stella Bagwell

The Tycoon's Tots

BOOK: The Tycoon's Tots
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You're starting today?” Chloe asked.

Wyatt answered nonchalantly. “Why not? You have horses to care for. You can't do that and watch two babies at the same time.”

“I haven't forgotten you don't know anything about babies. Have you?”

He gave her a lazy smile, and Chloe's heart thumped with foolish anticipation.

“I haven't been around babies before,” Wyatt agreed. “But I don't know anything about caring for horses, either. And from where I'm standing the babies seem to be the far safer of the two jobs.”

Chloe couldn't help but laugh. “You may want to reevaluate that opinion after a couple of days.”

Wyatt smiled. “How hard could the job be? Two babies and a little cooking. It'll be a vacation compared to the hours I usually put in.”

Chloe managed to keep a straight face. “Good. I'm sure a vacation like this is just what you need.”

Dear Reader,

The month of June makes me think of June brides, Father's Day and the first bloom of summer love. And Silhouette Romance is celebrating the start of summer with six wonderful books about love and romance.

Our BUNDLE OF JOY this month is delivered by Stella Bagwell's
The Tycoon's Tots—her
thirtieth Silhouette book. As her TWINS ON THE DOORSTEP miniseries continues, we finally discover who gets to keep those adorable babies..
find romance in the bargain.

Elizabeth August is back with her much-loved SMYTHESHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS series. In
The Determined Virgin
you'll meet a woman whose marriage of convenience is proving to be very inconvenient, thanks to her intense attraction to her “in-name-only” husband.

BACHELOR GULCH is a little town that needs women,
the name of Sandra Steffen's brand-new miniseries. The fun begins in
Luke's Would-Be Bride
as a local bachelor falls for his feisty receptionist—the one woman in town
looking for a husband!

And there are plenty more compelling romances for you this month: A lovely lady rancher can't wait to hightail it out of Texas—till she meets her handsome new foreman in Leanna Wilson's
Lone Star Rancher.
A new husband can't bear to tell his amnesiac bride that the baby she's carrying isn't his, in
Her Forgotten Husband
by Anne Ha. And one lucky cowboy discovers a night of passion has just made him a daddy in Teresa Southwick's
The Bachelor's Baby.

I hope you enjoy all of June's books!

Melissa Senate,
Senior Editor

Silhouette Romance

Please address questions and book requests to:

Silhouette Reader Service

U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269

Canadian: P.O. Box 609, Fort Erie, Ont. L2A 5X3

The Tycoon's Tots
Stella Bagwell

To Lloyd,
for all those inspiring speeches
you used to give me.
Love always.

Books by Stella Bagwell

Silhouette Romance

Golden Glory

Moonlight Bandit

A Mist on the Mountain

Madeleine's Song

The Outsider

The New Kid in Town

Cactus Rose #621

Hillbilly Heart

Teach Me

The White Night

No Horsing Around

That Southern Touch

Gentle as a Lamb

A Practical Man

Precious Pretender

Done to Perfection

Rodeo Rider

*Their First Thanksgiving

*The Best Christmas Ever

*New Year's Baby

Hero in Disguise

Corporate Cowgirl

Daniel's Daddy #1020

A Cowboy for Christmas

Daddy Lessons

Wanted: Wife

†The Sheriff's Son

†The Rancher's Bride

†The Tycoon's Tots

Silhouette Special Edition

Found: One Runaway Bride

*Heartland Holidays Trilogy

†Twins on the Doorstep


sold her first book to Silhouette in November 1985. Now thirty novels later she is still thrilled to see her books in print and can't imagine having any other job than that of writing about two people falling in love.

She lives in a small town in southeastern Oklahoma with her husband of twenty-six years. She has one son and daughter-in-law.

Dear Reader.

It's always a special treat for me to have the opportunity to speak to you directly and say a big thank-you for buying and reading my books—all thirty of them—down through the years!

Writing romances isn't an easy job, but it is a very fulfilling one. I like to think I'm spreading a little love to each and every one of you through my books.

I'm especially proud of
The Tycoon's Tots,
which features not one, but two adorable babies and two people who desperately want to be their parents. It also happens to be a continuation of my TWINS ON THE DOORSTEP miniseries.

The Tycoon's Tots,
as with the other two books of the series, is all about family and what it means to a woman to be a part of a family, yet also have one of her very own. After all. we women don't just stop at being a lover, or wife. More often than not we're also a mother, a daughter, or a sister, and our love doesn't just encompass a man it reaches over the entire family and makes each relationship within it a very special thing. I think you'll see such is the case with my heroines, the Murdock sisters.

It was a delight forme to write TWINS ON THE DOORSTEP and tell you how two babies not only create chaos and change in the Murdock family, but also bring lasting love to Justine. Rose and Chloe. I hope each of their stories will touch a spot in your heart as they did mine and that you'll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Love and God Bless,


yatt Sanders picked up the plain white envelope lying atop the leather duffel bag and pulled out a one-page letter. He'd read the words so many times now, he practically knew them by heart, but he still felt compelled to read it again one last time before he left Houston.

Dear Wyatt,

I know it's been awhile since we last talked, so hearing from me now, like this, must be a shock for you. Believe me, I never wanted to be a burden to you. Especially after Daddy died. You have your own life to live. But there seems to be no one else I can turn to for help.

It's a long story, but I've gotten myself into a mess. I didn't want you to know how things were with me— at least not until I had the chance to fix them. Just please don't reproach me for making bad choices. I never was as strong as you, Wyatt.

As of now I'm in a mental health facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico. But I'm going to get better.
Promise. Until then, I want you to go get my babies and take them home with you. They told me their father is dead now. I'm not sure I believe them, but if he is, I know you'll be a good father to my twins, Wyatt. They need you now and so do I.

Below his sister's signature was the name of a family and a ranch in Hondo, New Mexico, where the babies were supposedly staying. Wyatt had never heard his sister mention the family or the place before. But he would find them. It was the only way he could help his sister now.

Chapter One

hloe Murdock galloped the chestnut around the track a second time, then slowed him to a trot. He wasn't ready to quit their run, and Chloe had to strain against the reins to remind him who was boss.

She'd just gotten the horse in check when she noticed the man standing at the top of the hill, a few yards away from the stable. He was looking in her direction, his hand shading his eyes, even though he was wearing a pair of dark glasses.

It wasn't unusual for a man to visit the ranch. Men often stopped by to inquire about buying a horse or bull. The Bar M had always been known for its good stock and that hadn't changed even though her father, Tomas, had died and no longer ran the place.

Yet even from this distance, Chloe got the impression that this man in his khaki slacks and expensive leather jacket was not here to buy or sell stock. At least not the four-legged kind she was familiar with.

By the time she reached the top of the hill, the chestnut was still dancing with the urge to run. His sides were heaving
and his flared nostrils blew streams of vapor into the crisp morning air. The man on the ground kept a careful distance from the woman and the fired up thoroughbred.

“Hello,” she said to him. “I'm Chloe Murdock. Can I help you?”

Not certain he could trust her or the horse, Wyatt remained several steps away.

“I'm Wyatt Sanders. The woman up at the house told me I would find you down here.” Innate good manners had him pulling off his sunglasses and slipping them inside his shirt pocket.

Chloe was a woman who'd never been that impressed with men, good-looking or otherwise, but she had to admit this one was quite striking. His hair was as black and shiny as a crow's wing and slicked straight back from a wide forehead. His hooded gray eyes were a cool and startling contrast against his darkly tanned skin. Though his lips were compressed in a thin line at the moment, she got the impression of chiseled fullness. There was money and city polish written from the toes of his brown Italian loafers to the top of his expensive haircut.

“If you're looking for a racehorse, I'm not inclined to sell. A few months ago, I did let a five-year-old go in a claiming race, but the ten I have now are all young and,” she flashed him a charming smile, “fast.”

Wyatt hadn't been ready for the sight of this woman, nor the sexy tilt of her berry colored lips. He'd been expecting a cowgirl of course—what else would one find on a ranch?—but all the cowgirls he'd ever seen in Houston wore skin-tight blue jeans, overdone makeup and big hairdos.

But this girl, or more rightly this slip of a woman, sitting astride the nervous thoroughbred was nothing like that. She was wearing jeans all right, but they were black and loose fitting with the hems tucked into a pair of brown western boots that had intricate stitching on the tall tops.
An old gray rugby shirt served as her blouse. In spite of the cool air, the neck was unbuttoned and the sleeves were pushed up to her elbows to show a pair of slender but strongly muscled forearms. Her straight hair was the color of rich burgundy wine. White the crown was covered with a red baseball cap, the cape of it lying against her back shone like red silk in the morning sun.

There was no makeup or artificial color to be found on her face, yet she looked anything but pale. The wind had blushed her cheeks and lips and her deep green eyes glittered like twin emeralds as she looked down at him from her lofty perch on the horse's back.

“Actually,” he said, “I'm…not looking to buy a racehorse.”

Her winged brows arched at him. “Oh. Then you're here about a bull. Well, you'll have to see my sister, Rose.”

“I'm not here about a bull, either. I'm here…” He paused as he realized all the things he'd planned on saying, all the questions his mind had dwelled on these past weeks, were fast slipping away as he looked up at Chloe Murdochs face. She was nothing like the woman he'd thought he'd be dealing with, and the difference had thrown him.

“Yes?” she prompted.

“I'm here to talk to you.”

The chestnut was hot and if Chloe didn't keep him moving while he cooled down, his muscles would be stiff tomorrow. She had no intention of letting that happen, no matter what business this man wanted to discuss.

“You'll have to let me put Banjo on the walker.”

She reined the horse away from him and headed over to the stable. Wyatt followed, carefully stepping around piles of horse manure as he went.

At the stable, Chloe jerked off the small racing saddle, tossed it over the fence, then led the tall chestnut over to
where three other horses were being mechanically led around a large circle.

After she'd fastened Banjo's lead rope to one of the free arms and put the horses in motion again, she walked over to the stranger and extended her hand to him.

“Sorry about the interruption, er—Mr. Sanders, is it?”

Wyatt hadn't planned on shaking Chloe Murdock's hand, but he found it impossible to rebuff her. The genuine warmth he sensed about her compelled him to remain a gentleman.

“Yes,” he answered. “It's Sanders. Wyatt Sanders.”

She had a healthy grip for someone with such a small hand. He could feel calluses on her palms, something he'd never encountered on a woman before. But then he'd never known any woman who actually did manual labor such as this one obviously did.

“Well, Mr. Sanders, what can I help you with today? Are you looking for land in this area?”

Her assumption put a quirk of amusement on his lips. “What makes you think that?” he found himself asking.

Chloe shrugged as she once again eyed him with open curiosity. “You're obviously not from around here. I thought you might be in real estate.”

The wind was playing with her shoulder length hair, whipping a few strands across her face. She had pale golden skin, he noticed, with one freckle a fraction above the edge of her upper lip.

He forced himself to drop her hand, but his eyes refused to leave her face. Incredibly, she was the sexiest woman he'd ever seen. “I'm an oilman from Houston, Texas,” he told her.

She smiled at that and Wyatt felt something inside him jerk as though he'd been stung by an arrow.

“A Texas oilman,” she repeated with faint amusement. “What are you doing out here in New Mexico? Looking to buy or lease the mineral rights in this area? I wasn't
aware this part of the state had petroleum resources. ‘Course, I know there's the big Conoco field over by Eunice and there's oil down at Lordsburg, but you're talking at least a couple of hundred miles from here. And that's all desert land. You're in the mountains now.”

So Wyatt had noticed. One minute he'd been in the desert, then before he'd realized it the terrain had changed, and he'd been winding through forested mountains and lush green valley floor. The change in landscape had surprised him almost as much as the sight of Chloe Murdock. “I'm not here looking for oil. It's something more personal.”

Her eyes narrowed at his evasiveness. “Personal? Dear God, I hope you're not going to tell me it has something to do with my father Tomas,” she said without preamble.

“It does. In a way,” he said and was struck by how much he wanted to avoid the issue that had brought him to this ranch and this woman. It would have been pleasant to simply talk to her a few more minutes.

“Look, Mr. Sanders, my father has been dead for several months. I'm not trying to make excuses, but whatever he owes you, we didn't know about it. We've been trying to pay off his debts, but for right now, all I can say is you'll just have to stand in line and wait your turn.”

The memory of Belinda's coffin being lowered into the ground suddenly flashed through Wyatt's mind. “What your father owes me could never be repaid.”

“I beg your pardon?”

His gray eyes clashed with the spark of her green ones. “You heard what I said. Your father took something from me that can't be compensated.”

Chloe was fast losing her patience with this man. He'd obviously come here for money. Why didn't he just spit it out and be done with all this dallying around?

“I've always heard Texans go at things at a slower pace, but do you think for this one time you could speed things
along and get to the point? I have lots of work waiting on me and the morning is already half gone.”

His jaw clenched. “Your father can't give my sister back to me,” he said tightly.

Chloe drew in a sharp little breath. “Who are you?”

He took a step closer. “I told you who I was.”

Her full lips twisted at his response. “An oilman from Houston. So what connection do you have with me or this ranch?”

Her voice, which up until a moment ago had been warm and lilting, was now sharp-edged and demanding. “My sister was Belinda Waller and your father killed her,” he said flatly.

The first spill Chloe had taken on the galloping track had knocked the wind from her lungs and scrambled her senses. For several minutes she'd been unable to tell if the ground was really the sky or visa versa. Hearing Belinda Waller had a brother left her feeling as though she'd just taken another walloping fall.

“My father didn't kill anybody,” she finally managed to say. “Now if you'll excuse me, I've got work to do.”

Turning, she left him standing on the muddy hillside. She knew he would follow her. He hadn't come all this way to let things go at that. But Chloe was too shaken, too stunned to simply stand stock-still while the man bored holes in her with those cold gray eyes.

“I'm not going to be put off, Ms. Murdock. We have things to talk about.”

She glanced over her shoulder to see he'd joined her in the long, dim stable. For a moment all Chloe could think was that he looked like an alien standing there on the wood shavings in his crisply ironed cotton and softly worn leather. He wasn't from this world, so why had he come here?

With a flip of her wrist, she jerked the baseball cap from
her head and shook her hair back from her face. “Then talk. Who's stopping you?”

His teeth ground together as he watched her slap the cap back on her head, then toss a shovel into a wheelbarrow and push it into an empty stall.

“I'd think you'd have the courtesy to go up to the house and give me your undivided attention.”

Chloe didn't bother to look at him. Instead, she scooped up a shovelful of dirty wood shavings and horse manure. “I don't have time to go through social niceties with you. And even if I did, I wouldn't.”

Oilmen, even the ones like himself who worked in plush offices and drove Mercedeses, were used to blunt, rough talk interspersed with a wide range of four-letter words. It went with the business. But that was from his male counterparts. The women he encountered were always full of sugar and ready to give him all the attention he wanted. He couldn't believe Chloe Murdock was dismissing him as though he were no better than the stuff she was tossing into the wheelbarrow.

“I didn't come here to fight with you,” he said, trying his best to hold onto his temper.

“After what your sister did to my family, I can't believe you had the gall to come here at all.”

Wyatt didn't know what had come over him. Any other time, he would have taken hold of her shoulder and physically made her turn and face him. Instead, he found himself staring, fascinated by her rounded behind as she bent over the shovel, the fluid movements of her body as she pitched another scoopful.

“Flinging accusations at each other isn't going to get us anywhere,” he said.

“I can't say I
to get anywhere with you,” she said with a strained grunt as she forced the shovel point down through the packed shavings.

“You're not making this any easier for either of us.”

Anger surged through Chloe, but she tried to take it out on the shovel instead of him. “Believe me, Mr. Sanders, nothing has been easy since my father died. And as for anyone killing anybody, I'd say your sister was the major contributor to the heart attack that killed Tomas. She was blackmailing him, you know. Milking him of his money, and his self-respect. What kind of woman would do that?”

“I think—”

Before he could say more, Chloe flung the shovel to the ground and whirled on him. Her eyes were shooting sparks as hot as her auburn hair. “Tell me, Mr. Sanders, what sort of woman would leave two little helpless babies on a porch and never look back? She didn't care if they lived or died, so don't come here whining about the loss of your sister. You'll not get sympathy from me or anyone else on this ranch!”

Since he'd learned of Belinda's death, Wyatt had been full of outrage and pain. He hadn't stopped to think the Murdock family might be feeling as injured as he.

“I'm not looking for sympathy. Especially from you. I'll be the first to admit that Belinda had her problems. I didn't know about the twins or anything. Not until—” he paused and drew in a heavy breath “—it was already too late. But whatever her faults, she didn't deserve to die in a mental hospital for criminals!”

Chloe could see real grief on Wyatt Sanders's face and it touched her in spite of who he was and all that Belinda had done to her family. “I didn't want your sister to die. None of my family wanted any such thing to happen.”

“Maybe not. But your father was the reason she was in trouble with the law in the first place.”

Chloe's jaw dropped. The man was obviously as crazy as his sister had been. “How could you possibly think such a thing? Your sister was a dangerous, unstable woman. I'm sorry if that pains you, but that's the way it was.”

Tight-lipped, he said, “My sister would never have been
prompted to do the things she did if your father hadn't seduced her and ruined her life.”

Chloe had always been cursed with a quick temper. Growing up, she'd often been punished for her angry outbursts. Ladies don't fight, her mother had gently scolded Chloe when she'd come home one afternoon from grammar school with a fat lip. It hadn't made any difference to Lola when Chloe'd tried to explain she'd punched the playground bully in the face because he'd been calling her best friend ugly names.

BOOK: The Tycoon's Tots
7.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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