Torn from the arms of her high school sweetheart and forced into Witness Protection by her father's deed, Dawn Wainwright is not allowed to share the birth of their daughter with the man she loves and winds up raising their child alone. Then Rick Landry walks back into her life. What if he demands full custody of their troubled teen?
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Her family's entrance into the Witness Protection Program prevents Dawn Wainwright from notifying her high school sweetheart Rick Landry of the birth of their daughter Kelly. The sudden death of her parents frees Dawn from witness protection and after her college graduation she tries to find Rick before starting her career, but fails.
Kelly is a rebellious teen and her mother a respected scientist when Dawn crosses paths with Rick again. Fearing he'll try to take Kelly away from her, Dawn still keeps their daughter's parentage from him. When Rick realizes Kelly is his daughter and confronts Dawn, she fears Rick will fight her for custody. Rick only wants to be a part of Kelly's life. In doing so he becomes a part of their lives, bonding with his daughter and forging forever bonds with Dawn to replace their once Fragile Bonds.
With her best, sure-of-herself shroud more firmly in place, Dawn extended her hand to Rick. "Mr. Landry." She tried to add "Welcome," but the word caught in her throat.
"Ms. Wainwright," he said, taking her hand, his pleased expression hidden from Nelson's view.
What should have been an innocent handshake between strangers became the familiar caress of a close friend.
Dawn's heartbeat felt as unsteady as her knees. The uneven thumps against her ribs disrupted the needed flow of air to her lungs. She entertained the foolish notion her heart was riding on a flat tire.
She wanted to flee. An impossibility. She couldn't budge. Rick's warm blue eyes froze her in place.
The flash in his eyes made her struggle to withdraw her hand. She couldn't. He wouldn't let go.
"Mr. Landry," she said, making another futile try at extricating her fingers from his tight grasp. "Come in. I--"
"You two get acquainted with each other," Nelson said, heading for the door. "Feel free to show him around, Dawn. And if you're still here at lunchtime," he said, directing this to Rick, "perhaps the three of us can sit down in the cafeteria and discuss the direction Ms Wainwright's experiments will take. Say, noon?"
Rick nodded. "Sounds good."
The door sighed shut behind Nelson.
"I can't believe it's really you," Rick said, obviously delighted to see her.
Overhead, a florescent light hummed. Strange, she hadn't noticed the sound earlier, when she'd had the lab to herself. Now the room seemed smaller, closer, more crowded than before.
A squeeze of her hand locked her gaze with his, then Rick released his hold. She took a relieved step back.
A telling silence hung between them while Rick studied her, expecting… what?
More shaken than she was willing to admit, Dawn felt behind her for the counter, then leaned against it. For a moment, her whole world revolved around a pair of bright blue eyes and she drew in a shuddering breath.
Her thoughts scattered, she glanced around, her cozy place of work now a battlefield. She stared at the shelf filled with binders, her project notes, then moved toward the shelf.
"I can't believe my luck, Dyssie, not after all these years."
Dawn stilled. She hadn't been called by his pet name for over sixteen years, and then, only by Rick.