Debut Novel: Wounded Warrior Meets Bookstore Owner***WHEN YOU MAKE IT HOME***

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Meg Michaels, a bookstore owner, has already walked away from two cheating exes. She’s learned her lesson and has her mind set on success—until she gets knocked up. Embarrassed and unwilling to discuss her situation with friends and family, she wears layers to hide the pregnancy.

When Meg gets sick at a party, she’s mortified. Even worse, Theo Taylor, the guest of honor, discovers her secret. Theo, an Army medic wounded in the war, agrees not to reveal her condition, and the two forge a bond of friendship that blossoms into love.

Theo is soon filling all of Meg’s late-night cravings—and not just the pregnancy-induced ones. But can their love overcome all the obstacles that stand between them and creating a happy family?

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 Excerpt: The bedroom door banged open, and I jumped, expecting Jake or Ellie. Instead, Theo lumbered in on his crutches and slammed the door behind him.
“Excuse me, do you mind?” I tugged my top in place to cover myself, but Theo’s gaze
took in my bare skin. He watched my movements closely and locked the door. For some reason I
flushed and grew warmer as he came closer to the bed. Could he want to trap me? Of course, the
thought was ridiculous. I was pretty sure my small, five-foot-five-inch, exhausted, knocked-up
self could plow through a one-legged boy covered in bandages if I wanted to get out of there badly enough. The thing was—I wanted to stay.
“Give me a break.” He hobbled to the king-size bed without looking at me then propped his crutches against the wall before falling back onto the mattress. “You think you can hide in here all by yourself?” He hauled what was left of the lower half of his body onto the bed. A flash of pain crossed his bronzed face. Closing his eyes, he lay back on the striped navy sham. He ran his good hand through spiky hair the same tawny brown as the week-old scruff on his face. “Hit the light on your way out,” he barked.
“Hey, I was here first, and I was just about to rest there. Ellie told me I could.” I smacked a hand over my mouth. “Wait… I’m sorry. That was rude.”
Theo lifted his head off the pillow, squinting from the overhead light. He peered at me in a slow, thorough inspection that left me fighting not to squirm. “Well, Jake told me I could crash here. Turn off the light and come on.” He patted the bed next to him. “Forgive me—I didn’t notice you’re expecting.” He rolled his eyes. The breath shot out of my lungs, and I wrapped my arms around my stomach as if I could hide the truth.

“Stop looking at me,” I said, making my way to the light switch. Although he’d draped his tan, muscular arm across his forehead, I sensed his eyes tracking me. I pictured my belly growing with each step, the truth transparent. I switched off the lights.

The sun was on the other side of the house, and fading afternoon light glowed in the room.
I went back around the bed and paused, not sure I really wanted to get in with this hostile-looking guy who had spent recent years surrounded by sand and weapons.

Theo glared sideways at me. “Don’t flatter yourself. I’m not about to make a move on
some pregnant chick. Either get in or get out—I don’t care.”

My mouth fell open. “Oh… you think I think…” My voice quivered, so I stopped and
tried another tactic. “I don’t…” More quivers. I forced out the only response I could manage. “Whatever.” I snatched my heels off the floor, ready to go home.

“Wait. What are you doing?” Theo scrubbed his hand over his face. “Don’t go.” His tone
softened. “I shouldn’t be alone right now.” He was giving me those big, puppy-dog eyes, but I could see his smirk.

“What? Now you want me to stay?” No more quivering. The words flowed when the
focus was on him. “What’s with you?” I itched to make a run for it, but even so, he intrigued me.

“Cut a guy some slack, will you? My social graces are rusty.”

“Oh, please! I’ve been warned not to give you anything that might resemble sympathy.”

“I don’t want your pity.” A spark flared in his eyes. “Are you always this sassy, or is your
condition playing with your hormones?” He had a full-on grin, his white teeth gleaming.

 His audacity got the best of me. “Shut up, or I’m going to take your crutches when I leave.”
My threat only made Theo roar with laughter, infuriating me more.
“You’re a bad girl, teasing a hurt man. Just get in bed—you look tired. I’ll leave, if you really want me to.”
I gave in because he was right: I was worn out. “No, don’t go.” I dropped my shoes, went to the bed, pulled back the covers, and climbed in, staying as far away from him as I comfortably could. “Let’s call a truce. I’ll stay over here, you stay over there.” I settled the plush bedding around me and rolled over to face his direction. The visible side of his body was flawless.
“Fine, but you better not snore or I’m going to flatten a pillow over your head.”
I stifled a giggle. “You’re not at all what I expected.”
He jerked his head toward me, eyeing me suspiciously. “What did you expect?”
“I just thought a war hero would be nice.” I yawned.
“I’m not nice enough for you?” His voice, low and smooth, did nothing to hide his amusement.
I relaxed, sinking in the mattress. “No, you’re a total asshole.”
The bed shook with his laughter. “Well, at least you’re honest, but don’t call me a hero.”
I heard the smile in his tone, but my eyes were closed. I really should have just stayed in bed today, I thought, drifting off to sleep.
***
My eyes were open before I realized I was awake. Theo, bathed in moonlight, lay stretched out on top of the covers next to me. “You don’t have a ring on.” He searched my eyes.

“I gave it back when I cancelled the wedding. Bradley wanted me to keep it…” I looked at my bare hand in the dim room. My ring finger felt naked without the karat-and-a-half, princess-cut diamond. Sometimes I still caught myself rubbing the area, searching for the phantom ring. “But I couldn’t.”

“So what, you didn’t want a shotgun wedding?”

“Wait. Bradley’s not the father.” I cringed as soon as the words left my mouth.
His eyes twinkled in the moonlight, and he grinned again.

“So you are a bad girl.”

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Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/When-You-Make-It-Home-ebook/dp/B00LRKU6KQ/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22383783-when-you-make-it-home

Author page on RAP:  http://redadeptpublishing.com/claire-ashby/  Claire Ashby

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