Little Mowbury is a sleepy English village deep in the Cotswolds. The kind of village where you’re only a local if your lineage can be traced back to the dinosaurs. Where you can find everything in the single shop from morning newspapers to dry-cleaning, and getting your shoes mended. And, of course, where everybody knows everybody else’s business. It’s easy to find… you can’t miss it… just ask anyone and they’ll tell you… “It’s left at the crossroads.”
After being dumped on graduation day by the love of his life, Harry Boyd, Micah Lewis returned to the sleepy village he grew up in. Living next door to his mother wasn’t his best idea, granted, but when your heart was broken, there really was no place like home.
Six years later, secure and content in his job as midwife for a local birthing centre, the last person he expected to move into Lilac Cottage across the street from him was Harry Boyd. Seeing Harry again sends Micah into a tailspin and opens wounds he thought had long since healed. Although, Harry himself isn’t the only issue Micah has to face. That would be Harry’s very beautiful and very pregnant partner, Selena. But is everything as it seems?
"When did the newbies get here?" Micah asked as Jenny took the cake out of its Tupperware container and slid it onto his grandmother's silver serving plate. He'd been working flat out this week. Angie, one of the other midwives was sunning herself on the beaches of Costa Rica and he'd been sharing her shifts with Tom and Lara. Ergo, he wouldn't have noticed if the removal company had driven over his foot and asked him to help them unload.
"Moving van showed up yesterday afternoon," Jenny replied, turning on the tap to wash her hands. She grabbed the tea towel and dried them. "She said they were arriving tomorrow," she continued, "but I saw the agent airing the cottage out yesterday. He let slip they were coming a day early. You should have seen her chins wobbling when the old trout thought she'd got one up on me."
Micah covered his yawn with his hand. The one-upmanship between his mother and Doris Abernathay had been going on for so long he couldn't even remember why it started. He wasn't entirely sure whether the two women knew either, but they steadfastly held onto it like two dogs fighting over a bone. "Perish the thought," he muttered under his breath as she shrugged into her cardigan and picked up the cake.
"What was that?"
"Nothing, Mummy dearest," Micah replied quickly. "Come on, or we're going to miss the all important etiquette spot of ten-thirty. We don't want the neighbours to think we're uneducated 'cundry' folk do we?"
"You're not too big to put over my knee, Micah Lewis," Jenny threatened and slapped a hand to Micah's rear to prove her point. He laughed loudly at the thought of his five foot mother laying six foot of him over her tiny lap.
After locking the front door, Micah tucked his keys into his pocket and fell into step beside Jenny on the short walk to Lilac Cottage. "Do we know their names yet?" he asked as he lifted the cast iron door knocker and let it go. The thud of iron on wood gave a satisfying thwack he heard echoing throughout the cottage.
"No," Jenny said, running an absent hand through her short blonde hair. "But the wife is pregnant."
Micah opened his mouth to question how the hell his mother found out these things when the door opened to reveal a beautiful willowy brunette with cornflower blue eyes. The first thing Micah noticed was the hesitant, almost fearful light in the woman's gaze, pretty much the same as the pheasant's he'd encountered in the early hours of this morning. Definite dear in the headlights. But why? Who had she been expecting? By the time he'd finished his inner observations, his mother was already across the threshold and the two women were staring at him expectantly.
"You'll have to excuse Micah." Jenny chuckled. "He was on a late shift last night and I confess I may have woken him earlier than he'd have liked."
The woman smiled and her blue eyes came to life. "Poor you," she said. "I know what it's like to be sleep-deprived at the moment, so I feel for you. Please, come in, I'll put the kettle on. I'm Selena."
Micah stepped inside and closed the door behind him, wiping his feet on the welcome mat in the hall. "How far along are you?" he asked, taking the tiny hand she held out to him in both of his and shaking it warmly. His trained eye said about eight months, give or take, and a slight frown creased his brow as he noticed the slight puffiness of her fingers and ankles. Selena raised an eyebrow at his question. "I'm a midwife at the birthing centre in Winbourne," he explained quickly.
"Oh, I see," Selena laughed, a light tinkling sound. "For a minute I thought you had a fetish for fat and puffy."
"Technically, I do," Micah returned easily, immediately liking this woman. "But in a professional capacity, not a creepy one."
"Please, have a seat," Selena said, guiding them into the lounge. "Excellent timing," she called out as they heard the front door open and close. "You can put the kettle on." She smiled at someone standing behind Micah. "This is Jenny and her son—"
The fine hair on the back of Micah's neck stood up and goose bumps immediately broke out on the smooth skin of his arms. He knew that voice. God, how he knew that voice. But why here of all places? What the hell is he doing here—didn't I run far enough? Swallowing against the sudden dryness of his mouth, Micah slowly turned and pain bloomed in his chest. It had been six years since the man standing before him had calmly walked out of Micah's life. Six years and now here he was. Acutely aware of the interested gazes of the two women, Micah squared his shoulders, and kept his tone as even as he could when confronted with the only man he'd ever loved—and his pregnant wife.