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A tiny premature infant is delivered into the caring hands of NICU nurse, Annie Billodeaux. His father, Matthew Keaton,is the newly hired running back for the New Orleans Sinners football team. His mother is deceased, victim of a stray bullet fired in a gang war. Matt blames himself for having brought his wife to the city.
Annie's heart goes out to little Daniel and his suffering father. As she teaches Matt the ins and outs of the NICU and the handling of his child, her affection for both grows into a love she cannot confess so soon to the grief-stricken man. Matt feels the pull of Annie's tenderness, but won't act on it out of respect for his wife's recent death. When Daniel is able to go home, how can Matt keep Annie near until the right time comes for him to voice his love for the Angel of the NICU?
Page Count: 378
Word Count: 94810
Silently, Matt escorted Annie to her room. All the while, he searched for the right words to put her at ease and take the tears from her eyes, to say what lay deep in his heart. If only he owned the facility with language that his mother, the English professor, possessed, but he had no chance to inherit that from her. Undoubtedly, a big, dumb jock conceived him. He felt it keenly now.
Annie had restored order to her space after Jude ransacked the dresser drawers seeking nightwear before going to bed herself. Only the white silk and black lace nightie lay crumpled on the floor, the single sign of the tempest that had taken place. Annie reached down and balled it into a waste basket.
He spoke the first words that came to him. "Don't do that! I'd like to see you wear it, not Jude."
Annie's eyes grew big. "What?"
"That came out wrong. I meant if you had come to me instead of your sister, we'd be in bed together right now." Everything that came out of his mouth made it worse.
"Really?" Her brows raised. Her cheeks flushed.
"Even without the butterfly tattoo, I knew she wasn't you, the aggressive way she tried to seduce me. You have to believe I didn't encourage her." Still stumbling.
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