Christmas Showdown

Christmas Showdown
Burstyn Blue seriesBook 1
A Mackenzie McKade Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: December 2, 2011

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One perfect night can bring two people together… Or tear them apart.

Kelly McMaster’s first and last one nightstand left her with a child and no idea how to find her son’s father—the man whose touch and kiss has her still wanting more. Now, after almost two years, she’s settled in a new city with a new job… One that has a gun pointed at her head.

When Trey Burstyn answers the bank robbery in process call, the last thing he expects to discover is the woman who left an impression on him one snowy night in Denver. He’s ready to rekindle the fire, but she’s resistant. Then the reason walks through the door.

Anger. Betrayal. Regrets. All fades when Trey realizes he’s as much to blame for the situation, but that ends now. When he insists Kelly and TJ, their son, move in with him, she balks.

Kelly is determined to do things on her own, yet the life Trey offers on the Burstyn ranch is a far cry better than her shoddy condominium. He argues he’s in it for the long run, but perhaps a trial run over the holidays will help him realize that parenting isn’t for him.

Will their differences tear them apart… or will they find Christmas magic in each other’s arms?


Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.

Trey couldn’t take his eyes off the boy Kelly held as she spoke to the thin blonde at the door. At first he had been shocked that Kelly had a child. Then, as he studied the chubby little toddler, he was taken aback by how much the little guy looked like Samuel, his brother’s three-year-old son. Trey would even swear the boy had the Burstyns’ eyes, an undeniable crystal blue. But those weren’t the only similarities that made the hackles on the back of Trey’s neck stir. The toddler had shiny black hair, and damned if he didn’t have the same tuft of hair sticking up against his forehead that matched Trey’s. Poor kid. He’d fought that damn cowlick most of his life.

It was about that time Trey felt his knees grow weak. But what threatened to wipe his legs out from under him was when the woman called the boy Trey. Like a puzzle, the pieces fell into place.

Still he refused to accept the obvious. Instead he did the math to determine approximately when this child could have been conceived. Shit. If he guessed right, that would make conception right around the time of the Denver conference. But he had used a condom.

The last of the air in his lungs rushed out as he stared at the small image of himself—his son. Denying it would be futile.

Overwhelming emotions bombarded him all at once. Disbelief. Betrayal. Anger. Fury so hot that it surged through his veins like liquid fire. How long did Kelly plan to keep his son from him? If it hadn’t been for the bank incident he would have never known he had a son, let alone that they were living in the same city.

Kelly shut the door and turned to him, her face pallid. “We need to talk.” Her voice trembled.

He barely held his rage beneath a veneer of calm—the only thing stopping him from reaching out and strangling the woman. “Looks like the talking should have happened two years ago.” He set his Stetson upon the scarred coffee table before the couch.

TJ started to squirm in her arms. “Down.” But she held on to him with a death grip.

“I tried to contact you.”

Uh huh, he thought silently. Sure you did.

“Momma. Down.” The boy’s request turned into a cry. “Down. Down.”

She started to bounce him on her hip. “Shhh, sweetheart.”

“Let him down, Kelly. I’m not going to run off with him.” And neither was she.

Hesitating, she finally set the boy on his feet before glancing back up at Trey. “I didn’t know your last name, until today.”

“What about the hotel? The conference organizers?”

Her backbone stiffened defensively, but she didn’t raise her voice. “I did contact them. Privacy laws forbid them from giving me any information. You don’t have any idea how many times I heard that excuse. Plus I had no idea where you lived, worked.” With flames in her eyes, she ground her teeth together. “Whether you believe it or not, I did the best I could.”

TJ approached him, staring up at him curiously. He placed his tiny shoe on Trey’s boot and then stretched his arms. “Up.”

Trey’s heart thudded against his chest. He started to bend down and retrieve the toddler when Kelly’s coolness shattered. “No!” A panicked expression flashed on her face before it hardened, and then softened like her voice. “TJ, come to momma.” She took a step forward as Trey hauled the boy into his arms.

For a moment, she stood silently, her breathing labored, her eyes moist—from fear or possessiveness, he didn’t know—and at that precious second he didn’t care.

“Hey, buddy.” TJ smoothed his palm over Trey’s chin and laughed when he felt the small prickles of his beard. The boy’s childish giggle made Trey grin ear to ear. “So you think that’s funny.” He pressed his cheek next to the child’s and rubbed up and down like he did Samuel’s belly on occasion. TJ burst into a plethora of titters, causing Trey to laugh out loud.

“I should get him ready for bed,” Kelly said, holding out her arms expectantly.

“I think due to the circumstances, me spending a little time with my son warrants a later bedtime.”

“Yes, but—”

Trey shot her a look that he knew could curdle milk, because he’d used it on more occasions than he’d like to admit in his line of work to gain a person’s cooperation. It worked to quiet her, but it didn’t last long.

“I don’t want him falling asleep dirty. He needs a bath.” She inhaled deeply and released the breath, unaware that her robe had drifted apart again.

But his cock had noticed, and it firmed beneath his zipper. He let his gaze sweep down her. “I’ll give him a bath while you slip into something less comfortable.” He needed all his senses about him.

She glanced down where his eyes had stopped. “Dammit.” When TJ stared at her, she corrected herself. “I mean darn.” Licking her lips nervously, she glared at him. “Have you ever given a child a bath?”

“Kelly, I come from a big family—two older brothers, two younger sisters, two nephews and three nieces. I’ve given my share of baths and babysat. If you’ll show me to the bathroom I’ll take care of the rest.”

Again she hesitated, staring at him like he’d grown two heads, before she finally gave in. “This way.”

Still holding TJ, he followed her up the stairs, his randy gaze locked on the gentle sway of her hips. By the time he made it to the top, his dick was so hard it was uncomfortable.

Didn’t that beat all? His was madder than hell at this woman and still couldn’t think past the desire to bed her.

“The first door on the left. I’ll get his pajamas and a towel.” She disappeared into another room as Trey started to slip off his son’s shoes. The little guy wiggled and squirmed, but fortunately Trey was able to get him undressed without any tears.

Quickly, he checked the sizes of his shoes and clothing. The boy needed a pair of real jeans and boots. He’d have to wing the fit of a cowboy hat. Turning on the faucets, he checked the temperature of the water. When it was lukewarm he set TJ down and the boy immediately started to wave his chubby arms and splash water to strike Trey in the face.

“I forgot to warn you that TJ is a wild man in the bathtub.” She set a diaper, a pair of footed, thermal pajamas and a worn towel on the commode. “His hair needs washed—”

“I can handle it.” The minute the sharp reply left his mouth he regretted it. If what Kelly said was true, she had attempted to contact him. He watched her walked away as he began to soap up the wild sea serpent dousing his father with more water.

In reality, his and Kelly’s night had consisted of partying with her friends and a couple of other conference-goers, and an attraction too strong to deny. Heavy petting led to a quick trip to his hotel room and the rest was history. She had completely worn him out, so much so that he had barely awakened in time to catch his flight. And he wasn’t free of fault either, because she had given him her number, but somewhere between the room, a taxi ride, and the airport he had lost the small piece of paper she’d written the information on. It could have happened any time he had withdrawn money from his pocket.

So clearly he was as much to blame as she, or maybe no one was to blame. Maybe they needed to chalk this one up to Murphy’s Law and just move forward.

After washing and rinsing TJ’s hair, he lifted his son out of the tub and wrapped him in the towel. The boy was in good spirits, jabbering incoherent gibberish that only another child would comprehend. It was beyond Trey.

“Momma!” He threw open his arms.

She smiled lovingly and reached out for him. “I’ll dress him.” He went willingly into her arms.

Trey snatched the diaper and pajamas off the commode before she could. Their eyes met. His determined. Hers weary. When she realized he wasn’t going away, she turned and walked into the bedroom and laid their child on the bed. Trey placed the boy’s clothes beside him.

As she bent over, the t-shirt she wore edged upward, displaying smooth, unblemished skin above the band of her jeans. Would it feel as soft as it had two years ago? She worked with expertise to clothe the ever-moving child as Trey scanned the room.

Her queen-size bed and dresser, which appeared to have several drawers off their tracks, were the only furniture and all that would fit in the cramped room. It sickened him to think what she might have gone through during this last two years. Had she been alone? Did she have family to help her? If so, why would she move away and obviously place herself and their child in financial straits?

“Dink,” TJ cried out.

Trey shot a questioning glanced at Kelly.

“He wants milk,” she answered before he could speak. “Sure, baby, let’s go downstairs.” Kelly heaved the heavy bundle into her arms.

“Here.” Trey extended his hands. “I’ll take him.” But his offer was met with defiance.

“I’m more than capable. Remember, I’ve been doing this for over a year, by myself.” Without saying another word, she spun on the balls of her bare feet and stomped from the room.

Zing! He felt that jab go straight to the heart, because Kelly was right. But dammit, it wasn’t his fault. Crestfallen, he followed her down the stairs and into a kitchen large enough for only one person to maneuver comfortably, which meant she bumped into him.

“Why don’t you go sit on the couch, watch some football or something,” she snapped.

“Okay. And I’ll take our son, so you can do what you have to in here.”

“I’ve been—”

“Yeah, I know. You’ve done this a million times, alone.” He took TJ from her arms and walked out of the room.