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He never expected to feel this kind of heat again…

Former wild child Jamie Archer can’t believe how amazing her life has become. Not only is she married to the sexiest man on the planet, Stark Security Chief Ryan Hunter, but she’s also set to star in a big budget blockbuster that is sure to send her career soaring into the stratosphere.

Everything is perfect until Jamie, the least maternal person on the planet, finds out that not only is she pregnant, but that her due date interferes with the film’s production schedule.

Ryan has always supported his wife’s ambition, but he never expected to learn that they were having a baby from the shouts of paparazzi. Hurt, angry, and afraid that Jamie will choose her career over their family, Ryan tries to pull her closer, but only succeeds in pushing her away.

Now, as the pillars of their once fairytale marriage begin to crumble, Jamie and Ryan must find a way to outshine the glitter of stardom and rediscover the strength of their bond.


J. Kenner


A brand new instalment in J. Kenner’s Stark International Security series is out this week, continuing Jamie and Ryan’s story, and I have a little excerpt for you.

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“As for adorable…you have to admit the kid’s got it going on.”

I sip my coffee, then swivel on the stool to face my husband directly. “We’re not ready.”

I watch his face—a face I know so damn well. He wants to argue. That’s obvious enough. But what’s also painfully, screamingly obvious is that this conversation is different from all the others.

We’re no longer tossing around those shiny soap bubbles we can pop and forget. The mantra I’d taken so much comfort in—we’re not ready—has become a total fallacy, and now I’m left with my uterus hanging out there.

Because Ryan is ready.

He has been, I think, for a very long time.

Well, shit.

I take a long slug of coffee, hoping that will make my brain cells process all of this faster. Then I wave my hand as if clearing the air of our entire conversation. “I have a toddler to entertain. And you, mister, need to get to work.”

I start to slide off the stool, but he puts his hand on my thigh. There’s barely any pressure at all, but it’s enough to keep me firmly in place. “Ryan—”

“We have to talk about this sometime.”

“Clearly. But it doesn’t have to be now.”


That’s all he says. Just that one word. But it’s enough to make me snap. “No. We do not have to talk about this now. I’m not even sure I can think about it now.” I’ve dropped my voice, as if this conversation might somehow scar our very pre-pubescent house guest.

“My career’s just now taking off,” I continue. “And once filming begins on Dead Certain things are going to get even more crazy.”


I slide off the stool and put up my hand as if that will block whatever he’s going to say. Somehow, magically, it does.

“Please, just hear me. I can’t do my job and be pregnant. And not just because a baby bump isn’t part of the character descriptions. I mean, I saw how exhausted Nikki was with every one of her kids. Are you really ready for our sex life to come to a screeching halt?”

I can’t even remember a weekend when we haven’t made love. Hell, I’m not sure I can remember a Thursday.

Sex may not be the defining quality of our marriage, but like every relationship counselor says, it’s good for a couple to share a hobby. And stamp collecting just doesn’t do it for me.

There’s both amusement and heat in his eyes when he says, “Do you really think our sex life will ever come to a screeching halt?”

Dear god, I hope not.

I cross my arms and try to stare him down. “Babies are exhausting. Toddlers, too. Maybe when the kid starts school we’ll have time to squeeze in a fast fuck, but—”

“When you’re right, you’re right,” he says, shaking his head in what is clearly only mock agreement. “It’s a damn shame that Nikki and Damien have three kids. I’m pretty sure they haven’t had sex in years and years.”

He has me there. “Nikki’s always been more organized than me.”

His mouth twitches. “If it comes down to it, we’ll get a Day Planner just for sex.”

“I hate you. You know that, right?”

He twines his fingers with mine. “You love me.”

“Fine. You’re right. I hate myself. For loving you.”

He lifts our joined hands and kisses mine. Then he brushes a strand of hair off my forehead, his touch so sweet and tender it’s almost erotic. “Kitten, what are you scared of?”

“I’m not scared.” More like terrified. “And I don’t want to give up my career now that it’s finally taken off. You know how long I’ve worked for this.”

“I do. And I also know this isn’t the eighteen hundreds. It’s not even the nineteen-fifties.”

I yank my hands free. “Don’t you dare patronize me. Not unless you’ve figured out how to be the one who carries another human inside you for nine months.”

That gorgeous face goes perfectly flat, every emotion hidden under the surface. Except not from me. I know him well enough to see the sliver of hurt dimming those usually vibrant blue eyes.

I exhale, annoyed. But with myself, not him. “I’m sorry. Really. You’re not that guy, and we both know it. I’m just—”

“Scared,” he says. “I get it. But, Kitten, I don’t think there’s a parent out there who hasn’t been at least a little scared.” He holds out both hands again, and I take them, then move closer so that he’s sitting on the stool and I’m standing between his legs, his thighs holding me in place. We’re at an angle, so I only have to turn my head a little to see that David’s now plopped on the floor, his entire upper body wriggling in time with the silly song.

I turn back to Ryan. “I’m not saying no, I promise. I’m just saying no to right now. Can you live with that?” I hope he can, because I can’t live without Ryan. If he says no, I’ll surely cave, and a year from now we’ll have a baby.

And even though I love him, I’ll resent him for the rest of my life. I’ll hate myself for it—and maybe he won’t even know. But that’s what will happen. And little by little, it will poison everything.

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