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Mr. Dad

Mr. Dad

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I found her hiding in my garden. One kiss and I'll do anything to keep her ... even if she does claim to be a pixie. (A pixie?!?)

Main Tropes

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Laugh-Out-Loud Funny
  • Steamy
  • Boss Romance
  • Nanny Romance
  • Pixie Romance (Pixies?!?)


When enchanting, loveable Meriwyn is kicked out of her pixie tribe weeks before Christmas and forced to live as a human, she goes to work for tough, pragmatic engineer, Reeve Lambert, caring for his motherless children. She cherishes everything about her new life, despite the hilarious mishaps with all things electrical and modern. More than anything, she loves the children almost as much as she loves their sexy father, even though that love is forbidden.

Reeve doesn’t know what to make of adorable Meriwyn. From her odd speech pattern and ability to charm all two- and four-legged creatures, to her confusion over the basics of everyday life, to her innocent passion, she’s become an irreplaceable part of his family. His children want her as a forever mother . . . and so does he.

But Meriwyn can’t do forever, not with a human. And when she discovers Reeve’s actions will unintentionally destroy her home and people, she must choose between the humans and their needs, and the very existence of her tribe. Not that there’s any real choice. If the humans have their way, the pixies will die. Somehow she must stop Reeve without his discovering who she is and where she comes from . . . or that their love can never be.

Intro to Chapter 1

Dusk settled over the maritime forest like a filmy curtain, the final shafts of sunlight struggling to penetrate the protective boughs of the sixty-foot pines. As though in response, a chilly mist crept from the gathering gloom, the ghostly tendrils clinging to the ferns and brambles, nearly concealing the two younglings braving the cold and dark. A brisk nor’easter chose that moment to blow and the stubby stand of oaks on the ridge moaned loudly in protest. At the sound, the little girl burst into heartrending sobs.

Meriwyn watched the younglings from her hiding spot behind a clump of ferns. Unable to handle such fear and panic coming from ones so helpless, she slipped her hand into the bag hanging from her belt and crept to within a whisker of the pair.

“Don’t cry, Ella,” the boy urged, throwing a clumsy arm around his little sister’s shoulders. “Look over there, I see the light again. We’ll keep following it until we reach a house or something.”

Meriwyn’s eyes narrowed in annoyance. Or something. It would definitely be something. Like a raccoon’s lair or a rat’s nest. Or if Thicket felt in particularly fine fettle, he might have a smelly bog in store for the little ones. With a sigh, she decided to interfere, aware the consequences would prove unpleasant for taking the side of humans over her own kind.

Gathering a pinch of dust from the bag at her waist, she sprinkled it on herself and waited while it took effect. The instant she transformed into human size, she glided from the protection of the surrounding bushes and stepped directly in front of the younglings.

Even blocking their path, it took them a moment to see her. The little girl—Ella, Meriwyn recalled­—clutched at her brother’s shirt, crying out in alarm.

“Are you lost?” she asked, pitching her musical voice to soothe and reassure. In response, the two visibly relaxed.

“Yeah,” the boy spoke up, eyeing her curiously. He couldn’t be more than nine or ten, yet she topped him by only a handful of inches. “We went for a walk and saw those lights.”

“There they are again,” Ella exclaimed, pointing. “Look, Connor, by that big hill.”

In response, the boy took an eager step toward the dancing beams. Without his even realizing she’d moved, Meriwyn eased into his path, her movements unhurried, yet designed to draw his gaze. “That’s the wrong way,” she murmured.

“But the lights—”

“They’re not real.”

His brow furrowed in confusion, his dark eyes reflecting his bewilderment. “They’re not?”

“Not?” Ella parroted.

“Your path is another way.” Meriwyn pointed to the south. “See the star? ’Tis the first one of the evening. You can follow it straight home.”

Connor frowned, shaking his head as though to clear the thoughts jumbling his brain. “You dress funny. Are you Robin Hood or something? You look kinda like him.”

Ella tilted her head to one side, her pansy blue eyes huge and serious. Her gaze held Meriwyn immobile. After a moment, a tiny, ingenuous smile spread across her face. “I know who you are,” she whispered, her expression enraptured.

“Nah, you’re not Robin Hood,” the boy decided at length. “You’re hair’s too long and curly. You’re a girl, aren’t you? You’re just playing dress up, right?”

Meriwyn groaned in exasperation, almost sympathizing with Thicket. Annoying little creatures, these human younglings. Demanding. Inquisitive. Uncontrollable. Her gaze remained captured by the girl-child. And shrewd. “Follow the star,” she instructed, easing back toward the sheltering trees.

“Aren’t you going to show us the way?” Connor asked in alarm.

The little girl stepped forward and, before Meriwyn could prevent it, joined hands with her. “I’m Ella. We’re lost. Will you help us?” she asked. “Take us home.” As though her request settled the matter, she heaved a great sigh of relief.

Meriwyn hesitated, staring apprehensively at the plump little hand imprisoning her. She’d really done it this time. She’d been caught, sure as moonbeams. Now to decide how to deal with her mistake.

She’d try persuasion first. The girl-child didn’t appear mean-spirited. A few sweet words of enticement and the babe would loosen her grip. But the instant the thought flitted through her mind, Ella laced their fingers more firmly together.

Meriwyn frowned unhappily. The youngling clung to her tighter than a limpet. If enticement didn’t work, she’d have no choice but to trick her into letting go. Then, she’d fade into the forest and abandon them to their fate. That’s what her tribe’s leader, Lord Ackerley would expect. That’s what they’d all expect. But she couldn’t. Some accursed part of her—undoubtedly the human part she’d inherited from her grandmother—refused to allow it.

She had only one other choice. To help. Calling herself every kind of fool, Meriwyn made her decision. “T’will be dark soon,” she told them. “I’ll show you the way. But,” she fixed Ella with an artful glance, “only if you promise to release me once you’re safe.”

The little girl considered for a minute before nodding. Meriwyn led them through the forest, having done her best to negotiate her freedom. She felt the hostile gaze of woodland creatures on her, a gaze that called her traitor. What other option did she have?

To allow the younglings to blunder through the forest entailed a far greater risk. ’Twas Gathering Night. What if the two came upon her brethren gathering pixie dust? With moonrise only hours away, disaster threatened. Worse, what if a search party, organized to find the missing babes, came upon them? Fooling younglings was one thing. Fooling adults was quite another. Pixies were at their most vulnerable on Gathering Night.

Yet the nearer she came to civilization, the greater her alarm. Not that she’d abandon her task to take the younglings to safety. She couldn’t. She’d made a pact. Unfortunately, it did little to ease her fears. If anything, it increased them.

She’d keep her word, but would the youngling?

The breeze kicked up, carrying with it a delicious aroma that teased and tantalized. Man. Not any man, either, but one who appealed on a visceral level. Meriwyn leaned into it, pulling the scent deep into her lungs. She’d smelled him before, his distinctive male scent mixing with the wonderful odor of fresh pine. She wrinkled her nose, wondering why his essence seemed so familiar and why the familiarity distressed, even as it captivated. She must have crossed his path before. But where? And when?

His voice came to her next, deep and powerful, fear reverberating through the low, husky tones as he called to his younglings. A chill crept along her spine at the sound. Why did his voice affect her in this odd manner?

She glanced at the little ones. Soon her opportunity to escape would arrive. Once Connor heard his father, she’d convince Ella to release her grip. In the excitement of their reunion, no one would notice her slip away to safety.

As expected, the minute the man’s voice reached Connor’s ears, he began to run, crashing through the underbrush toward the man. Tentatively, Meriwyn tugged on Ella’s hand. But the little girl refused to let go. She stared up at Meriwyn with solemn blue eyes, her grip tightening.

“Your father,” Meriwyn said, her voice pitched to beguile. “He’s calling you. Find him.”

Ella shook her head, snuggling against Meriwyn’s soft green vest. “Daddy will come and find me,” she said with utter complacency. “I want to stay with you.”

She heard Connor’s exclamations the instant he reached his father, along with the man’s low, urgent questioning and the boy’s piping response. They would appear at any moment. She had to get away. Now.

She used her most commanding tone. “Ella, let go. You promised.”

The little girl’s grip loosened, but she still didn’t release her grip, not completely. “Please,” she whimpered. “I want you to stay.”

Meriwyn heard the steady approach of the man and his son, and forced herself to sing the hypnotic words. “So sleepy, little one, so very sleepy.” She hated having to go to this extreme. Hated having to trick the little girl. “Your eyes are falling closed. Lie down and sleep, little babe. Sleep.”

The words wound through the air, twining around Ella, gentle and caressing. Slowly, her body sagged against Meriwyn, her eyes drifting shut, her hand falling open. Now! She had to escape now.


Too late. The man thrust through the bushes into the clearing and the girl-child snapped awake, her hand tightening into a death grip. Meriwyn froze, held immobile beneath the man’s fierce dark gaze. To reveal herself to younglings was bad enough, but to be seen by an adult constituted the gravest error she’d ever made in her very long life.

Too late, she knew why his scent seemed so familiar. Too late, she remembered where she’d last seen him. Too late, she realized the disaster she’d wrought upon herself and her people by her single act of betrayal. The consequences of her unthinking action were too awful to contemplate.

He was the human who had recently invaded pixie territory. Lord Ackerley had warned that this man brought danger and the tribe should avoid him at all cost. Everyone had debated long into the night over how to prevent his return.

May the Great Oak protect her.

The man crossed the clearing, Connor at his heels, his gaze never leaving hers. Hair as dark as a moonless night curled thickly about his forehead and emphasized his black, black eyes, eyes capable of stealing the very soul from her body. Life’s hardships had left their mark upon his face, cutting furrowed pathways across his brow and along the sides of his mouth. Her gaze settled on the stern, uncompromising line of that mouth and she trembled.

She recognized the tight-lipped emotion. She should. She’d seen its twin mirrored on Lord Ackerley’s face often enough. ’Twas fury, pure
and simple.

He seemed huge to her, his shoulders wide and muscled. Powerful. She knew without a doubt he could break her as easily as the twigs beneath his booted feet. She shrank toward the trees, wanting to fade into their protective embrace, but the little girl’s hand kept her anchored in place, as did the man’s gaze.

“Ella.” The single word commanded his daughter’s attention, yet his stare never wavered from Meriwyn.

Tears sprang into Ella’s blue eyes. “Please, Daddy. I want to keep her.”

His astonishment would have been funny if Meriwyn weren’t so frightened. “Keep her? What are you talking about? We have to go home, sweetheart.”

Ella shifted closer to Meriwyn. “You let me keep Fluffy. And we found Fluffy in the woods.”

“Fluffy is a rabbit. You can keep rabbits. You can’t keep people like you do a pet.” The man approached his daughter and Meriwyn went rigid.

“No, Daddy,” Ella cried. “You’re scaring her. She’s not real people. We could keep her if we wanted and she could be my pretend mommy.”

He shut his eyes briefly, but not before stark pain reflected in the dark depths. “Let go of her hand, Ella. It’s time to leave.”

He shot Meriwyn a look of inquiry and then did the unthinkable. He put one hand on Ella’s arm and the other on Meriwyn’s, branding her with his touch. With gentle insistence, he parted them.

Weeping softly, the youngling loosened her grip. For a final instant, the child’s fingers clung, her grief and despair writhing like a living creature within Meriwyn’s palm. Having gained her freedom from the girl-child, the man now took it from her, his gaze holding her in place, while his hand shackled her wrist. To her confusion, small sparks flashed at the spot of their joining. Sparks of gold and silver and bronze. What bit of magic was this?

“You found my children?” he asked, jerking her attention from the smattering of sparks.

Meriwyn nodded, shifting backward and to one side. To her intense relief, his hand dropped from her arm without protest. Three steps more and she’d be safe.

His eyes narrowed and he studied her as though for the first time. His brows drew together in suspicion. “Who are you? Where do you live?”

She eased back another step, at the same time answering with a vague inclination of her head toward the deeper woods. Two more steps and she’d be gone. The instant his gaze flickered, she could escape.

“Your name. What is it?” he persisted, freezing her with his dark intensity. As though sensing her intent to flee, he reached out to take hold of her again.

“Meriwyn,” she answered hastily, ducking his grasp.

She dreaded giving up the precious nugget of information he requested, but dreaded far more having him touch her again. Instinctively, she knew his touch would prove the more binding of the two.

Her softly spoken name seemed to hover between them, connecting them in some inexplicable manner. Before he could fetter her further, she took another step backward. One final step would bring her within the comforting shelter of a holly.

“Meriwyn?” He shifted forward, his eyes narrowing in the deepening gloom. She knew he struggled to see her clearly. “Wait, I—”

“Daddy, she’s going to ’sappear!” Ella cried in alarm.

For a split second, his gaze swung to his daughter and she took advantage of his distraction. Her hand dipped into the leather bag at her waist and the holly kindly cloaked her retreat into the underbrush.

She started to escape back into the woods, but at Ella’s anguished cry, she hesitated. Grumbling beneath her breath, she peeked out from the thick foliage. The youngling stood within the circle of her father’s arms, weeping disconsolately.

With a sigh, Meriwyn cupped her hands and blew. “Happy dreams, little one,” she whispered.

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