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Some Kind of Wonderful

Some Kind of Wonderful

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"An emotional roller-coaster, Some Kind of Wonderful is also tender and charming." — Heartstrings Reviews


It's the kind of story investigative reporter Matt Winters writes about—not the kind he wants to be living. When he discovers a newborn baby girl on his doorstep, he panics. Then he desperately turns to his temptingly pretty neighbor Caitlyn Devereaux for help. 

Caitlyn's aching vulnerability as she holds the precious bundle piques his curiosity. The wedding gowns she creates are famous for fulfilling every bride's fantasies, yet she firmly says that marriage—and motherhood—are not for her. 

As they search for the baby's mother, family secrets strip away the masks they've been wearing. With everything on the line, will they find the courage to stop playing it safe and go for something wonderful? 

#1 NYT Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy is known for her unforgettable stories, where ordinary people find extraordinary loveand where unexpected soulmates are sometimes found right next door...

What readers are saying…

"Some Kind of Wonderful gave me vibes of Barbara's Callaway series, which I absolutely love and adore! It had romance and suspense. Barbara Freethy wrote another winner with this story!" Abby - Goodreads

"I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a heartwarming book about life struggles, family bonds, and all-consuming love." Mindy - Goodreads

"A heartwarming and sometimes heartwrenching story. Strong characters, believable storyline and true romance makes Some Kind of Wonderful, well, wonderful!" — Romance Readers Connection

"SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL is exactly that. Ms. Freethy delivers another powerful and moving story. Start this book early — it’s an all-nighter!" —Fiction Forum


Cool wet fingers of fog brushed against his face as Matt Winters walked up the hill to his San Francisco apartment building. At the sound of a siren, he automatically stiffened. He'd been chasing ambulances for so long he couldn't help but wonder what new story was developing, what tragedy was unfolding, what family was about to receive an unwelcome late-night phone call.

As the siren drew closer, he glanced down the street behind him. All was quiet. Parked cars, shadowy buildings, the light from the street lamps broke the darkness, but nothing looked out of place. Still, Matt felt the prickles of uneasiness stab the skin on the back of his neck. He felt like someone was watching him, and his instincts screamed caution even though his brain couldn't figure out why.

Taking one last look down the street behind him, he moved to unlock the front door of his apartment building. He frowned when he saw that the door was ajar and the lock appeared to be jammed. Matt wasn't particularly concerned about his barely furnished apartment or even his own safety. He'd lived in places far more dangerous than this. The broken lock aggravated his sense that something was wrong, but a quick look around the lobby revealed nothing amiss.

With a weary sigh, Matt pressed the elevator call button and rubbed a hand across his tired eyes. He hadn't slept more than three hours in a row in the last seventy-two. He'd been chasing a news story, following a money trail that had led him straight up the steps of City Hall. Tomorrow the rest of San Francisco would read about the corruption of one of its supervisors in the morning edition of the Herald.

His mission accomplished, Matt should have been feeling satisfied. Instead he felt restless, once again reminded that no matter how many truths he unveiled, no matter how many mysteries he solved, he couldn't solve the one that mattered most.

Matt pressed the elevator button again, hating himself for not being able to let go of the past. How ironic that he lived his life in search of the truth, yet couldn't seem to accept it when it stared him in the face.

That need for closure, the desire to stop the endless hunger, the unquenchable thirst for answers had brought him back to San Francisco, the place where it had started and where it had ended.

Finally, the elevator doors opened. A minute later, he stepped onto the tenth-floor landing and walked down the hall to his apartment. He let himself in just in time to catch the phone before the machine picked up. "Winters," he said abruptly.

There was no reply, just the sound of someone breathing. A prank call, an informant, a threat? He didn't know which.

"Matt?" It was barely a whisper, so hushed he couldn't tell if it was a female or a male.

"Who is this?" No answer. "Look, I don't have time to—"

The sound of a click, then the dial tone, told him the caller had hung up. Out of habit, he wrote down the caller ID number. It wasn't one he recognized, but he'd check it out later. He was simply too tired to deal with one more thing tonight.

Tossing his car keys onto the dining room table, he headed into the kitchen, wondering if by some impossible chance there was actually something edible in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, it boasted nothing more than a couple of beers, some wilted lettuce, and molding tomatoes. Popping open one of the beers, he took a long grateful swallow, then walked back into the living room.

It wasn't much of a room for living in at the moment. There was an old black leather couch along one wall and a matching overstuffed armchair, an oak coffee table that held his array of newspapers and magazines, a stereo system, because he couldn't live without music, and a punching bag hanging from a hook in the ceiling, because he didn't know a better way to relieve stress than to beat the hell out of that bag. Boxing had gotten him through some tough times, given him a sense of control over himself and the chaos that had once been his life.

At some point, he'd have to invest in some furniture—or maybe not. Who knew how long he'd stay in San Francisco? Who knew how long he'd stay anywhere? His life had been a series of entrances and exits, new places, new faces.

The phone rang again and Matt's muscles tensed. For a second he was tempted to let it ring, but he'd never been one to run from a fight or avoid a confrontation, although there had been plenty of people in his life who had told him to do just that. He reached for the phone again and said, "Winters."

"Congratulations," David Stern replied.

Matt relaxed at the sound of his editor's voice.

"I can't wait until the morning paper hits the streets," David crowed. "Your story will rock this town."

"As long as Keilor doesn't file a libel suit."

"Let him try. You covered your ass quite well."

"Yours, too," Matt reminded him.

"That's why I pay you the big bucks."

"Yeah, right." Matt walked across his living room with the portable phone in one hand. "What's next?"

"Why don't you take a break? You've been on this story nonstop since you landed in town six weeks ago. Take some time off. A few days in Lake Tahoe wouldn't do you any harm."

Matt didn't want a few days off. Vacations were for people who wanted to relax, to think, to philosophize, and he wanted to do none of the above. Too much time on his hands would only make him feel that much more reckless.

"I'm fine. I don't need a break," he said.

"I figured you'd say that. By the way, that P.I. friend of yours stopped by the paper today. Want to tell me what you're working on?"

"It doesn't involve the paper."

"So it must have something to do with why you surprised the hell out of me by actually accepting my job offer and leaving Chicago," David said, obviously fishing.

"Could be."

"We've been friends a long time, Matthew. I'm going to have to pull rank on you and insist on the truth."

Matt laughed. "You can try."

"I can do my own investigation."

"If you were any good at investigating, you'd be writing the stories instead of editing them."

"Now that hurts. Did anyone ever tell you that you wield honesty like a blunt instrument to the head?"

"And your point is?"

Matt's attention drifted as David launched into a long-winded reminder of how any investigation Matt was involved in could ultimately affect the newspaper. Matt didn't bother to interrupt. He simply stared out at the lights of San Francisco weaving like drunken sailors up and down the city hills. It was a staggeringly good view, but most days he wondered what had possessed him to take this tenth-floor apartment in Pacific Heights. The burnished hardwood floors, the big bay window, the ultramodern kitchen felt wrong. This wasn't him. He was back alleys and bad neighborhoods, Chinese take-out and cigarette smoke. But somehow David had convinced him that a new location might change his perspective.

"How's Jackie?" Matt interrupted, knowing if there was anything guaranteed to distract David, it was his wife.

"Whining about getting fat. She asked me today if she looked like a glowing pregnant woman or a fat penguin."

'Tell me you chose glowing pregnant woman."

"Glowing penguin wasn't good enough?"

"I hope you like sleeping on the couch."

"It's warmer than our bed these days. Sometimes I wonder why I ever wanted to have a kid."

"Well, you'll need someone to mow the lawn someday."

"Thanks for the reminder. That might get me through tonight's cravings. Jackie usually gets hungry just about the time I'm falling asleep." David paused. "You know, I must have babies on the brain, because I can almost hear one crying."

Matt frowned and turned his head toward the door as the crying grew louder.

"It's not your imagination. I hear it, too." Another shriek made Matt pause. "I'll talk to you later." He put the phone down and walked to the door. The only other tenant on this side of the L-shaped building was a single woman he had yet to meet. He opened the door, but there was no one there. Actually, there was someone there, way down there...

On the floor, in a car seat, was a tiny baby with a few strands of fuzzy black hair on its head, red cheeks, teary eyes, and a mouth that screamed in fury. "What the hell?" Matt looked around the empty hallway, wondering where on earth the baby's mother was.

"Okay, just be quiet for a second, would you?" He squatted down next to the baby and patted the baby's head, which only seemed to make him—or was that her—more angry.

"Where is your mother?" Matt asked, the uneasy feeling returning to his gut.

He looked at the door across the hall and hesitated. There appeared to be a light on, but it was almost midnight. Still, what choice did he have? Leaning over, he pounded on the door. A moment later, a female called out, "Who is it?"

"It's your neighbor."

"I can't see you," she said warily.

Matt stood up and looked straight into her peephole. "I'm here."

"What were you doing on the floor?"

"Looking at your baby."

"My what?"

"Open the door, would you?"

"I don't think so."

"Look, we have a problem out here. Someone left a baby in the hall."

Silence followed, then she said, "All right. But I have my phone and I've already dialed 911, so if you're trying something funny--”

"I'm not."

Another brief pause, then the door opened the width of a security chain. A woman's face appeared in the crack, a vision of blond curls, white lace, and some sort of filmy veil.

Matt blinked rapidly, wondering if he'd conjured up a bride to go with the baby on his doorstep.

The woman pulled the veil away from her face, and he saw that her cheeks were flushed, her brown eyes overly bright. "What do you want?" she asked, a breathless note in her voice.

"Your baby is crying." He pointed to the infant, who made a liar out of him by sitting quietly in the car seat, considering the two of them with a confused expression.

The woman peered around him. "I don't have a baby."

"You must. It sure as hell isn't my baby."

"Who are you?" she asked suspiciously. "Why are you trying to get rid of your baby?"

"It's not mine," he repeated. "And I live there." He pointed to his door. "I'm your neighbor."

Her wary gaze traveled slowly down his body, and Matt became very aware of his dirty black jeans, sweat-stained gray T-shirt, and black leather jacket. Putting a self-conscious hand to his face, he could feel a beard grazing his cheeks. "I just got off assignment," he said. "I don't usually look like this."

"What do you usually look like?"

"Well, not like this," he said in exasperation. "Look, I need some sleep, and you need to take care of this kid."

"That's not my baby. I don't know what you're trying to pull, but--”

"Hey, wait." He instinctively stuck his foot in the space between the door and the wall as she tried to retreat, wincing when she hit it with the door. "I really am your neighbor. Matt Winters. I've got ID." He reached for his wallet and pulled out his driver's license, holding it up so she could see it. "I'm a reporter for the San Francisco Herald. And I'd be happy to give you references if you'd just open your door and help me figure out whose baby this is."

"That address says Chicago."

"That's where I lived until recently. Come on, you must have seen my name on the mailbox over yours. The landlord's name is Rick Shrader. I can give you his phone number. Help me out here."

She stared at him doubtfully, then the baby let out a howl of protest. A second later the woman released the chain and opened the door, allowing Matt his first full glimpse of his neighbor. Barefoot, in faded blue jeans, a short-cropped bright yellow sweater, and a lacy white veil, she made quite an impression. But it wasn't just her crazy attire that caught him off guard; it was her gold-flecked brown eyes and the sun-streaked blond hair that cascaded halfway down her back when she self-consciously pulled off her veil.

"It's not what you think," she murmured.

"I wasn't going to ask."

She gave him an embarrassed half smile. "Good."

"So, wedding night fantasy with the boyfriend?"

"I thought you weren't going to ask."


She stepped around him and knelt down next to the baby. "Oh, you sweet little thing. Who are you?"

The baby began to cry louder, tiny fingers closing into fists as it squirmed in its seat.

"I think it wants to get out," Matt said.

The woman undid the straps and slowly pulled the baby into her arms, a somber expression in her eyes as she looked at the infant, then at him. "Are you telling me that this baby was just left here in the hall?"

"It sure looks that way."

"I don't understand."

Matt shrugged. He certainly didn't have an explanation.

"She's so precious," the woman murmured as the baby nuzzled into her chest.

Matt cleared his throat as he realized he was staring at his neighbor's breasts with fascination, and she was once again regarding him with suspicion.

"Are you sure you don't know who she is?" the woman asked.

"I wasn't even sure it was a she."

"Pink sleeper, pink blanket, pink socks. I think it's safe to say she's a girl. Maybe one of your girlfriends left her for you."

Matt stiffened. "No way. That baby is not mine. I can guarantee you that."

The woman patted the baby's behind. "One thing is for sure. She's soaking wet. You should change her."

"Or you. After all, she's in the middle of the hallway, maybe even closer to your door than to mine." He inwardly groaned at his lame comment. "Didn't you hear her crying? Why didn't you open your door?"

"I was listening to music. I didn't hear a thing," she explained. "Fine, I'll change her, but you're not going anywhere," she added as she saw him edging toward his apartment.

She stood up with the baby in her arms. "Rick Shrader did tell me you were an okay guy, so I guess you can come in. But I'm warning you I've taken self-defense. So don't think you can try anything with me."

Matt had to bite back a smile. She was barely five foot three if she was an inch. He had almost a foot on her, and he didn't doubt for a second that he couldn't take her anywhere he wanted to go. But judging by the fierce expression in her eyes, he'd be better off agreeing, so he simply held up his hand in submission.

"All right, but you know Tae Bo aerobics doesn't really qualify for self-defense," he drawled.

"Just bring the car seat and the bag with you."

Matt followed her into her apartment, expecting to see something similar to his place, something clean and utilitarian with perhaps a feminine touch. What he saw was sheer chaos, layers and layers of white fabrics, silks and satins adorning the couch and the love seat, spools of threads, stacks of lace, a sewing machine in one corner, and a mannequin in the other. There were bridal magazines on the coffee table, boxes of pearls and beads, and swatches of ribbons on the floor in a discarded heap. It was a single man's nightmare. Maybe that was it. Maybe he'd fallen asleep on his feet. Maybe he was dreaming.

"I have to wake up," he said. "Just wake up."

She stared at him uncertainly. "Have you been drinking?"


"Really? You look like you have a hangover."

"I haven't had much sleep the last three days. I've been too busy pulling a city official's hand out of the till. You can read about it in the morning paper, by the way."

"Oh, I don't get the newspaper," she said with an offhand toss of her head.

"But you read it online, right?"

"Not really. The news depresses me. Can you see if there is a diaper in that bag?"

"The news may be depressing, but it's important. How can you manage your life if you don't read the paper, if you don't know what is going on in the city you live in, the world that surrounds you? What's wrong with you?

"Right now I'm holding a stinky baby. That's what's wrong with me. Did you find that diaper yet?"

Matt set the bag down on the floor and dug through it, wishing he'd never come home at all. He'd been looking forward to peace and quiet, some downtime after the stress of the last few days, but here he was right back in the middle of somebody else's mess. Relieved to find a disposable diaper in the bag, he pulled it out and handed it to her.

She cleared off the end of one couch and laid the baby down, then quickly changed her. She didn't seem to have any problem with the baby's flailing legs and arms or the shrill crying that continued until she fixed the last piece of tape.

"You look like you've done that before," he commented.

"A few times. I baby-sat when I was a teenager." She picked the baby up and offered her to him. "Do you want to hold her now?"

"No. No." He shoved his hands into his pockets and took a step back, almost tripping over a large spool of lace.

"Sorry about that." She gave the spool a nudge with her foot. "I'm on deadline."

"For what? Are you getting married in the morning?"

"I'm doing the alterations on a wedding dress. I have a bridal shop on Union Street. Devereaux's is the name. Do you know it?"

"I don't make a habit of knowing where the nearest bridal shop is."

She offered him the first genuine smile he'd seen all night. "I bet you don't."

"What is your name anyway?”

"Caitlyn Devereaux."

"So why isn't all this stuff at your shop?"

"Because Tiffany Waterhouse moved up her wedding date. It turns out she's pregnant, and she absolutely cannot go down the aisle looking like a watermelon—her words, not mine. I brought her dress home to finish because she's getting married at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning instead of in four weeks as she'd originally planned. And her family is very well connected, so I don't want to disappoint her."

Matt looked at the yards and yards of material draped over the couch. "She must be really fat."

"That's just her train, a six-foot trail of lace that goes down the aisle after her," she added at his blank expression. Caitlyn moved the baby from one shoulder to the other. "She still isn't happy. I wonder if she's hungry."

"I wonder who she is."

"We should call the police."

"I suppose." Even as he agreed, he felt the same prickly uneasiness he'd experienced earlier. Why would anyone leave a baby in his hallway?

"She's so young," Caitlyn murmured, caressing the baby's head with her fingers. "She can't be more than two months old. How could anyone just put her down and walk away? Especially her mother." She shook her head in bewilderment. "How could they do that?"

Matt had a hundred answers, but there was something about Caitlyn—an innocence, maybe—that made him instinctively want to shield her. Hell, it probably had something to do with all the white lace in the room.

Before he could reply, Caitlyn walked up to him and pushed the baby against his chest. "Hold her for a second. I want to look through that bag and see if I can find a bottle or instructions or something."

Before Matt could protest, he found himself wrapping his arms around a tiny baby who felt so small, so fragile in his arms, he thought he might break her. And when the baby began to squirm and whimper, Matt awkwardly shifted his feet and patted her back. He looked to Caitlyn for relief, but she was still digging through the diaper bag.

"Hey, I could use some help here," he said.

"I found some formula... and a bottle," she added triumphantly, holding it up like a trophy. "A little water, and I think we can make her a lot happier."

Matt followed her into the adjacent kitchen. No way was she leaving him alone with the baby. He found her kitchen to be as chaotic as the living room—cookie jars with faces on them, pasta noodles in colorful glass containers, magnets of every shape imaginable on the refrigerator, and a couple of potted plants on the windowsill, some looking half dead despite the freshly watered soil. Apparently, Caitlyn didn't like to throw anything away.

With the clashing bursts of color, the room felt warm and cozy, inviting. Probably too inviting, Matt decided. Definitely too inviting, he added silently as Caitlyn came over to him. As she put the bottle into the baby's mouth, her blond hair drifted against his chest and arm. She was so close he could smell flowers in her hair and mint in her breath, then her breasts grazed against his arm as she maneuvered the bottle in the baby's mouth, and his heart skipped a beat. Her femininity called out to him like a siren, and he felt his body harden, a completely unwelcome reaction considering the fact that he was holding a baby and Caitlyn was a perfect stranger. Perfect being a big part of the problem.

"Here you go, sweetie," Caitlyn cooed. 'Take a sip. There's a good girl."

"Don't you want to hold her?" Matt asked, feeling more uncomfortable by the second.

Caitlyn hesitated, then said, "I don't think so."

"Are you sure you don't know who this baby is?" he asked her again as they returned to the living room.

"Of course I don't. Why would you ask that?"

"She seems to like you."

"Well, I'm a nice person. Babies can sense goodness."

"Then I must be a nice person, too. She's not crying anymore."

"We'll have to see how she feels about you when she's done sucking on her bottle," she said with a wry smile. She knelt down on the floor next to the diaper bag and began searching through it, much the way he had done a few minutes before.

"There's no note in the bag. I already looked," he told her.

After a minute, Caitlyn sat back on her heels and frowned. "What mother leaves her baby without even a note?"

Matt pulled the bottle out of the baby's mouth as she stopped sucking and appeared to be done. "What do I do with her now?"

"Put her over your shoulder and pat her back until she burps."

"I think you ought to do that."

"Fine. Let me grab her blanket. She might be getting cold." As Caitlyn pulled the baby blanket from the straps of the car seat, something fluttered to the ground.

"Oh!" She reached for the piece of paper, then looked into Matt's eyes. "There is a note."

Matt felt his body tense. "What does it say?" he asked shortly, having trouble getting the words out of his mouth. He had a bad feeling about this—a very bad feeling.

Caitlyn read silently, the tension growing with each passing second.

"What the hell does it say?" he demanded.

She looked up at him through troubled eyes. "Someone named Sarah wants you to take care of her baby."

"Sarah." He breathed her name like a long-forgotten scent.

"Who is Sarah?"

He stared at Caitlyn, knowing she'd asked him something, but he couldn't concentrate, couldn't focus. Sarah? How could it be? He remembered the eerie sensation he'd felt walking up to the apartment building, as if someone was watching him. And the phone call, the woman's voice...had it been Sarah? My God! Had she actually been standing outside his apartment?

Matt strode across the room, thrust the baby into Caitlyn's arms, then dashed out the door.

"Hey, where are you going?" Caitlyn cried. "You can't leave me with your baby."