Garret Tulane is Darcy Rhodes's personal knight in shining armor. Not only did he rescue her from being stranded in the middle of a snowstorm, but he's also given her a place to stay. His close family ties and his caring support create the secure home life she wants to give her unborn child.
That security is an illusion, however. Despite the growing closeness between Darcy and Garret, she knows he has obligations and commitments that don't include her--or another man's baby. But feeling as she does, when the time comes, will she be able to walk away?
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March 10, 2008
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Excerpt from Another Man's Baby by Kay Stockham
Pain surrounded her pregnant stomach and sharpened with knifelike intensity. Darcy Rhodes swallowed once, twice, as the threat of hurling abated along with the cramp that had taken her so by surprise.
Sliding into the narrow, Tennessee mountain road's salt-rusted guardrail hadn't been fun, but at least she'd stopped with a fairly light, if jarring, jolt. For a split second mid-skid, she'd wondered if she would plunge right over the edge.
You just had to keep driving to make up for the pee stops, didn't you?
She collapsed against her Volkswagen's seat, barely daring to breathe for fear that the pain would return or, worse, the movement would cause the guardrail to break and send her hurtling down the mountainside. Before the cramp had hit she'd done little more than reassure herself that she hadn't been severely injured--all body parts were still attached--and all four wheels appeared to be on solid, if slippery, ground. But now...
The passenger-side air bag had deployed on impact and sagged across the dash like a deflated balloon. Chalky powder filled the air, making her nose itch and her throat burn. Who wouldn't tense up and react to what had happened?
She took a deep, cleansing breath, coughing weakly because of the powder. The cramp was just that, a mixture of fright and the need to pee. A normal reaction. As soon as she twisted the keys in the ignition the car would start and she would be on her way once again, slowly but surely. The very first hotel she saw, no matter how dirty, smelly or disgusting, she would stop without a single complaint.
The steady stream of freezing rain quickly changed over to a sleet-snow mix, and she watched, dazed, while the little bits of ice globbed together on her windshield before slowly sliding toward the hood.
Ignoring the weather as best she could, Darcy grasped the keys and turned. Nothing. Not even a stutter. She tried again. And again. Nothing?
She stared out the moisture-blurred windshield, her mind too full to think clearly. Mostly because it flashed to the horror flicks she'd watched as a kid. She knew what happened to stranded motorists--they were always the first victims. Back then she'd clamped her hands over her eyes to escape the scary parts, but there was no escaping this. When had she last seen a car? Twenty minutes? Half an hour? "They had better sense and stopped somewhere."
And now you're talking to yourself. Someone will be along soon.
But when? Darcy groaned, all too aware the passenger door was a lot closer than it had been five minutes ago, and shifted to find her cell phone. When she couldn't, she leaned over to peer into the dim abyss of the passenger floor, the shadow she cast negating the illumination offered by the overhead light. At least her air bag hadn't deployed and she hadn't hit the console between the seats. If she had, she could've broken a rib, and her baby--
Not going to go there, she told herself firmly. "Everything is fine." Her thick coat and the pillow she used for comfort had cushioned the impact.
Finally spotting the phone lying near an empty sour-cream-and-onion chips bag, she managed to snag it, only to swear at the illuminated display. She shook the phone, held it up in various spots in the interior of the car, but the little bars indicating signal strength didn't budge.
Her mind chose that moment to flash on an image of the movie heroine having car trouble and a strange man appearing out of nowhere and offering to help, the bowie knife concealed until it's too late.
Darcy turned off the overhead light and stared out at the landscape revealed by her one remaining headlight. At least the battery still worked. It didn't power the heat, but she wouldn't have to sit in total darkness while her mind ran amok.
Cold seeped into the car with every gusty blow of wind, the battered little Bug rocking with the force. And when the bough breaks?
"Nothing's going to break. You're not going to--"