Shy and inexperienced, Jillian Logan had walled herself off from everything--especially men. But when she was paired with usher Gil Reynolds at a wedding, there was no mistaking the unexpected sparks that melted even Jillian's protective reserve.
Brash and handsome, Gil was used to getting whatever he wanted. And the stunning social worker represented a challenge that he couldn't resist. But Jillian was shocked to learn Gil's secret: He was involved in a scandal that had torn her beloved family apart. Gil wanted to make amends, but could Jillian truly forgive and forget--and admit that she was falling in love?
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May 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Always a Bridesmaid by Kristin Hardy
"I've always loved babies." Shelly Dolan's voice shook. Next to her on the overstuffed sage-green sofa, her husband, Doug, reached out to put his arm around her shoulders. "I loved playing with them, holding them, making them laugh. They were just a delight. But now, every time I see a stroller, every time I see a pregnant woman, it feels like something's breaking inside of me." Her breath began to hitch "All I can do is cry. And Doug--"
Jillian Logan, social worker at the Children's Connection fertility and adoption clinic, stirred in her deep, soft chair. "What about Doug?" she asked.
"His shop is right down the street from a preschool. And his car's been on the fritz this week so I've been having to take him to work. And to drive by every day and see-And see-And see--" Her voice caught and she buried her face in Doug's shoulder for a moment.
It squeezed Jillian's heart. "It must be hard," she said softly.
"I never guessed," Shelly whispered. "And Doug's always so strong, I worry that he's holding it all in."
"What's it like for you, going through this?" Jillian asked Doug.
Next to his neat, dark wife, he looked burly and ill at ease. he'd come straight from work and still wore his stained welder's clothing. And he was there, clearly, only because of Shelly.
"Hell, Doc, how do you think your husband--" he glanced at her ringless fingers "--or boyfriend or whoever would feel? How would you feel?" he challenged.
"We're not here to talk about me, Doug." Jillian's voice was gentle.
Over the seven months since the Dolans had been coming to the Children's Connection in hopes of having a child, Jillian had watched their expressions morph from irrepressible hope to disappointment to a kind of grim determination. Now a faint air of strain hung about them. But they were still together, still getting one another through.
"You want to know how I feel?" Doug asked now.
"Worried. About Shelly, I mean. I don't think we need to waste our time here talking about me."
"You're going through it, too. You're both involved." His jaw tightened. "I'm okay."
"You spent the entire week going on about Roy's son," Shelly reminded him.
"What about Roy's son?" Jillian asked.
Doug made a noise of frustration. "My boss's kid.
The little punk knocked up his girlfriend. Sixteen. Too stupid to wear a condom, the idiot."
"Why does it make you so angry?"
"They're too young to have a kid. Hell, they're kids themselves. Either they keep it and really mess up their lives or she gives it up, or she gets rid of it. Idiot. All because he couldn't keep it in his pants. And it's such a freaking crock," he said with sudden savagery.
"He's sixteen and he can get his girlfriend pregnant. I'm thirty-five and we want a kid so much and I damned well can't give my wife a baby." Doug leaned forward and put his head in his hands.
Jillian waited in the humming silence. This was the moment she'd been working toward for months, a chance to finally get Doug to open up. And yes, the session was supposed to be ending but there was no way she was going to punch the clock on this one. "It's okay to feel angry or guilty or out of control, Doug. The feelings are real. You're allowed."
He was silent for another moment, then he let out a breath. "I'm fine," he said quietly, straightening. "We'll get through it." He glanced at his watch. "Anyway, our time's up, isn't it, Doc?"