Carmen O'Brien has a lot on her plate--including raising her orphaned siblings. And if that isn't enough, a gorgeous, sexy new man has just entered her life--Jack Davey.
But who has time for gorgeous, sexy new men? It's fantastic to have a bit of fun for a change, but Carmen has to put family first.
Except then she discovers she's bound to Jack for good. She might have been a mom in the making for years, but Carmen is to become a mom for real in nine months' time--and she needs Jack more than ever...."
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January 31, 2008
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Excerpt from A Mother in the Making by Lilian Darcy
Jack heard his cell phone start up when he was partway through the slow, careful process of getting dressed. It was sitting downstairs on the coffee table where he'd left it the night before. Shirtless, barefoot and cursing, he took the stairs too fast, swung around the banister post on the landing halfway down and bumped his shoulder into the opposite wall, which meant that the half-healed wound in his left side was screaming at him by the time he picked up the phone.
T-shirt balled in his free hand and lopsided with pain, he heard Terri's voice. He'd been expecting her call. Had thought about it when he'd lain awake in the night, unable to get back to sleep.
"Sorry, did I get you out of bed?" she cooed at him, and he caught the veiled put-down like a pro baseball player catching a kid's practice throw.
Yeah, Terri, okay, I get it, you think I'm lazy. It was seven-thirty on a New Jersey Monday morning. Terri's new husband, Jay, arose at six every day, went to the gym for an hour, ate a power breakfast and still managed to make a couple of billion dollars by lunch.
"Out of the shower," he told her, after a silence that lasted a fraction too long. His side was still burning and he couldn't be bothered attempting to change what his ex-wife thought of him.
What she thought of him had become pretty clear during the process of their divorce.
The only thing that mattered in their relationship anymore was Ryan, and he mattered down to the marrow of Jack's bones. Ryan came first.
He took some cautious breaths and paced up and down the splintered old hardwood floor, willing the pain to ebb. What had he done in there? Ripped open his stitches? Did the agony show in his voice?
Terri knew that he'd just come out of the hospital, but he'd played the whole thing down when he'd told her what had happened. She no longer considered straight-talking cops to be heroes. Wall Street pirates with fat bank accounts and a polished line in doublespeak were the real he-men, as far as she was concerned.
She hadn't been like this when they were first married at age twenty, fourteen years ago. He'd never seen this side of her back then, when they were so young. Deciding that she didn't love him anymore seemed to have given her the license to fight as dirty as she could, and it set his teeth on edge.
"Did you and Jay have your meeting?" he asked.
"Family council," Terri corrected quickly, as if the distinction was important.
Jack thought it was typical of Jay Kruger that he ran his new family the same way he ran his corporate take-overs, complete with meetings and agendas and power plays, but Terri didn't want to see things this way.
He waited. He wasn't going to dutifully echo the words family council just to ease her conscience. Nor was he going to let on how emotional he felt about the possible outcome.
"Yes, we had it..." she said, letting her sentence trail off enticingly.
Jack clenched his jaw. He knew this routine. She wanted him to wait and beg. It was like those pointless thirty-second pauses on reality TV shows before they announced the winner or loser's name. Did his ex really think he didn't see the emotional manipulation?
"Cut to the chase, Terri," he growled at her.
"The chase? I'm not sure that I like what you're implying, Jack. This is not a game."
"I know it's not."
"These are incredibly serious issues."
"I know they're serious issues. Tell me what you and Jay decided."
"See, and I hate to hear you sounding so aggressive. It makes me wonder if I've made the right decision after all..."
His heart leaped. The right decision. Did she mean...? "Please tell me straight, and don't keep me dangling." There. She had him begging, the way she wanted. "What decision have you made?"
"I'm getting to that." Her voice pointedly soothed his impatience. "But you need to know the process we went through first. This was not decided lightly, Jack." She gave him several minutes on the nonlightness of the process, her feelings, her priorities, and yet another rehash of how she'd never wanted to hurt him, then finished, "And we feel that the most important issue in all of this, Jack, in all of this," she repeated, in case he thought she meant only forty-three percent of it, "has to be Ryan's well-being."
She spoke as if generously sharing a profound new insight. In reality, Jack himself had been making the same point to her for almost three years, as clear and direct as he could, and was never heard. He'd dealt with stalling and manipulation and outright lies. Only six months ago had he resorted to the threat of going to court. "We feel it's not in his best interests to drag him through a court proceeding," she went on.