HAVING THE BEST MAN’S BABY Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT #3: (is he married?)
(RY’S TEMPESTUOUS PAST)
He grabbed the receiver, a little annoyed at the interruption, yet curious about who it could be at such a late hour. ‘‘Hello.’’
‘‘Is that you, Ry darling?’’
The syrupy sweet voice cut through him like chalk screeching on a blackboard. Every muscle in his body tensed as he steeled himself against whatever was to come. There wasn’t any hint of a gracious manner, courtesy, or polite demeanor in his voice. There was, however, an unmistakable harsh edge that clearly conveyed his displeasure at her call.
‘‘What do you want, Marjorie?’’
‘‘I just wanted to talk to you, to find out how you are. I’m concerned about you, Ry. You work so hard. Even though we’re divorced…a terrible mistake in my opinion…I still care a great deal about you.’’
His irritation erupted in anger. ‘‘Knock it off, Marjorie. You’ve never cared about anyone or anything except yourself. I don’t know what you’re trying to sell, but I can assure you I’m not buying. How did you know where to find me?’’
‘‘I called your office in Chicago and that nice receptionist told me you were in Seattle. I simply called all the major hotels until I found the one where you were registered.’’
‘‘Apparently I need to have a chat with my office staff about proper procedure. So you found me.’’ He made no attempt to hide his annoyance. ‘‘What do you want?’’
‘‘I want to see you, darling. I thought we could have dinner, maybe talk about our future?’’
His anger exploded. ‘‘I’m not your darling. And as for the future—we have no future. We didn’t have one ten years ago and we certainly don’t have one now. We have nothing to talk about and dinner is definitely out of the question.’’
Ry slammed down the receiver before she had an opportunity to respond. The resentment seethed inside him. He took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm his inner turmoil. The depth of the anger produced by the brief and totally unexpected intrusion by his ex-wife into his life surprised him. Even though he wanted to put the disaster of his short-lived marriage totally out of his mind and dismiss it from his life, he had not been able to do it.
Occasionally he wondered if he had allowed that trauma to impact his relationships with women. Then Jean popped into his mind. Was his fear of what he felt for her the result of his horrible marriage? It was not a new thought, but one that was becoming more difficult to dismiss. It was something he didn’t want to dwell on or deal with.
But thoughts of Jean refused to go away—the way she felt in his arms, the earthy heat of her kiss, the night they had made love with such intense passion—it was all burned into his reality and he knew it would stay there forever.
Jean’s Friday workday was finally over and it was officially the weekend. She looked around her living room. It seemed so quiet and empty. Would Ry be back that evening or would it be Saturday before she saw him? Her thoughts were interrupted by her doorbell. She opened the door to find a woman she’d never seen before, but one who didn’t look as if she was selling anything or taking a survey.
‘‘Yes? May I help you?’’
An uneasy feeling settled in the pit of Jean’s stomach in response to the way the other woman was looking her over, as if checking her out. When the woman didn’t respond to her question, Jean spoke up. ‘‘Who are you and what do you want?’’
‘‘I’m Marjorie Collier…Mrs. Ryland Collier.’’ She scrutinized Jean again. A cruel and sardonic laugh escaped her throat. ‘‘Humph…Ry usually has better taste than this. I guess you must have been handy and very accommodating.’’
The shock almost knocked Jean’s legs out from under her. Her heart pounded in her chest and she was momentarily speechless. ‘‘You’re…you’re Mrs. Ryland Collier? Ry’s married?’’
‘‘As if you didn’t know.’’
‘‘I didn’t know.’’ A sick feeling churned in the pit of Jean’s stomach as her insides twisted into knots. Not again. This couldn’t be happening to her…not again. She had been down this road before and now she was going to have to tread that same path one more time? The relationship she had following her divorce had seemed as if it was leading somewhere…until she had been confronted by the man’s wife. The realization that he had lied to her about being married had been far more devastating than her miserable marriage.
Jean forced the horrible memories aside, finally making room for her logical thought process to return. Susan had specifically mentioned at the prewedding get acquainted party that Ry was single. Whoever this woman was, she certainly couldn’t be Ry’s wife.
Jean leveled a steady gaze at Marjorie even though it was far removed from the almost unbearable panic shooting around inside her. ‘‘And I still don’t know that he’s married. I’m afraid that it will take a lot more than some stranger standing at my door to convince me of that.’’
‘‘Really?’’ Marjorie opened her purse and produced her driver’s license showing her name as Marjorie Collier. ‘‘I think this should satisfy any doubts you have.’’
‘‘The only thing that will satisfy me is hearing it directly from Ry in person.’’
‘‘I guess he didn’t even bother to tell you. He went back to Chicago yesterday.’’
Jean’s outer manner remained confident and defiant, her words said as a challenge. ‘‘If he’s gone home, then why are you here rather than in Chicago?’’
The sarcasm dripped from Marjorie’s words. ‘‘It’s just one of the little chores I always have to do. I’m the one who cleans up after Ry’s numerous little escapades.’’
‘‘I don’t know who put you up to this, but there’s nothing here that needs cleaning up. Go peddle your malicious trash somewhere else!’’ Jean slammed the door in Marjorie’s face. Her insides twisted into hard knots to the point where she felt physically ill. Her legs turned wobbly and her hands trembled. She grabbed the edge of the fireplace mantel for support. Could it possibly be true? Had Ry been deceiving her from the moment Susan introduced them at the party? Had he managed to fool Susan and Bill, too?
She swallowed the sick feeling rising in her throat. It couldn’t be true. It simply couldn’t. Whoever this Marjorie Collier was and whatever her game was, she couldn’t be Ry’s wife. But as much as she wanted to believe her own words, Marjorie’s claim had left a hole in her belief of what was true and what wasn’t.
Jean sank into the softness of the large floor pillows in front of the fireplace, the same pillows where she and Ry had made love so passionately just a few days ago. She thought back over the past two weeks, of all the time they had spent together. Was this how it would all end? Self-doubt flooded through her consciousness. Ry told her he would be back, but would he?
HAVING THE BEST MAN’S BABY, a Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte, is a Harlequin reissue in ebook available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com (do search for author name Shawna Delacorte). Also available at Barnes and Noble in NookBooks www.bn.com and Amazon for Kindle www.amazon.com Information is available on my website www.shawnadelacorte.com
Fifteen years had passed since Ry Collier broke her teenage heart. Fifteen years during which the golden boy had amassed a fortune, making a name for the man. Fifteen years during which she’d blossomed into a woman bearing little resemblance to an awkward schoolgirl, if Ry’s searing, searching apppraisal in meeting her again was any indication. But quickly, best man Ry knew why the maid of honor looked familiar. And despite the past, they shared a bed.
And Jean Summerfield became pregnant. Now she had to tell Ry that one reckless, remarkable night of passion had made a baby. And risk history repeating itself…