HAVING THE BEST MAN’S BABY Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT #2: (Jean wants answers)
He reached out and lightly touched Jean’s cheek, then dropped his hand to cover hers as it rested on the table.
‘‘Why don’t you just tell me where we’ve met and save me the frustration of trying to figure it out?’’
She drew in a steadying breath, then exhaled as she made her decision about what to say. An uneasy tremor grabbed her attention, telling her just how uncomfortable she found his insistence on an answer. But the topic had come to a point where she either had to create an awkward situation by telling him to drop it or confess their prior relationship. A lump formed in her throat. She attempted to swallow it before speaking. The nervous jitter that had been bouncing around inside her increased to an annoying distraction. Her words were somewhat tentative. She wasn’t sure she really wanted to say them.
‘‘Does the name Sally Jean Potter ring any bells with you?’’
Ry couldn’t have been more stunned if she had reached out and slapped him. He felt his eyes widen in shock. His words came out in a shaken whisper. ‘‘Sally Jean? You’re Sally Jean Potter?’’
He tried to talk, but only managed a sputtering attempt. ‘‘Sally Jean…I…’’ He shook his head as he tried without much success to say something intelligible. ‘‘I…you…’’
The horrible guilt he had buried inside him fifteen years ago exploded into his consciousness. He had done a terrible thing to her, but at the time he believed there was no other choice open to him. The worst thing he had done was never explain to her what had happened, why he had canceled their prom date at the last minute. Canceled…perhaps stood up would be a more accurate choice of words. And now every sense and nerve ending in his body screamed at him to get out before things got worse. But how could it possibly be worse than it already was? Besides, he wasn’t seventeen years old anymore. He was a responsible adult who needed to face up to his past. He gathered his composure and tried his best to salvage the moment.
He forced a smile. ‘‘Sally Jean…I certainly didn’t recognize you. You’ve changed quite a lot from high school.’’ He reached out a slightly trembling hand toward her face, almost touching her cheek but stopping before he made physical contact. ‘‘No glasses, the braces are gone…’’
‘‘And I’m sure you can’t overlook the fact that I’ve lost about thirty pounds.’’
He ignored the sarcasm in her voice. ‘‘That’s quite a profound change from fifteen years ago.’’
Her defensive wall rose to combat her painful memories. Her harsh words carried an edge to them. ‘‘Yes, I agree… I was certainly an unattractive awkward mess of a girl back then.’’
Her response cut into him, leaving a definite wound and telling him just how much he had hurt her even though it had not been his intention. He cupped her chin in his hand and looked into the depths of her eyes. He leaned forward and quickly brushed his lips against hers. His words came out soft, but heartfelt and sincere. ‘‘That’s not what I said. I never thought of you as an unattractive, awkward mess. I always thought of you as someone with special inner qualities that others didn’t have and couldn’t see.’’
It was not at all what Jean had expected him to say. She tried to assimilate his words into her anxiety, but they refused to mesh. Was he attempting to charm her out of an embarrassing moment or was he being honest? As much as she wanted to believe what he’d said, she didn’t know if she could trust him.
Ry withdrew his hand and picked up his wineglass, taking a sip before speaking. ‘‘When did you decide to drop the Sally and go by Jean?’’
‘‘Immediately after my divorce. At the same time that I started wearing contact lenses and lost the thirty pounds.’’
‘‘Just Jean if you don’t mind.’’ She heard the hard edge that continued to cling to her words even though she hadn’t meant for it to be there. He hadn’t said a word about what happened. Could he have forgotten all about the prom? Perhaps fate had worked in her favor this time by bringing her back in contact with Ry Collier so that the crushing experience could finally be closed and put to rest.
‘‘Of course…Jean.’’ He tried to force down the anxiety welling inside him. What possible purpose could be served by resurrecting a fifteen-year-old disaster? He was already carrying enough guilt to last two lifetimes without adding to it. He closed his eyes for a moment and an image of sixteen-year-old Sally Jean standing in the grocery store looking at him with pain-filled eyes just two hours after his last minute phone call to tell her he was sick and couldn’t take her to the prom immediately popped into his mind. His throat tightened and a dull thud began to form at his temples. He shook the distressing image away and tried to shove the thought from his mind.
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…