The Marriage Solution [NOOK Book]

Overview


IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT…

Tess Lucas had carefully planned every detail of her life, determined to create the happiness she'd craved since childhood. But a broken engagement led to a one-night stand with her best friend—and a baby!

Wealthy playboy Craig Richmond never planned to be a husband or a father—until Tess told him she was pregnant. He knew marriage was the best way to guarantee their baby had a real family—and to finally realize his ...

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The Marriage Solution

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Overview


IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT…

Tess Lucas had carefully planned every detail of her life, determined to create the happiness she'd craved since childhood. But a broken engagement led to a one-night stand with her best friend—and a baby!

Wealthy playboy Craig Richmond never planned to be a husband or a father—until Tess told him she was pregnant. He knew marriage was the best way to guarantee their baby had a real family—and to finally realize his long-hidden feelings for his oldest friend. But Tess refused to settle for a marriage of convenience-she wanted the fairy tale. And to win her heart, Craig would have to prove he was the one man who could give her everything she'd ever wanted….


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459217683
  • Publisher: Silhouette
  • Publication date: 9/15/2011
  • Series: Silhouette Special Edition Series
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 906,602
  • File size: 297 KB

Meet the Author


Brenda Harlen is a multi-award winning author for Harlequin Special Edition who has written over 25 books for the company.


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Read an Excerpt


Craig Richmond tapped his foot impatiently as he waited for the door to open. He knew Tess was home" he'd called first to make sure, determined that her campaign of avoidance was about to come to an end. He wasn't going to let their fifteen-year friendship fall apart just because they'd made the mistake of sleeping together.

Not that he thought it was a mistake. More like a long-denied fantasy finally realized. But Tess obviously regretted making love with him. And while he was disappointed that there wouldn't be a repeat performance of their one night together, he wasn't going to abandon everything they meant to one another because of it. Tonight they were going to talk about what happened and find a way to move past it.

At last the door opened and she was there.

He drank in the sight of her, from the dark, slightly tousled hair, wide eyes the color of a clear summer sky and temptingly full lips, moving lower, lingering a moment in appreciation of her feminine curves before following the endless length of shapely legs.

He'd been angry that she was ignoring his calls, hurt that she was shutting him out, but mostly he'd been lonely without his best friend. He'd missed her smile and her laughter, her warmth and compassion. He'd missed talking to her and just being with her. And because he'd missed her friendship so much, he was determined to ignore the desire that stirred whenever he was with her" as he'd ignored it for so many years already.

He met her gaze, saw the confusion and awkwardness he felt reflected in her eyes and forced a smile. "Hi."

"Hi," she replied to his greeting.

He waited for her to step back and invite him inside, but she remained on the threshold, barring his entry.

He shifted the takeout bag he carried from one hand to the other. "Can I come in?"

She hesitated a moment before she responded, "I told you on the phone that this isn't really a good time."

"There hasn't been a good time for the past several weeks," he pointed out. "And I'm not leaving until we've had a chance to talk. So we can talk here, in the hallway, or you can invite me in to share my Pad Thai."

"I'm not very hungry." But she finally stepped away from the door and let him in.

Craig went directly to the kitchen, as comfortable in her apartment as he was in his own, and took two plates from the cupboard. Tess hovered uncertainly behind him as he divided up the noodles. He glanced back at her, noted the pallor of her cheeks and the dark smudges under her eyes that had escaped his initial scrutiny. He wondered if memories of their lovemaking had been keeping her awake at night, too, and derived a certain amount of satisfaction from that thought.

"Let's eat," he said, carrying the plates to the table. She sat across from him, eyed the meal warily.

He frowned at her obvious lack of interest, but determinedly dug into his food. Several minutes passed in silence while he ate and Tess poked at her noodles. Then he heard her fork clatter against the plate. He looked over and saw that her cheeks weren't just pale now, they were tinged with green.

"Tess."

Before he could say anything else, she shoved back her chair and raced down the hall. He heard the slam of the bathroom door and the muted, yet unmistakable sound, of retching.

He pushed his own plate away, his own stomach feeling a little unsettled now, too. Maybe Tess had a touch of the flu that was going around.

Or maybe there was another explanation for both her physical symptoms and her determination to avoid him since the night they'd had sex and the condom broke. Maybe she was pregnant.

Tess Lucas stared at the pink cardboard box in Craig's hand and felt her cheeks flush the same color. Last night, he'd shown up at her apartment with dinner. Today, it was a pregnancy test.

She closed her eyes, as if that would make the box" and the possibility"go away.

She'd been feeling tired and nauseous for a couple of weeks now, but had assumed she had probably caught some virus. And the tenderness in her breasts was likely an indication that she was about to get her period. Because she was going to get her period"any day now, she was sure. Then she could stop worrying about the possible repercussions of faulty latex.

Unfortunately, when she opened her eyes again the box"and Craig"were still there.

She took the package from his outstretched hand and moved into the living room, dropping it on the coffee table before sinking into her favorite overstuffed chair. Craig followed her into the room but remained standing.

"That isn't quite what I expected you to do with it," he said dryly.

"What did you expect?"

"That you'd be as anxious as I am to know the truth."

"The truth is that it's been a long week and I don't have the energy to jump to conclusions like you're doing." She'd been trying for casual, but the strain in her voice was obvious to her own ears.

"I'm not jumping to any conclusions yet," he responded in a tone that was infinitely patient and reasonable.

Of course, Craig was always patient and reasonable, calm and unflappable. It was one of reasons he was such an effective vice president at Richmond Pharmaceuticals, the family-owned company he would run someday.

Tess couldn't even fake that kind of control. She couldn't pretend that the possibility of pregnancy didn't terrify her. She wanted children"someday. But not now and not like this. She felt her stomach rising again and drew in a deep breath, trying to will the nausea away.

"Please, Tess. Take the test."

"Why are you doing this?" she asked wearily.

"Because I think it would be better to know for sure than to sit around worrying about it," he told her.

"Well, I don't." She didn't care if she sounded unreasonable to him. She didn't want to know the truth; she didn't want to think about how completely and irrevocably a baby would change her life.

"You need to find out," he said gently. "So that you can consider your options."

"I'm twenty-nine years old"I know what my options are. And if I'm pregnant, I'll have the baby." Although she strongly believed that a woman had the right to make her own decisions about her body, she had no doubt what hers would be.

Craig nodded toward the table, to the pregnancy test she'd tossed aside. "Why don't you take the test, then we'll know?"

As much as she hated to admit it, she knew he was right. He usually was. She grabbed the box and took it to the bathroom.

Her heart was pounding, her head was spinning and she felt as though she was going to throw up. Again.

She closed the door behind her and pried open the end of the box with trembling fingers. The contents spilled out onto the counter: one page of instructions and a foil-wrapped plastic stick. It certainly looked harmless enough, not like something that had the power to change her whole life.

And, of course, it didn't. Her life"or at least her relationship with Craig"had been changed by her own actions.

The attraction had been there from the beginning" at least on Tess's part. A shy teenager, she'd developed an almost painful crush on him. But she'd kept her adolescent dreams locked deep inside and they'd become friends. Now almost fifteen years of friendship were in jeopardy because of one night of insanity.

Not that everything had changed in that one night. There had been subtle shifts in their relationship over the years"casual flirtations and occasional tensions. But they'd mostly managed to ignore those undercurrents for the sake of their friendship. Until the night they'd made love.

She'd hoped they might somehow manage to get past what had happened, but she wasn't optimistic. Not when the mere sight of his mouth brought back memories of his lips moving over her body and the most casual touch reminded her of his hands caressing her bare skin. How could they possibly resume any kind of platonic relationship when she couldn't forget that she'd been naked with him"and couldn't stop wanting to get naked with him again?

But right now the awkwardness between them was the least of her worries. More important, was deciding what she was going to do about her future. Because she didn't need the test to tell her the truth she'd been trying so hard to deny, that she'd known deep inside for almost two weeks now. And the truth was that the tiny being she carried in her womb"Craig's baby"had already taken firm hold of her heart.

But he would want the proof, so she peed on the stick and waited. And while she waited, her mind wandered and worried.

She didn't know what his thoughts and plans were with respect to having a family"except that he'd recently broken up with the latest in a seemingly unending string of girlfriends because she'd been hinting about the future and he wasn't ready to commit to anything further than a week away. And while Tess had always dreamed of having children one day, she'd also hoped to have a husband"someone with whom to share the joys and responsibilities of raising children. After finding her fiancé in their bed with his ex-wife, she accepted that that was another dream that wouldn't be a reality. She would have this baby on her own and make whatever adjustments were necessary to her life to be the best single mother she could be.

She stared at her watch as the final seconds ticked away.

Then she took a deep breath, wiped her hands down the front of her skirt and picked up the plastic stick. According to the instructions, if there was only one line in the window, she wasn't pregnant; if there were two lines, she was.

She turned the stick over.

One.

Two.

Her knees suddenly buckled and she sank down onto the edge of the bathtub.

She was going to have a baby.

She was overwhelmed.

Terrified.

And just a little bit excited.

A baby.

Tess didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but she knew that nothing in her life would ever be the same.

* * *

How long did the damn test take?

It was the question that dogged his heels as Craig paced across the tile floor of Tess's kitchen.

There had been a whole shelf of pregnancy tests in the pharmacy and he'd read the directions on every single one, wanting to make an informed choice, to make this difficult process a little easier for both of them. As if anything could. But he was certain he'd at least picked the box that promised the quickest response.

Who knew that two minutes could seem like an eternity?

Or maybe Tess was still balking at taking the test. Maybe she wasn't ready to face the results.

He couldn't blame her for being scared. Since he'd first acknowledged the possibility that she might be pregnant with his child twenty-four hours earlier, he'd felt as though there was a vice gripping his chest" an increasing pressure that stole his breath at unexpected moments.

After the end of his brief and regrettable engagement more than a year and a half earlier, he'd been careful not to make any promises or commitments to the women he dated. He'd certainly never contemplated fathering a child with any of them. A baby was the ultimate responsibility"a lifelong commitment"and one that he had no intention of taking on. Ever.

He refused to bring an unwanted child into the world"refused to give any woman that kind of weapon to wield against him in battles about custody and access and child support. No way. He knew only too well what it was like to be that weapon and he'd decided the only way to ensure the same thing would never happen to any child of his own was to never have children.

So he'd always been careful about birth control, determined to protect any woman he was with as much as himself. And while he was aware that no method of contraception was one hundred percent effective, he'd never before had a condom break.

The fact that it had happened with Tess both relieved and frustrated him. He knew she didn't sleep around, so the only potential repercussion to worry about was pregnancy. But that was a huge worry, not just because he wasn't ready"and might never be ready"to be a father, but because he hated to think how an unplanned pregnancy would affect Tess's life. She was his friend, his confidante"the one woman who meant more to him than any other"and he'd failed to take care of her.

He winced at the selfishness of his own actions. He'd known immediately that something had happened, but he didn't pull out. It felt too good to be inside her, deep in the warm heat of her body.And then her legs had wrapped around him, her fingernails had dug into his shoulders and he'd been helpless to do anything but follow the urging of his body and drive them both to the finish.

He shoved his hands into his pockets as he continued to pace. The last thing he needed to be thinking about right now was making love with Tess, but as hard as he tried, he couldn't seem to banish the memories. And if he couldn't think about that night without guilt and remorse, he also couldn't forget how perfect everything had been up to that moment when he'd realized the condom had broke. He couldn't sleep without dreaming of her and then he'd wake and ache with desires.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2007

    Boring!

    Tess Lucas had carefully planned every detail of her life, determind to create the happiness she'd craved since childhood. But a broken engagemnet led to a one-night stand with her best friend--and a baby! Wealthy playboy Craig Richmond never planned to be husband or father--until Tess told him she was pregnant.But Tess refused to settle for a marraige of convenience--she wanted the fairy tale. And to win her heart, Craig would have to prove he was the one man who could give her everything she'd ever wanted...******The beginning was ok, but after that, the book, for all it's pages, really went nowhere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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