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To Be A Mother
By Rebecca Winters
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCoeur D'Alene, Idaho October 29
By some miracle I'm still here. It appears my cancer has gone into remission. I just heard the news this afternoon.
Maybe it's a coincidence, maybe it isn't, but tonight the pastor of my church came to see me.
It was a comfort, rather than a shock, when he said that every person on this earth is dying, yet none of us knows the exact moment we'll be called home, not even me.
Instead of concentrating on the past, he suggested I think of my remission as permanent rather than temporary, and treat it as a rebirth.
Before he left my condo, he asked me if there was anything in my past that might be troubling me. He reminded me that matters of the heart have a strange and powerful effect on the body's ability to continue to fight disease.
The pastor's unexpected visit has left me haunted by thoughts of Nick and our baby to the exclusion of all else.
Memories are bombarding me. Memories, questions. Regrets.
Oh, the regrets ...
Since the moment Nick walked out of my hospital room, not a day, not a minute, not a second has passed that I haven't yearned to be with both of them.
I could try to contact Jessica directly, but that would add cowardice to my list of sins. I have to do this the right way and approach Nick first.
My need to see my daughter is the height of human selfishness. Yet being given a second chance at life has caused me to search my soul, which has always hungered for both of them.
Nick will either tear up my letter or hang up on me. No matter. I have to try. Otherwise this life has made no sense at all ...
SAMANTHA LET GO of the pen and buried her wet face in the pillow. "Nick -" she whispered in agony.
Nick Kincaid glanced up from his field biology book. Everyone in the basement of the Lory Student Center at Colorado State was seated on couches or at tables studying for the last day of finals tomorrow. It was the place where Samantha had first met the rugged-looking twenty-year-old junior from Gillette, Wyoming. They'd been seeing each other since the beginning of fall semester in August.
"Hi," he said in a husky tone. Beneath dark-brown hair and brows, his gray eyes flickered with an awareness of the intimacy they shared. Hers probably did the same. "I thought maybe you weren't coming. Another ten minutes and I was going to phone you."
"I'm sorry I'm late."
"How did your last final go?"
"That's good. Have you eaten?"
They normally bought a hamburger in the center's Ramskeller Restaurant, but tonight food was the last thing on her mind.
"I'm not hungry. Could you leave now? I know you have your last final in the morning, but there's something important I have to tell you. It won't take long. I brought Mom's car."
Nick didn't own one. He worked as many hours as possible at his part-time job with campus security in order to support himself while he earned his undergraduate degree in biology. If he needed transportation, he got around on his bike.
He lived with a hundred other young men at the Hilan Apartments on Lake Street near the campus, and he had friends who helped him out and lent him their cars when he wanted to be alone with her.
His pride refused to let Samantha chauffeur them in one of her parents' cars, but tonight she wasn't giving him a choice.
He must have sensed her urgency. Without saying a word, he got up from the table and put everything away in his backpack. After shrugging into his sheepskin jacket he murmured, "Let's go."
She felt his hand slide to the nape of her neck beneath her parka to guide her to the stairs. He had a tall, powerful physique and was whipcord lean. Samantha was a curvy redhead who didn't stand much taller than his heart. She loved the way he made her feel feminine and protected.
In truth, everything about him appealed to her. It wasn't just the physical attraction, although the chemistry between them was explosive. What drew her to him on other levels was his innate maturity and intelligence.
She was counting on those particular character traits to help him cope with what she had to tell him. Though she hadn't really lied, there were some things she hadn't told Nick the truth about. For the last four months she'd managed to push those sins of omission to the back of her mind in the hope they would never have to come to light. What a foolish, foolish girl she was....
A cold winter wind buffeted them as they left the center and walked to the corner of the next block, where she'd parked her mother's Lincoln. It didn't take long to drive to the foothills near her home. Samantha parked the car at Horsetooth Reservoir overlooking Fort Collins.
By now the interior of the car was too warm. She started to turn off the fan, and Nick anticipated her movement, then pulled her into his arms. For the first time, she resisted him.
"We can't do this right now, Nick. I promised Mom and Dad I would be home by eleven. That gives us an hour."
She felt his reluctance before he relinquished his hold on her and sat back in his seat. "What's wrong?"
A grimace broke out on his face. "Why do I get the feeling this has something to do with your parents?"
"I - it's not just Mom and Dad."
"The hell it isn't," he said without raising his voice. "It's no secret I'm not from a wealthy, well-connected family like yours."
Samantha's hand tightened on the steering wheel. "You're jumping to conclusions about that, Nick."
"Then enlighten me!" he demanded. "If you've met someone else and want to break up, just be honest about it. Don't hide behind your parents' disapproval of me."
Nick's forthright personality fascinated and intimidated her at the same time.
"There's no one else. Surely you know that by now. As for them not considering you a suitable person for me to be dating, they'd feel the same way about any other guy. In all honesty it's my fault they've forbidden me to go on seeing you."
"Forbidden? How could they forbid you to do anything? You're in college and are able to make your own decisions."
She shivered. "You're going to hate me when I tell you."
Excerpted from To Be A Mother by Rebecca Winters Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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