When midwife Callie Taylor agreed to be the surrogate mother for her best friend, Dr Lucas Gold, she couldn't have predicted that his marriage would fall apart exactly when she became pregnant with his child… Suddenly her life has changed for ever and Callie's terrified of becoming a mum to the baby she never dreamed of keeping. Even more terrifying are the feelings she's starting to develop for Lucas — feelings that have nothing to do with her hormones…and absolutely everything to do with his scorching kiss!
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About the Author
After four children, including a set of twins, and fifteen years of trying to get published, she finally got The Call she'd been waiting for! Now she lives on Hayling Island, by the beach and when she's not being a First Responder, providing emergency life support for South Central Ambulance Service, she creates her stories as she wanders up and down the wonderful Hampshire coastline with her two dogs, talking to herself and scaring the locals.
Visit Louisa on Twitter, on Facebook and at her website.
Read an Excerpt
Dr Lucas Gold sat next to Callie in the ultrasound waiting room, wishing he had something he could do with his hands. Nerves were running him through with adrenaline, and he had to fight the strong urge to get out of his seat and pace the floor.
He wasn't used to feeling out of his depth in the hospital. It was his home turfthe place he felt most secure. He knew what he was doing with work and he was looked up to and respected for it. But this situation was brand-new. Something he'd never experienced before. It was completely terrifying and he had no idea how to handle it. His insides were a mish-mash of conflicting thoughts and emotions, all jarring with each other and fighting for superiority, whilst on the outside he hoped he was maintaining an air of calm authority. As everyone was used to.
His best friend, Callie, was drinking water from a white plastic cup, an oasis of calm, whilst he sat there, rigid, a million thoughts running through his head.
'Callie Taylor?' A nurse in blue scrubs stood in a doorway.
He glanced at Callie, meeting her gaze and offering a supporting smile, although he knew he was probably just as nervous as she was. This situation was all just so complicated! Not the way he'd imagined this time in his life being at all. But he tried not to show it. He didn't want Callie worrying. He didn't want her to think that he had any doubts at all.
Not that I do. Have doubts, that is. Not about the baby anyway.
And he knew that she just had to be as frightened of this as he was. The situation wasn't perfect, was it? For either of them. People didn't normally plan to have babies like this. But it was the situation they were in and he was going to make it workno matter what. The important thing here was the baby, and he was determined to do right by his child as well as his best friend. After all, he was the one who'd got her into this mess. There were so many men who got a woman pregnant and then, when the circumstances changed, left them holding the baby.
Well, not me. I could never be that man.
They both stood and he reached out to touch her upper arm, just to offer her some reassurance. But something held him back and he stopped, letting his hand drop away, pretending not to have done it and hoping she hadn't noticed. She wasn't his to touch, after all. 'After you.'
He followed her into the darkened room and stood by her side. He held his hands out as she got onto the bed, to make sure she wasn't about to fall whilst she carried his precious cargo, before sitting down in the chair beside it.
The sonographer smiled at them both. 'Oh, Callie, I didn't realise it was you!' It was one of her colleagues: Sophie. 'Are you happy for me to perform your scan today?'
Callie nodded. ''Course!'
Sophie beamed. 'So exciting! Okay, can you confirm your name and date of birth for me?'
Callie gave the details.
'And it says here that this is your first pregnancy?'
Callie's voice held a tremor and Lucas glanced at her, wondering what she was thinking. 'And when was the date of your last period?' 'February seventh.'
Sophie fiddled with the plastic wheel that Lucas knew was a predictor of delivery dates. 'So that makes you twelve weeks and two days todayis that right?'
'Okay, so what I'm going to do is ask you to lower the waistband on your trousers. I'll put some gel on you, which might feel cold but will help the transducer move around easier and also helps with a better image. Now, do you have a full bladder?'
'Fit to burst.'
Sophie laughed. 'I'll try not to press on it too hard. So, do you want to just undo your trousers for me and lower the waist?'
Lucas glanced away, looking elsewhere to give Callie some privacy. He waited for Sophie to tuck some blue paper towel into the top of Callie's underwear before turning back. He watched the sonographer squirt on the gel, mentally hurrying her in his mind, but smiling when Callie gasped at the feel of it on her warm skin. Then he waited.
Sophie had the screen turned away from them both as she made her initial sweeps with the scanner, and Lucas had to fight every instinct in his body not to get up and go round the bed to have a look at the screen himself!
It was difficult to be the patient. To be the person on the other side. He was used to being the one who knew what was going on first. But he knew he had to wait. Sophie would be checking for an actual embryo first, then a heartbeat, before she turned the screen for them to see.
He'd have to learn how to be patient if he was going to be a good parent.
He glanced at Callie and noticed the frown on her face in the half-light. He wanted to tell her it would be all right, to hold her hand tight in his and tell her that there was nothing for her to worry about, but he knew he couldn't. Not yet. What was the right etiquette in this situation? No one told you that at the clinic.
She's pregnant with my child and I daren't even touch her.
Besides, how could he tell her there was nothing to worry about? It wasn't true, was it? There was plenty to worry about. Like how this was going to work in the first place. Maggie was supposed to be by his side at this moment, both of them watching the screen with Callie, but Maggie was gone. That was still a shock. They were on their own now and he had no idea what Callie was thinking.
Then Sophie was smiling and turning the screen. 'There you are your baby.'
'Oh, my God!'
Lucas couldn't quite believe it! After all the uncertaintyall the testing, the waiting, the drugs, the injections, the tests. After all this time There it was. A tiny grey bean shape, nestling in Callie's womb, its tiny heart busily beating away. It was amazing. Surreal.
His eyes burned into the screen, imprinting the shape of his child, the beat of its strong heart, into his memory for ever. This was something that could never be forgotten. Pride filled his soul and he felt an instant connection and a surge of protectiveness for his little beanand for Callie.
He'd waited so long for this moment.
To be a father it's real it's happening
A laugh of relief escaped him and he reached out without thinking and grabbed Callie's hands in his, not noticing her flinch, forgetting that she wasn't good with physical contact. His prior fears were forgotten in the moment of joy.
'Can you believe it, Callie?'
She shook her head, not speaking, and he saw the welling of tears in her own eyes and was glad. He wouldn't normally be glad to see anyone well up with tears or cry, but this was different. They were in a difficult situation, the pair of them, thrown together into having a baby when they weren't even a couple. Now Maggie had gone they had to find a way through this situation themselves.
After Maggie had left them both in the lurch they'd initially struggled even to be in the same room as each other. It had been so hard to know what to do or say in their situation. And so wrong that they had to feel that way! They were best friends and always had been.
Maggie had been quick to see a solicitor and apply for a divorce. She'd said it was best for both of them. She'd been quick to sever all ties.
As the days had passed the atmosphere between him and Callie had got a little less awkwardthough it still wasn't what it once had been. He knew Callie had as much adjustment to make to this situation as he hadif not more. It was a tough test of their friendship one that neither of them could ever have imagined they would have to face. They were both testing the water like anxious ducklings, not knowing if they were going to sink or swim.
Each day that they worked together brought new challenges for both of them. He could sense her awkwardness each time she worked with him. Often he found himself craving the relaxed atmosphere they'd used to have with each other. The ability to laugh at the same things, to predict what the other was thinking.
Only last week he'd helped her out on a particularly difficult shoulder dystocia and, though they'd worked together efficiently for their patient, the old rapport had not been the same and he'd felt the tension between them return the second the baby had been delivered safely. When he'd left the patient's room he'd banged his fist against the wall with frustration at the whole situation.
But he was thrilled that seeing the baby meant something to Callie too. After all, he knew she'd never wanted to have a baby of her own. Not after the way she'd been treated by her own mother. Callie's childhood had been bloody awful compared to his. To see that she was just as affected as he was at seeing the baby onscreen was priceless. 'It's a baby,' she said.
Sophie laughed at them both. 'Of course it is!' She began to take measurements. She measured the head-to-rump length and then zoomed in on the nuchal fold, which was one of the measurements they took at the three-month scan to check the risk factors for Down syndrome. 'This all looks fine. Well within parameters.'
'That's good,' Lucas said, relieved.
'I had no idea you two were together. You kept that quiet,' Sophie said.
Callie glanced at him, a question in her eyes. Should they correct her?
'Actually er we're not ' He stumbled over the explanation, his words fading away as he recalled Maggie's impression of their relationship. 'You love Callie, Lucas! Always have! I could never live up to her, so now I'm giving you the chance to be together!'
'We're not together,' Callie said. 'Just having a baby.'
Lucas gave a polite smile.
Sophie raised her eyebrows. 'There's no "just" about ityou two should know that. Having a baby is hard work.'
'You give all your patients this pep talk?' Lucas didn't want her attacking their decision, and he certainly didn't want Callie getting upset. She'd been through enough already, what with all the morning sickness and everything.
'I'm sorry. I didn't mean'
Lucas shook his head, appalled that he'd been snappy with her. 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be sharp with you/ It's just been a tough few months already.' What was he doing? He wasn't normally this prickly.
But Sophie was obviously used to the up-down moods of her patients and she smiled. 'That's all right. Heretake these.' She passed over a long strip of black-and-white scan photos.
Callie took the opportunity to pull free of his cradling hand and took the pictures first. She held them out before her, admiring each one, and then turned them so that Lucas could see. 'Look, Lucas.'
His heart expanded as he looked at each one. He could physically feel his love growing for this little bean-shaped creature he didn't yet know, but had helped create. All right, maybe not in the most ideal of circumstances, but they'd find a way to make it work. They had to. Even though he knew he and Callie would never be together like that.
'You okay?' He looked into her eyes and saw the tears had run down her cheeks now. He hoped they were happy tears. She seemed happy, considering.
'I'm good,' she said, nodding. 'You'd better take these.' She offered the pictures to him, but he sat back, shaking his head.
'Not all of them. I'll take half. You'll need some too.'
She looked puzzled, and he didn't like the look on her face. It made him feel uncomfortable to think that maybe she still didn't feel that the baby was part hers.
'It's your baby, too,' he insisted.
The smile left her face and Callie avoided his gaze, looking down and then wiping the gel from her belly using the paper towel.
He helped her sit up and turned away so she could stand and fasten her trousers. Then, when he judged enough time had passed, he turned back and smiled at her. 'Ready for work?'
'As I'll ever be.'
He thanked Sophie for her time and followed Callie, blinking in the brightness of the waiting room. He tried to avoid looking at all the couples holding hands. Couples in love, having a baby. The way he ought to be having a child with a partner.
Yet look at how I'm doing it.
He didn't want to think about how appalled his parents must be. He'd avoided talking to them about it, knowing they'd be sad that his marriage had failed. He was upset to have let them down, having wanted his marriage to succeed for a long timelike theirs had.
'Youngsters these days just give up on a relationship at the first sign of trouble!' his mother was fond of saying.
But I'd not given up. I thought everything was fine We were going ahead with the surrogacy. It all looked good as far as I was concerned. And then Maggie said it was over. That she'd found true love elsewhere because she 'd had to!
Now he and Callie, his best friend in the whole wide world, were in this awkward situation.
We have to make this work. I have to.
Callie had not expected to have such a strong emotional reaction to seeing the baby on screen. Why would she have suspected it? Having a baby had never been one of her dreams, had it? Not really. She'd always been happy to let other people have the babies. She just helped them along in their journey from being a woman to a mother. Others could have the babiesothers could make the mistakes. Others could be utter let-downs to their children and be hated by them in the long run. Because that was what happened. In real life.
What did people say about not being able to choose your family?
So even though she'd known she was pregnant, logically, had known she was carrying a child, she'd still somehow been knocked sideways by seeing it on screen. Her hypothetical surrogate pregnancy had turned into a real-life, bona fide baby that she might have to look after! And seeing it on screen had made her feel so guilty and so upset, because she already felt inadequate. She feared that this baby would be born into a world where its mother was useless and wouldn't have a clue. Callie could already imagine its pain and upset.
Because she knew what it was like to have a mother like that.
Callie waited until the sonographer had led someone else into the scanning room and then she stopped Lucas abruptly. 'Hold this,' she said, passing him her handbag. 'I need to use the loo.' Her bladder was killing her! Sophie had pressed down hard, no matter what she'd said about being gentle.