When single mom Taylor Lawrence discovers the hospital accidentally sent her home with the wrong baby five years ago, she’s stunned. Now the headstrong and handsome biological father wants his child back. But Emily is her daughter, and Taylor isn’t about to give her up without a fight.
Widower Reece Wallace believed his life was over when he lost his wife and daughter in a tragic accident. Then he finds out about Emily. He’ll never forget his first daughter, but maybe life was giving him a second chance. He could never have anticipated the fiery woman on the other side of this custody battle, though, or how she’d stir feelings in him long dormant.
As the media storm surrounding the hospital’s mistake intensifies, Taylor and Reece find there’s more to sort out than custody of Emily, and that sometimes love can be found in the most unexpected places.
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The Switched Baby Scandal
Scandals in San Sebastian, Book 1
By Theresa Meyers, Karen Grove, Lewis Pollak
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Theresa Meyers
All rights reserved.
"What do you mean she's not mine?" Taylor Lawrence's eyes narrowed and her heart slammed against her ribs as she reread the lab report. Twice.
But the words and numbers didn't change. They didn't even budge. The pungent, antiseptic odor of disinfectant that lingered in the air and the visually sterile white walls of the office only added to her discomfort. She pinned the young lab technician to his seat with an intense gaze. He squirmed like a specimen under the scrutinizing lens of a microscope before readjusting his glasses with the point of his index finger.
Folding his hands together, he audibly swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. "Well, Ms. Lawrence, the results of the test are conclusive within a 99.98% accuracy." He nudged again at his slipping glasses. "Not only is this child not Mr. Severin's, there is also no chance that she's yours, genetically speaking."
Was he out of his mind? He didn't know what he was saying. Of course Emily was her child. Even if her ex-fiancé, Michael, had turned out to be just a sperm donor in the situation, Taylor knew beyond a doubt that she and Emily were bound together.
The test was wrong. Period.
She squared her shoulders and crushed the paper in her palm, leaning in toward the tech. "Look, I spent eight hours in labor having Emily. I've sung her to sleep every night for the last four years. Of course she's mine!"
He nodded, pressing back into his chair, his eyes widening at her tone. It was obvious that he believed the results weren't lying and that she was on the verge of being a nutcase.
This wasn't like her. She was cool, calm, and collected, not a raging drama queen like some of her clients or an eccentric like her mother. She needed to get a grip. He wasn't going to tell her anything to help her if she came on too strong. Taylor took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of her nose to ward off the pressure building behind her eyes and reined in her exasperation so she could get some answers. The results were a mistake. It was the only explanation. She glared at the lab tech. "Look, there's something wrong with these results. Perhaps the samples were mixed up in your lab with someone else's."
The tech shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "We have procedures in place that keep that from happening." A little irritation leaked into his tone. "All I can give you are the results of the DNA test, Ms. Lawrence. I've really never run across this before. We performed the extra test free of charge only because the markers in the DNA and your daughter's were completely different when we did the sampling."
Taylor crossed her arms, trying to get a hold of the uncertainty now churning inside her like a bad case of the flu. There had to be something she could do about this. She'd saved for six months to be able to afford the testing. The attorney had said it was necessary to pursue the paternity case against Michael after he'd gotten married and refused to help support Emily any longer. Where would this leave her and Emily?
"What about running it again?"
"We did. We also sent your blood samples to another lab for comparison. The results have come back the same each time. I'm sorry, but perhaps the hospital where you had her can make more sense out of this than we can."
Taylor slapped her open palm down on the desk. "But I need to use these test results as evidence in court for a paternity suit."
He shook his head, his hands coming together to form a steeple. "I wouldn't use these results. The tests prove Mr. Severin isn't the father of the child and you aren't her mother. You'd be laughed out of the courtroom for trying to use them and likely raise issues regarding your legitimacy as her guardian."
Taylor could picture the scene in her mind with the judge and attorneys laughing and pointing at her. Worse still, a flash of them taking Emily out of her arms, tears streaming down her little girl's face, shot through her mind. She couldn't let that happen.
"We can run them again if you'd like, free of charge, Ms. Lawrence. But I'm certain the results will be the same. Perhaps the hospital made a mistake."
A mistake? This isn't just a mistake. This is a life-altering catastrophe in the making. She didn't want to believe it, but a small seed of uncertainty sprouted, taking root in her mind. What if it were true? Inside, her chest ached with the sheer weight of all she'd considered most dear to her being ripped away and proven a lie. No. Not all of it. The love she felt for her little girl was real. She knew that.
Still, Taylor fought against the idea that there may be truth to what the lab tech was saying. Mistakes like this didn't happen, especially in the sleepy seaside town of San Sebastian. She would have known if she had the wrong infant. Wouldn't she? Didn't a good parent know their own child? But if what the lab tech said was true, then what kind of mother did that make her? How could this happen? More importantly what was she going to do? She hugged her arms more tightly around herself. Fear, acidic and sour, slicked the back of her throat as the ramifications of the lab technician's words sunk in.
The test said her baby wasn't hers.
What if the state of California decided to agree and took Emily away from her because neither she nor Michael were the biological parents? And if they weren't Emily's biological parents, she had to have some, somewhere. Didn't she? What would they do once they found out? Would they try to take her back? Who was she kidding — of course they would. Her skin cooled as the blood drained from her face.
Her stomach pitched and heaved. She began taking deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth. No one was going to take her daughter. No one. And Emily was her daughter. She repeated it to herself until she could slow her breathing and the faint buzzing in her head eased.
She glanced up at the lab tech.
Worry creased his brow. "Are you all right?"
My world is being thrown into chaos by some test-tube error. I'm just peachy. Rage hit the base of Taylor's skull in a pounding, blinding rush. She never would've had to deal with any of this if Michael hadn't thrown her and Emily away the moment he'd learned of the pregnancy, and then refused to even come to the hospital to see her delivered. They'd been engaged, but it all changed the minute she opened her mouth to tell him about the baby. He didn't want children. Ever. Selfish jerk.
Taylor huffed and mentally pulled herself together, stuffing down the hurt and anger so she could focus. She didn't need Michael or any other man in her life. She'd worked hard to become self-sufficient, financially and emotionally. They were managing on her income from her interior design business, but child support would make a big difference.
If the test was accurate, and Emily didn't belong to either of them, what had happened? Did the hospital already know about the mistake? Had they glossed over it and hoped no one would find out? Or, if they didn't know, would they take Emily away if she alerted the hospital? If she didn't say anything, would she ever know what had happened to her biological child? If she were happy? If she were loved? The unsettling swish of not knowing that settled deep in her gut was worse than the risk. Surely they'd see she'd taken good care of Emily. That would have to count for something. She needed answers and had an absolute certainty she sure wasn't going to get them here.
Peering at the technician across the desk, she murmured a thank-you and lurched forward out of the chair, making it screech in protest against the gray linoleum floor.
The key to beating anything was not to be beaten by it. She didn't know what had happened, or who was at fault, but she was determined to find out even if she had to tear the hospital apart one brick at a time to dig out the answers. Her hands squeezed into hard knots at her sides. Nothing was too daunting when it came to protecting Emily ... or the child she had yet to meet.
* * *
Reece Wallace shuffled in the door of the large, empty house and tossed his keys and the mail on the kitchen table. For an instant he thought he heard Alyssa's squeal. He suppressed the urge to dash into the backyard and instead cracked open the French doors and glanced outside.
From the other side of the fence came the whirring chop of a lawnmower. The green, lively scent of freshly cut grass hung heavy in the spring air, but his own yard was empty and the grass overgrown. Again the squeal of childish delight echoed in his ears, but it came from one of the neighborhood children playing nearby.
His shoulders sagged. He would never hear that giggle or feel those sweet, little-girl arms wrap around his neck again. He shut the doors and the emptiness of the house closed in around him.
He stared at the family portrait that hung in the downstairs hall. A happy family, almost alien to him now, smiled back. It all seemed long ago and far away. A dream, but certainly not his reality. Not now.
He briefly touched the glass, tracing over the faces of his wife and daughter. A burning sensation hit him behind the eyes and a tightness built in his chest.
"I miss you," he said, though no one heard him. He looked at his wife's kind brown eyes and turned away, the pain too sharp.
A few minutes later, Reece roughly wiped the back of his hand against his aching eyes and straightened his shoulders. His stomach growled, reminding him once again that he'd skipped too many meals that day.
He walked back into the kitchen, ignoring the cheery sunflowers on the wall and the lace at the window that still bore Becca's touch as if she had been there only a moment before.
The red roses still came weekly from the florist, filling the entryway with their scent, and he carefully arranged them in the crystal vase from their wedding on the entrance hall table, just as Becca always had done. Alyssa's stuffed animals sat untouched on her pink, ruffled bedspread, waiting for her to play. Only the atmosphere had changed. Though clean, the house was merely an empty seashell, beautiful to look at but void of the life it once held.
Sifting through the unopened mail piled on the oak table in the kitchen, an unfamiliar piece caught his eye. Clemens County Hospital. He tore the envelope open at one end with his finger. It was a letter, not a bill.
He slid the crisp, white stationery out and flipped it open. Confusion mixed with anger. His brows pinched tighter, giving him the start of a headache. A mistake. They'd made a mistake and wanted to talk to him about it. He picked up the cordless phone in the kitchen and punched in the number listed in the letter.
"Clemens County Hospital," a nasally female voice answered.
"Patricia Fairmont, please."
"One moment, sir. I'll connect you."
"Public relations, this is Patricia."
Suspicion lifted the small hairs on his skin. His eyes narrowed. "Miss Fairmont, this is Reece Wallace. I just got your letter about some sort of a mistake. I'd like to know what it's referring to."
"Oh, Mr. Wallace, I'm glad you called. We'd like to meet with you and your wife in person, if possible. Would you be able to come in tomorrow around four?"
His shoulders stiffened, and he gritted his teeth. Why would she be asking for Becca, too? She'd been dead a little over a year.
"May I ask why?"
The woman cleared her throat. "Well, I'd prefer to speak to you both in person rather than over the phone."
Deep-settled anguish that instantly caused a sour ache in his stomach made Reece squeeze his eyes shut to block the vivid memories. The blood. The crunched metal. He took a breath to steady himself. If she wanted to see him and Becca, he was damned if he was going to let her off that easy. "Miss Fairmont, let's be frank. I'm not going to be coming in for any meeting until I know why you'd like to see me."
"Mr. Wallace, it's a sensitive subject, and I believe I could give you far better answers in person."
"Is there a reason it can't be said over the phone?"
"No, I —"
"Then I suggest you tell me." He knew his tone was belligerent, but he didn't give a damn.
He heard her suck in a gulp of air. When she did speak, her smooth, feminine voice was ruffled with agitation. "It seems that there's a chance that you and your wife were given the wrong infant to take home several years ago. The other parent has already assisted us. We'd like your help in clarifying the matter so we can settle this investigation as delicately as possible for the children's sakes."
Reece stopped breathing, the sudden intense pressure on his sternum crushing the air from his lungs. His stomach flipped. The long silence between them was punctuated only by the occasional crackle of static on the line.
"Mr. Wallace, are you there?"
Her voice barely registered in his spinning head. "Y ... yes. Did you say four o'clock tomorrow?"
"If that would work for you and your family."
"I'll be there," he mumbled and hung up the phone.
His legs trembled, and he collapsed into a kitchen chair. My God. He scrubbed his shaking hands over his face and plowed his fingers through his hair. Could he really still have a child out there? Somewhere? He shoved away the hope. No matter what the hospital had done, it wouldn't bring Alyssa and Becca back.
He'd arrived at the accident too late. The mangled metal of the car was splattered with blood, the tang of it metallic, mixing with the odors of spilled gasoline and burned rubber. The emergency crew knew they couldn't get Becca out of the car in time and had let him go to her. Her breath was rasping and weak. She'd only asked for one thing — for him to take care of the baby.
Reece couldn't force himself to tell her the devastating truth. He was in shock, and she was too delirious with pain to realize what he saw with his own eyes: their baby had already died in the backseat. So in the end he had lied to her, telling her Alyssa was fine and that he would take care of their daughter. It was all he could do as he watched Becca's life ebb away.
His last words were a promise he could never keep.
A lie that would mark him forever.
Survivor's guilt was a terrible taskmaster that never took a holiday or gave a man a moment's peace. Every minute of every day he kept thinking there should have been something he could have done to save them, even though logically he knew it wasn't possible.
Reece glanced over at the letter still sitting on the table.
As much as the news of the hospital's possible mistake stunned him, the potential for fulfilling his last promise to Becca made some of the stabbing guilt wane. What if he could make a difference now? What if this was his shot at salvation and a new life without the silent burden he carried? Could there be a chance, a slim chance, that this child could change things? That he truly could keep that promise to take care of their child?
What if the child had Becca's chocolate-brown eyes and auburn curls? A turned-up pixie nose? He'd know if she was theirs the minute he saw her. It had to be a girl. Didn't it? The hospital wouldn't have switched infants of different genders. Would they? A spark of hope glimmered. He couldn't help it. For a moment he basked in the warmth that tingled in his limbs.
Becca had been such a good friend, and then she'd gotten pregnant, and they'd brought Alyssa home. That's when real love, brought on by his daughter, took him over for the first time. Together they'd become his universe. All that mattered was captured in two petite packages.
Excerpted from The Switched Baby Scandal by Theresa Meyers, Karen Grove, Lewis Pollak. Copyright © 2013 Theresa Meyers. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I don't know how many of you remember those Lifetime Movies, you know the ones that were like "oh my gosh" and you need a box a tissue to get through the movie. Yes, those sappy chick flicks. If there was a book that would be like a Lifetime Movie The Switched Baby Scandal by Theresa Meyers would be that book. It has all the makings of Lifetime Movie. There are a few things you would find Lifetime Movie: 1) Heartbreak. Hence the need of box of tissue. 2) Scandal. For some reason there is always a scandal. 3) Switched at births. I think I remember watching one like that. 4) Death. Which might be another reason for a box of tissue. 5) Can't move on from the past. 6) The news people are on top of the story. Yes, the media is always involve. Actually, that's a pretty good list. I'm sure if I think of every movie Lifetime I'm sure I could probably do a blog about. However, the six I listed fit into The Switched Baby Scandal. See the makings of a Lifetime Movie. Other than reminding me of a Lifetime Movie, I really did enjoyed this book. I love the fact that both parents fiercely love Emily, who happens to be caught in the firestorm of scandal. Both Reece and Taylor want to protect Emily, along with that try to keep their feelings for one another under control. Taylor is a protective mother who wants what is best for her child, but at the same time afraid to let Reece. Funny how previous relationships play a part in letting people in. Taylor isn't the only one with a problem letting others in, Reece has a hard time letting go of the past. He wants to move on, but isn't sure hold to proceed without destroying the memory of his late wife. So, you have all these little layers that make up this story. Honestly, I thought The Switched Baby Scandal was beautifully done. I love how they made their blended family work. It didn't bring on the ugly cry, but it still got me to choke out a couple of tears. Overall, leaving me with a warm-fuzzy feeling inside. So, if you loved Lifetime Movies and need a fix, I would suggest you grab yourself a copy of The Switched Baby Scandal. Copy provided by publisher
This is an unimaginable real life story. My heart broke for Reece the most. He had endured so much pain already. Finding out the truth really was a second chance at happiness rather than a spending the rest of his life grieving his lost wife and child. His second chance brings the greatest fear of Taylor's life, losing her daughter Emily. In addition to this Taylor finds out the child she gave birth to is already gone. Reece and Taylor need to combine their joy and fear together and attempt to find happiness. Luckily Emily is a happy child with lots of love for both of them. Thank you Entangled Publishing, LLC and Net Galley for the ARC. Additional Questions
very enjoyable read
Emotional Read The compelling aspect of this book is its close look at grief and the ramifications of what it really might feel like to be given the wrong baby to take home from the hospital. The love story is gripping because it is set inside this conflict. The little girl feature is sweet but a little like romance novel childern who tend to annoy some readers with precociousness. The heroine and the hero are both good people with a great deal of hurt they are bringing to a relationship. The sexy times are fade to black. This is a quick nice emotional read. I was given this book for my honest review. So, there you have it.
The book was great. A lot of tears. This book is a keeper to read many times.
The Switched Baby Scandal by Theresa Meyers is Contemporary Romance, with a different theme. I have never read Meyers, and was pleasantly pleased with this book. If you read the description above, you know the theme is about a mixup years before with the switching of two babies. We meet our heroine, Taylor Lawrence, when she is at the hospital trying to get her blood tests for paternity, since she needs these results when she appears in court. Taylor is fighting her ex-boyfriend, the father of her 4 year old daughter Emily, for childcare support. He had left her the moment he found out she was pregnant. But Taylor discovers to her dismay that Emily is not her true daughter. From that point, the hospital has to uncover what happened, though we do not see this part. Instead we meet our hero, Reece Wallace, a successful attorney, who is still suffering from the loss of his wife and child in a car crash a year before. Reece hides his state of depression to his friends and co-workers. Then he receives the phone call from the hospital, and everything in his life is about to change. Taylor meets Reece, as the hospital brings them together to settle things. She resents him, worrying that he will force himself into her daughter’s life, as well as hers. After her last boyfriend’s domineering ways, she is determined not to become involved again. All Taylor wants is her life to continue with her daughter, Emily. It doesn’t matter that genetically Emily is not her daughter, but she brought her up from the beginning and loves her with all her heart. Reece is determined to become part of Emily’s life, and strangely he feels some attraction to Taylor, which baffles him. But all he cares about now is getting to know Emily. Rather then go into detail, this is an excellent story. What follows is a slow progress of Taylor trying to be more understanding and accepting Reece as Emily’s father; coming to terms herself that her birth daughter is dead, and she never got to know her. Taylor must also learn to handle Emily already caring about Reece. Taylor knows despite her misgivings, Reece is not going away, and will be a part of their lives. Meyers does an excellent job of building up this relationship between Reece and Taylor. She does this slowly, allowing each to get past their own issues. Their common bond is Emily, and the sharing of stories of both daughters will bring them together. There is also the mystery of how this switch happened. I enjoyed this book very much. I recommend this book, as it was a nice romance; a couple you liked, and rooted for; and the precious child they both loved.
OMG! Heartbreaking roller-coaster of emotions. I cannot imagine the gamut of emotions these characters felt (but new to me) author Theresa Meyers had me laughing, crying, and ready to bi*** slap a few people. I love it when I can get drawn in and involved with the characters to the point where I am talking to them. This book got to me. As a parent there is no more scary thought than losing a child. Thankfully I knew going in that there had to be a happy ending but getting there… Break out the tissues. I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Rating: 4.5 Stars In The Switched Baby Scandal by Theresa Meyers, Taylor Lawrence is trying to sue the father of her little girl in order to receive child support. He may have abandoned her when he found out she was pregnant, but he is still the father and has a responsibility, or so she believes. When the DNA results she needs to take to court are being read to her, she cannot believe what they are saying, not only is her ex not the father but she is not the mother either! If she does not find out what really happened they may take her little Emily away from her, and she needs to know what happened to the child she carried in her womb for nine months. Reece Wallace has been living a dull life for the past year, since a drunk driver killed not only his wife but his daughter Alyssa too. Every time he hears a young child he thinks he will see his little girl running and laughing, but that was taken away from him. To his surprise he receives a letter from Clemens County Hospital, where his daughter was born, about some confusion and that he needs to contact them urgently. At first he does not know what they want, but when they tell him there was a baby switch and that his baby may not be his and the other girl might be, he feels that he has been given another chance and reason to live again. When Reece goes to the meeting in the hospital to get the DNA test done he arrives early but he needs to gather his courage before he can go into the hospital. Only as he decides to get out of the car it starts raining and when he walks towards the hospital a woman is walking in ahead of him. ~'I guess I closed my umbrella too soon. I didn’t realize I’d need it indoors, too' She gave him a brief smile. The soft curve of her lips made the idea of a kiss leap to mind. His mouth went dry. For the first time in his life he was unable to whip up a flip reply. Something about her went to the center of him like an electric shock. ~ At first all seems okay, until she notices him ogling her chest, which is now wet thanks to him, while he is wearing a wedding ring, infidelity is not something that she approves of. But to both their surprise when they show up to the meeting with Patricia Fairmont, the public relations officer for the hospital, they find out that Reece may be the potential biological father of Emily. At first Taylor believes that she can convince him that Emily is hers, but when he tells her that her daughter has died and that he wants to talk about custody, she knows that she may have a fight on her hands and she cannot loose her daughter. Taylor and Reece agree to meet in order to decide the best way to introduce Emily to her him and to start talks about custody, but Taylor is used to being the only one in charge of Emily and Taylor does not believe that she can share, especially after Emily immediately takes after Reece and she starts to feel replaced. That is not the only challenge for these two, they have a chemistry and attraction that they cannot deny, but the guilt that Reece carries over from the deaths of his wife and Alyssa may prevent him from opening up to new love. Also Taylor has her own demons to fight, and she needs to realize that not all men are out to hurt and disappoint her, if she will only open herself enough to give Reece a chance he can prove that to her. Besides their personal demons, they also have to face the media, which has taken a big interest in the switched baby scandal, for not only are they harassing them, it has gotten to the point that they are following and taking pictures of Emily at school or wherever she may be with or without them. Both Taylor and Reece know that love doesn’t only come from giving birth or life to a child but also by raising them and giving them love while they are growing up. And this reason alone will entwine all of their lives and give a new meaning to the word family. For an emotionally deep story line that will break your heart and will leave you with a very happy ending, don’t miss The Switched Baby Scandal by Theresa Meyers.
Heartwrenching, yet truly heartwarming With a deep storyline, wonderful endearing characters and the capability to stir every emotion, Theresa Meyers has given us a lovely story that completely captivated me from the first page. I'll happily admit that as a true romantic who craves a happy ending, Bliss books are part of my staple literary diet; this book has firmly entered the realms as one of my favourites. I was totally invested in Reece and Taylor's journey; they were realistic and strong, yet not without their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I fell completely in love with Reece; he's protective, thoughtful and level-headed and my heart absolutely ached for the pain he goes through. Taylor was also easy to love; a single mum, she is an outstanding parent and her daughter is simply her world. I felt their joy, sadness, happiness and pain. I smiled and I sobbed but I also laughed; the innocent comments that their daughter Emily shares are sweet, funny and, as with all four year-olds, completely truthful and straight to the point. She was a wonderful little person and this book is as much her journey as Reece or Taylor's. The only thing missing for me was an epilogue, but that doesn't detract from a fabulous read that I would certainly recommend and I look forward to more from San Sebastian in the future.