Child of Mine
Publication date: February 20th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Lauren didn’t intend to sleep with her brother-in-law Cole on the day of her husband’s funeral. But now that she is pregnant, she’s not sorry. Cole’s given her a baby, a long-wished-for miracle. He’s been her friend forever, though she never told him or anyone else how unhappy her marriage to his cheating brother was. And she’s afraid to tell the small town that considered her husband a hero that the baby isn’t his.
Cole’s been in love with Lauren since he was sixteen. It kills him that everyone believes the baby is his dead brother’s. All he wants is to claim the baby, and Lauren, as his own. Though she marries him, will Lauren’s heart ever be his?
Lauren must tell the truth or risk losing Cole. Is her newly-discovered love for him greater than her fear of scandal in her hometown?
“We asked you to come here this evening because we have something we want to tell all of you. Lauren and I are getting married.”
The room went deathly quiet. Lauren tightened her grip on his hand. Her face turned pale as she stared at her family’s stunned expressions. Cole put his arm around her waist, afraid she might faint.
He needn’t have worried. She lifted her chin at a defiant angle and turned to face the others.
“Cole and I have decided this child needs the best possible start in life and that means having a mother and a father. We’ve always been friends, so what better way to start a marriage then with friendship?”
Garrett pushed himself to his feet and came forward. “I think it’s a hell of an idea. You two will make wonderful parents.”
He enfolded Lauren in an embrace. Cole heard her murmur her thanks to her brother. “I think you’ll make a wonderful uncle.”
Charlotte was next in line. She kissed Lauren’s cheek. “I’m so happy for you, sweetie. When’s the big day?”
“In a couple of weeks,” Cole said. “As soon as we can arrange everything.”
Lauren’s parents, Robert and Grace, also extended their congratulations. If they had reservations, they kept them to themselves.
Only his mother remained in her seat, staring at them in disbelief. Cole sat next to her. “What do you want to say, Ma?”
“You can’t replace Billy.” She choked out the words.
“I know that.” He’d known he was second best in her eyes all his life. “I wouldn’t even try.”
“But to marry his wife, to raise his child? It’s wrong. They don’t belong to you. You always wanted what belonged to your brother.”
He wanted to shout at her that the baby was his, that it had nothing to do with Billy. And Lauren was his, too. He’d loved her first. His brother had never appreciated what a gem he’d had in her. He’d squandered his marriage the way he’d squandered the love that had been lavished on him all his life, from his parents, from Lauren, and even from him.
Instead he pressed his lips together and said nothing. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and saw that Lauren stood beside him.
“I know this is difficult for you, Ella. I know you’re grieving. But I have to raise my child in the best way I know how. Aside from my brother and sister, Cole is my best friend in the world. He’s a good man, and I know he’ll be a wonderful father. You should be very proud of him.”
His mother stared at Lauren as if she couldn’t believe what she was saying. Her face twisted. “Don’t you miss Billy at all? Don’t you grieve for him? Nobody understands. Nobody.”
He said the word a little sharper then he’d intended, but at least it got her attention. She looked up at him in surprise.
“I’m sorry if it hurts you, but Lauren and I are getting married. We care about one another and we care about the baby. The three of us are going to be a family. I wish you could be happy for us.”
Ella dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. Finally, with a shuddering breath, she turned to look at him.
“For Billy’s baby’s sake, I’ll try.”
The pain was swift and unexpected. If she’d stabbed him through the heart with a dagger it wouldn’t have hurt as much.
When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.
In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with an elderly Pug/Terrier named cross Lou. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.janarichards.com
My Dog Lou
My dog Lou is a pug/terrier cross and she’s almost sixteen and a half years old. She came into our lives fifteen years ago when she was about a year and half old, but even at that young age our vet was sure she’d already had at least one litter of puppies. When we got her, she looked a little rough. Patches of fur were missing from her tail, and she smelled terrible. We were told she lived mostly outside, which is horrifying to me considering the kind of winters we have in Manitoba. But with love and good food, which she didn’t have to hoard anymore, her coat grew sleek and she gained weight. Boy, did she gain weight!
In those early years, she was a bundle of energy. She loved to walk or even run, so we went out every day, in all kinds of weather. She was affectionate and funny.
These days, in her elderly state, she’s still affectionate, but she doesn’t have much energy. We still go outside together in all kinds of weather, though our walks are very slow and don’t cover much distance. At this point we don’t know how much longer we’ll have her. All we can do in the time we have left with her is love her and care for her.
I didn’t know how much I loved dogs until we got Lou. I had dogs on the farm as a kid, but they were outside dogs that lived in the barn; my mom didn’t believe dogs and cats should live in the house. For years before we got Lou we had cats, and I loved them, but hands-down, Lou is my favorite pet ever.
Lou has inspired me to include dogs as characters in some of my books. In my latest release, CHILD OF MINE, Brady is Cole’s Golden Retriever. He’s even on the cover of the book, which makes me very happy. When Cole and Lauren marry and she moves in, Brady falls head over heels in love with Lauren and is her constant companion.
Another dog that ended up on one of my covers, albeit in cartoon form, is Spike in CHILL OUT. Spike is a Mastiff rescued by the hero of the story. He was inspired by my friend Michelle’s dog Indy, also a rescued Mastiff. When Michelle worked in my office, she regularly brought Indy to work with her and I got to know this gentle giant. In real life, Indy (a girl, by the way), wasn’t as big as I made Spike in the book. Like Brady, Spike totally falls for the heroine. Both dogs have very good taste!
The fictional dog most inspired by Lou is Stanley in TAKE A CHANCE ON ME. This book may have my favorite cover of all my books because it features Stanley in all his adorableness. There are definite differences between Stanley and Lou; for starters, Stanley is a male dog. He’s also a pure-bred pug and Lou is a cross. But in attitude, and in shedding prowess, Stanley is all Lou. When Lou is gone, I’ll look at that cover and fondly remember my little buddy.
Do you have a pet? Do you like to read about fictional pets in romance novels?