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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Gloria Silk πŸ’• Book Blitz & eBook Giveaway πŸ’• (Contemporary Romance)



What would you do if you were desperately trying to have a baby and discover that your loving, loyal husband has fallen in love with a gorgeous redhead at work, and may have got her – the other woman – pregnant?

Would you have it in your heart to forgive him, or would you run to your patiently waiting sexy-as-hell ex-lover?


From USA Today Bestselling Author, Gloria Silk this is a gripping, romantic and sensuous novel of marriage, fidelity, fertility and the power of love.

“Gripping, romantic, sensuous and astute.”

“New women's fiction that touches all of our emotions, fulfills our yearnings, and opens up new possibilities."

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PROVE YOUR LOVE?

5 Stars - TROUBLE IN PARADISE!!!
“Man, talk about losing a few inches around the waste. Yep, this tale has definite weight loss promise. If you're looking for a fast paced, easy to follow, smooth flowing read that captures your attention and holds it till the last word. Congratulations my friends you've found it. With all the twists and turns and surprises around every corner it keeps you on your toes. The characters and scenes were realistic and believable. I followed the characters along as their personalities transformed and blended. The detailed descriptions painted a vivid picture. The read seems to come alive right before your eyes. Remarkable job Gloria. Thanks for sharing.” Kaye’s Reviews, Goodreads.

Chapter 1

March
The March rain pelting the kitchen windows made Rachel think of tears. And there were indeed tears in her eyes as she told JT that their best friends’ marriage was over. The inseparable love birds, Tina and Andy, were the last couple they thought would lose in the marriage roulette. Rachel had also thought that their two young children were another unbreakable bond.
Her husband frowned as he looked up from his poached salmon and asparagus laden plate. “I didn’t even know they were having problems.”
Her temples throbbed. She had been too self-absorbed with her own life and yearning for a baby that she hadn’t noticed any signs or cracks in Tina’s marriage.
Some friend you are, Rachel.
“He was having an affair with a friend of theirs since Justin was born. Tina didn’t suspect a thing…It’s so sad how everything can change so suddenly. Why would a man jeopardize his whole family life like that?”
How fragile life and relationships seemed.
Nervous for all marriages she thanked God for her own strong bond with JT. Despite their issues of unexplained infertility, their marriage was blessed even after seven-and-a-half years.
“I’m sorry to hear this. I’m shocked...but maybe he wasn’t getting what he needed from her—”
“What? Tina’s been a great wife and very patient with him all these years.” She felt her anger rise thinking of Tina’s meddling mother-in-law—so much like her own—and Andy’s fledgling music production business, which had ostensibly kept him away from home for days at a time. “It’s disgusting what he’s done.”
“I agree, but no one knows what really goes on behind closed doors.” He sighed, “But there’s never any excuse to screw up a marriage.”
Rachel shook her head. “No, and especially with Emily and Justin....” How would Tina manage with her five-year-old daughter and almost three-year-old son on her own?
He shook his head. “He’s a fool. I’m disappointed for them all.” He glanced at her, his fork half way to his lips, “Don’t worry, Rachel, I know how much you care for her. All you can do is be there for them.” He then put a salmon morsel in his mouth.
“Communication is the most important thing in any marriage, right?”
She felt JT’s eyes bore into hers as he watched her across the narrow mahogany kitchen table. Putting down his cutlery he reached for her hand nearest to him. She adored that sparkle in his gunmetal-grey eyes and that slow smile.
“We’re not like the rest, to do anything stupid and ruin everything.” With a quirked brow his thumb massaged the top of her hand.
Her heart skittered at JT’s deep knowing expression the way it had when they met at a mutual friend’s wedding in London nine-and-a-half years ago. He seemed to always know how to brighten her moods, make her smile, feel safe and whole.
He kept her grounded, focussing on what mattered most; them: them, together.
Rachel would concentrate on her part-time job with Gareth Robinson-Brown’s real estate agency and not drive herself crazy about why she was still not pregnant after five years of trying. She remembered JT’s wise words after their last specialist appointment a couple of months ago to stay patient and positive and not let anyone stress her out. That was why she had given up running her own team in a Central London agency three years ago.
Neither did she get too involved in her younger sister’s private life. Emotionally supporting the twenty-five year-old Abby without getting sucked into the turmoil of her sister’s love life was proving wise and healthier for both sisters. She pushed aside the uneasiness she had felt seven months ago when she had met Rick, the new boyfriend. Abby had seemed happy with a bright ‘I’m in love’ smile at her trendy restaurant in Islington, but the phone calls had petered out over the last couple of months. Rachel resolved to call and see how she was doing.
In the meantime, she would be truly present for Tina. She took in a breath and slowly exhaled and felt a smile play on her lips. “I know you’d never dare stray, because I’d just have to kill you.” She threw him an arch look.
JT grinned. “I’d never want to be with another woman but you, and you know it. And it can work both ways. I’d strangle any guy who even looks at you in that way.” His eyes darkened, his passionate lips thinning into a resolute line on that handsome rugged face, making her smile broaden. “Like your old boyfriend we bumped into... where was that? The French restaurant soon after we met.”
“Brandon.” Her pulse raced for a few seconds and then settled. “It was our second date.”
“Ah, so you still remember the name of that pretty-boy, no-good gigolo.” The twinkling glint in his eyes was warm and inviting. “You’ll have to make up for that, wench.”
“I truly love you, JT. How did I get so lucky?”
He smiled again. “You’re going in the right direction.” He let go of her hand for the moment it took to push his chair back and come and stand beside her. Holding both her hands he raised her left one to his lips. His touch was always simultaneously calming and arousing. He leaned towards her. “Am I reading those sexy brown eyes right? There’s more than one choice for dessert to make up for...”
She licked the corner of her lower lip while he stared at her mouth as if it was a luscious strawberry, his favourite fruit. Especially when served with melted semi-sweet dark chocolate.
“Devil’s food cake and chocolate dipped strawberries.”
His lips slowly gravitated towards her mouth.
Even after all these years together, Sundays were their full day and night for each other and no one else. Their routine became a variation of sharing a long shower or an indulgent hot soak in the tub before dinner.
Before long they lay in each other’s arms against the soft cushions on the large Persian rug. The large fire in the regal fireplace shed heat and golden light over their naked skin and the plush cream throw. The intermittent crackling of the flames accompanied Nora Jones in the background. The light banter between them changed as JT gently placed Rachel’s empty wine glass on the sofa table beside the plate with the single remaining chocolate-dipped strawberry.
He leaned closer. “I’ll make you forget everything and everyone tonight.” JT murmured low, nuzzling his lips against her ear and migrating to her other sensitive erogenous zones. Almost purring, she lay back welcoming his explorations. Her arms encompassed his broad shoulders. She closed her eyes and counted her lucky stars. Everything would work out, even filling the nursery with their gorgeous, healthy baby. Pushing the thought out by letting the languid feelings of their intimacy flood her mind, she gave herself over completely to the bliss.
“I’ll always adore you.” He groaned, inhaling into her throat. Her pulse and heart beats quickened as he explored her skin and his lips hovered so close to hers. “Don’t ever doubt it.”
“I know. I—I love you, too.” Shivers of anticipation made her voice shake. Then they were kissing, hungry and sated at the same time. As always, his touch and sure kisses covering her tingling skin melted her insides.
Lightly, her shaking fingertips traced a butterfly-light line from his neck to his shoulders. His hard biceps stiffened at her caress. She loved his strong physique. Running impatient fingers through his thick silky hair she directed his head lower and kissed him deeper. She was home, warm and stimulated, marvelling how neither tired of making love with each other despite their pressures. His work and her constant hopes for a baby.
Almost of their own volition, her hands roved down his straining back muscles, as her legs tightened around his taut buttocks and hips to meld even closer into each other.
Everything outside their circle vanished. Well, almost everything.

Chapter 2
Rachel had to get out of the suddenly claustrophobic room in the house her boss was showing to a prospective client. Not only because yet again his pompousness was making her question why she continued working for him, but because she had to leave the cozy baby’s room. It was decorated in warm yellows, greens and earthy browns. Biting the inner corner of her lower lip she envisioned the serene mother and her saintly Mona Lisa smile, with a new-born at her engorged breast, rocking gently in her feeding chair.
With every passing month she wondered if she ought to move to another part-time job instead of stoically taking Gareth’s increasing irritability with life and business. He had been respectful and flexible three years ago when she had accepted this ‘temporary’ position of running his office a few hours a week.
“Gareth,” Rachel cleared her throat and faced her boss who stood behind her by the bathroom entrance. “Why am I here for this showing? And can you just tell me who this prospective investor is?”
With their third child on the way the family living in this renovated, elegant Victorian in the outskirts of Oakwood were moving to a larger house. While Gareth Robinson-Brown was selling this house for them, he had already sold them their sprawling new home in Potters Bar.
“You’ll find out soon enough. All you need to know is that his company already bought three properties in the past six months from the competing agents, and we’ll do whatever it takes for him to switch to us.” She had never heard him mention the name of the larger, more successful real estate agency up the Cockfosters high street, which he blamed for all his troubles. After making a show of looking at his watch, the bald man straightened his chequered cream and brown bow tie, smoothed the lapel of his black three-piece suit over his lanky form and left the room.
Fed up with his secretive behaviour, Rachel reminded herself that she was exactly where she had chosen to be.
You have a good life, with only one thing missing.
Inhaling deep but not-so-calming yoga breaths, she reminded herself she could leave her job any time she pleased thanks to JT’s secure and well-paid Vice President position at Acorn Pharmaceuticals. She would continue working for Gareth at the local agency, until she was ready to quit to finally become a mother. Over three years ago, after Dr. Carter had suggested that stress could be a major factor as to why she wasn’t getting pregnant, Rachel had given her one month’s notice. Knowing her ‘stay busy’ personality, JT had agreed with her decision, believing she would be happier working locally part-time rather than staying at home.
Positive thoughts only.
Even now, on a cool, wet March Monday morning, Rachel enjoyed the waves of goose bumps remembering lying in JT’s arms last night. She wasn’t proud of how afterwards she had silently prayed, let tonight be the night.
After five years of trying to get pregnant, she was still living in hope. Surely many women even older than thirty-four got pregnant. JT always reassured her that one of these days their efforts would bear fruit, because they were so good together. Even while he had held her sobbing body after last month’s unbearable disappointment, he had sounded so sure that she had let herself believe him. Again. The unexplained infertility with the complications of her long term painful endometriosis were obstacles they would overcome, and one way or another they would have their own child. Patience...
The doorbell interrupted Rachel’s reverie. She sighed, this time holding on to the soothing calm of last night’s sensuous and romantic memories. Easily conjuring up the scent of JT’s fresh cologne as he had kissed her early this morning on his way out the door.
Following Gareth to the landing, she watched him rub his hands together as he pointed at the door below. “Do your job; let him in, woman.”
She felt her boss behind her as she descended the stairs and opened the door.
Brandon Ross!
She heard her own gasp and her eyes widened.
The languid thoughts of a few moments ago dissipated and heat spread over her in the cool house. Staring at the tall frame of her old flame brought a flood of memories of their last time together. She had been twenty-four and he twenty-seven.
Her heart somersaulted as she smiled back at him.
“Won’t you let Mr. Ross in, Rachel?” Gareth’s voice had lost its acidity.
Standing aside, she blinked. She had hardly thought about him and only last night he had popped into her conversation with JT over their Sunday dinner. It was eerie to see Brandon here in the flesh after all these years.
She had forgotten how gorgeous and tall he was. How could he have hardly changed after ten years? He still wore his jet-black hair long, curling into his shirt collar under the open short Burberry coat. As he entered the hallway she couldn’t help but watch those narrow hips and the thick thigh muscles under his tight designer trousers.
When he faced her, his eyes were clear emeralds with a hint of the secret depths of the ocean. Without him uttering a word, those vibrant eyes had always made her feel like she was the most beautiful woman, and no one else existed.
A tiny shock zapped through her arm as Brandon’s hand swallowed hers.
Beside her she recognized the subtle edginess in Gareth’s narrowed eyes. “I was surprised that you wanted Rachel to deal with you on this property. I’m the broker….” Gareth’s voice quietened and shut off. Or had she just tuned him out?
Brandon’s smiling eyes held hers. “Nice to see you again, Rachel Valentino.” His deep baritone voice was still as delicious as bittersweet, dark chocolate. Feeling like a tongue-tied groupie she smiled back.
“And still as beautiful as ever.”
For the first time in what seemed like years Rachel had the urge to giggle, but was keenly aware of Gareth’s presence and underlying resentment. Her bubbling laughter would not be professional. Her earlier musings of the intimacy shared with her soul mate last night helped her find that Zen place within her. All was right with the world.
You’ve always achieved everything you’ve dreamed of, and your dreams of having JT’s baby would also come true, and soon.
And that was all that mattered.
Until she looked up into Brandon’s astute eyes.

Chapter 3
Brandon smiled in that sexy way. “I’ve thought of you often.”
Her throat suddenly parched, Rachel felt ravenous, although it was only ten-thirty in the morning. “Well, it’s good to see you.”
Trying to ignore his heated gaze, she was mortified to feel the sexual awareness between them reignite.
Gareth loudly cleared his throat, and Brandon released her hand. “I hope this was not a mere ruse to get to see your—”
“Not at all, Gareth.” Brandon interrupted smoothly without breaking eye contact with her. “As we discussed, I’m well aware of Rachel’s reputation and know that she’ll be able to take care of all transactions I may make through your agency. And I am a serious investor, rest assured.”
“But I’m not—”
Gareth interrupted her words with an eager nod and his benevolent businessman persona act. “Then I’ll leave you two—”
“Thanks, Gareth.” Brandon shook the man’s hand, opened the door, smiled and waited for him to leave. Closing the door, Brandon turned to face her.
What had she looked like the last time they had met? She wanted to see herself through his experienced eyes. She was glad her make-up and her favourite nearly nude lip gloss were freshly applied, and she wore her platinum hooped earrings, which added a touch of glamour to her stylish, honey-brown bob.
But despite any mutual attraction they were here to do business. She was married in the true sense of the word and its commitments. And, for all she knew, Brandon could be involved, too. “So, let me to show you around—”
He shook his head, smiling. “We’ve got plenty of time. Firstly, how have you managed to stay exactly the same after ten years?” The penetrating gaze warmed her insides. Her traitorous heart thumped louder within her chest.
She wondered if he chose not to see the tiny tell-tale miniscule lines around her eyes and mouth, the charmer. Brandon was only a couple of inches taller than JT’s six-feet-two, but appeared much taller than she remembered.
Maybe I’ve shrunk. She reminded herself to stay real and on topic.
“You look great, too.” She tried not to gush. “I—I see you’re doing well on the property investments side, and taking advantage of the market, so let me—”
“Yes, it’s a very good time to buy.”
Rachel nodded, appreciating his business mind. He had known from his teens how to negotiate and go on his gut to buy low and sell just at the perfect time. While home owners shied away from moving, preferring to stay put, Brandon’s family business had prospered by buying residential and commercial properties at those precise times. Of course, they had the luxury of sitting on them or leasing them to very particular overseas executives and other established clients.
As she led him through the high-ceilinged entranceway into the first large reception room she turned and asked, “What about your other silversmith business?” He also had a great artistic eye that had catapulted him to overnight success in his early twenties.
“Great, but these past few years I don’t have as much hands-on time as I’d have liked.”
“Ah, that’s a shame. So, as you can see this is the spacious first reception room which—”
“Always straight to business,” he chuckled and over her shoulder she saw him watching her instead of checking out the room. As she faced him, his warm, long, tapered fingers reached for her left hand. She tried not to react to the zinging sensation as he raised it and looked at the unmistakable wedding band and the glinting solitaire diamond of her engagement ring. She was proud of how imposing the one-and-a-half carat white diamond was, as if it represented the quality of her husband’s love.
“Ah. I should have known.”
Was that disappointment? Her heart swooped.
Almost shaking her head to clear it, she pulled her hand away. “Are you sure you’re interested in buying more properties, because if you just wanted to meet me....”
“I’m interested.” Interested in her or the property?
“Just so we’re both clear, you plan to invest in more properties through GRB Agency, correct?” When he nodded she added, “I can only show you the properties, and you’ll deal with Gareth with any offers. I no longer work on a commission basis.” She gave him a professional smile and added, “So shall we?”
He held her gaze, shrugged and smiled in that familiar way. “Lead the way.”
She nodded and her heels clicked purposefully up the hardwood stairs. So aware they were completely alone.
At the top of the stairs, standing outside the bathroom, he said, “After you’ve shown me around I’m sure you can spare some time for an old friend and prospective client, for a quick coffee.” He looked absolutely certain what her answer would be.
Although he was hardly the type a woman could have as a platonic friend, her curiosity about his marital status or if he was with someone was piqued. Trying to calm her erratic heartbeat, her guilt lurched at the evocative memory of the last time they had still been an item. Their last night together, when she had rejected him. She knew she had hurt his pride. And he knew she was married.
Shrugging, she smiled, “Why not? Just for a short while.”
“There’s a quiet little cafΓ©....”
Brandon held the bedroom door open for her.

Chapter 4
James saved the email he was composing as the tall, attractive redhead sat in the chair on the other side of his desk, and crossed her long legs with unpretentious grace.
He tried to dismiss his distractions and focus on the impromptu meeting project manager Lauren Mitchell had requested. In addition to the increasing pressure of the looming merger he also dreaded the impending family dinner this Friday. Work issues were merely doable challenges compared to the personal hurdles he faced with Rachel, especially where his family, namely his parents, were concerned. But nothing was insurmountable, he reminded himself.
Listening to Lauren making her very convincing case about why he should consider her for the new director position, he tried to remember if he had been this dogmatic and determined to advance his own career in his late twenties. Almost a decade younger than his thirty-eight years she was proving herself worthy to eventually become Vice President, Mac Tanner’s successor. Knowing that she had been fast-tracked over the past two years on her career development program, he knew what she could accomplish with that drive. She carried herself with such poise and confidence and he admired her take-no-prisoners attitude.
“I agree with all that, Lauren, but Mac must have explained the predicament.”
“Yes, but I suspect he failed to convince you of the qualities I possess that are perfect to fill this director position. I don’t think there are any other worthy candidates.”
They both knew she had one competitor.
“Dave Andrews has many more years of technical experience than you.”
She took in a slight breath which forced her chest against her pale silk top under her dark blue skirt suit, and said, “But with due respect, I don’t believe Dave has the same leadership focus that I have. You remember when I led a multidisciplinary team of PHD scientists to complete the AP307X project two months ahead of schedule? I believe in gathering the best team to get things done right the first time.”
Diplomatically put, he thought, aware precisely of the project she was referring to, where Dave’s way of dealing with a couple of his team members had nearly resulted in chaos in January. As VP, Mac Tanner had brought Lauren in and saved the day under James’s supervision.
Lauren held his gaze with her large slanted hazel eyes. Watching her shimmering lips, he waited for her next words. “I spoke to Mac and he said it’s up to you if I can go to Wellsley Valley with you both next month. Let me show you my skills and commitment. You won’t regret it, Mr. Windsor.”
“We’ve worked together for almost two years now, long enough for you to call me James, Lauren.” He considered her offer and said, “The merger’s going through smoothly, and I appreciate your conscientiousness, but we need you right here.”
She continued to hold his gaze. “I don’t feel that I’m being utilized to my full potential and I’ve not been as fulfilled in the work as I could be.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
She took in another breath; he sensed her effort to stay patient. “Full disclosure, another company has approached me with a similar Director position. But I believe I’d be a much better asset here, working for you. I’m committed to playing my part in the success of this company.” Uncrossing her legs, she sat up in her chair and leaned slightly towards his desk. “I know I’ve only been here two years, but I can prove what I’m capable of, if you give me this chance at Wellsley Valley.”
James had been in these situations too often to be surprised. Had he himself not played tactical Russian roulette in his earlier days of climbing up the corporate ladder?
Lauren’s career appeared paramount to her. Like his wife’s real estate agency had been to Rachel’s when they had first met, up until three years ago. Even in that cutthroat, saturated business Rachel was never this forthright. When they had first met, maybe, but not these days…
The two women were as unlike as icing sugar and gunpowder. His beautiful, dimple-cheeked wife who couldn’t wait to make them a family with their many babies, versus this subtly seductive important member of Mac’s team.
He grasped his pen tighter. As Executive Vice President, one of his priorities was merging two important sites between London and Aberdeen, and restructuring the new organization, while also overseeing eight new product launches this quarter.
Lauren’s credentials proved her strong technical expertise, even if she didn’t have Dave’s years of experience. She had proven her skills repeatedly, backing up her ambition with quick-witted intelligence, proving she was more than capable of handling the coveted but demanding Director role.
However, James also listened to his gut and something wasn’t quite right. As a happily married man, he wasn’t worried about working closely with Lauren. This director position, which brought Lauren here, was open solely because of his colleague’s indiscretion with his personal assistant. The truth always reared its ugly head. It had cost Phil Blackmore his job, his reputation in the industry and his marriage.
His throat constricted and he laid down the pen before he broke it.
You’re a professional and nothing like your weak-willed father. And if you promote Lauren it is because she warrants it and keeps proving herself more than capable.
He needed some more time. “Then the final decision is yours to make.” He returned her unwavering stare. “But,” he found himself adding, “Considering your many contributions which have already made positive impact on the company, I’ll think about your request. I’ll speak with Mac and Dave and get back to you by Thursday.”
Doing his due diligence would reassure him it was his professionalism and not his ego making the final decision. Focussing on what was best for members of his staff and the company’s long-term success was his job.
Lauren’s face lit up with genuine pleasure as she stood up and offered her hand over the desk. Her hazel eyes sparkled—no, at this close vicinity he saw that they were hazel-green eyes. “Thank you, James.”
He was taken aback for a moment at how she looked at him as if he were a powerful hero.

Chapter 5
In the crowded cafΓ© sitting at the intimate bistro table with Brandon, the scent of roasted coffee beans and vanilla smelled extra sexy to Rachel.
Still exuding the same devil-may-care confidence with a polished sophistication, at thirty-six Brandon seemed more settled and calm in his success. His almost sculpted physique was perfectly trim. She averted her eyes for a moment. The gym had been her other rival alongside his business.
Was his unruly hair naturally this shiny, blue-black shade? Why did her husband seem so much older than him? Only two years his senior, JT believed that people took him more seriously in business since the dark metal-silver hair had pervaded his temples a couple of years ago.
She fidgeted in her seat when memories of those fun-filled months spent with Brandon heated her veins. His raw energy had ignited and stoked her sexually liberating side. She recognized his aftershave, with its tangy fresh, yet musky fragrance, so powerfully masculine. The scent of sin.
His easy smile still dazzled her. She shed her rain coat.
She sipped at her large cappuccino but no longer wanted her chocolate almond biscotti. “So, how’s life been treating you?” She asked too enthusiastically.
As he recounted some of his business successes she remembered how driven he had been. Ambitious and a big dreamer, weeks into their relationship when she was disappointed that he wouldn’t see her for over a week while away on a work trip, he had told her that his business would always be his number one priority.
She had taken his word for it, and realized that he wasn’t the committing type. She had become certain after four months of dating that he would grow bored of her. Even at twenty-four she had known that she needed and deserved more than what Brandon was offering.
What about now? Was he married? Had he fallen in love again—if indeed he’d meant it when he’d admitted he loved her; did the words count when they were said in the heat of making love?
Why did it matter? She put down her cup a little too harshly.
She bit the inner flesh of her lip and paid attention to him. Now, with his wiser, calmer aura, Brandon’s eyes didn’t roam to all corners of the room.
“But that’s enough about work—what about you? So, who’s the lucky guy you married? Not George.” Brandon’s smiling eyes twinkled with curiosity.
“No. He was my friend. Still is. He’s married and has a baby girl and another one on the way.... My husband’s name is James Windsor. I call him JT.” She had met him when she had least expected to be interested in romance or any man, after her deep feelings for Brandon.
“Did you meet him before or after you—we—broke up?”
“After, of course.” Rachel tried to be patiently magnanimous.
Her frank expression must have convinced him. “How did you meet?”
“At a wedding.” She answered.
“He was single?”
“Of course.” She frowned. She shunned the thought of Abby who had unknowingly got involved with a married man. The sanctity of marriage was all-important to Rachel and JT. Brandon had, however, admitted years ago to his couple of “little affairs with unhappily married women.”
She fidgeted in her seat again.
“Did it happen quickly, like you'd wanted?” he asked. When she nodded he said, “So he’s the perfect Prince Charming.” There was that smile again. “What does he do?”
“He’s EVP in a large pharmaceutical company.”
“Executive Vice President… Clever guy.” He paused. “Is he the one I saw you with at that restaurant … a few months after...”
“Yes.” Rachel felt the same heat in her face at the memory of the awkward tension between the men.
“Good looking guy. Nice catch.” His jealousy was obvious.
“We happened to fall deeply in love.” Her guilt resurfaced about rejecting Brandon.
“I thought you loved me... I’m sorry.” He looked down into his half empty coffee cup. “I’m glad it’s worked out for you. How long have you been married?” As if it didn’t really matter.
“Eight years next month.”
“And have either of you got the seven year itch?”
Her breath caught in her throat. “Of course not. I don’t like—I have to go—” She shoved her arms into her coat sleeves and got her bag, and was about to stand up, swallowing down her disappointment.
What had she expected?
“This was a mistake. Gareth can show you more—”
“No, Rachel, I’m sorry. Really.” He touched her hand and leaned closer. “I suppose seeing you again has brought all these feelings—” His admission kept her in her seat.
“I really thought we’d make it, you know?”
Her brows raised, her heart stopped beating for a moment, and then stumbled to catch up with the erratic rhythm. Guilt intermingled with flattery. “But you were still so young, establishing your business and...” Rachel sighed. “I’m sorry, but I really believed it was no use staying together if we were after different things. It was the best thing for both our sakes.”
“Do you still believe that?”
For a split moment she thought of JT’s aloofness sometimes when work pressure took over. “Of course, I love my husband very much.”
“But we can still be friends. You can never have enough good friends. Right?”
Over my dead body, or marriage at least! You’re not the kind of guy I can imagine having as a friend. She smiled, trying to push aside the heat he evoked within her. Her college mate George who had helped her pick up the pieces after she’d broken up with Brandon was a friend. But she had never had the hots for him. A smile played on her lips imagining JT’s face if she introduced Brandon as her old ‘friend’. From their past exchange, there would be a duel or at least a cerebral brawl for the flattered damsel’s honour.
Common sense prevailed, even if Brandon was in a committed relationship. “Let’s just keep it all professional, Brandon.”
After a moment he asked, “So do you have any children?”
“No, not yet.” Did he remember how much she had always wanted kids? “We’re trying.”
She would have loved to have at least two children to talk about, to make her marriage sound perfect and further cemented with unshakeable love.
Through tears prickling her eyes, she saw the sympathy in Brandon’s eyes. It was unbearable.
“I understand.” Then he started discussing his company and the family’s business diversifications. “I’d like to make an offer on the house we just saw, and also you can put together a list of all available properties that are near or around the shopping centers and tube stations.” He then gave her a number of how much money he was willing to spend over the next year or so with GRB Agency.
Rachel was flabbergasted at the huge sum, but listened to his further requirements and plans. Gareth would be pleased.

Chapter 6
She noted that he wore no wedding ring but he was not the type to show shackles of belonging to another human being, even in the name of love.
He must have caught her look. “I’m not married.” He smiled openly. “Never been.”
Egocentric hope made her blush as he studied her. Was he still… Don’t be ridiculous. He was merely not the marrying type.
“Are you...involved?” As he shook his head again, she said, “Impossible to believe you haven’t been snared by a determined woman who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Her voice didn’t sound as nonchalant as she had hoped.
“Thanks, but obviously I’m not as irresistible as you think—thought.”
“Maybe you’ve just been too busy.”
“No. The right woman didn’t…”
She held her breath feeling warm all over.
“… Materialize, I suppose. I’ve screwed things up...” He touched her hand.
Was she the one who got away?
“Don’t look so worried.” His fingers on her hand sent currents of dangerous sensations into the rest of her. “I’ve been around, but I seem to have the knack of falling in love with too spirited women. Maybe I’m just too possessive.” He lowered his eyes for a moment.
“You, too possessive?” In those sex-crazed months she had taken for granted he was incapable of expressing himself in any other way than sexually. She would have opened up to him even more...
He added, “I thought we were good together. I thought I’d shown you that I loved you.”
Once more Rachel’s heart jumped painfully at his frankness. A far cry from the younger Brandon. Had he always cared for her more than he’d let on? Had he matured and become more sensitive? A decade was a long time.
Yes, remember in whose arms you belong. Last night Brandon had been miles from her mind, but sitting here... “Brandon, I—I...” It sounded like a whisper.
His astute gaze made her thirsty, hungry. The stifling raincoat added to the languid ache melting inside her. Her armpits tingled.
“Rachel,” he said it as softly, his hand continuing holding hers on the bistro table, apparently as ignorant of the crowd and noise around them.
At a sharp sound of breaking crockery, she blinked. What if someone recognized her, drinking cappuccinos with another man, staring into each other’s eyes?
Enough reliving your twenties and ‘what-ifs.’
“This was a mistake, Brandon.”
As if the snake charmer had stopped playing the flute, her own words shook her out of a trance. She had to escape. Slinging the strap of her bag over her shoulder with shaking fingers, she got up. Her forced smile wouldn’t oblige. Her chair screeched loudly against the tile floors echoing in the suddenly confining space.
With unsteady fingers, she brought out her mobile phone and stared at the time. “It’s been… nice to see you, to catch up and everything.” She was more in control while standing over him by the tiny table. “I’ll organize the papers for you to sign. They’ll be ready for you at the office tomorrow morning.”
“I’ll pick up the papers and we can discuss the properties over lunch.”
“Sorry, no. It’ll be better all around if you deal with Gareth. And if you don’t want to, then that’s up to you.”
Frowning again, Brandon stood too. “I want to work with you directly. I’ll behave.” He stood up easily and held her hand between his two. He sighed, “I suppose seeing you again has brought back memories.... I promise I won’t bring up the past and make you uncomfortable. Now will you agree to be my direct liaison?” That playful Elvis smile took the edge off the threat.
She was old enough to see that he was biding his time for more. She shook her head. “No, it’s too late for that. I’m sorry.”
“Okay, not even as friends but purely working relationship—?”
Was her uneven breathing betraying her? “We both know that won’t work. I’m a happily married woman. And I’m not one of those women who need you to make them feel good or better about themselves.”
Brandon’s eyes widened, “You’ve never been just another woman to me, Rachel.”
The frankness was too much for her. “Stop. I have to go.” Her heart constricted at his disappointed expression.
He let go of her hand, pulled out a small silver coloured card and gave it to her. “It’s got my mobile phone number on it. Call me, any time.” His intense look tempted her to wallow in his aura, to see herself through his eyes; young and attractive, feeling wanted by such an Adonis with green eyes.
Brandon leaned closer to her and his evocative aftershave filled her senses again. He raised her warm hand to his sensuous mouth. Her body reacted as if he’d kissed her more intimately.
Shaken, trying not to sigh aloud, Rachel said, “Goodbye.” Turning away, she pocketed his card in her voluminous bag and wondered if she would ever use it. Of course not, silly.
Her heels beating out a staccato rhythm against the tile floors she brushed through the new throng of coffee drinkers at the entrance. All the while feeling Brandon’s eyes on her.
Outside, taking in a deep refreshing breath of the spring breeze, her mind reeled. After not breathing properly for too long, deep yoga breaths hurt her lungs, but didn’t help lighten the heaviness within her ribcage.
Would she tell JT about having had coffee with an old-flame? Why bother? Despite Brandon’s words fuelling her latent fantasies, she wasn’t like her mother. Not only did she take her marital vows seriously, she was also committed to JT to infinity. She would tear up Brandon’s business card as soon as got back to her desk.
Gareth would have to deal with Brandon, and that was it.
She tried to calm herself after the revitalizing feeling Brandon had reawakened. How happy she had been in the past hour. Her obsession with having a baby had fled—she hadn’t thought about babies at all—and how good that had been!—until Brandon had asked about the one failure in her life.
Now crazy questions popped into her mind. What if... What if she had waited and married Brandon... would she have been a mother already?
Or...
What if Brandon could get her pregnant?
Yep! You’ve finally lost your mind! Get a bloody grip!

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Truth vs. Fiction and everything in Between

Many of my readers and fans ask me, “Where do your ideas and inspiration come from?” Sometimes it’s as simple as overhearing short dialogue in an airport lineup, or reading in the local paper about an amazing hero who ran into a burning house to save someone…Or a kernel of a story idea springs from my real life, with added ‘what if’ scenarios for good measure.
Nobody’s Baby But Mine, which released April 28th, was one such novel that I began writing twenty-three years ago. But some things just didn’t feel right about it. Until this last rewrite.
I now share the journey of how this amazing novel taught me so much about the human psyche, the grey areas and complicated nuances of relationships. And it improved my writing along the way, reaffirming that clichΓ©, “reality is stranger than fiction”.
In 1995 my husband and I had been trying for a baby for five years. One morning as I meditated a story began unraveling in my mind like a movie playing out in full layered scenes. I got my note pad and within an hour I had written—okay, scribbled like a fiend—the whole synopsis. I even captured the protagonist’s very end line.
Authors all over the world will vouch for how rare and gratifying these gifts are when they do come to us.
Not to give away too much, below is a taste for you, with which parts were based on my real experiences, and which were inspired by 'what if'... for your entertainment.
This gripping, romantic novel is close to my heart, delving into marriage, family, priorities, sexual temptation at work, possible infertility and ex-lovers who cause further friction in a once amazing marriage.
Temptation/Infidelity
Has my own husband ever had an affair like JT/James Windsor was tempted to do—even an emotional one? No. Not that I know of...only kidding! Not only do I feel unconditionally loved by him, my husband is definitely as serious about marriage vows and commitment to monogamy, as I am. And after nearly twenty-nine years we still find each other so funny, and miss each other when either of us are away. After nearly thirty years of being together, I don’t take this for granted.
Have I ever been tempted I hear you ask?
I can admit that I know what it's like to be tempted (read below), and have seen and heard of many scenarios where affairs in the work place have been responsible for breaking up many marriages and families.
So, yes, I cheekily imagined, what if that gorgeous ex-lover came back into my life...Haven't we all? Have you?
Marriage and Business
Marriage, fairy-tale-like happy-ever-after and having a large family were all part of my dreams. This book’s protagonist, nurturing, caring Rachel is mainly based on me, and like my own husband coming from the British pharmaceutical industry, JT/James works as an executive in a large company, dealing with stressful mergers and redundancies and employees’ crises.
I’ve worked in a real-estate agency, among many other businesses in London, England where I grew up, and have had a boss just like the pedantic Gareth Robinson-Brown. Only his name was Carlo Sagnay de la Bastida – the bastida part (spelled my way in English should have tipped me off about him!)
Infertility and Desperation for a baby
Yes, after five years of trying to get pregnant, like Rachel, I became obsessed, and everywhere I looked I saw babies and happy families. Yes, I envied many of my friends, but they knew, and sympathized with our situation. But I made Rachel even further devastated. When upon meeting an ex-lover and she has a crazy thought, she realizes how desperate she has become and she decides she has to do something different.
In the early 1990's the specialists called our issue ‘unexplained infertility’ and like the protagonist, Rachel, I did suffer from debilitating endometriosis. But for me, despite the many (excruciating) exploratory examinations, it was all worth it. Because we have a wonderful twenty-two-year-old daughter, our gift and joy every day.
But many people can never have children, and I wrote this book with them in mind. Because I understand how painful that yearning is. I admit, that just like Joan Wilder at the beginning of “Romancing the Stone” movie, that I found myself crying as I wrote the last third of the book.
Sisters relationship
Like Rachel and her younger sister, Abby, I’ve had a close bond with my own younger sister (by almost two years). I also have a brother eight years my junior and I created the 'maternal' bond between the sisters in this book inspired by them both. Abby is also based on my own younger self, with a few exaggerated traits for dramatic effect. Abby Valentino stars in her own upcoming novel, Healing Love, for release end of summer 2018.
Close Bosom Friends/BFFs
The protagonist, Rachel and the ‘other’ younger woman, Lori/Lauren, who become close friends under the most surprising circumstances, is based on my own good friendships with some of my female friends. Especially when I was going through recurrent breast cancer around ten or fifteen years ago, (I deliberately do not recount when exactly this happened, it’s done and behind me now), I have a few incredible ‘breast’ friends, who over the years have proven their worth a thousand-fold, who are my lifeline even now. I combined many of their personalities and habits to create Tina and Lori.
Can women and men stay good friends without being tempted?
From personal experience, absolutely. Over the three decades of our marriage my husband has some female co-workers who admire and respect him. As one of his side line businesses in London Austin used his psychotherapy and hypnosis training to help those around him. He’s a true healer and helps those he works with, even now.
I did become very close friends with one of my boss's direct reports in British Telecom when in my late twenties I worked full-time in London. Austin and I were already married and Alan and his wife Marie became one of our best couple friends. They helped so much, especially through the hard times of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. Alan was the second person I phoned with the incredible news of the positive pregnancy test on that fateful day in 1995. Even now, although we live in Ontario Canada, and they are in Woking, Surrey, we're still in touch with Alan and Marie.
Was I ever tempted in real life? Did I meet my own ‘Brandon’ ex-lover?
Sort of, and yes!
His name was Tony, and unlike the real estate property tycoon Brandon is in this novel, Tony owned a family business…wait for it…selling beds in Barnet, near London. I was seven months pregnant and I went to the large store for a new mattress.
Tony and I did have lunch together. He asked if I was happy and I told him “Yes, of course.” But unlike Rachel, who didn’t admit to her husband that she had met an ex, I told Austin about it that evening. Let me tell you, my very zen-calm, unflappable soul-mate went ballistic! In the nearly six years of marriage I’d never seen him so angry and rightfully indignant!
Only then had I realized that even if I was completely in love with my husband and was glowing with my long-awaited baby growing within me, there are lines one can never cross. Would I have accepted the idea of Austin seeing an ex?
So, although I said I was ‘sort of’ tempted—to see what Tony was like nearly ten years after I’d broken up with him, and I never saw him again—my love and our marriage vows are the most important bond between me and my husband.
I do not remember Tony’s last name, otherwise I wonder if I’d have looked him up on Facebook, but haven’t we all wondered…what if…?
So, now you know why I love to write, and unleash my imagination, just for your entertainment. Enjoy, and write to me about your own ‘what if’: contact@gloriasilk.com or visit: http://www.gloriasilk.com/
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About Gloria Silk:
Gloria Silk is a USA Today Bestselling Author who loves writing sensuous, uplifting and unforgettable romance and women's fiction. Her powerful stories are filled with passion and insight, which will take you to various exotic locales around the world. She lives—and happily writes—in Toronto, Canada. For more about Gloria Silk and her books visit her website: http://www.GloriaSilk.com or email her: contact@gloriasilk.com and Join her on Facebook or Twitter


   





Ever since Gloria Silk was little her passion was creating and sharing her romantic stories with others. She always loved reading contemporary and historical novels that grasped her imagination. Gloria now writes intense, sensuous love stories.

In addition to writing romance and women’s fiction, she enjoys writing intercultural romances and about family bonds. What can be more important in life than love and family?

Born in Russia, Gloria Silk has visited and lived in amazing, exotic places in the world. Loving Europe (especially the English, Italian and French countryside) and the Mediterranean, her other favorite country is Hawaii. She has yet to visit India and Australia, her dream destinations in the name of research, of course!

Being a writer gives her the privilege to explore, travel, and meet wonderful, new and exciting—and sometimes eccentric—people. Her background in English literature, writing, and psychology helps her create unique characters for her stories. Especially the charismatic heroes and feisty heroines who find themselves in sticky situations with each other, their families, and their cultures. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing readers love her warm heroines and the gorgeous enigmatic heroes, like she falls in love with them.

When she is not painting in various media or watching romantic movies, or cooking up a storm for her family and friends, she hangs out with her writing friends and other creatives.

Although she was brought up in England, she now lives – and writes – in the Toronto, Canada, with her own love of her life, soul-mate husband, her gorgeous and fun daughter and her smart, blonde Cockapoo, Princess Bella.

Please email Gloria Silk with any questions or comments at: contact@GloriaSilk.com


   


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