Child of Mine by Jana Richards

(about this author)

  • The Masonville Series Book 1

    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?

    Rating:Spicy
    Page Count: 262
    Word Count: 64880
    978-1-5092-2480-7 Paperback
    978-1-5092-2481-4 Digital

    Excerpt

    Lauren Walsh watched as her husband’s coffin was lowered into the grave. The minister’s voice sounded far away, as if she were trapped underwater. She struggled to keep from drowning.

    “We commit the body of Billy Walsh to the earth: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Into the smiles of our memories, we lay you down. May you rest in peace and love.”

    She closed her eyes and squeezed her sister’s hand. It’ll be over soon. I can pretend for a few more minutes.

    “Billy lived his life to the fullest. And though he was taken too soon and his passing grieves us immensely, let’s rejoice that he lived the life he wanted. Let’s remember his spirit and his zest for life, and be happy we knew him.”

    Anger made her throat burn. They knew nothing about Billy. How could they? For the last five years she’d been lying to them. Lauren gulped deep, calming breaths. It’s almost over. Don’t fall apart now.

    Following the lead of Billy’s brother Cole, she tossed the white rose she held into the grave. White roses for remembrance. Memories swirled around her like ghosts. So many things she wished she could forget.

    Beside her, Cole stood with his head bent, one arm around his weeping mother. Cole’s pain was as raw as his mother’s, and Lauren’s heart ached for him. Whatever differences they’d had, Cole and Billy had been brothers, and blood was thicker than water. She reached for his free hand and squeezed it in silent support. Without looking at her, Cole returned the gesture.

    “Lord, let now thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.”

    The minister’s words signaled the end of the interment ceremony. Lauren sighed with relief. With one last squeeze, Cole released her hand. Lauren looped her arm through her sister Charlotte’s and hung on tight. She didn’t know what she would have done without her older sister and the rest of her family these last few hellish days.

    Ella Walsh sobbed uncontrollably as Cole led her to the waiting funeral car. She leaned against him, her cries piercing the quiet of the Masonville, North Dakota graveyard. “My Billy, my Billy. He can’t be gone. No, no, no!”

    Lauren wished she could feel grief. She’d been married to Billy for five years, had known him many years before that. Wasn’t a wife who’d just lost her husband supposed to feel grief? But all she had was the guilt of their last conversation weighing on her heart and the anger that made her want to beat her fists against a wall.

    The luncheon in the church basement, following the interment, dragged on with excruciating slowness. Lines of people stepped forward to offer their condolences. They were so sorry, they said. It was hard to believe someone as vital and alive as Billy could be dead, they said. They’d followed his hockey career since he was a star on the Masonville peewee team. He’d been on the verge of making the big leagues, they were sure. Such a tragedy that a car crash on a Georgia interstate had ended his life.

    Lauren murmured her thanks, choking back screams of frustration. Don’t you know he was never going to make the National Hockey League? There’d been a chance at one time; he’d had the talent, but not the work ethic. Or the right attitude.He’d been tradedfrom one crummy minor league team to another. From one crummy minor league town to another. She’d worked at whatever job she could find to help support them. And even though it was obvious his hockey dream wouldn’t come to fruition, Billy had stubbornly refused to deal with reality.

    Finally the luncheon was over, and she and her family could leave. The oppressive August afternoon heat hit her as she stepped from the cool church basement. Anxious to escape, she followed her family to the car. On the short drive to her parents’ acreage a few miles outside of Masonville, the car’s air conditioner didn’t have a chance to cool the interior, and a bead of sweat ran down her back beneath her long-sleeved knit dress, a dress too warm for this weather but the only black one she owned.

    She was grateful for the coolness and peace of the house she’d grown up in. After kicking off her heels at the front door, she curled into a ball on the sofa in the living room. She closed her eyes, needing some quiet and peace to think. And time to figure out where she went from here.

    What am I to do with my life now?

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Child of Mine

Child of Mine

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