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.
5 Things You Need to Know About CHILD OF MINE
- Cole and Lauren have known each other since they were teenagers when Cole tutored Lauren in chemistry. They stayed friends through the years, even after Lauren married Cole’s younger brother, Billy. And even though Cole has been in love with her all these years.
- When Billy dies in a car accident, Lauren comes back home to North Dakota to bury him. She’s angry and grief-stricken and filled with guilt. She had a terrible fight with her cheating husband before he died. Did their fight cause him to lose his concentration on that Georgia Interstate?
- Cole’s a veterinarian and Lauren is a bookkeeper. Cole helps Lauren get a job at his clinic as the receptionist/bookkeeper.
- Mia also works at the veterinary clinic and she’s determined to cause trouble for Lauren.
- CHILD OF MINE is set in North Dakota. Though I live directly north of North Dakota on the other side of the 49th parallel, both areas are part of the Great Plains of North America. I’m a true lover of the prairie landscape. To me, the endless skies and vast vistas are awe inspiring. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s boring!
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 www.janarichards.com
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Character Q&A with Lauren Walsh from CHILD OF MINE:
Where are you from?
I’m from North Dakota, from a small city called Masonville. Masonville has a population of about 6,000 people, which sounds small to people from big cities, but by North Dakota standards, it’s pretty big!
What did you think the first time you saw Cole Walsh?
Hmm. Let me see. That was a long time ago, so I can’t say exactly. I was fourteen and first met Cole when I needed a tutor to help me through chemistry. Cole was – and is – super smart. I sort of already knew him, or at least knew of him. You can’t help but know everyone in a town the size of Masonville, and there’s only one high school. He was also the older brother of Billy, a boy I’d known practically since kindergarten. My first thought about Cole was that he was shy. He could barely look at me!
What was your second thought?
That he was one of the kindest people I’d ever met. He never made me feel stupid about needing a tutor, and he never talked down to me. Once I got to know him, I discovered his sense of humor. He could always make me laugh. And he was patient. Lord knows he had to be! Teaching chemistry concepts to me couldn’t have been easy!
Did you feel it was love at first sight?
Far from it. Cole asked me out on a couple of movie dates back then, but I always thought of him as a friend, not a boyfriend. And then I started dating his brother Billy, and was totally, completely swept away. Cole and I remained friends, but I was crazy in love with Billy.
(Sigh.) More fool me.
What do you like most about Cole?
I like the same things about him now that I liked all those years ago; his kindness and patience. But now that I’m older, I appreciate so many more things about him. He’s hardworking and loyal. He takes care of his mother even though Ella was obvious in her preference of Billy over Cole from the time they were small boys. He’s a good friend. The whole time I was married to Billy, I could call Cole from wherever Billy and I happened to be living, and he’d make me laugh and tell me funny stories about people in Masonville and the animals he treated at his veterinary clinic. No matter how bad things got between Billy and me, I always knew I could talk to Cole and he’d make me feel better. And make me feel like I was doing him a favor by calling him. But I never told him how rocky my marriage was to Billy. I never told him he cheated on me repeatedly. I guess I was too ashamed. And humiliated. Besides, they were brothers.
Did you think Cole would take Billy’s side over yours? Is that why you didn’t tell him that Billy cheated on you?
(pauses) No. I never believed that. I was afraid Cole would be angry with Billy, and I didn’t want to be the cause of a rift between them. (pauses again) Or maybe I was simply too humiliated to tell the truth.
How would you describe Cole?
Loving, honest, loyal, devoted, hard-working, smart. He’s simply the best man I know.
(bites her lip) But more and more when I think of Cole, I think of the way he makes me feel when he kisses me. I think of the gentleness in his touch when we made love and our child was conceived. More and more I would describe him as the most attractive man I’ve ever known.
How would he describe you?
Oh, goodness. I hope Cole would describe me as a decent person, someone worthy of being his wife and the mother of his child.
What is your biggest fear?
That Cole will wake up one day and realize he made a big mistake asking me to marry him just because we were having a baby together. I’m afraid he’ll leave me. And then I’ll have lost my best friend. I want to be more than an obligation to him. But I don’t know how.
I want to be the woman he loves.