For His Baby's Sake. Jessica HartЧитать онлайн книгу.
About the Author
JESSICA HART was born in West Africa, and has suffered from itchy feet ever since, travelling and working around the world in a wide variety of interesting but very lowly jobs, all of which have provided inspiration on which to draw when it comes to the settings and plots of her stories. Now she lives a rather more settled existence in York, where she has been able to pursue her interest in history, although she still yearns sometimes for wider horizons. If you’d like to know more about Jessica, visit her website www.jessicahart.co.uk.
For His Baby’s Sake
MILLS & BOON
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I don’t know about you, but I waste a lot of time wondering ‘what if…’ I know it’s pointless, but it’s impossible not to speculate about how differently things would have turned out if I had said ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’, if I’d stood firm instead of compromising, if I’d made that phone call, or not sent that email. Perhaps it’s just me, but whenever I make a decision, however trivial, there’s always that niggling feeling that I might have made the wrong choice.
Rose, the heroine of this special story has to make a difficult choice of her own: stay with the man she loves or make a new life for herself with the chance of having a baby. Either way, she loses something very special.
Luckily for Rose, she gets a second chance and this time, if she and Drew can make the right decision, they can have everything…
SHE couldn’t afford it. Rose threw down her pen with a sigh. No matter how many different ways she tried it, the figures just didn’t add up. Which left her with a problem.
‘What,’ she asked her small son, ‘am I going to do with you?’
There was no reply from Jack, but Rose hadn’t really expected one. At twenty months, his vocabulary was too limited to suggest the practical solution she needed, but he looked up at the sound of her voice and offered her instead a smile of such sweetness that Rose felt her heart contract. Jack might not be able to deal with her current childcare crisis, but his smile was all she needed to reassure her that somehow, some way, she would manage.
Leaving the depressing bank statements on the kitchen table, she went to sit on the floor beside him while he returned his attention to the brightly coloured bricks that were scattered around him. Absently, Rose piled three on top of each other, showing him how to make a tower.
‘I need that contract, but I can’t take you with me to the studio,’ she said, as Jack instantly reached out to knock the precarious tower over. ‘Peter and Peter are lovely, but their place is much too perfect for toddlers. There are too many sharp edges and antiques, and anyway, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on work if you were there.’
She quite often talked to Jack, knowing that he couldn’t understand. He was happy to listen to her voice, and it made her feel less alone to be able to talk things through, even if the conversations were inevitably rather one-sided.
Jack was looking aggrieved at the disappearance of the tower, and Rose quickly built another one, higher this time, and his face lit up as he realised that he could demolish that, too.
‘Perhaps I should have married your father when he asked me,’ she went on guiltily.
Thinking about how sensible it would be to marry Seb always made her a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t that she had any problem with being sensible normally, but it was a big step to marry someone you didn’t really love, no matter how practical an option it seemed, and Rose still hadn’t been able to commit herself further than saying that she would think about it.
‘But that wouldn’t have solved the problem of what to do with you now,’ she reminded Jack quickly, setting a blue brick precariously on top of the pile. ‘He’d still have had to go to Bristol for that job, and I would still be here wondering how I can afford someone to look after you. I can’t do that unless I start work on this contract, but I can’t work unless I can find someone to look after you.’
Sitting back on her heels, she smiled as Jack destroyed the second tower with a shout of triumph. ‘It’s a problem, isn’t it?’
‘Ya!’ yelled Jack delightedly.
‘That sounds like a yes to me.’ Rose sighed as she looked at her watch and levered herself upwards. She had better start making Jack’s supper. Perhaps some magic solution would occur to her when he was in bed and she had some quiet time to think.
Leaving Jack trying to build his own towers, she went over to the kitchen. She loved this room. Apart from the narrow hallway leading up to the stairs, the whole ground floor of the Victorian terraced house had been knocked through to make a bright, open-plan living room, with comfortable sofas towards the front, and a kitchen with a big table and French windows opening onto her little garden at the back.
Although, strictly speaking, it wasn’t her garden at all. It was Drew’s. Not that he had ever lived here, or would have done anything to the garden if he had. Whenever Rose thought of the absurdly low rent she paid, she felt quite dizzy with relief and gratitude. Without Drew she really wouldn’t have been able to manage since Jack had been born. He had always been generous.
Irresponsible, restless and ridiculously scared of commitment, but undeniably generous.
Her gaze fell on an old photo clamped to the front of the fridge with a Snoopy magnet. It showed her squinting slightly into the sun, and Drew with his arm around her. They were both smiling, both radiating happiness and confidence in the future. Both looking very young.
It seemed right to keep a picture of him up since this was his house, although Rose always felt a pang when she looked at it. Drew, with his crooked smile and his dancing eyes and that odd, distinctive pale star-shaped splodge in his dark hair. She had always known that she loved him. She just hadn’t realised how much until he had left.
Drew. Where was he now? ‘I’m off to Africa,’ he had said cheerfully the last time she’d seen him at some awful party she’d gone to with Seb. ‘I’ve been seconded to an aid project, putting in water supplies to remote villages.’ Rose always forgot exactly where he had gone—one of those sub-Saharan countries whose capitals she couldn’t pronounce. All she had really taken in at the time was the fact that he was leaving.
That he would rather go and work in the heat and the dust and the danger than stay at home and have a family with her.
Her eyes rested on his face in the photo. She could imagine him so clearly, standing under the African sun, sleeves rolled