A Baby...Maybe? & How to Hunt a Husband

BOOK: A Baby...Maybe? & How to Hunt a Husband
10.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
A Baby…Maybe?
Bonnie Tucker
How To Hunt a Husband
Holly Jacobs

A Baby…Maybe?

Bonnie Tucker

“Let's make a run for the truck.”

Rex grabbed Cara's hand. “Come on, before we drown in this rain.”

“I can't run. Not in these shoes.” She looked down at her cute, strappy and ridiculously impractical sandals.

“Take them off, then.”

“I will not! There's yucky stuff in this field.” There was no way she was going to chance putting her bare foot in whatever it was that covered the ground.

He sighed, clearly frustrated with her. What did he expect? She was a city girl, not a cowgirl. Then, without warning, he lifted her off her feet and ran toward the fence.

Cara knew she was in heaven—although she'd never imagined heaven would be so wet and sloppy. Rex's arms were strong, holding her firmly and easily against his hard chest. With each long stride she snuggled deeper in his embrace. She barely felt the rain that was now pounding down on them.

He stopped beside the truck and pulled on the door handle. Nothing. He pulled again, harder, and still the door didn't open.

“Cara, please tell me you didn't lock the doors.”

Dear Reader,

My friend and co-worker Christine Lewis and I were partaking in our favorite activity—eating lunch—when I said, “I'm writing a book about a guy, Rex Noble, who owns a bull sperm bank.” Christine said, “Really? That's no bull?” From that moment on, “Noble Sperm Bank and That's No Bull” became the theme for the story.

A Baby…Maybe?
is a special book. Cara and Rex meet at a time in their lives when they need each other most. Like Cara and Rex, I, too, have been fortunate to be surrounded by friends who have been there when I needed them the most. Cathy Maxwell and Barbara Daly—what can I say about sisterhood? Kevin Duvall, a brilliant man who offered me a job opportunity that changed my life. I have been privileged to work with some of the greatest and most compassionate people I will ever know. I hope more than anything
A Baby…Maybe?
will bring home how special friends are and how wonderful love can be.

Happy reading!

Bonnie Tucker

Books by Bonnie Tucker

HARLEQUIN DUETS

2—I GOT YOU, BABE

50—GOING IN STYLE

64—A ROSEY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

84—THE GREAT BRIDAL ESCAPE

HARLEQUIN LOVE & LAUGHTER

18—HANNAH'S HUNKS

52—STAY TUNED: WEDDING AT 11:00

For my daughter,
With love, pride and utmost respect
Elizabeth Tucker FC3
United States Navy

Prologue

E
VERY
T
UESDAY MORNING
at exactly ten o'clock, Cecilia Romano, Brigit O'Malley, Rachel Turner and Jessica-Marie Leigh sat down at the card table in the Erie, Pennsylvania, Recreation Center and went about the business of playing very serious pinochle.

On this particular Tuesday, Cecilia and Brigit had drawn each other as partners. Anyone just observing these fifty-something women would think:
Cecilia and Brigit, best friends.

The truth was, while they didn't completely hate each other, they didn't like each other much either.

Cecilia would say it was all that O'Malley woman's fault, because of her hussy daughter, Mary Kathryn, who, right under the nose of everyone and God Almighty himself, ran out on her wedding with the best man. The best man being none other than one Tony Donetti.

That same Tony Donetti, who, by all rights, should be married right now to Cecilia's daughter, Cara.

Her poor, sweet baby girl, Cara. Dumped like yesterday's pasta. Cecilia sighed.

A normal person would think that a sigh like the one she just let out—a beautifully, totally despondent sigh—would elicit a question from someone sitting two feet away as to what was wrong that would bring on such a lovely sigh. One would think.

While Rachel and Jessica-Marie looked at her in a questioning manner, other people, namely that cold-
hearted witch sitting across the table, didn't ask what was wrong. In fact, that Brigit O'Malley woman totally ignored Cecilia. So Cecilia did what she had to do, which was sigh again, longer and with a little more oomph this time.

Finally, that mother-of-a-groom-stealer woke up from her stupor, fanned the cards, then placed them close to her chest, a move that made Rachel ask Jessica-Marie, “Do you think they're passing codes?”

Brigit rolled her eyes at Rachel, then said with a holier-than-thou attitude, “What is it now, Cecilia?”

Well! Cecilia would show her. With a long, torturous moan, she, the mother of all mothers who deserved martyrdom at the very least, said, “Nothing. I'm fine. Just fine.” However, for good measure, she released another moaning sigh, even longer and more despondent than those that had come before.

“I'm not stupid, Cecilia,” Brigit said in her soft Irish brogue. “None of us are.” To which the other two women nodded. “You're trying to tell me something. I've been trying to ignore you, which has become impossible.”

“I don't know what you're talking about,” retorted Cecilia.

“You might as well spit it out and get it off your chest.”

“You wouldn't understand.”

Brigit went back to studying her cards. “Never mind then.”

That
wouldn't do. Brigit should have known that according to the
Rules of Female Friendships
she was to press Cecilia to reveal all. Therefore, Cecilia ignored Brigit's feigned noninterest and said her piece. “Because your man-stealing daughter, that…that…whatever she calls herself now, is married. Whereas my darling Cara, the victim of your…
whoever she is…will suffer the rest of her life by never fully trusting a man again.”

“Mary Kathryn, that's her name and you know it.”

Cecilia shrugged, dismissing the woman's daughter. “That doesn't change a thing.”

Brigit slammed her cards facedown on the table and glared at Cecilia. “What are you talking about?”

“The pain my Cara's going through after having lost her Tony.” Cecilia tsked. “She hasn't left her apartment except for obligatory commitments. Her job, for instance. Although she can barely crawl out of bed to get to work in the morning.” She placed a hand over her heart. “She is suffocating so, in a quagmire of depression. Has lost untold weight. All because of your hussy daughter.” Cecilia glared at Brigit, all the while thinking that the college professor scientist had better damn well be impressed by her use of the word
quagmire.
After all, Brigit should understand scientific language and be able to relate a swamp to a mother's sorrow.

“Mary Kathryn is not a hussy.” Although to Cecilia's ears, Brigit didn't sound so sure of herself. “I'm sorry Cara's depressed.”

Cecilia didn't think she had to share with the women at the table that there was a slight chance—okay, a one-hundred-percent chance—that she might be exaggerating a bit. Okay, a lot. The fact was, much to Cecilia's horror, Cara wasn't depressed. In fact, she was downright cheery about not being married, and that bit sharply into a mother's soul.

For that reason, too, Cecilia felt with all her heart and soul that Brigit O'Malley, mother of Mary Kathryn—who now went by the name of Kate, as if to hide her shame for stealing Cara's man—would pay, and pay dearly.

Cecilia would figure out a way to take care of
Brigit. But she was simply at a loss as to what to do about a daughter who liked being single.

Last night she had awakened at three o'clock with horrid dreams dancing through her head. Dreams of growing old with a spinster daughter who was happy in her spinsterhood. And even worse, no grandchildren. She would be the laughingstock of the Italian community. The church. This couldn't possibly be happening to her. Now she was on a mission. To see her daughter happily married, no matter how miserable being happily married made Cara.

But now Brigit was pointing a finger at her. At her! How dare she? “You think you've got it bad?” she was saying. “I've got it worse.”

Cecilia slammed her own cards on the table. “How do you figure that? Your daughter is married.”

“Shannon.”

“Shannon?” Shannon was the younger O'Malley daughter. A free spirit from what Brigit had said, although she had never talked much about Shannon.

It was Brigit's turn to do the moaning and sighing. “Oh, if you only knew.”

That woman's display of grief didn't sit well with Cecilia. If anyone was going to be doing the moaning and sighing around here it would be her. She asked Brigit in a clipped tone, “Only knew what?”

“Don't get me wrong,” Brigit answered. “I love Shannon, she's a wonderful daughter. But it worries me, you know…”

“No, I don't know.”

“Well, she's so attractive. Much more so than your Cara, if you know what I mean.”

Cecilia wondered if there would still be a place for her in heaven if she had murderous thoughts about Brigit. So as not to ruin her chances for a place up there, Cecilia said diplomatically, “I guess she could be considered more attractive than my Cara if you
were a man who happened to like pale, skinny women with stringy hair, instead of slender, bosomy women with beautiful creamy complexions and luxurious, thick hair down to the waist.” She gave a little snort. “There's no accounting for taste.” She made sure she conveyed to all that Brigit had no taste, either.

“Well, I've got news for you, Cecilia Romano. When it comes to beauty and brains my Shannon has it hands down.”

“Oh, please,” Cecilia scoffed. This conversation had gotten totally out of hand. All Cecilia had wanted was to get Brigit to admit that Cecilia was the wronged party. Because from the time Mary Kathryn, or Kate, or whatever she called herself, had walked out of her wedding to Seth straight into the arms of Tony Donetti, Brigit had acted as if she was the one who needed a pity party.

Not once in all the time that had passed since the wedding that didn't happen, had Brigit offered an ounce of sympathy to Cecilia or Cara, the true victims of Tony Donetti's dumping.

And now that woman had the gall, the absolute gall, to sit there across the table and tell her that Cara wasn't the most beautiful young lady in the whole universe. Where were the woman's eyes? Cecilia held up her hand. “How many fingers do I have up?”

“Are you crazy?”

“Are you blind?”

“You know, Cecilia, I feel sorry for you. Having Cara for a daughter. I mean, my Mary Kathryn may have walked out on one wedding, but she was married to someone else within a month.” Brigit wasn't letting anything come in the way of her self-righteous glow, least of all Cecilia's sorrow.

Cecilia's eyes turned into buttonhole slits as she glared at her nemesis.

“Now, I have Shannon—” Brigit sighed so beau
tifully that Cecilia felt plagiarized “—and she's so lovely.”

“Humph.”

“Despite what your bitter heart spews forth,” she said in a rhythmic, singsong way.

“My heart is not bitter.”

“And I know she will be married soon, too. Why, men are banging down her door.”

“You're such a liar.”

“Oh, really?” Brigit raised an eyebrow, picked up her cards and made a big production of tapping them on the table into some kind of uniform order.

Cecilia might have disliked Brigit in the past, but from this moment on, she hated her with a passion. “Your skinny little daughter? Don't make me laugh.”

Brigit leaned across the table, and, with her face composed in some kind of know-it-all expression, her breath smelling like a cross between cloves and mint, she said, “That's right, Cecilia. I guarantee that my lovely Shannon will be married before your homely Cara.”

Brigit had that smug expression on her face that Cecilia would like nothing better than to wipe off. Permanently. She could barely focus on the woman who now leaned back in her chair, tapping her cards against her teeth, getting her horrid germs all over them. “You know I'm right.” Brigit hammered in another nail.

“You're so wrong.” The fact that Brigit truly believed Cara couldn't get a husband was ridiculous and Cecilia had to get that misconception straightened out posthaste. “My Cara will be married first. All she has to do is choose one suitor among many.”

“I thought you said she couldn't get her butt out of bed.”

“I said she could only get out of bed for obligatory demands. Dating is one of those. Why, she has been
known to have one date for dinner and another date, on that very same day, for a midnight movie.”

“Shannon has had three dates in one day.”

“No, she hasn't.”

“On more than one occasion, in fact.”

“Wanna bet?”

“Bet on what? That Shannon has had three dates on the same day or that she will be married first?”

Cecilia had to stop and think about that for a second. Ooh. Choices. So many juicy choices.

She waited a little too long, since her silence opened the door for Brigit to continue her rant. “In fact, if you're so sure about your daughter—” her voice dripped sarcasm “—then why don't you put your money where your mouth is?”

“How much are we talking about here?” Cecilia was so certain that Cara would be married first that she wanted to make sure the bet was going to be big enough to cover the cost of the wedding.

“I'm not sure I mean money.”

“Backing out already, eh?” She let out a self-righteous snort.

“No.” Brigit paused. “What if it weren't money, but something better? Something tangible?”

What could be better than a sum large enough to pay for a wedding? Maybe a honeymoon, too. “What do you have in mind?”

“A trip.” Brigit lost her edge, and her voice became soft. “Maybe to Ireland.”

“I can't afford that and you know it. You're only saying that to get out of your own bet because you know you're going to lose.”

“How about somewhere local,” Jessica-Marie suggested. “Or almost local. Like the Catskills.”

Brigit scowled. “That's not anything like Ireland.”

“No, but it's a vacation, and that's what you both need. Desperately,” Rachel added.

“For how long? A day? A week?” Visions of her dirty dancing with Patrick Swayze after he dumped the too-skinny kid with kinky hair twirled with lust through Cecilia's mind. Kind of dreamy-like she asked, “A month?”

“If it's here in the States, it can only be a weekend. After all,
some
of us work,” Brigit said.

“If you can call giving a lecture on the topic of slime twice a week work.” Cecilia laughed at the very idea that Brigit considered herself a working woman. Maybe when she was younger and hungry for tenure, but certainly not now.

“I'm ignoring you and your stupidity,” Brigit said.

“Good, you ignore, I have things to work out here.” She tapped her head, ignoring Brigit's eye-rolling. That woman would learn soon enough the error of her ways.

Cecilia quickly figured what it would cost Brigit to send her to the Catskills. Hotel, food, ski rental, lift fees, dance lessons, an afternoon at the new spa that had just opened at the most luxurious hotel. It was adding up, and the thought of emptying Brigit's bank account made her smile. “Let's do it.”

She stuck out her hand and Brigit grabbed and shook it without a moment's hesitation. “You're such a sucker,” she said.

Cecilia laughed at that one. “My Cara will be engaged within a month, and married within two. Or sooner.”

“Sucker, sucker, sucker.”

“It's only a matter of her picking out which beau from the vast parade of beaus who've been breaking down her door.”

“Dream on, Cecilia.”

And dream she did. She had seen a bathing suit at the mall that had her name written all over it. She'd
head over there this very afternoon and put it on layaway.

The women continued to play their Tuesday games, only Cecilia's mind was miles and miles away. She began to make a mental list of all the work she had to do to win the bet. Finding a groom for Cara—who was happy without a man, poor misguided soul that she was—would take a lot of work and a major attitude adjustment on her daughter's part. It could be done, but there wasn't a moment to lose.

BOOK: A Baby...Maybe? & How to Hunt a Husband
10.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Death of a Citizen by Donald Hamilton
Sorcha's Heart by Mumford, Debbie
Forty Minutes of Hell by Rus Bradburd
The White Father by Julian Mitchell
The Janus Man by Colin Forbes
Everyman by Philip Roth
The Breed: Nora's Choice by Alice K. Wayne