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Pregnancy Plan

Author(s): Tina Gayle

Pregnant shopkeeper Jillian Wilson prepares for single parenthood until high-risk security specialist Derrick Harris, the baby’s father, is caught in an explosion that changes everything.

Confused, Derrick returns to the States with amnesia. Jillian believes she has it all a husband, a baby, a perfect life, to bad that her dreams hang on Derrick’s faulty memory and a lie.

What others are saying about Tina Gayle's books.

“Pregnancy Plan” is not only a book I enjoyed but I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know when the lie would blow up in their faces and what would happen when it did. I loved this book and I’m looking forward to seeing what Tina Gayle comes up with next.”

Reviewed by: Rachel C.
See the full review at Fallen Angel Reviews
http://www.fallenangelreviews.com:80/2007/September/RachelC-PregnancyPlan.htm

Excerpt


Freedom waited. In anticipation, Jillian Wilson posted the closed sign in the window of her hardware store. She smiled at the neighboring storeowner, Mr. Jenkins, who sat in a rocker on the wooden sidewalk that connected their establishments.

She realized her mistake when he signaled for her to come outside.

Opening the door, she leaned out. The warm afternoon heat, fragranced with the sun-drenched aromas of a Texas spring day greeted her. Wispy, cotton clouds dotted a bright blue sky.

“Hi, Mr. Jenkins, I don’t have much time. I was just about to close for the weekend.”

He peered at her with a fatherly frown of disapproval. “Yes, I know. Several people have mentioned you’re headed out of town.” He shook his head. “Don’t rightly remember your father ever taking a vacation when he didn’t have a backup for the store.”

“I know, but Michael wasn’t available.”

“Hot-rodding around in his new car.” The old man’s offered his unsolicited opinion. “That brother of yours should help. You could be losing a sizable amount of money with it being the weekend after the East Texas Gusher events. People will be wanting to do chores around their houses.”

The wrinkles on Mr. Jenkin’s weathered face grew deeper. “Not good for the town’s hardware store to be closed.”
“I’ve given everyone plenty of warning.”

“Still, I don’t think your father would’ve liked it.”

Jillian swallowed her irritation. After all, Mr. Jenkins had been butting into her business from the time she was two.

Stepping through the door to Mr. Jenkins’ side, she patted his arthritic hand. The man worried about her like a father.
“That’s true, but with Daddy gone and Mike unwilling to help, there’s no chance to have a wild weekend unless I close the store.” She winked. “A girl’s got to have a little fun.”

Stepping back, she continued. “I know I can count on my nice neighbor to keep an eye on the store.” She nudged his shoulder. “Can’t I? You don’t want me to be alone the rest of my life, do ya?”

“Hell, no, but there’s plenty of men around here you could hook up with.” He shook his crooked finger at her. “Why just the other day that Hawkins boy was in my shop. He’d make a nice husband for you.”

She smiled and edged closer to the shop’s door. “Yes, well, that might be true, but I believe I’ll wait until he graduates high school first.”

Mr. Jenkins frowned. “Oh, yeah, but the boy can play a mean game of football. Did you see him last season? He has a wicked arm.”

“That he does.” She entered her store and turned. “I’m sorry, Mr. Jenkins, I have to go. But you’ll watch the store for me, right? If there’s any problems just call my cell phone.”

She closed the door on his reply with a friendly wave. Then she drew down the shade. Securing the lock, she drew in a breath, anxious to escape town. Wilson’s Hardware would survive a weekend without her, and Gladewater, Texas, would never miss her.

Look out, Dallas, here I come.

****
Derek entered the condo, exhausted from a day at the lake. He wanted a cold beer and a hot shower, in that order.
Good thing he’d strong-armed his brother into taking Kelly away for the weekend. He had the place to himself, and Jason and his fiancée could use the relief from the stress of planning their wedding.

Removing his sweaty shirt, he threw it over his shoulder, opened the refrigerator, and grabbed a Bud. With a quick twist of his wrist, he uncapped the bottle, and poured the cold liquid down his throat.

Now the shower.

He stepped around the bar separating the kitchen from the dining area. The light on the answering machine blinked. He hit the button.

“Uh, Jason, it’s Jillian.”

A picture of a shapely woman flashed through Derek’s mind.

“I don’t want you to worry. I’m not pregnant...”

“Holy shit!” Every big-brother, over-protective gene in his body kicked into gear.

The shattering sound of his beer bottle hitting the floor and his fist connecting with the wall doused the end of the message.

Could this be the reason Kelly was having second thoughts about marrying Jason?

****
Peace greeted Jillian the moment she slid the key card into the slot of her hotel room door.

She tugged her luggage across the threshold and nudged the door close with her hip. The lock clicked into place as she stowed her bags in the closet.

A grin spread across her face as she surveyed the room, head turning like a child in a toy store. The typical hotel room held all the luxuries shed needed for a worry-free weekend. Tossing her handbag and key card on the dresser, she scanned the view through the windows on the far side of the room, then flopped down onto king-size bed draped in a burgundy-and-green floral bedspread.

Directly across from the bed on the dresser stood a swivel television, just waiting for her to flick on a movie.
Thrilled to be released from the chains of responsibility, she leaned back onto the bed and closed her eyes. The heavy emotional burden she’d carried around for the last few weeks lightened. No one here knew her or expected anything from her. She had nothing to prove, and no one to offer her any friendly advice.

“Heaven!”

She stretched her arms above her head. Finally, the grief shadowing her every move lifted.

A knock sounded on the door.

“Who can that be?” Rising, she peered through the security peephole and spotted a tall, dark-haired man, his features slightly blurred by the fish-eye view.

She gulped in a quick breath and peeked again at the handsome face. “Damn.” She didn’t want to open the door, not with Derek on the other side, not to more heartache.

“What do you want?”

“Jillian?”

“Yes?”

“Open the door. I want to talk to you.” His stern military voice, the one she remembered hating, demanded her compliance.

She glared at the man through the peephole. How did he know she was here? Then the pieces fell into place. The message she’d left Jason. But why would he tell his brother? He knew Derek didn’t want anything to do with her.
Their relationship hadn’t worked out. A few dates, no calls, no e-mails, no communication. The man isn’t interested.

So why come here?

The next knock rang louder.

“Come on, Jillian, open up.”

After a quick brush of her hands through her hair and a deep fortifying breath, she opened the door.v “Hey, Derek, what’s up?” She spoke into his broad chest. A head taller, her gaze traveled over his curly hair to his clean-shaven face. She marveled at the difference between the two brothers. Their hair color might be the same, but every other feature stood in sharp contrast to the other.

Jason’s lean form appeared slight when standing next to Derek’s linebacker body. Jason had beautiful deep brown eyes and a photo-perfect face, while Derek’s eyes were steel gray. Piercing and cold, they stared through her. His face appeared as if carved from stone.

A dark arrogant curl stood above the rest on top of his head. Her hand lifted, tempted to brush it back in place.
“Are you inviting me in?” He stepped forward.

“No.” Her hand landed on his chest, blocking his entrance. “Did Jason send you?”

“You might say that.” He crowded closer. “Do you want to have our conversation in the hall?”

Singed by the heat radiating from him, Jillian stepped back.

He strolled forward—arrogant, nonchalant.

“Look, Derek...” She shut the door. “I don’t need you checking up on me. I’m fine. If Jason received my message, he knows too.”

His glare examined her with hard intensity. “He didn’t get it. I did.”

Even though his jaw was set in a rigid line, he appeared calm. Yet she sensed intense emotions churning just beneath the surface of his cool exterior.

She shook her head, unable to determine the cause. “But he's been worried. Why didn’t you give him the message?”
“Jason is already involved with someone.” Suspicion darkened Derek’s eyes. His whole manner reflected restrained anger, a kettle ready to boil over. His gaze burned.

“I know. He and Kelly have been dating for awhile now.”

“If you know, then why the hell are you sleeping with him? You barely let me kiss you good night when we were dating.” He stepped forward, glaring into her face. The lid of his temper lifted, the steam scalded her skin.

“What?” Caught off guard by his accusation and his closeness, Jillian gapped in disbelief. Was he nuts? Did he really think she was having sex with his brother?

Her eyes widened. Now it made sense. My message.

Derek must think—Oh my!

In his normal overprotective fashion, he rushed in to squelch the opposition. How absurd—her with Jason. She couldn’t stop the giggles that bubbled up in her chest. She edged past him with an unladylike snort of laughter.

He grabbed her arm and spun her around. “I’m glad you think this is funny, but I don’t. I know you’ve always had a thing for Jason, but he’s taken.” The angry set of his mouth reflected how seriously he viewed the matter, and his stern glare nailed her with disgust. “I won’t let you ruin his happiness.”

His unyielding attitude only heightened her laughter. How could anyone seriously believe she could steal Jason away from Kelly? The lady was absolutely gorgeous, and brilliant as well. The notion delighted Jillian, but then she caught sight of Derek and sensed danger. He wanted blood—her blood.

She tugged free and sank onto the corner of the bed. Her composure melted every time she ventured a peek at him.
Hands on his hips, feet slightly apart, face devoid of expression, he stood ready to attack with the slightest provocation. “This isn’t funny. I don’t want you messing around with Jason. Don’t take your anger at me out on him.”

A cold shower of depression washed over her, instantly killing her amusement.

“Derek, I realize this looks strange. But...” Jillian tried to banish the hurt while she worked to gather her thoughts. “There is nothing going on between the two of us. He’s an old friend, and my brother’s best friend. I’m not trying to get back at you. In fact, this has nothing to do with you.”

Frowning, he sat down next to her on the bed. His thigh brushed hers. She quickly scooted over, physical awareness zipping along her spine.

“Then why did my brother want to know if you were pregnant?” In his normal high-handed manner, Derek refused to let the subject go.

“Because of a conversation we had after my father’s funeral.” She patted his arm, hoping she could calm him with a soothing touch. “He’s a little concerned I might do something stupid.”

“Like what?”

Jillian didn’t want to discuss her plan with him and stood. “Look, this really isn't any of your business. I’m not sleeping with your brother and I’m not pregnant with his child. That’s all you really need to know.”

His nearness and arrogant attitude frayed her nerves. She walked to the dresser, creating distance between them. Stay focused, she silently admonished her image in the mirror and stared at her fire-engine-red cheeks. Her brown eyes were bright with unshed tears of mirth. Her breasts tingled under her white button-down oxford shirt.

Don’t let him distract you. She twisted her index finger around a strand of hair and glanced at his reflection in the mirror. His eyes narrowed. “I don’t like this, Jillian. Explain what’s going on.”

If he hadn’t looked ready to explode, she would’ve thought this whole conversation ludicrous. But his entire body radiated volatile energy that revealed he didn’t find this set of circumstances humorous. Jason had warned her many times not to fool around with Derek’s temper. Taking note of the fierce, fighting warrior under the soft-knit sweater and faded jeans, she decided she needed a diversion.

“Okay, look, I just got into town and I’m starving. Why don’t I order us a pizza? Then if you’ll behave and quit trying to bully me, I’ll give you the details of my discussion with Jason.” At his nod, she hurried to the nightstand and located the phone book. “What do you like on your pizza?” She found the number of the pizza place she liked near the hotel, and then glanced at Derek for his answer.

“Personally, I like an all meat pizza. But whatever you want will be fine,” he narrowed his gaze as if expecting an argument.

A carnivore. It figured he would want all meat.

The sexual energy burning from him ignited the hairs on her arms, provoking them to stand at attention. Her pulse danced a Cotton-Eyed-Joe.

Jillian finished the call, and turned. Derek lay on the bed behind her, his arms folded under his head. An old fantasy flashed through her mind. What would it feel like to have his powerful body under hers? He appeared ready, willing and able to please her every desire.

Shaking her head to rid herself of the erotic images, she spotted the ice bucket. They could use something to cool them down.

“Why don’t you go get us some ice for our drinks?” She wanted a minute alone to decide how best to explain the situation to him so he wouldn’t go ballistic or call her insane.

“Trying to get rid of me?” He rose and grabbed the ice bucket from the dresser before he stalked to the door. His footsteps rustled quietly over the carpet, a rarity for a man of his size.

“Would it work if I did?”

“No, but I can’t blame you for trying.” He flicked the security bar out, so the door wouldn’t latch when he left. With a wink in her direction, he walked out, leaving the door slightly ajar for his return.

****

Derek found the ice machine, shoved the bucket under the dispenser, and pushed the button. The loud thunk of the ice cubes hitting the plastic container barely registered while he reviewed the situation.

Not pregnant, according to her message, but she claimed she wasn’t sleeping with Jason either. Could he believe her? He’d always suspected she had a thing for his brother.

Why didn’t I call and ask him after I got the message instead of rushing over here?

He pictured her--curvy hips, the cute tilt of her eyes when she laughed, the blush of her cheeks. Her racing pulse beneath his fingers while he held her wrist.

Ice hit his fingers. He released the button and stared at the frozen cubes. Jillian Wilson is hot.

The first time he’d met her at his brother’s birthday party, he took one look and had fallen hook, line, and sinker. The way she filled out her tight jeans and the twinkle in her eyes spoke to him. He wanted to make love to her on the spot.

Of course, that was until his brother and Michael had reminded him about the dangers of his job. Coupled with her old-fashioned values, both represented two very good reasons to stay clear.

And they’d been right. While they’d dated, she had been unbending in the marriage- before-sex department, making the current situation even more perplexing.

Why was Jason worried about her being pregnant? Was she sleeping around? His mind jumped to another possibility. Was she here to meet a man? That thought sent him into a tailspin.

No way.

His determination stiffened.

When he’d arrived at her hotel room earlier, he’d been ready to tear her apart for playing around with his brother. Then when she’d opened the door, looking as sexy as ever, his thoughts of tackling her had turned to lust rather than anger.

Her doe-brown eyes had greeted him with suspicion. Her body displayed an off-limits sign. Yet, her sassy red lips and curvy hips teased him with unfulfilled promises. He’d wanted more than answers. He wanted her soft and willing beneath him.

If she needs a man, I’ll be more than happy to apply for the job.

****

Shut the door and lock it! screamed Jillian’s survival’s instincts. Who was she kidding? Derek would just start pounding on it again. The conversation she’d had with Jason six weeks ago had made sense. She’d felt lost and alone after her father’s funeral.

Now it’s different.

Derek would never understand.

Wrestling with her conflicted emotions, she sorted the should-dos from the want-to-dos, and concluded that she didn’t care. He had dumped her over a year ago anyway. Who cared what he thought? She didn’t need his approval. She could do whatever she wanted.

Walking into the bathroom to retrieve the cups from the vanity, she stared at her flushed face in the mirror. How could she get through this evening with some dignity?

“Jillian?”

She strolled out of the bathroom. “Did you think I flew the coop?”

He turned and set the ice on the dresser. She handed him a cup.

“Well, the thought did cross my mind.” His hand briefly touched hers, and they both pulled away.

Jillian edged past him. The room had shrunk with his return. “Look, Derek, I told you I would explain and I will.” She filled her cup with ice and turned to get some water from the bathroom.

He blocked her path.

“Okay, why don’t you get started?” He covered her hand with his, and exchanged her cup for an empty one. Examining his long fingers, she envisioned those hands on other parts of her anatomy.

When he released her, she drew in a deep breath and glanced into his eyes. Something dark and mysterious flickered in their depths. Not anger, yet something just as dangerous. She shivered. “What do you want to know?”

His left eyebrow arched. “Why don’t we start with the conversation you had with Jason several weeks ago?”

He turned and stepped toward the bathroom. She filled the empty cup in her hand with ice. “Well, as you know, my dad died several weeks ago from a heart attack. Jason attended the funeral.”

“Yes, he told me about it. I’m sorry, Jillian. I really liked your father.”

“Yes, well, after the funeral, I was tired of being surrounded by people and I needed to get away. Michael had a reservation at the local motel because we had so many overnight guests staying at our house.” Emotions bombarded her as she remembered that day’s events. The house so full of people, yet the one voice she had wanted to hear had been absent.

“Anyway, Michael suggested I use his room so I could leave. Jason was staying at the same hotel, so I rode over with him.”

She turned. “Jason's room was right next door.”

Derek sat on the bed, his back against the headboard, his arms folded over his chest as if he had no plans of leaving anytime tonight.

“The two rooms had a connecting door.” Jillian passed him on her way to the bathroom to fill her cup. She continued with the explanation upon reentering the room.

“When we got there, I decided I didn’t really want to be alone so we opened the dividing door and I went into Jason’s room to talk.”

She paced across the tan carpet to the far wall and gazed out the large picture window. Traffic crawled on LBJ, each car holding a lone individual encased within its shell. Their drivers imprisoned inside, with their wants and needs hidden by the car’s shiny exterior, were oblivious to the pain experienced by the passengers inside the neighboring cars. Stuck in suspended animation, stifled by pressure from every direction, each was stranded in the knot of passage.

She closed her eyes and fought the heartache of never hearing her father’s laughter again. Her voice cracked as she continued. “We talked about the future, what we wanted out of life. Jason explained how he planned to ask Kelly to marry him, where they would live, and how many kids they would have.”

Jillian glanced at him to see if he understood. “You know, the kind of stuff people talk about when they’re planning their future.”

His intense gaze burned hotter, but he nodded his agreement without saying a word.

“Anyway, I started talking, and by the end of the night, I had a resolution for my personal problem. I called it my pregnancy plan.”

She stopped and looked back out the window. How should she explain her plan? Developed in the heat of the moment and based on solid logic, the plan had merit, but the subject matter wasn’t easy to discuss or accept.

“A pregnancy plan?” His words rang from directly behind her. She could feel his breath on her neck, his heated gaze on her back.

“Yes, a plan on how to get pregnant.” Frustration and anger bubbled inside her like they had that night. She wrapped her shaking hands around her cup and willed them to be still. “Look, I don’t mean to sound rude, but it really is none of your business what I do. I’m not involved with Jason.”

She turned and his unwillingness to cooperate showed in the slight narrowing of his eyes. “You can rest assured I have no plans to break up Jason and Kelly.” After glancing back out the window, she sipped her drink. “And what I do is none of your concern.”

Derek laid his hand on her shoulder and she jumped. “What are you afraid of?”

Jillian turned and stormed past him, not wanting nor needing his sympathy. The short length of the room quickly evaporated, and she pivoted on the heels of her Nikes. “I’m not afraid of anything. I know what I want and I have come up with a plan to get it.”


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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 9781466013063
Genre: Romance
Date Published: 11/09/2011
Publisher: Tina Gayle

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