Last year, Scarlet King was a blushing bride-to-be, but now she's alone and more than anything she longs for a baby. This time, she's determined to prove she doesn't need a man!
Successful, spine-tinglingly gorgeous John Mitchell has desired Scarlet for years, so he seizes the chance to claim her. But his proposal comes with a devilish price: if she wants a baby, they'll do it the old-fashioned way!
John reminds Scarlet of the pleasures she's been missing, but when the affair is over, will Scarlet gain her wish, but lose her heart?
'Don't you think you should start getting dressed?'
Scarlet glanced up from the Sunday paper which she'd been pretending to read for the last hour or so. She hadn't felt like talking, especially since the conversation always came round to the radical choice which Scarlet had made this year. Her mother had initially supported her decision to have a child on her own by artificial insemination, but lately she'd been expressing the opinion that it might not be such a good idea.
Scarlet needed negativity at the moment like a hole in the head!
Okay, so the procedure hadn't worked the first two times. That was not uncommon, she'd been told by the clinic. She just had to keep on trying and sooner or later she would conceive. It wasn't as though there was anything physically wrong with her, except perhaps that she was getting older. Which was why she'd decided to do this in the first place.
'What time is it?' she asked.
'Nearly noon,' her mother replied. 'We really should make an appearance at the Mitchells' no later than quarter-to-one. I know Carolyn's planning on serving lunch around one-thirty.'
Carolyn and Martin Mitchell had been their friends and neighbours for almost thirty years. They had two children: a boy, John, the same age as herself, and a girl, Melissa, who was four years younger. Over the years Scarlet had got to know the family well, though she liked some members more than others. Mr Mitchell had not long retired and today was their fortieth wedding anniversary, a milestone which Scarlet knew would sadly never figure in her own life.
Janet King's heart squeezed tight when she heard her daughter sigh. Poor love. She'd been so disappointed when her period had arrived this week. It was no wonder she didn't feel like going to a party.
'You don't have to go,' she said gently. 'I could make some excuse--say you're not feeling well.'
'No, no, Mum,' Scarlet said quite firmly, and stood up. 'I'm fine to go. Truly. Do me good.' And she hurried to her bedroom, thinking that it would do her good. She could have a few glasses of wine--now that she wasn't expecting. She also wouldn't have to spend the rest of the day defending her decision to have a baby on her own. Because no one--other than her mother--knew about her baby project. Frankly, she was sick and tired of her mum telling her how hard it was, bringing up a child on her own.
Admittedly, Janet King had first-hand knowledge of the subject, Scarlet's father having been killed in a car accident when Scarlet had been only nine. Scarlet knew full well how difficult life had been for her mother at that time, both emotionally and financially. Difficult for herself, as well. She'd adored her father and missed him terribly.
So, yes, she appreciated that raising a child without the support of a partner would be hard at times.
But not as hard as never having a child at all!
Just thinking about such a prospect made Scarlet feel physically ill.
She'd always wanted to be a mother, ever since she'd been a little girl. She'd grown up dreaming of one day falling in love with a wonderful man--someone like her darling dad--getting married and having a family of her own.
Scarlet had honestly believed it was only a matter of time after leaving school before that happened. Her plan had been to marry young so that she could enjoy her children. Never in her wildest dreams had she envisaged reaching the age of thirty-four still single and without her Mr Wonderful anywhere in sight.
But that was how her life had panned out. Sometimes, Scarlet simply couldn't believe it.
Shaking her head, she...