Before I forget, there's a giveaway at Goodreads for this book. It ends on the 15th. Also on the 15th, Hustled To The Altar will go up to $5.99 so please grab it now at $3.99.
I'm late putting up my #SampleSunday, I know. Last night I went downstairs to put a chicken in the oven and peel potatoes, intending to come back up and post. I put on an episode of Happy Endings while I puttered in the kitchen and I will warn you now, that show is highly addictive.
I'm not controlling. I'm aggressively helpful. ~ Jane
On the upside, my kitchen is sparkling and the laundry is folded.
In related news, my day job agreed to let me go down to three days a week. This has provided me with the illusion that I have time for watching television. I don't. I'm two lessons behind in the online Plan A Book Launch course I'm taking--for which I have five titles to plan. I have a course in Photoshop starting on Wednesday and I have revisions to turn in (hopefully) Monday. I also have a half dozen guest blogs to write and it's time to start a new book. Oh, and the website is crying out for updating.
All nice problems to have, I know. I'm not complaining. Mostly I'm listing it for myself so I don't forget. But priority one at the moment is posting the next excerpt in A Debt Paid In Passion. If you've missed the previous excerpts, they're here:
- Raoul learns Sirena won't go to jail
- Raoul learns Sirena is pregnant
- Sirena claims the baby isn't Raoul's
In this week's excerpt, Sirena comes to terms with the risks of lying to Raoul about paternity:
~ * ~
Over the next several weeks, the attacks from Raoul kept coming. Settlement offers that increased in size. Demands for paternity tests. Time limits.
Pacing John’s office, she bit back a rebuke at him for revealing her pregnancy that day in the courtroom. She hadn’t admitted to anyone that Raoul was the father and she was determined she never would.
“Here’s what I would like to know, John. How am I supposed to pay more legal bills I can’t afford when it’s not even my wish to be talking to you about this?”
“Your wish may be coming true, Sirena. He’s stated clearly that this is his final offer and you’re to accept it by Monday or forever go empty-handed.”
She stopped and stilled. Loss again. Like watching the final sands drifting through the neck of an hourglass, unable to stop them. Pain in her lip made her aware she was biting it to keep from crying out in protest. Rubbing her brow with a shaking hand, Sirena told herself it was what she wanted: Raoul gone from her life.
“Look, Sirena, I’ve told you several times this isn’t my area of expertise. So far that hasn’t mattered because you’ve refused to admit the baby is his—”
“It’s not,” she interjected, keeping her back to him. She wasn’t a great liar and didn’t like doing it, but justified it because this baby was hers. Full stop.
“He obviously thinks it’s possible. You and he must have been involved.”
“Involvement comes in different levels, doesn’t it?” she snapped then closed her mouth, fearful she was saying too much.
“So you’re punishing him for bringing less to the relationship than you did?”
“His mistresses spend more on an evening gown and he tried to send me to prison for it!” she swung around to blurt. “What kind of relationship is that?”
“You’re punishing him for his legal action, then? Or not buying you a dress?”
“I’m not punishing him,” Sirena muttered, turning back to the window overlooking a wet day in Hyde Park.
“No, you’re punishing your child by keeping its father out of the picture—whether that father is Raoul Zesiger or some other nameless man you’ve failed to bring forward. I’m a father, so even though I don’t practice family law, I know the best interests of the child are not served by denying a parent access just because you’re angry with him. Do you have reason to believe he’d be an unfit parent?”
Completely the opposite, she silently admitted as a tendril of longing curled around her heart. She had seen how Raoul’s stepsister adored him and how he indulged the young woman with doting affection yet set firm boundaries. Raoul would be a supportive, protective, exceptional father.
Her brows flinched and her throat tightened. She was angry with him. And secretly terrified that her child would ultimately pick its father over its mother, but that didn’t justify keeping the baby from knowing both its parents.
“Have you thought about your child’s entire future?” John prodded. “There are certain entitlements like a good education, inheritances...”
She had to get this baby delivered first. That’s where her focus had really been these last several weeks.
Sirena’s fists tightened under her elbows as she hunched herself into a comfortless hug. Her mother had died trying to birth what would have been Sirena’s little brother. Sirena’s blood pressure was under constant monitoring. Between that and the lawyer meetings, she was barely working, barely making the bills. The stress was making the test results all the more concerning.
She tried not to think of all the bad things that could happen, but for the first time she let herself consider what her child would need if she couln’t provide it. Her father and sister were all the way in Australia. It would be days before they could get here—if her stepmother let either of them come at all. Right now Faye was taking the high ground, sniffing with disapproval over Sirena’s unplanned, unwed pregnancy. No one would be as emotionally invested as the baby’s father...
“Sirena, I’m not trying to—”
“Be my conscience?” she interjected. He was still acting as one. “I have a specialist appointment on Monday. I don’t know how long it will take. Tell him I will give his offer my full attention after that and will be in touch by the end of next week.” John’s demeanor shifted. “So he is the father.”
“That will be determined by the paternity test once the baby is born, won’t it?” Sirena retorted, scrambling to hold onto as many cards as she could because she was running out of them, fast.
~ * ~
You can also preorder here:
Will you be in the Vancouver area mid-February? I'll be at a signing event at the Vancouver Public Library. If you want to hear more about my writing and upcoming books, listen to my interview from Oct 17th with Bernadette Walsh at Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books.
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