HAVING THE BEST MAN'S BABY by Shawna Delacorte
Silhouette Desire #1541
Original release: October 2003
eBook reissue: December 2010
eBook ISBN #978-1-426-88285-2
Available at: http://ebooks.eharlequin.com
Available at: www.bn.com for Nook Books
Available at: www.Amazon.com for Kindle

Suddenly With Child:
Fifteen years had passed since Ry Collier broke her teenage heart. Fifteen years during which the golden boy had amassed a fortune, making a name for the man. Fifteen years during which she'd blossomed into a woman bearing little resemblance to an awkward schoolgirl, if Ry's searing, searching appraisal in meeting her again was any indication. But quickly, best man Ry knew why the maid of honor looked familiar. And despite the past, they shared a bed.

And Jean Summerfield became pregnant. Now she had to tell Ry that one reckless, remarkable night of passion had made a baby. And risk history repeating itself...



From RENDEZVOUS REVIEWS October 2003 (original print release date)

"Fifteen years ago Jean Summerfield had her heart broken by her first and only true love, Ry Collier. Their prom date had been all she dreamed of till [sic] he called at the last minute saying he was sick. Seeing Ry after all these years still has her heart pounding madly and desire is uppermost in her mind. Ry was intrigued with Jean and, when he held her in his arms, she felt like she had been made for his arms. So in spite of their past they became lovers. Their lovemaking is unequalled and they can't get enough of each other. But their first night of reckless lovemaking has ramifications when Jean discovers she's pregnant. Excellent storyline -- high school sweethearts reunited -- the passion is real and vibrant and the best part is Jean gets her man. Add this one to your collection."


"Fifteen years ago Jean Summerfield had her heart broken by her first and only true love, Ry Collier. Their prom date had been all she dreamed of until he called at the last minute saying he was sick. Seeing Ry after all these years still has her heart pounding madly and desire is uppermost in her mind. Ry was intrigued with Jean and, when he held her in his arms, she felt like she was made for his arms. So in spite of their past they become lovers. Their lovemaking is unequalled and they can't get enough of each other. But their first night of reckless lovemaking has ramifications when Jean discovers she's pregnant.

Excellent storyline—high school sweethearts reunited—the passion is real and vibrant and the best part is Jean gets her man. Add this one to your collection."

October 2003


Read G-rated Excerpt inside front cover
Read Excerpt #1 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #2 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #3 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #4 (G-rated)


G-rated Excerpt inside front cover:

The passion of Ry Collier infused her with a heated desire. Certainly physical desire. But mere infatuation? No matter how much she denied it, things had moved far beyond mere infatuation. Once again she was losing her heart to someone in spite of her intentions never to do it again. Then all her thoughts stopped and she gave herself over to the exhilaration building inside her.

Tonight, following the rehearsal dinner...

The decision to make love with him would take them down an unknown path, one that could lead to love or disaster. An uneasiness tried to replace the positive feeling. She shoved it aside. If she was falling in love--

If... That was a laugh. She knew in her heart that it had gone beyond the "if" stage. She was far too involved to turn back now.


G-rated Excerpt #1


Jean Summerfield froze in her tracks. Her breath caught in her throat. She spotted him as soon as she entered the private banquet room of the hotel. Her gaze remained riveted on the one face among those in the crowd that sent a shockwave of anxiety crashing through her reality. Painful memories from the past immediately shoved to the forefront. Her heart leaped into her throat and her mouth went dry. It couldn't be...not Ryland Collier...not after all these years. Ry Collier...the boy who had humiliated her and broken her heart fifteen years ago.

"Are you all right, Jean? You look like you've seen a ghost."

Jean turned at the sound of her best friend Susan Brundage's voice. "I...uh...yes, I'm fine. I thought I saw someone I knew from a long time ago, but I'm sure I was mistaken."

She glanced toward Ry again. Her stomach knotted into an uncomfortable ball. Her throat tightened. She thought she had put the past behind her, but in a fraction of a second all the insecurities suffered by that plain, overweight and shy sixteen-year-old girl came rushing back at her.

Susan grabbed Jean's arm, pulling her out of her thoughts. "There's someone you need to meet. He arrived from Chicago just this afternoon." Susan let out a soft chuckle. "He's what every woman's mother always warned her about...a bad boy with looks, charm and lots of money. A dangerous combination for sure. And guess what...he's single."

The knot in Jean's stomach tightened as Susan dragged her across the room toward the man she thought she would never see again. She took a calming breath, but it didn't help. She steeled her nerves against the inevitable, not sure what to expect.

"Ry, I'd like to introduce my maid of honor, Jean Summerfield. Jean, this is Bill's best man, Ry Collier. The two of you need to get acquainted. You'll be seeing a lot of each other during the upcoming week between now and the wedding."

A sexy smile lit Ry's handsomely chiseled features and a devilish gleam sparkled in his silver eyes as he made an obvious visual inventory of Jean's physical assets. He extended his hand toward her. "Jean, it's a pleasure to meet you." His smooth masculine voice tickled her senses as he clasped her hand in his, sending an immediate rush of sensual warmth through her body.

She reluctantly worked her hand out of his grasp, breaking the all-too-tempting sizzle of energy created by his touch. He was even more handsome up close than he had been from across the room. A sense of relief settled over her when he showed no outward signs of recognizing her. Perhaps the pain and emotional trauma of the past would remain safely tucked away.


"I know the bride is always supposed to be the center of attention, but you're certainly the most beautiful woman in the room."

The crimson flush of embarrassment quickly spread across Jean's cheeks as she glanced self-consciously around the room. "That's nonsense." A slight quaver surrounded her words, as if she wasn't sure exactly how to respond to what he had said. "Susan is a very beautiful woman. That marvelous mane of honey-blond hair and her big blue eyes...she'll be a stunning bride."

"I'm more impressed with the maid of honor."

Her embarrassment seemed genuine to him, not a pretense. Was it possible that she didn't realize just how beautiful she was? That she was not accustomed to compliments? Or even pickup lines? What a welcome change from some of the vain women he had known whose primary concern was how they looked on the outside without a thought to whether they were beautiful on the inside.

As they moved to the music, his mind drifted back fifteen years. He had known a girl in high school whom he liked very much. She was a beautiful soul on the inside and the one person he truly felt comfortable around...someone he could really talk with. He hadn't meant to, but he had destroyed that friendship as surely as if he had told her he never wanted to see her again. And for fifteen years the guilt and anguish had lived inside him.

Ry shook away the unpleasant memories and returned his attention to his very desirable dance partner.


G-rated Excerpt #2

(Jean Needs Answers)

He reached out and lightly touched Jean's cheek, then dropped his hand to cover hers as it rested on the table.

"Why don't you just tell me where we've met and save me the frustration of trying to figure it out?"

She drew in a steadying breath, then exhaled as she made her decision about what to say. An uneasy tremor grabbed her attention, telling her just how uncomfortable she found his insistence on an answer. But the topic had come to a point where she either had to create an awkward situation by telling him to drop it or confess their prior relationship. A lump formed in her throat. She attempted to swallow it before speaking. The nervous jitter that had been bouncing around inside her increased to an annoying distraction. Her words were somewhat tentative. She wasn't sure she really wanted to say them.

"Does the name Sally Jean Potter ring any bells with you?"

Ry couldn't have been more stunned if she had reached out and slapped him. He felt his eyes widen in shock. His words came out in a shaken whisper. "Sally Jean? You're Sally Jean Potter?"

He tried to talk, but only managed a sputtering attempt. "Sally Jean...I..." He shook his head as he tried without much success to say something intelligible. "I...you..."

The horrible guilt he had buried inside him fifteen years ago exploded into his consciousness. He had done a terrible thing to her, but at the time he believed there was no other choice open to him. The worst thing he had done was never explain to her what had happened, why he had canceled their prom date at the last minute. Canceled...perhaps stood up would be a more accurate choice of words. And now every sense and nerve ending in his body screamed at him to get out before things got worse. But how could it possibly be worse than it already was? Besides, he wasn't seventeen years old anymore. He was a responsible adult who needed to face up to his past. He gathered his composure and tried his best to salvage the moment.

He forced a smile. "Sally Jean...I certainly didn't recognize you. You've changed quite a bit from high school." He reached out a slightly trembling hand toward her face, almost touching her cheek but stopping before he made physical contact. "No glasses, the braces are gone..."

"And I'm sure you can't overlook the fact that I've lost about thirty pounds."

He ignored the sarcasm in her voice. "That's quite a profound change from fifteen years ago."

Her defensive wall rose to combat her painful memories. Her harsh words carried an edge to them. "Yes, I agree... I was certainly an unattractive awkward mess of a girl back then."

Her response cut into him, leaving a definite wound and telling him just how much he had hurt her even though it had not been his intention. He cupped her chin in his hand and looked into the depths of her eyes. He leaned forward and quickly brushed his lips against hers. His words came out soft, but heartfelt and sincere. "That's not what I said. I never thought of you as an unattractive, awkward mess. I always thought of you as someone with special inner qualities that others didn't have and couldn't see."

It was not at all what Jean had expected him to say. She tried to assimilate his words into her anxiety, but they refused to mesh. Was he attempting to charm her out of an embarrassing moment or was he being honest? As much as she wanted to believe what he'd said, she didn't know if she could trust him.

Ry withdrew his hand and picked up his wineglass, taking a sip before speaking. "When did you decide to drop the Sally and go by Jean?"

"Immediately after my divorce. At the same time that I started wearing contact lenses and lost the thirty pounds."

"Well...Sally Jean -- "

"Just Jean if you don't mind." She heard the hard edge that continued to cling to her words even though she hadn't meant for it to be there. He hadn't said a word about what happened. Could he have forgotten all about the prom? Perhaps fate had worked in her favor this time by bringing her back in contact with Ry Collier so that the crushing experience could finally be closed and put to rest.

"Of course...Jean." He tried to force down the anxiety welling inside him. What possible purpose could be served by resurrecting a fifteen-year-old disaster? He was already carrying enough guilt to last two lifetimes without adding to it. He closed his eyes for a moment and an image of sixteen-year-old Sally Jean standing in the grocery store looking at him with pain-filled eyes just two hours after his last minute phone call to tell her he was sick and couldn't take her to the prom immediately popped into his mind. His throat tightened and a dull thud began to form at his temples. He shook the distressing image away and tried to shove the thought from his mind.


G-Excerpt #3


He grabbed the receiver, a little annoyed at the interruption, yet curious about who it could be at such a late hour. "Hello."

"Is that you Ry darling?"

The syrupy sweet voice cut through him like chalk screeching on a blackboard. Every muscle in his body tensed as he steeled himself against whatever was to come. There wasn't any hint of a gracious manner, courtesy or polite demeanor in his voice. There was, however, an unmistakable harsh edge that clearly conveyed his displeasure at her call.

"What do you want, Marjorie?"

"I just wanted to talk to you, to find out how you are. I'm concerned about you, Ry. You work so hard. Even though we're divorced...a terrible mistake in my opinion...I still care a great deal about you." His irritation erupted in anger. "Knock it off, Marjorie. You've never cared about anyone or anything except yourself. I don't know what you're trying to sell, but I can assure you I'm not buying. How did you know where to find me?"

"I called your office in Chicago and that nice receptionist told me you were in Seattle. I simply called all the major hotels until I found the one where you were registered."

"Apparently I need to have a chat with my office staff about proper procedure. So you found me." He made no attempt to hide his annoyance. "What do you want?"

"I want to see you, darling. I thought we could have dinner, maybe talk about our future?"

His anger exploded. "I'm not your darling. And as for the future -- we have no future. We didn't have one ten years ago and we certainly don't have one now. We have nothing to talk about and dinner is definitely out of the question."

Ry slammed down the receiver before she had an opportunity to respond. The resentment seethed inside him. He took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm his inner turmoil. The depth of the anger produced by the brief and totally unexpected intrusion by his ex-wife into his life surprised him. Even though he wanted to put the disaster of his short-lived marriage totally out of his mind and dismiss it from his life, he had not been able to do it.

Occasionally he wondered if he had allowed that trauma to impact his relationships with women. Then Jean popped into his mind. Was his fear of what he felt for her the result of his horrible marriage? It was not a new thought, but one that was becoming more difficult to dismiss. It was something he didn't want to dwell on or deal with. But thoughts of Jean refused to go away -- the way she felt in his arms, the earthy heat of her kiss, the night they had made love with such intense passion -- it was all burned into his reality and he knew it would stay there forever.


Jean's Friday workday was finally over and it was officially the weekend. She looked around her living room. It seemed so quiet and empty. Would Ry be back that evening or would it be Saturday before she saw him? Her thoughts were interrupted by her doorbell. She opened the door to find a woman she'd never seen before, but one who didn't look as if she was selling anything or taking a survey.

"Yes? May I help you?"

An uneasy feeling settled in the pit of Jean's stomach in response to the way the other woman was looking her over, as if checking her out. When the woman didn't respond to her question, Jean spoke up. "Who are you and what do you want?"

"I'm Marjorie Collier...Mrs. Ryland Collier." She scrutinized Jean again. A cruel and sardonic laugh escaped her throat. "Humph...Ry usually has better taste than this. I guess you must have been handy and very accommodating."

The shock almost knocked Jean's legs out from under her. Her heart pounded in her chest and she was momentarily speechless. "You're...you're Mrs. Ryland Collier? Ry's married?"

"As if you didn't know."

"I didn't know." A sick feeling churned in the pit of Jean's stomach as her insides twisted into knots. Not again. This couldn't be happening to her...not again. She had been down this road before and now she was going to have to tread that same path one more time? The relationship she had following her divorce had seemed as if it was leading somewhere...until she had been confronted by the man's wife. The realization that he had lied to her about being married had been far more devastating than her miserable marriage.

Jean forced the horrible memories aside, finally making room for her logical thought process to return. Susan had specifically mentioned at the prewedding get acquainted party that Ry was single. Whoever this woman was, she certainly couldn't be Ry's wife.

Jean leveled a steady gaze at Marjorie even though it was far removed from the almost unbearable panic shooting around inside her. "And I still don't know that he's married. I'm afraid that it will take a lot more than some stranger standing at my door to convince me of that."

"Really?" Marjorie opened her purse and produced her driver's license showing her name as Marjorie Collier. "I think this should satisfy any doubts you have."

"The only thing that will satisfy me is hearing it directly from Ry in person."

"I guess he didn't even bother to tell you. He went back to Chicago yesterday."

Jean's outer manner remained confident and defiant, her words said as a challenge. "If he's gone home, then why are you here rather than in Chicago?"

The sarcasm dripped from Marjorie's words. "It's just one of the little chores I always have to do. I'm the one who cleans up after Ry's numerous little escapades."

"I don't know who put you up to this, but there's nothing here that needs cleaning up. Go peddle your malicious trash somewhere else!" Jean slammed the door in Marjorie's face. Her insides twisted into hard knots to the point where she felt physically ill. Her legs turned wobbly and her hands trembled. She grabbed the edge of the fireplace mantel for support. Could it possibly be true? Had Ry been deceiving her from the moment Susan introduced them at the party? Had he managed to fool Susan and Bill, too?

She swallowed the sick feeling rising in her throat. It couldn't be true. It simply couldn't. Whoever this Marjorie Collier was and whatever her game was, she couldn't be Ry's wife. But as much as she wanted to believe her own words, Marjorie's claim had left a hole in her belief of what was true and what wasn't.

Jean sank into the softness of the large floor pillows in front of the fireplace, the same pillows where she and Ry had made love so passionately just a few days ago. She thought back over the past two weeks, of all the time they had spent together. Was this how it would all end? Self-doubt flooded through her consciousness. Ry told her he would be back, but would he?


G-rated Excerpt #4

(First Kiss)

She took a step back, her anxiety causing her to impulsively stick out her hand to offer a handshake. "Thank you so much for a delightful dinner."

A visibly surprised Ry ignored her hand, pulled her into his embrace and captured her mouth with a passion-filled kiss that spoke directly to her of the sensuality that was Ryland Collier. The moment his lips touched hers, every inch of her body tingled with excitement. The kiss was everything she ever imagined it would be...and more. At that moment she didn't want him to ever let go of her.

Jean slipped her arms around Ry's neck. She ran her fingers through his thick hair. Everything about him excited her more than she thought was possible. She had been totally unprepared for the amount of passion his kiss conveyed, a passion she returned without hesitation.

The earthiness of her kiss sent a wave of sensual energy burning through Ry that almost knocked him back on his heels. It was much more than what he had expected and even a little more than he had been prepared to handle at the moment. A surge of panic hit him when he realized the emotional impact attached to the kiss. It was a confusing mixture, the comfort and familiarity of a dear friend from the past combined with the incendiary temptation of a fascinating and sexy woman who pulled at every lustful desire he had ever harbored. It left him reeling without a clear direction.

He reluctantly broke off the kiss. He cradled her head against his shoulder as he tried to collect his thoughts and rein in his galloping libido. As much as he wanted to pursue the delectable Jean Summerfield, he did not want to take a chance on alienating Sally Jean Potter from his life again. He felt trapped in a no win situation.