His Best Friend's Baby

By: Molly O Keefe

“Are you OK?”





Julia asked the question, her head tilted in concern.





“Fine,” Jesse lied quickly, not wanting to see her concern turn to pity. “I’m drunk.” Another lie.





“Jesse,” she breathed, her smile hesitant and somehow beseeching. He knew what she wanted. She wanted him to remember what he was trying so hard to forget.





He made the mistake of looking into her endless blue eyes, and he saw exactly what he had seen when he met her the first time, months ago in Germany.





A million missed opportunities. A thousand unanswered prayers and unspoken wishes.





He’d been kicked in the gut when his best friend had opened that door and introduced the woman of Jesse’s dreams as his wife.





And now fate had brought her here to finish him off.






Dear Reader,





My husband and I welcomed our son into the world in February 2006 and soon after I was right back to work on the rewrites of this book. I had no idea when I got the idea for His Best Friend’s Baby (months before even getting pregnant!) how one of its themes would resonate in my life – the need for a support system.





After giving birth (my water broke at a book signing – how about that for dramatic?) I found myself with an infant who didn’t care much for naps and some serious work to do. As much help as my husband was, I needed more. I needed support. And I found it in spades. Writing, like motherhood, can be lonely at times and I am blessed with friends, a mother-in-law and my own mother who provided me with baked goods, laughs and a couple of hours every day to get the work done.





I felt as though I belonged to a tribe. Sleeplessness, worry and a joy I’d never experienced before were my entry into that circle of mothers.





It made me feel even more for Julia, the single-mother heroine in this book. She came to life for me during these rewrites in a way I never would have dreamed. I hope you enjoy her path to happily ever after as much I enjoyed discovering it.





Happy reading!





Molly O’Keefe





For all the Mothers in my life:





Tracey Fader and JK, who kept me laughing.

Leslie Millan and Sarah Drynan, who kept

me sane. Cindy and Carole Mernick,

who made the revisions of this book possible.

And especially

to Mum, who made all of this possible.

You left me very big shoes to fill in the

motherhood department – I love you.





CHAPTER ONE



JESSE FILMORE lifted his fingers from the bar, signaling for another drink.

“Liquid lunch, huh?” the bartender asked with a nervous laugh as he poured Jesse another cup of coffee. Black.

“What time is it?” Jesse’s voice sounded like something that had been dragged behind a horse. His whole body felt that way—sore and beat up.

“Twelve-thirty.” The bartender leaned against the polished wood bar. “We don’t get a lot of coffee drinkers in here. You want a beer or a sandwich or something? We’ve got—”

“What’s your name?” Jesse asked. He didn’t lift his head, just stared at the bartender from under his eyebrows. His neck was killing him. Moving it would send an electric shock through his body.

“My name? Billy. This is my—”

“Billy? I’d like to drink in quiet.”

Billy looked stunned, no doubt used to a friendlier sort of drinker in this crappy sports bar. “Yeah, ah, sure. I’ll be down here if you need me.” Billy backed toward the other end of the bar where two guys shared a pitcher of beer and a plate of nachos while they watched yesterday’s sports recap on the screen in the corner.

When Jesse was a kid, this bar used to be a serious drinking place. No music. No darts. No pool tables. No damn ESPN. It had been a bar where men swaggered in after work and stumbled home at midnight, then fell into bed and slept without dreams.

Jesse wasn’t doing any drinking. The pain meds the docs had him on were bad enough, he didn’t need to let go of any more reality.

But a little peace and quiet wasn’t too much to ask for.

He’d come here to get out of the sun, stall for time before going to see what was left of the old house.

He’d come in here because he was a little bit scared.

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