No Matter What

By: Janice Kay Johnson




To love and support…no matter what


As a high school vice principal, Molly Callahan is used to being the one with all the solutions. Not this time. Her teenage daughter’s pregnancy has Molly questioning her own choices and unable to make the tough decisions. Figuring out what’s right and wrong isn’t so simple anymore, and now, more than ever, she needs someone to trust.

Little does she expect that person to be Richard Ward. Their teenagers’ dilemma has forced them to meet, but something much more powerful is pulling them together. This is hardly the time for Richard and Molly to think about themselves…yet she can’t stop this attraction. Letting herself count on him is one thing. Letting herself fall for him? That’s guaranteed to make things very complicated.





This no longer seemed like a good idea


At the sound of the bell over the door ringing, Molly swiveled in her seat. The new arrival was Richard Ward himself, tall, imposingly handsome, glancing around the sandwich shop until he spotted her at the table in the back corner. And, damn it, there was that loose-hipped walk that always stirred something in her.

She’d been the one to suggest they meet for lunch, completely separate from their kids.

“The waitress left you a menu,” she said inanely.

He nodded and pulled out a chair next to her. He took up way more than his fair share of space, and that, too, unsettled Molly; she was a big enough woman, she was taller than most men with whom she dealt.

Oh, get a grip! You’re not an adolescent. But feeling a lot like one right now.

“Mr. Ward, thank you for coming.” This is Trevor’s father. Trevor’s father, Trevor’s father. She’d chant it as many times as she had to.

This was not a date.





Dear Reader,

I love to put heroes and heroines through horrific tribulations I’ve never experienced (and never want to, thanks anyway). I’ve got to admit, No Matter What hit way closer to home for me than my usual stories do. For one thing, once upon a time I was a teenage girl who had passing thoughts about what a pregnancy would do to my life. The idea of telling my parents any such thing was unthinkable. Wow.

I’m not sure my father ever took seriously the idea that his little girl ever had sex, even after I was married and produced two children. As it happens, both those children were girls. Who became teenagers. Who dated. My youngest had a boyfriend who drove a fancy pickup truck. He’d bring her home and they’d sit out there in the driveway forever and ever. Half an hour would pass. I can’t tell you how desperate I was to march out there and shine a flashlight in the window. What stopped me (besides my desire not to utterly humiliate my daughter) was the common sense realization that they had already been gone all evening, doing heaven knows what. If they were going to do that, it probably wouldn’t be when parked in front of her house with her mother pacing inside.

We survived those teenage years, and I’m proud to report that both my girls graduated from high school and college without getting pregnant.

Fact is, pregnancy is an ever-present terror for any mother of a teenage girl. This book was triggered when it occurred to me that a teenage pregnancy wouldn’t be any picnic for the parent of the boy who is responsible, either. Hmm...

And I’ve got to tell you, I love teenagers in all their sulkiness, defiance and amazing leaps to maturity. So enjoy meeting Caitlyn and her mom, and Trevor and his dad!

Janice Kay Johnson

PS—I enjoy hearing from readers! Please contact me c/o Harlequin Books, 225 Duncan Mill Road,Toronto, ON M3B 3K9 Canada.







CHAPTER ONE



MOLLY CALLAHAN STUDIED the boy slumped sullenly in a straight chair facing her desk and wished desperately she could hand off dealing with him to someone else. Anyone else.

She liked her job most of the time, although discipline was her least favorite facet of it. No choice, though. The high school was small enough that she was the only vice principal. She gave brief, wistful thought to steering Trevor Ward and his father, when he arrived for an emergency conference, into Principal Marta Brightwell’s office. Unfortunately, Marta’s strength was making everyone feel really optimistic about whatever was under discussion, at least as long as they remained in her presence. A fine quality, but one that failed to solve all those everyday problems that were Molly’s bailiwick.

Even so…that’s what she should do. Her feelings toward this particular boy—belligerent, defiant, aggressive—were not dispassionate. Considering the fight she and her daughter, Cait, had had only last night over Trevor, Molly could admit, if only to herself, that she wished he had never transferred to her school. It would be really good if he slouched out beside his father and never came back. She didn’t exactly wish him ill. She’d be satisfied if Daddy decided to transfer him to a private school or ship him home to Mom. But she wanted him gone. Gone from her life, and especially gone from Caitlyn’s.

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