Nicole Taylor thought she was merely hosting a pre-wedding dinner for her best friend. What she ended up with was a face to face encounter with the man she shared her one and only wild night with three years earlier-and her world turned upside down. Now she has to introduce him to the daughter he doesn't know he has and find out if she can trust in the hope of a family for her little girl.
Josh Masterson has no idea why he lied that night three years ago. Nicole was everything he ever wanted in a woman and he has been regretting his decision ever since. Now he has the perfect opportunity to make up for it. He had no idea that he has fathered a little girl with Nicole, but now that he does, he isn't going to just walk away. He made a mistake all those years ago and now he is determined to show Nicole there really is such a thing as love at first sight and happily ever after.
A sweet and tender contemporary romance perfect for fans of Susan Mallery, Bella Andre, and Marie Force
The Life, Love and Babies Contemporary Romance Series:
The Baby Arrangement (Book 1)
Baby, I'm Yours (Book 2)
Baby, Me Mine (Book 3)
"A wonderful story of love and family"
"This is such a wonderful story that will definitely tug at the reader's heart strings more than once."
"Short sweet read. Couldn't put it down. The chemistry between the characters was amazingly written."
"Lovely story about a second chance."What readers are saying about Samantha Chase
"I love Samantha Chase books —I've read them all and can't wait for her to write more!"
"Samantha Chase has an amazing talent for writing and each new book that she writes makes that talent shine through even more."
"Samantha Chase is a master at writing sweet romances that you just want to curl up with."
"Samantha Chase has a way of drawing you in and holding you captive right to the very end."
"[Samantha Chase's] stories have a way of wrapping around the heart."
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Baby, I'm Yours
By Samantha Chase
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Samantha Chase
All rights reserved.
The cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter might as well have been a hand grenade. She certainly didn't want to touch it and was frantically trying to come up with an alternative method for making the call she didn't want to make.
Pacing back and forth next to it, Nikki couldn't help but frown. There was no way what she had to say was going to be well received. Tonight, she was due to go to a prewedding dinner for her best friend, Denise. As maid of honor, she had been wrangled into all sorts of wedding-related festivities, and tonight's dinner was supposed to be an intimate one, with Denise; her fiancé, David; his best man; and Nikki.
Unable to find a replacement babysitter for her daughter, Nikki now had to call Denise and pull out of the evening. Sighing with resignation, she scooped the phone off the counter and scrolled through her favorite contacts until she got to Denise's number. She hit it with all the enthusiasm of hitting a launch button that would start a war.
"Please let it go to voice mail, please let it go to voice mail," she chanted softly.
"Oh my God, Nik, I am so glad you called. You are not going to believe what just happened."
So much for going to voice mail. Denise was rambling on about issues with linen colors for the wedding when Nikki interrupted. "Look, Dee, I know it's last minute, but my sitter canceled, and I can't find anyone to stay with Ellie on such short notice. I'm so sorry, but I can't go tonight."
"But you have to!" Denise pleaded. "You're my maid of honor, and David and I wanted you and Josh to meet before the wedding, and we had a heck of a time organizing this dinner. Josh's schedule is crazy, and it's the only time he was willing to take off to do this. There's got to be somebody else you can call."
"I've been through my entire list, and no one is available. I'm really sorry."
"You could bring Ellie with you!" she suggested, clearly pleased with herself for solving the evening's problems.
"Have you completely lost your mind? I am not bringing a toddler to a fancy French restaurant, Dee." Nikki rolled her eyes in disbelief. "I'll admit my daughter is well behaved, but bringing her into those surroundings past her bedtime is just asking for trouble."
"But, Nik, you've got to be there!"
At this point Nikki was ready to bang her own head against the wall in frustration. "I wish I could, but it's just not possible tonight. Maybe some other time ...?"
"Maybe we can bring the dinner to you!" Denise said excitedly.
"What are you talking about? Please tell me you're not going to bring me a doggie bag or something. Because seriously, I'll survive without the French food."
"No, no, nothing like that. I was just thinking maybe we can skip the French thing and grab some Chinese takeout or something and have a casual dinner at your place instead. That way, you won't have to worry about a sitter, and Ellie will be in her own bed. What do you think?"
"I think it's doable, but won't David be disappointed to miss out on going French tonight?" Nikki teased, knowing full well that David was more of a beer-and-potato-chip kind of man than a fancy-French-restaurant one.
"Please, he may very well leave me for you for getting him out of this tonight," Denise said flatly. "Excuse me for trying to introduce a little culture into our lives."
"You're lucky David loves you so much, you know." Nikki sighed wistfully. What she wouldn't give to have a man who was as devoted to her as David was to Denise.
"Unfortunately," Denise said, sighing dramatically, "I think he has feelings for another woman. A younger woman."
"Oh no! Dee! How do you know? Are you okay? Why haven't you said anything?" Nikki asked.
"Well, I was worried at first, but then I realized it would be a long time before Ellie is old enough to date." Denise chuckled.
"Ellie? My sweet baby girl? You nearly gave me a heart attack with that one!"
"What can I say? David is a sucker for those big green eyes of hers and the way she laughs at all his corny jokes."
"She's a flirt, that's for sure. She certainly doesn't take after her mother. Maybe if I knew how to flirt, I would have had a date in the last year or so."
"I have to agree with you there. And it's been more like three years. You really do need to get out there more. It's not good for you to be alone. You're too young to just be sitting at home all by yourself. You should let me fix you up with someone."
And that was when it hit Nikki.
"Oh. My. God. Is that what tonight is about? Are you trying to fix me up with David's best man?"
"Are you kidding me?" Denise choked. "Please, I love you and Ellie way too much to fix you up with Josh."
"Why? What's wrong with Josh?" It was a reasonable question considering Nikki was not only going to have this man in her home for dinner, but that she was obligated to spend some time with him on the day of the wedding as well.
"Don't get me wrong. I love Josh. He's a great guy, and he's David's brother. But Josh is not a family kind of guy, you know? At all. I would never try and fix you up with someone who wouldn't be good for Ellie, and unfortunately, that's Josh."
"He hates kids, huh?"
"It's not so much that he hates them as it is that he has just made it abundantly clear he has no plans to settle down and have a family."
"Oh. So he's what, like a player?"
"No one says player anymore, but no, he's not. He was engaged once, and as soon as his fiancée started making plans for their future, he bailed." Denise paused as if trying to remember more. "Actually, Josh had come to visit David up at school right after graduation — he had missed the actual ceremony because of a work commitment — just to get away from all of Erin's wedding plans. After that weekend, they called it quits."
"Wow. What did David say to him made him decide to call off the wedding?"
"Nothing! As a matter of fact, we never even got to see him. He showed up there, but David and I went away for the weekend right before we all moved back here. We went to the Poconos. Remember I told you about the champagne glass bathtub?"
Nikki had hoped to erase that story from her mind because Denise had given such graphic details of all the things she and David had done in said bathtub. "Yes, yes, I remember."
"Well, Josh showed up at the school, we played phone tag with him for the better part of the weekend, and by the time we got back, he had gone home. David felt bad about missing him, especially after Josh admitted he had come up there to get his head together."
"Clearly didn't happen."
"Or maybe it did. If he had really wanted to get married, then he would have. Personally, I think it's great he didn't prolong the inevitable. He didn't really love Erin, so she was better off without him. I'm kind of glad we didn't meet up with him. I would have felt partially responsible for whatever decision he made. I'm glad I have the memories of the weekend in the Poconos instead. Ooh, we have got to go back there and make some new ones!"
While Denise's reminder of the champagne tub story was enough to make Nikki feel extremely uncomfortable, her own memories of that particular weekend made her feel sick. That had been the weekend she had met Tyler. Closing her eyes, she could still see those green eyes and feel the touch of his hands on her skin. Their night together had been every fantasy she'd ever had come to life. Nikki had never told anyone the details of that night; she was ashamed to admit to having a one-nighter with a stranger. Of course, the fact that she had gotten pregnant with Ellie that fateful night meant plenty of people knew what she had done; Nikki just didn't feel the need to share all the details.
After Tyler had walked over and introduced himself, they had talked for hours. The crowd at the bar and the noise level had done nothing to hinder them. By the time midnight had rolled around, Nikki had realized she really should be going, and Tyler had offered to walk her out to her car.
Which was where he kissed her.
Just the memory of that kiss brought a tingle to her body. They had kissed up against her car for long minutes before he'd suggested they go someplace more private. Saying no was never even an option. She had wanted him badly. And then, in an act she regretted to this day, she had woken up while it was still dark out, slipped out of his hotel room, and gone back to her apartment to get ready for her job interview. And then she'd moved away.
They hadn't even exchanged last names. Too ashamed to go back to the hotel and ask for his information, Nikki had figured it was all for the best. Until she found out she was pregnant. Never in her life had she been so scared or felt so alone. There had been no way to find Tyler to let him know he was going to be a father. It was a burden she'd carry for the rest of her life. Someday, Ellie was going to ask about her father, and Nikki had no idea how she was going to answer her questions.
"Anyway," Denise said, interrupting Nikki's wayward thoughts, "tonight is in no way, shape, or form a setup. That baby girl of yours deserves a man who will love her and want to raise her as his own. You do too, you know, but you'll never find someone if you don't get out there and date!"
"I will eventually." Nikki sighed, anxious to change the subject. "Anyway, back to the dinner plans." In the background, Nikki heard David's voice as well as another man's. It must be his brother, she thought. Before she knew it, David was on the phone with her.
"If things don't work out between me and Denise, you are the first woman I am looking up," he teased.
"What are you talking about?" Nikki laughed.
"You and your beautiful daughter have saved me from a night of phony French accents and food I cannot pronounce! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" he praised. "Whatever it is you want, Nikki my love, that's what we'll bring to you."
"Well, you certainly have swept me off my feet! I'll tell you what. You bring me some Chinese from Jade's, and I'll make sure we get to catch at least the third period of the Rangers game. Deal?"
"I love you, Nik," he said with awe. In truth, David loved Nikki like a sister and was very protective of her and Ellie. The fact that she was Denise's best friend and loved hockey was just a bonus.
"I know, I know. Unfortunately, Denise found you first." Nikki had never thought of David in a romantic kind of way, but she still wished she could find someone like him. "So, what time are you guys going to get here?"
"Is seven too early? My girl will still be awake then, won't she?"
"I promise to let Ellie stay up until eight. You know she'd be devastated if she didn't get to spend time with her favorite man."
* * *
The fact that this was not a setup made getting ready a breeze. Nikki hated the thought of having to fix herself up and pretend to be something she wasn't. Stepping from the shower, she looked down at the pile of blocks Ellie was happily building with on the white-tiled floor. Her daughter's curly, blond head tipped up and she smiled, saucer-eyed. Every time Nikki looked at her, her heart filled with more love than she'd ever thought it possible to feel for another human being.
"That is a fabulous tower, Ellie." She beamed. "Maybe someday you'll build real towers like that."
"This is weal, Mommy," Ellie said as she began work on a fourth short tower. Nikki smiled as she dried off and got ready for their dinner guests.
Choosing a pair of comfortable blue jeans and a teal-blue shirt, Nikki pulled the towel off her head and began detangling her mass of blond waves. Cursing mentally during the entire process, she reminded herself it was time for a haircut. She could easily chop off a good six inches right now and not even miss it. Tears came to her eyes during one rigorous bout with a knot.
Once the battle with her hair was through and it was drying naturally, Nikki applied a minimal amount of makeup and considered herself done. Had they been going out someplace, she would have put forth more of an effort, but since this was a casual night in with friends, she didn't feel the need to fuss.
She scooped Ellie up, and they headed back downstairs and looked around the main floor of their townhome. It had an open floor plan with hardwood floors and big, comfortable furniture; the space was small, but it was perfect for the two of them. Nikki sang a silly song and made a game out of getting Ellie to put her toys away, and by the time the doorbell rang, the place was clean.
Ellie squealed with delight at the sound of the bell because she knew who was coming over. David and Denise let themselves in and Ellie ran over to greet them but came running straight back to Nikki and hid behind her legs.
"Where'd my favorite girl go?" David called as he walked into the living room. Nikki was sure Ellie was just being shy with David's brother. Picking her daughter up, she headed toward David and nearly dropped the toddler as a man came into view behind him.
It was Tyler.
* * *
Nikki felt as if all the air had left the room. She couldn't breathe. She reached out and braced one hand against the wall, doing her best not to let Ellie fall.
David raked a hand through his brown hair and smiled brightly as he took Ellie from Nikki's arms. "How's my sweet girl doing tonight?" he asked in a cheery voice, his brown eyes twinkling. Ellie's only response was to stick her tiny thumb into her mouth and hide her face against David's neck.
"Nikki, this is my brother, Joshua. Josh, this is Nikki."
If Joshua remembered Nikki, he hid it well. After a rather gruff hello in Nikki's direction, Denise led him to the kitchen to help her start unloading and setting up all the food.
"I can't believe Ellie's being so shy," David observed when it was just he and Nikki standing in the entryway, Ellie still in his arms. He placed his index finger under the child's chin to get her to look at him. When he finally succeeded and had Ellie smiling, he let himself relax and took her toward the kitchen to help with dinner. "Don't worry, baby girl. That's just my big brother. He won't hurt you," he cooed to Ellie as they walked away.
Nikki stood rooted to the spot, trembling; all the color had drained from her face. Denise walked over with a concerned look on her face. "Nik? What's the matter? Are you all right?" she asked, placing a hand on Nikki's arm.
"I ... I, um." Nikki cleared her throat in an attempt to speak. "I was just a little surprised by David's brother, that's all."
"He's good-looking, isn't he? Too bad he's not into kids or I would have set the two of you up a long time ago." Denise turned and looked into the kitchen at the brothers. David was placing Ellie in her booster seat, chatting with her the whole time. Nikki noticed that, oddly, Joshua had joined in and was playing peekaboo with Ellie as well.
"So, what's got you all freaked out? You look like you've just seen a ghost."
"I can't tell you right now, Dee," Nikki whispered.
"Tell me what?"
Huffing in agitation, Nikki said, "Didn't I just say I can't tell you right now?" Without a word, Denise walked across the room, poked her head into the kitchen, and told David to start dishing out the food. "I'm going to go upstairs with Nik and grab a pair of slippers. These new shoes are killing me."
Rolling her eyes at her friend's flimsy excuse, Nikki followed her up the stairs nonetheless. Once inside her bedroom, Denise closed the door and demanded to know what was wrong.
"That's Tyler," she whispered nervously.
"Tyler. Ellie's father."
"Oh, for crying out loud, your future brother-in-law!"
Denise looked at her as if she had grown a second head. "That's impossible, Nik. Obviously he just looks like Tyler. You're just being a little paranoid."
"I guess that's possible," Nikki said, but she wasn't one hundred percent convinced. "But if that's not Tyler, then he most certainly could be his twin." It took a moment for her to relax. They said everyone had a twin, and it had been more than three years since she had seen Tyler; it was possible her mind was playing tricks on her. Besides, the man downstairs was named Joshua, not Tyler. Laughing at her own anxiety, she gave Denise a quick hug before throwing a pair of slippers at her and heading down the stairs.
Excerpted from Baby, I'm Yours by Samantha Chase. Copyright © 2014 Samantha Chase. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
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