This December, I have a new book coming out, called Their Unexpected Babies. It returns to a favourite topic of mine and one I wrote about in my very first book – surrogacy.
I’m endlessly fascinated by surrogacy, the couples who choose it, the women who offer their womb for nine months, knowing that the child they carry is not for them. In my first book, I explored surrogacy from the point of view of the surrogate herself and in this new book, I’m exploring it from the point of view of a woman who can’t carry a child of her own.
I hope you enjoy this little excerpt!
Dancing was an art form. There were those who could do it well, who looked as if they’d been born to dance. And there were those who did it badly—and Leah was one of them. Dancing might even be a bit too fancy a word for the moves her body was able to perform. Fancy swaying might be more realistic.
She felt awkward trying to do anything more complicated than that, being all angles and long limbs, like a newborn foal, trying to stay upright. It wasn’t her favourite thing to do and, quite frankly, she couldn’t wait for this to be over.
Just keep smiling! Pretend you’re having a great time.
Everyone else was. One or two had even paired off with a couple of guys who had bought them drinks. Thinking of which, she was beginning to get a little thirsty. She looked over at the bar, to see if there was much of a queue, and instead met a steady pair of beautiful blue eyes gazing back at her.
He was at the bar—the man in question. Holding a tall glass with what looked like water in it, condensation dripping down its sides. Black shirt, open at the collar. Black trousers.
She couldn’t look away. She wanted to, but he held her gaze, and somehow, before she knew it, he was standing in front of her.
‘May I have this dance?’
The old-fashioned request was charming. If he’d said anything else, come out with a cheesy line, then she would have raised a sardonic eyebrow and turned away, but his question—polite, gallant, charming—hit all her buttons.
She could feel her cheeks flushing and was thankful he wouldn’t be able to see that in the darkness. But the terrible thing about being in the dark was that it also made you throw a bit of caution to the wind. It created intimacy. And she couldn’t help but laugh.
‘You’ve seen me dance, right? The flailing?’
He smiled. ‘It was utterly charming.’
He leaned in. ‘Adorable.’
And she liked him. He smelt great. She didn’t know what it was, but she just felt secure with this guy. What was one more flail? They were in a public place. Nothing was going to happen.
She bit her lip as he led her to the centre of the dance floor, and just as she was about to begin the music changed. It was almost as if this man and the DJ were in cahoots, because the music switched from a frantic, heated rhythm to something slow and soulful. The kind of music that begged couples to dance in each other’s arms. Bodies pressed close. Intimate. Knowing.
She smiled and stepped shyly into his embrace, draping her arms over his shoulders as he pulled her to him.
He smelt delicious. Edible. A musky heat. And she closed her eyes as they swayed in tune together, sensing him inhale the scent of her shampoo as he lifted a tendril of her hair up to his nose. It was such an intimate gesture she felt shivers tremble down her spine, and her breath hitched in her throat as she wondered what he’d do next.
But he was a perfect gentleman. His hands didn’t wander and she found herself wondering about this man in her arms. Who was he? Where had he come from? What was his name?
Why was he so hot?
She let him have the next dance. And then the next. And when she had to sit down, to give her feet and ankles a rest from the vertiginous heels she had unwittingly chosen for that evening, he walked her over to a place to sit and helped her slip them off. He massaged her feet for her whilst she squirmed in delight on the banquette and thanked the heavens that she’d had a pedicure two days ago.
He looked at her and smiled. ‘Are you ticklish?’
‘Then I’ll be careful.’
She liked the way he held her feet firmly, determined not to tickle her, but to give her the maximum benefit of his strong, capable hands.
‘You know your way around a woman’s foot.’Leah cringed once the words were out.
But he didn’t raise an eyebrow. ‘I know my way around many parts of the female anatomy.’
She blushed. The foot massage already had her biting her lip, trying her hardest not to moan and groan in delight at what was happening to her flesh, and his words made her wonder what magic he could cause in other places, with other parts of his anatomy?
But the thought was fleeting and quick. That wasn’t who she was, so she knew she didn’t have to worry about that. But somehow they got talking and chatting, and his name was Ben. So simple. So wonderful. It suited him.
She discovered they liked a lot of the same things—old movies, reading, and the exact same brand of salted caramel chocolates—and when he learnt how close she lived, he offered to give her a piggyback home.
‘A piggyback?’ she asked in amused disbelief. They weren’t kids.
‘You can’t dance in those shoes and you certainly can’t walk in them. I’m amazed you didn’t break an ankle just getting here.’
The idea of him walking her home thrilled her. She didn’t want to part company with him yet. But she didn’t want to do this alone. Just in case. He could be anyone.
Hannah offered to accompany them for safety. Her friend lived in the block opposite her own. As good as his word, Ben carried her all the way back, like a groom carrying his new bride over the threshold of their new home, telling them jokes and making them laugh, paying attention to both women fairly, though it was clear his interest was in her. And when he gently set her down on her feet, her soles pressed against the chilly pavement, she impulsively offered him a coffee or a nightcap, not yet willing to say goodbye.
He’d smiled. ‘Coffee would be nice.’
Hannah waved them both goodbye, giving Leah a big thumbs-up sign in secret, when Ben wasn’t looking.
She smiled and fished her keys out of her bag.
What am I doing? I don’t do this. I don’t invite random guys back!
But another voice in her head said, Go for it! When are you going to get another chance?
So she made him coffee. And they sat together on the couch, drinking it until it was gone, and the tension in the room was palpable.
‘I should go.’ His voice was loaded with regret. ‘It was lovely spending a few hours with you, but I have an early start in the morning.’
She nodded. ‘Me, too.’
She wasn’t kidding either. She started a new job tomorrow. Going to the club had been in celebration of that.
He stood up and she stood with him. They were so close! Millimetres apart. Leah gazed up at his face, his mouth, and then he pulled her gently towards him and lowered his face to hers.
The kiss was perfect. Gentle.
And then it wasn’t. And they couldn’t remove their clothes fast enough.
From irresistible attraction…
To ready-made family!
After her best friend agrees to be her surrogate, Dr Leah Hudson’s dream of being a mum is finally coming true! But throwing caution to the wind for one night with sexy Dr Ben Willoughby has shocking consequences… Leah’s pregnant! Now, with two babies depending on her, Leah must push her feelings for committed bachelor Ben aside—unless he proves that Leah and the babies can depend on him