When Lacey Tremaine was a little girl, her mother always said, “If you’re feeling sad, do something nice for someone else. You may not feel better, but somebody else surely will.”
So when Lacey found herself unexpectedly pregnant, dumped by her lover, returning home to New York City, she’d allowed herself one night to sob under a quilt. Then at dawn, she’d realized she couldn’t be the only single mother feeling heartbroken and scared. So she’d wiped her eyes, picked herself up from the bottom of the ice cream carton and done this.
Now Lacey looked around the community-center basement with pride. When she’d started this New York single-mothers’ group over a year ago, five women had showed up for the first meeting. Now there were nearly fifty weekly attendees.
Looking at women of all ages talking earnestly to each other, Lacey thought, Mama was right. It made her feel good to help others feel better.
Especially since her own heart was still broken. All Lacey had to do was look at her six-month-old baby to feel the blow of what she’d lost, every single day. Because Taffy’s dark eyes were exactly like her billionaire father’s.
“Thanks for the cookies, Lacey!”
She turned to see a plump, tired-looking redhead holding up a paper plate. She smiled. “No problem, Tess.”
“I mean it.” The other woman’s tiny sleeping newborn, snuggled in a baby carrier against her chest, made Lacey’s six-month-old daughter seem huge by comparison. “You’re a lifesaver.”
“I’m glad you like them.”
“Like? I’ve eaten ten of them just to stay awake.” The redhead yawned. “I don’t know how you manage it, Lacey. Running your own business while raising a baby on your own? You’re superhuman!”
Lacey’s cheeks went hot. “Um…thanks.”
“I wish I could be strong like you.” The redhead sighed, then hurried back to her friends at the refreshment table. Lacey watched as Tess whispered to dark-haired Hallie Hatfield, who had her own tiny newborn, and blonde, scowling Lola Price, who looked hot and miserable in an advanced state of pregnancy. The three friends, who’d met at the group months before, looked at Lacey with admiration.
She wondered what they’d say if they knew the truth.
Lacey looked down at her baby in the stroller. Taffy was dressed in a lightweight romper— appropriate for the warm evening in early June—leaving her adorably fat legs bare. Babbling, her baby looked up at her, smiling with those dark eyes.
Lacey’s heart lifted to her throat.
Her hands tightened on her glass of nonalcoholic red punch. Since she’d left Athens fourteen months ago, pregnant and alone, she’d tried to forget him. But hot dreams of him still tormented her at night.
Stop it, Lacey told herself furiously. Having finished her drink, she set the plastic cup down on the nearby table. It’s over. You’ll never see him again…
But even as she was thinking the words, a strange trickle of awareness went down her spine. Heat flashed across her body beneath her white cotton sundress. Lacey looked up.
And her breath caught.
There, standing inside the doorway of the community-center basement, was her ex-lover. The man she’d once loved. The man she now hated. The man who had no idea she’d had his baby.
Except, looking at the dark scowl on John Drakos’s face, it seemed he’d just found out.
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