Closing in on the end of the contest now. We’re in the home stretch for both the second Grand Prize and the release of NEVER ENOUGH. Speaking of Never Enough, how about an excerpt?
NEVER ENOUGH by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2011, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Berkley Group
Releasing September 6!
“Why don’t we take a walk? The terrace is gorgeous. Marti loves it out here, even when it’s cold like today.”
It was cold, especially at the elevation they were at, but Elise hadn’t lied about how pretty it was out there. At least the cold would give her something else to think about aside from her worries for Miles and yet more evidence of the difference between her life and this . . . this abundance.
“I can’t imagine what you must be feeling,” Elise said as they took a stroll along the terrace. The baby was snuggled against her mother in a carrier, a jaunty little cap on as she strained to see all she could from the confines of her bundle. People were everywhere, but everyone seemed to fit together so well. A lot like her own group of friends. That did comfort her in a sense, but at the same time, this wasn’t about her. She felt out of place because of that even as it comforted her that Miles would have this tight-knit community to be part of as well as the one he already belonged to.
“For years I lived in fear that my ex-in-laws would take Rennie. They tried several times. It was hard to get past that terror of losing her. Even when I knew in my head that they couldn’t take her, that she was mine and I was a good mother. And then I met Brody and everything changed.” She laughed.
“I see the way you are with your son and it makes me like you. Mothering is a hard job, thankless, exhausting. You did it on your own for a long time and now you have to share your beautiful son with others. That’s the hard thing. Am I right?”
“Partially.” She paused, watching Marti, missing the weight of a baby in her arms.
“You don’t know me very well, but I’m a pretty good listener and nothing you say to me is going to be repeated. I hope you can trust me enough to talk to me, but if you don’t, that’s all right too.”
Gillian paused, trying to find the right words. “I knew I’d have to share Miles when I started this process. Just as I knew it was the only thing I could do because it was the best thing for him. But the reality of it is beyond what I had imagined. It’s hard not to let fear and distrust color everything.” She waved a hand, indicating the view. “I can’t compete with this. I can’t compete with a man who can drop the kind of money Adrian can on things it takes me years to save for. I worry how this will affect Miles. I worry about what it will be like for my middle-class son, who brings home strays and uses his allowance to buy feed for the birds and the squirrels instead of video games. I worry he’ll feel out of place in the midst of a family full of rock stars and ballerinas.”
She looked over the city. “I apologize. That was rude of me.”
Elise waved the apology away. “Of course you’d worry about that. All I can tell you is that we’re good people and we love each other. Adrian Brown is one of the most humble people I’ve ever known. Sensitive. Kind and loving. My kids adore him. He’s an amazing uncle and I know he’s going to be an amazing dad.”
Elise laughed softly.
“So, when Marti was about a month old, Erin and Ella convinced me to come to get a facial and a manicure. The shop is about two miles from our house. Now, I’d left Rennie with Brody many times. He’s a great father. But Martine was just a month old. Would he remember how to get the breast milk out of the freezer? What if she got upset and wouldn’t stop crying? She’d had a fussy few days.
“But they argued and wheedled, as did Brody, who gave me that sort of stern puppy-dog face and said it sounded like I didn’t trust him to take care of our daughter for less than two hours.”
“I needed that hour and fifteen minutes. And when I got home, the place was a big mess, but Brody and Rennie had managed to do just fine with Marti. Of course he put the wrong size diaper on her and her clothes were too big because he’d put on the ones I’d put aside for her next growth spurt. But they were all fine and I’d done something good for myself, and for Brody too. And also, it’s good for a kid to have Dad be in charge sometimes. They can be washed off. It won’t kill ’em to have Popsicles for breakfast sometimes. And if things get too bad, there are no less than seven other people within a fifteen-minute radius who are available to help.”
“Are you promising not to break my son?”
Elise grinned at her, laughing. “Yes, exactly that. And this group of people here? If anyone knows how to love and respect that people are different and to celebrate that—it’s them. And because of the fame Adrian has, their lifestyle is very protective of that. They’re not lavish people, though they are generous. Especially Adrian. I—well, can I be perfectly honest with you?”
“He’s going to try to do for you and Miles, and I take it from some of your earlier comments that perhaps he already has and you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable about it. He has the means. More than enough means. And he’s made it a sort of personal journey this year to spend more time at home with his family, doing what’s important and taking time off from the road for a while. He gives because he can and because he loves his family. It’s not meant to make you feel bad.”
“It’s just I’ve spent Miles’s entire life trying to teach him about saving for things and waiting to have things you really want, and in just one week of being Adrian’s son, he’s got a brand-new room that could be an electronics showroom, and a swank new bike I’d never be able to afford in a million years. I feel petty and selfish and maybe even a little jealous that I can’t do the same for him.”
“This is going to be fine, you know.” Elise put an arm through one of Gillian’s and they began to walk again. “There’ll be bumps along the way. As such things go. You’re a strong person to have done what you have in bringing that boy and his dad together. We’ll work this all out because that’s what family does. Over time you’ll get used to all the interruptions when you’re out and about. Though”—she paused to look around—”perhaps you can draw him out of this self-imposed shell he’s retreated to.”
Elise readjusted Marti’s hat before she spoke again, clearly weighing her words. “I want to tell you because I think it’s good to understand him. I see how he looks at you and it’s not just as the woman who’s been mothering his kid. He’s had a few conversations with Brody about you, but they both pretend like I don’t see what’s totally obvious.” She snorted a laugh, still managing to sound elegant when she did it.
“But he’s a man, therefore he won’t say anything to protect you or something equally silly. It’s got to be hard, you know? Being recognized all the time. And while he loves his fans, it’s hard on him to feel like he’s on display every time he leaves the house. So he sticks to safe places. Our house, here, the cafÃ©, the tavern and a few places we all eat as a group. I like it that he goes to Bainbridge to see you. I like that he’s pushing past his comfort zone to be part of Miles’s life. I think it’s good for him to realize there’s more than ten people and eight places he can be safe with.”
Gillian hadn’t known the extent of it, though his distrust of the unfamiliar was fairly obvious. Gillian knew what it felt like to not have enough safe places in your life. Knew the helplessness of it. It made her want to find Adrian and hug him.
“Thank you for saying that. It helps. As for how he looks at me . . .” Her words died as she looked toward downtown. “Well, we’re . . . I’m not used to this sort of sharing, but I’m trying to learn too.” She blushed and Elise squeezed her hand.
“You don’t have to say anything. I get it. More than you can know.”
What do you all think of kids in romance novels? Yea or nay?
The winner of today’s post will win a copy of Nalini Singh’s upcoming Archangel’s Blade (pre-ordered from Amazon or Book Depository) and will be chosen from the comments to his post and announced tomorrow, September 4! Entrants are responsible for checking back to see if they’ve won and winners need to claim their prize within two weeks. Good Luck!