Title: Finding Forever with You
Series: Malone Brothers #4
Author: S.L. Sterling
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 29, 2020
My best friend Sophie was gorgeous, at times uptight and desperate.
Her biological clock was ticking and after yet another failed relationship she pulled me aside.
Listen Chase, you know I adore you and you know I need you. Historically, you always come through for me.” She swallowed hard while I listened. “It’s no secret that I want a baby, the semi old fashioned way.”
I nodded not really believing what I was hearing.
“I want you to do it.”
“You want my swimmers?”
“Yes, through natural injection.”
Sex with my best friend. The best friend I had once upon a time wanted in a bad way.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got this covered,” I assured her. She looked relieved and maybe even a little excited.
Seven Days, Six nights, and lots of sex.
What more could I want?
Oh right. A way to turn this into forever so I could raise my child too.
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I glanced down at my watch to try and determine how long she had been gone when the hostess came to tell me that our table was ready. I was about to ask her to hold the table when Sophie finally reappeared. Something was up. She didn’t have her usual glow. The look on her face reminded me of the time we had been hanging at her parents’ house and we had accidentally broken her mother’s antique lamp. It had been a present from her father. I smiled inwardly to myself as I remembered her standing with her hands behind her back trying to tell her parents what had happened.
“Our table is ready,” I said as she got closer.
“Awesome. Just awesome,” she mumbled. I frowned as I watched as she picked up her glass and waved for me to go first, but I refused and instead waved my hand, signaling for her to go first. Once she was in front of me, I placed my hand on the small of her back and together we walked to the table.
I was hoping to find out immediately what was going on, but once we were seated and the hostess had left, Sophie had conveniently buried her face in her menu. I frowned, and even though it was killing me, I didn’t say anything while we looked over the menu. We had both settled on our choices by the time the waitress had returned to drop a fresh basket of bread onto the center of our table. We ordered quickly, and I reached in and cut a piece of bread for Sophie, passing it to her. She barely made eye contact with me as she reached over and took it from my hand. Her odd behavior was seriously beginning to get to me.
I sat forward, crossed my arms in front of me, and leaned on the table. “The suspense is killing me here, Soph. What was it you needed to talk to me about?” I asked, taking a sip of my Crown and Coke, while she buttered her bread and took a bite.
She looked around the room, ignoring me. I let out a breath and started slicing the loaf of bread again. “You know I adore you, right?” her soft voice questioned.
I looked up at her, pausing from cutting the loaf of bread. “Yes, of course, and I you.” I winked, trying to lighten the mood, but she completely ignored me.
“And you know I’m not getting any younger, right?”
I frowned. “Neither am I.”
“And historically you’ve always come through for me.” She swallowed hard, setting her bread down on the side plate. “No matter what.”
“Okay, let’s cut to the goods here, Soph. What’s going on? Are you okay? Are you sick? In legal trouble?” The way she was carrying on, I feared she had some sort of terminal illness.
I proceeded to cut more slices off the loaf of bread.
“Well, it’s just I want a baby, and I want you to be the father,” she blurted out.
My head shot up. I looked at Sophie, who sat across from me still chewing on her bread as if she had just told me who won the hockey game on Friday night. I swallowed hard, not sure I believed what I had just heard.
“Did you hear me?” she asked, waving her hand in front of my face.
“You—you aren’t getting any younger, and you…you want my swimmers?” That was all I could get out before I felt a searing hot pain in the hand that was holding onto the loaf of bread. I glanced down and saw blood starting to soak into the white napkin I was using to hold onto the bread with.
“Shit,” I mumbled, pulling my hand towards me.
“Oh my God, Chase.” Sophie jumped up and grabbed her napkin and my hand and quickly pressed the napkin against the cut, gently but firmly squeezing. She held it for a couple of seconds, and then pulled the napkin away to inspect the cut. I sat there not knowing what to say or do, completely shocked at what she had just blurted out. “It’s okay. I don’t think you need stitches or anything. Just hold the napkin tight, and the bleeding should stop,” she said, continuing to examine my hand.
“You want my swimmers?” I mumbled, completely forgetting about the cut on my hand.
As the waitress approached our table, Sophie asked for a band-aid, and I raised my glass, signaling for another Crown and Coke. Hell, at this point, they could just bring me the entire bottle of Crown. My appetite had fled after what Sophie had asked, but I sure as hell needed to get loaded.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Sophie, the girl who had told me no all those years ago, now wanted…a baby…my baby. I felt like I was going to faint. I swallowed hard. “Why me?”
“Well, honestly, I’m thirty, and there is absolutely no one on the horizon for even a date, never mind a relationship that would lead to a baby anytime soon. Second, I’ve known you all my life. I’m comfortable with you. You have a good work ethic, you’re smart, not to mention attractive. You are caring, kind, and considerate, and I seriously can’t think of a better father for my child.” She let out a deep breath and brought her glass to her lips.
The waitress appeared carrying our food and set our meals down in front of us. The craving I’d had all day for bacon-wrapped filet mignon smothered in onions and mushrooms was now long gone. I stared down at the perfectly cooked steak, my mind spinning in circles, while Sophie was busy cutting a piece of steak into bite-sized pieces. She popped a piece into her mouth, the nervous look now gone as she chewed. I didn’t know what to say. I felt as if I were in the middle of a very bad dream.
I had no idea how long I had sat there watching her eat, but the next thing I knew, she had cleared her plate while mine was still full and getting cold.
“Are you okay? Aren’t you going to eat?” she asked, looking a bit worried.
I picked up my glass of Crown and Cola and took a large drink. I shook my head and set the glass back down. “I’m not really all that hungry,” I mumbled.
She nodded and pulled the napkin from her lap, moved her plate to the side, and placed her arms on the table. “Well, now that I have laid everything out, do you have an answer for me?” Her eyes filled with hope.
I looked at her. She was expecting an answer right now? It was as if she had asked me to pick something up from the store for her, not give her a baby. I let out a breath, looking down at my plate, and then at my napkin-swaddled hand.
“I’ll have to think about it, Sophie. This is a big decision, and one I am not going to take lightly.”
The excitement in her eyes had disappeared and was now replaced with disappointment, and I certainly didn’t like seeing it; however, there was no way I could just commit to something like this.
“Sir, was there something wrong with your meal?” our waitress asked as she picked up Sophie’s plate.
I shook my head, afraid to speak.
“Would you like that plate boxed up?” the waitress asked as she dropped our bill on the table.
I nodded. As soon as she had cleared our plates away, I reached for the check folder, but Sophie grabbed it first. “I’ll get this,” she said and opened the folder.
“No, give it to me please,” I insisted, holding my hand out, but she shook her head and slid her credit card into the slot and set it beside her at the edge of the table. She kept her head down, ignoring me, and sifted through her purse.
We sat in silence, Sophie going through her purse, and me thinking about how I could have done things differently. It seemed to take forever, but finally the bill had been paid, and I now sat with my takeover package in front of me. Sophie quickly put her credit card back into her wallet and stood. “When can I expect to hear from you?” she questioned.
I thought for a second. I didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship, so I answered with the first thing that came to my mind. “Next week?”
She leaned in and kissed me on the cheek, smiled shyly at me, and turned and walked away. I sat back down at the table, trying to grasp what the hell had just happened.
USA Today Bestselling Author S.L. Sterling was born and raised in southern Ontario. She now lives in Northern Ontario Canada and is married to her best friend and soul mate and their two dogs.
An avid reader all her life, S.L. Sterling dreamt of becoming an author. She decided to give writing a try after one of her favorite authors launched a course on how to write your novel. This course gave her the push she needed to put pen to paper and her debut novel “It Was Always You” was born.
When S.L. Sterling isn’t writing or plotting her next novel she can be found curled up with a cup of coffee, blanket and the newest romance novel from one of her favorite authors.
In her spare time, she enjoys camping, hiking, sunny destinations, spending quality time with family and friends and of course reading.