by Marie Force
A stand-alone Quantum story from New York Times bestselling author M.S. Force!
She wants a baby. He wants her. Simple enough, right?
Ellie Godfrey has kissed her share of frogs. So many, in fact, that she fears she won’t recognize her prince if and when he finally comes along. Tired of waiting for THE ONE, Ellie decides to have a baby on her own before it’s too late.
When Jasper Autry hears about Ellie’s plan, what else can he do but step in and offer to “contribute” to her project. Does that make him an opportunist? Whatever. He wants the perpetually out-of-reach Ellie Godfrey, and when he sees his chance, he takes it. That she’s the sister of his business partner and close friend Flynn gives him pause, but it doesn’t stop him from having what he wants.
As Jasper and Ellie embark upon their secret “project,” he makes it clear that for as long as they’re together, he’s in charge—in the bedroom anyway. After the hottest sex of her life, Ellie realizes she’s made a deal with the devil himself.
Warning: If you hate foul-mouthed heroes who like it a little rough and dirty, this might not be the book for you…Contains hot and sexy BDSM scenes among other things that might not appeal to the faint of heart. Enter at your own risk and enjoy!
While everyone celebrates Hayden and Addie’s engagement, I slip out a side door, needing some air after watching the emotional reunion between Addie and her dad and his acceptance, finally, of Hayden. I’m so happy for both of them. I think they’re great together, and Hayden needs someone like Addie to keep him grounded and sane. Not to mention that after the shameful way he was raised, he deserves to be someone’s true love.
As I walk out to the far end of the pool deck at my brother’s gorgeous home in Mexico and look down on the sea below, I can’t help but wonder whether I deserve the same. Watching my brother, Flynn, fall madly in love with Natalie, and now Hayden and Addie, who’ve gone from an unexpected kiss at the Oscars a few weeks ago to engaged, I’ve begun to question whether I’m ever going to get my turn. Both my sisters have been married for years to great guys I would’ve hand-chosen for them. For the longest time, Flynn and I were the Godfrey family holdouts, and now he’s gone over to the dark side, too.
Though I suppose it’s not really the dark side if the perpetually happy, silly grin on his face is any indication of his true feelings about love and marriage. Natalie is the ideal woman for him, and I’m thrilled for them. I used to worry he would never find anyone real or genuine in the Hollywood fishbowl in which he lives. But Natalie is as real as it gets, and I adore her. My whole family does. Everyone is happy.
That leaves me as the only Godfrey still single. At Flynn’s wedding, I heard my mother tell someone she’s proud of me for focusing on my career. My sisters both have successful careers—Aimee owns a dance studio, and Annie is an attorney—andthey have beautiful families, too. They make it look easy, when I know it’s anything but.
Annie and Hugh have been together since high school, and Aimee met Trent in college. Flynn was married briefly in his early twenties to “Valerie the Hag,” as my sisters and I called her back when she nearly ruined our beloved “baby” brother’s life with her shenanigans.
Me? I’ve never come close to getting married. Truth be told, I’ve never come close to being in love.
Guys are a mystery to me. No matter how great one of them may seem, there’s always a downside. I’ve dated guys who were handsome and charming and said all the right things, only to find out they were saying all the right things to a lot of women—at the same time. Then you have Social Guy’s alter ego, who is no less frustrating. You know the type—you have to pull every thought out of his head because God forbid he should share anything voluntarily.
I’ve dated the bad boys, the ones who make a woman’s motor run on full steam, before their “badness” evolves into regular old poor behavior that’s an instant turnoff. Then you’ve got your run-of-the-mill commitment-phobes, the ones who tell you from the outset they aren’t looking to settle down—ever. Why should they when they can have a different woman every night?
Recently, I had the misfortune of getting mixed up with a whole new type right when I thought I’d seen it all. You know what that guy was after, other than the obvious? An introduction to my famous brother. Yeah, being used to get to my brother was a real blast, and frankly, he turned me off dating in general. I’d rather be by myself forever than be used to get to my famous family members.
Or so I tell myself… Then I’ll see my adorable nieces and nephews, my ovaries exploding from the craving for a child of my own, and I’m reminded that I’m not getting any younger. Soon I’ll be thirty-six, which isn’t ancient by anyone’s standards, but my eggs are definitely on a timer.
Now there’s a cheerful thought.
I’m thinking about having a baby on my own. Why not? It’s the twenty-first century, after all, and I have friends who’ve done it. One of my college friends had twins by herself and then met a single dad two years later. They’re married now and delighted with their combined family.
Not that I think having a baby would improve my luck on the dating front, but I’m sick of waiting for something that probably isn’t going to happen, and I don’t want to wake up someday, after that timer has gone off, and realize I missed my opportunity to be a mother.
I’ve gone so far as to look into what would be involved, and my doctor is willing to work with me to make it happen. I’m due to see her again when I get home from Mexico, and the thought of actually doing it makes my skin tingle with excitement and fear and a million other emotions. I haven’t told anyone, even my sisters, who usually know everything, but I suppose I’ll have to cue in my parents before I actually go through with it.
I giggle at the thought of showing up at my parents’ Beverly Hills home, thirty-six, single and pregnant.
“What’s so funny, darling?” a voice asks from behind me. And not just any voice, but the panty-melting voice with the British accent that makes me swoon every time I’m around him. I once talked him into reading The Night Before Christmas to my family just so I could listen to the way he said the familiar words. My only regret is that I didn’t think to record it.
I turn to face Jasper, my brother’s close friend and business partner, who has also become my good friend during my tenure as a production manager at Quantum. Jasper… tall, blond, muscular in a lanky sort of way, handsome as sin, talented as all get-out and a manwhore of the highest order. He’s the proverbial pot of honey when it comes to women, attracting them as effortlessly as he breathes. Speaking of a man who will never settle for just one when he can have them all, Jasper Autry fits that bill to a T.
“I was just thinking about something funny that happened at home,” I say in response to his question, because I can’t very well tell him I was thinking about egg timers and ovulation cycles.
“Care to share the joke?”
“It was one of those had-to-be-there things with the kids.”
“Ah, I see.” He hands me one of the two mimosas he brought outside with him.
“You’re welcome.” His golden-brown eyes are always full of mischief, as if he’s got a huge secret he’s dying to tell me, or at least that’s how it seems. Now is no different. Those amazing eyes are alight with glee. “How about our boy Hayden and our lovely Addie? Got to say I never thought I’d see him so… domesticated.”
“He’s happy,” I say more sharply than I intended. “Nothing wrong with that.”
Jasper’s brow lifts in response to my tone. He’s not used to women speaking sharply to him. He’s far more accustomed to them dropping their panties at his feet than talking back to him. “Nothing wrong indeed.”
“Sorry. I just mean it’s nice to see. That’s all.”
“Believe it or not, I agree, even if my mates are falling like dominoes these days.”
“You might not want to drink the water.”
“Drinking the water is never a good idea in Mexico.”
I crack up laughing, which doesn’t surprise me. He makes me laugh frequently. His endlessly witty take on life is one of many things I enjoy about him.
“I couldn’t help but notice you looked awfully pensive out here, staring at the deep blue sea all on your lonesome. What’s on your mind, darling?”
God, I want to tell him. I want to tell someone, and why not Jasper, my good friend who I trust to keep my confidences confidential? He’s not in my family. He’s not one of my girlfriends who would try to talk me out of it, certain that my Mr. Right is just around the next corner waiting to be found. In fact, he might be the perfect person to test this idea on.
“If I tell you, do you promise not to breathe a word of it to anyone, especially Flynn?”
“Of course I won’t tell anyone. Let’s not forget you could fairly ruin me with the secrets you’ve kept for me over the years.”
“That is very true.”
He takes me by the arm and leads me to one of the double lounge chairs on the pool deck. “Step into my office. My initial consultation is free of charge, but only for the best of friends.”
“You are far too charming for your own good.”
“My mother says the same thing. I say I’m just charming enough for my own good.”
Rolling my eyes at his outrageousness, I curl up on the lounge and take a greedy drink from the glass, seeking some much-needed liquid courage.
“Now tell me this deep dark secret before I expire from curiosity.”
With the moment of truth upon me, my nerves go bat-shit crazy. This’ll be the first time I’ve said it out loud to anyone who matters. “I’m thinking about… No, wait, that’s not true. I’m not thinking about it anymore. I’m actually going to do it.”
His brows lift, and I swear he stops breathing.
“I’m going to have a baby.”
“You…” His gaze falls to my flat abdomen. “Like… Are you already… Oh. Well. Okay, then.”
I can’t help but laugh at his stuttering commentary. “No, I’m not pregnant at the moment, but I hope to be. Soon.”
“Forgive me for asking the obvious, but I can’t help but notice you seem to be stubbornly single. So who’s the lucky guy who gets to father this child of yours?”
“Don’t know yet. That’s part of what has to be decided when I get back to LA. I’ve got thousands of men to choose from, and I have to decide whether I want looks over brains, or maybe I’ll get lucky and find both in one donor.”
He closes his eyes and sighs. “Ellie…” Opening his eyes, he looks directly at me and says, “For the love of God and all that’s holy, you do not need to resort to a sperm bank to find a father for your child.”
That makes me angry. “When you’re a single woman who wants to have a baby, you do need to ‘resort’ to a sperm bank.”
“You, my love, could have any man you want.”
“That’s not true. It’s different for women. We can’t run around the way you guys do without getting a nasty reputation, especially when our parents and brother are household names. It’s not as easy as you think.”
“I hadn’t really looked at it from that point of view. I can see how fame by osmosis might pose a bit of a challenge. And PS, we don’t ‘run around,’ as you say.”
“What would you call it?” I ask in the drollest tone I own.
A charming smile lights up his gorgeous face. “Having fun?”
“I’ve tried that route. Hasn’t been all that fun. I’m done waiting for lightning to strike. I want a baby, and I’m running out of time to make that happen. I’m doing this.” At some point during the getaway to Mexico, my plan moved from maybe todefinitely.
“And you’re sure you want to do it this way?”
“I’m sure this is the only way to do it in light of my perpetually single status.”
“It’s not the only way.”
I’m almost afraid to look at him, and when I do, the calculating look he gives me makes my skin heat with awareness of him. “What do you mean?”
“You could ask an old friend who is both handsome and smart, not to mention incredibly charming, to provide the start-up ‘capital’ you require to get your project off the ground.”
I’m flabbergasted by what he’s suggesting, but I can’t show him that. I can’t take the chance he might be joking. “If only I knew someone who fit that bill.”
His low chuckle is both sexy and exciting. “You do. You know just the guy.”
My heart is beating so hard and so fast, I fear I might hyperventilate. “And this guy would be willing to provide his ‘capital’ for such a project?”
“Under the right conditions.”
After a long pause, I say, “What conditions?”
“It happens the old-fashioned way. No laboratories, turkey basters or test tubes, just hot, sweaty, no-holds-barred capital infusion.”
My body ignites at the images that scorch my brain in the scope of five seconds. Holy shit. Have I gone blind, deaf and dumb, or is Jasper Autry telling me he wants to have sex with me—and make a baby with me? “Are you for real right now?”
“My darling Ellie, I have never been more ‘for real’ in my entire life than I’m being right now.” He leans in closer to me, so close I stop breathing. “Say yes.”
I swallow hard. “Are there other conditions?”
“Only a few.”
“When you’re with me, you’re with only me.”
Nodding, he says, “Same goes. And we do this my way or not at all.”
“What does that mean?” I ask, my voice squeaking.
“I’m in charge in bed.”
I’m suddenly so turned on that I’m concerned there’ll be a wet spot on the lounge chair when I get up. “What if I’m not into that?”
“Then there’s no deal.”
I take a moment to process what he’s saying. He’s dominant in bed. Oh. My. God. Clearing my throat, I say, “What about custody of the output of your input?”
Smiling, he says, “All yours with occasional visitation for the capital contributor.”
“Would he or she know that you’re the contributor?”
“If that’s what you want.”
“And you’d be amenable to legally binding documents that spell out these things in advance?”
With his finger on my chin, he forces me to look directly into his eyes. “I’d be amenable to anything that gets the supremely sexy and endlessly untouchable Ellie Godfrey into my bed.”
Now imagine that sentence said in the sexiest fucking British accent you’ve ever heard. I know, right?! What the hell else can I say to that but “Okay.”
“We have a deal.”
He gifts me with the sexy smile that made a cinematographer into a celebrity. “Suddenly, I can’t wait to go home.”
Author Bio: M.S. Force is the erotic alter-ego of New York Times bestselling author Marie Force. All three books in her initial Quantum Trilogy were New York Times bestsellers in 2015, and the Quantum Trilogy became the Quantum Series with Rapturous and now Ravenous, with more to come!
With more than 5 million books sold, Marie Force is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling, award-winning author more than 50 contemporary romances. Her New York Times bestselling self-published Gansett Island Series has sold 2.5 million e-books since Maid for Love was released in 2011. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Fatal Series from Harlequin’s HQN, as well as the New York Times bestselling Green Mountain Series, among other books and series, including the Quantum Series, written as M.S. Force.
Her goals in life are simple–to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
Join Marie’s mailing list on her website at marieforce.com for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/MarieForceAuthor, on Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram at instagram.com/marieforceauthor/. Contact Marie firstname.lastname@example.org.
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