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Cassandra Edwards has always planned to have it all—a successful career, a wonderful man and a great family. She thinks she is well on her way to accomplishing her goals until her fiancé takes his ring back. She is stunned, disappointed and hurt but realizes some of her dreams are still obtainable even without a good man by her side to do it with. When she meets Mark Courtlandt, one of her brother’s friends, everything changes.
I don’t know if I am ready for this.
Cassandra Edwards turned to the side and stuffed a pillow under her shirt. She tried to picture herself pregnant in the mirror. Was the image she saw in the mirror an accurate one? Would she be plagued by morning sickness, stretch marks, both? Truth was she didn’t care. She wanted a baby. During this past year she had achieved a number of her goals. First by venturing out and starting up her own financial consulting business. Second, by moving from Atlanta, Georgia back to her hometown of Oakland, California. She was going to rebuild her life, starting with the new home she had purchased.
Living in Atlanta for the past fourteen years had been fun and rewarding. She earned a great education, but now she was ready for a family. Something in her gut told her that she would find it if she went home. Due to the economy, her financial consulting excelled. Her reputation was good enough for her to have clients all over the United States. Ironically a lot of her clients were in California, so it always gave her a reason to travel home to see her family. Not that she didn’t love her family they were very good loving people. The last few years just left her feeling empty after visits. Her parents were blissfully married, going on their thirty-six year anniversary. Troy, her younger brother, happily married to Lesley, with three adorable boys, was a successful sports agent, and great at what he did. Sometimes she felt left out when she measured his contentment and success, but not for much longer.
With everything she’d accomplished, now she could turn her attention to the final stage of her plan. She still needed to get a few things in place before making her most sought-after dream a reality. And that is to have a child on her own without the added strain of marriage. A permanent hookup with someone is not what she wanted, not even a teeny-tiny bit. Nor was she looking for a long-term lover. Not after what she had just been through. A short term one could handle the task quite nicely, if one existed.
She was also choosy.
She decided very early in her plans that not just any man would do. She desired for it to be someone with all the qualities she wanted to pass on to her offspring. He toned to be handsome, intelligent, caring, healthy and well-off. Definitely prosperous; after all, wealth was her business. And with those “must have” qualifications entrenched deep in her mind, she could think of only one way to choose a man who met her criteria.
She didn’t care about all of the possible negatives or difficulties that could come along with being a single parent. She wanted this. Not too long ago she thought she could have it all, without such extreme measures. The only problem being her age and the only man that would have been eligible to father her child was on his way to marrying another woman. In all reality Spencer hadn’t been the one for her. Their passionless two-year relationship served as evidence. Catching him in the arms of another woman’s arms confirmed it as well. In hindsight, Spencer proved to be a security blanket. She’d thought of Spencer as someone dependable and predictable until six months ago. So had she, but not anymore.
Cassandra jumped guiltily when her cell phone rang. Removing the pillow from beneath her shirt she reached for her cell phone. Looking at the caller ID she smiled when she saw the name.
“Checking up on me already, Troy?”
Her brother’s laugh traveled across the line. “As usual, Cassie, but I know that you would rather it be me than mom.”
Cassandra rolled her eyes. “You are right about that.”
“Where are you?”
“I stopped in Reno for the night. I plan to drive in to Sacramento tomorrow, stay the night there, then I will drive into Oakland on Saturday.”
She heard her brother thinking. “So that will put you here sometime in the afternoon?”
She smiled. “If all goes according to plan can you be at the house by noon? The moving truck is scheduled to arrive by then and I might not be there by then.”
“Sure. I will also bring a few guys with me to help you unpack the boxes.”
She sighed in relief. “Thanks a lot. I will need all of the help I can get. The movers are only going to unload the truck and place the stuff inside the house.”
She laughed. “I am grateful for any extra help.”
She placed the pillow back on the bed glad her brother was going to help her out. She dreaded the idea of having to do it all by herself.
“Well I don’t want to keep you. I need to put the boys in bed. I’m sure you want to get an early start.”
She hated the fact brother knew her so well. Still, she believed in being prepared.
“Give me a call when you start out in the morning and tomorrow night when you reach Sacramento.”
“I will. Tell Lora and the boys I said hello.”
Cassandra smiled as her brother relayed the message. She smiled when she heard the boys reply. “I looked forward to seeing all of you in a few days.”
“We look forward to seeing you as well. Drive safely and I will see you Saturday.”
“Love you Cassandra.”
A smiled came to her face at her brother’s sentiment. “I love you Troy. Good night.”
She disconnected the call and smiled. Seeing that her battery was low, she connected her cell phone to her charger, and plugged it into the wall. She sat down on the edge of the bed, mulling over the decision whether she was going to take a shower in the morning, rather than taking one before she went to bed. Yawning, she made the decision to take one in the morning. A hot shower with the combination of a strong cup of coffee would ensure she would make it to Sacramento in time.
Cassandra smiled as she pulled up in front of the home she had bought. This was the home that she wanted to raise a child in. The house was lovely. She had a great view of San Francisco, the bay, and the hills. Looking in the rearview mirror she saw her realtor, Lisa pulled up. Getting out of the car Cassandra greeted her, and she began to fidget nervously as she waited for the key. Once it was placed in her hands, she fought to keep from running up the steps. She opened the front door and she couldn’t fight her broad smile as she stepped inside. The changes and improvements, she requested to be done on the house, were completed. Lisa gave her the final walk through. The last task was to sign the last of the papers Lisa brought for her. Once Lisa was gone, Cassandra did a little dance before heading back into the kitchen.
She loved the granite slab design of her counter tops. Running her hand over the island a smile came to her face. This was it. She made her way into the spacious dining room. Exiting the dining room she made her way back to the kitchen and went into the living room. Opening the patio door she took a deep breath, then turned her face up to the sun. It felt good. Taking another deep breath she closed the door, before stepping back inside. Making her way back through the living room she walked down the hall. The set up of the house met all of her requirements.
There was one bedroom and bathroom that were going to be the guest room and bath. She made her way up the stairs to the second level. There were three more rooms upstairs. One was the master bedroom. The other was going to be made into an office, and the last would be the baby’s room. She went into that room. Closing her eyes she could picture a beautiful little girl.
The image of a little girl with blue eyes and curly brown hair came to mind so vividly her eyes popped open. Since her eyes were light brown and she was African American she had no idea where the blue eyes were going to come from. Maybe she would find a blue-eyed donor.
In the end no matter what colored eyes, hair, nor the sex of her baby really mattered. As long as her baby was healthy she would be satisfied. Stepping out of the room she left the door open. The next door led to the extra bathroom. Across the hall was the room she would set up her office in and next to it was her bedroom. Walking in she smiled. It was much bigger than she thought it would be and definitely bigger than her room in her old house in Atlanta.
The king size bed she splurged on was going to be the perfect addition. She danced to her bathroom. This was the one place she would be spending a lot of time. Everything was marble. The duel sink, the toilet, the floor of the shower stall and most importantly the Jacuzzi tub. She had plans to test it out tonight.
Looking down at her watch she smiled. Fifteen minutes until her stuff arrived and she was sure Troy would be pulling up soon. Heading back down stairs, she grabbed her car keys and the garage door opener, before heading out to her car, pressing the button that opened the garage door. She pulled her car inside, letting the door back down once she was inside. She pulled the overnight bags out and took them into the house with her. She just set the bags down in her kitchen, when her cell phone rang.
She sighed hoping it wasn’t a client. Most knew of them knew she was moving today, but it didn’t mean they wouldn’t call. A glance at the phone screen told her it was Troy so she answered.
“Hello little brother.”
“Hey. Have you made it into town yet?”
She groaned inwardly hitting herself in the forehead for forgetting the promise she made to her brother.
“Yes I have. Sorry I didn’t call you, I got side tracked.”
She heard the smile in Troy’s voice when he replied. “It is okay. You have to forget to do something—sometime. Have the mover’s made it yet?”
She rolled her eyes wishing that her brother could see her. “No they haven’t.”
“Good. We are about ten minutes away. We just left Mark’s house.”
“Oh, okay. That is fine. I will see you in a little while.”
She disconnected the call and took her bags up the stairs to her room. Unpacking her toiletries, she sat them on the bathroom counter. When she finished she picked up the empty bag and the other containing clothes and placed them in her walk in closet. The doorbell rang and she made her way downstairs. Looking through the peephole, she saw it was the movers. After giving them a few general instructions she stepped back and let them get to work. She propped the front doors open and stepped outside. The movers began with the boxes. They had just gone inside with the first when Troy’s SUV pulled up followed by another. Troy didn’t have the vehicle shut off before Kevin, Michael, and Zander hopped out of the vehicle.
“Aunt Cassie,” they cried out in unison.
A smile spread across her mouth. She knelt and extended her arms, laughing as they almost knocked her over. Her nephews had definitely grown since she last saw them. It was amazing how things changed from one month to another.
“Okay boys let your aunt breathe.”
The three rascals snuck in another squeeze before moving back. She and Lora embraced before Troy swept her up into arms. Her grip on her brother was just as tight as his was on her. He swung her around and she laughed. When he stood her on her feet she placed a sisterly kiss on his cheek.
“It is good to see you.”
When he pulled back she saw five tall and strong men standing behind her brother. “Are these the guys that are here to help?”
Troy nodded and began introducing the guys that he had brought along. There was Falcon who wasn’t really her type. The fact he wore a wedding ring only confirmed it for her. Chandler was introduced to her next. He looked to be more of her typed than Falcon, but a wedding ring surrounded his finger as well. Introduction to Chad came after that and even though there wasn’t a ring on his finger physically he didn’t attract her. Tyson followed and he was more her type than Chandler but his wedding band dashed her hopes. She might be going the right route by finding an anonymous donor. The first three men she met where either not her type or attached. Not a good start.
It made her wonder if all of the decent men in California were taken. Tyson stepped aside and her breath caught in her throat. The man standing before her was breathtakingly attractive.
“This is Mark.”
He held out his hand. Luckily it was the left. What was even better was the lack of a wedding ring. It gave her hope. The instant the words left her mouth she realized what she was saying. She wasn’t looking for a man…just a baby.
“It is a pleasure to meet you,” she murmured.
Mark smiled and she was certain that her heart stopped in mid beat. “The pleasure is mine.”
It took everything that she had to force herself to remove her hand from his and turned her attention to Troy before she got herself in trouble. She wanted to strip off her clothes and jump him, from a mere handshake. Clearing her throat she smiled at her brother.
“The movers have started unloading the truck. I requested that they put the boxes and furniture into the incorrect room. It should make things a lot easier.”
Troy nodded. “Okay then, we can hang back until they finish unloading the truck. After that you can tell us what you would like done.”
She gasped in a mocking fashion. “You are going to let me tell you what to do willingly?”
Troy chuckled. “Enjoy it while you can.”
Lora shook her head before stepping forward. ”Do you have your grocery list ready?”
Cassandra gave her sister-in-law a puzzled look. “I finished it last night.”
Troy groaned and pulled out his wallet. He handed at least a hundred dollars if not more to Lora who pocketed the money.
“If you give it to me. I will go grocery shopping for you courtesy of your brother.”
She finally caught on and laughed. “Made another bet against me Troy?”
“Yes I did. I’m sure I will learn one day.”
She shook her head. “Everyone come on in. I don’t have anywhere for you guys to sit yet, but feel free to check out the house while the movers finish unloading.”
She led the way into the house. Once every one was situated, she headed for her car in the garage. Her purse was still in the glove compartment, a bad habit she was trying to break. She reached in and pulled out her grocery list. When she handed it to Lora, she told her to add beer and a few more snack items to the list for the guys.
After that Lora was out the door with the list. Several minutes later, the movers finished unloading the truck. With a sincere thank you she tipped the movers before sending them off. Turning around, she faced the six guys and three boys that were going to be working for her the next several hours. She convinced Troy and Falcon to put her bed together. Mark and Chad were assigned to rearranging any furniture that needed to be moved. She asked Chandler to assemble the equipment in the office. Tyson was responsible for setting up the bed and furniture in the downstairs guest bedroom. She gave her nephews towels to dust and clean with. It kept them preoccupied while she went upstairs.
She directed Troy and Falcon in setting up her room. Once they had it together, she sent them to organize the other guest room, then went to her office. Mark and Chandler were there. She showed them where she wanted her desk set up, as well as her bookshelves, once she had the room arranged like she wanted it she left the men to arrange the items and assemble everything that needed to be assembled.
She went back downstairs and checked on the boys. She smiled as she watched her nephews. It was so hard to believe that the boys were growing up. She could still remember holding each of them for the first time. It felt like yesterday, but looking at them now she knew that it wasn’t. Her nephews reminded her of Troy and herself growing up. Three years separated her and her brother. There were only two years separating the boys. Michael was the oldest at the age of eight. Lora and Troy were getting ready to celebrate their eleventh year of marriage.
Troy married Lora in his early twenties yet neither one of them had regretted the decision. She had always held out hope to find a man that was as good to her as Troy was to Lora. Her experience with Spencer made her hope dwindle.
Exhaling deeply, she tried to push aside the hurtful memories of the disastrous relationship she’d shared with Spencer. A connection, that in the beginning she thought might lead to something similar to what her brother and his wife, along with their parents had. Unfortunately her relationship with Spencer had fizzled out, or rather imploded, the reason why she decided to focus on her second dream instead—children.
After making sure the boys were okay and didn’t need anything she went back upstairs to her office. She began to unpack her books. Half an hour later she was finished. Just as she was getting ready to start hooking up the computer the doorbell rang. Looking out of the window she saw it was Lora. Running down the stairs she answered the door, calling to the men to come and help with the groceries in the house. Relationship
Lora helped Cassandra put away the groceries before going to help her sons dust and clean. Cassandra rubbed her hands together in anticipation because she was going to have the chance to break her new stove in. Cooking was one of her favorite hobbies. She was always trying out or coming up with a new recipe. First she had to locate the pots and pans she needed to cook with. Not to mention the dishes she would need to serve her guests.
Once she had all of the dishes out of the box and put away, she broke down the boxes. Twenty minutes later she started pasta and broccoli boiling and chicken browning. She began cutting up Parmesan for her Alfredo sauce. Smiling to herself she began to hum. She was glad for all of the help that she received today. Things went a lot smoother because of it. Now all she had to do was get the blue-eyed stranger she met today out of her mind. She didn’t come all this way to be distracted by an attractive man…unless he was willing to father her child.
Book Publisher: Class Act Books
No. of Pages: 197