SURROGATE SECRETS

SURROGATE SECRETS is a completed 60,000-word, contemporary romance. This story is the first in The Surrogate Solution series about surrogate motherhood in unique circumstances. SURROGATE SECRETS also explores the theme that romance is full of imperfect timing. Attraction, love, marriage, pregnancy, and divorce don’t happen according to a nice, neat formula; they occur with all the unpredictability of real life.

People who say they love Chloe Mosley always end up betraying and abandoning her. So when her Marine husband confesses he’s been unfaithful and files for divorce before leaving for Afghanistan, she picks up the pieces of her shattered world and follows her dream of becoming a surrogate mother. But Chloe discovers that the intricate relationships in a surrogate pregnancy can bring pain as well as joy. Can she overcome her fear of betrayal to trust the man who shares her love of children?

Griff Sullivan wants a son more than anything else in the world. He wonders if a Hollywood screenwriter’s life is supposed to be stranger than fiction when his soon-to-be-ex wife offers to donate her eggs for a surrogate pregnancy in exchange for a fake marriage. But has Griff made a deal with the devil who will drive away the woman he truly loves—the surrogate mother carrying his child?

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excerpt

 Chapter 1 

     “I can’t believe you’re going to sell your body to the highest bidder.”

“How dare you say such an awful thing? This is a wonderful gift for someone, but I’m also doing it for us,” Chloe Mosley insisted, frowning at her husband who had her pinned against the kitchen counter in their small apartment. “I don’t understand, Paul. Have you changed your mind? When we discussed this last week, you really liked the idea and agreed it would help us financially.”

Paul leaned in so close she smelled liquor on his breath. “So this is my fault because I’m not a good provider?”

She cringed. “You know that’s not what I’m saying. It’s no one’s fault, but I’m the one who hasn’t been able to work because of Mikey’s medical problems. Even though he’s better now, I can do this and still be home with him while you’re gone.”

“It’s always about the kid,” he said, his voice low and menacing.

“I’m just trying to be a good mother to our son. We’ve moved so many times he’s terribly insecure. You’d understand if you were home with him more.”

“Now the problem is my work? Look, woman, being a Marine is not a nine-to-five job.”

“Stop being defensive. I understand about your career. Do I complain? No. I admire your dedication and courage. Since you’re being deployed again to Afghanistan, this…this…” She searched for the right word. “This…project will help me cope with your absence as well as improve our finances. And I love the idea of carrying a baby for a couple who wants one so much they’re willing to use a surrogate mother.”

“Project?” He grabbed her arms. “You call having some other guy’s baby a goddamn project?”

“Last week you said it was a great idea. Just tell me if you’ve changed your mind.” Chloe tried to pull free of his grasp, but he squeezed harder. “Stop, Paul, you’re hurting me.”

“Maybe you like the idea of having another guy’s kid. Kinda like screwin’ around.” He sneered and ground himself against her.

She’d never seen him so angry, so irrational. A sliver of fear pricked her. Although her husband of three years had never really hurt her, could he?

“We talked about the surrogate mother role, remember? There’s no sex involved. You know I’d never cheat on you.”

Paul released her arms and gave her a little shove. “That’s what all the wives say when their husbands go overseas for a year. But you women are no more faithful than your men.” When she gasped, he laughed harshly. “Oh, c’mon, babe. You didn’t really believe I was some celibate saint over there last time. Gimme a break.”

“You…you cheated on me? How…how could you?” Her eyes stung, but she blinked back the tears. She squared her shoulders and glared at him. “But you’re wrong, Paul. I don’t know a single Marine wife who was unfaithful to her husband while he was gone. And you’re a jerk for accusing all those honorable Marines simply to defend your own infidelity.” Her voice cracked. “I can’t believe I trusted you.”

“Well, what can I say? You’re just a dumb broad.” He rubbed a hand across his military-cut, blond hair and shook his head. “Look, Chloe, I don’t want to be an ass, but this isn’t working for me anymore.”

Rage simmering beneath the surface, she clenched her hands into fists. “You mean the surrogacy?”

“No, not that. This whole marriage thing isn’t…” He rubbed the back of his neck and swore under his breath. “We…I never should have… If you hadn’t…”

His words seemed to suck all the air from the room. Chloe struggled to breathe, but she forced the words out. “If…if you’re that upset, I-I’m willing to reconsider the surrogate mother idea. And I know you married me because I got pregnant with Mikey, but I think–”

Paul slapped the kitchen counter beside her. “I don’t care what you think, and this has nothing to do with the surrogate shit. I just can’t handle it any longer. I want out. I didn’t plan on dropping this on you until after I came back from Afghanistan, but it can’t wait. I don’t want to be married to you or anyone else. I’m going to meet with an attorney and file for a divorce before I deploy next week. We’re finished, Chloe. As far as I’m concerned, we’re both free to screw around. You can sleep with your client and get a baby inside you the old-fashioned way if you want.”

He stormed out of the room, leaving her in stunned silence.

     Oh, God. Betrayal. Abandonment. Again. Her eyes narrowed as anger bubbled to a rolling boil and overcame the panic brewing beneath. Her personal motto played in her head. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This time she’d have to be strong to protect Mikey.

***

     “That’s it, then?” Griffin Sullivan asked. He leaned back in the chair and sighed.

His longtime friend and attorney, Brad Levitz, laughed. “Yeah, the last piece of legal mumbo jumbo you’ll have to sign before your divorce is final in another ten weeks. I deserve major kudos for the ironclad prenup I wrote that kept your divorce far less painful than your marriage. If you’re planning a celebration, I expect to be invited.”

“I’m still recovering from two years of chaos with Bridget. Any celebration is likely to be a quiet, peaceful recuperation.”

Brad grinned while he gathered up the papers on his desk. “A lot of guys would give anything for some…chaos with Bridget.”

“They can have her. I’d appreciate it, though, if they’d wait until the divorce is final. I’ve been cheated on enough already.”

“Hey, I warned you about getting involved with an actress. You were the only one who couldn’t see that marrying a wealthy screenwriter was just her first step in sleeping her way up the Hollywood ladder. But then, you were probably blinded by the promise of unlimited chaos.”

Griff snorted. “Maybe so. Or maybe I was thinking about all the beautiful babies that chaos could create. Bridget knew I wanted a son more than anything else in the world. How was I supposed to know she was lying about wanting kids?”

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