Dare to Hold - Carly Phillips

Chapter One

Some women always managed to get it right. To make the right choices, to pick the right man, to nail this crazy thing called life. Meg Thompson, on the other hand, managed to end up single and pregnant. But she couldn’t regret the baby growing inside her, and from now on, she was determined to get things right.

She pulled on her favorite pair of jeans, tugged them up over her hips, and unsuccessfully attempted to close the button. She grunted and lay down on the bed, pulling the sides closer together but no luck. She wriggled, sucked in a deep breath, and tried again, only to end up huffing out a stream of air in frustration.

“Didn’t these fit just last weekend?” she asked herself, peeling the denim off her legs and tossing them onto the floor with a groan.

She glanced down at her still-flat stomach, placing her hand over her belly. “How could something I can’t see or feel cause so much upheaval in my life?” And how could she love the baby growing inside her so much already?

A vibrating buzz told her someone was sending her a message. She checked her phone.

Lizzy: Almost ready?

Meg sighed. Her best friend, Elizabeth Cooper, was due to pick her up in ten minutes. Girls’ night out. Or, in Lizzy’s words, hookup night and Meg’s last chance for a hot, no-holds-barred fling before she started to show and her sole focus became being a new mom. Meg was up for girls’ night, but no way would she be picking up a stranger for a one-night stand. Her days of choosing the wrong men were over. Mike was the last in a long line of sucky choices. So not only didn’t she trust her judgment when it came to the opposite sex, it no longer mattered. She was finished relying on men to define her or make her happy.

“Right, baby?” She patted her belly and headed to her closet for a pair of elastic-waist leggings.

* * *

Meg and her friends settled into their seats at Mel’s, a popular spot for casual drinks after work and on the weekends. Mel’s was a dimly lit bistro with a wood-fired oven and grill in the back, dark mahogany-looking tables throughout, and a funky bar where people gathered. Meg loved it here.

She waved to the waiter, who stepped over to their table.

“What can I get you ladies?”

The girls ordered alcoholic drinks, and the good-looking waiter turned to Meg.

“I’ll have a club soda. With a lime.”

“Going for the hard stuff, I see.” He winked and scribbled down her order.

Meg smiled. “Designated driver.” Which wasn’t a lie. Lizzy might have picked her up, but Meg would be the one driving home.

She glanced around at the women she’d ignored for a long time in favor of her asshole ex and, unfortunately, her baby daddy. She was grateful these women were here for her now because Meg had a bad habit of dropping friends in favor of men. Men she looked to for the love and acceptance she’d never received from her own father she barely remembered. Meg sighed and rested her chin on her hands. Her childhood memories included a string of Alicia’s boyfriends who came and went from her young life.

Her mother had set a pattern Meg unconsciously followed. First she’d latched on to Dylan Rhodes, the one and only good guy in her life. He’d been her high school boyfriend and her rock until they broke up before going to college, and then Meg began emulating her mother’s taste by choosing men who always took advantage one way or another.