Home > Faking Forever (First Wives #4)

Faking Forever (First Wives #4)
Author: Catherine Bybee

Chapter One

“I’m going to have a baby.” Stunned silence met Shannon’s announcement.

The First Wives, as they called their tiny club, consisted of four women, three of which were now married for the second time, and Shannon.

“You’re pregnant?” Avery, the hostess, asked.

Shannon quickly shook her head and set her wine aside. “Not yet. But I made my decision. I’m giving myself six months to do this the natural way. If that doesn’t work, I’ll schedule an appointment with a fertility clinic.”

Shannon had hinted at her desire to become a mother several months before, but with Avery and Trina still in the honeymoon stages of their marriages, Shannon didn’t want to take away from their recent marital bliss and put the spotlight on herself. In fact, it wasn’t in Shannon’s nature to stand in the spotlight at all.

Lori, the lady lawyer who had founded the group of First Wives, regarded her with a narrowing of the eyes. “Do we have a baby daddy in mind?”

Shannon offered a placating smile. “If there was someone, you’d all know about it.”

“You’re going to have sex with a stranger.” It wasn’t a question.

Shannon glanced down at her slim frame. The last time she’d had sex, it was with her ex-husband . . . and he ended up being the biggest stranger of all. “We’ve all had sex with someone we didn’t know at one time in our lives or another.”

Avery sat taller. “I might need something stronger than wine for this conversation.”

Shannon waved Avery off before she broke out the hard liquor. “I’m only telling you guys so you’re not surprised when it happens. I want a baby. I’m not getting any younger. I have the means to support another person . . .” Her list of reasons to go through with her plan sounded off from her lips like a chant.

“When was the last time you kissed someone?” Avery was the free thinker of the group, but even she was surprisingly against Shannon’s idea of conceiving a child from a one-night stand.

Shannon considered her question and knew that her answer would open a negative stream of conversation. “I know how to kiss, Avery.”

Three sets of eyes questioned her.

“It’s been a long time,” she finally admitted.

“And when are you planning on getting knocked up?” Avery asked.

“I’ve been monitoring my ovulation—”

“This is a stupid idea!” Avery jumped up and moved to her kitchen.

Shannon watched as her friend found the tequila she’d threatened to break out.

“I think what Avery is trying to say is . . . Have you thought this out completely?” Trina asked with a smile.

“I’ve thought about getting pregnant more than I ever thought about not getting pregnant.” She turned her stare away from Avery. “I don’t want to miss out on the experience of being a mom, with all the good and the bad that comes with it, just because I don’t have a man in my life.”

“Why not see a fertility doctor? Wouldn’t that be safer?” Trina slid a little closer on the couch.

“Probably. It would also be sterile. Reading sperm donor profiles and picking a father for my child by a list of attributes or checking boxes on an application makes me cringe.”

“You’d at least know if the guy behind the sperm is healthy or smart.” Avery stood pouring tequila into tiny shot glasses.

“What self-respecting college kid, and that’s probably who ends up in sperm banks, is going to say he’s struggling through his first year of general education? Not to mention choosing a daddy from a height, weight, and eye color chart makes me feel like I’m picking a breeder for a puppy.”

“Still safer.” Avery walked over with the shots.

“I want the father of my baby to be kind and witty enough to make me want to sleep with him. I know you don’t approve, Avery, but try and see this from my perspective. I could go to a clinic and get pregnant next month . . . or at least attempt to. Or I can find a perfectly willing candidate and have a night to remember. Don’t tell me for a minute that you’d pick the former.”

All eyes moved to the youngest member of their club. Before Avery settled down, she was the one always talking about her endless prowess.

Avery’s scowl softened. “When do you plan on finding this baby daddy?”

“I’m shooting a wedding next month in Tulum. The bride’s family is putting me up in a hotel for a couple of days, and then after that’s over, I’m moving up the beach to continue my stay. According to my calculations, I should be ovulating by the following weekend.”

“Plenty of time to scout out the right guy,” Lori said.

“That’s what I thought. It’s away from here; chances are no one will recognize me. The wedding guests will all be long gone. There are a lot of expats living in that part of Mexico. Flirting bartenders.”

“Bartenders are a good choice,” Trina said.

Shannon leaned forward. “I almost went there in Colorado at the Peterson wedding. The guy I met was working the bar. Way too young, but that didn’t seem to stop him from hitting on me.”

“What happened?” Trina asked.

“I chickened out.” There was no other way to explain it. “But I considered it. I took it as a sign and extended my stay in Tulum. Even if it doesn’t work out, I’m making steps in the right direction to move forward with my plan.”

“I think someone working a beach bar in a foreign country is ideal,” Lori said. “Every bartender I’ve known plays around a lot. Most don’t want more than a night or two. You can talk to them without commitment, make sure they’re not batshit crazy. Keep your real name out of it.”

“Of course. I can’t have anyone looking for me later.” Not that she worried that they would.

“And if you don’t find someone in Mexico to fit the profile?” Trina asked.

“I’ll plan monthly trips to other places.”

“Girls’ trips,” Avery announced.

Shannon narrowed her eyes. “I don’t need a backup team.” Especially if that team had a player that wasn’t into the game . . . like Avery.

“You told me you’d take me with you when you went daddy hunting. I’m taking you up on this.”

“Aren’t you newly married and have better things to do than finding my next date?”

Avery shook her head. “Nope.”

Lori laughed.

“I think Avery’s right. One of us should come along and make sure you’re seeing the good and the bad in the guy you plan on sleeping with.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Not really,” Lori chimed in. “If you were in a relationship and considering a permanent step, you’d ask us what we thought. Just like we all did at one time or another before we got married. This isn’t any different.”

Shannon sipped her wine and considered what they were saying. “I can’t ask you guys to drop your life to come with me.”

Avery raised her hand. “I volunteered for Tulum. If no one fits the daddy bill there, we plan the next month and make sure one of us can come.”

“Or all of us,” Trina said.

Lori lifted her glass. “Or all of us.”

Avery picked up a shot of tequila. “Let me go on record and say I really don’t like this idea, but I feel better knowing we’re with you.”

“I’m going to be fine.”

Shannon Wentworth wore a plastic smile as she witnessed her clients bickering.

Corrie Harkin sat with her back rod-straight, hands folded in her lap, while her mother did most of the talking. Mrs. Harkin, Shannon had met with before. Corrie, the bride to be, was in Shannon’s studio for the first time.

“He’s late,” Corrie said, watching the front door.

“He’s a busy man, honey. I’m sure he’s on his way.”

Shannon liked to meet with the bride and groom before the actual wedding in order to ensure that she captured the images they wanted on their wedding day. Mrs. Harkin had hired Shannon based solely on her name. Being the ex-wife of the former governor of California was a status the mother of the bride couldn’t pass up. From what Shannon could tell, Corrie was marrying up. And Mommy couldn’t be happier for it. The bank accounts of Shannon’s clients, or the budgets for their weddings, weren’t something she bothered to find out. Her fees were steep, which already put her outside the range of many couples’ resources. Mrs. Harkin didn’t blink an eye. It helped that the groom was footing the bill; at least, that’s what the deposit check suggested.

“We can get started without him,” Shannon said.

Corrie glanced at her mother and forced a smile.

“We probably should.”

Shannon pulled up the images of the venue they were using for the ceremony. The pristine white sands and turquoise waters of the Yucatán Peninsula were picture-perfect by themselves. “I’ve been working with the coordinator at the hotel. This is about where the sun will be during the ceremony. There is always a chance of a few clouds, but that will simply make the pictures better.”

“It better not rain,” Corrie said, her tone flat.

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