Alex’s life is a mess. She’s barely holding down a job, only just affording her apartment, and can’t remember when she was last in a relationship. An unexpected pregnancy is the last thing she needs.
Martha’s life is on track. She’s got the highflying career, the gorgeous home and the loving husband. But one big thing is missing. Five rounds of IVF and still no baby.
The solution seems simple. Alex knows that Martha can give her child everything that she can’t provide. But Martha’s world may not be as perfect as it seems, and letting go isn’t as easy as Alex expected it to be. Now they face a decision that could shatter their friendship forever.
About Kate Hewitt: Kate is the USA Today-bestselling author of over 60 books of women’s fiction and romance. She is the author of the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in England’s Lake District and published by Penguin. She is also, under the name Katharine Swartz, the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell.
She likes to read romance, mystery, the occasional straight historical and angsty women’s fiction; she particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.
Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in a market town in Wales with her husband, five children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.
“I know you know.”
And then suddenly it’s easy. “You’re pregnant.” She nods. I let out a shuddery breath, although I’m not sure what I’m feeling. Vindication? Jealousy? Relief? It’s all mixed up. “How far along are you?” I ask and she just shrugs.
“I’m sorry,” she says after a moment, and I stiffen.
“It just… it doesn’t seem fair, does it?” She looks at me with dark, sorrowful eyes and my throat starts to ache.
No, it damn well doesn’t seem fair, but weirdly I’m glad she’s acknowledged it. “What are you going to do?” I ask quietly.
“I don’t know.”
I feel a little better hearing that, although I’m not sure why. “What about the father?”
“I haven’t contacted him.”
She lets out an abrupt laugh and shakes her head. “No.”
“Well.” I sit back. “I want to support you.” This sounds trite, and yet I mean it.
“I thought I was going to get rid of it,” she says in a low voice, not looking at me. “I mean, no-brainer, right? There’s no way I can have a baby.”
No, there isn’t. “And then what happened?” I ask.
Another shrug. She still won’t look at me. “I don’t know. I keep meaning to call and then I just—don’t.” She glances up at me and I see a surprising welter of pain and confusion in her eyes; I’m so used to seeing Alex seeming laid-back to the point of indifference, the emotion surprises me. “I’ve had two abortions already,” she says and looks away again. I feel a cold ripple of surprise; I didn’t know that, and I’m surprised she didn’t tell me. We’ve been good friends, maybe even best friends, since college. Since that night I showed up on her doorstep and she let me in, no questions asked.
She sighs wearily. “I don’t know. I’m being stupid. I mean, there’s no way I could keep a baby. I don’t even have health insurance. And in any case…” She paused, lowering her head so her hair falls in front of her face. “I can’t really see me as a mom, can you?”
No, I can’t, but this doesn’t seem like the time to say it, so I just murmur something unintelligible.
“I mean, I’d probably forget it somewhere, I’m that flaky,” she says with a little laugh that still sounds sad. “And you know, babies are so full on, aren’t they? They don’t just go away when you’re tired of them or whatever.” I say nothing and she laughs again and shakes her head. “Listen to me. Just the fact that I’m saying all this proves my point, right?”
I have a terrible feeling that she’s asking this question because she wants me to tell her that it doesn’t, that she’d be a good mom, she can do this. I don’t say any of it. The words bottle in my throat so I can barely swallow, because I know what I want now, and I want it so badly. “You don’t have to keep it,” I hear myself saying, and I sound weird, distant, like someone else is talking and I am floating up above the table, watching this play out.
Alex stares at me, frowning, clearly waiting for more. And there is more. “You don’t have to keep it,” I say again, firmly now. “But you don’t have to get rid of it either. You could give it to me. Rob and I could adopt the baby, Alex.”
Paperback copy of Kate’s new book, A Mother’s Choice. Out in June.