Maryanne Torres is a compassionate nurse who fails at relationships. After a string of losers, she swears off sex to land a marrying man. But a party she attends turns into a drinking binge, and she is raped.
Lucas Knight is a biracial athlete intent on winning the Ironman Triathlon. He finds Maryanne the next morning bloody and unconscious. Since Maryanne cannot identify her attacker, he becomes the prime suspect.
When Maryanne finds herself pregnant, she plans to abort, but the identity of her rapist is hidden in the baby’s DNA.
A trap is set. Lucas races to clear his name, but the secret Maryanne hides threatens to drown their chance for true love.
“That was some evening,” Maryanne thanked Lucas as he opened the car door and helped her out.
He squeezed her hand. “It’s not over yet, is it?”
She scrambled for something natural to say. Ordinarily, she’d ask him up, but the question of pregnancy had to be settled without him knowing. They walked to her door, and she paused before putting the key in the lock.
“You want me to come in?” He looked hesitant, his palms turned face up.
“I had a great time. I did.” She kissed his cheek. “It’s late and you should probably go home.”
His brow furrowed. “Did I do something?”
“No, you were great.” She leaned against his chest. “I need to be alone right now.”
“Okay, I can respect that.” He held her for a moment and kissed her lightly on the lips. “Call me anytime.”
She gave him a tiny wave and stepped into the apartment. Once inside, the jitters she’d suppressed hit full force. She waited the space of three heartbeats and peeked out the curtain. Lucas was nowhere in sight. Gotta do it. Oh, dear God let it be nothing. Sweat bloomed over her forehead, and she felt light headed.
She opened the cabinet under her bathroom sink and extracted the leftover test from the double-pack she bought during her last scare. Her hands trembled so much she had to bite the wrapping off the stick. The test was still good with a single pink line, the control line, showing. She sat on the toilet. Please, please be negative. One, two, three, four, five. She wiped herself and stared at the toilet paper, willing it to turn pink, to show even the slightest tint of blood.
The instructions said to wait three minutes. Maryanne placed the stick on the counter. She’d walk away. Should she set a timer? She glanced at the clock and paced. How could this have happened? Ryan wasn’t supposed to be dangerous. The singles’ class they attended recommended abstinence. Her head ached. But it’d been her fault to drink, to think it could numb the pain of Lucas’ rejection. Great, just great. Now Lucas would really reject her if she were pregnant with another man’s baby, as if seeing her have sex on the video wasn’t enough of a blow.
Nausea bubbled to her throat. Her father was having the video analyzed. After he’d calmed down, he contacted a lawyer to trace the originator of the video and sue for defamation. Gil Torres, professional plaintiff. It was how he put her through college, bought her a car and designer clothes.
She crossed to the dresser and stared in the mirror. Two minutes. It had been her fault. She should have stayed home that night. You, she pointed to her image, don’t need a man. You have to stand on your own before standing next to someone.
She passed the bathroom door. One minute. Why did Lucas have to declare his love and make this harder? Hugging herself, she leaned against the wall and counted to sixty. Time was up. She marched into the bathroom and picked up the stick. Two angry pink lines pointed accusatory fingers at her. She threw it into the wastebasket and sank to her knees.
Pregnant. It was still early.
She had options.
Copyright© Rachelle Ayala. All rights reserved.