EMILY'S CHOICE - Published!

After 23 years of writing and editing, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat...Emily's Choice has been published! I can barely put into words what this means to me.

This book was the very first novel I wrote way back in high school. I honestly thought this story would never see the light of day! We all know how life can interfere and this story has been collecting a lot of dust on the shelf for a long time. Every so often, I would take it down, dust it off and work on it. But never with any real motivation to polish it up nice and pretty and get it out there. Until June 2014. That's when I found out I was pregnant and there was no way I was going to be able to do much of anything over the next year. So why not work on a project that was already written, and rewritten a dozen times, and get it ready for publication?

I hope you all enjoy Emily & Jason's story. Below, please enjoy the first chapter!

Here is the link to buy it on Amazon: Emily's Choice. Once you're done reading, I would be ever so grateful if you would leave a review on Amazon!

Happy Reading!

xoxo ~Heather

Chapter One

May 2008

Emily Camancho was scared, no doubt about it. She took several deep breaths to calm her racing heart as she wiped her slick palms on her dusty jeans. Sitting in the driver’s seat of her beat-up rusty red pickup truck, she rolled down the window to let a breeze blow through.

She was late. Three weeks late to be exact.

Yesterday, she’d finally worked up the courage to take one of those pesky tests she’d bought last week at the pharmacy. It had been hiding under the bathroom sink since she’d brought it home. Once Jason had left for class, she reached her shaking hands into the cabinet and tore open the box. She sat down on the toilet with the test stick and placed it in the stream for five seconds and then replaced the cap on the end of it. She carefully set it down on the floor and went out to wash her hands.

When she checked the stick after washing her hands, well, there had been no mistaking the results. Two dark blue lines. Positive. She’d let out a shuddering breath and collapsed against the door. What the hell was she going to do?

Catching a glimpse of herself in the truck mirror, she grimaced. Searching through her purse, she blew out a sigh when all she could find was a ponytail holder. Shrugging, she dropped her purse back on the bench seat and pulled her long, auburn hair up into a messy ponytail. It would have to do, and she was out of time anyway. Jumping from the truck, she grabbed her purse and walked slowly into the Urgent Care facility. She’d come all the way across town to lessen the chances she would bump into anyone she knew from school. For a split second, she had thought about going home to see old Doc Martin but quickly nixed that idea. It would have spread like wildfire through the town, her parents finding out the results before she did. There was no such thing as doctor-patient confidentiality in Mosquero. Hell, there wasn’t any confidentiality at all.

She’d told Jason that she wasn’t feeling well and was planning a visit to the doctor to see what was wrong. He’d offered to go with her, but she turned her baby blues on him and told him she would be all right. It didn’t make sense for them both to miss classes today.

Emily walked into the facility and wrote her name down on the sign-in sheet. She picked up a gossip magazine to browse through while she waited but let it sit on her lap while her mind skidded all over the place. Was she really pregnant? They’d been careful every time. They both were fanatical about condom use, but she supposed one could have broken. How would she tell Jason? How would she tell her parents? What would everyone say?

They were in their last year of college, she at Santa Fe Community College for Interior Design and Jason at New Mexico State University for Animal Science and Rangeland Resources. Jason was planning to return home to Mosquero after graduation to help his father with the ranch. Emily had planned to stay in Santa Fe to work with the design company she’d been interning with while at school. It was going to be a hard adjustment for them, seeing as they’d never spent any real amount of time apart, ever. But if she was indeed pregnant, how would she balance a baby, a new city, a long-distance relationship, and a new job? Santa Fe was only two and a half hours from home but that was a long way to commute every day if she had to live at home.

Everyone would be shocked and appalled at first; she knew and accepted that. She hoped that part was quick though. She wouldn’t have an abortion, and she wasn’t giving the child up for adoption. Emily knew enough about herself to know that once the baby was born, she wouldn’t want to let it go. Everything would be okay, and everything would work out the way it was supposed to. Emily was sure of that. She had an amazing family; they were incredibly supportive and she knew they’d help her reach her dreams regardless. Once the baby did arrive, they’d all be happier than a rooster at dawn.

By the time the nurse called her back, she’d almost gotten herself talked into a positive outlook. She calmly followed the nurse back and answered all the embarrassing questions. The nurse took a blood sample and told Emily it would be about twenty minutes for the results. Instead of waiting in the cold, sterile room, Emily opted to go outside instead. She walked around to the back of the building and was pleased to see a picnic table, a garden, and a nature path. She walked along the path, keeping an eye on the time as the nurse had cautioned her to be back on time as they had a lot of patients to see. Emily let her mind wander as she enjoyed the sights and smells of nature.

She had no idea what she’d do with a baby. Her life plan didn’t include children, at least not for another several years. She and Jason had been an item for as long as Emily could remember, and their parents had always joked they’d been betrothed at birth. She and Jason had begun as playmates and friends, moved on to being a couple, and now they were lovers and practically engaged. She imagined their parents would want them to wait until after they’d settled into their jobs, but she and Jason had already talked of going to Las Vegas at Christmas to get married. She could picture all the lights, the people, and the excitement. The sounds of the slot machines, the range of emotions from the players at the tables. And their wedding ceremony. She’d always dreamed of a big, elaborate wedding, but the closer they got to Vegas, the more excited she was about just eloping and leaving the stress, cost, and craziness behind. Emily was confident she and Jason could take this next step together and come out with a stronger relationship, even if it was several years earlier than they had planned, at least in the baby department.

Checking her watch, she turned around and hurried back to the examination room. When she stepped into the room, she noticed the nurse had laid out a gown, so Emily stripped down and put it on. The doctor knocked on the door just as Emily was climbing onto the table.

“Come in,” Emily said shyly.

“Hello, Emily. I’m Dr. Williams,” she said kindly as she shook Emily’s hand.

“Hello.”

“All right, I’m sure you’re on the edge of that table wondering what the results are.” Dr. Williams paused as Emily nodded her head and twisted her fingers. “The test was positive. You are pregnant, Emily.”

The breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding came rushing out along with a strangled, “I am?”

Dr. Williams nodded, pressing the button to recline the table flat and motioning for Emily to lie down. “I’m going to order an ultrasound for you so we can pinpoint exactly how far along you are. Let me just check your tummy, and then we can talk prenatal care.”

Twenty minutes later, Emily walked out to her truck in a daze. She couldn’t remember one thing the doctor had told her, and if there’d been a test, she would have failed. The drive back to the apartment was a blur, and Emily was shocked when she pulled into the parking lot with no memory of the drive home. Running a hand over her face, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She climbed out of the truck and shuffled to the apartment. Exhausted from stress and the pregnancy, Emily collapsed onto the bed and fell asleep instantly.

“Emily? Babe?”

She reached out her hand and pulled Jason down onto the bed with her. She peeked a quick glimpse of him, sighing with pleasure. She was so lucky. At six feet tall, Jason was head and shoulders above most of the guys in school. His dark blond hair was ruffled, and she could picture him running his hands through it in frustration during classes this morning. His eyes were a deep chocolate brown that twinkled when he laughed and only looked at her with love. Working on the ranch his whole life had given him a lean and toned body. Many underestimated his strength, especially on the football field.

“How are you feeling? What did the doctor say?”

Emily’s eyes snapped open and she bolted upright as the morning’s stress and results came rushing back to her. She inhaled sharply, ready to tell him, but she couldn’t find the words.

When he sat up with her, she turned and buried her face in his chest, taking several deep breaths to calm down. She couldn’t fathom why she was panicking. Jason loved her and she loved him.

She tried her best to smile but failed miserably when tears gathered in her eyes.

He wrapped his arms around her. “What’s wrong, babe? Are you okay?”

Shaking her head no, she hid her face against his shirt as the tears fell down her cheeks, hugging him hard.

“Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

Sighing, Emily buried her face in his neck and nodded. “I will, I promise. I need you to hold me a little longer.”

“Babe, you know I’ll hold you forever, but you’re scaring me. You never cry, what’s going on?” He slipped a finger under her chin and raised her face so he could look into her eyes. He wiped her tears with his thumb and offered her a comforting smile.

“I don’t know how to start. I thought it would be easy, but now that you’re here, I’m scared.” She turned her face into his neck and took a deep breath. He always smelled so good, like the outdoors mixed with sunshine.

“It can’t be that bad, babe,” he soothed. “Spit it out, we’ll figure it out.”

“I’m pregnant,” Emily blurted quietly.

She felt Jason stiffen and thought for a moment he was going to push her away and flee. Instead, he tightened his hold on her. “Are you sure?” he asked quietly.

Emily nodded. “They took a blood test, and I have to call tomorrow for the results of the ultrasound. She thinks I’m about six to eight weeks along.”

Tears began to flow in earnest down her face. Frustrated with them, she swiped her hand across her face. “What are we going to do, Jason?”

Smiling, he hugged her close. “Sounds like we’re going to have a baby!”

Shocked at his easy acceptance, she pulled out of his arms and searched his face. She saw a broad smile gracing his lips, a sparkle in his eyes. Breathing a sigh of relief, she wrapped her arms around him and squeezed.

“You’re surprised at my reaction.”

“Honestly, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.”

“It’s scary, a little exciting. But it’s happened, and we can’t undo it. We’re almost done with school. Instead of getting married at Christmas, we’ll just get married this summer after we graduate. We can still elope if you want.”

“What are we going to tell our parents?”

Jason shrugged.

“We’ve got to tell them something!”

“Babe, we don’t have to tell them anything right away. Let’s get used to the idea first.”

“What do you mean?”

Sighing, Jason leaned back against the pillows, taking Emily with him. Sprawled against his chest, Emily felt her heart rate pick up. Jason rolled with her and gently pushed her back against the bed. Lowering his head, he brushed a kiss against her lips. “I mean . . .” he drawled. “Let’s enjoy the news, and the secret, and we’ll tell them when it’s right.”

She put a hand against his shoulder to stop his descent. She needed a clear head, and once he started kissing her, she’d fog up and forget everything. “Jason,” she pleaded.

Sighing, he lifted his head. He ran a hand up her torso and brushed a thumb over her nipple. When it hardened under his knowing hands, he grinned. “Babe, it’s not a big deal. Our parents are going to freak out and wonder what we were thinking, but it’s our life, Em. Don’t stress. We’ve got each other and that’s all we need,” he said against her lips.

Emily moaned when his tongue slipped through her lips. The hand that was holding him off slid up his neck and tangled in his hair.

Jason was right; all they needed was each other. They could get through anything so long as they had each other.

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