Release date: 24 February 2014
Uber-organized Polly Malone leaves nothing to chance. Running her web design company on a shoestring, she’s determined to make it a success. Her career plan doesn’t include a man or a family. When she’s approached by a stranger with an unusual request, she hasn’t the heart—or the bank balance—to refuse.
Sexy, wealthy, top London games entrepreneur Julian Ripley is battling for control of the company he built and picking up the pieces of his post-divorce life. But his sister makes a plea he can’t refuse.
When Polly and Julian meet in a dusty post office, feelings spark to life, but each harbors a secret—one that both binds and repels.
Caught between family and commitments, can their love survive or is it inconceivable?
by Ashlinn Craven
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors
Ashlinn Craven enjoys writing “head versus heart” romances where lovers face toe-curling problems. She’s lived in five countries and worked as hospital cleaner, pizza chef, university lecturer, sales rep, and environmental activist before succumbing to blissful Alpine serenity, writing, marriage and motherhood. She lives in Zurich, Switzerland. Find Ashlinn Craven at www.ashlinncraven.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
An excerpt from Maybe Baby:
Polly scrunched her toes in agitation as she looked around the stifling fertility clinic waiting room. Two women were still in front of her. This wasn’t how it was meant to be. For an institute that charged her five thousand quid to extract and freeze some teensy eggs, she didn’t expect to have to wait. There was probably some place in Russia that’d do it at a quarter of the price—with no waiting. That was the problem with living in London.
She scanned the magazines on the coffee table overlapped in a neat accordion. Out of sheer habit, she pulled out Brides Monthly—a six-month-old specimen with crow’s feet in the lower right corner from too many page turns. It fell open on “Planning Your Medieval Wedding in Ten Easy Steps.” Yes, they’d done some medieval sites when they were trendy. Back when business was good. She tried to focus, but couldn’t concentrate, and when gold-embroidered costumes started dancing before her eyes, she gave up and tossed the magazine aside.
After another minute, the silence began creeping her out. Polly cleared her dry throat. Some ambient music wouldn’t go amiss. Were they trying to induce conversation among strangers or just too stingy to invest in a sound system?
The other women sat primly cross-legged, flicking through their magazines in that same waiting-room manner, not really reading, just hoping to find a story capable of distracting them. The woman opposite was late thirties-ish, sporting a loud pink paisley jacket and a mop of copper coils. She looked over at Polly who averted her eyes, not wanting to be caught staring. The other, a brunette, looked way too young to be here. What was her problem? Posters on the wall suggested mysterious issues like endometriosis and PCOS, which could afflict any age, supposedly.
Or maybe, she was here for the same reason Polly was.
Perhaps it was stupid at age thirty to be even thinking about egg freezing when there was nothing physically wrong with her and she couldn’t afford it anyway. But she was here now, so she was going to make the most of it. Shedding her denim jacket, she took out her phone to postpone the teleconference she’d miss while sitting here wasting time. Ms. Pink Jacket was definitely gawking over now. Polly tried her best to ignore this and inched the phone closer to her nose.
A welcome breeze of cool air drifted in from the air-conditioned corridor. The receptionist called out the young brunette whereupon the silence got even thicker. What were the chances Ms. Pink Jacket had some horrible fertility challenge and was on her last ever round of IVF and would burst into tears, or worse, launch into a painful description of her failed cycles since she’d “started trying?”
“Holy smoke, I wish they’d fix the bloody air-con.” Ms. Pink Jacket’s strong voice rang out, laced with humor and an Australian twang. She gave Polly an unapologetic once-over and started fanning her face with her magazine. “They’ll bring on premature hot flashes, and push me onto hormone therapy.”
“Yep,” said Polly, making eye contact. “Then charge you extra and still not fix the bloody air-con.”
Pink Jacket smiled. “Dead right. The criminals.”
An awkward silence followed. Polly concentrated on her email, adding deadlines to action points, categorizing them with little colored flags—anything to keep busy.