Spotlight on Tracy Wolff
On Sale: April 24, 2017
Featuring: Sarah Martin; Reece Sandler
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Re-read Tracy Wolff’s fan-favorite Harlequin
Superromance, originally published as FROM FRIEND TO FATHER
He’s a single dad trying to find his
way…even if that leads him directly into her arms! From New
York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff.
Sandler’s got a ready-made family…except he’s not ready for
it! When he and his late wife asked her best friend Sarah
Martin to be their surrogate, he never imagined he’d raise
that child with the woman. And the situation is complicated
by his growing attraction to her. She’s vivacious,
captivating and the kind of parent he only hopes to be. How
can he resist her?
She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. So Sarah did what
she always did when she had the choice—threw back her head
and laughed herself silly. Then dived for the shut-off valve
at the base of the toilet that was currently overflowing
onto the crimson tile floor she had laid herself a year ago.
Once the water flow was cut off—and the floor mopped up—she
turned to Johnny, the oldest of her five-year-old twins.
"Does someone want to explain to me what happened this
"Pirate Jack was a bad, bad pirate, Mommy," Johnny said in
his earnest little boy voice, his blue eyes wide with
sincerity. "He had to walk the plank."
"Yeah," Justin said. "He's a criminal, Mommy. He deserves a
"Punishment." Johnny rolled his eyes with all the annoyance
of a big brother—as if far more than five minutes separated
the two of them.
"Walked the plank?" Sarah shook her head in amazement. "Into
the toilet? Again? I thought we talked about this." Over and
over and over again, they had talked until she felt like a
broken record. Or worse, a useless one.
"That's where Jasper went when he died, Mommy. Remember? We
gave him a hero's funeral."
Of course she remembered. Her brother—her wonderful,
irresponsible, fun-loving brother—had been babysitting the
twins when the fish had died and, for whatever reason, had
decided to give the goldfish a "proper" funeral. Complete
with a burial at sea, accomplished by flushing him down the
guest bathroom toilet.
Too bad Tad hadn't thought to warn the twins that not
everything that went into the toilet actually made it down
the pipes and out to sea. It might have saved her budget—not
to mention what little sanity she had left.
For the past three months, she—and her trusty plumber— had
rescued everything from superheroes and toy soldiers to the
baby's rattle and hair bows from the toilet and the pipes
below it. But Pirate Jack, he was a new one. It was
definitely his first trip down the flusher.
Turning back to the toilet, she tried to locate some part of
the toy still sticking into the bowl—an arm, a leg, a head,
she wasn't picky. But alas, Jack had made it all the way
into the pipes before getting stuck.
"Which Pirate Jack was it?" she asked, feeling the need to
clarify as the boys had about twenty variations on the
pirate theme. Please don't let it be the big one her brother—
"The one Uncle Tad got us."
Of course it had to be that one. That one was larger than
her fist and had hard plastic arms and legs shooting off in
all directions. She was shocked the thing had actually made
it out of the bowl.
With a sigh, Sarah headed downstairs to get the plunger out
of the garage. Not that she had a hope of getting the stupid
toy out—as big as it was, she was almost positive it was
well and truly lodged in the pipe. Which meant calling Vince
the plumber. She sighed. Which meant at least two hundred
dollars she couldn't afford to spend this month, not with
the two visits Vince had already paid to their house on top
of the unexpected car repairs she'd had to deal with last
week. The new transmission had eaten up most of her
discretionary income for the month. She really hated to dip
into her savings, but it wasn't like she had a choice.
Unless, by some miracle, the plunger actually worked.
After wrestling with the plunger for fifteen minutes, Sarah
gave up. It was time to call Vince. She reached for the
phone—what did it say about her life that he was number two
on her speed dial?
"Boys," she said softly as she checked on them. They were
playing in their room, building blocks into huge towers then
knocking them down with their trucks. "I'm going to be on
the phone for a few minutes. Keep it down, okay? The baby's
"Okay, Mommy," Justin said sweetly, even as his brother
rolled his eyes.
"She's always asleep," complained Johnny.
"That's what two-month-old babies do, sweetie. They sleep
a—" She cut off in midsentence as Angie, Vince's full-time
receptionist, answered the phone. And how sick was it that
she knew the other woman's name?
"Hi, Angie. It's Sarah Martin. My toilet's clogged again."
"What'd the boys flush this time?" Angie asked, laughter
evident in her voice.
"Their favorite pirate toy had to walk the plank." Despite
the drain on her finances, she had a hard time keeping the
amusement out of her voice, as well. Really, who on
earth—besides five-year-old boys—would ever think to do such
"Nice one. Give me a second and I'll see if Vince can get
over there this morning."
"No problem. I'll be home all—"
The smoke alarm in the kitchen went off. "Oh, no! The cookies!"
Sarah ran down the stairs, her first thought to stop the
screeching before it woke the baby. But as soon as she hit
the first floor, she realized that was easier said than
done. The entire downstairs was thick with smoke as she'd
left the cookies in—she glanced at the clock— nearly twenty
minutes longer than she should have.
Opening the back door and various windows on her way to the
kitchen, she waved frantically at the smoke detector in the
hallway, trying to clear the smoke from beneath it.
"The cookies are burnded?" asked Justin, lower lip
quivering, as she rushed into the kitchen and pulled the
blackened treats from the oven.
"Burnded doesn't quite cover it," she muttered to herself.
They were so blackened she feared they'd burst into flames
any second. With a sigh she dumped them—tray and all—into
the sink and ran water over them. It was the second batch
she'd massacred that week.
"Not again," wailed Johnny over the scream of the smoke
detector. "Mommy, you promised we'd have cookies today."
"And we will. I—"
"Sarah?" Angie came back on the line.
"Shh." She turned a stern look on her boys, who ignored it
and continued to whine about the lack of chocolate-chip
cookies in their lives. "Yes, Angie?" she said, straining to
hear the receptionist.
"Vince can be there around two o'clock. Is that okay?"
"Sure. Why not?"
"It sounds like you've got your hands full there."
"It sounds like—never mind." Angie laughed. "I'll talk to
you later, Sarah."
The phone went dead in her hand as Sarah realized that not
all of the noise lambasting her ears was from the boys and
the smoke alarm. Some of the screams were coming from her
baby girl who was now wide-awake, despite the fact that she
should have slept for at least another hour.
"Coming, Rose," she called as she headed up the stairs, the
boys trailing behind her. Their tears had turned to shouts
of delight the second they heard their sister's cries. The
rule was that as soon as Rose woke up from her nap, quiet
time was over. Silence was definitely not their natural state.
Sarah burst into her daughter's room, and scooped Rose from
the crib, holding the small, trembling body to her chest.
"It's okay, baby. Nothing to be scared of. Mama's here."
The baby continued to wail despite Sarah's presence, her
cries getting louder with each high-pitched scream from the
smoke detector. Would the stupid alarm never go
off? To protect Rose's delicate hearing, Sarah covered the
ear not pressed to her chest with her hand.
Murmuring to the baby, she went downstairs. She wasn't sure
if Rose was hungry yet, but the comfort of a pacifier would
do a lot to calm her.
Sarah barely cleared the bottom step when the doorbell rang.
Vince must have been able to get away earlier than expected.
Before she reached the door the boys rushed past her, their
voices raised in war whoops of celebration. They loved
watching Vince work, and she was beginning to suspect that
they were breaking the toilet on purpose—a sneaky ploy to
see the plumber again and again. Sarah had just enough time
to register that Justin's face was streaked with red lines
while Johnny's was covered with black ones, before they
swung open the door.
Her boys paused in mid-war whoop. Vince wasn't standing on
the other side of the threshold.
Reece Sandler was.
She'd never seen her best friend's husband look more
uncomfortable, despite his carelessly styled brown hair and
the designer clothes that showed off his six-foot-four-inch
frame to its best advantage.
On the bright side, the sudden influx of hot September air
must have been just what the smoke detector needed as it
finally stopped shrieking.
Blessed silence filled the room and Sarah took a moment to
compose herself. But a moment wasn't long enough to combat
the six and a half months' worth of fury seething inside her.
A better woman might have bitten her tongue before making a
comment. A good woman would certainly have made things
easier on the man. But Sarah had never claimed to be trying
for sainthood, and she had a lifetime of anger and hurt
stored up inside of her.
Aw, shit, was all Reece could think as his gaze collided
with the baby he'd spent the past few months pretending
didn't exist. First, he'd abandoned Sarah for the last half
of her pregnancy. Then he hadn't made it to the hospital
when the baby was born. And now, over two months had passed
and, despite Sarah's insistent phone calls, he'd yet to
Her, he reminded himself. Not it. The baby
was a girl.
His baby was a girl.
Shame ate at him, warring with the anger and guilt and
sorrow that had taken up residence in his soul two hundred
and nine days ago. This baby was his responsibility—his
alone—yet he'd abandoned Sarah to deal with Rose. The fact
that he hadn't wanted her to begin with—and still didn't
have a clue what to do with her—was no excuse.
"To what do we owe this honor?" Sarah's hostile tone—so at
odds with her normally sunny disposition—wasn't totally
unexpected. Yet it still hurt in a way he was completely
unprepared for. This was Van's best friend and what she
thought of him mattered. That she had every right to think
of him as a total rat didn't make her disgust any easier to
"Well, are you going to answer me?"
"You haven't—" His voice gave out and Reece had to clear his
throat several times before he was able to continue. "You
haven't cashed the checks I sent."
"That's why you're here? Because of the money?"
He pulled his gaze away from the pink-and-purple-clad baby
in her arms and met Sarah's. Her blue eyes were filled with
rage, brimming with the stuff until he couldn't help
thinking it was a miracle he hadn't been struck dead on her
"Look, can I come in?" he asked, discomfort giving way to
annoyance. He knew he had a lot to apologize for and he was
man enough to do it. But he'd be damned if he'd do it in
front of the entire neighborhood.
Those indigo eyes darkened even as they narrowed, and he was
sure she would slam the door in his face. But finally, when
he was really starting to sweat, she shrugged and opened the
door wider. Then turned and walked away without so much as a
"Uncle Reece, Uncle Reece!" Justin grabbed his hand and
yanked—at least he thought it was Justin. It had been a long
time since he'd seen the twins and with all that paint on
their faces, it was difficult to tell them apart. "We missed
Guilt hit him again, hard. Before Van's death, he'd spent a
lot of time with the boys. Their father—Sarah's husband—had
walked out when they were babies and Reece had been the
closest thing to a father figure they had. When Van had
died, he hadn't just cut himself off from Sarah and his
baby, but also from the boys he'd considered his nephews.
"I missed you guys, too." He ran a hand over each little
"Did you bring us something?" Johnny asked. There was a time
when he and Van would never have considered dropping by
without some small present for the boys—a couple Matchbox
cars, packs of gum, new balls. Yet another tradition that
had died with his wife.
"I'm sorry, guys. I forgot. But I promise I'll bring
something with me the next time."
"Don't make promises you can't keep." Sarah was back,
probably wondering what was taking him so long.
"I plan on keeping that promise." He found himself reluctant
to leave the boys—they were a bit of normalcy in a world
turned violently upside down.
Her snort was not encouraging.
"Boys, go on upstairs and wash the makeup off your faces."
"But, Mom, we're Indians."
"Still?" She raised an inquiring eyebrow.
"Then you'd better go be Indians before Rose needs another nap."
"Aww, Mom! Already?"
"Not yet, but soon. Her nap was cut short, remember."
"Yes." Johnny sighed, hanging his head dejectedly. He looked
for all the world like a kid who'd just found out that Santa
Claus didn't exist. Then Justin came up behind him and hit
him on the head with a makeshift tomahawk. That's all it
took to send the two of them running up the stairs, laughing
and hollering for all they were worth.
Reece watched them go. Otherwise he would have to look at
Sarah. Or worse, the baby.
As he avoided her gaze, he realized the house was trashed.
Toys were scattered everywhere, along with sippy cups and
baby paraphernalia. Stacks of clean clothes sat at the
bottom of the stairs while a pile of clean diapers and a box
of wipes graced Sarah's normally immaculate dining-room table.
He cleared his throat, searched for something to say. "Is it
always like this around here?"
"So… crazy?" As soon as the word was out, he knew he'd made
a vital mistake.
"I'm a single mom with twin boys, a home business and a baby
I had no intention of having to care for after her birth."
Sarah's voice turned virulent. "So, yeah, it's pretty much
always like this."
The bitterness made him feel even lower—something he hadn't
thought was possible. Taking a deep, bracing breath he
turned to really look at Sarah. And tried to ignore the
wholly inappropriate jolt he felt when her gaze met his.
It was the same jolt he'd felt every time she'd looked at
him for the past eight years.