Title: The Best Friend Problem
Author: Mariah Ankenman
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Prudence Carlson has been lucky in life. A fulfilling wedding-planning business run with her girlfriends in Colorado, plus the best guy friend ever in her firefighter bestie Finn. All that’s missing from it is a baby. Luckily, it’s the twenty-first century—Pru can take matters into her own hands. She doesn’t need to find true love to create the future love of her life.
Except all this talk of babies and insemination and…Pru and Finn cross a line they never expected to. Sure, one night of passion won’t change their close friendship. Until Pru goes in for a fertility check-up to find… she’s already pregnant.
As best friends, Pru and Finn have survived college, new jobs, and bad breakups, but can they survive crib shopping, birth classes, and late-night cravings? Especially when Finn has never considered himself even remotely Daddy material?
“You want a drink?”
She held up her bag, pulling her water bottle out from the side pouch. “I’m good.”
“Okay, so what did you want to talk about?”
“Right, um, hold on.”
She dug through her purse, rifling about in the cavernous depths. He wondered what she could be searching for. For all he knew, she had a full cheesecake in there. He’d dug through that thing before in search of gum. He never found the gum, though he had found bandages, pens, a notepad with various numbers and calculations on it, a half-eaten granola bar, hand sanitizer, one of Bruiser’s chew toys, and a couple of tampons, which he first mistook for candy.
She laughed for a solid ten minutes when he asked if he could have one. He didn’t think he’d ever live down that embarrassment. But in his defense, he grew up with four brothers. How was he supposed to know what a tiny, packaged to-go feminine product looked like?
“Crap!” she exclaimed, but the curse was muffled by the bag. “Where is it? I had it all written down.”
She’d written down what she wanted to say to him? It must be important.
“I can’t be losing my mind already—it’s only been a few days.”
“Pru.” He placed a hand on her shoulder, pausing her frantic searching. “Just tell me what’s up.”
Abandoning her bag of mysteries, she glanced up, determination replacing the panic. There was his Pru.
Nothing could faze her for long. Not even losing whatever well-planned speech she’d prepared for him. Though why she thought she needed to plan out what she wanted to say was beyond him. They were best friends. She could say whatever she wanted. No planning required.
Could be about that night.
He swallowed the panic rising in his chest. Did she regret it? Want a repeat? Want to wipe it from her memory and pretend like it never happened? Honestly, he wasn’t sure which option freaked him out more.
“Okay, here goes.” She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath before opening them again and staring straight at him. “I’m pregnant.”
“Oh.” A myriad of emotions flew across his synapses in a matter of seconds: shock, happiness, worry, sadness. He wasn’t sure why that last one was in there, but he ignored it and focused on the most important one. “Congratulations! I didn’t even know you’d picked a donor yet.”
“I didn’t.” She shook her head. “I mean, I did, but I didn’t get to use his...um...donation.”
Now he was confused. He knew she was planning to get inseminated—still a weird thing to know about his best friend—but how could she be pregnant if she hadn’t picked a...
The reality of the situation sunk in.
Pru’s nervousness, her need to talk, the planned-out speech... She wasn’t just pregnant, she was pregnant with— “You mean, I’m the... You and me... We...” Apparently the only thing it took to turn him into a blubbering moron was knocking up his best friend.
His best friend.
She nodded, smoothing down her ponytail the way she always did when she was nervous. “Yeah. I guess in the, um, excitement of everything, and with the alcohol, we kind of forgot about protection.”
Damn. He’d never forgotten the rubber before, but now that he thought about it, he couldn’t remember using one or asking about birth control. He’d just been so lost in what had been happening, it completely slipped his mind. And, yeah, he might have had one shot too many. The logistics of how they’d gone from watching TV to naked in his bed that night were a little hazy.
“Shit, Pru. I am so sorry. I never forget. I swear. And I’m clean. I just had my physical a few months ago, and I haven’t been with anyone except you since, and—”
“Finn, stop.” She held up a hand. “I know. I don’t blame you. Honestly, for a second after I found out, I was worried you might, um, blame me. Think I was using you to get a baby or something.”
That was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard. Pru would never pull anything so underhanded or cruel. Plus, she’d told him about her solo mommy plans. Why would she seduce him to try and get pregnant when she already had a plan?
He knew better. Knew her better.
“I would never think that of you. We had a little too much to drink. We both got caught up in the moment. We’re both at fault.”
Though secretly, he blamed himself. He should have remembered. He should have protected her.
“So, what now?”
“I wanted a baby.” She nodded, back in Practical Pru mode. “And now, well, I’m going to have one. Maybe not the way I planned, but I want this baby, Finn.”
He knew that, and he would never try and stop her from getting what she wanted. What kind of friend would he be if he did? A shitty one. And Finn Jamison might be a lot of things, but a shitty friend was not one of them.
In a way, it was sort of cool how he’d helped her achieve her dream. Not everyone would understand it, but people could go screw themselves. Pru wanted something and, in a roundabout way, he’d helped make it happen. Wasn’t that what friends were supposed to do?
Friends don’t knock each other up just because one of them wants a baby.
Well some friends do, apparently.
He shrugged. “Yeah, I mean, this is what you wanted, right? A baby?” She nodded. “Then I’m really happy for you, Pru.”
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Runs February 1 – 28, 2021.
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Bestselling author Mariah Ankenman lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her two rambunctious daughters and loving husband who provides ample inspiration for her heart-stopping heroes.
Mariah loves to lose herself in a world of words. Her favorite thing about writing is when she can make someone’s day a little brighter with one of her books. To learn more about Mariah and her books, visit her website http://mariahankenman.com/, follow her on social media or sign up for her newsletter http://bit.ly/2XeKPZm
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