Jared's Counterfeit Fiancee(3)

By: Brenda Jackson

“Mr. Westmoreland, your mother is on the line.”

Jared shook his head. Yes, his morning could get worse. It just did. “Go ahead and put her through.”

A few moments later after hearing the connection, he said. “Hi, Mom.”

“Did you get my message, Jared?”

Jared raised his gaze to the ceiling before saying. “Yes, I got it.”

“Good. Then I’ll be setting an extra plate out for dinner next Sunday.”

Jared wanted to tell her in a nice, respectable way that if she set out the plate there was a strong chance it would sit there empty. But before he could get the words out, his mother quickly added, “Remember, you’re the oldest and I expect you to set an example. Besides, you’re not getting any younger.”

She made it seem as if he was fifty-seven instead of thirty-seven. Besides, his mother knew how he felt about the institution of marriage. He was a divorce attorney for heaven’s sake. He ended marriages, not put them together. He’d handled enough divorce cases to know that marriage wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. People got married and then a lot of them eventually got divorced. It was a vicious cycle; one that made him money, but sickened him at the same time. Although there were long-lasting marriages in the Westmoreland family, he considered them exceptions and not the norm. It would be just his luck to have the first failed marriage in the family and he had no intention of becoming a statistic.

“Jared, are you listening?”

He sighed. When she used that tone, he had no other choice but to listen. “Yes, but has it occurred to you that Durango, Ian, Spencer, Quade, Reggie and I like being single?” he asked respectfully.

“And has it ever occurred to any of you that your father and I aren’t getting any younger and we’d love to have grandchildren while we’re still of sound mind to enjoy them?”

Jared shook his head. First, she was trying to shove marriage down their throats and now she was hinting at grandchildren. But he was smart enough to know that the last thing he needed was to butt heads with caring, stubborn Sarah Westmoreland. He would rather face an uncompromising judge in the courtroom than oppose his mother. It was an uphill battle that he just didn’t have the energy for right now.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he finally said.

“Thanks, Son. That’s all I ask.”

“Really, Dana, I wish you would think about going with us.”

Dana Rollins glanced up at Cybil Franklin, who stood in the middle of her office with a determined frown on her face. Cybil was Dana’s best friend from high school and the primary reason she had relocated from Tennessee to Atlanta three years ago to take a position at Kessler Industries as a landscape architect.

“Thanks, Cybil, but I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that three’s a crowd. I don’t think going with you and Ben to North Carolina this weekend is a good idea.”

Cybil rolled her eyes. “It’s just a camping trip to the mountains. I feel awful knowing you’ll be spending Easter alone.”

Leaning back in the chair behind her desk, Dana smiled easily. “Hey, I’m a twenty-seven-year-old woman who can take care of herself. I’ll be fine and I have no problem spending Easter alone.” It will be just like every other year since Mom and Dad died.

None of the holidays were the same anymore since her parents had been killed in a car accident on their way to her college graduation five years earlier. Since she had no other family, their deaths had left her truly alone. She’d thought all that had changed when she met Luther. They began dating in early spring and after six months, he had asked her to marry him.

“It’s times like these when I’m tempted to find Luther Cord and kill him,” Cybil said angrily. “When I think of what he did to you, I get so mad.”

Dana smiled softly, no longer able to muster up anger when she thought about Luther. He had paid her an unexpected visit last week to tell her that he was moving to California. He told her that his decision not to marry had nothing to do with her, that he’d come to terms with his sexual preference, and that in his own way he loved her, but not in the way a husband is supposed to love his wife. At first she had been shocked, but then she’d acknowledged that the signs had all been there. She couldn’t, or hadn’t wanted to see them. Dana hadn’t told anyone about Luther’s confession, not even Cybil.