A Tricky Proposition(10)

By: Cat Schield


“I asked if I could call you later.”

“Sure.” His voice had gone hoarse. “Have a good dinner.”

“Thanks.”

The phone went dead in his hand. Jason dropped the cell back into his pocket, still reeling from the direction his thoughts had gone. He had to stop thinking of her like that. Unfortunately, once awakened, the notion of making love to Ming proved difficult to coax back to sleep.

He headed to his favorite bar, which promised a beer and a dozen sports channels as a distraction from his problems. It failed to deliver.

Instead, he replayed his conversations with both Ming and Evan in his mind. She wanted to have a baby, wanted Jason’s help to make that happen, but she’d decided against it before he’d had a chance to consider the idea. All because it wouldn’t be fair to Evan if he ever found out.

Would she feel the same if she knew Evan was dating Lily and that he didn’t care if Ming got hurt in the process? That wouldn’t change her mind. Even if it killed her, Ming would want Evan and Lily to be happy.

But shouldn’t she get to be selfish, too? She should be able to choose whatever man she wanted to help her get pregnant. Even the brother of her ex-fiancé. Only Jason knew she’d never go there without a lot of convincing.

And wasn’t that what best friends were for?

*

Fifteen minutes after she’d hung up on Jason, Ming’s heart was still thumping impossibly fast. She’d told herself that when he’d asked if she wanted company for a glass of wine and a hot bath, he hadn’t meant anything sexual. She’d called him for a shoulder to cry on. That’s all he was offering.

But the image of him sliding into her oversize tub while candlelight flickered off the glass tile wall and a thousand soap bubbles drifted on the water’s surface…

“Ready for dinner?”

Jerked out of her musing, Ming spun her chair away from her computer and spied Terry Kincaid grinning at her from the doorway, his even, white teeth dazzling against his tan skin. As well as being her partner in the dental practice and her best girl friend’s father, he was the reason she’d chosen to become an orthodontist in the first place.

“Absolutely.”

She closed her internet browser and images of strollers disappeared from her screen. As crazy as it was to shop for baby stuff before she was even pregnant, Ming couldn’t stop herself from buying things. Her last purchase had been one of those mobiles that hangs above the crib and plays music as it spins.

“You already know how proud I am of you,” Terry began after they’d finished ordering dinner at his favorite seafood place. “When I brought you into the practice, it wasn’t because you were at the top of your class or a hard worker, but because you’re like family.”

“You know that’s how I feel about you, too.” In fact, Terry was so much better than her own family because he offered her absolute support without any judgment.

“And as a member of my family, it was important to me that I come to you with any big life-changing decisions I was about to make.”

Ming gulped. How had he found out what she was going to do? Wendy couldn’t have told him. Her friend knew how to keep a secret.

“Sure,” she said. “That’s only fair.”

“That’s why I’m here to tell you that I’m going to retire and I want you to take over the practice.”

This was the last thing she expected him to say. “But you’re only fifty-seven. You can’t quit now.”

“It’s the perfect time. Janice and I want to travel while we’re still young enough to have adventures.”

In addition to being a competitive sailor, Terry was an expert rock climber and pilot. Where Ming liked relaxing spa vacations in northern California, he and his wife went hang gliding in Australia and zip lining through the jungles of Costa Rica.

“And you want me to have the practice?” Her mind raced at the thought of all the things she would have to learn, and fast. Managing personnel and finances. Marketing. The practice thrived with Terry at the helm. Could she do half as well? “It’s a lot.”

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