A Tricky Proposition(3)

By: Cat Schield


“Are you done eating?” she asked a few minutes later, catching the waitress’s eye. Jason hadn’t finished his lunch and showed no signs of doing so. “I should probably get back to the clinic. I have a patient to see in fifteen minutes.”

He snagged the bill from the waitress before she set it on the table and pulled out his wallet.

“I asked you to lunch.” Ming held her hand out imperiously. “You are not buying.”

“It’s the least I can do after being so late. Besides, the way you eat, you’re always a cheap date.”

“Thanks.”

While Jason slipped cash beneath the saltshaker, she stood and called Muffin to her. The Yorkie refused to budge from Jason’s lap. Vexed, Ming glared at the terrier. She was not about to scoop the dog off Jason’s thighs. Her pulse hitched at the thought of venturing anywhere near his muscled legs.

Air puffing out in a sigh, she headed for the wood gate that led directly to the parking lot. Jason was at her side, dog tucked beneath his arm, before she reached the pavement.

“Where’s your car?” he asked.

“I walked. It’s only two blocks.”

Given that humidity wasn’t a factor on this late-September afternoon, she should have enjoyed her stroll to the restaurant. But what she wanted to discuss with Jason had tied her up in knots.

“Come on. I’ll drive you back.” He took her hand, setting off a shower of sparks that heightened her senses.

The spicy scent of his cologne infiltrated her lungs and caused the most disturbing urges. His warm, lean body bumped against her hip. It was moments like these when she was tempted to call her receptionist and cancel her afternoon appointments so she could take Jason home and put an end to all the untidy lust rampaging through her body.

Of course, she’d never do that. She’d figure out some other way to tame the she-wolf that had taken up residence beneath her skin. All their lives she’d been the conservative one. The one who studied hard, planned for the future, organized her life down to the minute. Jason was the one who acted on impulse. Who partied his way through college and still managed to graduate with honors. And who liked his personal life unfettered by anyone’s expectations.

They neared his car, a 1969 Camaro, and Jason stepped forward to open the passenger door for her. Being nothing more than friends didn’t stop him from treating her with the same chivalry he afforded the women he dated. Before she could sit down he had to pluck an eighteen-inch trophy off her seat. Despite the cavalier way he tossed the award into the backseat, Ming knew the win was a source of pride to him and that the trophy would end up beside many others in his “racing” room.

“So what else is on your mind?” Jason asked, settling behind the wheel and starting the powerful engine. Sometimes he knew what she was thinking before she did.

“It’s too much to get into now.” She cradled Muffin in her arms and brushed her cheek against the terrier’s silky coat. The dog gave her hand a happy lick.

“Give me the CliffsNotes version.”

Jason accelerated out of the parking lot, the roar of the 427 V-8 causing a happy spike in Ming’s heart rate. Riding shotgun in whatever Jason drove had been a thrill since the year he’d turned sixteen and gotten his first muscle car. Where other boys in school had driven relatively new cars, Jason and Max preferred anything fast from the fifties, sixties and seventies.

“It doesn’t matter because I changed my mind.”

“Changed your mind about what?”

“About what I was going to ask you.” She wished he’d just drop it, but she knew better. Now that his curiosity had been aroused, he would bug her until he got answers. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Sure it does. You’ve been acting odd for weeks now. What’s up?”

Ming sighed in defeat. “You asked me who was going to be the father.” She paused to weigh the consequences of telling him. She’d developed a logical explanation that had nothing to do with her longing to have a deeper connection with him. He never had to know how she really felt. Her heart a battering ram against her ribs, she said, “I wanted it to be you.”