A Tricky Proposition(4)

By: Cat Schield


Silence dominated until Jason stopped the car in front of the medical building’s entrance. Ming’s announcement smacked into him like the heel of her hand applied to his temple. That she wanted to have a baby didn’t surprise him. It’s what had broken up her and Evan. But that she wanted Jason to be the father caught him completely off guard.

Had her platonic feelings shifted toward romance? Desire?


She’d been his best friend since first grade. The one person he’d let see his fear when his father had tried to commit suicide. The only girl who’d listened when he went on and on about his goals and who’d talked sense into him when doubts took hold.

In high school, girlfriends came and went, but Ming was always there. Smart and funny, her almond-shaped eyes glowing with laughter. She provided emotional support without complicating their relationship with exasperating expectations. If he canceled plans with her she never pouted or ranted. She never protested when he got caught up working on car engines or shooting hoops with his buddies and forgot to call her. And more often than not, her sagacity kept Jason grounded.

She would have made the perfect girlfriend if he’d been willing to ruin their twenty-five-year friendship for a few months of romance. Because eventually his eye would wander and she’d be left as another casualty of his carefully guarded heart.

He studied her beautiful oval face. “Why me?”

Below inscrutable black eyes, her full lips kicked up at the corners. “You’re the perfect choice.”

The uneasy buzz resumed in the back of his mind. Was she looking to change their relationship in some way? Link herself to him with a child? He never intended to marry. Ming knew that. Accepted it. Hadn’t she?

“How so?”

“Because you’re my best friend. I know everything about you. Something about having a stranger’s child makes me uncomfortable.” She sighed. “Besides, I’m perfectly comfortable being a single parent. You are a dedicated bachelor. You won’t have a crisis of conscience and demand your parental rights. It’s perfect.”

“Perfect,” he echoed, reasoning no matter what she claimed, a child they created together would connect them in a way that went way beyond friendship.

“You’re right. I don’t want marriage or kids. But fathering your child…” Something rumbled in his subconscious, warning him to stop asking questions. She’d decided against asking him to help her get pregnant. He should leave it at that.

“Don’t say it that way. You’re making it too complicated. We’ve been friends forever. I don’t want anything to change our relationship.”

Too late for that. “Things between us changed the minute you started dating Evan.”

Jason hadn’t welcomed the news. In fact, he’d been quite displeased, which was something he’d had no right to feel. If she was nothing more than his friend, he should have been happy that she and Evan had found each other.

“I know. In the beginning it was awkward, but I never would have gone out with him if you hadn’t given me your blessing.”

What other choice did he have? It wasn’t as if he intended to claim her as anything other than a friend. But such rational thinking hadn’t stood him in good stead the first time he’d seen his brother kiss her.

“You didn’t need my blessing. If you wanted to date Evan, that was your business.” And he’d backed off. Unfortunately, distance had lent him perspective. He’d begun to see her not only as his longtime friend, but also as a desirable woman. “But let’s get back to why you changed your mind about wanting me.”

“I didn’t want you,” she corrected, one side of her mouth twitching. “Just a few of your strongest swimmers.”

She wanted to make light of it, but Jason wasn’t ready to oblige her. “Okay, how come you changed your mind about wanting my swimmers?”

She stared straight ahead and played with the Yorkie’s ears, sending the dog into a state of bliss. “Because we’d have to keep it a secret. If anyone found out what we’d done, it would cause all sorts of hard feelings.”

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