A Tricky Proposition(8)

By: Cat Schield


*

Jason paced from one end of his large office to the other. Beyond his closed door, the offices of Sterling Bridge Company emptied. It was a little past six, but Jason had given up working hours ago. As the chief financial officer of the family’s bridge construction business, he was supposed to be looking over some last-minute changes in the numbers for a multimillion-dollar project they were bidding on next week, but he couldn’t focus. Not surprising after Ming’s big announcement today.

She’d be a great mom. Patient. Loving. Stern when she had to be. If he’d voiced doubts it wasn’t because of her ability to parent, but how hard it would be for her to do it on her own. Naturally Ming wouldn’t view any difficulty as too much trouble. She’d embrace the challenges and surpass everyone’s expectations.

But knowing this didn’t stop his uneasiness. His sense that he should be there for her. Help her.

Help her what?

Get pregnant.

Raise his child?

His gut told him it was the right thing to do even if his brain warned him that he was embarking on a fool’s journey. They were best friends. This was when best friends stepped up and helped each other out. If the situation was reversed and he wanted a child, she’d be the woman he’d choose to make that happen.

But if they did this, things could get complicated. If his brother found out that Jason had helped Ming become a mother, the hurt they caused might lead to permanent estrangement between him and Evan.

On the other hand, Ming deserved to get the family she wanted.

Another thirty minutes disappeared with Jason lost in thought. Since he couldn’t be productive at the office, he decided to head home. A recently purchased ’73 Dodge Charger sat in his garage awaiting some TLC. In addition to his passion for racing, he loved buying, fixing up and selling classic muscle cars. It’s why he’d chosen his house in the western suburbs. The three-acre estate had afforded him the opportunity to build a six-car garage to house his rare collection.

On the way out, Jason passed his brother’s office. Helping Ming get pregnant would also involve keeping another big secret from his brother. Jason resented that she still worried about Evan’s feelings after the way he’d broken off their engagement. Would it be as awkward for Evan to be an uncle to his ex-fiancée’s child as it had been for Jason to watch his best friend fall in love with his brother?

From the moment Ming and Evan had begun dating, tension had developed between Jason and his brother. An unspoken rift that was territorial in nature. Ming and Jason were best friends. They were bonded by difficult experiences. Inside jokes. Shared memories. In the beginning, it was Evan who was the third wheel whenever the three of them got together. But this wasn’t like other times when Ming had dated. Thanks to her long friendship with Jason, she was practically family. Within months, it was obvious she and Evan were perfectly matched in temperament and outlook, and the closer Ming and Evan became, the more Jason became the outsider. Which was something he resented. Ming was his best friend and he didn’t like sharing her.

Entering his brother’s office, Jason found Evan occupying the couch in the seating area. Evan was three years older and carried more weight on his six-foot frame than Jason, but otherwise, the brothers had the same blue eyes, dark blond hair and features. Both resembled their mother, who’d died in a car accident with their nine-year-old sister when the boys were in high school.

The death of his wife and daughter had devastated their father. Tony Sterling had fallen into a deep depression that lasted six months and almost resulted in the loss of his business. And if Jason hadn’t snuck into the garage one night to “borrow” the car for a joyride and found his father sitting behind the wheel with the garage filling with exhaust fumes, Tony might have lost his life.

This pivotal event had happened when Jason was only fifteen years old and had marked him. He swore he would never succumb to a love so strong that he would be driven to take his own life when the love was snatched away. It had been an easy promise to keep.

Jason scrutinized his brother as he crossed the room, his footfalls soundless on the plush carpet. Evan was so focused on the object in his hand he didn’t notice Jason’s arrival until he spoke.