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Baby Fever Bride
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I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR LOVE. I NEED A BABY NOW…
My biological clock just exploded.
Eighteen months. That’s how long I have to make a baby happen before it becomes one more broken dream.
Fate has a sick sense of humor, though. Its name is Hayden Shaw.
Yes, the Hayden Shaw. Billionaire developer, scandalously gorgeous, his hard-headed ego only eclipsed by his enormous…reputation.
The man who has everything except one missing piece.
He needs a bride to fool the world. I need a baby. Hello, first class donor material.
It’s simple business. Strictly professional. A no nonsense, pretend-my-panties-aren’t-melting trade.
Love isn’t in the fine print. No, I don’t care how many times I have to stop swooning when I’m in his arms, locked in his kiss, smiling like we’re meant to be for the cameras.
Simple, I said, remember? Yeah. Who the hell am I kidding?
My new wife is completely insane. The spitfire who just agreed to play pretend thinks we’re doing this baby thing in a lab, without ending up between the sheets.
Too bad I see right through it whenever she says her favorite line. Strictly professional? Please.
Too bad I taste how bad she wants it when we’re giving the press something to talk about, lips tangled together like there’s no tomorrow.
Too damned bad she’s perfection itself, and ‘professional’ went out the window the second she stormed into my life.
She’s also my last chance at stopping a scheme to steal the family fortune, turning my riches to rags.
But I’m Hayden Shaw. I’m in control. I don’t back down. Ms. Naughty and Nice will never, ever know how bad I’m twisted up in our chase.
This isn’t Cinderella, and I’m no Prince. Soon, I’ll show Penny this isn’t all make believe. Consummating this marriage is about to get very real…
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It’s only ten o’clock in the morning, and I’m completely boned.
No, not in the way I want to be. There’s nothing handsome, alpha, or inked about the middle aged doctor rattling off my lab results, and they’re not pretty.
I’m sitting in his office, trying to listen to what he’s saying, before I ask if there’s been a horrible screw up.
Wishful thinking. Dr. Potter, a thin balding man who can’t stop giving me the most sympathetic look in the world, doesn’t make mistakes.
“Just to confirm, we ran your blood test three times before reporting the results to the CDC, as required under Federal law. There’s no mistaking it.” He holds a finger up, as if he’s read my mind. “I’m sincerely sorry to deliver the bad news, Ms. Silvers. The fever and sweats you’ve been complaining about should have already diminished. They won’t be back. As for the long-term consequences –“
He stops when I choke up. Long-term…that’s really what he wants to call it?
He’s just told me my blood test came back positive for the fucking Zeno virus. I’m never going to be a mom.
Not unless I get pregnant next month, which seems about as likely as the wiry old doctor ripping off his face and revealing an Adonis underneath. One who’ll wink at me and volunteer to be a donor.
Yeah, nobody’s that lucky. And if there’s anything I’m sure about today, it’s my luck running out.
It’s my fault for taking that humanitarian trip to Cuba, where one bad mosquito bite was waiting to change my life forever. I can feel the spot under my elbow where the hot red welt used to be. Biting my lip, I reach down and scratch it, even though there’s nothing there anymore.
Hot blood races through my cheeks. I’m shaking. Sixty seconds away from breaking down.
Another embarrassment I don’t need while I’m glued to this chair, unable to put as many miles as I can between myself and this hellish consultation.
“Ms. Silvers, please…it’s going to be all right,” he says in his best dad voice, reaching over, pressing a reassuring hand down on my shoulder. It’s not helping. “If you’ll allow me, I’d like to review the positives in your situation: infertility is the only clinically known side effect of Zeno syndrome. You won’t suffer anything more dire. Plus everything I’ve read in the journals lately sounds promising. They’re working on a treatment. There’s a real chance Zeno induced infertility may be reversible with good time, if the research pays off.”
If? Until now, I’ve held in the tears. Now, they’re coming, wet and ugly and full of angst.
“Easy for you to say!” I sputter. “I never should’ve taken that trip. I wouldn’t have even thought about it if I’d known it meant giving up my chances to ever be a mom. God, if I’d just stuck to Miami for the beaches, gave myself a normal getaway like most people…”
“No. You can’t beat yourself up. Besides, Zeno has been working its way into our coastal communities, Ms. Silvers. The CDC report on my desk says as much. A hundred cases in Florida this week alone.” He’s still rubbing my shoulder, as if the most boring, detached man in the world can comfort me. “Listen, if you’d like, we can explore what the university has to offer in terms of egg preservation. There’s no guarantees, of course, but it’s entirely possible –“
“That what?” My voice shakes. “I’ll magically find a way to pay a bunch of quacks to stab me with needles, and then pay them ten times more to keep my unborn children in test tubes? I’m a secretary for a third rate company, Doctor. I make fifteen bucks an hour. You might as well tell me I’m about to meet Mr. Right when I walk out this door, have him propose tomorrow, and knock me up by next Friday.”
Potter looks nervously at the wall. His hand drifts off me. Well, at least I’m not the only one here who’s embarrassed, not that it’s much satisfaction.
He clears his throat, and folds his hands, leaning toward me over the desk. It takes me a second to realize he’s eyeing the medical degree on the wall behind me. Okay, maybe I regret throwing the quack word around in front of him. I’m sure he’ll forgive me.
“You do have eighteen months before the full effects of Zeno in your reproductive system make the odds of conceiving virtually zero.”
A year and a half. Lovely.
Not even enough time to build up a serious relationship from coffee dates or – God forbid – Tinder. Much less rest assured I’ve really met the one, the man I want to have a baby with.
And that’s assuming I’d have better prospects than the usual idiots I’ve met before. Like the boy a couple weeks ago, who showed up late to our dinner at an overpriced French place, bearing gifts. Gifts, in this case, being the cheap purple dildo he buried in a bouquet of plastic roses.