Baby Wanted

By: Roxy Wilson

Chapter One

Heather fidgeted on the coffee shop seat and twisted the paper band on her coffee cup while patrons moved around her with their full to-go cups. Beside her, a mom jostled a toddler on her hip and Heather’s heart squeezed. She wanted to be that mom so badly. In her head, her biological clock gonged the hour. Time was slipping away so fast. At thirty-four and three-quarters, there was no time to lose.

Which was why today was so critically important.

The front door buzzed and she glanced up, nervously expectant that it would finally be Sean coming through the entrance. Nope, an older gentleman with a Yorkie in his arms. Heather leaned closer to the window beside her table and glanced up and down the bustling sidewalk, but she didn’t see Sean’s dark head anywhere. She checked her watch again. He was never anywhere on time, but she’d hoped that today she wouldn’t have to wait the full fifteen minutes of Sean Standard Time.

The coffee thrummed through her veins and her heel tapped the linoleum. She should have ordered a small, but now she was tempted to order another. Or maybe a scone to soak up some of the caffeine. She still had at least another five minutes before Sean showed. Heather lifted her purse off the back of the chair and dug around for a five-dollar bill. As she twisted to stand, she caught Sean staring at her from just outside the door. Heather waved and a bright smile flashed across his face. He held the door open for two loud women talking about a shoe sale down at Macy’s. He came over and enfolded her in a huge warm hug. He was such a great hugger. She pressed her cheek into his neck and smiled at the comforting smell of his spicy aftershave. His wide hand pressed against the small of her back, and their bellies melted together. Sean wasn’t the kind of guy to keep her at a friendly distance when they hugged—almost like he used their body contact to sustain him during the rest of his week.

He leaned away and smiled. “You okay?”

Heather nodded and let her arms fall to her sides. “Want a coffee?”

He glanced at the counter, six deep in customers, then back at Heather. “I was kind of hoping we could grab a bite to eat. Have you had lunch?”

Heather shook her head. Ever since she’d come up with this crazed idea, her appetite had fled, and she’d barely eaten anything in the last two days. Now that she was so close to getting a resolution, her stomach growled.

Sean grinned and tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Heather grabbed her purse and tossed her nearly empty cup in the trash by the door as she let Sean lead her out of the coffee shop and down the block.

“Putino’s okay?”

“Mmm. Yes. I’ve been dying for his ravioli.”

They strolled down the sidewalk and Heather tossed around the perfect way to dive into this conversation. Sean was her last chance and she had to get it right.

An older couple passed them as they reached the restaurant. The woman was nagging the man and his bickering reply pecked at Heather like a horrid little magpie. She winced at how their behavior perfectly mimicked that of her first foster parents. Before the memory could overtake her, she hurried inside, soothed by the soft music coming from the speakers and drowning out the outside chatter. She took a breath and refused to dive backward into her past. That life was gone now, she told herself. Today was a brand new start of something wonderful.

Sean settled his hand on the small of her back, as if he sensed her tension. His touch grounded her into this reality, and she drew a deep breath while they waited for the host to seat them.

It was early enough that they’d beat the lunch rush, so the host took them right back to a table. Sean held her seat and hundreds of butterflies erupted in Heather’s stomach. She just needed to get this over with. Sean hung up his coat and sat.

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