Sharlene always wanted a baby, but her spoiled husband only wants a child to secure his position in his wealthy uncle’s will. A mix-up at the fertility clinic reveals his hypocrisy, prompting a pregnant Sharlene to strike out on her own. She's determined her child will enjoy the happy home growing up she was denied.
Single Sharlene “runs into” Zack on a busy street and falls for him—as he does for her. She takes the struggling student/small business owner Zack up on his offer to rent an apartment in his building. They become close neighbors, but good manners keep them at arm's length for longer than necessary. Even their best friends cheer them on!
Sharlene wonders could Zack ever love a child that isn’t his? Zack wonders will he ever find enough courage to tell Sharlene he’s the biological father of her child before she goes into labor?
“Everything went according to plan except—”
Sharlene Pincher covered her ears and closed her eyes. She didn’t want to hear it. Not again. She didn’t want to hear their money had been completely wasted and they weren’t going to have a baby. She just couldn’t take the bad news. No, better to sit like the chimpanzee on the popular poster—ears covered and eyes shut tight—in Doctor Fazoli’s upscale office than to hear the awful truth one more time.
“You’re not listening to what I’m saying,” Doctor Fazoli said, raising his volume but still managing to speak in his usual gentle, if somewhat condescending, manner. “Sharlene, you’re pregnant.”
Sharlene removed her hands and blinked twice in slow motion. “I’m w-what? You’re joking, aren’t you, Doc?”
The older gentleman settled back in his leather desk chair and steepled his fingers. “You should know after coming to this office for three years now I never joke. Doctor Allen is the closest we come to a resident prankster on staff.”
“I-I’m really pregnant this time?” Sharlene’s heavy heart lifted, soaring as high as a bird flying over the Gateway Arch. It was too good to be true, too unbelievable to be true. After five attempts in three years, it just had to be a joke. Pregnant? At last she was going to have the family she’d always wanted. At last their stalled-out marriage would actually go somewhere. At last she was going to have the long-awaited heir to the Pincher fortune.
Doesn’t it beat all that Jeffrey would be out of town when we finally receive the good news?
The illustrious physician smiled, focusing his attention on her medical folder lying open on the desk. “Yes, you’re in the club as my assistants are fond of saying. However, there’s just one detail which needs explaining, quite an important detail—”
“Oh, Doctor F!” Sharlene cried. She jumped out of her chair and threw her arms around the distinguished man’s neck, knocking the breath out of him. “I’m pregnant at last. Won’t Jeffrey and his family be proud of me. I finally did something right for once in my life. What else needs explaining?”
He cleared his throat and tapped his pen on the blotter.
It’s so unlike him to beat around the bush.
Sharlene had a cold feeling of dread tickling up her spine. She broke the impromptu embrace and settled herself in her chair.
“Sharlene, I don’t know how to tell you this any way but straight out. The baby’s father is not your husband.”
Doctor Allen wasn’t the only joker on staff. Sharlene tittered a country girl giggle as Jeffrey called the sound of her laughing, a totally unsophisticated guffaw not common to big city dwellers, she’d been informed. Doctor Fazoli’s deadpan delivery had almost taken her in, but she couldn’t be fooled. She wasn’t all that blonde.
“Of course my husband’s the father. You all told me that all you had to do in in-vitro fertilization was take a little bit of his sperm and one of my eggs and scramble them up in a dish, and presto-chango! Instant baby. It’s only February. It’s way too early for April Fool’s Day.” She gave him an obvious wink and laid a finger aside her nose. “Oh, Doc. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for giving a gal such a fright.”
A fleeting grimace of pain crossed the doctor’s face. “Unfortunately, it’s not a joke. I only wish it were. My chief lab assistant informed me this morning that there was a mix-up and...”
His words hung heavy in the air like a wet towel on a cold day at the beach. As their meaning sank in, Sharlene’s heart boom-boomed wildly, her palms dampened, and she tapped her feet to the nervous beat of the pounding in her ears.
“Doc, are you saying the lab used someone else’s sperm to make our baby?”
“Exactly,” he said, visibly relieved that she seemed to be taking it so well. “We’ve discovered it very early on in the pregnancy. If you like, we can schedule a termination procedure—”
“Like hell you will!”
A strange, loud voice within her had taken over. Sharlene, who prided herself on keeping her country civility in the midst of living in the ill-mannered city, was shocked by her response. What had gotten into her? Maybe this mix-up was for the best. After all, it had been primarily Jeffrey’s fault that they couldn’t have any children until now—a sperm count so low the lab technicians were hard-pressed to find one decent tadpole to swim upstream at all. No wonder there had been a cock-up. Someone probably thought the test tube containing Jeffrey’s semen was rinse water and poured it down the drain.
Did it really make a difference in the big scheme of things? A baby was a baby after all. It would be hers, to love and to cherish from this day forth.
“Sorry about the outburst.” Sharlene willed her nervousness to subside. “No, I don’t want to terminate the pregnancy.”
“As you wish, but I am obligated to inform your husband about the baby’s true parentage. It may take a little while to determine exactly who the donor is. However, the lab reports are scattered about at the moment since the chief technician left town in rather a hurry, but we do have the codes in our database, and that was recorded.”
Doctor Fazoli cleared his throat once again and reached for the phone. “Can we give your husband a quick call now and see if he can come on over to discuss the matter?”
“Call Jeffrey?” Sharlene absentmindedly twirled a thin strand of her silvery ash-blond hair around a finger. “He’s out of town on business this week.”
No, you don’t really.