Home > The Cowboy's Baby Agreement (Wells Brothers Book 2)

The Cowboy's Baby Agreement (Wells Brothers Book 2)
Author: Leslie North

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Bette’s Diner was warm and busy and bustling. The conversation over Thursday night’s special, which was meatloaf with a side of mashed potatoes, was all about the snow. Mina watched as Mrs. Jenkins clutched her husband’s arm and peered out of the front window, like the snow might come sweeping in off the mountains and attack her where she sat in front of her half-eaten meatloaf. “Howard, do you think it’ll be bad?”

“It’s not gonna be bad, Ellie.” Mr. Jenkins kept eating despite his wife’s death grip on his elbow. “Snow’s not even supposed to arrive until later this week. Haven’t you been listening?”

“You never know,” Mrs. Jenkins fretted. “Sometimes storms come in when you least expect it. Changes everything. We have to stay on our toes.” She glared out through the window. “Oh, Bette, what do you think?” Bette owned the diner and was working the evening shift. She stopped beside the Jenkins’ table and refilled their seltzer waters. “Do you think it’ll be as bad as they’re predicting?”

“It’ll be beautiful, don’t you think?” Bette ran a diner. She was unbothered by most things that came through her door. Had to be, in order to keep her sanity. “We’ll have to get the sleds out for the grandkids. I wonder if Rick put them up above the barn or in the garage. I’ll send him a message about it tonight. Or maybe we’ll ski. I love that fresh snow.”

Mrs. Jenkins was the only one in the diner who showed any signs of worry about the weather. For her part, Mina wasn’t worried at all. Not about the snow. She had other things on her mind. Like sperm.

Sperm, sperm, sperm. Never in her life had Mina imagined that she’d think this much about sperm. In college she’d thought about it the way all her friends did. It was something to be avoided, because the only thing worse than failing a class was failing a class and finding out you were pregnant by the guy who took you home from the bar after the football game. Mina had never wanted even a whiff of that risk. She knew better than most people how the world was. There was you, and there was everybody else, and none of them were going to help you unless they got something out of it. Plus, she plain didn’t need them. She’d do this herself, like she did everything else.

She shifted on the diner seat’s plastic cushions and scrolled through the list of sperm donors one more time. The world might be against her. Her own uterus might be against her. But that didn’t mean Mina didn’t want kids. On the contrary, she was desperate to have a baby of her own. She’d grown up with only her grandmother to take care of her. All that time, all those days when it was just the two of them, Mina had looked forward to the day when she’d start her own family.

Preferably with a man who loved her. For a while, it had seemed like one of those might have existed…but that had been back in high school, and there had been no available men back then. They’d all been boys. But boys could break your heart just as easily, as Mina had learned. It was better, in the end, to be self-sufficient. In all things.

Sperm. She had to focus on sperm. Her fertility had been the reason she’d spent all day visiting her reproductive endocrinologist in the city. There had been…issues…in the last few years, and at this year’s annual visit to the gyno, Mina had learned that she had uterine fibroids. If the fibroids got out of control, it would get harder and harder to get pregnant.

Mina still felt a bit like the wind had been knocked out of her. She was thirty—not a teenager by any means, but also not so old that she’d imagined fertility would be a problem. But one symptom after the other had piled up in the last year and now here she was, looking at her top five choices on a sperm donor website. It was nifty, in a way. She could tick a tiny checkbox next to each profile and compare them to one another on a single page.

The profiles contained more information than Mina would have expected. One donor liked chess and had won multiple tournaments. One made a habit of climbing mountains and “planned to tackle Everest in the next year.” That sounded pretty promising. Even now, sitting in Bette’s Diner, she imagined a life with her child that was…fun. So the donor—the father? Needed to be fun and adventurous too. She read through the profiles again and found herself lingering on donor number two. Was it possible to be attracted to sperm? Well, if you’re an egg, maybe. She snorted at her own joke just in time for Bette to walk by.

“Do you need a tissue, hon?”

Mina beamed up at her, a strange relief flooding her veins. “No, no—I was just laughing at my own joke. You know me.”

Bette winked at her. “I do. Can I get you anything? Another plate of dinner? It’s all-you-can-eat.”

“I’m good. I’m—I’m really good.” Excitement came hard on the heels of relief. That was it. That was the decision. She’d go with donor number two, and she’d have the intrauterine insemination procedure, and that would be that. She’d roll the dice on having a baby of her own. No more waiting. No more wondering. Only action. “Thanks, Bette.”

Bette put a hand on Mina’s shoulder, then bustled off to the other patrons. Mina swiped out of the internet browser on her phone and pulled up her contacts list. She had the clinic’s office saved. Two rings, and she connected with Jennifer, the unflappable receptionist.

“This is Dr. Humbacher’s office. Are you calling to make an appointment or about a previously scheduled appointment?”

“I want to do it,” Mina blurted out, then slapped a hand to her forehead. “I mean—hi, Jennifer. This is Mina Heath. I had an appointment with Dr. Humbacher earlier today. We spoke about an IUI procedure, and she told me to call back when I’d made a decision. Well, I’ve made the decision. I want to go through with it. I want to get on the schedule.” Mina held her breath, as if somehow the clinic would be full up. She braced to hear the news that they couldn’t possibly fit her in. Not next week, and not ever.

“Wonderful. Let me bring up your file and see if Dr. Humbacher left any notes.” Mina’s head started to hurt from holding her breath, and she forced herself to release it—in, out, in, out. “She wrote that your next appointment should be scheduled four days from now, which puts us at next Monday. Does that sound correct?”

“It does.” Now she was practically wheezing into the phone. Mina squared her shoulders. “It does sound correct, yes.”

“Is ten o’clock all right?”

“It’s more than all right. It’s perfect.” Mina worked from home, which sometimes meant that money was unpredictable. Today she praised all the good things in the universe for giving her a flexible schedule.

“A couple more things. I’ll need to charge your card for the deposit. Should I use the one we have on file?”

“That’s the one.”

Mina waited while Jennifer put the payment through. She swallowed hard at the thought of what this procedure would do to her bank account. It would be worth it—she knew that absolutely. But it was a lot of money, and there was a difference between scheduling an appointment and putting the cash where it counted. Oh, and there was an even greater difference between fronting the fee and showing up for the procedure, which she would do. No matter what.

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