A Baby of Her Own
“ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION. Of course! That’s the answer.”
Delaney Lawson almost choked on her drink. Swallowing hard, she sent a quick glance around the redneck bar that was the center of Dundee, Idaho’s weekend entertainment to see who might have overheard, then lowered her voice. “I hope you’re talking about breeding horses, Beck.”
Rebecca Wells, her friend and housemate, didn’t look the least bit abashed. “You know I’m not talking about horses. I’m talking about you,” she responded, fiddling with her new short haircut. “Because of what you said last night.”
Delaney grimaced. “Forget about last night. Buddy had just told me that the two of you are getting married, that you’re going to be leaving the state in five months. And it was my thirtieth birthday. I had a right to be depressed.”
“I was planning to tell you after your birthday.”
“Oh, well, what are big, dumb guys for?”
“I can think of several uses for Buddy. But you weren’t upset about my engagement or your birthday. You were depressed because you can’t find anyone to love, and Aunt Millie and everyone else in this godforsaken town is asking when you’re going to get married. And because—more than anything—you want a baby.”
“I was depressed because you’re marrying a man you met on the Internet, a guy you’ve seen only once, and I’m turning thirty without the prospect of a family in sight. It’s all those things,” Delaney insisted. “Besides, Valentine’s Day is in a couple of weeks, which doesn’t help.”
Someone started the jukebox and Rebecca looked away. Delaney knew she didn’t like displays of emotion. Rebecca expressed herself with sarcasm and laughter, not words like I love you and I’m going to miss you. But Delaney understood how deeply she cared, and returned those feelings. They’d been part of each other’s lives for twenty-four years.
“I’ll come back and visit every chance I get, you know that,” Rebecca said after a long silence.
“I know,” Delaney told her. “I’ll be okay. I mean, we’re adults. We have lives to lead. I just hope Buddy turns out to be everything you think he is.”
“Buddy will drive me crazy, like he did yesterday when he let the cat out of the bag early—but we fit, you know?”
Delaney nodded, even though she wasn’t sure she agreed. Physically they were opposites—Buddy short, round and dark; Rebecca tall, thin and dishwater blond when her hair wasn’t colored something more trendy—but it was the differences in their personalities that worried Delaney. From what she could gather, Buddy seemed nice, but he was also quiet, steady and ploddingly predictable. She couldn’t see her volatile friend settling for a couch potato. Or maybe that was exactly what Rebecca needed. Maybe Buddy’s easygoing nature would temper Rebecca’s high spirits and they’d reach some common ground and live happily ever after. Delaney certainly hoped it would end that way.
“You’ll find someone,” Rebecca said, but her words rang hollow to Delaney, who was running out of patience. She’d wanted to get married for several years now and she felt as if she couldn’t wait another day.
“There’s still plenty of time to have kids,” Rebecca cajoled.
“Not if the next ten years go like the last. As much as I love the people around here, I don’t really belong to any of them. But you probably can’t understand what it’s like to feel so detached. You grew up in a family with three older sisters—”
“Who I want to choke most the time,” she interrupted, stirring her gin and tonic with one long fingernail.
“Still, you’re connected. You’re blood. You get together for holidays and stuff that wouldn’t be the same if any of you weren’t there. My mother died shortly after we moved here. I don’t know who my father is—even my mother didn’t know that. And I was raised by Dundee’s own Mother Teresa. Aunt Millie would’ve taken in and loved any child.” She sighed wearily. “I’ve been wanting a family of my own since forever, but it looks like I’m going to die an old maid.”
Rebecca licked her wet finger and leaned back to light a cigarette. “Then, do something about it,” she said on a long exhalation. “Get artificially inseminated.”
“Not so loud,” Delaney whispered. “We live in a small town, for heaven’s sake. This isn’t New York or L.A. And we grew up here. Everyone knows us. I don’t want word getting out that I’m considering something so…radical. It could embarrass Aunt Millie and Uncle Ralph, make them regret they ever took me in.”
“I knew it!” Rebecca clapped