Special Delivery (A Valentine's Short Story)

Special Delivery (A Valentine's Short Story) by Ginny Baird Read Free Book Online

Book: Special Delivery (A Valentine's Short Story) by Ginny Baird Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ginny Baird
Tags: sweet romance, holiday romance, valentines day, romance short story, valentines romance
afford
it.”
    “What about the diner? Don’t they provide
insurance?”
    “It’s a crappy plan, barely covers half the
cost.” Her brow creased with worry. “It hurts her every day to go
to work. Even getting up in the morning is painful.”
    “She said that?”
    “She didn’t have to. I’ve seen how she
moves.”
    “Well, maybe she can get a loan, talk to the
doctors? Hospitals sometimes have repayment plans.”
    “We’ve looked into that. I even offered to
help.”
    Jack understood that was generous, but he
also knew Nikki didn’t make a lot of money herself on her
department store tailor’s salary.
    “But she’s too proud. She’d never take me up
on it, knowing I barely scrape by myself. Besides, she says if I’m
going to help anyone out, it should be Tony.”
    “Tony?”
    “He graduates high school this year, and
really has his heart set on going to college.”
    “That’s expensive these days.”
    “Way costly. Even in state.”
    “What about scholarships? He’s a good
student, right?”
    “State assistance was cut back with the
recent budget cuts. He says he may have to put off going. Work a
few years first.”
    Jack studied her with sympathy. “Sounds
rough.”
    “Some days Ma can’t even make it in to work.
They dock her pay in that case. And she’s got a mortgage to meet
and bills to pay for Tony.”
    Jack stared at her with incredulity. “Just
what are you saying? That you’re considering meeting your Aunt
Mallory’s conditions?”
    “Maybe it won’t be so bad? In the short
term.”
    He leaned forward and touched her arm. “But
in the long term? Over time?”
    “I’m not saying it has to last forever. Me
and the prospective” —s he
appeared to nearly choke on the word — “ groom can cut a deal.”
    Jack massaged his brow. “Who are you planning
to marry, Nikki? You’re not even seeing Dean anymore.”
    “That’s true.” She licked her lips and sat up
a little straighter. “But I’ll find someone, don’t you think? I’m
not such a bad a catch. Especially not for half a million
dollars.”
    “I thought it was two?”
    “That’s the amount I’m willing to share with
someone who’ll go through with it. I guess if they insist, I could
negotiate up to half the total.”
    “Now you’re talking crazy.”
    “No, I’m being reasonable.” And when she said
it, for a lunatic instant, it looked like she believed it.
    “So you’re going to go out there and find
someone to marry. Just like that! By February fourteenth.”
    “Yes.”
    “Who?”
    “I don’t know. I guess I’d better start
looking.”
    Although he suspected the outcome, Jack
decided to chance it anyway. “You could always marry me…?”
    “Oh, Jack, please be serious!”
    He affected a chuckle to make it seem like
he’d been kidding. “Well, someone’s got to lighten the mood around
here.”
    “Yeah, right. You’re a very funny guy. But
most importantly, you’re my best friend. Which is why you’ve got to
help me.”
    Jack adored Nikki, would move heaven and
earth for her. But help her find another man to marry? He wasn’t
sure he could do that.
    “Come on, Jack, puleeze? ” She batted
those eyes, and Jack knew he was a goner. He’d never been able to
refuse Nikki anything in his entire life. And now his life, and all
the secret hopes and dreams he’d harbored, were about to be
harpooned by her ludicrous request. “I’ve always wanted a
baby.”
    “There are places you can go for that without
signing the rest of your life away.”
    “It’s not the rest of my life. I don’t even
have to stay married. Just long enough to get pregnant.”
    Jack willed his mind not to go there. There
was nothing worse than thinking of Nikki with another guy. When she
was with a boyfriend, it was easy enough for him to push those
thoughts away completely. It was when she was between them that Jack’s hopes became renewed. Time and time again. When would
he ever learn? Hadn’t Nikki made things

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