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Another knock on the door. Sophie stood there. “Please,” she said, “let me in.”
He did not offer her a seat but she perched on the edge of the sofa. “They’re going through a rough time in their relationship right now,” she said.
Like he cared.
“See, they were planning on getting pregnant when they got back and the sperm donor has backed out. To have it done from a sperm bank would run from two to four thousand dollars, depending on how many times they need an injection or whatever you call it. There’s no chance of Nicki’s film bringing in money for some time and that’s assuming it gets picked up. So they’re temporarily living with Tracy and me. Cynthia will be waitressing, Nicki can do substitute teaching. Their plans have flown out the window.”
“What’s their rush?” said Marcus.
“Nicki is the one who’ll be carrying the child. Cynthia only has one ovary and she’s thirty-four. Nicki is thirty-seven. Biological clocks.”
He nodded, not understanding what this had to do with him, and then suddenly he did. Sophie was a genius!
“Would they think I was good enough?” he asked.
Was she going to say, Well, they’re desperate?
“I think you’ll do,” she said instead.
“The bargaining chip is Kahlua,” said Sophie the following evening. Serving as arbitrator, she sat at the head of her dining room table with Cynthia and Nicki on one side, Marcus and Tracy on the other. Tracy was subdued. Nicki scowled while Cynthia looked perky.
“She’s our cat, plain and simple,” said Nicki.
Cynthia laid a hand on her arm.
“It’s simple,” said Marcus. “An even trade. Sperm for a cat.”
Tracy perked up. “Sperm?” she said.
“I’m letting you sit here with the grownups on the condition you stay mum,” admonished Sophie.
“Baby ingredient,” Nicki snapped at her.
Cynthia smiled at her partner. “Sounds like a good deal to me,” she said. “He’s not bad-looking and does hold down a decent job. A man who likes a cat that much can’t be too bad.”
“We visit her when we want,” said Nicki fixing him sternly. “We’ll let you see the kid though you have no legal rights.”
“Deal,” said Marcus.
Sophie slid papers toward him and handed him a pen. “Sign here,” she said.
He read the particulars and signed.
Later that evening, Scott brought Kahlua back. She came running to Marcus and practically climbed up his legs.
Fifteen months later, he had a son and two very good friends who never hesitated to ask him to babysit.