“The court would see you as the perfect mother. I can already tell you’re great with Lily. I think we can get along for a month or so.” His gaze caught hers.
She moved away until the backs of her knees touched the chair. “This is risky. You need to think about it carefully. Don’t you have someone else you could ask? I don’t think I’m the person for the part.”
“I know this is a radical idea but my lawyer assures me that it’s the difference between me keeping Lily or not.” His gaze found hers. “I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it was the only way.”
Somehow it hurt to know he was only offering marriage to keep Lily. It would be so much easier to say yes if he cared about her. But how could he? They didn’t even know each other. Why couldn’t somebody want her for herself instead of what she could do for them?
“Committing to someone you don’t know is a major step.” Just as she should have thought through agreeing to being a surrogate mother. It was a life-altering event.
He spread his large hands. “If you agree, will it be any different for me?”
No, it wouldn’t. And she and her father would have a place of their own. This was the chance to see him settled once and for all. Her opportunity to find her own happiness and not always be worrying about him and their finances. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Then you’ll do it?”
The offer was tempting. Too much so. No, no, no. She couldn’t go there again. Become involved so deeply in someone else’s life. How could she not when she was thinking of marriage? But this was to help Lily and her father. She would make the sacrifice and deal with the fallout when the time came. She gave a reluctant nod.
His eyes sparkled. “Great. I’ll arrange a moving van first thing in the morning for pick-up on Saturday. Tell your father not to worry about anything. He’ll be moving in here for a while until you can find a house you like.”
He had it all planned out, just like that. She hadn’t moved past the idea that she’d agreed. “Thank you. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.” Even to her own ears she didn’t sound like she believed it.
Grant stepped away, then turned to face her. “I’m asking you to put your life on hold for a while for me. It’s the least I can do. This is a huge place and we have the room.”
“Dad can’t make it up the stairs.”
“I was thinking of letting him have the pool house. That way, he’d have his own space.”
Stunned, she said, “Thank you. That would be wonderful.”
“Then it’s a deal.” He stuck out his hand.
Sara looked at it for a few seconds then placed hers in his much larger one. He closed his around her fingers. She felt an odd sense of well-being, security. As if Grant would take care of her.
“Only thing is that we have to keep our agreement between us. No one else needs to know.”
“How am I going to explain all of this to my father?”
Grant shrugged. “Tell him it was love at first sight. I’m sure you’ll come up with something. I have to let my lawyer know it’s all settled.” He headed toward the hallway.
If a tornado had picked her up and whirled her around, she couldn’t feel more out of control. What was she getting herself into?
Now she had to call and explain what was going on to her father. But what could she tell him that he would believe? She hated lying. The only thing she could hope for was that her father would be so excited about having a place to live that he’d overlook the fact that she was marrying a man she didn’t know. If her father knew the truth he’d disapprove. She didn’t think she could convince him it was love at first sight, but she would try.
Being careful what she revealed, she called her father and shared what she could. She finished with, “Dad, I’ll be there to help pack on Saturday morning and the moving van will be there that afternoon.”
“I’m shocked but happy for you, baby girl.”
Sara agreed with the first part of his statement and just wished she felt the same way about the last.
* * *
Saturday morning Grant woke with a terror in his heart greater than the idea of getting married created. Sweat beaded on his face. He was going to have to look after Lily all day without help. What did he know about caring for a baby? Nothing.
Sara was in the kitchen, finishing feeding Lily, when he walked in.