From the book
As Alex Connor reached the door of the community education room at the Brighton Valley Wellness Center, a shudder of apprehension shot through him, and he froze momentarily.
Once he stepped inside, he was going to feel as out of place as a circus clown on a wild bronc, but he wasn't going to wallow in it. He owed it to Mary, his late wife, to learn all he could about surrogacy. So he shook off his uneasiness, swallowed his pride and entered the classroom, his limp a bit more pronounced than it had been when he woke up this morning.
The room wasn't full, although there were plenty of people already seated, most of them couples, whose expressions ran the gamut from hopeful to uneasy to I'd-rather-be-anywhere-but-here-tonight. And Alex knew how every one of them felt, especially the ones who looked as if it wouldn't take much for them to bolt.
A few of those in attendance were women on their own, with no husband or partner in sight. Alex did his best not to look at them, not to think about Mary, who'd had to research in vitro fertilization on her own four years ago.
Now here he was, learning what he should have learned with her back then.
Alex wasn't the only man in the room this evening, but he was the only one who'd arrived by himself. Shaking off his uneasiness, he chose a seat in the front row and placed his Stetson on the empty chair next to him. Then he waited for the class to begin.
It had been nearly three years since he'd lost Mary, along with the baby she carried. And now that he'd dealt with the grief, he was determined to do everything he could to make sure his and Mary's remaining two babies, just frozen embryos now, had a chance to live. Unfortunately, Mary had been the one who'd had any real understanding of the whole in vitro process. She'd merely showed him the papers he needed to sign and told him how much to pay, where to be and what to do. So he found himself at a bit of a loss now--and a bit guilty at not being more involved during the whole clinical part of the process.
He would have made an appointment to talk to Dr. Avery, Mary's obstetrician, if the guy hadn't retired a while back and sold his practice to a Dr. Ramirez.
Alex had planned to talk to the new doctor, but as luck would have it, the guy was giving a series of three lectures on fertility options on Tuesday nights.
Luck, huh? Alex might have been fortunate to chance upon that flyer, but his reason for being at the wellness center in the first place had been the result of a preventable accident and an order for physical therapy.
Nearly six months ago, he'd walked behind his prize stallion, Blazing Thunder, and gotten kicked, which had been a dumb move on his part. As a result, he'd suffered a broken kneecap, which had sidelined him for months. He'd needed orthopedic surgery, and after the bones had healed, he'd been sent to physical therapy.
Last week, while working with Maria, his therapist at the wellness center, he'd spotted that poster. Because one of the topics dealt with finding and hiring a surrogate, he'd signed up to take the classes, which were being taught by none other than Dr. Ramirez.
So call it luck or fate or chance, here he was.
He'd planned to sit through this first lecture, then afterward, catch the doctor alone and pick his brain.
Mary had thought the world of Dr. Avery. Alex just hoped that Dr. Ramirez, whoever he was, would be just as competent.
So what was keeping him?
Alex glanced at his wristwatch, noting it was almost seven. The doctor ought to be here by now.
Moments later, he heard the sound of the door swinging open at the back of the...