Chris just looked at C.J. like she couldn't believe what she was hearing.

"You are not serious…"

C.J. just looked back at her while sipping her cappuccino while they both sat at their favorite coffee joint in West L.A.

"The hell I'm not Chris," she said, "Look I just turned 30 a month ago and I really thought I'd be…well more settled in my life now."

"Settled?"

"Yeah…you know I'd meet some guy, fall in love, get married and have kids."

Chris just looked at her own latte.

"Oh…that…C.J. it's really not what it's cracked up to be you know…I mean look at Houston."

C.J. remembered the crestfallen look on his face when his engagement to that flighty heiress Elizabeth what's her name had gone bust. It hadn't been enough that some psycho killer with a grudge against Matt had come after him, Matt dispatched him cleanly enough while barely breaking a sweat The messy part of it had come later when they both realized they couldn't change for the other and parted ways.

Matt hadn't gone on a bender over that but he'd taken off for the last several months traveling the world to get over it. C.J. had held the fort for him while he'd been gone along with Chris, his uncle Roy and corporate president Murray Chase.

She heard from Matt every now and then especially through emails sometimes with photos attached of the places he visited, cities like Paris, Milan, Bangkok and more rustic haunts like the Outback of Australia and Galapagos Islands. No word on when he'd be returning back home, but she knew when he was done traveling to exercise his demons or whatever, he'd return home, back to his life and responsibilities.

Not to mention his Rolodex of women which provided plenty of dating options for him.

Several times, she'd wanted to trash his damn Rolodex but she'd resisted temptations. She just felt that Matt needed to meet up with better women than the airy socialites who were always so high maintenance.

"Houston just hasn't met a woman who can keep up with his demanding lifestyle," C.J. said, "He's married to his career, which comes first and a woman second."

Chris digested that but C.J. could see she didn't buy into it.

"I think he'll put the right woman first above anything…like he does his family."

C.J. knew she had a point. Matt was pretty selfless when it came to helping his family and friends, even complete strangers who were in trouble. A woman might find that hard to compete with to have his attention at all unless she were in danger and needing to be rescued.

"Maybe but Elizabeth wasn't it," she said, "She used to complain so much about Matt being called away on business but I know he really wanted it to work with her."

Matt had loved his fiancée. C.J. knew that only too well, after all Matt had been buck naked with Elizabeth declaring his love to her in C.J.'s own four postered bed at one point. No one could ever say she didn't help Matt out of a jam too.

"It just wasn't meant to be," Chris said, "and now she's back in Ireland probably engaged to someone else."

True, C.J. thought remembering how needy the heiress had been and someone like that needed a husband…more than someone like her who had always had an independent streak. One that sometimes drove her best friend crazy but she wasn't about to change for him or anyone else.

"So how was Clancy?"

C.J. just sighed. Not much to tell there. One date, one round of drinks and a peck on the cheek when he took her home

Zero fireworks.

All of her recent forays into the dating scene had played out that way, since Matt had taken off on his global road trip. Life at the office had slowed down with Uncle Roy handling the case load when he wasn't reconnecting with his long lost son Will who had been rescued from a crime lord last year. So she'd been handling more legal cases, honing her fighting skills and taking up some new hobbies like Salsa dancing.

Oh, and she'd gotten a new tattoo to cover up that damn surgery scar she got on her shoulder after getting shot while escaping a burning building with Matt. He'd been a fugitive naturally and she got hit by a bullet not long after declaring her love for him in what could only be blamed in the temporary insanity which comes from believing that you're going to die.

He responded by touching her face, which given that he'd always been a touchy feely kind of guy didn't necessarily mean much. When they hadn't died, she had discovered she had been bleeding from the hole in her shoulder and Matt raced her to a trauma center without any further argument.

Hoyt kept him from staying caught and he'd gone on he run without her to link up with his Uncle Roy.

His new right hand man now taking her place…not that she would ever complain about it. Matt needed to reconnect with what was left of his family and she knew how much that mattered because she'd lost all of hers.

"Clancy…oh he's okay, just not my type."

Chris rolled her eyes because she'd been hearing that a lot lately. C.J. felt a bit defensive.

"Okay, I know I sound picky but I don't want to waste my time trying to make it work with the wrong guy. I mean I'm in a new decade and it's time to get serious."

Uh oh, Chris thought. But her friend had to understand that marriage wasn't necessarily the answer. After all, she'd just broken an engagement off with what she thought had been the perfect guy. Only when he couldn't keep his story straight, she'd asked her boss to look into Prince Charming's background and it turned out, he already had a wife.

In fact, two of them making him a bigamist and Chris feel like a damn fool.

"I want a baby for one thing," C.J. said, "Maybe even more than I want a man at this point."

Chris' jaw dropped. Where the hell was this coming from?

"A what?"

"A baby…a child…of my own," C.J. said, "I have enough money to raise it on my own if necessary and maybe that's the way to do it. Just skip the middleman."

Now Chris felt confused.

"The middleman…what the hell are you talking about?"

C.J .pushed herself to be patient.

"The father…"

Chris furrowed her brow.

"You still need a guy to you know…sire it as there hasn't been a case of immaculate conception in over…"

C.J. raised a hand.

"I know…but maybe I'll just keep the man long enough to do his part in it."

"You mean get you pregnant and then you'll dump him."

C.J. shook her head slightly, half paying attention to her friend.

"No…I'll have to draw up a contract and get him to sign it first."

Chris just felt astounded.

"I can't believe I'm hearing this," she said, "C.J. you're still young…you'll fall in love and get married and do it right."

C.J. frowned.

"Right? It doesn't seem there's a right way to me beyond the process of conception."

Chris sipped her latte willing herself to be patient.

"I mean two parent families are the best."

"How so…I grew up with an uncle…after my parents died and I turned out just fine."

Chris backpedaled.

"I didn't say you didn't…I'm just concerned that's all."

C.J. finished off her coffee.

"No reason to be concerned," she said, "I can always use a sperm bank and avoid the sex…and the complications which go with it."

Chris didn't think she could possibly be serious. She decided on a stalling tactic.

"You should research it first," she said, "before you do anything…and talk to Houston…"

C.J. nodded.

"Research…that sounds good but I don't have to run everything past Houston who's not even here…who knows when he'll be back?"

Chris just sighed and knew she had to come up with something to stop the madness that had taken control of her friend but how?


Matt checked into the hotel just outside of Phoenix. He'd decided to stayB overnight while maintenance was done on his Lear Jet before flying into L.A. God, it had been an adventurous and never a dull moment kind of past several months but he was ready to return home. He'd exorcised the failure of his relationship with Elizabeth right out of his system and was ready to hit the Rolodex to pick from his stable of socialites for dates to various social galas.

Blondes, brunettes and redheads galore, all sexy and all willing…for his first post-busted engagement fling.

He lay back on his bed to watch the news after a steak dinner and found his mind wandering back to C.J. He really should give her a call and find out what she'd been up to, how things had been going at the office but it was getting late. He had really missed seeing her again, and knew that when he returned, it'd be like he never left. The best friend and colleague he'd left behind would be the same when he returned, they didn't come along more reliably consistent in their professionalism as C.J.

Little did he know now, he couldn't have been more wrong.