Teen-aged waitress Heather Langekamp is impregnated by college student Patrick Cassidy. Heather's kindly "loser" boss Michael Cole provides aid and comfort for the lonely, confused girl. Her father Ed Lauter wants to finance an abortion, but Cole insists upon taking responsibility. He marries Langenkamp, even though she hasn't expressed any overt love for him. The reasons are slightly vicarious: Cole had once been the suitor of Heather's mother. A novel by John Gardner was the source for the take-its-time Nickel Mountain.