Okay lovelies, I felt like posting something today for Christmas. And because Chapter 1 is a wee bit angsty, I'm posting Chapter 2 at the same time. Expect this to update once a week from here on out.
I've been editing this like a mofo for the last six months and am up to chapter 18 as of right now. I'm hoping I get it completed before we're caught up, but as we all know, I suck at completing stories. So, I'll just promise to try my best. How's that?
I hope you're all enjoying your holidays, whatever you celebrate!
Oh how I wish they were mine! But sadly they belong to JE and she refuses to make them do what I want, so I write them doing fun things and then post it here for you all to read.
Hope you like it.
"…Coming up this half hour, co-parenting without the relationship, the new trend in child rearing…" The news anchor had gone on with other headlines, but had just touched on something that I'd been fixated on for the last six months or so. Having a baby. The only problem was, I was single, very single, and the only person I would want to father my child would think I was crazy for asking him. I was pretty sure "hey best buddy, can I have some of your sperm so I can finally have a baby?" wasn't something you ask your lifelong friend for. At the age of 34 my fertile years were fast slipping away and I was seriously getting concerned that I may never have a baby. I know there's adoption and fostering, but I wanted the whole deal, the peeing on a test stick, the round belly, feeling him or her kick. I wanted to be able to nurse my child and know that my body was nourishing him or her. Maybe these feelings were normal for a woman my age, but the intensity with which I felt them was startling. My biological clock was ticking so loudly it made my vision blur when I walked by the baby department at Target!
I have my dream job as a forensic scientist. I have a wonderful family, my mom is kind of a pain in the ass, but she means well. I have a cute little house, with a backyard big enough for a swing set. A car that was two payments shy of being paid off, and a nice size nest egg in the bank. I was pretty proud of the fact that I'd managed all of that on my own, too. The only thing missing was someone to liven up that house. I had just finished up a massive project at work, so I'd been working crazy long hours. With the publication of the study I'd been working on, I now had the ability to scale my workweek back to a human pace. The lab I worked for had an amazing maternity leave allowance, not to mention that I had many vacation hours banked. Right now was the best possible time to try to get pregnant.
At my age, the dateable man pool was fast evaporating though. There was only one viable candidate anyway. It was either him, or a sperm bank, the very idea of not knowing my child's father made me shudder though. So, what's a girl to do when there's no willing daddy material around? You go online and check out your options.
Yet again, I was looking through a horrifyingly long list of sperm banks and fertility clinics when the aforementioned best friend let himself in my front door. Carlos and I had been friends since we were in kindergarten together. At the time my mother had despaired that my best friend was a boy, but one flash of his dimples and she just about melted. Within minutes she was baking him cookies and acting like he was the son she never had.
"Hey, Babe, we going for dinner or what?" He looked askance at my sloppy sweats and socks ensemble.
"Yeah, I got busy doing something. Sorry. Give me a sec to change and we'll head out."
"Sure, go ahead, we're only going for pizza."
I left him in the living room and ran upstairs to rummage through my closet. I pulled out my favorite jeans and a sweater and threw them on, grabbed the first pair of shoes I laid my hands on, checked my hair and bounced back down the stairs.
"Hey, did it get colder outside, because it was…" I trailed off when I saw him sitting in front of my computer…that I'd left on the website of a nearby fertility clinic.
Unfortunately, this didn't even rank in the top ten embarrassing things that have happened in front of Carlos. He can handle it. Maybe.
What I wasn't ready for, was to feel shame. I don't know why I felt shame that my friend would know I was this desperate to have a baby. Judging people isn't his style. He's a listener, through and through. So much so, he used the GI bill after he was discharged from the army to finish his Psychology degree and he became a therapist. He was a really good one too.
He turned to look at me, his face unduly angry.
"Steph? A fertility clinic? What's going on?"
"I think that's pretty obvious, I want to have a baby," I replied somewhat snottily. My back instantly up.
"So, what? You're going to get a vial of some stranger's spunk and get pregnant? Or where you going to get back with Morelli?" He was red-faced and very nearly yelling at me and I didn't appreciate it.
"What the fuck is your problem? You're a man! You can make a baby any old time you want, as long as you can get it up! You could be Hugh Heffner's age and get someone knocked up for Christ's sake! I've only got a few years left before my fucking ovaries shrivel up and I'm done being able to conceive. Is it so unusual for a woman to start having maternal feelings when she's getting close to forty?" I ran out of steam towards the end of my tirade and collapsed back onto the couch. "Do you think I'd be a bad mother?" I asked quietly, "Is that why you're pissed?" I didn't usually have problems with self-esteem, but this kind of anger was very rarely seen in him, something had to be triggering it.
"No!" He said vehemently. "I think you'd be a kickass mom, I'm pissed that you'd consider having a complete stranger's baby."
"Yeah, because there's so many guys beating down my door. Carlos I've been too busy to even go on a date in the last year. Let alone find the father of my future children."
"You made time for me tonight," he replied.
"Fine, Okay then, leave. I'll go get slutted up and go cruise the bars. Maybe I can find the man of my dreams tonight."
Man, was I being a bitch, or what?
He stared at me stonily, silently. We hadn't argued like this since I was dating Joe. They had never really gotten along; Carlos had never thought that Joe was good enough for me.
His face softened after a beat and he came and sat beside me. "Don't you want to wait until you're with someone? It's a lot to take on alone, Steph. There'll be this tiny little person, who is completely reliant on you for everything. I know you can afford it and that you have a lot to offer a kid. But, didn't you break up with Morelli because you didn't want to get married and have a bunch of babies?"
"No, I broke up with him becauseI couldn't stomach the idea of having his babies and being tied to his crack-pot family for the rest of my life. I loved him very much, I still do. We're just not meant to be together." I scrubbed my hands over my face and took a deep breath. "How long am I supposed to wait? I'm ready now. I only want one baby, not a million. This isn't a whim, Carlos. I've been ready for a long time and I've researched the hell out of it and I'll do it alone if I have to."
"So you're willing to put up with all the hormone shots and being injected with a stranger's semen for however long it takes to get pregnant?"
"I would do that if I have to, yes. But I would prefer it not be a stranger, no." I started feeling queasy, just knowing what my next words were going to be.
"Then whose?" My mouth clamped shut and refused to open, so I just stared at him until I saw understanding dawn. He slumped back on the couch next to me, looking completely stunned.
"Me?" I nodded. "You want me to give you a baby? Steph, you know I love you, but… don't you think this is asking a lot?"
"Look, I know I'm kind of springing this on you suddenly. I wasn't going to ask you because I didn't think you'd want to. Can we just go eat? We can talk about it then."
"I don't know if I'm up for that anymore, can we just order in? This seems like something that'll have us arguing again."
"Fine, yeah, go ahead and call it in, whatever you want I'm fine with. I'm going to go change." He stood and paced to the kitchen, his back to me, scrolling through his phone.
I changed back into my tank top and sweats and barefooted it back to the living room. Worried that I had just fucked up nearly thirty years of friendship. What right did I have to ask him to donate his swimmers? What if he wanted to wait for the right woman to come along and give him the love he deserved and a home and babies?
I knew better than to think that if he did this for me, and we succeeded, that he wouldn't be part of the baby's life. I don't think he would ever turn away from me, let alone a child we created together. We had been attached at the hip for so long I couldn't imagine my life without him in it. The time he spent in the Army was really tough. I had missed him way more than I thought I would. My mom had said, a few years ago, that maybe my friendship with him was the reason that I seemed unable to commit to anyone. I didn't think that was true, I just hadn't met The One yet. I mean, yeah, I'd crushed on Carlos in high school, but I was a hormonal teenager and he grew into his gangly arms and legs really, really well. You'd have to be blind not to notice. But we'd never done anything inappropriate with each other. Now I'd gone and asked him a question that had the potential to destroy our friendship.
He was sitting on the couch, head bowed, elbows on knees, staring unseeingly at the floor.
"Carlos, look, forget I said anything. Please don't worry about it. It'll happen eventually. Right? I'm sorry that I asked this of you. Please? Please forget I asked? It's not your problem that my clock is ticking and I'm feeling lonely. I don't want you to think about it anymore, okay? Please answer me." I was on my knees in front of him, trying to get him to look at me. I put my hand under his chin; I needed to see his eyes. "Please look at me? Please?" He just looked at me blankly. I dropped my hand and scooted backward until I felt the armchair at my back. I sat on the floor and hugged my knees into my chest. "I get it. I'm sorry. You have to talk to me though. Don't shut me out." He looked at me and opened his mouth but nothing came out.
We sat like that until the delivery guy rang the bell.
I had completely lost my appetite so I threw a napkin and plate on top of the pizza box and laid it on the coffee table and walked upstairs. Wanting to be in the shower before the imminent break down came. Turning the water to hot, I stepped in, feeling my throat burn with the need to sob. I sat down in the tub and let the water cascade down, drowning out any sounds that slipped out with the tears.
Why did I have to bring this up now? I'm so fucking stupid sometimes. I have a full life. I can't have become this lonely, desperate person overnight. Why the hell had I asked him to help me?
I just knew that every time I saw my friend Connie and her gaggle of little ones I became incredibly jealous. That feeling wasn't alleviated when I was at work and would see Dr. Boulanger, my boss, and his wife Lula heading out to see her OB, his hands never more than inches away from her beautifully rounded belly.
I never expected him to actually agree to it, but the devolution of our discussion to obdurate silence and the rejection it implied caused a pain in me so sharp it was physically palpable.
AN: Can you guess why she's a mess? She just doesn't see it yet. For really smart people these two are a little dopey at first.
Let me know what you thought, then go read chapter 2!