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New Life

By Jan Gayle

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2017 Jan Gayle

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New Life

Trigena Gillmore is about to become a mother, but she never wanted children. Her wife, Dr. Karri Gillmore, PhD, is pregnant. Karri’s been dreaming about being a mom for as long as she can remember. Trigena is so in love with her wife, she agreed to the insemination to make Karrie happy. Trig thought she had plenty of time to get used to the idea of being a parent, but Karrie got pregnant on the first attempt. The baby is only a few months away, and Trigena’s fears run deep. The stress has made everything more difficult, and Trigena must keep it all inside. She can escape it all, but the loss might be too much.

New Life

© 2017 By Jan Gayle. All Rights Reserved.


ISBN 13: 978-1-62639-878-8


This Electronic book is published by

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 249

Valley Falls, NY 12185


First Edition: May 2017


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.


Credits

Editor: Shelley Thrasher

Production Design: Susan Ramundo

Cover Design By Jeanine Henning

By the Author

Live and Love Again


Best Laid Plans


New Life

Acknowledgments

Jules Gourley, thank you for all the professional midwifery knowledge; Shelley Thrasher, thank you for your amazing edits. You make my stories the best that they can be. And Bold Strokes Books, thank you for taking a chance on me. The professionalism of this publishing house cannot be matched.

Dedication

Dedicated to my dad, for teaching me the love of woodworking.

Prologue

It was only two p.m. when I finished the ceramic tiles in the kitchen we were remodeling, and on the drive home, the perfect idea came to me. I rushed the twelve miles from the job site, bouncing in my truck along the gravel road to our house. As soon as I got there, I plugged in my laptop computer to charge the batteries, then ran out to the storage shed and pulled out our air mattress. I unfolded it in the back of the truck, after I had unloaded all my tools from work. After just a few minutes connected to the compressor, the queen-sized mattress was filled with air. It fit snugly in the back of my full-sized pickup.

Then I rummaged through the spare-room closet and dug out two old comforters that we mostly used for camping. I laid them out on the air mattress with four fluffy pillows. After that I searched through our DVDs until I found the perfect movie. With the battery fully charged, I tossed my laptop on top of the comforters and rolled down the truck-bed cover so my great work would be hidden from view. It was nearly four p.m. when I finished, and Karrie would be home in about an hour. I still had plenty of time to pull off my plan.

In September, the evenings could get pretty cool in the high desert, and we’d actually been having a bit of a cold spell lately. It was the best time to have a movie out on the mesa, where the city lights didn’t obscure the night stars. I would score loads of romance points for this. Karrie loved our desert movie dates.

I ran into the house, showered, and quickly dried my hair. Then I put on a pair of basketball shorts, a comfy tee shirt, and a pair of flip-flops. I made a quick call to our favorite restaurant before I wrote a note for Karrie.


Babe, please change into something comfy and be ready to go when I return. I love you, beautiful. T.


I drove over to the liquor store and picked up a bottle of Riesling and some Dixie cups. Across the street, I pulled into The Fat Squirrel for our food. I’d ordered me a big beef cheeseburger, but I got Karrie her normal veggie burger. She’d taught me to like sweet-potato fries, so I asked for one order for us to share.

“Where’s Karrie?” April, our normal Friday-night waitress, asked when I walked into the little family-owned pub.

“Special date night tonight—movies in the desert. I’m picking up a to-go order.”

“Oh, good for you. She’ll love it.” April smiled. “Let me see if Tommy has it ready.”

Within seconds she returned with a large bag. “I think he gave you a few extra fries.”

“Great. Tell him thanks.”

“What else do you need?”

“Uh. Napkins, lots.”

I paid and was back on the road in minutes. When I pulled up, Karrie’s Highlander was right where it was supposed to be in our drive. I was so excited and pleased with myself, I ran into the house.

“K, you ready?”

She met me in the kitchen. “Yes, but what am I ready for?”

“Hi, hon.” I kissed her and pulled her out the door.

“Don’t I even get a hint?”

“Nope. Just do as you’re told,” I said as we climbed into the truck.

“Mmm. Well, I might not know where we’re going, but I know what we’re eating. I smell Tommy’s burgers.” She twisted around to look in the backseat. “Oh, Trig, are we having a movie night?” She asked as we headed west into the desert. The sun was already falling fast.

“I knew you’d figure it out.”

It only took about fifteen minutes before we were on a dirt road in the dark desert west of town. “How’s this?” I pulled off what was left of the dirt path I’d been following and parked between two squat little juniper trees.

“This looks great. Thanks, honey. What a perfect ending to a busy week.”

“I know, right? Grab the food. I’ll roll down the top.” I jumped out to get the Toyota open-sky cinema ready.

There was already beginning to be a chill in the air, and with just shorts and tee shirts on, we burrowed into the blankets and began to devour our sandwiches.

“Oh, my God, Trig. I’m so stuffed. How many orders of fries are in here?”

I laughed. “I just ordered one for us to share, but Tommy was feeling generous, I guess.” I grabbed two more fries. “I’m stuffed too, but I can’t stop eating these. You still up for a movie?”

“I’d rather just sit here and cuddle with you and…well…see what else happens.”

“I like the way you think.” I tossed all the trash into the backseat, and we burrowed into our comforters.

“Trig, if I forget to tell you later, thank you.” She kissed me, then snuggled into the crook of my arm.

“You’re welcome, babe.”

We lay there looking up at the stars so long I almost fell asleep. Karrie was right. It had been a long week. We were both exhausted. Except for today, I’d worked ten-hour days so we could finish the job. Karrie was just starting a new semester, and she was putting in a lot of late hours as well. Just as I was about to doze off with Karrie safely next to me, she spoke softly.

“Are you asleep?”

“No. I’m awake.”

“I’ve been thinking.” Karrie pulled herself around me and laid her head across my stomach.

“Oh, you have? What have you been thinking?” I was so relaxed I had no idea what was coming.

“I think I’m ready to get pregnant now.”

“What?” I was wide-awake.

“I’m ready to have a baby now. It seems like everything’s right, and I’m ready. Aren’t you?”

“Um…well…I. Things are great just the way they are. Aren’t they?”

“Yes, they are, and I think that means it’s a perfect time to start our family. We can’t wait forever.” She laughed a little and then looked up at me.

“I didn’t know you still wanted kids.” I couldn’t even remember the last time she’d said anything about it, and I wasn’t about to bring it up.

“Of course I do. You know that.” She twisted around and sat up next to me cross-legged in the middle of the air mattress. “I’ve always dreamed of having a family with a full house. I want them to all be close, and I want us to go on family trips and adventures together. You can take us all camping, and I can take everyone to art museums. I feel like I missed something not having any siblings, and my parents always worked too hard.”

“A house full?” I tried not to look too surprised. I knew she wanted children, but in my mind that never added up to a houseful, and I was always sure she’d get over it.

“I’ll settle for two. We can both have one.” Karrie winked at me.

“Ahh. I don’t want to have a kid.”

“You don’t want to have one, or you don’t want to be pregnant?”

“Ahh…I…don’t want to be pregnant.” I didn’t want children at all, but telling her that seemed like the exact wrong thing to say.

“Okay. I’ll have both. I just think we should get started. We should at least look for a donor and a midwife.”

I paused a little too long and saw her frown. “You really sure you’re ready now?”

“Trig, are you okay with this? I thought you understood how much I wanted a family. Do you not want one?”

“Yeah, of course. No…I mean…you just took me by surprise. I want you to be happy.”

“Well, then I’ll start doing some research.” She lay back across my lap.

“Okay. Yeah.” I pulled her next to me. I had no idea how I was going to deal with this situation, but I was sure I had months to try to work it all out. Maybe I could even convince her that we were the perfect family without any additions.

Chapter One

I opened my eyes to the soft morning glow filling our bedroom. It’s always been my favorite way to wake up—no harsh buzzing from the alarm clock shocking me from sleep like a bucket of ice water. Karrie’s warm body was tucked tight against me. She was pulled up so close I could feel her nascent round belly against the small of my back. I liked it to be cold in the house at night, mostly because if I turned the air conditioner to a lower temperature, she’d snuggle up next to me. Sometimes our king-sized bed felt like we had a vast wasteland between us, but right now, even with her self-described pregnancy hormones heating her body, she nestled close, and I was loving it.

I lay perfectly still. She always seemed to sense when I woke up, and she’d wake up too. I wanted to let her sleep and to just enjoy her warm body next to mine. It felt like home. As I lay there, I couldn’t stop thinking about the tiny creature growing inside her. I couldn’t believe we were going to have a baby, and I had no idea how I would pull off being a mother.

It scared the crap out of me. I’d never had any desire to have kids. Even after I told her I wanted her to be happy—and if having a baby would make her happy, then she should have one—even then, I didn’t really want them. I meant it about her happiness. Since the day we met, that had always been the most important thing in the world to me, but I just couldn’t imagine me with a kid.

When she told me she was pregnant—well, actually showed me—and I saw her excitement, I felt a love for her I didn’t know was possible. During the insemination, I’d secretly hoped she wouldn’t get pregnant, but when she walked out to my workshop with that little pregnancy test stick in her hand smiling with tears streaming down her face, her joy was contagious. My heart seemed to actually grow larger. The overwhelming feeling of love was almost physically painful because I just couldn’t express it to her. Neither of us could speak; we just stood there in the middle of my dusty workshop and cried, holding each other tight. For that one moment, I was crying tears of happiness. Ever since then, I’d been worried about how I was going to be what she and this baby needed.

Despite my anxiety, I could never quite get close enough to her after she told me. I held her hand everywhere we went. I touched her arm or put my hand on her lower back, so I was always in contact with her. She truly was glowing. It seems all that hype about a pregnant woman is true.

I was terrified not only of the maternal part, but also the financial responsibility for another person nagged at me constantly. I had to keep reminding myself that at thirty-six I was actually quite successful at running my own business, and we’d be okay. I had five people working for me, and in nearly twelve years, I’d never been more than a week or two without work. A lot of times things were really slow though, and then money was tight. I was a small building contractor, with a team of three women and two men working for me. We would do practically anything, but we were best at interior remodels.

Turning gold-and-green 1960s and 70s bathrooms and kitchens into something that belonged in the twenty-first century was our real specialty. RJ and Jason could work miracles with plumbing and electricity. Justine and Danielle, my two best friends from college, were the most creative interior decorators in the state. They could transform a brick shit house into the Taj Mahal, if that’s what was required. That left Janet and me to do most of the carpentry work. Between the two of us, we could overcome pretty much any challenge, but everyone helped out.

Last year, when things were slow, we bought and remodeled an old house—popularly referred to as flipping, but we called it damned hard work. We finished in half the estimated time and made way more money than we ever imagined we would. It was a huge risk though, one I was sure I’d have trouble taking on again knowing that someone else would be depending on me now.

Karrie was a brilliant associate professor at the state university, and there was no chance she’d ever lose her job. Sought after by many other colleges and universities, Karrie could easily get a position at any of the top art schools in the country—much more prestigious institutions than our state university—but we loved the desert Southwest. Karrie had the opportunity to travel all over the country doing seminars and working with other great artists, and she seemed happy with that.

It took both of our salaries to live comfortably though. We’d just purchased our brand-new adobe home, and I had big dreams of building a stand-alone workshop for me and a studio for Karrie. I wanted to design furniture full-time one day, and I wanted to set Karrie up so she could paint whenever she wanted.

I’d always felt responsible for taking care of her. As a feminist, I thought that sounded stupid, but I was probably a bit old-fashioned. Karrie would say I was just old. She was three years younger than me, and she never let me forget it.

“Why are you pretending to be asleep,” she whispered in my ear, and I felt her warm breath on me.

“How do you always know when I’m awake?” I stayed still as she kissed my neck—her soft, moist lips felt like velvet.

“I never sleep. I just wait for you to wake up and make love to me.” She pulled me toward her, and I rolled over. “If it’s any consolation, I didn’t hear you come in last night. I was exhausted. I can’t wait for this supposed second-trimester energy to kick in.”

“I’m glad I didn’t wake you. I was sure I did. You were pretty restless when I climbed in the bed.” I leaned into her kisses.

The monthly meeting of the Sandia Volunteer Search and Rescue Council had run late last night, so Karrie was already in bed when I got home. I’ve been a member since I moved out West after I graduated from college. I loved the outdoors and had been hiking, biking, skiing, camping, and horseback riding my whole life. Pretty much if it’s done outdoors, I do it. I’ve even done a little rock climbing. My dad took me horseback riding when I was barely old enough to hold my head up. He sat me in front of him in his big western saddle, and I would sleep there as long as he would ride. I’d much rather be out in the elements enjoying nature than trapped inside a perfectly controlled environment.

Being a part of the SAR Council had started out as a good deed with benefits, including the opportunity to camp in the woods and perfect my outdoor skills, but over the years, I got so invested I’d become a permanent member of the advisory board. The first year I volunteered, I assisted in finding two teenagers lost on an off-piste skiing adventure. The scared kids were both in bad shape from exposure and dehydration by the time we got to them. The look on their faces when we finally found them sold me forever. RJ, one of my employees, and I have been running the survival training program for the last five years.

Karrie pushed my hair away from my face. “Nope. I didn’t even know you were home until I woke up a little bit ago, but I’m glad you are.” She wrapped her leg around mine. “How’d the meeting go?”

“It was good. We have three new volunteers, and we really needed them. We’ve lost several experienced folks this past year. It sucks with winter just around the corner.” I pulled her leg up higher on my thigh. “I was going to talk to you about the best weekend for a training session. RJ has a few options open, and I wanted to make sure they didn’t conflict with anything you may have planned for us.” Karrie moved her hand under my shirt and caressed my breasts. “Mmm…that feels good.” I closed my eyes and sighed heavily as she stimulated every sensitive nerve around my nipple. “Maybe we can talk later.”

“Yeah. Let’s discuss it later. There’s something else I’d like to do right now.” Karrie pulled me into a deep, passionate kiss, and I felt her tongue exploring my mouth. I tasted the minty tingle of toothpaste.

I pushed her away gently, trying to look mad. “How do you do it? You can get up and brush your teeth, and I don’t know it, but let me just open one eye and you’re wide-awake.”

She laughed at me and pulled me back to her. I wanted to go clean my teeth as well, but at this point it wasn’t going to happen. I felt a rush of pleasure between my legs, and all I wanted to do was make love to my beautiful wife. This scared me too, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. I let my hands travel all over her smooth, sexy body. We’d made love since she told me she was pregnant, but this was the first time since I could actually see the little round bump on her abdomen. I raised myself up over her and met her lips, and she pulled me tight against her. Her tongue tangled with mine, and a wave of passion ran through me. My heart rate increased as I reached for the bottom of the oversized tee shirt she slept in and tugged at it. She took in a deep breath and responded by raising herself up enough so that I could pull it over her head. I couldn’t help but stare; my stomach did a little flip.

“They’re bigger.” Her normally full, round breasts were just noticeably larger and absolutely gorgeous.

“You like?” She smiled and cupped both breasts in her hands, putting them on display for me.

I lowered my mouth to her nipple and ran my tongue across it, gently pulling at it until the sensitive skin turned rock hard. The unmistakable flood of desire swelled within me, and I wanted her so badly. Karrie moaned, and I was encouraged to move to her other breast, lightly caressing them both with my hands, teasing her with a soft touch as I tasted my way across the smooth curves. She tugged at my shirt, and I knew what she wanted. I rose and pulled it off, exposing my own bare breasts. She reached up to touch me and inhaled deeply. I could see the desire and passion in her eyes.

We loved to be naked when we made love—to experience the stimulation of flesh on flesh. It was one of the things we didn’t want to miss out on—no matter how impatient we might have been for each other. I lowered my upper body across hers, careful not to put any pressure on her stomach. I was scared of hurting her. With my breasts pressed against hers, I ached to be inside her. Feeling Karrie’s body beneath me sent a tingle through my lower body.

I pulled her into a long kiss. Karrie opened her mouth and met my tongue. Her soft lips seemed to devour me, and she gasped as I explored her mouth with my tongue. Karrie squeezed me tight to her and caressed my bare back and shoulders. Her skin on mine felt electric. We couldn’t get close enough. She pulled away briefly and gulped in deep breaths. I traced the side of her body to her thigh. She reacted to my every move.

When I reached her panties, I hesitated until I heard her throaty groan. I moved my hand under the band and between her legs. Her thighs instinctively slid apart and rose to meet my hand. Her closely shaved mound felt like silk, and I could tell she was already wet. My body reacted, and I felt my own juices flood through me. I struggled with her panties, and with her help they got lost in the blankets at the end of the bed.

“Please touch me.” Karrie trembled as she pushed my hand hard against her swollen clit.

I pulled my hand away and started moving down her body, licking and tasting her as I went.

Karrie entangled her fingers in my hair and pulled lightly to stop me before I could reach her crotch. “No, honey, please. I just want you inside me. Now!” She exhaled heavily.

“Are you sure it’s okay?” I covered her with my hand and ran my fingers through her slick folds but couldn’t bring myself to put my fingers inside her. Her body jerked at the sensation.

She pulled my face to hers and kissed me hard, sucking my tongue into her mouth. She raised her pelvis to my hand. I slowly moved one finger inside her wet vagina and exhaled audibly—she felt so warm and soft inside. Karrie rose harder against me. She pulled her mouth away, and breathing deeply, she moved her hips against me. “More, please.”

I slid a second finger inside her, still moving slowly and way too cautiously for Karrie’s desire. She rocked hard into my hand and held me to her when I tried to pull away. “Trig, please…please,” she begged me. I moved with her and quickened my pace. I lowered my head, moving my tongue across Karrie’s erect nipples. I heard her making soft sounds and covered her breast, sucking a nipple into my mouth. I filled my mouth with her sensitive flesh, feeling closer and closer. I knew what to do to make her come, but my fear of hurting her caused me to ease up even when I knew she wanted me to go deeper.

“Trigena, please…fuck me. I need you.” She practically cried out, so close to coming, but my hesitation kept her from the edge she was seeking. “Trust me,” she whispered through heavy breaths in my ear, and I thrust deep inside her and moved with her. We found a perfect rhythm, and she whined a sound of pure pleasure and called out, “Don’t stop, please.”

I would never stop now, not when I could feel her pure desire. Karrie’s breathing increased. She slowed her rhythm and spoke words I couldn’t understand, but I knew the meaning. I felt her shiver and then explode. Her thighs tightened hard around my hand, and her muscles contracted around my fingers. I stopped moving to let her take in the pleasure. She wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled me tight against her.

“I love you,” she said as she caught her breath.

“Mmm. I love you too, babe.” The musky scent of her perfume lingered on her neck, and I inhaled. Before I could pull out of her, she tightened her thighs around my hand again and stilled me.

“Oh my God, you feel amazing inside me. Just stay there a minute.” That was an easy request to fulfill. It felt fantastic for me too. Making love to Karrie was always exciting, but somehow her being pregnant made it even more pleasurable. She relaxed her legs, and I moved to her side and lay next to her. After only a few seconds she rose and kissed me, thrusting her tongue into my mouth. That overwhelming rush filled my gut and thighs again as she moved down my body, already pushing my panties down.

“It’s okay, babe. I’m completely satisfied,” I lied, and caressed her shoulder to urge her back to the pillow next to me.

“I’m not.” She slid her tongue across my belly and looked up at me. “Trig, you’re going to have to get over this pregnancy anxiety. I have nearly six months to go, and I can already tell I’m going to need a lot more of this. I want you more than ever.” Her tongue moved down to my closely trimmed bush. “I won’t break. It’s good for the baby.”

“Hmm. Maybe I’ll have to keep you pregnant.”

“And barefoot,” she said and smiled.

I felt her tongue brush across my clit and called out. Karrie breathed deeply and her mouth settled over my clit, sucking it hard, rubbing her tongue against it. I squeezed the sheets and rocked my hips, so wet and hot from her orgasm I was close to my own just from her touch. I wanted it to last, but I felt my body rising to a climax—responding to Karrie’s instinctive touch. She stopped sucking and thrust a finger deep inside me. I was so close, the flick of her tongue across my oversensitive clit sent me to the edge. I pushed into her and she rocked with me.

The orgasm came hard. It was so intense, the release of all my anxiety and fear came with it. I couldn’t hold back a scream of pure pleasure and squeezed my weak legs tight around her. Karrie rose slowly from the grip of my thighs. I just lay still on the bed and took in short, quick breaths. Karrie’s hands moved slowly now, softly caressing me. I just relaxed and enjoyed her sweet touch.

*

When Karrie got up to shower, I finally found strength in my legs and headed for the kitchen. I knew she’d be hungry. She’d been starving since morning sickness ended and was having cravings of the wildest kind. But she was sticking to her healthy diet, just lots more fresh-ground peanut butter and green, leafy vegetables. And honey—honey on things that no normal person would put it. Her favorite was a combination of honey and peanut butter. Thankfully, I hadn’t seen her put any directly on the leafy green veggies, yet. Karrie was always an extremely healthy eater, to the point of being really annoying to my Midwestern meat-and-potatoes palate. Although I sometimes snuck away to satisfy some of my own need for deep-fat fried food, mostly she’d converted me.

I pulled out the whole-grain pancake mix. This was one of the items I still had to pretend to like, but I knew peanut butter on pancakes would make the baby happy. I had a small stack ready by the time Karrie came into the kitchen with her hair still wet and wrapped in a towel.

“Being pregnant is working out pretty well for me.” She picked up one of the cakes and started eating it with her hands.

“K, we have silverware.” I turned and pulled a fork out of the drawer for her.

“Hmm.” She sat at the island across from the griddle I was working at and smothered the remaining pancake with real maple syrup. “Thank you, hon.”

I moved over beside her and kissed her sweet, sticky lips. “No peanut butter?”

She shrugged, indicating she had no control. “What do you have planned for today?” she asked without looking up from her task.

“Ahhh, I was going to work in the shop awhile. I need to finish the kitchen cabinets for the Fergusons so we can install them next week. We need the money from that job, before I can buy the wood for the crib.” I looked over at her. “What is it that you wanted me to be doing today?” I flipped the pancakes cooking on the griddle.

“Well, we need to go to the grocery store. We’re out of everything.” She had finished the first two pancakes and appeared to be coveting the ones cooking on the griddle. “Here, you take those, and I’ll put some more on,” Karrie said and started to get up.

“No, here.” I stacked the cakes on the spatula and slid them onto her syrupy plate. “You need them more than I do.” I poured two more pancakes on the hot surface. “If we’re out of honey and peanut butter, then the governor might need to declare a state of emergency.”

“You’re funny. Thank you for the pancakes.” She smiled that perfect, gorgeous white smile, and I would’ve made pancakes and walked around a crowded grocery store all day long for her.

“You should have an egg too, right? The midwife said you should get protein every meal.”

“Trig, the midwife has a name. It’s Jules. And you’re right, but I’m good for now. Pancakes fill me up quickly, but they don’t stick with me too long. I’ll be hungry again soon.”

“You think?” I teased her as I pulled my pancakes off the griddle and put a K-Cup in the coffeemaker.

“Oh. I miss coffee. It smells so good, but it tastes so bad right now.”

“I’m sorry, babe. Should I not have it?” I did feel badly for her. We both loved our coffee, and even though she wasn’t nauseated anymore, the taste of it was ruined for her.

“No. At least I can smell it and imagine it still tastes good.” She put her plate in the dishwasher, slid her arm around my waist, and kissed me on the cheek. She started to clean up the griddle and batter bowl.

“I’ll get it.” I winked and pushed her away.

“Yeah. This is working out very nicely for me.” But she ignored me and cleaned up my cooking mess in seconds, wiping the kitchen surfaces effortlessly. “I’m going to go dry my hair. You’ll be ready to leave in ten minutes.” It wasn’t a question.

“I need to finish eating,” I called to her back as she walked away.

“Okay, fifteen.” And she disappeared.

Chapter Two

“Trigena, come on. You need to get ready,” I called out to the workshop when I heard the table-saw motor stop running. I was pretty good at identifying power-tool motors, but it didn’t really matter which one she was using. I knew better than to disturb her when there was the potential of a dangerous high-speed blade spinning.

“What time is it?” she yelled back.

“Almost six, and I told Dani we’d be there at seven. Come on.”

“Damn it, K. I wish you’d ask me before you commit us to stuff like this. I have to get this done.”

I stood in the doorway letting her rant. “Trig, you’ve been out here all afternoon. I want to see you. You’ll finish it.”

From where I was in the doorway I couldn’t see her. Her shop was in our three-car garage connected to the house, but a panel she’d built in front of the door blocked the bulk of her workspace. She’d designed it to help cut down on dust in the house, but I’m not sure it worked. I was always cleaning sawdust off the kitchen floor. Even though I couldn’t see her, I could hear her shutting everything down. Finally, she appeared around the panel and met me at the door. She was covered in a fine layer of sawdust and smelled like oak.

“How is it I work eight hours with Danielle and Justine every day, and they call you to make social plans?” She’d calmed down now that she was actually out of her workshop. Her intense focus was admirable but annoying as hell.

“They know you’ll say no.” I brushed a clean spot on her cheek and kissed her. “Now go get showered and dressed.”

Trigena grunted at me and headed to the bathroom, but then she stopped and turned back around. She looked me up and down with admiring eyes, and her approving gaze filled me with confidence. The changes my body was going through could make even the most self-assured woman question herself. I couldn’t help but smile at her reaction.

“You look beautiful. Is that a new blouse?” She walked back to me and placed her hands on my hips, held me at arm’s length, and continued her appraisal.

“No, hon. The skirt is new. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I can’t quite fit into my other clothes right now.”

“Hmm. All I noticed was how amazing you look.” She winked. “We could stay here.” She tried to pull me to her.

I held her at arm’s length by her shoulders. “Trig, stop it. You’ll get me all dirty, and we’ll have time for that later. Besides, you’d still be out there in that shop if I wasn’t forcing you to socialize, so go get changed.”

“You’re no fun.”

“That’s not what you were screaming this morning. You might have woken the neighbors.” Since our house was nearly half a mile from the nearest neighbor it wasn’t likely, but I liked it that I made her come so hard.

She smiled and kissed me before obeying my commands to get ready.

I sat back at the kitchen table, where I had some of the birth books Jules had given me and had been flipping back through some of the better ones. I read everything she provided, devouring information as fast as she provided it. I was completely sure about a homebirth, but Trigena was worried, as always. I had been feeding her every positive story our midwife shared with me, and I emphasized to Jules not to tell her anything that might scare her.

It was easy for me to imagine Trigena supporting me through the pregnancy. She would rub my back, hold my hand, and coach me through the contractions. I wanted her to wrap her strong arms around me and the baby as soon as he or she arrived. She was concerned about the homebirth at first, but Jules had been quite persuasive. She’d managed to bring Trig on board. I was surprised at how easily Jules had converted her.

I was prepared for a major struggle from the uber-conservative love of my life. She worried so much about everything that I hardly bothered thinking twice about anything anymore. My poor responsible girl overthought everything, and I could really do very little to ease her stress. Trigena loved hard. Once she cared about you, she built a fortress around you to protect you and keep you safe. Sometimes her overprotective, controlling behavior was hard to deal with, but mostly it was one of the main reasons I loved her so much. Not to mention her hot body. Since conceiving, all I could think about was wrapping myself around that sexy little thing.

*

“Whoo…” I looked up as Trigena walked into the dining room with her black riding boots, tight skinny jeans, and a fitted red blouse with snug sleeves exposing her well-defined arms. Her long blond hair was flowing with loose curls—a dramatic transformation from the tough woodworker who’d entered the house a few minutes ago. “Staying here seems like a good idea now. You look great.”

She kissed me. “Thanks, babe. I had to try to match my classy wife. What’s this?” She picked up my sketchpad. I’d been doodling in my dream world while she was getting ready. “Is this what you want the baby crib to look like?” She looked from the paper down at me. “K, this is beautiful.”

“You like it?” Trig was tracing the image I’d drawn with her index finger.

“Babe, I love it. I would’ve never come up with something like this.” I could see her mind working, examining every detail. “I think cherry would be perfect…ahh…with some ebony inlay.” Her excitement was contagious. She could build anything. If she could visualize it, she could make it out of wood, and she loved creating things.

“Really?” I’ve had that image of a crib in my head for years. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and in my mind the baby was always lying in the crib I just drew. I trusted Trig would make something beautiful, but knowing she liked what I’d always imagined my baby lying in felt so right.

“Yes, really! I’ll need Janet to take a look to be sure I have the right ideas to make it structurally sound, but this is going to be perfect.” She kissed me again. “I need to have you design more projects for me.” She was still lost in her creative world. “I so envy your ability to put on paper or canvas the exact image you have in your talented head. You’re good, babe—really good!” This had been a joke between us from a time when one of her contracting competitors had patronizingly referred to her work as good. Trigena is a perfectionist—good doesn’t even come close to describing her work—so the word “good” took on a whole new meaning for us.

“Thanks, hon.” I gathered up and put away all the materials in front of me, and we headed out to my Highlander.

“Me or you?” Trig pointed to the driver’s door.

“You. I’ll drive home. I’m your guaranteed designated driver.” I rubbed my middle.

She took the keys from me and got into the vehicle. “Ahh, yes, another advantage of you being pregnant.”

Chapter Three

Danielle opened the door and immediately wrapped Karrie in a big hug. “Damn, girl. You’re still not showing at all and beautiful as ever. Pregnancy looks wonderful on you.” She backed away and gave Karrie a once-over.

“Well, thank you, but I am showing.” Karrie pulled her blouse tight across her midsection to show off her barely present belly.

Danielle couldn’t resist touching the little bump. “Ahh, that’s so cute.”

“Hey, did you forget I was here?” I stood next to Karrie with my arm wrapped around her waist. Sometimes I felt exiled to the edges of Karrie’s life and was wondering how much further away I might be after the baby was born.

“Oh yeah, you!” Danielle said teasingly and turned to give me a quick hug. “Pregnancy looks pretty good on you too. The girl who swore she’d never have kids.”

“What?” Karrie looked from me to Danielle.

I gave Danielle the look—the one old friends can give one another that means, shut up now!

“You don’t want kids? Trig?” Karrie looked at me with confusion all over her face.

“Hey, you guys, come on in,” Justine yelled from the kitchen. “I have drinks poured and lemonade for our pregnant girl.”

“Oh, shit. I…” Danielle stammered.

“K, babe…I want this baby with you. You know that.” I squeezed her hand and led her into the house. “Dani, give us a minute please.”

“Sure. I’m sorry.” She turned and practically ran out of the room.

Tears had formed in Karrie’s eyes, and she wiped at them with the back of her hand. She tried to release my hand, but I held tight. She pulled away. “Please let me go. Our friends are waiting.”

I didn’t let go, but I moved toward the kitchen with her. “Babe, I need to know you’re okay.”

“I’m fine.” She stopped in the middle of the room and spoke without looking at me. “How could I be with you for ten years and not know you didn’t want kids? How can I be almost four months pregnant with our baby, and I’m just now finding out?”

“Because it’s old news. I love that we’re going to have a baby.” I spoke emphatically, probably trying to convince myself as much as her.

“Fine.” She pulled away again, and this time I let her go.

When we walked in the kitchen, it was apparent Danielle had told Justine what had happened and the eggshells had already been sprinkled across the floor.

“Karrie.” Justine ran over to give her a hug. She gave me an evil eye like somehow this was all my fault. “Here, hon.” She handed Karrie a glass of pink liquid.

Justine punched me in the arm and handed me a glass of wine. “Why be a jerk?”

“Me?” I could tell this wasn’t going to go well for me.

Danielle tugged me to the side of the room. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea.”

“It’s okay. We’ll be okay.” I knew it was true, but I also knew I had some repair work ahead of me.

Karrie tried to act as if nothing had happened. “So we need to talk about the baby room.”

“Yes.” Justine put some hummus and pita bread on the table. “Here, help yourself. Dinner’s almost ready.”

Danielle reengaged. “Are we going to do the guest room or your studio?”

Karrie and I answered at the same time with different answers. She said, “My studio” as I said, “The guest room.”

“No, babe. You need your studio.” I sounded more forceful than I intended.

“We need a guest room.” She came back just as commanding. “Our families live too far away. They need a place to sleep when they visit the baby.” She didn’t look at me.

“Okay, well…” Danielle was obviously beside herself. I don’t think anyone had ever seen Karrie or me mad at each other before. We’d fought before, and even though we weren’t exactly fighting now, no one had ever seen us anything but in perfect sync.

As the evening went on, conversation came easier, but the entire night was strained. The only thing we really worked out was for the girls to come by in a few weeks and start designing a plan for the baby’s room. I wasn’t giving in to remodeling her studio, but I saw no use pushing that rope tonight when she was already upset with me, and certainly not in front of our friends.

*

“I can drive,” I said as she headed for the driver’s door when we walked out of Danielle and Justine’s house.

“I said I’d drive home.”

“Okay, but I only had the one drink. I’m okay to drive.”

“Fine.” She stopped and turned back to the passenger side.

I pulled out of the driveway, and we rode in silence for as long as I could stand it.

“Can we talk?”

“What would you like to talk about, Trigena?” The emotionless response actually hurt.

“About what Danielle said and about how you feel.”

“Listen, I don’t know why you never told me you didn’t want children. I’ve never made it a secret that I wanted them. I’d actually like to have two or three. You know this about me. Why do I not know that you don’t want any?” Her voice rose with each word until she was almost yelling.

“Well…”

“Well?”

“You don’t know because I love you, and I knew it was something you wanted, so I didn’t want to…Well, it doesn’t matter now because I want a baby.” I was struggling, but I knew I wanted to want it.

“You thought you would lose me if I knew you didn’t want kids, and you thought not telling me was okay? This isn’t like compromising about the color of the bathroom. What if you hadn’t changed your mind, and how do I know that you did? Maybe you’re just telling me this now so I’ll shut up,” she said in a high-pitched, sing-song tone, and I got the point. “What about you? What about what you want?”

“I want you, and I want you to be happy.” I looked over at her as I pulled onto the gravel road to our house, and she stared back, waiting. “And I want us to have a baby together.”

“I don’t understand. How can you change your mind? Your whole life you don’t want kids, and now…now you do? This doesn’t make sense.” Tears started streaming down her face. “Damn it, I hate that I cry all the time—hormones!”

Karrie had definitely never been a crier, so seeing her like this made me insane. I wanted to fix it.

I pulled in our driveway and took her hand. I feared she’d pull it away from me, but I think she was completely drained. “Babe, when the woman you love more than life itself comes to you and tells you she’s going to have a baby, all you can think about is how much you love her and the baby she carries for both of you.” I paused, hoping for some response, but she just sat there. “I’m worried I’ll suck at being a parent, but…”

For the first time since before we arrived at Danielle and Justine’s, she looked me in the eye. “Please tell me you’re not just saying that to make me stop crying—to make me happy.” She sniffed and wiped her eyes on the back of her sleeve. “This isn’t just about me. It’s about us—this is our family.”

“I’m telling you because it’s true.” Fresh tears ran down her cheeks. I wiped them away and kissed her. “Come on, babe. Let’s go to bed.” I just kept hoping something would happen to make it true.

Chapter Four

After the fifth ring, Trigena hollered from the living room where she sat in the middle of the floor with receipts, inventory sheets, and bank statements in small stacks all around her. “Are you going to answer that?”

It was the twentieth, and she always did her business accounting at the same time each month. She paid all the bills then too, so it was sometimes a stressful event—especially when she thought we’d been particularly economical, only to find out we’d exceeded our budget. Trigena rarely confronted me about how we spent our money, but I could tell when she was stressed out about it. She was way more restrictive with her own purchases. She would’ve allowed me anything, but she consulted me before she spent even a few dollars. She once asked me my opinion before buying a new saw blade.

Sometimes my regular salary helped her business when work was slow, and she hated that. I didn’t mind though. In fact, I liked knowing I was contributing to her craft. She was so good at it, and she worked so hard. I remember, as hot as she was wearing her tool belt with a red bandana tied around her blond hair, her dedication and the efficient way she provided instructions to her crew had first attracted me to her. I could tell they enjoyed working for her and that she loved what she did.

I was completing my master’s studies at a studio in Santa Fe when I met Trigena. Fate had brought us together really, because she hasn’t had a job in Santa Fe since. It’s too far to drive every day, but at that time she was just starting out and didn’t want to pass on any job. John and Sarah Martin, the people I was renting a room from, had hired her to do a bathroom remodel in their master bedroom. When she came to the door the first day, she stopped long enough to introduce herself, but other than that I was able to get only a few words out of her.

The Martins had left me alone in the house to use their studio and to watch over the contractors while they were out of town. Had I known the contractor was a hot, sexy lesbian, I would’ve volunteered more readily. It had been more than a year since I’d even dated. My last girlfriend was a bad experience so I’d put relationships on hold.

I had so much work to do, and their studio overlooked a mountain view with a brilliant sunrise. After Trig introduced herself, I spent the rest of the week stealing looks at her between painting like a wild woman. I finished two abstract pieces of women laborers that I sold for large sums of money while she was doing carpentry work at the house. She was my muse and still is.

Cute and sexy, she became increasingly friendly and would ask me how my painting was going, but it wasn’t until Thursday, when the rest of her crew was long gone and she knocked on the door of the studio, that I realized she’d even noticed me. It was late at night—almost nine o’clock. She still jokes sometimes about how long it took after everyone left before she finally got the nerve to knock on the studio door. I didn’t even know anyone was still there until I heard her; she nearly scared the paintbrush out of my hand. She walked around the room raving about how marvelous my work was, and her charm and compliments won me over. Even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t have said no when she finally asked me if I’d like to have dinner with her that Friday night.

*

When the phone rang again, Trigena just stared at me. She always got so absorbed in the paperwork for the four or five hours it took her each month, I was surprised she even noticed the phone.

I was cutting vegetables for stir-fry chicken, both of us home early. Trigena always left work before quitting time on accounting day, and I had only one class on Thursday afternoons. I knew she would be working at home today, and even though she would be busy I wanted to be with her. I wanted to make a nice dinner for her and at least be near her, even if she was too busy to notice until she finished.

“It’s my dad.”

She actually stopped and put the pencil she was using behind her ear, then looked over at me. I could see concern in her eyes. “Does he know?”

“I assume so. I’m not sure why else he’d be calling.”

She adjusted the pillow she was sitting on, and the calculator resting on her thigh clanked on the tile floor. “Well, if he got the news, he’s going to keep calling. If you really don’t want to talk to him, you should turn off your phone.”

“I’m going to have to talk to him eventually, I suppose.” The phone stopped ringing just as I was about to answer it. I felt my shoulders relax and didn’t even know I’d tensed up. At least maybe I could put him off for a while longer. Trigena and I could have a nice meal, and I would deal with him tomorrow.

“Mmm-hmm,” Trigena grunted. She had already refocused.

The phone rang again almost immediately after I set it down. I picked it back up and looked to confirm that it was my dad. Trigena was staring at me with that what-are-you-going-to-do look.

I shrugged and picked up the phone. “Hello, Dad.”

“Were you going to tell me you’re having my grandchild? I have to hear it from your Aunt Carol?” He sounded hard and cold, real anger in his voice. As a child, I’d feared that sound so much.

“Nice to talk to you too, Dad.” I was going for casual, but my reply just sounded angry and sarcastic in my head. Trigena was already up and seated at the bar stool next to the island like a sentry on guard duty waiting to defend her territory. She knew I would need her support—just stopping her work and sitting next to me gave me strength. Trigena was hyper-focused and could miss the little things sometimes, but she was always there when I really needed her—all of her, giving me that intense attention.

“Why wouldn’t you tell me you were going to have a baby?” The anger was gone, and he actually sounded like he was about to cry.

“You haven’t talked to me in over a year, and you made it clear then that you didn’t want me to be a part of your life anymore. Why would you expect me to tell you what was happening in mine?”

Trigena and I got married after New Mexico legalized same-sex marriage, and I hadn’t talked to my dad since. He’d not only refused to attend, but he’d told me if I married Trigena, he never wanted to see me again. I’d felt like a baseball bat had hit me in the chest. I couldn’t believe he’d react that way, but he got his wish.

“I’d like to see you. I’d like to be a part of my grandchild’s life, and yours too, Karrie. I miss you.”

I turned my back to Trigena, not wanting her to see me if I started to cry. I hated that his words and his voice had such an effect on me. The flood of emotions poured over me, and I felt my face flush. “Dad, you wanted nothing to do with me. Now, I’m having a baby, and it’s all supposed to be fine.” My voice rose but didn’t crack. I hurt, but I refused to cry. As soon as I finished, Trigena’s strong arms were around me.

“Karrie, I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done that just because I disagree with your life-style choice.”

I full-out yelled. “This is not a choice or a style like which jeans to wear, Dad. This is my life, and if you can’t embrace me and my wife, then you can forget about ever knowing your grandchild.” I hung up and slammed the phone down on the counter. I even tried to walk away from Trigena’s hold on me. I flailed a bit and pushed at her, but she wouldn’t let go. I’d learned a long time ago that if she didn’t want me to get away, it wasn’t happening. Trigena was incredibly strong, so I stopped fighting and collapsed into her. She turned me around and held me close. I cried hard, big, sobbing tears, and she comforted me.

Finally, I pulled away. There were things I needed to be doing, and I wanted to be done with shedding tears over a man who couldn’t open his heart to me and my only true love. We were happy, and we were starting our own family. I didn’t need him.

“Babe, why don’t you go lie down for a minute. I’ll finish dinner.” Trigena tried to lead me to our bedroom.

“No!” The word came out harsher than I intended. I was angry, but certainly not at Trigena—not even at my dad anymore. Him, I couldn’t change. I was angry at me. How could I let him affect me still?

I was thirty-three years old. Trigena and I had been together since I finished my PhD twelve years ago. Because my mother had homeschooled me, I was ready for college at sixteen. My mom was Teresa James, an incredible artist. As much credit as I get for my paintings, I only inherited a very small percentage of her astonishing talent. I’ve just been much more prolific, primarily because I didn’t have to be a wife to a demanding husband.

My dad was so worried when I went off to college so young, he sent my mom to live with me my first year in New York City. We stayed in a small apartment together, and I loved the time we shared that year. We painted and cooked together, the two passions Mom and I shared. It meant leaving Dad in Boston alone, and he hated to be away from us. Every Friday night he took the train to the city to be with us. He was a partner in a big law firm, and even getting away on the weekends was hard, but I was Daddy’s little girl, so he made it every weekend.

From the time I was able to walk on my own, I was always with him. He even took me to work with him, probably way more often than the partners wanted, but he was the only black partner, and he brought in a lot of up-and-coming, wealthy, young black business clients. So they left Dad alone, and they could see when we were together there was no need even trying to tell him not to bring me. I was always good though. With a sketchpad and half-a-dozen colored pencils, I could stay busy all day. I had a little cassette Walkman, and Dad made tapes of all his favorite Motown hits. He’d put the headset over my ears and seat me at the corner of his massive oak desk, and I’d sit there working just like my dad. His secretary Jeanie brought me treats and watched out for me when Dad had meetings. I loved going to work with him. He made me dress in my best clothes—because that’s what professionals did. I felt as important as I thought he was, and it gave Mom a break. We almost always came home to a new painting. She would have painted all day everyday if it wasn’t for us.


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