Chapter One – Unedited
I’ve heard that the best way to get over one man is to get under another. With that said, I doubt this is what the speaker had in mind. A hand squeezes tightly to mine. It was pretty stupid of me to allow them to be in the room with me for this part because I’m feeling terribly exposed, despite the fact that my lower half is draped with a sheet. There’s just something about having my legs up in stirrups and the top of a woman’s head visible between my thighs that makes this all awkward.
It should be beautiful, and really, it is. It’s just… odd.
I have Cody on my left and Garrett on my right. They lean toward one another and kiss over my head, and Garrett uses his free hand to wipe a tear from Cody’s cheek.
The doctor looks up from her perch between my thighs. “You doing okay up there?” she asks.
I squeeze my eyes shut tightly. “Fine,” I say.
Garrett leans down and kisses my temple, his lips lingering there. “Thank you for doing this,” he whispers vehemently, and emotion swells within me.
“Thanks for letting me do this,” I say back. I tip my face up and he presses a soft kiss to my lips. There’s no passion in this kiss whatsoever. There’s only emotion and gratitude and a type of affection like I’ve never known.
Cody squeezes my shoulder. These guys make the cutest couple. They have been together for about twelve years and, after three failed adoptions, they wanted more than anything to have a kid. They didn’t even ask me. I volunteered to be their surrogate. I’m healthy, I’m young, I’m in love with the type of love they have for one another, and I wanted to give them their own baby.
We used a donor egg and a mishmash of their sperm. The donor egg is so I could stay as far removed from the situation as possible. The mishmash is so they won’t know who the father is. They’ll both be fathers. All I know is that I don’t want to be a mom. But I’m willing to let the little guy cook in my uterus for nine months or so. Then I will gladly hand him over to these wonderful men and they will be able to raise their own child.
I wince as the doctor cranks the speculum down and pulls it from my vagina. She lifts my feet from the stirrups and rolls her chair back. “Friday,” she says. That’s my name. Friday. Like the day of the week. It’s not the name on my birth certificate, but it fits me better than that old relic of my former life ever did. “In about ten days, I want you to come in for a blood test.”
Cody rubs his hands together. He’s so excited that I get all teary again. That could be the hormones they used to get me on a cycle similar to that of the egg donor. But either way, I’m much more emotional than on a normal day. “Ten days until we find out if we’re going have a baby!” Cody squeals.
A grin tugs at my lips as Garrett helps me sit up. I feel a lot better with the gown covering all my girly bits, instead of having my hoo haa up in the air for everyone to see.
“I can go to work today, right?” I ask.
She nods her head. “The only thing you can’t do is have an orgasm.”
Heat creeps up my cheeks, so I slap my palms against them. “Oh, no!” I cry. “What am I going to do without my daily orgasms?”
Garrett holds up two fingers. “Twice on Sundays.”
“Don’t do any heavy lifting or any strenuous exercise. And no warm baths.” the doctor says. She looks at the tattoo on my knee with keen interest. It’s a spider web with a baby rattle in the middle of the web. “Interesting,” she says more to herself than to me. Hell, she already saw the one on my inner thigh.
I cover my knee with my hand and she jerks her gaze away. I have tattoos all over my body. I love them, and each one tells a story. I drew most of them, and they all mean something to me. I know people with tattoos have a lot of stigmas attached to them, but I just like art, and I like to wear art on my body. Judge me if you want to, because I don’t care.
“I have to get back to work,” Cody says, and he leans over to kiss Garrett on the lips. Then he kisses my temple and leaves, his smile big and bright.
Garrett hangs out with me while I change clothes behind the curtain. I can hear his feet hitting the side of the exam table he’s sitting on. He’s like a giddy little kid with his feet swinging back and forth. “Where do you have to go when you leave here?” he asks.
“Work,” I say as I pull my dress down over my head. I like vintage clothes and today is no different than any other day. I wonder how I’m going to be able to pull off the vintage look when my belly is big and round. I am not sure vintage-inspired clothes will be easy to find for pregnant women.
“Don’t you want to take the rest of the day off?” he asks. “We could go shopping. Buy some baby stuff.”
“Tempting,” I say. Honestly, it sounds like hell. “I’ll leave that to you and Cody, if you don’t mind.”
“Fine,” he tosses back harshly, like he’s annoyed, but I know he’s not. “Let me buy you lunch, then. And I’ll walk you back to Reed’s.”
Reed’s is the tattoo parlor where I work. The idea of him walking me there makes me surprisingly joyful. “Will you be sure to kiss me before you leave?” I ask. I grin as I put on my delicate shoes with the tall heels that I love so very much. They match the dress.
“Why?” he asks, instantly suspicious. He jerks the curtain back as I pull my hair from the neck of my dress. He grins. “Which of the Reeds are you hoping to make jealous?” He narrows his eyes at me.
I start to tick them off on my fingers. “Logan is married and has a baby on the way. Pete is with Reagan. Matt is married and knocked his wife up. With twins!”
“So that leaves Sam and Paul.” He appraises me shrewdly.
Kissing Sam would be like kissing my brother. Paul, on the other hand…
“Mm hmm,” Garrett hums. “It’s the big one, right?”
“He’s not that big,” I mutter to myself.
“Are you kidding?” he shrieks. “He’s fucking huge.” He grins. “I bet the rest of him is just as big.”
Sometimes having a gay man as a really good friend has its advantages. Because a straight man would never wonder how big Paul Reed’s dick is. “I wouldn’t know,” I murmur. His baby mama would, though, because he still sleeps with Kelly. That part makes my gut ache.
“Does he still walk you home at night when the shop closes?” Garrett asks.
I shrug. “One of them does.”
“Does he still try to kiss you?” Garrett sings. He’s like a damn woodland creature with his giddiness. I expect him to break out into song any second.
“That only happened once,” I say. It was the kiss that rocked my world, though. I pick up my purse and step out into the room.
“And?” He makes a rolling motion with his finger as he opens the door for me and we walk through the hallway. He checks us out, pays the bill, and we step out into the sunshine.
“And what?” I huff as I put on my sunglasses and pretend like I don’t know what he just asked.
“The man laid one on you and you still have to see him every day, Friday. How’s that going?” He takes my hand in his and threads his fingers through mine as we wait for the subway. The baby doctor’s office is on the good side of town. And Reed’s is not. It’s in the area that I love more than anything.
He gapes at me, his mouth hanging open. “That’s all I get? Fine?” He points to my belly. “You might have my baby in your uterus, and that’s all you’re going to tell me?”
I cover his mouth with my hand. “You don’t get any say over any part of my body except for that baby that might or might not be growing in there.”
“Oh, that was cold,” he says. But I have quite effectively changed the subject.
He talks about nurseries and bottles and clothes and all those things I don’t even want to know about until we get to Reed’s. When we get there, he stops out in front of the shop, cups his hands around his eyes and looks through the glass into the room. “Yep,” he says with a grin. “It’s show time!” He takes my hand and opens the door. The grin falls off his face, and he replaces it with a look of aloofness. It’s uncanny how he can do that. He minored in theater many years ago, though, so I guess it makes sense. He’s a teacher now.
I drop my bag behind the desk at the front, which is where I usually work. I draw tattoos, and sometimes I do the actual tattoo part. I’m still learning how to do that. But drawing is my thing. This is where my skills lie, since I’m an art major at NYU. Or at least I was until I graduated two weeks ago. Now I’m just a possibly-knocked-up soon-to-be-homeless person. Oh, crap. I haven’t told Garrett and Cody about my living situation yet.
Paul looks up from where he’s doing a tattoo on a guy’s shoulder and he frowns. “Morning,” he says, looking from me to Garrett and back. Garrett swells up in size. Honey, no matter what you do, you will never look as big or as tough as Paul Reed, I can’t help but think.
“Morning,” I chirp back.
Logan is here, too, and he smiles at me and waves. Logan is deaf but can speak, and we all learned how to sign many years ago. I wave back.
Who’s that? he signs at me, and points to Garrett.
I put my hand on Garrett’s shoulder. “Garrett, this is Paul and the quiet one there is Logan.”
Logan stands up and shakes Garrett’s hand. Paul just grunts.
“Nice to meet you,” Garrett says. He turns to me and tips my face up. He leans down close to my ear and says, “I bet he’s fucking huge.” I laugh and try to turn my face away, but he just holds me there with his thumbs beneath my chin and his fingers splayed toward my ear. Then his lips touch mine.
He’s actually a really good kisser, and I kind of envy Cody a little bit, because if he goes after sex the same way he’s going after this fake kiss, Cody’s getting it pretty good…
The only thing about it – there’s not a single spark. Not even one. It’s just warm, wet lips sliding across mine, and the touch of a tongue really quickly. I pinch his side and he laughs against my lips and pulls back. He drags his nose up and down the side of mine. “Cody is going to love it when I tell him about this.” I stab him in the side with my index finger and he bends over, trying not to laugh.
“Remember what the doctor said,” he tells me, facing me and speaking quietly. “No orgasms. Not even ones offered by great big old studly looking tattoo artists that make you sweat.” He waves a hand in front of his face like a fan. “He makes me sweat a little bit, too.”
I hear a clatter behind us as Paul throws down his gun and stalks toward the back of the shop. He pulls the privacy curtain and goes behind it.
Logan looks up at me and grins, and just shakes his head.
Garrett kisses my forehead, lingering there for a second. “In ten days, you might be my baby mama,” he says, his body rocking against mine as he chuckles.
I punch his shoulder and point toward the door.
Next time he fake kisses me, I have to remember to tell him not to use tongue. I wipe the back of my hand across my mouth and watch him leave. He waves and blows me a kiss.
Logan throws up a hand to get my attention. You’re playing with fire, he warns. He jerks his thumb toward the curtain. He’s pissed. He must not want Paul to hear him or he would be talking instead of signing.
I wave a breezy hand at him. He’ll have to get over it.
He looks toward the curtain. You should go talk to him.
Because he still has a client out here and he had to leave because you were sucking face with the other guy.
Crap. Paul walked out with a client in his chair. With a half finished tat. He has no right to be angry.
Logan’s brow arches and he shakes his head.
Well, he doesn’t.
Quit being a baby, he signs. He jerks his thumb toward the curtain again. Go talk to him.
I heave a sigh and go to get Paul out of his snit.