Authors: Brooke Moss
Baby & Bump
Book one in the
This & That Series
by Brooke Moss
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form, or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without prior written permission from the author
For inquiries, please contact the Brooke Moss, at
Cover art by: Brooke Moss
Edited by: Meggan Connors,
Published by: Brooke Moss, CHP
ISBN ebook: 978-1-939976-01-7
ISBN print: 978-939976-02-4
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: Dora the Explorer; 16 and Pregnant; My Little Pony; The Muppets; Eastern Washington University; Fifty Shades of Grey; Cabbage Patch Dolls; Red Door; Jello; Tic Tacs; The Lawrence Welch Show; Food Network; YouTube; Alka Seltzer; Doppler; The Bachelor; Doogie Howser; QVC; Funyuns; Hermes; The Maury Povitch Show; Disney on Ice; Aliens; Sesame Street; Micheal Korrs; Graceland; Dungeons & Dragons; Oldsmobile; Valentino; Little House on the Prairie; BMW; Carrot Top; Dancing With the Stars; Volk
swagen; Red Cross; Hot House; Kotex; Libman; Washington State University; Taebo; Cosmopolitan Magazine; People Magazine; Hamburger Helper; Sex in the City; Lifetime Network; Beverly Hills 90210; Gatorade; Tupperware; Chicklets; Real Housewives; Levis; Angus Beef; iPod; iPhone; As The World Turns; Kool Aid; Toyota Sentra; Chuck Taylors; CNN; CIA; Victoria’s Secret; and Michael Kors, Gap Kids.
For my mom.
(Not as nuts as Patsy Baump, but every bit as devoted to her children.)
Peeing on a stick isn’t nearly as simple as the women in the commercial make it out to be, especially in a pair of four-inch heels and a pencil skirt.
In the commercials, women emerge from a perfectly clean restroom wearing head-to-toe virginal white, while carrying thei
r positive tests across their breezy living rooms. They pause by the open windows, where air lifts the gauzy curtains and blows back their long, flowing hair. Gazing off into some distant, sun-filled meadow, they smile serenely and wrap their arms around themselves as if relishing their God-given gift of procreation. Their faces seem to say, “
I am a giver of life. My husband and I have created tangible proof of our undying union.”
Never once in those commercials
do the sticks drip urine all over their hands like mine did. And those women aren’t late for a meeting with prospective clients. They don’t collapse onto the floor with their skirt jacked up to their waists crying, “No. Oh, please, God. No. No, no, no, no, no…”
And in the commercials the women don’t smell their friend’s breakfast and dry heave.
“And so help me,
if you fry one more egg on my stove, I will choke you with the toaster cord. Do you understand me
till chewing on said fried egg sandwich, my friend and coworker, Marisol, popped her head through the creaky bathroom door. “What’s your problem?”
Upon finding me in a heap on the floor, curled in a ball with my backside covered in
mint green granny panties, she added, “Good Lord, you’re never going to find yourself a man wearing drawers like that, now are you?”
Yup. That was how I found out
I would be a giver of life.
“You should go see my obstetrician. He’s fabulous.”
I looked up from my plate of saltine crackers at my cousin
, Candace. She was stir-frying tofu and pea pods, the steam rising off the wok just enough to make her skin glisten and her wavy blonde hair dance. Candace was the only woman in the world who made being a housewife with three children under the age of five look hot. Seriously, it was a wonder we were from the same gene pool.
“I literally just found out this morning. This baby is approximately the size of the eye of a needle, and you’re wanting me to go to an obstetrician?”
I shuddered at the aroma of fried tofu, and stuffed a cracker into my mouth.
“You need to get on some prenatal vitamins stat,”
she announced wisely. She went back to chopping onions and tossed it into the mix.
My nostrils flared when the
scent hit the air. “I really don’t want to think about seeing an obstetrician right now.”
“So, does that mean you’re giving some thought to an abortion?” Marisol asked
as she emerged from the bathroom. Her glossy curtain of mahogany hair swung as she sauntered to the kitchen table and sat next down to me.
Candace pointed her spatula at her. “Could you be
more cavalier about this?”
Marisol plopped down i
n a chair and looked around, her caramel brown eyes fluttering with feigned innocence. “What? Oh, sorry. So what’s the deal, Lexie? Are you gonna keep it?”
stomach whirled like a dryer on spin, and I grabbed another cracker. “I haven’t really had very long to think about it, but I think so.”
Candace put down her spatula and pressed a hand to her heart. “I can’t believe this is happening. You’re going to be a mo
ed her eyes. She didn’t have what some would call a “maternal instinct” like Candace did. Growing up, Candace worked in the nursery at church and babysat for all of the neighborhood kids. Marisol spent her adolescence sneaking cigarettes in the girls’ room and practiced “tongue kissing” with the neighborhood boys.
Me? I was somewhere in the middle. I
’d enjoyed watching little kids for extra money, but also enjoyed the attention of an occasional boy, as well.
“Yeah…” My voice shook, and I took a sip of the ginger ale sitting in front of me.
I couldn’t believe it, either. Not that I didn’t want to be a mother. I’d spent my fair share of time gazing at baby booties and bassinets as my thirties approached. But when my marriage went down in a ball of flames before I’d even hit twenty-five, I’d assumed my chance at motherhood was permanently out of reach.
Candace gasped, jerking me out of my thoughts and back into her steamy kitchen. “Have you told your mom yet? Oh, Aunt
Patsy is going to love being a grandma.”
I felt the color drain
from my face. “She’s going to love being a grandma after she gets done raking me over the coals for being a single, unwed mother to her only grandchild.”
My mother had been waiting for entirely too long for grandchildren. I have two brothers
, and she’d expected procreation from at least one of us a long time ago. Since my brothers hadn’t reproduced yet, all of the pressure fell onto my own thirty-year-old eggs. My little brother, Darren, who was five years my junior, was less interested in children and more interested in dating every single woman in eastern Washington. His job selling cell phones at the mall paid his bills just enough to keep the electricity on and a plentiful supply of beer in his fridge.
My older brother, Corbin, who
was five years my senior, had already conquered the business world, after having opened his own successful house-flipping business with his wife of eight years, Andrea. Now that their business was thriving, thanks to their eye for detail and the local buyers’ market, and their own home was completed and designed to perfection, Corbin and Andrea longed for a child of their own, and had been unsuccessfully trying
to have a baby for years.
Reason number 462 why telling my family I was pregnant would be almost as unpleasa
nt as dipping my face in acid: though my mother craved grandchildren with the same urgency as someone fighting to stay out of the electric chair, she certainly didn’t want me to go about having them outside the bonds of holy matrimony. Patsy Holiday Baump was nothing if not traditional. She was the choir director and Bible study teacher at the First United Presbyterian Church, after all, and Pastor Irm—whom everyone in the family knows my mother has a crush on—expected better choices from us Baump kids.
“Oh, yeah.” Candace grimaced.
“I guess she will be a little disappointed in you, won’t she?”
“Disappointed?” I snorted, and some cracker crumbs flew. “When she found out I lost my virginity in college she cried for a solid
week and sent me three copies of
The Scarlet Letter
Marisol snickered. “In college?”
I cast her a dirty look. “Not everyone can develop as early as you, Mar.”
“I remember.” Candac
e smiled sympathetically at me.
lived at home with her parents while I’d gone to stay in the dorms, so she’d been there for the entire melodrama. When I’d told Candace over the phone that I’d finally “done it” with Bo Anderson in the Phi Beta House over Halloween weekend, my mother’s sister, Aunt Dory, had
overheard the conversation. She’d promptly called both my mother
Pastor Irm. The aftermath of those stolen thirteen minutes lasted approximately two weeks longer than the relationship with Bo Anderson had, and my mother
brought it up every Thanksgiving over pecan pie.
“So what if you’re not married,”
scoffed Marisol, tossing her hair. “You’re thirty years old. It’s not like you’re going to be on an episode of
16 and Pregnant
. Er, unless the dad is sixteen.” She looked at me pointedly. “He’s not, is he? You dirty cougar, you.”
Give me some credit.” I rubbed my stomach. It ached like it was empty, despite the seventeen crackers I’d eaten.
Candace set down her spatula and sat down across the table from me. “Listen, about that. You need to tell us.”
The crackers in my stomach curdled like milk. “You need me to tell you what?”
“Well, who the lucky daddy is, of course.” Marisol stole one of my crackers.
“Come on, Lexie. Spill it.” Candace nodded. “I didn’t even know you were dating anyone.”
“I’m not.” Looking down at my plate, I avoided their heavy stares.
“You’re not dating anyone?” Candace asked. I could practically feel her frown on the side of my head. “But you’re pregnant.”
I nodded. “Precisely.”
“Way to go!” Marisol held up her hand for a high five, but I didn’t move. “I told you that you should cut loose more often.”
Candace shook her head. “This is really out of character for you.”
I nodded and pushed my short red hair behind my ears. Candace was right. It
out of character for me to have gotten myself pregnant outside of any sort of relationship whatsoever. Actually, that was the understatement of the year. It was out of character for me to forget to set the timer when I made a soufflé at work, or to misfile a CD in my classic rock collection. To sleep with a man, and consequently get knocked up, even though I had no interest in having a relationship with him… now
was a departure.
“We just want to know who to buy cigars for, that’s all.” Marisol rested her chin on her hand and batted her eyes at me. “Come on, Lex. Spill it. Who’s the lucky dad?”
This time Candace didn’t shush her; instead she leaned forward in her seat and watched me closely.
I opened my mouth, not knowing what the hell I was going to say and not really sure how to articulate it, but was interrupted by the thundering feet of Candace’s children. Before I knew it, there were three children crawling all over us, each of them screaming in a different pitch. Candace’s children—four-and-a-half year old Ellie, three-year-old Quentin, and eighteen-month-old Aubrey—redefined cute. It made me wonder if all of the cute genes had been used up in my family. Because, if so, my poor baby was screwed.
“Mommy, when’s dinner? I’m starving!” Ellie announced at the top of her voice. She’d not spoken at a normal decibel since uttering her first word.
Candace bounced up from her seat, hiking the two little ones off of the table and onto her hips like a superhero. “Soon, soon. Where’s Daddy?”
“He’s watching the game.” Ellie wound her tiny fingers into Marisol’s long sheet of hair. “He said that the Seahawks are a bunch of friggin’—”
“Stop right there.” Candace put a hand up and turned to the kitchen doorway.
Both Marisol and I jumped. “Ellie, darling, as much as I love you, could you get your hands out of my hair.” Marisol untangled the little hands from her pride and joy. “You smell like peanut butter.”
Ellie shoved a finger in her nose. “You’re weird.”
“Likewise.” Marisol made a face. “Kids. Oy. How does she stand it?” She glanced down at my midriff. “Oh, woops. Sorry.”
The kitchen door swung open and Brian walked in, his tie loosened and collar unbuttoned. He plucked the baby off Candace’s hip and picked a pea pod out of the stir-fry. “I lost track of them. All I did was blink, and they were gone.”
Candace rolled her eyes and returned to stirring the food. “You sure it didn’t have anything to do to with the Seahawks playing the Dolphins tonight?”
He shooed the kids out of the kitchen with promises of
Dora the Explorer
playing in the living room, then faced the table with a wide smile. “Marisol. How’s it going? Working hard these days? You look tired.”
“What?” Marisol turned to the nearby countertop and examined herself in the side of the stainless steel toaster. “I do not. Shut up.”
Brian threw another pea pod into the air, catching it with his mouth. He and Marisol had a love/hate relationship that consisted of insults and the occasional crass joke. They mostly tolerated each other because of their connection to Candace, who’d introduced me to Marisol in college. But it wasn’t until Marisol and I started our catering company, Eats & Sweets, that our lives became so intertwined. Now Marisol and I spent more time sitting around this kitchen table than we spent at our own places.