So I promised on Twitter that I would post the first couple of chapters of my novel, Someone Else’s Baby. While I’ll admit I’m not quite ready to take this step yet, I’m doing so at my fiancé’s urging, and because I legitimately want to know what people think. Below, you’ll find a synopsis and the first three chapters of the novel. Any and all feedback is welcomed and appreciated. I hope you all enjoy!
Synopsis: Angela and Laurence Tate have been married for eight years, and desperately want a baby. After four years of trying with no luck, the couple decides to ask Angela’s best friend, Yvette Hollis, to act as a surrogate. Yvette readily accepts, and the Tates couldn’t be happier. But toward the end of her pregnancy, Yvette changes her mind and decides to keep the baby, disappearing without a trace and leaving Angela and Laurence distraught. The couple then begin a frantic search for Yvette and the baby — their baby — that tests the strength of their relationship, and brings to light secrets they never could have imagined.
“It’s negative. Again.”
Angela Tate sat on the edge of her American Standard bathtub and sighed.
“What have we done to deserve this?”
Her husband, Laurence, sat next to her and slipped his arm around her waist, pulling her close to him.
“It will happen, Angie, we just have to keep trying. These things take time.”
Angela let out another sigh of exasperation and buried her head into her husband’s chest.
“I know that, but it’s already been four years. I don’t have a lot of time left, Larry. If it doesn’t happen soon…” She didn’t bother to finish her thought.
“Angela. Look at me.” Laurence lifted his wife’s chin and pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “We haven’t tried everything. There are other options.”
“But how would we pay for it? We’d have to sell the house, or take out another mortgage.”
“We could adopt,” Laurence suggested.
“I don’t think I could. I want it to be ours. Does that sound awful?”
Laurence shook his head. “I do too, honey, but you said it yourself. You don’t have a lot of time left.” Angela dropped her head and stared at the ceramic tiles on the bathroom floor. “Promise me we’ll keep that as an option,” Laurence said.
“I don’t know, Larry,” Angela looked up at her husband, her hazel eyes gleaming with unshed tears. “I don’t know if I can raise a stranger’s child.”
Laurence woke up the next morning to find Angela sitting at her desk with her laptop open. He rubbed his eyes and yawned. The clock read 5:12 a.m., well before either of them had to be up.
“Babe? What are you doing,” he asked wearily.
“Research,” Angela replied curtly.
“Research for what?”
“These other options you mentioned last night.” Angela swiveled her chair around and looked at her husband. Even half asleep, he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. Her expression softened as he let out another yawn.
“Go back to sleep, honey. I’ll be done in a little bit.”
“I have a late class today,” Laurence said. “I can stay up with you for a little while.” He pushed himself up into a seated position and looked at his wife sleepily. “Care to share what you’ve found?”
Angela nodded and took her laptop off its charger, carrying it over to the bed. “We could do in vitro, but I don’t know how much of it our insurance would cover.”
Laurence took the laptop from Angela and scrolled down the page. “From the looks of it, not enough. At these costs, any kids we end up having would be paying for it long after we’re gone.”
Angela chuckled at her husband’s attempt to lighten the situation. “Well I would hope they’d see it as a worthwhile debt, considering.”
“What about a surrogate,” Laurence asked. “Do you think we could do that?”
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking a stranger,” Angela said. “I’d much rather it be someone we know.”
“Did you have someone in mind?”
“Well…” Angela got up from the bed and walked toward a window. “I thought we could ask Yvette.”
“Um, honey,” Laurence said tentatively, “I don’t think Yvette is the right person to ask.”
“Why not?” Yvette Hollis had been Angela’s best friend since childhood. Since both girls had been only children, they had been the closest the other had to a sister.
“Come on, Angie, you know why. Yvette is great, but you’ve gotta admit she’s a bit… vain. I highly doubt she’d be willing to let a child destroy her body.” Angela glared at her husband, but she knew he was right. Yvette had always been obsessed with her figure. Her large breasts and slim waist had always been her pride and joy, and she’d told Angela and Laurence more than once that she was not opposed to plastic surgery to keep her body forever young.
“Laurence, she’s my best friend. If there’s anyone we could ask, it’s her.” Angela looked pleadingly at her husband. Laurence let out a long sigh.
“Alright, honey. If you want to ask Yvette, we can. But don’t surprised when she says no.”
“Oh, Angie, of course I will!” Yvette squealed with delight as Angela shot an “I told you so” glance at Laurence. The three of them were sitting at Yvette’s Louis XV kitchen table. Yvette reached across the table to grab Angela’s hands and squeezed tightly.
“I would be honored to be your surrogate. I know how much you both want this.”
“Yvette, you have no idea how much this means to us,” Angela beamed. “I knew I could count on you!”
“If not me, darling,” Yvette said liltingly, “then who?”
“We wouldn’t have dreamed of asking anyone else,” Laurence said. He looked at his wife and saw a flash of amusement in her eyes. He hoped Yvette hadn’t seen the look, but it didn’t look like she had noticed.
“Of course, we’ll pay for all your medical bills, and we’ll go with you to all of your appointments,” Angela swore.
“Angela Louise Tate,” Yvette cried, “how dare you insult me like that! I am not doing this for monetary compensation. I am doing it because you are my dearest friend. I would do anything for you.” Laurence saw that Yvette looked genuinely hurt and felt bad that he’d ever regretted how much she loved Angela. Despite her haughty and materialistic nature, Yvette had never failed to be there for Angela when she needed her. Laurence felt a twinge of jealousy that he’d never had a friend like her.
“Oh, Evie, you know I didn’t mean like that,” Angela began, but Yvette waved her hand in dismissal.
“Of course you didn’t, darling. You know you don’t have to worry about my expenses. You two just focus on preparing yourselves to become first-time parents. Let me worry about the rest.” Yvette smiled brightly and rose from the table.
“Now then,” she said, reaching into her Miele refrigerator. “Since I won’t be able to drink for some time until after the little angel is born, how about a glass of wine to celebrate?”
The day after Yvette agreed to be their surrogate, Angela and Laurence set up a doctor’s appointment. When they first started trying to conceive, Angela’s doctor told her that she shouldn’t expect it to happen overnight. She had been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome years earlier, and though the cysts had since been removed, she had still yet to get pregnant, even though her eggs were healthy. Her doctor could find no other explanation for her infertility, and assured her that with time, she would finally be able to have a child. But each fruitless attempt left her feeling anxious and depressed.
Laurence had been wonderfully supportive throughout the whole thing. He went with Angela to every appointment, and held her close every time she cried over a negative pregnancy test. Angela knew she was lucky to have such a husband, but part of her felt guilty that she hadn’t been able to give him the child they both so desperately wanted. But Laurence never once complained. His only concern was his wife’s wellbeing.
“Hey, Evie,” Angela chirped as soon as Yvette answered the phone.
“Hello, darling. Did you make the appointment?”
“Yes, it’s all set. We’re going two weeks from tomorrow. I think Larry’s a bit nervous, though.” Yvette laughed heartily on the other end.
“Of course he is, dear! Any man would be in his place.” Laurence was getting a semen analysis just to make sure everything was working properly. “But I’m sure a virile specimen like Laurence has nothing to worry about.” Angela thought she detected a hint of something in Yvette’s voice, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
“And what about you? Have you made your appointment yet?”
“I had just hung up from it when you called. Your timing was impeccable as always.” Since Yvette had never given birth before, she was having tests run to make sure that everything was okay on her end. Angela and Laurence were aware that their situation was unusual – normally a surrogate has had at least one successful pregnancy – but they had complete faith in Yvette, and could hardly afford to find someone who had done this before.
“What can I say,” Angela said, “I have a sixth sense.” Yvette laughed.
“Well then put it to good use and play the lottery. Don’t waste it on figuring out when to call me.” Angela heard a doorbell ring in the background, and knew that it was Yvette’s mother, Jacqueline.
“Ah, my mother is here,” Yvette said, “early, as usual.”
“I don’t think Jacqueline has been late a day in her life,” Angela laughed.
“I don’t think so either,” Yvette replied. “Although I wish she had been today.” Yvette sighed, and it was clear that she was nervous about telling Jacqueline that she had agreed to be Angela’s surrogate. Although Jacqueline had loved Angela as much as she loved her own daughter, Angela knew that she secretly wished Yvette had gotten married, too.
“I should go let her in before she breaks the door down,” Yvette said.
“Of course,” Angela replied. “Give her a kiss for me.”
“I will. I’ll call you after she leaves.”
“Great. Talk to you later.”
“Goodbye, darling.” Yvette hung up, and Angela stared at her phone quizzically. What was it that she had heard in Yvette’s voice when she was talking about Laurence? Angela had never had any reason to suspect that Yvette had any feelings for him, but Yvette never was one to show her emotions. Angela shook her head to clear it. She was thinking crazy. Yvette was her best friend, and the last person who would go after her husband.
As if on cue, Laurence walked into the bedroom with a bright smile on his face.
“Hi, honey,” he said warmly, leaning down to kiss Angela.
“Hi, sweetie,” Angela replied. “How was class today?”
“Not too bad,” Laurence said. “I let the kids go early since we were ahead of schedule.” Laurence taught history at the local college and almost always dismissed his students at least ten minutes before the class was supposed to end.
“If you keep letting them go early, they’re not going to know what to expect when they enter the real world,” Angela scolded.
“I’m not their only professor, Ange. I’m sure they’re more than used to sitting in class for the full hour and a half. They don’t need me to keep them that long, too.”
“Well I hope you don’t think you’ll be spoiling our child like that,” Angela joked.
“Of course not,” Laurence said in pretend shock, putting his hand to chest. “I’m going to spoil it even worse.”
Yvette called later that night in a surprisingly good mood. Her conversation with Jacqueline had gone better than planned, and her relief radiated through the phone.
“Angie, she was practically salivating at the idea of being a grandmother,” Yvette reported. “Although you know how dramatic she can be. When I finished telling her she said, ‘Well, now I can die in peace knowing I have at least one grandchild!’” Yvette laughed breezily. “I can’t remember the last time she was so happy.”
Angela paused before speaking, afraid to ruin Yvette’s good mood. “Evie, she does know that this would be a gestational surrogacy, right?”
“Oh yes, yes, of course,” Yvette said. “I explained it all to her. Angie, you know she thinks of you as a daughter.”
“I know, but I just want her to understand that the child won’t be her biological grandchild,” Angela replied.
“Oh, she knows. She’s fine with it, really.”
“Great,” Angela said. “I’m glad she took it well. I have to run though, Evie, tonight is date night and I have to get ready.” Yvette laughed loudly at this.
“I think it’s adorable that you two have been together for nearly a decade and still have date nights,” she said. “I thought that was supposed to stop once you began cohabiting.”
“Well we find it helps keep the romance alive,” Angela responded. “I wouldn’t trade these nights for anything.”
“Nor would I if I had a husband like Laurence.” Yvette paused for a beat before continuing, “Or any husband, I suppose.”
“You will one day, Evie,” Angela said. “You just have to wait a little longer.”
“Well no man will want me while I’m pregnant with someone else’s child, so I suppose I’ll be waiting for awhile.” Angela frowned at Yvette’s comment, but said nothing. “It will be worth it, though, to welcome your child into this world,” Yvette finished.
“Thanks, Evie,” Angela replied.
“Of course, darling. Now go get ready for your date. And do tell Laurence that my mother sends her love.”
“I will. Good night, Evie.”
“Good night, Angie.”
At dinner that night, Angela was unusually quiet. Laurence tried to prod her into telling him what was wrong, but she wasn’t in the mood to talk. She had barely touched her food and Laurence had to keep waving off their waiter every time he came to check on them.
“Angie, what’s up with you tonight?” Laurence asked.
“Hmm? Oh, nothing. I’m just thinking,” she replied.
“Why? Is she having second thoughts about the surrogacy?” Laurence leaned over the table.
“No. Not at all. Jacqueline came to visit, and Yvette said she was excited to be a grandmother.” Angela put her fork down and looked up at her husband. “I know Jacqueline has always thought of me as her second daughter, but something about the way Yvette explained her excitement just seemed… off.”
“That’s it? That’s what you’re so worried about?” Laurence reached across the table for his wife’s hands. “Honey, even if you told Jacqueline the baby dropped down from the moon in a basket, she would still be out the next day buying ‘#1 Grandmother’ shirts. Biology or not, she’s the closest thing our child will have to a grandparent.” Angela sighed and shook her head.
“No, I know that. That wasn’t all.”
“Well? What was the rest?”
“We were talking about our date nights and she said she wouldn’t trade them for anything either if she had a husband like you. Or any husband. And then she said no man would want her while she’s pregnant with someone else’s child, so she’d have to wait awhile before looking for someone of her own.”
“Yvette’s never said anything about wanting a husband or kids,” Laurence said confused. “Why would she be thinking about it now?”
“I don’t know, Laurence. It was just very strange for her to say, but she didn’t seem to think anything of it. Am I overreacting?”
“She’s your best friend, Ange. If you think there’s more to what she’s saying than she’s telling you, just ask her.”
“I know. I will. I’m sure it’s nothing, though.” Angela put on her best “everything’s fine now” smile and said, “This food looks delicious. Let’s eat.”
Laurence sat anxiously in the waiting room of his doctor’s office, leafing through an old magazine that had been left on the table. He was getting the results of his semen analysis back and, even though Angela had promised him everything would be fine, he couldn’t help but worry.
“Mr. Tate,” the receptionist called from the front desk. “You can go in now.”
Laurence got up and walked into the office, where his doctor was already waiting for him. The two men shook hands and Laurence settled into the chair in front of his desk.
“Well Mr. Tate,” Dr. Evans said, “it looks like everything is fine. Your sperm count is in the normal range, the motility is good, and the morphology is normal.” Laurence let out a long sigh of relief and Dr. Evans continued. “You’ve got some strong swimmers. I’m surprised that your wife has been having such a hard time getting pregnant.”
“At first we thought it was because of her PCOS, but after she had the cysts removed, it still wasn’t happening,” Laurence said. “Having Yvette agree to be a surrogate has been the best thing to happen to us.”
“Well I wish you all the best of luck,” Dr. Evans and Laurence both rose and shook hands again. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you.”
“Thank you, Dr. Evans,” Laurence said sincerely. “I think you’ve done enough already.”
“Ange?” Laurence peeked into the bedroom and frowned. Angela wasn’t home, and he had no idea where she’d gone. It wasn’t like her to go out without telling him where she was going, even if it was just to the store for some milk.
Laurence sat down on the edge of the bed and took out his cell phone. No voicemail or text. That was extremely unlike her. He punched in her speed dial number and was immediately greeted by her voicemail message. Instead of leaving a message, he hung up. Getting up from the bed, he started to head down to the first floor when he heard a key turning in the front door.
“Laurence, you home?” Angie shouted.
“Upstairs, babe,” he called back. Angela breezed into the bedroom wearing a neon blue tank top, leggings, and Nike running shoes. “You went to the gym?” Laurence couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen his wife in a workout outfit.
“No, I actually went for a run down by the pond,” Angela said. “It was such a pretty day out, I figured why not?” Laurence kept looking at her. “I’m sorry I didn’t let you know. It was kind of a spur of the moment decision.” Laurence shook his head.
“It’s alright. I was just surprised you weren’t here when I got home.” He kissed his wife on the forehead and she crinkled her nose in pretend disgust. Laurence noticed it and laughed. “Ange, after eight years, you think I care about a little sweat?”
“Of course not,” she responded. “So did you get good news from the doctor?”
“Yup. Dr. Evans said everything checks out. Everything was normal.” Laurence thought Angela would be relieved, but instead she looked disappointed.
“Oh. That’s great,” she said.
“So why do you look like I just told you I was a eunuch?”
“It just means that… well, that I was the problem.” Laurence shook his head and pulled his wife toward him.
“Hey, you know that’s not true,” he started, but Angela pulled away.
“But it is. Why else would we have gone so long without ever getting pregnant?”
“Ange, the doctor said your eggs were healthy. Everything else was ruled out. We don’t know why it didn’t happen. But that doesn’t matter now. Thanks to Yvette, it finally will.” Angela knew her husband was right and smiled.
“Of course, honey. You’re absolutely right.” She kissed Laurence on the cheek and began walking toward their master bathroom. “I’m hopping in the shower,” she said. “Want to join me?” Laurence smiled and walked behind his wife, pulling off his shirt and tossing it on the bedroom floor.
“Do you even have to ask?”
Yvette sat at her kitchen table sipping a glass of red wine, staring at her cell phone. She was waiting for her mother to call her back, but the phone remained silent on the table. Frustrated, she picked it up and jabbed in Jacqueline’s number. After three rings, her mother answered.
“Mother, you were supposed to call me back twenty minutes ago,” Yvette said, annoyed.
“Oh, Yvette, I’m sorry. I guess it slipped my mind. Is everything okay, honey? You sound upset.” Yvette took a deep breath before answering.
“Well, no, Mother, everything isn’t okay. I just need something clarified. When I told you that Angie had asked me to be her surrogate, you understood that the procedure would use her eggs and not mine, correct?”
“Yvette, of course I understood that! I know you have no desire to have your genetic material out there in the world. Although you do have excellent genes, if I do say so myself.” Jacqueline waited for her daughter to respond, but when Yvette didn’t, she grew uneasy.
“Honey, why are you asking me that? Did Angela say something to you?”
“Not necessarily. When I told her how excited you were, she just wanted to make sure that you knew that the baby wouldn’t be your biological grandchild. “
“Was that all?”
“Yes, Mother. She just wanted to make sure you knew so you wouldn’t be surprised when the baby came out looking nothing like me.” Yvette let out a thin laugh so that her mother wouldn’t ask her any more questions.
“Well then. I’m glad that’s settled. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?”
“No. That was all. I have to go now, Mother, I don’t want my food to burn.”
“Alright, darling. Love you lots,” Jacqueline said.
“Love you more. Bye.” Yvette hung up and felt more relieved than she had since her last conversation with Angela.
That’s all for now, folks! Let me know what you think in the comments below. If the feedback is positive, I’ll post another chapter or two. If not, back to the drawing board for me!