First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and Savior for His continued forgiveness of a sinner.
To my husband: I love you! Thank you for putting up with the late nights, long weekends, and the less-than-stellar kept house. Writing the book didn’t help much with any of that, either. :)
To my street team: Y’all are the best. Thank you for being my beta readers, my sounding boards, my biggest supporters, and the all-around best people in the world. Love all of you!
To my readers: Thank you for taking a chance on an indie author. I love hearing from everyone, so stop by my page and say hello.
To my assistant: Tabitha Charisse, thank you for all your help and support. You are very much appreciated.
To my BFFs: I don’t know how I managed to do anything right before I met the best friends anyone could ever ask for. A.M. Madden and Michelle Dare, I love both of you!
To the bloggers: None of this would be possible without your help, support, and tireless pimping. I love everyone in this great group of people. I can’t name one without naming everyone because you’ve all been so helpful and wonderful friends.
I hold my breath as I pull out yet another ovulation predictor stick. I've wanted a baby for as long as I can remember and we've been trying for longer than I care to admit. Why do women feel less than “womanly” when we have problems conceiving? It's something that should be innate and ingrained in us from birth. We're expected to meet the statistical average of having a husband, two-point-five kids, and a white picket fence that surrounds our picture-perfect lawn.
I'm actually missing all three of those.
I'm not married. My boyfriend Bobby and I have been together, on and off, for seven years…since I was twenty years old. He thinks marriage is an antiquated institution that unnecessarily puts demands on couples and sets them up for complete failure. My stance is the exact opposite of his. Marriage is a time-honored commitment that demonstrates the deep love and respect a man and woman have for each other. That piece of paper may be a government thing, but what it represents is a lifelong promise no one can take away.
I'm losing this fight, obviously.
The two and a half kids? I'd settle for one baby right now. For the past two years, I've been off all birth control while I hope and pray for a positive pregnancy test every month. Twenty-four months of begging for my period to just not show up. A few times, I've been late and so ecstatic that I rushed right out to the drugstore to get a test. Every time, it's been negative. That single dash mark on the test strip has single-handedly dashed my hopes and dreams too often.
Initially, it took a lot of convincing, but I finally wore Bobby down enough that he agreed to have a baby if I agreed not to bring up marriage again. I thought it was a good exchange, but I still secretly hope he will propose when he learns that I'm carrying his baby. Hence, yet another reason why I'm desperately trying to get pregnant every month.
Breath held, staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I unwrap the stick and take my seat on the queen's throne, letting the wine flow freely. Fine—this is just my way of glamorizing the process. I'm sitting on the toilet, holding a plastic stick between my legs, and pissing all over it. Now, doesn't my original story sound much better?
“Well, what have you got for me this fine March day?” I ask the plastic fortune-teller. "Am I close to ovulating? Will it be today, tomorrow, next week? Never?"
I'm aware that talking to inanimate objects in my bathroom isn't a good sign. Just don't act like I'm the only one who does it.
Pushing the plastic stick into the monitor, the screen lights up with the results I want to see. “Oh my God! I'm at my peak fertility time!” I squeal loudly and jump up and down.
My irregular periods have made it almost impossible to predict when to use these predictors. They're also not cheap and I really hate wasting them. It's not that I can't afford them, or a baby, but I've always been careful with how I spend money. When I finally do get pregnant, I plan to take the first three years off work and stay home with my baby. I've managed to save enough of my salary, plus some, to be able to afford to do just that.
Living in New York City, that's no small feat, either. The cost of living here is insane, but I pay for the convenience it offers. My luxury apartment is close to the Manhattan firm where I put my law degree to good use. That's also why I don't have a white picket fence surrounding a nice house in the suburbs. The commute would be atrocious. The time it would take me to get in and out of the city would almost equal the amount of time I spend at work every day. Early mornings and late nights already make up most of my week, and I don't want to add to it.
Commute time is one reason why Bobby and I don't live together now. He's a chef at a well-known restaurant. and his apartment is closer to his work. We've spent plenty of nights together at one place or another, but neither of us has been too keen on selling or subletting our apartments. With my fertility time at its peak, the commute to his apartment now feels like it'll take forever. I throw my clothes, shoes, and toiletries in a bag and rush out to grab a cab.
Forty-five minutes later, thanks to a wreck, rubberneckers, and traffic in general, I fly out of the cab and up the stairs to Bobby's fourth-floor apartment. When I reach the landing, Bobby's elderly neighbor, Doris Bedford, steps out of her door.
“Layne, you scared me!” she laughs. “Did you run all the way up the stairs?”
“Yes, ma'am,” I chuckle. “It's a good thing I work out regularly to stay in shape or that sprint would've killed me.”
“Maybe I need to join the gym,” she grins mischievously. “I could use more stamina myself,” she winks.
I laugh and simply nod, mainly because I don't want her to elaborate on why she needs that stamina. Not when I'm walking into my boyfriend's apartment to insist that he impregnate me. That mental picture could make my eggs crawl back up the Fallopian tube and never come out again.
Bobby forgot to lock his door again, I think as I shake my head and walk in. After I drop my bag on the couch, I walk down the hall toward his bedroom. When I approach the partially closed door, I hear the unmistakable sounds that alert me Bobby's not here alone. My heart pounds, my hands shake, and my palms are already sweaty as I push the door open wide enough for me to walk through it.