Loss…life…love. What a difference a year makes!
Web Designer Erika Washington's contract with her childhood best friend covers all possibilities about her pregnancy. But, one unpredictable event redirects her future. As a donor-surrogate, what does one do when fate changes the plan and claims the lives of the intended parents? If you're selfless, strong-willed Erika Washington, you mount a defense to keep your baby.
Entrepreneur Booker Templet, owner of Templet's Tasty Tails, secretly agrees to help his first cousin. However, unfortunate circumstances change the course of his life. After he learns the identity of the other donor, Booker plans to be a part of his child's life. No matter what.
Will Erika and Booker battle over custody of the baby? Will their horrible loss help them find consolation in each other's arms? Or will fate intervene yet again?
Scene: After Booker becomes her client, Erika accepts his invitation to have a firsthand look at his business operations.
Enjoy an extended excerpt:
Erika stopped suddenly. "You've got to be kidding." She looked at the black rims with the silver, riveted studs.
"No. I mean every word."
"No," she contested. "Not that." Erika looked up at Booker, then at his truck. "That."
Laughing, Booker placed a hand on her shoulder. "See what I mean? A sense of humor on display."
"I can't climb up there." Although she adjusted the leg of her jeans, her protruding tummy hindered her knee lift.
"You don't have to." He uttered those words as he reached and cradled her in his arms.
"Put me down, Booker Templet."
"Erika." He looked her dead in her unbelieving eyes. "It's the only way to get you into the truck. Will you open the door for me, please?"
She did. "Now, put me down." Her tush met the leather seat.
Booker remained in the door as she buckled her seatbelt. Apparently satisfied with her handiwork, he rounded the front end. He slid one long leg in before settling into the driver's seat. After he cranked up, Booker hooked a right once he reached the road.
The serene countryside captured Erika's attention. She snapped shot after shot. When he reduced his speed, she realized they neared his business.
"That's the plant over there."
Erika traced his finger point to the aluminum-sided building and silos in the distance.
"Here's where most of my work is done." He drove off the road.
What Erika saw was green grass seeming to float in water. "Is that rice?"
"And she's smart, too." Booker laid a wrist over the steering wheel. "What's left of it. The crawfish pond is, also, where rice is grown. Flood. Drain. Harvest. Re-flood."
"Sounds like a vicious"—Erika watched him look over his field—"but profitable cycle."
While he sat in deep contemplation, she aimed her camera. The faint whir tempted him. Booker glanced her way, and Erika snapped again.
"You're such an easy target…I mean, an inviting subject."
"Ahh, Erika Washington. There's certainly more to you than meets the eye."
Erika pondered what Booker said, smiled at him, and then started taking shots of the area.
"Let me show you something." He left his seat. She saw him shed his cowboy boots for camouflage-green rubber boots from the truck bed. He came to her side. "May I?"
"At least you asked this time." Opening her door, she permitted him to pick her up.
Booker slushed through the bog to a patch of tall grass with her in his arms. "Get your camera ready."
Excited, Erika fumbled and almost dropped it. His quick recovery had her poised for the photo shoot. "A boat?"
"Yep. Specially designed for harvesting crawfish traps." Booker's diligence seated her carefully under the boat’s canvas tarp. "Would you like to go check a trap?" Hesitancy shone in his eyes. That was the first time he’d appeared unsure about anything.
"I don't run from new experiences. Let's do it," she said. Erika laughed, happy with the way the day progressed. He smiled.
They floated over to one of the markers that bobbed on the water. Booker elongated his body to grab the top. When he lifted his arm, up came a wire basket. Erika gripped it, too. Together they set it on the bottom of the boat.
"I can now add crawfish harvester to my list of accomplishments."
His eyes glinted.
"What's that look?"
"Pure admiration, Erika."
"Why, Booker Templet. I declare, sir," she did her Scarlett O'Hara impersonation, "I do believe you're being fresh."
Booker grinned then shook his head. As was his habit, he pulled at his ear.
Curious about what happens next?
Mickie Sherwood is an author and novice photographer who takes nature pictures right in her own backyard. She loves to engage in her favorite pastime which also incites her creativity. Combine that aspect of her life with the enjoyment of spending time with her family, and cruising vacations, and the development of interesting characters who encounter intriguing circumstances is not very far behind.
Check me out.
First Chapters: http://www.bayouloveromances.blogspot.com