Templet's Tasty Tails - Christmas Chapter
Booker and Erika's relationship develops over several holidays. Each holiday brings them closer to the realization their meeting could have been predestined. This Christmas, Booker aspires to become more than a friend to Erika.
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 the 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 by being a donor for his baby. However, unfortunate circumstances change the course of Booker’s 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?
At straight-up twelve o'clock, Booker pulled his truck in front of Erika's merrily decorated home. He got out with a humongous teddy bear. As a luxury sedan parked behind him, he lifted three glossy bags from the back seat. Once on Erika's porch, he rang the bell. Interested in the other arrivals, Booker looked over his shoulder. The man emerged wearing a long winter coat. He cocked the fedora on his head and assisted his nattily dressed passenger from the car.
Booker looked beyond them. "Mr. Dooley."
"Guess who's coming to dinner?" He marched across the street holding up an elongated Christmassy gift bag. "Brought something to warm things up."
"Just what we need for this brisk weather, Mr. Dooley."
By this time, Mr. Dooley and Erika's other guests surrounded him.
"Merry Christmas." The woman greeted cheerily.
Booker returned the salutation, as did Mr. Dooley. All her companion spared was a nod. The front door opened. Erika's appearance isolated him from the others. He had eyes only for her. Her smile broadened as she tugged the red bow on the teddy bear. "Merry Christmas, Erika."
"Merry Christmas, Booker." As if she remembered her manners, Erika acknowledged the others. "Merry Christmas, everyone. I'm so glad to see you." She grinned…big, pulling him in by his handled bags.
"These are for the girls and your mother."
"Booker, you didn't have to do that." She entwined her fingers in his on the handles.
"Erika," Mr. Dooley's voice boomed. "Merry Christmas. Look what I brought."
Booker let him have the floor as Erika gripped the bag.
She accepted the gift and withdrew a bottle. "Oh, this is wonderful, Mr. Dooley. The wine will go great with dinner. Come in out of the cold. Mama's in the kitchen."
Mr. Dooley wasted no more time on talk.
"Nat, Winona, I'm glad you could come." Erika left his side to embrace them. "Let me take your coats."
Nat helped Winona with hers before he shed his own. "How've you been, Erika?"
"How've you been, Erika?" she mimicked him in a deep voice. "Nat, you're among family. Loosen up." She draped their outer garments over her arm while she shut the door. "I'm great, big brother."
Booker's attention gravitated to Nat. Whatever his thoughts, he seemed to have no compulsion to be friendly.
"Booker, this is my brother, Nat, and his wife, Winona."
Nat's attitude did not deter Booker. "Great to meet you both." He held out his hand, waiting for Nat to do likewise. After a conspicuous pause, he did. Booker looked at Erika.
She scrunched her mouth to the side and strolled into the living room, enticing him in with a hand on his arm. "These are my sister and brother-in-law. Synthia and Randy, meet Booker, a special friend of mine."
He liked that she called him special. The word took on a connotation of its own.
"Pleased to meet you all." Booker accepted Randy's gesture of a handshake. "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Washington."
She came from the kitchen with Mr. Dooley. "Merry Christmas, Booker."
"This is from Booker, Mama." Erika handed her the bag after she read the nametag.
"Thanks for allowing me to share this occasion with your family."
"Booker, it's your son's first Christmas. Where else should you be?" Marianne shuffled the tissue in the bag. "A scarf." She pulled it out. "It's lovely, Booker." As she passed him, she tapped his shoulder. "Thank you." Then she stood before her offspring. "Look at the two of you."
"Hi, Miss Marianne."
She hugged her son and daughter-in-law. "So formal, Nat. I'm happy to see you."
"We delayed our trip to Paris to be here."
"What more could a mother ask of her son at Christmastime?" Marianne's glib retort seemed to hit home. Her son looked at his wingtip shoes. She draped the scarf around her neck. "I don't believe you were introduced to Erika's neighbor. This is Mr. Dooley."
"How many kids you got, Marianne?"
"This is the lot."
"It's been a very long time since we were all together." Erika hung their coats in the hall closet. Afterward, she set the wine on the kitchen table. "We're acting like a bunch of strangers. Find a place to sit."
Booker waited until the others settled down. Then, he moved toward an empty chair.
"Don't you want to give Brice his present?" Erika left the room ahead of him. He leaped at the chance to see his son. When Booker entered the nursery, the girls looked up from their electronic games.
"Kay-Kay." Erika pointed to the littlest one. "Keisha. This is Booker, Brice's daddy."
"Hello," Keisha said.
"That's a pretty teddy," Kay-Kay complimented. Then she looked at him and Brice. Her childish voice alerted. "They have the same color."
Booker set the teddy bear in the rocking chair, and Erika covered her mouth with her hand. Her eyes widened.
"Brice and his daddy have on the same color blue shirts."
Laughing, Booker commented, "Would you look at that."
"Kay-Kay's right." Erika sighed. "Here. Booker brought you a present."
Screams of joy bounded off the walls.
"What do you tell him?"
"Thank you, Mr. Booker."
"Good girls." Erika shoved the folded rollaway bed out of his path. "Take your bags to your parents."
Booker chuckled. "I know where your mind was."
He caught her hand. "I have something for you, too."
"Mine first." Erika disappeared.
Now at the crib, Booker felt a surge of paternal devotion.
Continue reading at Mickie’s Mutterings.
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