Ladies and Gentlemen, this is NOT your ordinary unplanned pregnancy.
For one thing, no one even got to have sex.
Family means everything to quirky high school drama star Rachelle. Maybe that's because she has so little of it- just big sister Trinity since their parents died when Rachelle was only 8. Well, and brother-in-law Jack, but he only half-counts because he can be a real pain in the butt sometimes.
Heartbroken by watching her sister struggle with infertility, Rachelle is determined to help by donating her eggs the minute she turns 18, which seems like the perfect solution. Until Trinity is gravely injured before the embryos can be implanted.
When stupid Jack won't believe that Trinity will wake up and want her babies, Rachelle feels forced to take matters into her own hands. Or rather, embryos into her own belly. And the only way to do that is impersonating her sister, which is- let's face it- sort of insurance fraud, so she'll have to keep the truth a secret until Trinity wakes up and fixes everything like always.
That sure seemed like a great idea at the time, but Trinity isn't waking up. And beside making high school life beyond miserable, Rachelle's impromptu career as a surrogate mother is also making it hard to get close to the broody new guy at school who comforted her the night Trinity got hurt. And just when she thinks she's got that figured out and FINALLY has someone she can trust, she discovers her dream guy is the reason her sister got hurt in the first place.
Chapter One: Shoot the Moon
The needle glistened in the too-bright light from the naked bulb of the lamp on the nightstand. Two inches of surgical steel shook slightly in Jack's hand and a gleaming bubble trembled at the tip as he touched his thick thumb to the plunger.
"We're sort of on a schedule here." I shifted the ice pack back onto my sister's flank. "36 hours from now, miracle of new life and all that... Don't you remember?"
Jack glared at me and I ignored him. Like usual. Trinity couldn't see anyway with her head turned away.
"Come on, Jack-ess--"
"Knock that off, Shelly." Trinity spoke without looking at me, but I could hear the lowered eyebrows in her voice.
"What? Jack S. I can't help it if that's his name, can I? It's not my fault that it happens to sound like the sort of language I am far too demure to utter out loud. I mean using the whole last name feels way too formal for a brother-in-law, don't you think?"
"Just 'Jack' will do just fine." Her words shook slightly with restrained laughter and I swallowed a smile.
"Okay, fine. Just Jack it is. So, how many has Trinity done so far, Just Jack? Like 50? You're a big macho dude... surely you can do ONE."
"This is different. First of all, this... thing..." He flicked the syringe with a couple of fingers. "Is like three times longer than the ones Trin uses for the belly shots. And it's harder to do it for somebody else than it is on yourself. Not to mention..."
He stopped there, still not mentioning the thing we were all thinking. Not to mention this was-- no pun intended-- their big shot. A lot was riding on that syringe. A bead of perspiration trickled down from his forehead and landed in a wet spot on the sheet, next to my sister's hip.
I wrinkled my nose at him. "Ew. Why don't you go wash up or something? I'll be happy to jam that thing into my dear old sister's buttsky. Then maybe she'll think twice about this 'no dating until you're at least a senior' rule she pulled out of aforementioned hindquarters."
Trinity flipped her head to face me and rested her cheek on the pillow over her folded arms. "I have a thick stack of legal papers that say I can make any old rule I want until you turn 18, and don't you forget it, Rachelle."
Ouch. Usually I'm just Shelly. 'Rachelle' means she's close to pissed. Or already there, hunkered down and waiting to attack.
Of course, you wouldn't know it to look at her face, with her high cheekbones, large green eyes with lashes so long that they fluttered across your temple even before her sweet little pucker of a mouth kissed your cheek. My sister has the face of an angel, and I'm not just saying that because I'm currently walking around with a decade-newer model of the same exact face. My parents apparently had no imagination when it came to creating offspring. Well, not in looks anyway. In personality, Trinity and I were very different. I would never have fallen for Jack-ess, for one, although-- and it killed me to admit it-- he and Trinity were a pretty good match.
Trinity's angelic face scrunched up. Maybe from the gazillion-watt bulb blaring from the nightstand, maybe from the ice against her bare flank. Maybe waiting for Jack to get on with it already, or maybe just from the fact she was in this situation in the first place. I hated that for her, too. I mean, it's one thing to lose your parents. But it's a whole other thing to lose your children. Or the hope of them, anyway.
"Is the light bothering you, Trin?" I cast a quick glance at Jack, who was still putzing around with the syringe in his hand, tightening the needle to the hub.
Trinity's chin moved in a tiny nod.
I switched hands on the ice pack and twisted to reach the lampshade on the floor behind me. Then I placed it gently over Trinity's head. "There! How's that for a party atmosphere?" I beamed by best stage-grin at Jack. "Now... one quick game of Shoot the Moon, and then we all need to get some sleep. It's a big week for all of us."
Jack nodded as he tore open an alcohol packet.
"And by 'big week,' I am of course referring to my audition at Magic Castle on Saturday, which I know has been a huge source of stress for both of you during these last few months. Thank goodness you had all these shots and ultrasounds and things to distract you."
My sister giggled under the lampshade. Jack's face softened and he nodded at me. I lifted the ice.
The harsh smell of disinfectant stung my nose as Jack swept the alcohol-soaked square in a spiral over the deep red mark the ice bag had left on Trinity's flank. He held the syringe up to the light for about the nine millionth time and positioned his thumb over the plunger. Then he made a "C" on her hip with the thumb and forefinger of his left hand and spread them apart, pulling Trinity's skin tight.
"Quick is the trick," Trinity said. "Straight in like a dart."
Jack frowned and lowered the syringe. "I know that."
I faked a stretch, tipping my head back so Jack wouldn't see me roll my eyes. "Yes, you're super smart about this. Trin and I are totally amazed with your mad needle skills. So what are you waiting for?"