"Will you have my baby?"
Gail Henderson abruptly began to loudly choke on her iced tea. All around her conversations ceased as they became the center of attention. As she coughed and wheezed with tears streaming down her eyes, she squinted at her best friend Crystal who was sitting there, calm as you please, as though she hadn't just dropped what amounted to a nuclear bomb into the conversation.
They were seated at a table in Golden Corral, sharing lunch after a hectic morning of Christmas shopping, which was only a few weeks away. The place was packed as usual. The other diners slowly turned their attention back to their own business when Gail glared at them for being nosey.
"I've given this a lot of thought. You know I can't have children. If you had one for me, I would have the best of both worlds--a child from the man I love more than anything--and my best friend, who is more like a sister to me," her friend continued.
Crystal had been pregnant several times. Each one ended in miscarriage, the last almost taking her life. After that, her husband Rashid put his foot down. No more pregnancies. Crystal told Gail that he'd threatened to get a vasectomy before he'd allow her to risk her life in another pregnancy attempt, and she'd reluctantly complied with his decree. Gail thought Crystal had resigned herself to her barren state, but apparently not.
"What do you mean, have a baby for you?" she cautiously asked as she blotted the tears from her eyes and face.
"I want you to be my surrogate. I've been looking into it. Rashid would be its father and we'd use your eggs. Once the baby was born, I'd adopt it, making me its mother and as my best friend, you'd naturally be its godmother." Crystal looked at her with a hopeful expression on her face.
"Isn't this kind of drastic? I thought you were considering adoption," Gail asked a bit desperately.
"I did, but that's not for me. I want a child of my own. At the very least, I want a child fathered by Rashid. You know how important family is to him. Do you really think he'd be satisfied with an adopted child?"
Rashid Al Jabbar was as Arabic as his name. Because of his heritage, family and children meant a great deal to him. "Crystal, you know that's not fair to Rashid. He loves you. If you wanted to adopt, he would go along with it just because it made you happy."
A brilliant smile lit Crystal's face. "Yes, he does love me, doesn't he? That's why I want this so much. I need to give him the child he so desperately desires. Hopefully, it will be a son to carry on his family name. Gail, please. You're my best friend in the world. There's no one else I would trust to do this for me."
"Crystal, look at us. We look nothing alike. Don't you at least want someone who is similar in appearance?" Crystal was a short, curvy, natural blonde with pretty brown eyes. Gail was tall and slender with skin the color of nutmeg. Not only did they not look alike, they were from two different ethnic groups. Crystal was Caucasian while Gail was African-American.
"Pshh. You know I don't care about things like that. Besides, who would know? Rashid is almost as dark as you." It was true. Rashid's complexion was the dark, olive-brown of a man from the Middle East, though he was as American as she.
Gail could feel herself caving. It's not that she didn't want to help her friend. She just had a bad feeling about this, and over the years, she'd learned to trust her instincts. She took in Crystal's pleading expression. "Have you discussed this with Rashid?" It was a last ditch effort to avoid the inevitable. She'd never been able to say no to Crystal and Crystal knew it.
Crystal leaned forward, determination showing in her eyes. "He'll agree. Don't worry. How could he not? This is a win-win situation."
Win-win for whom? Gail wondered. Then she sighed, knowing Crystal was right about Rashid. Crystal had him wrapped around her little pinky. "I'm not saying yes, but I'm not saying no. Let me look into it. Do a little research. This is too big of a decision to make on the spur of the moment."
Crystal squealed, causing other diners to turn and stare--again. She got up from her seat and ran around to hug Gail. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Gail returned her hug but inwardly a feeling a dread was growing. She was going to say yes. She always did but she sensed this time, the results would be disastrous.