A Negotiated Mating
I never anticipated this life. I mean, who would? I am married to one man but pregnant by another, pregnant by another married man. And at the blessing of both our spouses. Seriously, what kind of life is this? Who does this? Who would want to bring a child into the world with this kind of dysfunction?
Was I wrong to want him? Was I wrong in being happy that there was nothing artificial in our agreed uponinsemination? We came together to give our spouses the child that they wanted, but in the process, we might have enjoyed the breeding a bit too much. Should I be concerned that this man seemed to have coveted his best friend’s wife long before his wife and my husband asked us to do this? Should I be at all concerned that he was a little possessive of me? The real fly in the ointment is that not only was I not concerned but I loved every second of his possession and didn’t want it to end. Too bad we both had spouses that were dependent on us.
No one would ever know it by looking at her, but Morgan Eriksen was terminally ill with a severe ovarian cancer. The disease had ravaged her once svelte beautiful body to near skeletal proportions. I couldn’t help staring and admiring her carefree, loving smile for her husband, Marcus. It’s what I loved most about Christmas time, the loving, the festive feel, the sense of hope and joy despite the darkness that threatened.
I watched them all with the love I felt for each of them. They were the three most important people in my life. Morgan, Marcus, and Armand. Armand Felix is my husband.
Marcus and Armand had been teammates, first in college and then later in their short careers in the NFL. Careers that lasted four years with two Super Bowl rings for their two Super Bowl wins. There had been no doubt that they would have won more if Armand hadn’t been in a near fatal tackle that had fractured his spine and left him paralyzed from the neck down.
It probably wouldn’t have hit Marcus so hard if the tackle hadn’t been intended for him and Armand hadn’t sacrificed his body to protect Marcus. It wasn’t a particularly hard tackle, given that it had been a team practice game, but the angle of the tackle is what caused the severe damage. Both men retired from the NFL, Armand because he would never walk again, and Marcus because he was riddled with guilt over it.
I don’t know if it was because of that that Armand had developed an intestinal cancer, but he was diagnosed a year later and hospitalized almost from the start. Already paralyzed from the neck down and then diagnosed with cancer, one would be forgiven to think that Armand would be despondent and bitter, but that was never Armand’s way. He was endlessly cheerful and always positive.
He never harbored any resentment toward Marcus because he loved him and never wanted him to feel guilty about a decision he would make again in a heartbeat. That was the kind of man Armand was. Gentle, loving, and always looking for the good in life. And I loved him so much for it. He was my best friend and my confidant. Well, at least in most things. A girl has got to keep somethings to herself, right?
The one secret that I was sure Armand would take to his grave was the fact that he also loved Marcus, not as Marcus probably thought he did but he loved him as a man. Armand had always been attracted to him, even though Armand knew it was a love that would never be returned. Of course, I hadn’t known this when Armand and I married; it was something I learned after the accident.
I couldn’t even get mad about the fact Armand felt that way, because I knew he loved me too. There was never a time during our two years of marriage that I felt my husband wasn’t mine or didn’t love me. Again, that wasn’t Armand’s way. He gave a commitment to love and cherish me, and that’s exactly what he did.
I found out by accident how he felt about Marcus. Armand had just come home from the hospital after more than a month of recovery, and Marcus, who came daily to visit him, had gone to the guest room where Armand’s sick room had been outfitted to help with his new paraplegic state. Marcus, who I knew felt terrible over Armand’s injuries, had apparently finally broken down in grief at Armand’s bedside. I walked in to find Marcus with his head bent, weeping bitterly as Armand looked on, only able to move his head. But it was the unguarded hunger and tenderness in Armand’s eyes that had stunned me with realization.
Armand looked up at me then, his eyes silently pleading with me for understanding and not to reveal his secret. I quietly left and only returned when Marcus went home later that night. He had stayed with Armand to feed and help nurse him even though the team’s insurance had paid for a full-time nurse for such a task.
That night Armand confessed his deep dark secret. He admitted that he had one gay relationship in high school and a few discreet ones in college. He had seen what his teammates had done to others who hadn’t hidden their preference, and he didn’t want the same isolation to happen to him. Besides, he couldn’t chance Marcus finding out how hopelessly in love he was with him. He couldn’t risk his close friendship with Marcus since that was all he was likely to have with him.
Especially as Marcus was undoubtedly heterosexual and had the beautiful blonde high school sweetheart that he loved to distraction to prove it. Marcus and Morgan were what everyone called the “it” couple, both in high school and in college. Both blond and blue-eyed, they were really too beautiful for words. Hell, they even had the Scandinavian names to go along with their golden perfection: Marcus Eriksen and Morgan Christiansen.
Morgan had very feminine, delicate features and a tall, slender, and svelte figure, while he was ruggedly handsome, half a foot taller, and broad shouldered with a massive muscular frame. They were perfect complements and foils to each other, both from very wealthy, influential families, both the youngest of three children, but they were down to earth and had a love that made everyone around them feel privileged to witness.
I entered their threesome, their unbreakable friendship, in my freshman year when they were in their senior year at college. I had taken an elective class in political science that all three seniors had needed to graduate. I later learned that my no-nonsense response to the professor’s obvious bias on the US republic government structure versus a British Westminster’s system of government, evident in most of the Caribbean, had earned the seniors’ notice and respect. Being from the island of Barbados, I hated when people made such general, asinine assumptions about a government system they themselves have never lived under.
Morgan had approached me first. To say I barely gave the blonde beauty a glance, especially because she was intent on asking me on a double date with them, was putting it mildly. I mean, really, who wouldn’t be suspicious of these perfectly beautiful people asking you out? After letting her speak her peace, I thought it was rather amusing that she assumed I would be attracted to Armand because he was black and him to me for the same reason. Since I had never been attracted to a white man, I didn’t take offense. I turned her and Armand down anyway.
It was a few days later, when I attended a home football game with my roommate, that Armand made a big production of asking me out when he scored a touchdown. I was guilted into accepting, even though I wasn’t sure about him. It turned out that we did like each other eventually. We became friends first, long before we were to become lovers. That happened four years later when I graduated college and we were married.
The love between Armand and me was more of a deep abiding friendship and mutual respect than a raging sexual love. There was no heavy petting or kissing between us, he was my best friend. People say marry your best friend, right? Five years older than me, Armand treated me like a beloved little sister the entire four years I had been at college, coming to see me regularly, calling to check on me, and making sure that I had whatever assistance I needed.
I didn’t protest the non-sexual nature of our relationship because I had a secret crush, a forbidden love for someone who barely knew I existed. Well, that’s not quite true. He knew I existed, but I didn’t feature on his radar as a potential sexual or love interest. He wholeheartedly, unequivocally, loved another woman.
I didn’t dare think of it or bring it to the forefront of my mind for fear that it would be revealed somehow. That was one secret I would never voice. It was a secret I hugged in the dark of the night, maybe shed a few tears on my pillow, but it would only ever be a whimsical dream.
Besides, he was happy with his love because she loved him back just as fiercely. The chemistry and love between them appeared to be so intense, it was always painful to watch.
No, I had no chance with him. The best I could hope for was the deep friendship and love I received from Armand.
The fact that his friends and teammates thought that we had a deeper relationship had never bothered me. I liked that he was so undemanding and patient with me. I was grateful that we had progressed slowly, gently in our relationship. I was happy to be given the time and space to concentrate on my economics and business administration degrees and didn’t have to bother fending off a demanding boyfriend that I had a relatively subdued sexual chemistry with. It also helped that my family loved Armand too.
To have a potential son-in-law in the NFL, especially a running back that was so celebrated, was my brothers’ wet dream. Like Marcus and Morgan, I was the last of three children, with two older brothers. Marcus had two older sisters, and Morgan had an older brother and sister. Armand was the only one among us who was an only child.
So, it made sense that Armand loved my family too. He came from a single-parent home and seemed to love the close-knit structure of my family. My mom and dad were middle class professionals and had the prerequisite three children and two dogs. The house, car, retirement fund, and good standing in the community gave us all a state of belonging and stability in Barbados. My brothers were both police officers, married with children of their own. I was the baby that everyone rallied around, supported, and protected. To someone like Armand, my family life seemed ideal.
With two staunchly heterosexual brothers and a very domineering father, my experience with a bisexual male had been non-existent. I couldn’t really classify Armand as bisexual, as he lived his entire life as a homosexual male and had intended a life with me when we married, so was he bisexual or homosexual? I don’t really care because I loved him no matter what label was applied. Still, I would never know what would have happened if he hadn’t gotten hurt.
Armand’s accident happened in the summer, a day after our wedding. . It shames me to this day that the first thought I had on getting that call when Armand was injured was, Thank God I don’t have to think up an excuse tonight to not sleep with him. My shame remains with me still given the extent of Armand’s injuries. It was one of the reasons I felt that I deserved the lifetime sentence of celibacy for such wicked thoughts.
The two years that followed, especially with my new knowledge of my husband’s true feelings, had been difficult, sad, and poignantly sweet at the same time. We became true forever friends, and I could safely say that I would have done anything in the final days to make my best friend and husband happy. So, when he asked me to have a child for him, I didn’t hesitate to agree, even though it was incredibly crazy to think of bringing up a child as a single parent given our circumstances.
I had a great job thanks to true nepotism. Armand, Marcus, and Morgan had started their own company straight out of college even though the men had gone to the NFL. Their firm had produced some of the most popular sports and live action video games in the world over the past five years. Their success was mainly because of Marcus’ brilliance. He was the game designer and programmer, while Morgan, with her law degree, and Armand, with a degree in marketing, handled administration and operations. So, I had a ready job with their firm on leaving college. And after Armand’s injuries my responsibilities became even more.
However, the shock of Armand’s request for a child hadn’t played out as I expected. While I had been expecting some scientific solution to the process, apparently Armand and Morgan had other ideas. Yes, I said Morgan. Morgan, ever the lawyer, had drawn up a legal document to lay out the terms of the mating.
According to Morgan, she had found out about her cancer diagnosis more than three years before and had told no one, not even her love and high school sweetheart, Marcus, that she had had a hysterectomy, removing more than ninety percent of her womb in an attempt to stave off the cancer’s impact to the rest of her body. She had sterilized herself to save her life. Marcus had been devastated all over again and somehow managed to blame himself for her childless state as well.
Apparently, on leaving college, Morgan had wanted to get pregnant immediately, but Marcus had wanted to wait. He thought that, at twenty-two, they were too young to be parents. Now, with Morgan’s surgery and progressive disease, that possibility had been forever taken away.
I never expected the ambush, never expected when Morgan asked us to come to their cabin in the mountains of Montana five days before Christmas that she and Armand would shock me so. And from the looks Marcus gave them, he was taking the request made by our spouses with the same stunning disbelief, although he looked mildly intrigued, or was that wishful thinking on my part?
I was still so mesmerized by the cabin, which was like no cabin I had ever seen or heard of. This place was huge, a two-story structure with six bedrooms. Morgan had given me a tour when we came in almost two hours ago. The six bedrooms were really large suites, elegantly appointed, and would rival any top floor suite at any five-star hotel. Each came with en suite bathrooms and a love seat with two comfy armchairs facing a blazing fireplace, which Morgan claimed helped with the heating.
The luxury of the place would have been enough, but that was coupled with the elaborate Christmas decorations, both outside the cabin and inside, in every room. Morgan had painstakingly decorated the cabin as if she expected it to be her last Christmas. It was all breathtakingly beautiful and festive. The smell of the logs burning, the large pine Christmas trees in various rooms, and the cinnamon apple potpourri that seemed aired throughout the cabin added to the feel and smell of Christmas.
I breathed it all in now, trying to come to grips with the ridiculous ask from Morgan and Armand with their two-page legal document.
“You want us to do what again?” Marcus asked in a harsh whisper, completely ignoring the document Morgan presented us with.
Armand grinned at Marcus from his perch in the special wheelchair custom made for him. Morgan stood next to his chair in clear support. They had obviously paired together on this. “Come on, Marcus. You would never make me believe that it would be any hardship for you to impregnant Simone. You and every guy on the team got a hard-on every time Simone came to our home games when she visited me from college.”
“What?” Marcus choked out, clearly stalling without answering the question.
“Armand?” I frowned. Was he saying what I think he was saying? Was Marcus interested in me sexually? That just wasn’t possible. The man was so breathtakingly beautiful I had yet to ever look him directly in the eyes because his sapphire eyes seared me with their brilliance every time. I found myself blushing every time he spoke directly to me, which was often. We debated many times and had some lively discussions, but never had I looked him directly in the face.
“Oh, I think the attraction was long before that,” Morgan teased.
What? Am I living in the twilight zone? Do I know these people? I hated when the three of them seemed to know shit that I didn’t know. And given that they had been friends for years before I came along, that seemed to happen more times than I liked.
“You never wondered why I recruited you into our group?” Morgan continued with a gentle smile. “Even the sound of Simone’s voice has the ability to rev his engines.” Morgan laughed.
It stunned me that there seemed to be no hurt feelings or upset about her claim that her husband desired me. Definitely twilight zone worthy.
“I never minded because it just meant that I didn’t have much work when he came to bed later, and I could almost guarantee that Marcus would fuck me six ways from Sunday if Simone had been anywhere in his orbit that day,” Morgan said cheerfully.
Arman chuckled. “Yup, he always got hot under the collar and other places whenever Simone was near.”
Yeah, these people were just plain crazy.
Marcus glared at them. It was the first time I had seen Marcus show any impatience with Armand and Morgan since both had been diagnosed. He then slid his gaze to me briefly, but it was enough for me to see that the others might have been telling something of the truth. The fair skin of his face was beet red with embarrassment. He looked at me again as though trying to gauge my reaction.
Really? How was he expecting me to react? He was Armand’s best friend, for Christ’s sake. I swallowed nervously. Armand had a hard, lean, long body. He wasn’t a small man, just the opposite at six-foot, but he was nothing in comparison to Marcus. Marcus was big, big and broad, arms corded with chiseled muscles. In fact, his entire body was an anatomy of perfectly proportioned, chiseled muscles, packed stomach, narrow waist, hard masculine ass, and thick trunk thighs that fit his six-foot-three frame. Standing next to him, my head would barely come to his chest.
I was barely five feet five. The extra inch was my pixie hair, which I wore in funky long bangs in the front and short, wild curls in the back. How the hell was this mating contract supposed to work? If Armand or Morgan thought that I could handle a virile man like Marcus, they were truly misguided.
“Now that we know we won’t get any reluctance from him, perhaps we should concentrate our efforts on convincing Simone, right, Armand?” Morgan smiled at me as though I was suddenly her best friend.
Armand laughed at Morgan’s analogy. “My wife is a sweetheart, Morgan. She has promised me a child, and she always keeps her promises.”
I frowned at him. “I made that promise when I thought you meant having your child. You people are crazy if you think I will bring a child into such a dysfunctional situation. Having a child for your own husband is one thing, but having it for someone else’s husband? Y’all are nuts!” I told them, completely ignoring their unspoken question of whether I would have sex with Marcus. That was one question I wasn’t even about to contemplate.
“Now, now, my darling girl. I know you love me and would give me anything in your power to give. I am paralysed, sweetheart. How am I to father a child in my state?”
“Science has made babies from dead men. Surely, they could make one from a man very much alive,” I told him tersely.
“Barely alive, my sweet girl. You have never withheld your love from me, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. I can’t tell you what joy you have given me since I have met you. There is no other woman I would ever consider having a child with. There is no other woman I would want my best friend to have a child with. That child would be so blessed to have your love. You don’t want me to spend my last days on the earth worried about you, do you?”
“I don’t follow your logic, Armand. Would the baby be for you or for me?”
“For you, of course. I will be dead, remember?”
I rolled my eyes. “Don’t talk like that. People are coming up with miracle drugs every day. You don’t know what will happen. Someone could find a cure and you could live a long life with me and the baby.”
Armand grinned. “So, you are having our baby!”
Morgan laughed and clapped her hands with glee. “Wow, that didn’t take any convincing at all.”
“I said that I’ll have a baby. I never said that I’ll have Marcus’ baby. Why can’t I try for artificial insemination with Armand’s sperm as I thought we were planning?”
“We’ve already had this debate, love,” Armand whined and shook his head as though disappointed I was still hedging. “Besides, my sperm would be riddled with cancer. I can’t put a child through that. I won’t put you through that.”
“Is the idea of having my baby so abhorrent to you?” Marcus asked, interrupting us, sounding particularly offended and vulnerable.
I never thought I would see the day that a guy like Marcus could be vulnerable around me. He was every woman’s wet dream. But here he was, staring at me with those big, beautiful sapphire blues looking all kinds of vulnerable and needy. Was he for real? I would have to be dead to not find him attractive. And I was not dead.