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Her Two Dads
by Ariel Tachna

Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Srikkanth Bhattacharya is a quintessential gay bachelor and perfectly happy about it--until he gets a call from the local hospital telling him his best friend died in childbirth. Sri had agreed to provide the sperm to make Jill's dream of motherhood come true, but he'd never expected to have to make decisions for a baby girl. He intends to place her with an adoptive family, but once he sees her, Sri can't bring himself to do it, so now he's struggling to learn how to deal with a newborn. His housemate and friend, Jaime Frias, volunteers to help, never guessing he'll fall in love with both the baby and Sri. Everything seems perfect until a visit from Social Services sends Sri into a tailspin, feeling like he has to choose between his daughter and a relationship with the man he's coming to love.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010

eBookeBook

64 Reader Ratings:
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Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [262 KB]
Words: 59982
Reading time: 171-239 min.


Her Two Dads is as sweet and gentle as the cover promises. It celebrates family of all types, especially families that might be considered nontraditional, in a story about two men who must overcome both bigotry and their own fears if they want to have a future together. by BD Whitney @ BookWenches


Her Two Dads Ariel Tachna Erotica/Romance 2010 by Ariel Tachna First published in 2010, 2010 CONTROL: PUBLISHER="Dreamspinner Press" PUBURL=www.dreamspinnerpress.com COM:TOCSTART COM:TOCEND

* * * *
* * * *
To my daughter,
who taught me the meaning
of love at first sight.
* * * *

Chapter One

"May I speak with Srikkanth Bhattacharya, please?"

"This is he," Srikkanth replied, not recognizing the voice.

"Mr. Bhattacharya, my name is Victoria Holmes. I'm one of the social workers at Good Samaritan Hospital. You're listed as the emergency contact for Jill Peters, and you're also listed as the father of her baby," the woman's voice continued.

"Yes, that's right," Srikkanth agreed, thinking of the arrangement he'd struck with his friend that allowed her to have a baby without having to find a man to share her life. "Is everything all right?"

"Unfortunately not," Ms. Holmes continued. "The baby was delivered this morning in perfect health, but Ms. Peters developed eclampsia, and despite the attempts to stabilize her, she didn't survive the delivery."

Srikkanth didn't know what to say. He hadn't been in love with Jill, but he had loved her, in that best friend sort of way. His heart clenched in his chest at the thought of her laughter, her bubbliness, her sheer enthusiasm for life and living gone. "No," he said immediately, "there must be some mistake."

The social worker knew the stages of grief as well as she knew her own name. "I'm sorry, Mr. Bhattacharya. I wish I could tell you this was a mistake, but Ms. Peters is no longer with us. We have to think about the baby now."

"The baby's okay?" Srikkanth verified, though he knew the social worker had mentioned it already. He could feel his brain shutting down already as it struggled to accept this sudden change in his reality.

"She's doing fine," she assured him, "a healthy seven pounds, eight ounces, but there are some decisions that need to be made. As the baby's father, you'll need to come in to the hospital so we can release her to you."

"No, that's not right," Srikkanth stumbled, too numb from the announcement of Jill's death to think clearly about anything else, like the bargain they'd made not to tell anyone of his paternity. "She's Jill's baby. I was only the sperm donor."

"Excuse me?" the social worker asked.

"Jill and I aren't--weren't--a couple," Srikkanth explained slowly, still feeling incredibly shell-shocked by the entire conversation. "She was a close friend, and when she wanted to have a baby but didn't have a partner, I offered to go with her to the fertility clinic and donate the sperm. She was going to raise the baby by herself."

"I see," Ms. Holmes said slowly. "Does she have family who might be interested in parenting the baby?"

"She was an only child," Srikkanth replied automatically. "Her parents died a few years ago. If she had extended family, she never mentioned them."

"Then perhaps we need to look at other options," the social worked suggested, her voice carefully neutral. "If you are indeed the baby's only relative and you have no interest in rearing her yourself, you need to arrange for her to be placed for adoption or else she'll become a ward of the state and go into the foster care system until a family can be found for her."

"I see," Srikkanth replied numbly, though he didn't see at all. These weren't supposed to be his decisions. He hadn't even figured on seeing the baby more than occasionally. He and Jill were friends, but they didn't see each other every day or even every week. Nobody else knew the baby was his--she'd steadfastly refused to reveal the father's name to their mutual acquaintances--so even if he had seen them, he wouldn't have treated her or the baby any differently than he treated any of his other friends and their kids. He didn't even know why Jill had put his name on the forms at the hospital. He'd thought she intended to be listed as the only parent of the child.

"You can't sign the termination of parental rights form until forty-eight hours after the baby was born," the social worker explained, "so you have a day to think about it. If you'd like to make an appointment, we can meet on Thursday morning to discuss your options and hopefully expedite the process so the baby can go home with a family as soon as possible."

"That's fine," Srikkanth replied automatically, not even looking at his calendar to see if he had meetings scheduled at work. This had to come first, if only so he could get it taken care of and get on with his life. "What time?"

"The baby was born at 11:41 this morning, so legally you can't sign the papers until that time on Thursday, but you could come in at eleven and we could take care of all the preliminary decisions. Since you'd be choosing voluntary adoption, you could have a say in the baby's final placement, even to the point of selecting a family for her and meeting them if you'd like."

Selecting a family. Like they were some sort of dish on a menu.

His stomach turned at the thought.

"I'll come at eleven," he agreed, "but I don't really feel qualified to make decisions for her future. I wasn't supposed to be involved in any of this."

"You don't have to be," Ms. Holmes allowed, "but if you aren't, the process is much longer for both her and you. At the very least, for a voluntary adoption, you have to select an agency to arrange a placement for her. If you don't, she'll become another case number in an overloaded system. We do our best for them, but it won't be nearly as fast as if you can bring yourself to make some decisions on her behalf."

"I'll think about it," Srikkanth promised, not sure he could commit to doing more than that.

"When you arrive at the hospital, ask for the neonatal nursery," Ms. Holmes directed. "My office is down the hall. Any of the nurses can direct you there once you get to the floor."

"Thank you for calling," Srikkanth said automatically as he disconnected the line and stared blindly at the wall.

A baby.

His baby.

She wasn't supposed to be his baby. She was Jill's baby. Except Jill, bright, funny, outgoing Jill, wasn't going to be around to raise her.

He had a friend who was adopted. Tim had met his birth mother, but all his connection was with his real parents, the people who loved him and raised him. And it wasn't like Srikkanth would be losing anything by letting her go. He hadn't planned on being more than a peripheral part of her life. This wouldn't change anything.

"Hey, Sri, are you coming down for dinner?"

"Yeah, I'll be there in a minute, Jaime," Srikkanth called back absently.

Jaime and Nathaniel, his two housemates, had already started eating when Srikkanth finally came down the stairs.

As usual, Nathaniel's nose was buried in a medical textbook as he prepared for the never-ending cycle of classes and exams that made up medical school, but Jaime looked up, surprised by the odd look on Srikkanth's face and the mechanical way he moved around the kitchen, getting a plate and serving himself without seeming to actually see what he was doing.

"Sri?"

Srikkanth didn't even look up, making Jaime frown.

"Sri?" he repeated. Still no response. "Srikkanth!"

Srikkanth looked up finally, his expression so lost and confused that Jaime wanted to give his clearly distraught friend a comforting hug. "I heard your phone ring," Jaime said instead. "Did you get some bad news?"

"I... don't even know," Srikkanth said slowly.

Jaime's frown deepened. "What's going on?"

"Apparently I'm a father," Srikkanth revealed, his voice conveying his utter confusion.

"What the hell?" Nathaniel asked, the conversation having penetrated his studying. "I thought you were gay."

"I am," Srikkanth replied immediately.

"Then how'd you end up getting some girl pregnant?"

"It wasn't like that," Srikkanth insisted. "I went with Jill to a fertility clinic to help her out. That was supposed to be the end of it."

"Did she change her mind?" Jaime asked warily.

Srikkanth shook his head. "She died."

"Oh, God, Sri, I'm sorry," Jaime said immediately. He hadn't known Jill well--it wasn't like they socialized all that much. They were housemates, and they each had their own lives--but he couldn't imagine losing a friend, especially one he'd felt close enough to to act as a sperm donor as Srikkanth had.

"Obstetrical hemorrhage?" Nathaniel asked immediately. "Or I suppose it could've been eclampsia. Or maybe amniotic fluid embolism."

"Nathaniel," Jaime interrupted sharply, "she was a person, not a case study. It doesn't matter how she died, but the fact that she did has obviously upset Sri. Just shut up if you don't have something helpful to add, okay?" He wasn't usually as impatient with Nathaniel's unwavering focus on the medical aspect of everything--Nathaniel wasn't a bad guy, just single-minded in his determination to get through medical school and his residency at the top of his class so he'd be able to get a job and pay off his student loans--but every once in a while, his lack of sensitivity made Jaime wonder how successful he'd be with actual patient care.

Nathaniel fell silent after that, thankfully. "So what happens now?" Jaime asked finally.

"I'm supposed to meet the social worker on Thursday to decide what happens to the baby," Srikkanth replied slowly. "I wasn't supposed to be a part of this."

"You won't be," Nathaniel assured him. "You'll go in, sign a few papers, and never have to worry about it again."

"Nathaniel!" Jaime scolded. "Don't be so callous."

"What?" Nathaniel asked with a shrug that made Jaime want to hit him. "It's not like Sri was planning on raising it anyway. This doesn't change anything."

"Of course it does," Jaime disagreed. "He might not have planned on being a father, but he knew who the mother would be, and he'd get to see the baby occasionally."

"I don't have the slightest idea what to do with a baby," Srikkanth muttered, mind still reeling. "I can't possibly keep her. I wasn't supposed to be a part of this."

"Exactly," Nathaniel agreed, shooting Jaime a glare, although he tried to temper his voice to be encouraging for Srikkanth. "Go in on Thursday, sign the papers, and take comfort in the fact that you made the best decision for her and that you made a childless family very, very happy."

It made sense, Srikkanth told himself. He wouldn't have had regular contact with the baby anyway, and if he participated in the decisions, he'd at least know she was taken care of. If he abdicated his responsibility, she would end up in the system and in who knew what situation.

His thoughts jumped to his parents, back in India now that his grandparents were aging. They had pretty much given up on trying to arrange his marriage. He hadn't outright told them he was gay, but he hadn't exactly hidden it either. He hadn't ever planned on marrying or having a family, but he knew how important grandchildren were to his parents. They'd certainly lectured him enough when he was younger on his duties as the eldest son. His sister had given them a grandson the year before, which had helped some, but she was married, her family name--and the baby's--different from theirs. A granddaughter wouldn't be quite as exciting to them as a grandson would be, but it would still be a grandchild, one he'd given them. They'd fuss about him not being married to the mother, but Jill was dead. He could spin them whatever story he wanted, and they'd accept it.

Fuck. He couldn't be actually considering this. Could he? Sure, he'd win some points with his parents, but he'd have taken on a lifelong commitment without anyone to help him. And not just a commitment, but a daughter! He didn't know anything about girls, his sister notwithstanding. He'd avoided girls like the plague when he was younger because they weren't cool. And once he realized he was gay, he hadn't had a reason to get interested in them. Sure, he'd had a few female friends, Jill being the closest, but that didn't qualify him to raise a girl.

Nathaniel was right. He needed to sign the papers and forget about it.

When he looked up again, Nathaniel had already left the table.

"You all right?" Jaime asked, his dinner long since finished, but he couldn't abandon Srikkanth to his obvious turmoil. They were better friends than that.

"Would you be?" Srikkanth retorted.

"Nope," Jaime said with a shake of his head. "I'd be on the phone to my mother begging her to get over here as quickly as possible to help me out."

"You think I should keep her." It wasn't really a question.

Jaime shook his head, trying to frame his answer both truthfully and helpfully. "No, that isn't my decision to make," he said after a moment. "If she were my daughter, yes, I'd keep her, because I might not ever have another chance, but my family's here in town. I have built-in babysitters. And I helped my mother with my youngest brother and sister, so I'm not a complete stranger to babies. Adoption is certainly preferable to abortion, but even so, you rarely see Hispanic babies up for adoption because the extended family kicks in and somebody takes the child."

"The same is true in India," Srikkanth agreed, "but I don't have anyone here. They're all back in Hyderabad."

"You could take her and go home," Jaime proposed. "I know they need web designers in India too."

Srikkanth smiled sadly. "And if I did, I'd be married off to some poor girl within a month. I'm gay, Jaime. There isn't a place for me in India any more than there would be for you in Mexico. That wouldn't be fair to anyone: the baby, the girl I'd end up married to, or me."

Jaime couldn't argue with that. His parents knew he was gay, but he also knew they hadn't told his grandparents back in Mexico. He doubted his grandmother would survive the shock. He wasn't happy about the secrecy, but it wasn't like he saw them often enough for it to matter much. Nor was he seeing anyone seriously at the moment, although he had hopes for Randy, the guy he'd gone out with a few times over the past month. It wasn't like he was actually ready to introduce a guy to his family as his life partner, though, so at least for now, his grandparents could continue in blissful ignorance. That didn't help Srikkanth, though. Jaime knew what his answer would be for himself, but he couldn't impose that decision on Sri, not when this had happened so suddenly.

"Do what you think is best for everyone," Jaime said finally. "Whatever you decide, I'll support that."

Srikkanth nodded and headed back upstairs to his room, looking around the small space speculatively. The room was fine for just him, with plenty of space for his bed, dresser, computer desk, and chair, but there was hardly room for a baby's paraphernalia. He didn't have any idea how much stuff a newborn would need, but he didn't see it fitting in here. Jaime and Nathaniel each had their own rooms, but they didn't have any more extra space than Srikkanth did. Maybe even less, since he had the master bedroom. Maybe they could put some stuff in the corner of the living room, except that wasn't fair to the guys. The baby wasn't their responsibility.

She isn't yours either, a little voice reminded him.

Flopping down on the bed, he stared blindly at the ceiling, anger growing slowly at the thought that he'd gotten dragged into all this. This was Jill's baby, damn it! Yes, he'd agreed to donate the sperm, but he'd done so on the condition of anonymity, which she'd agreed to immediately. She'd told everyone she'd used a sperm donor. So why the hell hadn't she told the hospital the same thing? If she had, they wouldn't have contacted him and he wouldn't have to deal with this shit. He could just go on with his life, unbothered.

That's a lie, his conscience insisted. You'd still know Jill was dead, even if you just read about it in the paper, and then you'd wonder what happened to the baby with no way to find out. At least this way you'll be able to make sure she's taken care of.

Tears welled in his eyes as he thought about Jill going into labor and giving birth alone, dying surrounded only by medical personnel, with no one there to hold her hand and tell her it would be all right, even if in the end it wasn't. His thoughts raced and raced along the same unproductive vein until exhaustion finally carried him into sleep.


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