Sun God Seeks...surrogate?(10)

By: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

I unwrapped the shiny red paper covering the box. Inside was a small silver ring with tiny black cabochons.

“Do you like it? I got it from an antique shop. The woman said it would bring you good luck.”

It was lovely. “I’ll wear it forever.”


At a quarter to nine that same morning, I found myself pacing the sidewalk across from Cimil’s house with giant spoon in hand, ready to chow down on a heaping helping of crow. My mother’s health was well worth a few kicks to the ego, but I still needed to go in with a game plan.

I’d agreed to listen. Just…listen. Five hundred thousand dollars.

I blew out a quick breath and watched the steam billow from my lips. The air outside had to be in the teens, but it could have been one hundred and eight for all I knew; my body, riddled with adrenaline, felt like it was on fire. Maybe because I felt like an animal about to be caged.

Yes, here’s the yummy carrot, bunny. Jump! Jump!

No. You agreed to listen, to consider their proposal in exchange for a boatload of money your mother desperately needs. Nothing more. There is no obligation to share your eggs.

Not that my eggs would mind. Little traitors. They were already creating decoupage memorial plates in her brother’s honor.

In any case, the chances of Cimil saying anything to convince me were slim to…never, ever, ever. I mean, who in their right mind would consider this sort of scheme, aside from those weird people who show up on the cover of the National Enquirer between articles entitled I Was Carjacked by a Yeti and Aliens Are Living in My Shampoo Bottle.

I took a quick sip of my extra-strong coffee taking comfort in its fortifying bitterness.

See. You could never say yes to Cimil. You’d have to quit coffee if you had a baby.

I stared at my constant companion for the last year. Coffee and I had done things. Been places. My bud. I ran my finger lovingly down the side of the paper cup. No, I could never give you up.

But that dream…You can’t deny that there’s a subliminal somethin’-somethin’ going on.

My mind quickly replayed the imaginary conversation. What did it mean?

Not everything is a battle of absolutes…

Were they somewhere in between? Areas of gray?

What’s your gray, Penelope?

I bit my lower lip and took a sip of my rapidly cooling coffee.

“You know, Penelope,” said a deep male voice to my side, startling me from my personal force majeure. “Sometimes it’s best to treat fate like a Band-Aid.”

The man who’d answered the door the evening before stood next to me. Only this time he wore a black turtleneck (not a baby) and a full-length leather jacket.

His breath was thick as smoke when he said, “I am Andrus.”

He held out his leather-clad hand, and I immediately wondered if the gloves were meant to mask the creepy bite marks rather than shield his fingers from the formidable cold. He didn’t seem like the kind of man who got chilly.

He gave me the once over while we shook hands. “You’re going to catch a cold standing out here in that,” he pointed out.

I’d worn my jeans and faux–fur lined boots with a white sweater. My parka was tied around my waist. “Not really the high nail on my list of worries.”

He nodded and then shifted his gaze toward the front door of Cimil’s house. “Take it from me, life never turns out as one expects, but the sooner you let go of what should be, the sooner you’ll see the forest through the trees.”

“Great,” I said, “just what I needed…life lessons brought to you by the bumper sticker.”

He laughed at that.

“Who is she?” I asked.

He smirked and rubbed his black stubble-covered jaw. “She’s someone extremely powerful. And someone who knows what you need even before you do.”

Well, la-di-da! Didn’t that make it all better?

“And what exactly did you need?” I asked, wondering why anyone would choose to have someone like Cimil in their life.

He scratched his sprouting beard again. “To heal a piece of me that was broken long ago.”

“How’s that workin’ out for ya?”

He smiled, a bright glowing, heartfelt smile. “Well. Really, really well.”

“Sorry, buddy. Not drinking the Kool-Aid.”

“Kool-Aid?” he asked.

“Never min…” I turned to fully face him. It was then that I noticed his eyes were an inconceivable amalgamation of light blues and greens, almost iridescent.

Just like Cimil and her brother.

I swallowed my shiver. Something about these people felt…different. Very, very different. “I’m not in Kansas anymore, am I, Andrus?”