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Crystal is a fire-fighter and the head of their loving home. She's fit, neat and organized. Apart from her career, Carol and Brianna are her world, and while she knows friendships are important, she feels somewhat threatened by how much her girl shares with her friends and not with her.
When Carol decides she wants a baby, it throws their house into a spin. Crystal isn't sure and wants to wait. When Carol's three naughty friends from Leading the Way (4th in the Corbin's Bend Series) see how disappointed their friend is, they help the young mom go on a sperm search with hilarious results. Only problem is, Crystal knows nothing about their hijinks. Can a punishment fix this mess? Or will what Crystal sees as disloyalty, tear them apart?
About Corbin's Bend:
Welcome to Corbin's Bend, the first equity-cooperative housing development just for spankofiles. Thirty thousand acres in the mountains above Denver sits your dream come true. With 1000 home sites, several restaurants, a club house, theater, pool, and many other amenities, you will find yourself at home.
Corbin's Bend is the setting for a group of spanking romance novellas set in, where else? Corbin's Bend, Colorado. A fictitious housing cooperative, Corbin's Bend is unique in that everyone living there is into spanking, whether that be erotically or through domestic discipline. Just imagine, a place where nobody has to hide their particular spanking lifestyle.
While reading any series in order is nice, Corbin's Bend books can be read as stand-alones as well.
“Did you see Catherine? She looks like she’s about to burst!” Erin said.
“Seriously?” Sienna asked, topping off everyone’s coffee before sitting down at the table. “She only has one in there. Imagine having two children inside you wrestling for the prime evacuation position. I felt like a beached whale! All I did that last few weeks was lay on the couch and beg them to get out of my body.”
“I liked being pregnant,” Jen said. “My favorite thing was laying down and watching the lumps in my belly move. One side would go up and the other down. I’d touch the lump and try to guess what I was touching; an elbow, a heel.”
“What about that last bit when you’re getting really close to going into labor and you can feel them grinding their head into your bladder,” Erin added.
“Oh God yes. You almost have to eat in the bathroom, you spend so much time in there.” Jen winced at the memory.
“It takes you half the day to get yourself comfortable on the couch only to have to struggle back up to rush to the bathroom. Then most of the time the effort is wasted because when you get there, you realize that you don’t need to go at all.”
Carol sat back munching her cookies, listening and feeling just a bit uncomfortable. It wasn’t that her friend’s stories weren’t entertaining. They were, and she could kind of relate. She had seen pregnancy close-up while her girlfriend, Crystal, was carrying their daughter. It wasn’t like Crystal hadn’t tried to include her, she had, but she was twenty and it was hard to put herself in Crystal’s position. She was more into preparing the room and buying the things they needed.
“How long were all your labors?” Sienna asked. “Mine was surprisingly short, considering they were twins. I guess they were competitive even then.”
“Twelve hours with Avery and six with Jordan,” Erin said. “Funnily enough though, I don’t think Avery’s was as painful as Jordan’s was.”
Carol blinked. Going home and doing the laundry would be fun at this point. “Anyone fancy a game of cards?” she asked to kill the baby conversation.
“Oh sorry, hon, because you have Brianna, I forget that you haven’t actually had a baby,” Sienna said, her mouth dropping open when she realized what she’d just said. “Okay, that came out wrong.”
“No, it’s fine,” Carol said. The birth stories get a little old though.
“No, I didn’t mean it that way. What I meant was, that of course Brianna is yours in every sense of the word.”
“But I didn’t actually give birth to her, I get it. I was there though, right next to Crystal spurring her on and holding her hand.”
“Of course you were,” Jen, her best friend, said, putting her arm around the smaller girl. “I bet you were the best support person that there ever was.”
“Of course I was!” Carol scoffed, giving Jen a nudge. Suddenly the penny dropped. “I was the support person, who didn’t feel any of the pain, who didn’t actually experience that moment when the baby slid from my body.”
“I’m sure you felt joy though as you watched your daughter being born,” Erin said.
“Of course she did! I love my kids but I would have felt just as much joy if I could have watched Toby give birth. More actually,” Sienna said with a giggle.
“There’s no joy in watching the one you love go through all that, believe me,” Carol said. “But the birth itself was amazing.”
“Are you sorry?” Jen asked. “I mean, do you wish you had been the one to get pregnant and give birth to Brianna?”
“No. How could I? I love Brianna. If I was her biological mother, then she wouldn’t be her. Besides, at the time, Crystal was more ready than I was. No, I wouldn’t change anything.”
“You wouldn’t change anything then,” Sienna said. “But what about another baby now that you’re older.”
“I don’t know. We haven’t talked about it. I know that Crystal doesn’t feel the need to go through another pregnancy. It took her a while to regain her fitness last time.”
“Is that your nice way of saying she put on weight?” Jen giggled.
“She may have gained a few extra pounds.” Carol smiled. “I liked her that way. Not always pushing vegetables under my nose.”
“I get it. I put on weight after Jack, and Brock was always pushing the vegetables at me. Not to mention all the spankings I earned for not sticking to my diet. He couldn’t stand me whining about how fat I was.”
“Geez, if I was thinking about having a baby, you people aren’t making pregnancy look too appealing.”
“Maybe it isn’t just about the great bits, and there are plenty, or the terrible bits where morning sickness goes all day, and your skin gets bad and your hair goes all limp. Maybe it’s about the ups and downs and that spectacular moment at the end when you look into that little face. Instant love,” Erin said.
“I felt instant love when Brianna was born.” She tried to keep the defensiveness out of her voice but it was hard. It grated on her when people assumed that she wasn’t just as much of a mother to Bri as Crystal. There had been some resentment. Such a tiny bit that she’d been able to push it away when it surfaced. She had felt joy, but it had been Crystal’s tummy the baby had been placed on the minute her daughter was born. It was Crystal’s breast that she had suckled. When Crystal went back to work, she became the Mommy, but it was still Crystal’s expressed milk that gave their daughter sustenance.
“And maybe that will be enough for you,” Sienna said.
“Hmm,” Carol said. “You know what? I don’t think it will. I think I would like to give birth.”
“That’s so exciting!” Jen said. “Are you sure?”
“Do you think that Crystal will be up for having another baby?” Sienna asked. “Brianna is nine, you’re kind of out of the diaper and strained food age.”
“Crystal loves babies,” Carol said. “Besides, what I want matters too doesn’t it?”
“All you can do is put it to her,” Jen said. “I’m sure she’ll be over the moon. She loves you.”
“Yeah she does,” Carol said.
* * * * *
“Carol honey? Bri?” Crystal called. “I’m home!” She placed the boots that she’d stomped off on the welcome mat outside on the shoe rack neatly. They were the only shoes there.
“Momma!” Bri yelled, running to wrap her arms around her mom’s waist. “We’re having spaghetti and meatballs and Mommy’s cooking it from scratch!”
“Well aren’t we lucky.” She hung her cap on the back of the door hook and picked two off the floor, hanging them up beside her own. “Let’s go taste.” She followed her skipping daughter through to the kitchen.
“Hi!” Carol said happily. “We’re having spaghetti. I’m even making the sauce.”
“I can see that,” Crystal said with a giggle at the disaster area that was once the kitchen. In the middle of the counter, on the only space left, was an army of homemade meat balls that were ready to be dropped into the fragrant sauce. “Thank you for going to this much trouble.” She wrapped her arms around her girlfriend from behind and nuzzled her neck.
“You’re welcome,” Carol said, turning to press a sweet kiss on her lips. “Nothing is too much trouble for my girls.”
Crystal couldn’t help but remember the evening before when dinner was a frozen macaroni dinner on a tray in front of the TV because Carol’s favorite show was on. “Honey, I love your special sauce. I have to ask though, is something wrong? No bills that you forgot about, no trouble, nothing you want to tell me?”
Carol shrugged. “Nothing bad.”
“Okay, but there’s something right?” Crystal persisted.
Carol’s eyes flicked over towards Brianna. “I’ll tell you later,” she said.
Taking the hint that whatever she wanted to tell her couldn’t be said in front of their daughter, Crystal dropped it. She tried to push it out of her mind, although that wasn’t easy. She loved Carol to death, but the girl got some interesting ideas sometimes, like the time she went on a hippy fantasy and managed to get herself into all kinds of trouble and her friends along with her. Although she suspected they hadn’t taken a lot of convincing. “How’s your math homework going?” she asked Brianna.
“It’s fine, Mommy helped me with that.”
“That’s great,” Crystal said, relieved. There was nothing more humiliating than being shown up by your grade four daughter. She’d hated math when she was at school, and she wasn’t too keen on it now. Thankfully she didn’t need to do long division anymore. “Well, what are you doing now, spelling?”
“Why don’t I test you?”
“Okay,” Brianna said, handing her the book. “But we don’t have to do that. All we have to do is copy them.”
“I know but if I test you, then you’ll really know how to spell them.”
“I do know how to spell them.”
“I guess we’ll see won’t we.”
Crystal called out each word, impressed when Brianna only stumbled over one rather large word. “Good girl, all done. You can go and watch some TV if you like.”
“Thanks, Momma!” Brianna said, running off to her room to dump her school things before heading back to the living room.
“I’ll set the table if you like,” Crystal said, collecting an empty jar and rinsing it before placing it in the recycling. She gathered a few other items and dropped them in the trash, including a bunch of onion peels and garlic remains.
“Thanks, that’d be a big help. You don’t have to clean up you know, I’ll do it. I’m just not finished yet.”
“You’re cooking. I don’t mind helping out.” She washed her hands and gathered some plates from the cabinet and placed them on the table along with silverware. “Water or wine?” she asked, pausing at the glasses.
“I thought we might share a bottle of wine.”
“So we’re celebrating,” Crystal said with a grin. “I’m intrigued.”
“Momma, can Avery stay over this weekend?” Brianna called out from the living room.
“What did Mommy say?” Crystal spoke to the child but looked at Carol who shrugged.
“She said to check with you,” Brianna called back.
“I don’t mind,” she mouthed.
“I don’t see why not,” Crystal said. “More the merrier.”
Carol blew out a sigh.
* * * * *
“Dinner was fun,” Carol said after Bri had left to get ready for bed. It had been nice to sit at the table and hear all about the school news. She usually heard what was going on, either on the way home or while they were at the grocery store or on their way to soccer practice, but it was Crystal that often missed out when she was on shift at the fire station. Brianna had usually gone on to the next piece of news by the time her momma was home.
“Yes it was,” Crystal said. “I never would have found out that Jeremy Spinks liked Amelia who’s never going to love him in a million years because she hates red heads.”
“I know right? Remind me not to invite that little witch to Bri’s birthday party.”
“You can’t do that,” Crystal said. “They’re just kids.”
“You won’t,” Crystal said. “Anyway, when did we decide that Bri was having a birthday party, it isn’t for months?”
“When Amelia decided she hated red heads.”
“You can’t get upset with a nine-year old. Anyway, I’ve waited long enough. I want to hear your news.”
“Okay,” Carol said. “Here’s the thing. I was thinking today that I’m almost thirty and I have a few things that I’d like to experience in my life that I haven’t got to yet. I’ve decided�”
“Yes?” Crystal said when she paused. “Just say it.”
“I want to have a baby.” Her eyes were shut tight and she couldn’t bring herself to open them to see the look on Crystal’s face.
“Open them, Carol. I’m still here.”
“You don’t want to, I can tell,” she said when she did finally open her eyes to her girlfriend’s blank face. She wasn’t giving much away.
“It’s a big thing, Carol, having a baby.” Crystal put her hand over Carol’s, her thumb tracing delicate circles on the soft skin.
“I know. I was there with Bri.” Carol could feel hurt bubbling. She wanted to say that she had been the one raising Bri but she didn’t want to be petty or to lessen the love she had for their first child by making it sound like raising her was a chore. She’d loved every minute of being a Mommy. Well maybe not the temper tantrums and the homework was hit and miss, but nothing in life was perfect was it?
“I know that, honey, you were there then, you have been there ever since.”
“Then why don’t you want to have a baby with me?”
“I didn’t say that I didn’t want to have a baby with you. It just seems kind of sudden. You’ve never so much as hinted at the fact that you wanted another child. You certainly have never mentioned carrying a child.”
“It just dawned on me today.”
“Hmm. Where were you when you had this epiphany?” Crystal asked.
“Does it matter?” Carol asked pulling her hand out from underneath Crystal’s.
“It might,” Crystal said. “If for instance, the idea wasn’t your own.”
“It was, I told you. I want to have a baby!”
“Were you with the girls?”
“Brianna and her friends?” Carol asked with feigned ignorance.
“Must I name them? Your partners in crime: Jen, Sienna and Erin.”
“They didn’t decide for me.”
“Were you with them when you decided you wanted to have a baby? Yes or no?”
Carol sighed. “Yes.”
“I need to think about this,” Crystal said. “We need to think about this.”
“What’s to think about?”
“This kind of important decision is one that any couple has to take seriously, Carol.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Keep your voice down,” Crystal said firmly. “It’s not like deciding you’ll try a recipe that someone else has made and liked.”
“You’re pissed because I want to have a baby,” Carol said, lowering her voice slightly so Brianna didn’t hear, but she was so disappointed with how this was going.
“Even if it just crossed your mind that you wanted to have another baby, you should have come to me. I should be the one that you share an important thing like that with first.”
“You’re jealous? Of my friends?”
“No, it isn’t that,” Crystal said. “It affects me. It affects this household. It isn’t going to make a difference to Jen’s life if you have a baby, and I’m sure not going to decide in one conversation, in one night that we are going to have a baby because your friends think it’s a fun idea.”
“Are you two fighting?” a small voice said from the doorway.
“No, baby,” Carol said, immediately going to Brianna to comfort her. “We were having a heated debate about something.”
Brianna looked from one to the other of her parents. “Are you sure?” she asked her momma.
“Yes, we’re sure,” Crystal said, kissing her daughter’s head and wrapping an arm around Carol’s waist to reassure her.
“Okay,” Brianna said, heading back to the living room.
“Five minutes, Bri,” Carol called. “It’s nearly bedtime.”
“This conversation isn’t over, Carol. We’ll save it ‘til later.”
“What’s the point?” Carol said, tossing a dinner plate into the dishwasher. “You just let me know what you decide about my life.”
“Pardon me?” Crystal said. She took the remaining plates and placed then carefully on the racks of the dishwasher. “You need to calm down and be reasonable before you get yourself in trouble.”
“I can get in trouble for wanting to have a baby?”
“Of course not. Don’t think you won’t get yourself in trouble if you don’t take a hold of your tongue though.”
Carol’s face colored. “Yes, ma’am, I’ll try.” She would try but it wouldn’t be easy. This hadn’t gone at all as she planned. Being calm and respectful was the last thing she felt like. She felt like telling her girlfriend exactly what she thought of her lack of support. She shut the dishwasher and pressed the buttons to start it with a little more enthusiasm than was probably needed.
* * * * *
“Brianna!” Crystal called. “Bedtime, honey!” She needed to settle this argument with Carol, and she needed to do it sooner than later. She had a feeling this was going to simmer out of control.
“Can I just have five more minutes?”
“No, it’s already past your bedtime,” Crystal said.
“Are you going to read to me, Mommy?” Brianna asked, hugging Carol.
“No, tonight I’m going to read to you,” Crystal said. “Mommy’s tired. She’s going to have an early night.”
Carol blinked. “But I was looking forward to the next bit. Harriet is just about to start the little witch’s club initiation and she has to eat worms!”
“We think, Mommy, we don’t know.”
“That’s what the story was hinting at.”
Crystal shook her head. “How about I read and we let Mommy listen this time.”
“Yay, we can all see what happens together.” Brianna started to run to her room.
“Teeth!” Carol yelled.
“So I’m not getting sent to my room for an early night then?” Carol asked.
“After your story.” Crystal gave Carol’s bottom a decent whack.
“Ow,” Carol yelped. “What was that for?”
“Because I felt like it and you need it.”
Carol poked her tongue out but managed to duck the next swipe as she ran towards Bri’s room.
“You’ll keep,” Crystal said. Carol poking her tongue out, took her back to their earliest days together. Carol had been only nineteen and a college student when she’d swept into her life in a whirlwind of drama. Her life had never been the same since. Thank God.
Crystal stomped out into the courtyard. After scanning the crowd, she zero’d in on a person laying on an ambulance stretcher. The EMT was struggling to get a mask on the young woman who was kicking up quite a fuss. She strode over. “I need to have a word with her anyway, would you like me to try?” she said to the young EMT.
“Yes please,” he said. “She has some smoke inhalation but no burns. Someone was watching out for her. We’re taking her in for observation but she’s highly intoxicated and not being cooperative at all.”
“I can see that,” Crystal said. “I don’t mind trying.” She took the mask from the young guy’s hand. “Okay missy, you have inhaled a fair bit of smoke. That tends to happen when you get drunk and set your dorm room on fire.”
“Didn’t,” the young woman said, a rolling cough choking her as soon as she tried to talk.
“Well we can talk about that later,” Crystal said. “Now I’m going to put this mask over your face and you’re going to let me.”
“Fuck off,” the brat said.
“Nice.” Crystal tapped the little drunk’s hands away and slipped the mask over her head easily. “Don’t take it off or we’re going to have words.”
Apparently not fazed by Crystal’s threat, the girl yanked the mask off. “Don’t need it,” she slurred before once again dissolving into a fit of coughing.
“Yeah, I can see that,” Crystal said, frowning.
“You wanna ride along with her don’t you?” Brock, her co-worker asked. “It’s not a good idea to get involved. You know that.”
She liked Brock. They usually worked the same shift and they got along like a house on fire. He seemed to be on the same wavelength as her. At first she’d been wary, thinking he was hitting on her. She really didn’t want to have to explain that she liked girls but the situation had ironed itself out when his girlfriend, Jen, came in to work. He was a good friend and she trusted his opinion, mostly. “I know, there’s just something about her.”
“Yeah she’s a teenage drunk with a not so sweet mouth.”
“She’s young and a little out of control,” Crystal said. “I just feel bad for her being all alone.”
“Up to you,” Brock said. “I’ll cover for you if you want to go with her.”
“She’s asleep,” the EMT said.
“Okay then,” Crystal said. “I guess there’s no need for me to go. I’ll come back to the firehouse with you and the other boys.”
* * * * *
Walking through the automatic hospital doors the next day, Crystal chided herself. This was the most unprofessional thing she’d ever done but she couldn’t help herself. The usually level-headed firefighter, today wasn’t very level headed at all. She was there though, so she may as well check on the patient. “Hi,” she said to the person behind the inquiry counter. “I’m looking for a young girl who was brought in here last night. I was one of the firefighters on the scene. I just wanted to have a word.”
“Ask at the nurse’s station. Third floor, north ward.”
“Thank you,” Crystal said.
“Hi,” she found herself saying several minutes later.
“Who are you?” the girl said, frowning at the intruder in her room.
“I was one of the firefighters that attended the fire in your dorm room last night.”
“Oh. So what are you doing here?”
“I thought I’d come and check on you,” Crystal said. “It was high time someone pointed out how completely insane what you did last night really was. You know that what you did was very dangerous. I know everyone gets a little wild in college, but you could have died in that fire or at the very least have been badly injured. So could anyone or everyone in the building.”
“Geez, dramatic much? As if I meant that to happen.”
“You selfish brat!” Crystal said. “How can you be so flip?”
“Look lady fireman or whatever it is that you call yourself. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you, it was an accident!”
“I call myself a firefighter and my name, if you’re interested, is Crystal. What’s yours?”
“Crystal, I fell asleep okay?” the college student said with a roll of her eyes.
“What is your name?”Crystal asked.
“Carol,” the girl said with another roll of her eyes.
“Well, Carol, you fell asleep with a cigarette in your hand. You were so intoxicated you had no idea where you were or what you were doing.”
“I partied with a few friends, that’s what people do in college. Now will you leave me alone? I don’t feel that great.”
Crystal was pretty sure there were a lot of kids that used college to get themselves a decent education. “You’re deservedly hung over and you’re damn lucky that you didn’t wake up this morning in the burn unit or the morgue.”
“People don’t wake up in the morgue, just sayin’.”
Crystal shook her head. She had never struck anyone in her entire life, but it took all of her strength not to just rip back the covers and slap this brat’s smart ass. “You have no idea, do you, how serious this is?”
Carol started to giggle and flipped over in the bed so her back was to Crystal.
“This is not funny!” Crystal watched the small body trembling with what she thought was laughter but then Carol’s shoulders sagged.
“Please. Just leave me alone,” Carol choked out. “I’m in enough trouble. I don’t need this today.”
“For starting the fire?” Surely they hadn’t prosecuted her. This tiny thing with spiky hair and way too much attitude was a brat and she had acted very stupidly, but she was no pyromaniac.
“You’re in trouble with the police?”
“No, I had a personal visit this morning from the Dean, I’ve been expelled. I can’t go back to school.”
Carol’s shoulders were shaking again and Crystal had no idea what to do. Perhaps Brock could have been right. She should have left well enough alone. Her hand rested lightly on the back of Carol’s head. When that didn’t help to stem the tears, she sat on the edge of the bed and patted the narrow back. She was tentative at first, not sure if she was crossing some invisible line. Finally the sobbing stopped and Carol turned back over.
“They’re discharging me this afternoon,” she said.
“Oh. Have you called your parents?”
“I only have my dad, my mom died a long time ago.” She sighed. “She would have been here in a heartbeat.”
“Have you called your dad?”
“Well I think you better get on that, don’t you? H