This week we hear from author Marilee Brothers about her latest novel, Baby Gone Bye. Enjoy an excerpt of the first chapter of this intriguing story of a teen father.
Picture this: a house full of males suddenly “gifted” with a tiny baby girl. Those of you raising sons will probably shudder at the notion of an eighteen-year-old boy who must now be both mother and father to an infant. Former bad boy, Gabe Delgado, lives with his father Ernesto (Papi) and his brothers Simon and Henry. Gabe is now on the straight and narrow path, having received corrective action from his father. He’s looking forward to his senior year in high school and hoping to earn a basketball scholarship. His life changes forever when the baby appears on his front porch with an enigmatic note attached to her onsie.
The child is undeniably his. She has birthmark shaped like a blue rose on her right buttock, as do all the Delgados. Papi insists it the sign of Spanish royalty. Having no clue to her real name, the baby is dubbed Birdie for the chirping sounds she makes.
Giving her up is not an option. Papi says, “Gabriel, she is a Delgado. She belongs to us.” Consequently, Gabe is immersed in 24-hour baby care, sleep-deprived and hauling Birdie to the school nursery while trying to keep up with a heavy class load. His social life is non-existent. He quickly discovers his former friends have little interest in his new life. To further complicate matters, the baby has some special qualities—magical qualities—that make her highly desirable to shadowy organization dabbling in biogenetics. Birdie is in danger.
The following excerpt is from Chapter One when the Delgado family is under the impression the baby is a boy.
The hall clocked bonged seven times. Startled, Gabe leaped from the couch and placed the kid in his car seat. “Man, is it seven already? I’ve got a date. Can we put this on hold until tomorrow?”
Without waiting for an answer, Gabe headed for the stairs.
“Gabriel.” The steel in Papi’s voice stopped Gabe in his tracks. “Look at me.”
Slowly, Gabe turned to face his father. He heard Simon whisper, “Dumb shit.” Henry giggled nervously.
“Gabriel,” Papi repeated. “Do you remember when Rosie was a puppy?”
Gabe shifted his weight from one foot to the other, wondering if he was about to step into something stinky. “Yeah,” he said carefully.
Papi’s dark eyes snapped with intensity. “And how did you take care of her?”
Gabe rolled his eyes heavenward, trying to remember Papi’s three cardinal rules for puppy care. “After she eats, put her outside to poop. Play with her. Put her back in her crate.”
Papi clapped. “Excellent!”
Gabe grinned. This was going well. He’d soon be on his way.
“Now, Gabriel, tell me this: How do you take care of a baby?”
Uh oh. Gabe felt beads of perspiration pop out on his forehead. “Well, um, I guess you’re saying it’s the same concept. Right?”
Papi strolled up nice and close and gave Gabe his shark’s grin. “So, after you feed him, you will take him outside to poop, play with him and then put him back in his car seat?”
Right then, Gabe knew he was screwed. He glanced at his brothers. No help there. He’d already stepped in it. Might as well go all the way. He looked his father square in the eyes. “Naturally, I won’t take him outside to poop, but I’ll feed him and play with him.”
“And, you will start this…when?”
“First thing tomorrow morning.”
Papi said, “And tonight?”
Gabe squirmed. “Remember what you said earlier? We’re Delgados. We stick together when there’s a problem.”
“Ah, now I understand.” Papi stroked his chin. “You assumed one of your brothers or your father would take care of your child while you went on a date. Is correct?”
Gabe flushed. “I would appreciate it.”
“Gabriel,” Papi said again. He pointed at the baby. “That is not a puppy. It is a tiny human being who needs round the clock care. Care that will be given to him by you, his father. Do you understand?”
Before Gabe could formulate an answer, he heard the amazingly loud rumble of baby flatulence. All eyes turned to the child, whose face was bright red as he clenched his fists and strained.
Simon snickered. “Looks like you forgot to take him outside to poop.”
Papi handed Gabe a container of baby wipes and a diaper. “Better get used to it. He’ll be doing that a lot.”
That’s when the Delgado family found out he was a she.
A former teacher, coach and school counselor, Marilee lives in Washington State and writes full time. Her books include Castle Ladyslipper, a medieval romance, The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, winner of the 2010 Booksellers Best award for romantic suspense, along with the Unbidden Magic series, Moonstone, Moon Rise, Moon Spun, Shadow Moon, Midnight Moon. Her latest book is Baby Gone Bye. Marilee is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Visit her website, her blog, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.