"A moving tale of one womanís motivation to raise the child that should have been her sisterís, Their Baby Bond by Amy Andrews is a fascinating and tender story to warm the heart"
When Louise Marsden agreed to be a surrogate mother to a baby for her sister, she never dreamed she would bring up the child she was expecting.
Yet only weeks into her pregnancy, when the man she loves, Will Galligher, walks back into her life, he is confronted with far more than he bargained for!.
"Hey, Pete," said Lydia casually. "Iíve an idea. Why donít you ask our new colleague about the shave?" She nodded towards Will.
Peteís eyes lit up. "Good idea, Lydia. Brilliant. Just brilliant."
Pete smiled at Will and rubbed his hands together.
Lydia gave him a baleful smile. "What?" Will said warily.
"Dr Galligher," said Pete, narrowing his eyes speculatively. "You do know what they say about bald men, donít you?"
Will nodded, still wary. "Ah, but is it true Pete?"
"Never had any complaints," Pete winked. "But seriously, Shave for a Cure is on in a few weeks and I just need one more person to agree to have their hair cut."
"Thatís for the Leukaemia Foundation?" Will asked.
Pete nodded. "Iíve been trying to convince Lou."
Will looked at Lou and her beautiful hair completely horrified by Peteís suggestion. Over my dead body! "Thatís the dumbest idea Iíve ever heard," he said dismissively.
"No, no," Pete said, shaking his head emphatically. "Think about it. That plait is famous in this hospital. Itís been part of the history here for years. Weíd raise a fortune. People would come from all over the hospital to finally see Lou lose the plait."
"Sacrilege," Lydia said.
"Here, here," said Will, suddenly warming to Lydia again.
"Yes, I can see the signs around the hospital now. ĎCome see our Lou Lose her plaití," Pete said, staring at a point in mid-air and flicking his hands to emphasis each word.
"Are you insane?" asked Will incredulously. How could he even think of cutting off Louís gorgeous locks?
Lou listened to their conversation about hersel and her hair, feeling suddenly invisible. Like a life support system for a head of hair.
"Oh come on, there wouldnít be one person who hadnít thought about snipping it off as sheís walked past all these years. And it would make such a glorious wig," Pete said, lifting Louís plait and examining the blend of colours.
"Ahh, excuse me, I am actually standing here in the same room," said Lou, bemused by their in-depth discussion.
"The plait stays," Will said firmly.
"Lou," Pete entreated, appealing to his boss one last time.
Louise opened her mouth to graciously decline.
"No Pete," said Will, even more firmly this time. "Absolutely not."
Lou turned and raised her eyebrow at Will. She knew heíd always been obsessed with her hair but this was ridiculous. He was looking at her as if he owned her hair. As if he owned her. She felt the early simmer of her blood pick up to a slow boil. Did he really think he actually had a say over what she did with her hair? Or any other part of her body? Did he think he could walk back in after a year and sheíd just fall back into her old Will-worshiping ways?
If she was going to hold on to herself and her sanity now Will was back, he had to know that their old dynamic was dead. Following meekly wherever he led. I am over you, buddy boy. Time to draw a line in the sand.
"Iíll do it," she said, talking to Pete but looking pointedly at Will.
"Oh no," gasped Kristy.
"Lou," warned Lydia.
"Yes!" Pete rubbed his hands together with glee and picked up a pen.
"No. Donít put her down. Iíll do it," Will instructed still holding Louís gaze.
Lou broke eye contact. "Do not listen to him. Long hair with a baby is not a good combination. Iím doing it."
"He doesnít need you now," said Will, placing a stilling hand on Peteís, hovering above an official form, pen poised. "Iíve already volunteered."
Everyone in the nurseís station looked at Lou. She felt like she was in a tennis match, her colleagues looking left and right as they lobbed the bone of contention between them.
She shrugged. "You want to as well, fine. But Iím not changing my mind. He can have both of us," she said.
"Lou," said Will, looking at the stubborn set of her chin, "youíre just trying to prove a point now. You donít have to do this." Will realised his fatal error. By disagreeing he had goaded her into it.
"No, my mind is made up. Itís for kids with cancer. Iím the kidsí ward nurse unit manager. Itís a good cause. I normally go along, sponsor everyone, sell raffle tickets, do my bit. But this year, Iím going to lead by example."
Will shook his head not really able to believe that she was seriously going to go through with it.
"Are you really going bald?" asked a mystified Kristy.
"No," Lou laughed, not quite indignant enough to agree to that. "But shaved all over. Like Lydiaís Matt. How short does he have his?" she asked her friend. Lydiaís ten- year-old son always got a crew cut.
"He usually gets a number four blade," Lydia said, almost as horrified as Kristy.
"Good," Lou nodded emphatically. "A number four it is."
Will still couldnít believe the direction of the conversation. He searched around for something to deter her, one last ditch effort.
"Jan will have a fit," he said. Louís sister probably coveted Louís hair even more than he did. Jan had always bemoaned her thin, stringy canít-do-anything-with-it hair, especially as Louís was the exact opposite.
Lou blinked and braced herself for the inevitable pain. She heard a slight gasp come from Kristy and felt, rather than saw, the sudden tension emanating from Lydia and Pete. It was suddenly deathly quiet, as if the entire ward had chosen that moment to cease all noise and activity.
"Hardly," she said, keeping the gut wrenching sorrow from her voice. "Janís dead." And she pushed herself off the desk and calmly walked away, before she did something awful - like burst into tears at the unexpected reminder of her sisterís tragic death.