Zachary Parker is getting married to the man of his dreams, Tristan Maxfield. With their immediate family to support them on the next chapter of their lives, they fly off for an extended honeymoon and vacation. Things get a little rough when life, and nature, take a quick left turn.
“I wish my water would just break already. Then I wouldn’t have to waddle down the aisle.”
“Are you crazy?”
“I’m serious, Zach. The wedding’s a week away and if I had the baby now, then I wouldn’t ha—”
“I’m not talking about your pregnancy, and I’m not even going to discuss you having the baby now, either.”
“Then what are you talking about?”
“That,” Zach said, pointing at the large bird Margaret held in her hands. “What is that you’re doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m preparing the turkey.”
“Are you crazy?”
“Will you stop it? I’m not crazy, how dare you?”
“It’s turkey, for Christ’s sake.”
“I know how to prepare turkey, Zach,” Margaret said, rolling her eyes as she went back to wiping down the turkey with a paper towel. She was standing in front of the kitchen sink, where the turkey was dripping dry.
“It’s not Cornish hen, Margaret. Turkey is way bigger.”
“Look, Zach. If I can successfully serve Cornish hens for dinner like the one that I served last week, I’m sure I can truss up and cook a turkey for your engagement dinner tonight. Hello!” With one last pat on a plump thigh, Margaret placed the turkey on the counter and reached for a roll of butcher’s string.
Zach rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t deny that what Margaret said was true. She had successfully served Cornish hen on one of the weekly Thursday dinners that he, Tristan, Joshua, and Mark were obliged to attend. Undeniably, the roasted hens had been good. This afternoon, however, he’d been sitting in Margaret’s kitchen for the past hour watching her move about the kitchen like no ten-month pregnant woman should. And yes, she still had weeks to go, but whoever started the lie about pregnancy being a nine-month affair had been either a man or a misogynist. Either way, the protrusion pretending to be a belly was giving him anxiety attacks. The thought of eating raw turkey was another reason.
Any time now, he expected Margaret to drop her baby into the world and, knowing his best friend, she’d expect him to catch it. There was already an increasing list of duties as babysitter-in-waiting slash uncle-in-waiting slash godfather, slash whatever other role Margaret could think of to dump on him, written down in her list of tasks to assign. He should know, she’d shown him her tablet. Not that he minded—he loved the brat like a sister and more, but her behavior had been going way over the top since she’d finally accepted her pregnancy. Why finally? Well, that was another story altogether. The point was, Zach knew Margaret was going to pop anytime with a big kaboom, and he didn’t want to get caught in the crossfire.
“Margaret, you’re about to pop, don’t you think it’s about time you sat down and relaxed before…” Zach waved his hand toward her belly. “…before your water breaks?”
“Look, I’m not feeling any different, other than getting tired of lugging this weight around. The wedding’s next week, and I’m going to host this party tonight because that’s what I signed up for and nobody bothered to argue with me when I volunteered for it. Now, get out of the kitchen and leave me to my cooking.”
“Mom! Talk to her!” Zach turned in desperation to Joanna, who’d been sitting on a stool at the kitchen island beside him, quietly sipping her coffee, an indulgent look on her face. Though she hadn’t said anything, there was a quirk of her lips, like she was amused by his and Margaret’s conversation.
“Baby girl, why don’t you show me what…”
“No. Seriously, you two are driving me crazy.” Margaret threw the rag she’d been holding onto the kitchen island surface and placed her fists on her widened hips. Curiously, despite her girth, she was stunning and unbelievably sexy. Maybe it had something to do with her stilettos. No wonder her husband, Giles, was so smitten and had been since they were in junior high. “The turkey won’t take long. I have everything under control.”
“Margaret, you do realize it’s already half past four, and you still haven’t put the turkey in the oven?” Zach looked pointedly at the clock on the wall above the kitchen doorway.
“Pshaw, who needs an oven? The microwave will do the trick just as well, and it’ll make the cooking time faster, too. Now, get out of here.” When neither Zach nor Joanna moved, both rendered speechless and paralyzed from the sheer horror of what they knew was going to be a kitchen catastrophe in the making, Margaret stomped her foot and pointed her finger toward the door. “Out.”
Zach couldn’t recall getting off the stool and walking out, but when he finally recovered his senses, he and his mom heard the kitchen door shut behind them with a soft thud. He thought his head would explode as images of potential turkey disasters turned in his mind. He turned wide-eyed to Joanna.
“Mom, did she say microwave? Please tell me I didn’t hear right and she actually said oven.”
“No, she said microwave.” Joanna’s voice sounded calm enough, but Zach could see the stress in her eyes. Her face turning pale was another indication of her shock. That was saying something, as Joanna was so very rarely shocked. She had a back made of steel as his father would say. That steel might have turned to aluminum for all Zach knew, from the way Joanna turned her frightened face to him.
“But won’t that…”
“Zach, take me to Publix now, please,” Joanna said in a rush as she hurried toward Zach’s car parked by the curb. “The least we can do is make sure that if her turkey doesn’t work out, we have a replacement for it. Although, why she’s so set on serving turkey is beyond me.”