Brooklyn Monroe Wants It All by Karen Booth

Chapter One

Brooklyn Monroe’spanties were on a chair on the other side of the room. She was stretched out on her back, her head nestled on a pillow. In anticipation of today, she’d even shaved her legs; all the way up, not just to her knees. If life was fair—and she knew that it was not—she’d be having a whole lot of fun right now.

“Almost done. Just a little pressure here.”

Staring up at the pebbled acoustic tile ceiling, Brooklyn white-knuckled it, gripping the doctor’s exam table. It was her inclination to crack a joke in any uncomfortable situation, but she decided against asking her gynecologist if she’d ever aspired to be a plumber.

“Okey doke. You’re good to go.” Dr. Swanson mercifully whisked away the medieval medical device and snapped off her gloves.

Brooklyn exhaled, not that it did anything to relax her. Now that the exam was done, it was time to ask the big question. She’d only skirted the topic at last year’s appointment. She was forty-one then, which was practically still forty, making her unwilling to admit that as a native New Yorker, she was far more likely to fall through a subway grate than fall in love. She was still in the pits about her split from Alec. She’d messed up a relationship. Again.

Now, forty-two had arrived, and aside from an even sweeter bank balance, little in Brooklyn’s life had changed.

She pushed back from her prone position, the paper cover crinkling under her legs. “Well? Everything good?”

Dr. Swanson peered at Brooklyn over black-framed glasses. “I can’t tell much from a visual examination, but I’d say you’re a very healthy yuh…” The doctor slid her specs up along her narrow nose. “Uh, woman.”

Brooklyn knew very well what that yuh was—the start of “young”. And she was having none of that. “I want to talk to you about having a baby.”

“Didn’t we discuss this last year?”

“We did. It’s just that I haven’t been in a position to do anything about it. I still have time, though, right? Plenty of women have babies in their mid-forties. Or later. My sister just had her second and she’s thirty-eight. That’s practically forty.”

“Women do have babies in their forties,” Dr. Swanson said, with the same tone someone might use to say things like, People do win the Powerball. “But your chances of conceiving on your own are declining sharply every year.”

Brooklyn did the math in her head for what felt like the millionth time. She’d done okay in high school algebra, but this equation was a complete pain in her ass. Even if she caught the eye of Mr. Perfect today, highly unlikely given that her hair was doing that weird thing in the back, it would take forever to get to the baby-making part. Way too many hurdles to jump: Go out for drinks. Have dinner. Make out. Pray that he’s smart enough to know the magic of a clitoris. Do it. Do it a few hundred more times (being very careful not to get pregnant). Fall in love. Move in together. Assemble a bookshelf without stabbing each other with a screwdriver (intentionally or unintentionally). Meet each other’s mothers (only a guy made of Teflon would make it past her mom).

Then, if all systems were a go, buy a ring, plan a wedding, go on a honeymoon and then starttrying to get pregnant. If Brooklyn tripped up along the way—and who was she kidding, every odds-maker in Vegas would take that bet—she was going to have to go right back to the beginning.

“Do you have a special man in your life?” Dr. Swanson asked.

The person who sprang to mind was her apartment building’s doorman. Cy was sweet and kind and next-level good at hailing taxis in the rain. He was also a happily married grandfather of three, and therefore, not on the market. “I don’t know when I’m supposed to date. I hardly have time to sleep.” Plus it never works out. They all say I’m exhausting.

“I’m not surprised. Every woman I know subscribes to Posh Post. You’re an inspiration to entrepreneurial women everywhere.”

That was the real reason Brooklyn was in this no-baby, no-personal-life mess—Posh Post, her “unparalleled overnight success” if you bought the baloney Modern CEO magazine was selling. In truth, it had taken sheer determination for Brooklyn and her younger sister, Virginia, to turn a beauty subscription service into a 400 million-dollar enterprise. It was the most exciting and substantive thing Brooklyn had ever done. The only thing she hadn’t failed at. She also regularly staggered into her apartment at the end of the day, flopped onto the bed, and promptly passed out. Sometimes with a protein bar protruding from her mouth. Ah, the sweet smell of success.

“I see plenty of busy women struggle with this. But if you’re serious, you need to act. Make it a priority. Or consider freezing your eggs. Your supply is dwindling.”

Dammit.Her mom had said the same thing. She hated it when her mother was right. “That sounds bad.”

“You were born with all the eggs you’ll ever have. A thousand follicles die every month. Or more. And it speeds up as you get older.”

“A thousand?” Brooklyn snapped her knees together. She had to keep her precious cargo inside her a little longer. Stay in there, girls. I need you.

The doctor handed Brooklyn two pamphlets—Ten Truths About Freezing Your Eggs, and the thrilling follow-up, Answering Your Questions About Donor Insemination. “We really should have had this talk when you were thirty-five, but we can still have it now.”

Motherhood had been easy to push aside at thirty-five. Brooklyn was stuck on a merry-go-round of self-imposed online dating disasters, like the guy who coyly whispered to her over martinis that he would need her to create a diversion if a cop walked into the bar. He even had a plan—Brooklyn should knock her glass to the floor, clutch her chest, and fake a heart attack. Clearly not a love connection. Brooklyn would never waste perfectly good vodka.

Thirty-five was also the year Brooklyn got the idea for Posh Post. At the time, she was VP of Marketing for her mother’s eponymous cosmetics company, Aurora Beauty. Her mom’s leadership boiled down to a war of attrition, and five years under her well-manicured thumb had left Brooklyn dying to strike out on her own. Inspiration came while pilfering free samples in the company mail room—would women subscribe to a monthly shipment of the latest skin care and cosmetics? Brooklyn had a hunch they would.

She immediately brought in Virginia, and to Brooklyn’s delight, there were glimmers of greatness from the very beginning. Brooklyn hadn’t had many glimmers in her life, so she ran with it as fast as she could. Their mom was less than pleased. She was still furious that Brooklyn had exited Aurora and taken Virginia with her.

Now, seven years later, Posh Post was on the map, but that meant Brooklyn was running out of time for everything she’d put off. If she couldn’t find love, it was time to focus on what she wanted more than anything—a baby. With or without a man.

“This is a lot to think about.” Brooklyn eased off the exam table, being careful not to jostle her eggs, and tucked the pamphlet inside her purse.

“I’m happy to have this chat with you as much as you want, but I wouldn’t wait much longer.”

“I know. I just need a little more time.” Brooklyn put plenty of pressure on herself. She didn’t need it from other people.

Dr. Swanson left and Brooklyn got dressed in her cute navy blue dress with the flouncy skirt and a pair of shockingly red heels. She met her driver, Tony, outside the doctor’s office and hopped in the car. The October day was sunny and bright, the perfect weather for wrapping one’s head around new ideas, like devising a plan to get pregnant as fast as humanly possible.

She was flipping through emails on her phone when her mother called. “Hi, Mom.”

“Well? What did the doctor say?”

“I’m like a grocery store before Easter.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Running out of eggs.”

“Oh, darling. Don’t compare yourself to a supermarket. It’s unseemly.” Her mom never got her jokes.

“Okay. I’m like an organic farm in danger of losing its flock of heritage chickens.”

“You’re stalling because I was right.”

Brooklyn grumbled under her breath. “Yes, Mom. You were so amazingly right about how your daughter practically has cobwebs on her ovaries.”

“There’s no need to get snippy. What do you intend to do about it?”

“Find a man and get pregnant?”

“You don’t need a man. No woman needs a man.” This had been her mother’s chorus since Brooklyn and her sister had been young and their father was nothing more than a fuzzy memory. “But if you want, I can put in a call to my psychic.”

“Why? Is he especially virile?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. He can tell you whether or not you have love on the horizon. If it’s in the cards. Although a sperm bank is a perfectly suitable option.”

Brooklyn did not want to know her fate ahead of time. Too scary. “I’ll ask Virginia what she thinks.”

“You know what your sister will say. She’ll say that there’s no way she’d be able to juggle two small children and a career right now without a partner. Someone to share in the enormous amount of work. But I’m sure you can do it on your own.”

“Yeah. You’re probably right. I mean, I make plenty of money. I can hire a nanny. And Virginia and I own a company. I can bring the baby to work whenever I want.”

“You just have to throw Posh Post in my face every time we talk.”

“Not throwing it in your face. That was merely a long string of facts supporting your theory that a sperm bank is the way to go.” Tony pulled the car up in front of the Posh Post offices down by the Chelsea Piers. “Mom, I’m at work. I need to run.”

“Let me know if you change your mind about the psychic. The clock is ticking.”

“And I’d like to hit the ‘snooze’ one more time.”

Brooklyn strode into the building and took the elevator up to the fifth floor. She greeted employees as she filed through the open office space, with polished concrete floors, arched windows, and soaring wood-beamed ceilings. The entire place buzzed with excitement and a bit of panic, too. They were all working like crazy. Ahead, was her assistant Laurel, with the phone surgically attached to her ear. She handed Brooklyn a thick folder labeled “Posh Male” and mouthed that she’d be in soon.

Brooklyn flipped on her light and got settled at her desk, a custom-made beauty of reclaimed lumber stained white—a mix of old and modern that fit Brooklyn to a T. Her roomy corner office had two glass walls, giving her a view of the domain she’d built with Virginia, whose office was on the floor’s opposite corner. The sisters’ workspaces were very much a reflection of their personalities. Brooklyn had a floor-to-ceiling inspiration board plastered with magazine clippings, color swatches, and a zillion Post-Its with indecipherable late night ramblings about new ideas for Posh Post. Virginia’s office looked like Martha Stewart and Marie Kondo had squared off in the first-ever cage match of cleaning.

Brooklyn was well aware that she had a cubic ton of emails to answer, but she couldn’t keep eggs off her mind. Outside her window, the leaves on the trees lining the street were edged with orange and crimson. The nights were turning crisp and before anyone knew it, the holidays would be here. What an amazing time to try to get pregnant. She imagined bringing the baby into the office in a year, taking phone calls while nursing, putting a note on the door that said, “Shh! Baby sleeping!”, and not feeling guilty about leaving before 7:00 PM. Her sister had done it. Why couldn’t she?

“Knock, knock.”

Brooklyn whipped around to see Virginia floating into her office, holding a paper tray with two coffees in one hand and her sweet baby, Paris, nestled in her other arm. Virginia’s children, seven-month-old Paris and six-year-old Dallas, were each named after the city where they’d been conceived, an old and duly odd tradition on their mom’s side of the family. Brooklyn was named for the New York City borough where she’d grown up and her mom and sister still resided. Virginia got stuck with the state her parents had driven through on their way to Washington, DC. Virginia complained when she was four. “Be glad I wasn’t in Boise,” their mom, who was named after Aurora, Illinois, replied.

“Oh my gosh,” Brooklyn whispered with glee. “You brought the baby in.”

“The nanny’s sick.” Virginia’s hard-to-tame brown tresses, a near match for Brooklyn’s, were up in a twist, a sure sign that she’d gone with dry shampoo.

Brooklyn popped up from her chair and bustled around her desk, holding out her arms. Her sister tried to pass her the coffees. “No. I want to hold your little princess.”

Virginia handed over Paris, who was swaddled in a pale gray and pink blanket. She was wearing the white cashmere stocking cap Brooklyn had bought for her. Brooklyn tiptoed back to her chair and watched in awe as the baby slept in her arms—such a sweet face, such a beautiful bundle of love. Her heart raced. Brooklyn had so much love pent up inside her. She longed to find someone to accept it.

Virginia slid a coffee cup across the desk. “I got your favorite, weirdo. Non-fat sugar-free cinnamon mocha, double whipped cream. The barista always gives me side-eye.”

“It’s showing restraint while treating myself. And thank you. I can’t believe you had time.”

“Caffeine consumption is one of the pillars of motherhood.” Virginia sat and took a sip from her cup.

Brooklyn sucked in a deep breath. “You think I’m a good person, right? A caring person. A nurturing person.”

A deep crease formed between Virginia’s eyes. “Have you been talking to Mom?”

She and her sister were so on the same page it was ridiculous. “Yes. But just answer the question.”

“Well, yeah. You’re the one who chats up the interns and knows the janitors’ names. You somehow keep the plants in your apartment alive, even though you’re almost never there. You’re wonderful with Dallas and Paris.”

Brooklyn sat a little straighter. “Yes. See? My niece and nephew love me. And I love them more than anything.” Thinking about how much she adored those kids, she could only imagine what it might be like to have her own child. Her heart might actually burst. “It’s time for me to get serious about having a baby. We have all of this runaway success and it doesn’t make me happy. I want a life outside of work. I want a family of my own.” Brooklyn again gazed at Paris. The corners of her little rosebud mouth turned up. She was smiling in her sleep. Not only was there a distinct tug from the very center of Brooklyn’s chest, her ovaries were screaming at her to let them into the game.

“Oh, shoot. I forgot you had your doctor’s appointment this morning.”

“I need to get on it, ASAP. I’m losing eggs like crazy.”

“It did take me nearly a year to get pregnant with Paris, and I was four years younger than you are now.” Virginia nodded with the assurance of a seasoned pro.

Please don’t remind me.

“Have you thought about logistics?” she asked. “I have a friend who went to a fantastic sperm bank.”

Brooklyn grimaced, not wanting to ask what would make such a place “fantastic”. “I guess that’s my only option, right? That or adoption.”

“Well, you have no time for men. So there’s that.”

“More like they don’t have time for me.” Brooklyn sighed. “Although it would be nice if I could simply find someone to get me pregnant.”

“I don’t think that’s a thing, but nice try.”

“All I need is a guy who’s smart, kind, handsome, and generous enough to have sex with me until it happens. It’s not that much to ask, is it?”

Virginia pressed her lips together, nodding, the wheels in her pretty head turning. “That first part sounds like Alec. If only he hadn’t broken up with you and said he never wanted to see you again.”

Brooklyn froze, but that was only her body. Her mind was off to the races. Alec Trakas—six feet and two inches of rock-solid man, with thick dark hair sprinkled with silver, and buttery brown eyes. Alec was the fantasy of millions of women, and that was no exaggeration. As a co-host of Good Day USA, he was a ratings boon. Women lined up outside their New York studio holding signs saying, “Marry me, Alec.” He and Brooklyn met at a mutual friend’s cocktail party. It had felt like a dream when he asked her out, so much so that she asked him to pinch her, which he took as a kinky sex thing she later had to explain her way out of.

It was magical for a while, but the timing had been all wrong. Posh Post was having massive growing pains. Every day was a new disaster—staffing, suppliers, fulfillment. Virginia had debilitating morning sickness, their mother was waiting for the company to fail, and although Brooklyn insisted she’d die before she let that happen, she was barely keeping it together. However much she wanted to spend her day naked in Alec’s bed, that was not going to solve her problems. So, no, Alec probably hadn’t gotten the attention a man like him deserved. But Brooklyn had also hoped he could be a grownup about it and accept that sometimes life didn’t go according to plan.

“He’s not the type to look past someone’s mistakes.” Forgiveness from Alec might be impossible to come by. Perfect people tended to hold others to their own exacting standards.

“You’re right.” Virginia leaned forward and tapped a finger on the folder on Brooklyn’s desk. “We probably only have a few minutes until the baby wakes up. The Posh Male list?”

Brooklyn was happy for the change in subject. “Yes. Let’s see what, or more specifically, who, is in here.” Posh Male was Brooklyn’s latest idea, a version of their subscription box for men. They’d spent a fortune on a mailing list of twenty thousand taste-making men all over the U.S. To launch the new box, everyone on the list would receive a complimentary shipment a week from now.

Brooklyn began scanning the names and addresses. “Is it bad that I want to see what some of these guys look like?” Still holding the baby, she flicked her finger across the trackpad of her laptop and opened Facebook.

Virginia stepped behind Brooklyn’s desk and took the helm, typing in the name. Both sisters craned their necks to see the results. “Top of the list. Carter Aaron. Baltimore, Maryland.”

“Ooh. He’s cute. And single.” Sure, the guy took an alarming number of selfies at the gym, but Brooklyn was thinking about aesthetics and gene pools right now, not vanity. “Give me another one.”

Virginia flipped past a few more pages and rattled off another name. “Ooh. Even hotter,” she declared. “I’m normally not into beards.”

“Me neither, but he puts the man in manscaping.” Brooklyn looked up at her sister. “If only it was this easy to find men. I might have a love life.”

“Or at the very least someone to knock you up.”

“Right.” Brooklyn’s eyes again landed on the guy with the spectacular facial hair. He was cute, but he was no Alec. Too bad that ship had sailed. “But probably not.”

“Keep those options open.” Virginia leaned down and scooped up Paris, leaving behind a noticeable void in Brooklyn’s lap. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

Brooklyn nodded. “Are you going to send me the final copy for the Posh Male welcome letter?”

“Yes. We need to get that into production. I just need to make one more pass. I’ll send it over in a minute.” Her sister left and strode across to her office.

Several minutes later, the email from Virginia appeared in Brooklyn’s inbox. LOL. I added something at the end.

Sure enough, she’d added a postscript.

P.S. If any of you hot men are single and interested in helping out an overworked businesswoman by getting her pregnant, send Brooklyn Monroe an email at [email protected]

Brooklyn shot a pointed glance across the office and caught her sister’s eye then flipped her off. “Very funny,” she muttered to herself before forwarding to Tom in the art department. He appreciated a halfway decent joke. Someone should get a laugh out of her very real personal crisis.

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