Crossing The Line

Crossing The Line

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Paperback(Original)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373895243
Publisher: Red Dress Ink
Publication date: 05/31/2005
Edition description: Original
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.85(d)

About the Author

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of several titles in many genres. She lives with her husband and daughter in Danbury, CT.

Read an Excerpt

"Tolkien," I said, "I have something to tell you." Yes, this is where we had all left off: me, Jane Taylor, assistant editor in a publishing firm, havingjust faked nine months of pregnancy, just in case you need to know that about me, standing on the doorstep of the man I was in love with and who I'd recently rejected for the second time -- Tolkien Donald, Scotland Yard, C.I.D. (medium build, medium height, dirty-blond, slightly receding hair, slightly darker mustache) -- with my fake baby (all cloth) still strapped underneath my clothes and a real baby (which I'd just found abandoned on a church doorstep) in my arms. I don't know about you, but my own suspicions were high that this was going to be a sticky situation to get out of. "You have a baby," said Tolkien, awe in his eyes.

"Yes," I said, joyfully.

"Here," he said, taking my arm. "Come inside. It's too cold for you and the baby to just stand out there on the doorstep."

He led us into what passed for a living room in his life. Even though it had been months since I'd been there, nothing had changed -- meaning that there was little evidence of anyone really doing any living there, meaning that the room was still just as "bachelor-y" as Tolkien had once upon a time warned me it would be: no discernible design scheme, only some serious stereo equipment. As a decorative concession to the holiday swirling all around us in the city, he had a half-empty bottle of holiday ale on his utilitarian wooden coffee table. From the CD player, I could hear Bing Crosby softly crooning about the white Christmas we had in fact achieved that year.

I looked at the clock on the wall, a glass-and-chrome timepiece that was so nondecorative it could have been in a tube station: not even 3:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve. I'd left my flat at 2:00 a.m. and in less than an hour's time I'd found a baby and was now visiting the love of my former life. "You have a baby," he said again, still awed.

"Yes," I said, still joyful.

"But you're still pregnant."

Now we were getting to the less joyful part.

"No, not really," I said.

"You mean to tell me . . . What, Jane? What exactly do you mean to tell me?"

"This baby is mine," I said.

Well, the baby was technically mine; finders keepers and all that. I held out the bundle in my arms, so that he could take a closer look, which he did. He made some of those cooing noises people always make at new babies, but I must say, coming from him, they sounded genuine.

Still smiling down at the baby, he said, "I don't think so, Jane."

"Whyever not?"

"Well, for starters, this baby is black."

Well, there was that.

"Tolkien," I said, "I have something to tell you."

"Excuse me for being a stickler, but didn't we just do that part already?"

"Fine." I sighed. "Fine, fine, fine."

I handed him the baby, then I lifted the skirt of my long dress and did one of those squidgying-around moves that schoolgirls in the locker room make when trying to remove their bras without taking off their clothes, but instead I was taking off my cloth baby. I doubt I looked the coolest thing, I'll grant you, dress hiked up over my hips, bent slightly forward to undo the clasp at my waist. There!

Tolkien tore his eyes away from the baby -- well, who could blame him for his reluctance? She was beautiful -- in time to see the skirt of my dress resettle itself over my now slim frame. I thought of how I must look to him: my spiky short black hair even more disheveled than usual from the night's adventures; my brown eyes hoping for a forgiveness that would probably never come.

"Only you, Jane," he said softly.

"How's that?" I asked.

"Only you could figure out a way to both have a baby and get your figure back when exactly nine months are up."

I shrugged. "I'm a bit of a Houdini, aren't I?"

"It's not funny."

"No. I suspect not."

We spoke in the same instant.

Him: "Are you going to tell me . . .?"

Me: "Do you want to know . . .?"

"I'm not sure," he said, and I could see he wasn't. This man who was the living embodiment of steadiness was shaken.

"I'm scared," I said, and I realized that I was. While my shenanigans -- well, okay, my slightly sociopathic behavior, if you will -- of the past nine months might be observed with humor by those observing from afar, to those up close and personal, to those I loved best in the world, my behavior had been quite harmful. Once upon a time -- about nine months or so ago, if you want to be technical -- I'd briefly believed myself to be pregnant. In my overly enthusiastic state, I'd told everybody about it -- my best friend; my family; the people I worked with at Churchill & Stewart, a London publishing firm where I was Assistant Editor; and Trevor, the man I lived with and who I believed to be the father of my baby. Then, as quickly as you can say, "This baby needs a nappy change," I'd discovered I wasn't pregnant at all. Me, being me, I couldn't tell everybody I'd made a mistake. Since Trevor hadn't been too upset about the pregnancy, and since I'd fallen in love with the idea of being pregnant, I endeavored to get pregnant. But when that didn't work, one thing led to another -- some of the things rather rational, like a book contract to tell the story of my fake-pregnancy adventures; some of the things irrational, like me being me -- and before I knew it, nine months of impersonating being a pregnant person had flown by.

And then I'd found this baby. I'd actually seen a huddled figure abandon the baby on the steps of a stone church, although I hadn't realized that was what I was seeing in the moment I was seeing it.

But in the meantime, in the nine months between thinking I was pregnant and finding the baby, I'd lied to everybody who'd ever cared about me and everybody who didn't. I'd even told Tolkien, who I'd met and fallen in love with after lying to and losing Trevor, that I couldn't marry him when he'd asked me, because I hadn't wanted to give up my charade.

Who knew what deep and lasting damage I had done? Even I could see that it might be irreparable.

Then Tolkien did the bravest thing. Tentatively, baby still cradled in the crook of his arm, neck perfectly supported as if he at least knew what he was doing, he reached out, took my hand in his.

"I'll listen, Jane," he said. "I can't promise you anything. I may never be able to promise you anything ever again. But I will listen."

So I explained everything to him, all the little details. About how I'd originally thought I was pregnant, while still living with Trevor, and how I'd told everybody and then wasn't. About how I'd figured I could just fake it in the beginning, you know, until the real thing came along, and how it didn't. About how I'd made up an obstetrician, but made the mistake of selecting a real and well-known obstetrician, and had to replace him with a made-up midwife/tarot-card reader. About how my best friend David, an ex-Israeli fighter pilot turned bistro owner, and his partner to whom he was now married, Christopher, had basically egged me on (okay, they didn't really). About how, on the same night I met him, the night I knew that I had met the man of my dreams, my other lifelong dream came true -- an editor at a rival publishing firm, Alice Simms from Quartet Books Limited, had upon learning of my scheme to impersonate a pregnant woman for nine months, offered me a contract to write my accounting of the events in a book (The Cloth Baby, due out in about ten months, but I suppose I shouldn't be plugging my book right at this exact moment), fulfilling my dream of being a published writer. About how ultimately even that alone would not have kept me from saying "yes" when he'd asked me to marry him. About how it had all been because of . . .

"Dodo."

"Dodo?"

"Dodo," I said again, referring to my beautiful, older and terminally unmarried boss, who'd been born Lana Lane.

"I've never met her," he pointed out.

"True."

"I've never met anyone in your life."

"You haven't missed much," I said, thinking specifically of my mother and sister and most of the people from work.

"Well, except for David and Christopher -- "

"Aren't they great?"

" -- who I only met because they were the only two people besides me who were allowed to see you skinny, apparently."

"Er, right."

"And, uh -- " he squinched his eyes together, thumb and forefinger going to bridge of nose in a combined gesture that made me suspect that I was giving him a headache " -- I believe you were about to tell me, yes, how it was somehow Dodo's fault that you were unable to come clean with me and tell the truth so that maybe we'd have some insane chance at a future?"

"Well, yes, of course, you see -- "

Just then, the baby woke up. And, no, I didn't pinch her to wake her up right when I needed a distraction. Thankfully, whoever abandoned her had thought to leave a single bottle filled with formula in the basket, plus a spare can stock up again before long, but at least the bottle I'd put in her mouth bought us a few minutes.

It was a her, by the way. I'd finally sussed that fact out.

I sat down on a bare-bones sofa that would have been perfectly at home in a university dorm, rather than the flat of a man in his thirties, and felt Tolkien sit down next to me. I watched the baby take the bottle between her perfect lips. She was so beautiful. It was easier to look at her and talk than to look at Tolkien and talk. When I looked at her, it was impossible not to smile, no matter how sad the thought of the pain I must be causing him might make me.

"It wouldn't be fair for me to say that it was Dodo's fault, per se. Rather, it was that I knew how much she'd always wanted a baby, how certain she was that she'd never have one of her own, how her relationships with other women have always been so strained because of her beauty, meaning that it was unlikely that anyone else would ever share a pregnancy with her, and she came so alive with my pregnancy, she was so supportive of me, so excited about it, so thrilled to be a part, that I just couldn't -- "

" -- break her heart," he finished softly.

I met his eyes, smiling through the sadness of all of my spectacular losses and the bitter knowledge that whatever had been lost had been my fault. I bit my lip.

"Do you understand?" I asked.

He shook his head: No.

"I'm trying, Jane," he said, "God knows, I'm trying -- "

This time it was me, reaching my hand out for his, twining my own fingers around those fingers that I loved best in the world. "It's okay, really," I said, "because I do understand. How could you still want or love me after all that's happened?" He didn't answer that.

"So," he asked instead, "what are you going to do now?"

His question took me by surprise.

"Why, I'm going to keep her, of course. You?"

His answer took me by surprise.

"Well, I suppose that, somehow, I'll have to help you."

"You…?" "I'm guessing you've already got a name picked out."

"Emma."

"Of course." The only way to come clean with everyone you've lied to, and if you've lied to nearly everyone in your life, is to come clean all at once. So what did I do? I threw a party, a New Year's Day party, to launch my new life. There was method to my party planning, of course. The way I figured it, the odds were that my guests would be too hung over from the night before to give me too much of a hard time about the finer details. I sent out invitations, announcing Emma's arrival in the world, to family and friends.

It was going to be a lot of people to have in my living/dining area, which was technically two rooms but really only one, so people were going to have to eat their snacks buffet and if everyone wanted to sit at once, some would have to sit on the floor. The green party ware and napkins I'd laid out were good enough to complement the leaf-green, peach and mauve that predominated my living space, but the red I'd laid out with it kind of clashed. Still, I was hoping a leftover holiday spirit would help, and as I set things on the table, I caught sight of my wilting single-person's Christmas tree in the corner. Oh, well, I shrugged. Hopefully, the Christmas trimmings would make my guests feel more benevolently Christian and that would keep them from feeding me to the lions.

The "nearly everyone" I'd lied to included my mother and my sister Sophie, my relationships with neither ever having been what one might term "good"; Dodo; Louise, the assistant editor of Dodo's greatest rival at the firm; Constance, our tiny former receptionist, now Dodo's assistant what with me on leave, who was possessed of an over enthusiasm for what she now called New New Age (old New Age in her mind being too much your mother's brand of Zen); Minerva from Publicity, with her harlequin eyeglasses and her yellow-red beehive hairdo that was only ever going to move if one day France attacked; and Stan from Accounting (who really did deserve to be lied to). I wasn't going to worry about explaining things to my downstairs neighbors, the Marcuses. They already thought I was nuts, so who cared what false assumptions they might make? One night I'd gone out nine months pregnant, the next time they saw me I had a baby: done.

As for David and Christopher, they had enjoyed their Greek honeymoon so much two months previous, that I'd arrived home Christmas morning, after finding the baby and seeing Tolkien, to a note from David saying that they'd impulsively closed the restaurant to return there for a week and wouldn't be back until somewhere around January 2. This worked in my favor because I wasn't ready right away that first week to share Emma or deal with questions and it would have been hard to hide a new baby from my best friend, particularly since my best friend lived upstairs. Still, I'd dropped them a line to say that I had "big news" for them when they got back -- although they would need to come back soon, if they wanted the hoi that had been polloi-ing their Covent Garden bistro, Meat! Meat!! MEAT!!!, to remember to keep polloi-ing. So, my cast of characters was set.

The only problem, as they each arrived, was: From Mother, patting champagne coif: "I don't think this could be Trevor's baby," referring to my long-gone ex-fiancé. From sister Sophie, fingering straight blond hair to prove her point: "She doesn't really look like anybody from our side of the family." And from the smashingly beautiful blond woman who had good cause to be called Dodo:

"You do realize your daughter is black, Jane…don't you?"

"Yes, Dodo," I said, "I did know that. But thanks for pointing it out just in case."

"Do you think you all might give Jane and Emma some room, please?"

And just where did that voice come from?

Why, Tolkien, of course. For I had indeed invited one other person not previously mentioned on my guest list; well, technically he wasn't a guest, having helped me out so much of late, sleeping over every night to help me with Emma.

True, there were probably better times -- really, any single one would do -- when it would have been more appropriate for him to meet my friends and family for the first time. But I just couldn't face this group all on my own, and David and Christopher were unavailable.

They were all so stunned by Emma. She was like the elephant in the corner that no one would talk about, so they began talking about anything but.

Stan from Accounting said, adjusting his steel glasses, "Did everyone read the new Smythe? God, it's a dog if I've ever seen one."

"Well," said Constance, winding her finger around a strand of short red hair, "you know, dog is God spelled backwards, so maybe it's a good omen?"

"We'll just throw a ton of money at it," said Minerva from Publicity, settling herself into the sofa. "That'll fix it."

"Not my money," said Stan from Accounting.

"We'll just spin it as the latest thing," said Minerva. "We'll say it's a cross between John Grisham and Sophie Kinsella, but set in Paraguay. That ought to do it. People'll get so confused they won't know what the hell they're reading."

"But it's not like any of those things you just mentioned," objected Dodo.

Copyright © 2004 Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Crossing the Line 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
kikilon on LibraryThing 19 hours ago
I can't remember what I thought of the first book, but I know I liked the idea. This book, however, felt very self-congratulatory. I didn't get involved in the characters. Maybe it's because of the issues in the book (I'm not much of an issue reader), or maybe it's the fine line between quirky and obnoxious that the heroine treads. All in all, it wasn't a great book, but it wasn't horrible either. I'd recommend it for certian people.
superblondgirl on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I know I hated the other Baratz-Logsted book I read, but I read The Thin Pink Line a few years ago and loved it, but felt totally cheated by the end. This book, then, was very exciting for me to find! Even coming at it this much later, I still remembered the story and characters enough that I got into it quickly, and it's obvious that the stilted style from the other book of hers I'd read was exactly that - a style used for the book. This one was well-written, funny, entertaining, and just a touch over-the-top, but in a good way. Predictable, yes, but definitely entertaining, and it manages to seem totally unpredictable since the main character is such a great lunatic (I mean that in the nicest way!)
kikianika on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I can't remember what I thought of the first book, but I know I liked the idea. This book, however, felt very self-congratulatory. I didn't get involved in the characters. Maybe it's because of the issues in the book (I'm not much of an issue reader), or maybe it's the fine line between quirky and obnoxious that the heroine treads. All in all, it wasn't a great book, but it wasn't horrible either. I'd recommend it for certian people.
JGJB More than 1 year ago
this was an okay book. The best thing about the book is that is what totally unique, the plot, storyline. Its not your same ole, same ole. However, the only bad thing I can say about the book is that it for some reason did not capture me. The intro and ending were great but it was blah in the middle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a smart, funny book about a grown-up woman who finally grows up when a baby comes into her life. If you like your humor sharp-edged and your heroines complex and not totally admirable, you'll enjoy 'Crossing the Line.' The book deals with motherhood, romance, friendship, family relationships, and integrity -- all the while offering laughs on each page. I am far outside the demographic that 'Crossing the Line' seems most likely to appeal to, and I found it a rollicking good read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Jane Taylor knows it is time to tell the truth to her family, friends, and co-workers, who believe she is nine months pregnant (see THE THIN PINK LINE). The infant she has been carrying is actually a bundle of rags. However, it could only happen to Jane to find an abandoned baby just before her pronouncement. The real infant she insists is hers although Emma, as she names the child, happens to be black while Jane is white.---- Her boyfriend, Scotland Yard CID Donald Tolkien is the first to know the truth and handles it reasonably well as if he expected nothing less from zany Jane. He also informs Jane she must notify Social Services about Emma. At a New Year¿s Day Emma hosted, she breaks the news to all that she faked the pregnancy, but has a child anyway.---- The hard thing remains the same problem that detracts from the first book which is a woman shamming a pregnancy. The story line is fun to follow as Jane explains to everyone what she did, but also shows maturity as she tries her best to do the right thing for Emma as well as gain custody of the newborn. Readers will especially like the accepting ethical Donald who will assist Jane as long as it is legal and in his opinion the right thing for Emma. This sweet chick lit motherhood tale stars a maturing likable nutcase (that is going around a lot lately).---- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
After faking a pregnancy for nine months, fate drops a baby into Jane's waiting arms on Christmas Eve. The only problems are explaining it to her boyfriend, Tolkien, and the baby is black, which Jane is not. Once the shock is past, Jane sets out to become an uber-mother. She does all she can to make a good life for baby Emma, including trying to learn about the baby's heritage so she won't miss any thing culturally. All the while, she pretends that Emma is her own child, one she gave birth to. Emma's real mother is out there, somewhere. Jane's fantasy world is only one truth away from collapsing. .................. ** While the message that love crosses all lines, or should, is refreshingly true, the implicit commendation of Jane's deceptiveness is a bit hard to swallow. The reader has to wonder, would Jane love Emma if not for the fact that she'd already been lying and a real baby somehow justified all the rest. **