Table of Contents
More praise for the novels of Carol Snow
Just Like Me, Only Better
“A divorced Orange County suburbanite’s life gets a delicious jolt in Snow’s superb romantic comedy . . . wonderfully witty.”
Here Today, Gone to Maui
“Smart, funny, and as breezy as a Hawaiian night . . . I loved it!”
—Jill Smolinski, author of
The Next Thing on My List
“With its entertaining combination of a realistically flawed heroine, sharp writing, and tart humor,
is absolutely delightful.”
“Carol Snow does a wonderful job creating realistic, likable characters. Natalie is genuinely flawed, and readers can’t help but like her for it . . . I’ll be waiting on pins and needles for her next release.”
—Curled Up with a Good Book
Been There, Done That
“Snow’s humorous, wise debut serves up romance with a bit of social commentary on the state of singledom and the benefits of maturity in a youth- and romance-obsessed society.”
“[A] witty, entertaining read.”
—Kim Alexander, XM Satellite Radio
“Carol Snow dares to explore some ‘what ifs’ of college life in a novel full of zany adventures, reflecting the wisdom of an adult revisiting the past and trying not to make the same mistakes . . . insightful and fun, with a hint of mystery and romance.”
TITLES BY CAROL SNOW
What Came First
Just Like Me, Only Better
Here Today, Gone to Maui
Been There, Done That
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2011 by Carol Snow
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Berkley trade paperback edition / October 2011
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Snow, Carol, date.
What came first / Carol Snow.
ISBN : 978-1-101-55860-7
For my mother, Peggy Snow
Thank you, yet again, to my wonderful editor, Cindy Hwang, for her sharp eye and smart insights on this, our fifth book together. I am grateful for the hard work of the many talented people at Berkley Books, with a special shout-out to Leis Pederson for her competence, responsiveness, and overall niceness.
Thanks to Stephanie Kip Rostan for representing my books, guiding my career, and being my friend. Everyone at the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency has been a delight to work with; I especially appreciate the efforts of Monika Verma, Miek Coccia, and Melissa Rowland.
As usual when writing a book, I had to hit up friends and family to fill in my sizable gaps in knowledge. Thank you to Ted Bacon for sharing legal expertise; Jill Smolinski for filling me in on the Hermosa Beach area; Rafael Suarez for providing Spanish translations; and Tracey Scott for getting and keeping those crazy chickens. My husband, Andrew Todhunter, not only supplied engineering lingo but was also kind enough to take me to lunch at Hooters. Thanks, honey. You’re the best.
I am indebted to numerous friends who, over the years, have shared concerns about declining fertility and stories of assisted reproduction. I could never have written this book without them. For information about assisted reproduction in general and donorship in particular, I turned to the Internet. (While I will miss Laura, Wendy, and Vanessa, I’ll be glad to get “sperm” off my history browser.) The Donor Sibling Registry website (www.donorsiblingregistry
) was an invaluable resource for learning about the unique issues facing donor families.
Finally, thanks to my readers. I hope you like this one.
The chickens are getting restless.
It is just past sunrise on a chilly Saturday morning in January, and insomnia kept my brain whirring until after two A.M. Now all I want to do is stay buried under my hypoallergenic faux-down comforter and return to the dream that is already slipping away.
But the chickens have other ideas—assuming their primitive little brains are capable of anything that can be termed an idea. In their coop (which is far too close to my bedroom: poor planning on my part), the birds shriek and cry and say
their clucks growing more frantic as the sky grows lighter. Each morning it’s the same, as if they’ve never seen the sun before—which is patently absurd. We live in Southern California; they see almost nothing
In the dream, I’d been kneeling next to a man on a black sand beach, both of us digging up giant clams with our bare hands, prying the shells open and eating the mollusks raw. And yes, I know that sounds like raunchy symbolism, but I’m just extremely fond of shellfish. The man was wearing a tuxedo. And I think he had a tiara on his head. But that was okay because he liked me and I liked him, and my nightly pseudo-erotic dreams are the closest things I’ve had to a date in five years.
Eyes shut, I turn away from the window. Alfredo, the cat, a twenty-pound Maine coon named for my son’s favorite pasta sauce, slinks up from the foot of my bed, settles himself on the pillow next to me, and starts to purr. And then I remember: if you have an independent source of income, reliable domestic help, and an affectionate cat, you’ll never need a man. I didn’t even need a man to get pregnant. At least, not one that I ever met.
So screw the guy in the tiara.
I sense Ian before I hear him, as if the air softens and warms the instant he tiptoes into the room. “Mom! You awake?”
“I am now.” I open my eyes and drink him in, my bony eightyear-old boy with his too-big front teeth, his army-green eyes, and his shaggy brown hair, still shot with leftover streaks of summer blond. He is the sweetest, smartest, most beautiful person I have ever known. There is no one in the world I would rather spend time with. Some days, I still can’t believe he is mine.
But right now, I really wish he would go away.
Monday through Friday I get up at 6:15 A.M. so I can take a too-short shower, put on a conservative skirt, blouse, and controltop panty hose, and join Ian for a hot breakfast (eggs, usually) before heading off to my office in Santa Ana, where I practice estate law while downing countless cups of mediocre coffee. Carmen, our nanny/housekeeper, takes Ian to school.
Unless Ian has a soccer game or other activity, weekends are my time to sleep a little later, trying in vain to recover from my increasingly common insomnia before launching into household projects. Single parenthood can be exhausting at times, but I chose this life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.