February 1st, 1994
Cora sat up in bed, looking down at the baby girls in her arms. She had known that they wouldn’t be identical but hadn’t expected them to look that different. Baby A had fair skin and blue eyes, some wisps of blonde hair atop her head. Baby B had darker features, from her deep brown eyes to the dark fuzz that stood out next to her sister’s. The nurse, who had no idea of the situation, said that she had never seen twins come out looking so different. Cora would’ve strangled her if she wasn’t so exhausted from giving birth.
The door opened and her father entered the room. Cora looked up at him, craning her neck to try to see behind him, but he simply shook his head.
“Henry is still stuck in France, trying like hell to get a flight but the weather is putting it off for a few days, and that loser you call a lover didn’t show his face.”
Cora huffed. “His name is Jonathan, Daddy.”
“I don’t really care what his name is. You had a chance to be better, Cora. Now, look at you. How is Henry ever going to accept having a daughter with such light features? He’ll know instantly that she’s not his.”
“I could simply say she inherited it from my side of the family…”
“And when he sees that she looks exactly like your gardener?” Cora adverted her gaze down to the babies. “That’s what I thought.”
“I didn’t even think this was possible,” she whispered. “How can twins have different fathers?”
“I don’t know, but I do know that you’ve ruined your life.”
Cora stared down at the squirming babies in her arms. She couldn’t go back to living at her father’s, working as a cocktail waitress. She had pulled herself up from nothing and there was no going back. Henry was a boring man, not very good in bed. Even so, he was giving her a life that she had always dreamed of.
“No, I haven’t,” she said.
“There’s no way you can…”
“They didn’t survive the labor.” Cora looked up, meeting her father’s gaze. “It was terrible, tragic, but they lost oxygen. I gave their organs so they could save other babies.”
“You cannot be serious.”
“I told you when I married him, I was willing to do anything to keep him.”
“That’s all well and good, but there’s the mere factor of the girls. What are you going to do with them?”
“I’ll worry about that.”
The following evening, Cora was discharged from the hospital. She wrapped the babies in the blankets that she had been knitting throughout the pregnancy. and put on a shawl before having her father drive her to the fire station. It was the dead of night and chilly, for Florida’s standards anyway. Cora walked up the steps and settled the girls’ baskets down on the steps. Each blanket was embroidered with a name. For Baby A, they had gone with Zelena, derived from the goddess of the moon. Baby B was named Regina, which meant queen. Cora wanted powerful names, so one day they would be powerful women. Zelena’s basket had green ribbon on it, while Regina’s was red.
“Poor babes,” she whispered. “Life is cruel and full of betrayal. That is my only lesson for you. Now, I must give you away, to give you my best chance.” Cora’s breath caught, as the tears pooled her eyes. “As long as I have the two of you, I can never be more than a miller’s daughter.”
The wind picked up and the rain began to fall, signaling to Cora that it was time to go. As she walked away, she could hear both of her daughters crying for their mother, but she simply ignored it. She was on her way to her better life.
October 23rd, 2018
Good food, amazing champagne and everyone donating to the local homeless shelter. It was a night that Robin had been looking forward to for a really long time. His family hadn’t always had the money they did and even so, charity had been so important to his mother, especially given her own upbringing. Robin hoped that she would be happy with how they were giving back. The shelter would be able to do the repairs they needed and add more beds.
The party would be what Robin remembered as the last night normal night of his life. His father had insisted on a party and Robin told him that if that was the case, it needed to be for charity. There was lots of loud music, the servers dressed as aquatic mythical creatures and bubbles for the few kids that were in attendance.
Despite the presence of his father, Robin would remember it as a good night. He got to talk with Lacey, it was rare that she went anywhere without her husband and Robin was glad that she had left him home for the night. Robin loved his half-sister with everything in him, but when it came to romantic partners, she either picked the absolute worst person or someone that was far too old. It seemed like Adam Gold was a mix of both of those things.
Marian stood by his side, smiling from ear to ear. Neither had any way of knowing that this would be the last party they would ever throw together. As far as they knew, the next morning they would be on their way to making Roland a big brother. Roland himself was chasing the other kids around that were his age, tiring himself out. It would be pretty easy to put him to bed that night.
It was truly the happiest Robin had felt in a really long time. Had he known what would come, he would’ve cancelled Marian’s appointment the next day. Instead, they’d have breakfast at the hotel before taking Roland to school. They’d discuss different, more secure ways of expanding their family. At the very least, he would’ve insisted that his sister stay at the hotel for the night. Roland would love having a sleepover with his favorite (and only) aunt.
Alas, no one is capable of telling the future. So, he kissed Lacey on the cheek, watching as she headed home to her husband. When Marian suggested they turn in and leave the hosting duties to Richard, he agreed. He picked up a sleeping Roland in his arms and they headed up to their suite together. They lived the last normal night of their lives, when their family could still very much be one.
Sobriety is an uphill battle, ask any addict. There are several triggers that you know to avoid once you start recovery, whether it be people, events or objects. That’s the easy part. One can learn to avoid those.
What isn’t easy, are the things that come out of nowhere. They pull you down and practically force the bottle to your lips. At least that’s how Lacey Locksley-Gold felt.
She had cleaned up her act when she married Adam Gold. There was no more hanging out at the Rabbit Hole after her shift, no hustling men as she played pool (even though that had been how they met). She focused on work and being a good wife. With that, she finally did what her family had been begging her to do for years and quit drinking all together. Lacey began attending A.A meetings and left behind the group of friends that pushed scotch into her hands at parties. It wasn’t an easy process, but it was one she was proud of nonetheless.
After yet another party thrown by her father, Lacey walked into the salmon colored home that she shared with her husband. There was music coming from upstairs, which put a big grin on her face. She walked up, unzipping her black dress as she did. When she reached the door, she took the clip that held her auburn curls up in a bun out and let them tumble down. As she opened the door to her bedroom, she allowed the dress to fall to the floor.
“Waiting for me, baby?” She asked.
Gold shot up from the bed, but he didn’t do it alone. Beside him was Carlotta De Vil, a fellow lawyer at his practice. Lacey’s jaw practically dropped to the floor, taking in the Dalmatian print lingerie that Carlotta wore, along with the lack of anything on her own husband’s body.
“Lacey…” he stammered.
She didn’t say anything in response. Instead, she merely pulled up her dress to cover her naked body before running down the stairs. She got in her cherry red Jaguar, not even sure where she was going until she pulled up at the Hole. Lacey pushed through the doors and marched straight up to the bar.
“Whiskey, neat,” she demanded.
Keith simply gave her a smirk and filled her order. Lacey knocked it back in one go, before ordering another one. The thought of her two early morning appointments didn’t even cross her mind, none of that mattered. All that did, was getting the image of Carlotta in her bed out of her head.
Lacey woke up the following morning with a pounding headache and dry mouth. She rolled over in bed, nearly falling over the body that laid beside her. She blinked a few times before realizing it was Ruby Lucas. Wait, why had she gone home with her? Why wasn’t she in her own bed?
The memory of the night before hit her like a ton of bricks, causing tears to cloud her eyes. She furiously wiped them away as her phone rang, causing her head to throb even more. Lacey followed the sound to her purse, digging it out. The screen informed her that it was her personal assistant. She slid the green button over and held it to her ear.
“Lacey!” Astrid’s worried voice filled her ear. “You’re late! You’ve got two patients waiting on you!”
“What?” Lacey looked over at the fuzzy red alarm clock that was on Ruby’s nightstand and cursed herself. “Shit! I’ll be right there!”
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. Just, distract them.”
Hanging up the phone, Lacey raced into the adjoining bathroom and splashed water on her face. She borrowed some of Ruby’s makeup to make herself look somewhat presentable, running a brush through her hair. She had a change of clothes at the office along with some gum. Not the most hygienic, but she didn’t have time to go back home and she didn’t necessarily want to, knowing her husband would be there.
Ruby appeared in the doorway, wearing a t-shirt that rode up over belly button and black underwear. “Hey, I can go pick us up some breakfast.”
“I have to get to work.”
“Need a ride? You left your car at the bar last night.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“I had a lot of fun last night…”
“Does it look like I have time right now, Ruby?”
Pushing past her one-night stand, Lacey ignored the pulsing headache she had. No one could know how hungover she was, she couldn’t afford for it to get back to her father or God forbid, her brother.
Regina settled onto the bus seat, feeling exhausted. She had been up late the night before grading papers and had considered canceling her visit, but it had taken her months to get an appointment with Dr. Locksley-Gold. She was the only one that accepted her insurance in the city.
Being 24, it probably shouldn’t have been her first appointment. She had told herself for years that she didn’t need it, it wasn’t as if she were sexually active and up until she started at her new job, she hadn’t had insurance since she aged out of the system. Emma was taken aback when she heard that and insisted she made an appointment right away. Regina had to bite her tongue at how surprised Emma was. Both of them had grown up in the foster system, but after Emma got pregnant at 17 by the son of one of the wealthiest women in the city, her life had gotten a lot better.
Regina had to fight for any bit of success that she got. She worked her ass off in high school to get a scholarship to a good college, working in any spare moment to make up the rest. On top of a full course load, she had worked as a waitress. Being over the age of 18 meant she could work full time, but that was both a blessing and a curse. She had barely slept during those 5 years, living off of coffee and ramen. It had been worth it, at the very least. She was an English teacher at a Catholic middle school and was slowly chipping away at student loans.
She pulled out her notebook as the bus drove along to the office. She knew that the idea of a novel was silly, but she couldn’t push the dream out of her head. Books were one of the few things that got her through her crappy childhood. They were an escape to various places, where she could pretend that for a minute, things weren’t so dreary. Maybe she could do that for someone else, no matter how old.
Eventually, Regina found herself walking inside Dr. Locksley-Gold’s office. It wasn’t long before she was pulled back into a room, where a nurse took her vitals and confirmed the reason for her visit. After the nurse left and she changed into the paper gown provided, she was waiting awhile for the doctor. She couldn’t help but feel her eyes slowly shutting. It was just for a second, the only break she’d get. After her appointment, she had to get to work. She wasn’t going to fall asleep…no…
The door slammed shut and Regina shot up, the paper beneath her crinkling. She blinked a few times, before realizing the short doctor with auburn hair was talking to her.
“Um, yes, hello. Sorry. I drifted off.”
“It’s fine. I’m Dr. Lacey Locksley-Gold.” she sniffled and Regina noticed that she had red, bloodshot eyes.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, yes. Please scoot down a bit.” Regina did as told, her feet sliding into the stirrups. “Did you bring anyone with you?”
“Um, here? No…it’s just me.” She was confused. Did adults normally bring someone with them to get a pap smear?
Lacey sniffled yet again. “You’re doing it alone, good for you. It’s…it’s probably easiest that way,” her voice cracked near the end of her sentence and it became clear she was fighting off tears.
Regina suddenly felt very uncomfortable. She wasn’t good when it came to other people’s emotions. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry. This is so unprofessional. I’m just going through some personal problems.”
“Um…do you want me to come back then?”
“No, then we’ll have to wait another month and that’s not fair to you.”
Regina nodded, though still unsure if she trusted the woman in front of her. She stayed leaning back, feeling a tiny bit of discomfort, but then Lacey was pulling away from her.
“Alright, you’re all set. Just rest here for 10 minutes and then you’ll get your results in two weeks.”
Regna tilted her head. “That’s it?”
“That’s it. And again, I’m sorry about the…you know.” She gestured to her face.
“No, it’s fine. I hope…I hope you feel better.”
Lacey merely nodded, before walking out of the room. God, that had been so embarrassing. She had never broken down in front of anyone like that before outside her family, much less a patient. She just hoped that it didn’t cause any stress and wouldn’t affect the insemination.
Heading out of the room, she went down the hall to her next patient. She raised an eyebrow when she saw her sister-in-law, Marian, sitting up one of the cots. Lacey’s brother, Robin, stood beside her, a smile on his face. Lacey’s brows furrowed as she looked from her chart, back up at them.
“I wasn’t expecting you two today.”
“We’ve finally decided to try for another baby,” Marian explained. “So, we had the nurse unfreeze Robin’s sperm.”
Lacey stood frozen in spot, her mind replaying Astrid’s words as she walked down the hall.
“You’ve got a pap smear in 3 and an insemination in 1.”
The number on the door read 1…but she had put the sample inside the patient in 3.
She had put her brother’s sample inside the patient in 3.
Robin’s only sample. He and Marian had their son four years ago. Shortly after that, he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Before entering chemo, Robin had decided to freeze his sperm so that way he and Marian could still live out their dream of having two children in the future. He had beat the cancer and all of his checkups still showed that he was as healthy as a horse. Of course they’d want to try again.
Lacey suddenly felt as though she was going to pass out. What the hell had she just done?
“Lacey?” Robin asked. “Are you alright?”
Lacey blinked a few times. She couldn’t let them know. No, that’d be a terrible, terrible idea. Robin would never trust her again. IUI only had a 10 to 20 percent success rate the first go around, Marian and Robin knew that. The odds of it even working on the other patient were slim to none. No one had to know. Especially not Robin.
“Yes, I’m fine. I just…I forgot your sample. I’ll be right back.”
When Lacey returned, she inseminated Marian with some saline before stressing the statistics once more to them. The hopeful look in their eyes drilled a hole in Lacey’s soul. There would be other options for them, wouldn’t they? Plus, they already had Roland.
No matter how she justified it, Lacey knew she was wrong. After all Robin had ever done for her, she had just screwed him over in the worst way possible.