Saturday, April 2, 2011
Studio Time: Nine
Millwood: Monday, 6:11AM
The first rays of dawn crept into Gemma’s room as she lay awake and exhausted. Sleep had eluded her for the last couple of nights. It hadn’t been but a few days earlier when she had enjoyed a burst of energy and had finally setup the spare room for the baby. More than once the idea of returning to California had crossed her mind; after all, there wasn’t much to keep her in Millwood. Things had definitely not played out the way she had hoped.
Pulling back the sheets Gemma stretched out on the bed and tried to see her toes as she wiggled them but the mountain that her belly had become prevented her from actually seeing them. With a wistful smile she realized she had been softly caressing her belly. No, things had definitely not gone as planned at all.
A dull ache in her back forced her to shift her weight but it wouldn’t ease the pain. Maybe she should get up and move around a little, she thought. Sighing, Gemma hefted her body up and out of the bed and padded toward the mirror in the corner. Critically examining her face she realized that it hadn’t changed much throughout the pregnancy with the exception of the shadows under her eyes. The pregnancy itself hadn’t been particularly difficult other than the recent back aches and she even felt pretty good through most of it.
But as Gemma’s due date got closer the fear and doubt about her ability to be a good parent began to set in along with the fear of giving birth. She and Julia were built with the same lithe body; if Julia managed to deliver Wyatt under the circumstances she had been in at the time, then Gemma could certainly survive it. Still, there had been times where she was frantic, desperate enough to even consider calling her step-mother and asking for help. She had no one here; even Wyatt had distanced himself from her, not that she could blame him.
She was afraid, plain and simple, and turning back the clock, taking a different path or making a different choice was no longer an option on the table. Gemma took a few steps away from the mirror and re-focused on her reflection and the vast changes in her body. She looked like she had swallowed a giant pear. Oh God, a fat, juicy pear she realized as a warm trickle ran down her leg.
Mercy Hospital: Tuesday, 9:42AM
“Coop, it’s me.” Slim tried to keep his gruff voice as quiet as possible while stepping outside the main entrance of Mercy Hospital. It was too early for Cooper, he knew that, but the call had to be made. “Gemma had the baby last night…yeah…I got the call from her this morning. They’re both fine although she was still feeling pretty rough around the edges.”
Moving the phone away from his ear, Slim drew a deep breath. Even after all this time, knowing that Coop was never at his best in the morning, he could still manage to chew Slim’s ear off with amazing clarity. He gritted his teeth and tried to answer calmly, “I know you don’t give a damn how she feels...right...I don’t know man, it’s hard to tell...you know babies; they’re all bald and blue-eyed.”
Slim tried to fill in the blanks in between each of Cooper’s questions and he was hitting him fast with them, raw tension in his voice. “Coop, slow down...yeah I get it but I don’t know shit yet...You wanted me to move fast with the paternity test. I’ve got a guy I trust who can give us results in a couple of days. He’s discreet and reliable - I’ll pick you up later this afternoon.”
He hesitated for a split second, released the breath he didn’t realize he was holding and blurted out, “It’s a girl.”
Downtown Metro Area - Sutter Building: Friday, 2:38PM
The Sutter Building was two blocks away but for Cooper it wasn’t nearly close enough. Getting this out of the way and getting Gemma out of his life was the primary concern for him. He drilled Slim the entire way from the parking lot, needing constant reassurance that, regardless of the outcome, Gemma’s silence was guaranteed. Slim had replied in monosyllables ‘yeah right maybe fuck it Coop sure’, tipped his sunglasses down over his eyes and avoided the afternoon pedestrian traffic by walking through an empty construction zone. There were no guarantees. He didn’t need Slim to tell him that, he knew it.
Cooper hadn’t wanted to learn the results face to face. Over the phone would have been fine as far as he was concerned but Slim didn’t trust getting information this important by phone. If there had been the slightest whiff that Coop might have fathered the child, and there had been many veiled remarks in the past few months, then Slim wanted it in person and behind closed doors. He wanted the proof in his hands for safe keeping.
As they exited the elevator Slim stopped to face Cooper. “I know you don’t trust her but in this case I believe what she says. Gemma won’t be a threat.”
Cooper folded his arms and glared skeptically at Slim. “Well I don’t trust her and I never will. Let’s just get this done.”
They walked into a small office. The geneticist rose when they entered and gestured for them to sit. Cooper shifted uneasily in his seat and looked at the folder which lay in the middle of the desk. His fate, his future was contained in that folder. He was either the kid’s father or he wasn’t. And if he was...his future with Beth, which already hung by the thinnest of threads, his chance of winning her back, was nil.
Dispensing with the social niceties, Cooper locked eyes with the doctor and got into it. “So? Am I the father or not?” As he continued to stare, Cooper was sure he saw a sympathetic expression in the man’s eyes. He didn’t say anything and simply pushed the folder toward him.
Swallowing, Cooper shoved down the rush of emotions that hit him. It felt like he was in the middle of a dark comedy. It was foolish to think this wasn’t going to get out one way or another regardless of what was in that folder or who made promises to keep silent. Figuring out how to spin it right, getting in front of it was going to be difficult and ugly but Cooper knew Slim would handle it. If the child was his...what was bad now with the twins would be irreparable; it would compromise Rayne’s contract, cast doubt on everything she’d fought so hard to do; and Hugs...how in hell could he explain this to his little girl. Everything changed. I’ll never go home..
“No, I’ll do it.” Coop grabbed the folder and opened it. He remained expressionless as his eyes scanned the documents until he found what he was looking for.
Cooper didn’t say a word as he rose from his seat, tossed the folder back on the desk toward Slim, and, walking to the window, looked out at the city below. “So that’s it then.” His voice was flat and unemotional.
Slim glanced at the report, drew a deep breath and responded, “Yeah, I guess it is.”