“A paternity test? What for?” Jason asked when he recovered from the shock.
“What do you mean what for, Jason? Why do people take paternity tests?” Susan shot back.
“We only take a paternity test when there is a controversy over the paternity of a child, mum. In this case, there is no such controversy,” Jason replied.
“That’s where you are wrong, dear. You would agree with me on this unless she didn’t tell you full story. I trust that you did, right Jessica?” Susan said, glancing at Jessica.
“This baby is Jason’s, Susan,” Jessica said.
“Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. You were once a….what decent word can I use to describe your former character?” Susan said with an air of wonder.
“I wasn’t a harlot, Mrs. Archer,” Jessica replied, with tears in her eyes.
“I wasn’t going to say that but you did have a questionable lifestyle, Jessica. We’d all agree on that.”
“But you chose her to be with your son, mother! So what is this drama all about?” Stacie asked.
“I admit what I did was selfish and foolish but now is my chance to set things right. I won’t allow just anyone to marry into this family.”
“But it is okay to allow just anyone to ruin your son’s life? What a double standard you have, mum.”
“Think whatever you want but that’s what I require before you even think of planning a wedding.”
“Fine; we’ll do it,” Jason said.
“What?” both Jessica and Stacie exclaimed in surprise.
“We both know this baby is mine, right? Let’s prove it to her then,” Jason said.
Susan smiled triumphantly.
“But… don’t you trust me, Jason?” Jessica asked, tears running down her cheek.
“Of course I do; but if we do this one thing for mum, then we can get married. Isn’t that what we want?”
“And to ensure that the results are not tampered with, the test should be done with a reputable doctor,” Susan added.
“Exactly; I suggest we see our family doctor,” Jason said.
“Excellent choice, Jason,” Susan commented. Jason glanced at Jessica.
“Is that okay with you?” he asked her. She looked at him for a while before nodding.
“Sure; I’ll do it,” she whispered. He nodded and held her hand, squeezing it.
“Jason, can I talk to you for a minute, in private?” Stacie asked.
“Sure,” Jason replied and got up. They left them.
“If this child you’re carrying is indeed Jason’s, then there is nothing to worry about, right?” Susan asked Jessica.
“Of course I’ve everything to worry about since you’re involved in this. Please don’t take Jason away from me, Susan, please…” Jessica pleaded and broke down in tears.
“I’m not going to do anything, Jessica. Whatever happens is solely because of you.”
“What is it, Stacie?” Jason asked.
“You don’t have to do this, Jason.”
“Do what? This is the only way to get mum off my back, Stacie.”
“You don’t have to follow mother’s every whim, Jason. Mum doesn’t want you two to be together and she definitely has a reason for suggesting this charade called a paternity test.”
“You think she would attempt something funny?”
“Attempt? Come on brother; please don’t act as if you don’t know what our mother is capable of. If you go ahead with this test, we both know what the results would be.” They stared at each other.
“I don’t think mum would be callous enough to prevent her grandson from having a family.”
“Oh please Jason, she hired a call-girl to keep her very own son astray. What makes you think she would even bother caring for her grandchild?”
“So what do I do?”
“Face her and refuse the condition.”
“I can’t, Stacie.”
“And why is that?”
“Because if I go against her, according to the will, I lose everything and I mean everything.”
“I don’t remember the lawyer reading that.”
“My dad told me some time back; that’s why I don’t have any other choice but to comply, Stacie.”
“And risk losing Jessie? That is not an option, Jason. She is carrying your child!”
“I know; I’m going to ask another doctor that I can trust from our family doctor’s hospital to conduct the test. Mum can’t do anything.”
“It’s the only way, sis; it’s the only way,” Jason said as he held her cheeks and looked into her eyes. Stacie nodded. Jason hugged her.
“We’re going to be fine. Jessie and I are going to get married.”
“I hope so.” They walked back to the living room.
“So what did you two decide?” Susan asked and sipped her wine.
“We’re going to take the test. It’s the only condition, right?”
“The only one; she passes it and there’s nothing standing in your way.”
“Fine then. Let me take you home, Jessie,” Jason said, stretching his hand. Jessie stood up and took his hand into hers.
“We’ll be leaving now, mum.”
“Sure; take care you two.” Jessica took a last lingering glance at Susan before walking away. Susan met the cold eyes of her daughter.
“What is it now?”
“What do you want from them, mum? I thought you were going to let them be.”
“But I am; if all goes well, I won’t be a thorn in their flesh any longer.”
“If, huh? If the results come out negative, I won’t accept it, mum.”
“It’s not your place to accept or reject the results, my dear.” Susan finished her wine and got up.
“Rose, come for the glasses, will you?” She said and walked past Stacie to the staircase. Stacie watched her as she ascended the stairs.
“Believe it or not honey but I’m not a bad person. I’m only looking out for your Jason’s interest.”
“Uh huh, by hiring a woman of the street to screw your son; how honorable of you, mother,” Stacie said sarcastically.
“Everyone deserves a second chance, sweetie,” and with that, Susan entered her room. Stacie sighed.
The car was in silence as Jason drove. He glanced at Jessica to see tears running down her cheek. He reached out and touched her hand. Jessica turned to look at him. He squeezed her hand.
“Did I do wrong by accepting mum’s condition?” he asked. She shook her head.
“No; it was the right thing. I’m just afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
“Afraid that fate would tear us apart.”
“And why would fate be that cruel to us?”
“With Susan in the equation, nothing good can ever come out of it.”
“I know my mum has hurt all of us in one way or the other but I think we should give her the benefit of the doubt. Her grandchild is involved in this ‘equation’ now.” Jessica looked at him in disbelief.
“Do you really think Susan gives a damn about what happens to my baby?”
“It’s also my baby, Jessie.” Stacie shook her head.
“I know it’s hard to admit that your mum isn’t like anyone else’s but you need to accept it, Jason. All this woman lives to do is to hurt people. Don’t let her do this to us.”
“Tell me this and I want you to be honest as you can be. Is there any chance that this baby isn’t mine?”
“What? Did you just ask me that?” Jessica asked, bewildered.
“I’m just asking…considering your past.”
“I can’t believe this,” Jessie breathed out, running her fingers through her hair.
“Do you have the slightest doubt that the baby couldn’t be mine?”
“I haven’t seen anyone else since I met you. Does that answer your question?”
“Wow, you mean my mum hired you full-time?” Before he could blink, Jessica slapped him hard on the face.
“Ouch!” He screeched to a halt.
“What the hell, Jessie! I was driving!” Jason shouted.
“You are one sick jerk, Jason,” Jessica said and opened the door.
“Hey, where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m going home,” she said and closed the door.
“Jessie, please get in.”
“Get out of here and don’t you let me see you at my doorstep.”
“Jessie please get in and let’s talk about this.”
“There’s obviously nothing to talk about, Jason. It’s so clear you side with your mother in this. You do believe I’ve been sleeping around, huh?”
“But you were, weren’t you? We can’t ignore that fact.”
“That was before I met you, Jason. Right now, I want to be alone so I can breathe. So for your own good, turn around and leave.”
“I won’t; please get in.”
“Watch me.” She stopped a taxi.
“Jessie, wait,” Jason said as he got out of the car. Jessica opened the taxi door. Jason held her arm, stopping her.
“Jessie, please let’s not end the day like this.”
“I want to be alone, Jason. in my condition, you don’t want to get me excited because it wouldn’t be good for the baby or do you care less now, now that there’s a chance it’s not yours?” Jessica said and sat in the taxi and closed the door.
“Let’s go,” Jessica told the cab driver. They stared at each other as the taxi took off and drove away. Jason watched the taxi drive away and went to sit in his car. He hit the steering wheel in frustration. He started the engine and turned the car around, heading home.
Jason arrived home and headed straight to Stacie’s room.
“Hi,” he greeted as he collapsed onto the bed. Stacie was slouching on the bed, watching a movie.
“Are you okay?” she asked. He shook his head in reply.
“Let me guess, you two had a fight.”
“An ugly one.”
“I knew it would happen. What did you do, did you question her about the child’s paternity?”
“Was that wrong?”
“So you did; I thought you said you trusted her.”
“I do trust her; it’s just that…you know some habits cannot be completely killed off. I was wondering…. She actually got out of the car and took a cab home.”
“Wow…it was that bad?”
“Uh huh; I’m so confused.”
“Mum’s goal number one has been achieved. She wants to break the unity between you two.”
“I’ll go and talk to her tomorrow.”
“Have you tried calling her?”
“Yeah but she wouldn’t pick up. With the last call I made, she switched off her phone.”
“Then you must have really pissed her off. It will be well, huh?” she said as she patted his shoulder.
“Why is mum so difficult?”
“I don’t know; maybe she’s experiencing premature menopause.”
“You think so? Should we call the doctor to check up on her?” Jason asked.
“Are you serious? I was kidding,” Stacie answered, laughing.
“No but come to think of this, maybe this unbearable attitude of hers is due to some medical situation. Because seriously, this is not normal.” Stacie laughed harder.
“She’s called Susan Archer; she wants to leave a legacy as a hard, unbearable and no-nonsense person. If you ask me, I think she’s doing pretty well with that.”
“I see. What movie are you watching?”
“Monster-in-law,” Stacie lied, waiting for Jason’s reaction. Jason looked up at him.
“Is that supposed to tell me something?” When Stacie broke into laughter again, he hit her with a pillow. “Silly girl.”
The next day, Jason drove to Jessica’s place. Since he has his own copy of the house key, he opened the door and entered. Jessica wasn’t at home. He looked at his watch and sighed.
“What can I do to make her forgive me?” he wondered to himself.
About two hours later, Jessica entered her apartment. She startled when she saw Jason in the living room in an apron.
“How…how did you get in?”
“I have a spare key, remember?”
“Right…and what are you doing in my apron?”
“Take a guess,” Jason replied with a wink.
“Oh gosh, I hope you haven’t messed up my kitchen!” Jessie said as she put her bag down and rushed to the kitchen. The kitchen was sparkling clean. She turned to look at him, gasping.
“How long have you been here?”
“About two hours,” he said, looking at his watch. “Where have you been?”
“I went to church,” she said, leaving the kitchen.
“You went to what?” Jason repeated as he chuckled.
“I told you I’m a good girl now.”
“Wow… I did too.”
“What?” she asked, surprised as she turned to face him.
“I went with Stacie.”
“She left before us. Stacie and I went later. So, why don’t you go and change whiles I prepare the table?”
“Okay, please don’t break my plates.”
“I won’t.” She entered the bedroom. Jason set up the table. Jessie came out of the room. She stared at the table.
“Do you like it?” Jason asked.
“Yeah, looks tasty. Thanks.”
“Now, if you would please take a seat,” he said sweetly, pulling up a chair for her. She sat. He also sat.
“Since you did the cooking, you wouldn’t mind praying over the food, would you?” Jessica asked.
“Sure; heavenly Father, we thank you for this food. We pray that by eating this food, we would make up our differences and make our love stronger. Thank you for this food in Jesus’ name, amen.”
“I don’t think you actually prayed over this food, Jason,” Jessie said, taking her fork. Jason chuckled.
“Hmmm…actually the food tastes good.”
“You haven’t cooked for me before, have you?”
“I don’t think I have. I’m really sorry for what happened yesterday. I’m really ashamed of what I said,” Jason apologized.
“It’s okay; Susan has a marvelous way of getting everyone’s bad side showing up.”
“Am I forgiven?”
“You know I can’t stay angry at you for long.”
“Yeah I know; my charm is that strong.” Jessie chuckled.
“You smiled….i like it when you smile.”
“Okay, don’t go all sweet on me. Let me finish this food. I’m hungry.”
After eating for some time, Jason asked, “When will you be free this week?”
“So when we can go and have this stupid test.” Jessie dropped her fork.
“Is that why you are here?”
“I came to apologize for yesterday and yes, to set up a day for the test.”
“We can do that tomorrow.”
“Yeah; I can do it after my break time. My boss told me I could go and have as many check-ups as I wanted only after break time.”
“Sounds like a nice person.”
“Okay, tomorrow it is. Cheers to tomorrow,” he said, raising his glass.
“Cheers.” Their glasses clinked.
The next day, Jason went to pick Jessie up during break-time at her workplace and they drove to the hospital where Jason’s family doctor works.
“How do you feel?” Jason asked Jessie as they walked back to the car.
“I don’t know…it kind of hurts where they inserted that ‘syringe.’”
“Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay.” They got into the car and drove away.
“Are you going back to work?”
“Yeah I have to. There are some things I need to finish before work closes today.”
Some days later, Jessica went for the results. She called Jason.
“I have the results, Jason.”
“Good; have you taken a look at it?”
“No; I’m scared.”
“Why is that? We both know what the results would be.”
“I know; I will pass by your house after work and we’ll open it together, okay?”
“Jessie, just open it and tell me the result.”
“I can’t. Let me call you back, okay?” Jessie said and hung up.
In the evening, Jason arrived at home to find Stacie text-chatting on her phone.
“How are you, sis?” he said as he pecked her.
“I’m great. How was your day?”
“It was hectic but great. Who are you chatting with?”
“Let me guess, it’s George.”
“Is it official yet?”
“Shut up.” He took the glass on the coffee table and emptied the content.
“Hey, if you are thirsty, go get yourself something to drink instead of taking mine.”
“I’m tired. Hey, the results came in today.”
“And?” Stacie asked, sitting up.
“Jessie wouldn’t open it. She said she would come here after work. Where’s mum?”
“She said she has some errands to make. But why wouldn’t Jessica open it?”
“She said she was scared. I don’t know what she was scared about.”
“Come on; we both know how things would be if the results come out negative. Mum will cook her alive.” Jason chuckled. Jason got up and walked to the kitchen. He returned with a glass of full of fruit juice. Stacie gestured with her hand to be given the glass.
“Go get yourself one,” he said. Stacie was about to speak when they heard a knock.
“It might be Jessie,” Jason said as he placed his glass down and walked to the door. Stacie took advantage and gulped a good quantity down. She put the glass down.
“I heard that; you’ll replace it, dear,” Jason said as he opened the door.
“Make me,” Stacie replied.
“Hi,” Jessica said nervously. She entered and hugged Jason.
“How are you doing?”
“I’m good. Hi Stacie.”
“Hey there; I hear the results are in. I guess we’ll get to find out if you will be my sister-in-law after all.”
“You’re not helping,” Jessie said as she sat down.
“Do you want something to drink?” Jason asked her.
“Yeah, please fill my glass for me,” Stacie replied.
“I wasn’t talking to you.”
“Yes dear; juice will be fine.”
“All right; I’ll be right back.”
“Please fill it up for me,” Stacie said, holding it towards him. He took it from her.
“Thank you,” Stacie said sweetly. He went to the kitchen.
“So how have you been?” Stacie inquired.
“I’m fine; coping with school.”
“Yeah.” Jason came back and gave Stacie her glass.
“Thanks brother.” He handed a filled glass to Jessie. She drank and took the envelope out. She held it out to Jason.
“Why don’t you?”
“So that we are sure it’s genuine.”
“Whoever opens it first doesn’t determine whether the results have been tampered with or not,” Stacie said. They looked at her.
“I’m just saying,” Stacie added with a shrug.
“Just open it, Jessie.”
“No, you open it.”
“You guys can’t be serious,” Stacie said as she got up and walked to them. She snatched the envelope from Jessica.
“Can I open it?” she asked.
“Yes, you do it,” Jessie consented. Stacie looked at Jason.
“All right, you open it.”
“Thanks for this great opportunity.” She carefully opened it. Jessie swallowed.
“Are you ready?” She teased as she opened the document. Jason held Jessie’s hand tightly. Stacie glanced at the sheet of paper. Her eyes widened.
“What is it?” Jessie asked anxiously.
“It’s…” The door opened. They all turned towards the door. It was Susan.
“Hey there, what’s going on here?” Stacie swallowed hard.
“Hi mum…we were just…”
“Is that the results of the paternity test?”
“All right; what does it say?”
“It says that…”
“Let me have it,” Susan said, snatching it from Stacie’s hand. She looked at it.
“Oh…. I see… I guess there will be no wedding after all,” Susan said and threw the sheet of paper at Jason. Jason took the sheet and looked at it. He lifted his head slowly and looked at Jessie whose heart whose heart was beating like thunder.
“What does it say, Jason?” she asked.
“It says what you’re carrying is not an Archer! Just as I knew it would turn out to be,” Susan answered sharply. “You surely haven’t changed. I’ll go to my room now.” Susan started the stairs. The room was in silence. Jessie took the sheet and stared at it. She shook her head.
“This is not possible. Jason, you have to believe me,” she pleaded. Jason got up.
“Get out of my house, Jessie,” he said coolly.
“Jason, don’t do this,” Jessie begged. Jason was about to walk away when Stacie held his wrist.
“Don’t walk away, Jay. Let’s talk about this.”
“Talk about what? How I’m going to father someone else’s child?”
“I told you this would happen. Who knows, mum…”
“Keep mum out of this, Stacie! This test wasn’t conducted by our family doctor so there’s no way mum could have influenced the results. I’m going upstairs and I don’t want to see you here when I get back down,” Jason said sternly and started the stairs.
“Jason, please…” Jessie cried. Stacie hugged her. Jason entered his room and slammed the door.
“It’s okay, Jessie; we’ll figure something out, okay?” She said soothingly.
“This baby is Jason’s, Stacie! You have to believe me!”
“I do, Jessie; trust me, I do. I knew this would happen. I suggest you go home, Jessie. I’ll talk to my brother. You’ll definitely hear from him.”
“All right;” She said and took her bag. She folded the sheet of paper and put it in the envelope. Stacie escorted her outside. She rushed to Jason’s room.
Susan stood in front of the bathroom mirror, smiling.
“Am I not a genius? That is why Gordon married me….because I do deserve the name ‘Archer.’”