Susan arrived home in a terrible mood. She walked straight to the bar and poured herself a glass of wine. She gulped it down. She placed the glass down with a loud thud.
“He dared threaten me…. he’s going to regret ever venturing into medicine,” Susan swore silently. Stacie entered.
“Hi mum,” she greeted. Susan was still fuming that she hardly heard her daughter’s greeting. She held onto the glass tightly.
“Mum?” Susan turned to look at her bringing the glass down with such a thick thud that its stand broke. Stacie winced. Susan sighed.
“Are you okay, mum?”
“Yes I am. Rose!”
“Come and clean this up.”
“Yes ma’am.” Susan picked up her handbag and got up.
“Mum, what happened?”
“What do you think happened?”
“I think…someone must have really pissed you off.”
“You are damn right he did.” She started the stairs. The door opened and Jason entered.
“Mum, can we talk?” Jason asked when he saw his mum climbing the stairs.
“Oh please, I’m not in the mood for another argument right now.”
“I’m not in the mood for one either, mum.”
“Then why have it?”
“Why did you go over to Jessie’s place?”
“You went to see Jessie? Why?”
“Oh come on, I knew her long before you two set your eyes on her and you have no right to question why I go and see her,” Susan said.
“Well, whatever you did, you caused her to go to labor earlier than usual.”
“Yeah I know because I drove her to the hospital,” Susan said sarcastically with a tight smile.
“You what?” Stacie said in utmost shock. She turned to face Jason.
“Is Jessie okay? Is the baby fine?”
“Oh come on, why are you acting as if I practically urged the baby to come out.”
“And you did! You are unbelievable, mum.”
“Well mum, now that Jessie has delivered, I want to officially inform you of my intention of marrying her.”
“What, after lying to you about the father of her baby? Don’t tell me you chickened out because you saw a tiny being in her arms today,” Susan said in disbelief.
“The baby looks just like how I did when I was a baby.”
“Is that so? Are you sure you’re not imagining it?”
“I’m not and if this would make you feel better, I took another paternity test.”
“You…you what? And…why would you do that?”
“After seeing the baby and holding it in my arms, I strongly believe the paternity test results are not valid.”
“And why would you think that? You took the test at our family hospital, right?”
“Uh huh….and that is why it is easy for someone to influence it, don’t you think?”
“What, you know our doctor is a very honorable man. He would never…”
“Everyone has a price, mum.” He started the stairs.
“And what is yours?” He turned halfway.
“You’re my mum; don’t you know?” He said and walked on. He entered his room and closed the door.
“Did he…just say he was going to marry…?”
“Yes mum; very clear; you don’t per chance have a problem with your hearing, do you?” Susan glared at her. Stacie gave her an innocent smile.
“Silly girl.” Stacie chuckled as she started the stairs herself.
“So how’s the baby?” Stacie asked Jason when she entered his room.
“Very cute; just like me,” he said with a wink.
“Why didn’t you call me? I would have come to meet you two at the hospital.”
“I didn’t want to disrupt your day but you can do that tomorrow.”
“That’s good and how’s Jessie?”
“She’s fine; exhausted but fine.”
“Did Jessie tell you why mum went to see her?”
“She said it was nothing important.”
“And do you believe her?”
“I don’t know; I doubt she’d risk keeping another secret for mum’s sake at such a critical stage. I think mum just wanted someone to bully.”
“And pregnant Jessie was the only one who came to mind?”
“No; she was the most convenient one.”
“It seems she’s bored doing nothing. Why don’t you offer her a job at the company?” Stacie asked sarcastically. Jason glanced at her, puzzled.
“Are you being sarcastic or was that a silly joke?” Stacie laughed as she sat down on the bed.
“I was serious, Jay. Come on, mum has nothing to do so all she can do is to make someone’s life as miserable as hers.”
“After nearly losing the company to her, you really think that is a reasonable idea? She managed to coax some shareholders to sell to her their shares so as to overthrow me and if she ends up working there, who knows what she would do? She’ll definitely organize a coup!”
“Okay, perhaps that was a terrible idea.”
“Terrible doesn’t begin to explain it.”
“All right, I’m sorry. You look beat. The labor process must have really worn you out.”
“Yeah, it did.”
“Are you reconsidering having any more kids?” Stacie asked teasingly. Jason pulled her cheeks playfully. Stacie giggled.
The following day, Stacie went to the hospital alone. She was directed to Jessica’s room.
“Hey! How’s the new baby mama doing?” Stacie asked excitedly. When Jessie saw Stacie, her eyes lit up with joy.
“Stacie!” Stacie went to her and hugged her.
“How are you feeling today?”
“I’m great…. I got to see him today.”
“Junior?” Jessica nodded with enthusiasm.
“I wish I was here; I’ve been dreaming of it for months.”
“I know; I’m sorry. I would have called you but your mum was available so…”
“What was she doing at your place?”
“Nothing you should worry yourself about. I guess she was bored and needed someone to talk to.”
“Okay…so where’s Junior? I want to see him.”
“Sure of course…” The doctor entered, scribbling something onto a chart. He lifted his head and saw Stacie.
“You are Archer’s daughter, right?” He asked. Stacie was surprised.
“Yes…. I am. Have we met?”
“You don’t remember me? I was the doctor who took care of you when you had the accident some time ago.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry…. I’m glad you’re the one looking after Jessie.”
“So how are you doing?” the doctor asked.
“I’m good; thanks for asking.”
“And your mother, how’s she been holding up?”
“Good; pretty good.” Stacie and Jessie exchanged a curious glance.
“Doctor, Stacie wants to see my baby. Could you please take her there to meet him?”
“Sure; it would be my pleasure. Let’s go. I’ll be right back, Jessie.”
“Sure, thanks doctor.” They walked out of the room.
“Your family must have been devastated by Gordon’s passing.”
“Yeah we were and we’re still dealing with it in our own different ways. I wanted to know, how did my dad die?”
“Well, you know he had a heart attack.”
“And my brother told me of this diagnosis of some sort of poisoning in his system. Did you make that diagnosis?”
“Yes I did and yes, there was true.”
“So how come the autopsy results just confirmed the heart attack?” The doctor stopped and looked at her.
“Listen young lady, it would be better if you left this matter alone.”
“Better, huh? For you or for the family?” Stacie folded her arms.
“For your mother.” She was taken aback, unfolding her arms.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t act surprised.”
“Are you saying…?”
“Why don’t you ask your mother, okay? And if there are any more questions, you can come and see me. Now, go left and walk straight. The room is the third on your right,” The doctor said and walked away. Stacie watched him go with a half-opened mouth. She turned and walked absent-mindedly to the room. She touched the glass as she glanced inside. She saw the baby’s name tag and smiled.
“Welcome to the Archer family, Jay Junior,” Stacie muttered. She turned and leaned on the glass.
“If only you knew how crazy our family is…”
When Stacie returned to Jessie’s room, Jessie realized that Stacie was downcast.
“Are you okay? Is the baby okay?”
“Yes he is,” Stacie replied as she sat down with a heavy sigh.
“Are you sure? Is he crying? He’s not ill, is he?”
“No Jessie; Junior is fine.”
“So what is it?”
“What did he say?”
“He said something about my father’s death….” She looked at Jessie with a grim expression on her face. “Would you believe it if you were told mum had something to do with my dad’s passing?”
Jessie gave a slight chuckle. “When it comes to Susan Archer, I’d believe almost anything. What did the doctor say?”
“It’s okay…let me not ruin your happy moment. I really wished I was here during your labor….it would have been a great motivation for me.”
Jessie gave her a puzzled look. “Motivation for what?”
“Not to sleep around till I get married.” Jessie laughed.
“Yeah, I’ve learnt that lesson myself. But if you really need that motivation, you could get such a video off the internet.”
“Hell no; it looks gruesome. I’m sure your encounter with mum is motivation enough.”
“Yes it is; you should always keep that in mind.” Stacie smiled.
Later in the evening, the Archer family was having dinner together. Both Susan and Jason noticed that Stacie was absent-mindedly playing with her food. They glanced at each other.
“Are you all right, sweetie?” Susan asked. Stacie dropped her fork and looked at her mum squarely in the face. Susan subconsciously drew back.
“What was the cause of dad’s death, mum?” She asked plainly.
“What is this about, Stacie?” Jason asked.
“It’s a simple question. How did dad die?”
“The autopsy results said…”
“I’m not talking about the autopsy results, mum!” Stacie interrupted, slapping the table with her palm. Both Susan and Jason got startled.
“He had a heart attack, Stacie. We all know that,” Jason answered. Stacie looked at him, breathing heavily.
“Hey sweetie, are you having nightmares?” Susan asked with concern in her voice, reaching out to touch her hand. Stacie withdrew her hand.
“What happened to dad, mum?” She asked again, her voice trembling.
“He had a heart attack.”
“What about the poisoning in his system?”
“What poisoning?” Jason asked. Stacie looked at him, surprised.
“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten so soon, Jason. You were the one who told me of the doctor’s diagnosis.”
“Yes but he later said it was a misdiagnosis and that he had swapped files….”
“Oh really? And mum didn’t do anything about it?”
“Anything like what?” Susan asked.
“Come on mum, it would be typical of you to sue him for wrong analysis or something. You let him walk away with a grievous mistake like that?”
“Well… I didn’t see the need to do that.”
“So why did he mention it today?”
“You went to see him?” Susan asked, her heart racing.
“I went to see Jessica and he happens to be her doctor. He claims the poisoning factor was not included in the autopsy results because of mum.”
“What, why would he tell you that? I must do something about that quack. He wants to destroy this family. What is his problem?”
“Maybe you forgot to pay him off well after coaxing him to do your dirty work,” Stacie said.
“Shut up! Don’t you dare disrespect me, young lady! You see, I told you that woman brings bad luck. Just a visit to her causes you to hear such rubbish from a mistake of a man who calls himself a doctor!”
“Please keep Jessie out of this, mum,” Jason said coolly.
“I do remember those times when I also had my suspicions about the poisoning thing. Mum, what did you do?” Stacie asked.
“For the thousandth time, nothing! We were finally moving on after your father’s death and you have to bring this up again? You enjoy quarreling with me, don’t you?”
“On the contrary, it makes me sick to think that you actually had a hand in our father’s death,” Stacie said as she got up.
“I’ll do anything just to stay away from you.” She walked towards the stairs.
“Stacie, don’t leave,” Jason pleaded.
“I won’t be at peace till I know what exactly happened to dad,” Stacie said and turned towards the stairs. She was about to take the first step when Susan blurted out, “I don’t even know why you’re making so much of a fuss about him when he’s not even your father….”
“What?” Stacie turned abruptly. Jason dropped his fork in shock. Susan realized she had just released a bombshell. She glanced at both of them. They both look frozen.
“Oh my…” were the last words Stacie said before she blacked out.
“Stacie!” Jason rushed to her. Susan got up and rushed to them. Jason shook Stacie.
“Stacie, wake up…..Stacie.” He glanced at his mum. Susan sighed and walked away.