Jason was blowing air on Stacie with a hand fan as she lay on the couch unconscious whiles Susan quietly drank her wine.
“I hope you’ll say that was nothing but one sick joke when she wakes up, mum,” Jason said in a desperate tone. Susan didn’t reply but continue to sip her wine.
“Mom!” She placed the glass down. “What?”
“Aren’t you going to say something? At least try to explain yourself?”
“If it’s anyone who deserves an explanation, it’s Stacie and she’s clearly in no condition to hear me out. So I’ll keep whatever I have to say to myself till she wakes up,” Susan explained and emptied her glass.
“It seems she’s been out for some time now. Don’t you think we should rush her to the hospital?”
“What? Of course not; she’ll come around soon. Don’t worry about it.”
“Well unlike you, I’m not drinking so I’m in the mood to get worried. Your drinking is tampering with your mood level.”
“Which is a good thing, right? Would you prefer that I walk around all anxious and twitchy?”
“Why would you say a thing like that? I agree it’s pretty awkward that Stacie hasn’t gotten over dad’s death after all this time but I don’t think that is merit enough for you to say something this mean to her.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get this; that was totally out of line. We’ll deal with this when she wakes up, all right?” Susan said and poured herself another glass.
“Enough of the wine, mum! it’s kind of late for late, don’t you think?”
“Hear who’s giving me advice on drinking control….what a funny world,” Susan chuckled and sipped it. Stacie coughed and opened her eyes.
“Stacie, are you okay?” Jason asked anxiously. Stacie looked around her.
“You blacked out,” he said as he helped her sit up.
“What? Why would I black out?”
“Well…” Stacie turned and saw her mum.
“Yes sweetheart,” Susan answered as she glanced at her with a forced smile.
“You…you said…you…” Stacie stammered as she got up, her voice choked with emotion.
“You know what, you’re pretty excited and I’m getting a bit tipsy so why not talk about this tomorrow, okay?” Susan said as she got up.
“No, mum; I need you to explain what you said right now!” Stacie took a step towards her mum but Jason stopped her.
“Mum’s right, Stacie; she’s in no mood to explain right now. She might say something worse so let’s wait till tomorrow, all right?”
“Well, it’s said that drunk people speak the truth, right? Well, this is the perfect time for her to spill out all her dark secrets, right?” Stacie insisted.
“I didn’t say I was drunk, dear; I only said I was tipsy and trust me, you don’t want to talk about this when I’m tipsy. So I’d go to bed now. Goodnight you two,” Susan said and walked towards the stairs. She almost tripped on the third step. Jason gasped.
“I’m okay….no need to get scared. I’ll see you two tomorrow, okay?” They watched her enter her bedroom and close the door.
“Come on, we both know mum isn’t tipsy; that was a cheesy way of running away from the situation,” Stacie said.
“Yeah I know but it’s better if we make her sleep it off. I’m sure she said that out of spite.”
“And give her the whole night to rehearse the pack of lies she’ll spill out to us tomorrow? No way.”
“Listen, no matter what happens, no matter how long it takes, the truth will always come out. I’m sure she’s shocked herself; she didn’t expect to slip out such sensitive information. Don’t worry about it.” Rose and other maid came out to clear the table.
“Yeah, we’re done. Let’s go upstairs, shall we?” Jason suggested.
“I think I also need a drink.”
“You’re a terrible drinker, sis. Just sleep it off.”
“You think I can do that.”
“Just try it.” They went upstairs.”
Jason and Stacie came downstairs the following morning to find Rose clearing the table.
“Who ate this early?” Stacie wondered.
“Your mother, Stacie; she said she had to go somewhere and that it was urgent.” Jason and Stacie exchanged a glance.
“Mum has left already? So now she’s avoiding me?” Stacie asked, surprised.
“Don’t worry; she can’t hide from it forever. Sooner or later, we’ll have to talk about it,” Jason assured her and sat down. Stacie sighed and sat down too.
“Good morning, nurse.”
“Good morning, ma’am. How may I help you?”
“I seem to have forgotten the way to a certain doctor’s office and I was wondering if you could help me…”
“Okay…what’s his name?”
The doctor raised his head when he heard a knock on his door.
“Come in.” The door opened and Susan walked in. The doctor sat back in his chair.
“Mrs. Archer, I must say I’m deeply surprised by your visit. What could be so important that you’d grace this hospital with your presence at such an early hour?” the doctor asked in a sly tone. Susan banged the door.
“Hey, easy with that….” Susan put her handbag down on the desk with a heavy thud.
“Who the hell do you think you are, huh? What gives you the right to meddle in my family affairs?” Susan questioned him.
“Excuse me Mrs. Archer but I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, so you’re not only snoopy, you’re also dumb. I’m beginning to wonder how you managed to get this office and call yourself a doctor.”
“Listen Mrs. Archer, I wouldn’t allow you to insult my…”
“Oh shut up, I’m not done talking!” Susan snapped. The doctor startled.
“What did you tell my daughter yesterday?”
“What…what….i don’t have an idea…?”
“Oh please, just spill it out and stop wasting my time. What did you tell Stacie yesterday about her late father?”
“She only inquired about the cause of her father’s death.”
“And what did you tell her?”
“I told her the truth.”
“And the truth according to you is what?”
“That the heart attack wasn’t the only factor in Gordon’s death.”
“Oh really? And what else was?”
“Oh so you really don’t remember? You’ve forgotten what was really getting him ill?”
“Oh please, if you think I’ve all day to play twenty questions with you, then think again. You are lucky that you’ve still got your job after my husband’s demise. I could have sued the hospital for that, you know?”
“And it would have been your words against mine.”
“I’m warning you to stay away from my family. We’ve gone through a lot and we’re now picking ourselves up from the hurt so please stay far away from my family!”
“Well, that would start with telling Stacie the truth about her paternity.”
“What? Who do you think you are to order me around? She is my daughter and her welfare is solely my business so if she goes through any trauma because of what you said to her, you’d definitely pay for it, I assure you.”
“Well, you should know that your daughter is living a lie. She believes she belongs to…”
“My daughter is living the life she duly belongs to, doctor; you should mind your own business. If you appreciate your life right now, you wouldn’t dare think of crossing me again because I could be your worst nightmare.”
“The same way you’ve been the worst nightmare to your son’s girlfriend?”
Susan was taken aback. She chuckled to conceal her surprise.
“It seems someone here has been digging around. Since when did you become a secret detective, huh? Why, isn’t your medical salary enough for you?”
“Very funny, Susan…”
“Don’t you dare refer to me by my first name! You and I are not on such terms so please call me by my husband’s name.”
“The name of the man you killed?”
“Will you shut up? You are treading on very dangerous grounds, doctor.”
“I know what you are, Mrs. Archer and what you’re capable of so I’m not scared of you. So whatever you’ve got, bring it on.”
Susan laughed. “It seems you’ve been watching a lot of TV, doctor. I can tell by your choice of words; impressive it is. Bring it on? Oh, I’ll bring it on, that I can assure you. I swear on everything I hold dear that if you dare hurt my daughter, I’d make life beyond miserable for you.” The doctor wore a bold smile. Susan picked up the coffee cup on the table.
“So let me start with this….” She spilled it over the pieces of paper spread on the table.
“Hey, what is wrong with you?” The doctor cried out, standing up. Susan laughed as she put the empty cup on the table and took her handbag.
“I’m just giving you a head start to a miserable day,” Susan said with a wink.
“Hope today is the last time we ever set eyes on each other, doc,” Susan said and walked to the door.
“Why did you do that? This concerns the lives of patients for crying out loud!”
“Then you should have paid more attention to them than to waste time nosing your way into other people’s business. Back off, doctor,” Susan warned and left the office.
“Oh goodness, what am I going to do?” The doctor said, wiping the spill off the papers.
“Do you actually believe that dad wasn’t my real father?” Stacie asked Jason who was swimming.
“Are you seriously thinking about that? How many times has mum implied that I’m not her son? And each time you told me to forget it. I’m sure she said it out of spite.”
“No, this is different, Jay. With yours, she only implied it; but she actually said it outright last night. What if it’s true?”
“What if what’s true?”
“That dad is not my real dad and that mum isn’t your mother.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Stacie. What are you implying?”
“That who knows, we might not be related after all….that means I’m not an Archer. What is my name?” Stacie wondered aloud.
“Shut it already, sis. We are siblings; no doubt about that. I’m telling you mum didn’t mean it,” Jason insisted. Stacie sighed as she sipped her juice. Few moments later, Stacie noticed that Jason was still in the water.
“Jason…..Jason, are you all right?” Jason did not reply. Stacie got up and walked to the edge of the pool.
“Jason! This better not be a joke… Jason, can you hear me?” Suddenly, she felt strong hands grab her legs and push her into the water. She screamed. Jason burst into a hearty laugh.
“Haha…. I got you!”
“Jason, that wasn’t funny at all.”
“I know…you need to de-stress yourself; you’re so anxious and uptight.”
“And throwing me into the water will help do that?”
“I was hoping so….come on, just let it go, okay?”
“Even if mum says it was a joke, I’d find out myself.”
“And how do you intend to do that?”
“A DNA test, of course.”
“A what? Come on, you know dad is gone.”
“Well then, we’d have to exhume his body.”
“What? You are kidding, right?”
“No, I need to know who I am,” Stacie said in a serious tone.
“You know who you are, Stacie. You are the only daughter of the late Gordon Archer.”
“And what if I’m not?”
“And so what if you are not, huh? You are his heiress, that’s what matters.” Jason placed his palms on her cheeks.
“You are Stacie Archer; no one can take that away from you. A father isn’t one who makes babies but one who raises them so Gordon Archer was your father, okay?” Stacie nodded, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Come here,” Jason said, drawing her into his arms. They hugged.
“No matter what happens, we will always be together, okay?”
“Okay.” They stayed in each other’s arms for some time. Stacie looked up when she heard someone call out Rose’s name.
“That’s mum; she’s back,” She said hastily as she parted from her brother and got out of the pool. She rushed into the house.
“Rose….where are you?”
“Mum!” Stacie called out. Susan turned to see Stacie, dripping wet.
“And what happened to you, dear?”
“I… I was swimming, mum.”
“You, swimming? That’s unlike you….”
“I know…Jason tricked me into the water.”
“I see… anyway, Rose…”
“Mum…” Susan turned to look at her again.
“We need to talk.”
“Darling, I’m a bit worn out and…”
“Mum please….let’s talk about this and get this over and done with, okay?”
“But dear, it was just a silly slip of the tongue. You don’t have to bother yourself about it.” Rose came in.
“Yes ma’am…you called for me?”
“No….she’ll call for you later….when we are done talking,” Stacie countered. Susan glanced at Stacie, stunned. Rose looked from mother to daughter, confused about whom to obey. Susan and Stacie stared at each other for a few moments.
“It’s okay Rose, you may leave us,” Susan said.
“Yes ma’am,” Rose said and quickly walked away. Jason came in, wiping his hair with a towel.
“Let’s talk outside,” Susan said, taking the lead.
“Am I invited?” Stacie gave him a sideway glance. “Of course you are.” Stacie stopped and turned. “Rose?”
“Yes ma’am,” Rose answered, rushing into the room.
“Please bring us three glasses of juice, okay? We’ll be outside.”
“Yes, Stacie.” Jason caught up with her and wrapped a hand around her shoulder. They followed their mother outside.
They sat down. Rose approached them and served them. She excused herself.
Susan picked up her glass and sipped. She put it down.
“Listen Stacie, I was stressed out last night and that made me really…”
“Was dad my biological father?” Stacie asked bluntly.
“Stacie, I don’t know what that doctor told you but you shouldn’t have doubts about your identity. Gordon Archer was your father.”
“Was…he…my…biological father?” Stacie repeated, stressing each word.
“Just tell me, mom!”
“No, he isn’t.”
“Mum!” Jason exclaimed, shocked. Stacie broke into sobs as she leaned on Jason’s shoulder.
“Did dad know about this?” Jason asked.
“He….only found out after Stacie got involved in the accident.”
“Is that what caused his heart attack?” Stacie asked. Susan hesitated.
“And when were you planning on telling us about that?” Jason asked.
“Like never; you two are where you belong.”
“And me? Whose child am I?” Jason asked.
“You are Gordon’s son; no doubt about but I’m not your mother.”
“Your mother died when you were still little so I only took over.”
“Did you get pregnant with Stacie before or after you got married to my dad?”
“Jason, I don’t think…”
“Please mom, I want to know.”
“So you pinned me on dad when he wasn’t responsible?” Stacie asked in disbelief.
“It was coincidental…I didn’t know who to choose…”
“But in the end, you chose dad because he was well-to-do, right?”
“For someone like you, you do have one complicated mess of a life, mum,” Jason said.
“I know that, son.”
“So who am I, mum? What is my father’s name?” Stacie asked, still crying.
“Stacie, for all we know, Gordon could very well be your father.”
“What’s his name, mum?!”
“Gordon Archer….that’s the name of your father, Stacie. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.”
“If there’s anyone who has put doubts in my head, it’s you, mum.” Stacie got up and walked towards the house.
“I’ve crushed her, haven’t I?” Susan asked Jason.
“Yes you have and she could never recover from this.
“I know,” Susan said as she sipped her juice.