Chapter 5 - Accidental Surrogate for Alpha


“No, I understand.” I murmur into the phone. “Thanks for listening at least.”

I wearily hang up the line, burying my head in my hands. I spent all morning calling in every favor and loan I possibly could, throwing my dignity right out the window to beg my friends and acquaintances in my time of need.

I’ve never thought of myself as a proud woman, but begging this way was more of a challenge than I could have imagined.

I only wish I could help Cora as well as myself. She’s still waiting to hear if she’ll be fired, and while she’s not supposed to be handling any samples, she got permission to do my tests this afternoon. After all, I’ve already been inseminated, so her supervisor didn’t see any risk of further negligence.

Still, I’m far from excited when I walk through the front doors of the sperm bank. Ten days ago I was heartsore but optimistic for the future, yearning for a baby more than anything else in the world. Now I’m dreading the exam.

However my trepidation soon gives way to surprise, because as soon as I enter the facility I have the strangest feeling that Dominic Sinclair is near. It takes me a while to actually find him, behind closed doors with Cora’s bosses in a luxurious, glass-walled conference room, but I don’t have the faintest idea how I knew he was present. I also don’t understand why I feel drawn to him: after all, he’s ruined both my sister’s and my own life. I shouldn’t be excited to see him.

It was dumb luck that I stumbled across his path, the conference room is on the way to Cora’s office, but I find myself stopping to observe the meeting inside. I’m struck speechless when I lay eyes on him. Is it possible that he’s gotten more attractive since the last time I saw him? It was already unfair that somebody that powerful and intelligent could be so handsome, but now it truly just feels like being kicked while I’m down. The bastard has a heart of stone, and still the universe has rained endless gifts upon him while people like Cora and I have nothing.

Shaking myself out of my trance, I continue down the hall, though I feel the weight of dark eyes on my back as I retreat. Cora has clearly been crying when I arrive. Her eyes are red and her cheeks splotchy, though she tries to hide it.

“Hey.” I greet her gently, wrapping her up in a hug. She leans into me, squeezing tight and lingering far longer than she usually would. “Is there any news?”

“Sinclair is in there finalizing it all now. I’m going to be given formal termination notice this afternoon.” She shares, sniffling slightly.

“I’m so sorry, honey.” I croon, rubbing her back.

“It’s okay.” She lies, pulling away. “How are you hanging in there?”

“Not very well.” I confess. “I’m sort of dreading this, to be honest.”

“It’s amazing how fast things can change, huh?” She asks, looking as though she might burst into tears. “I mean, what are we going to do, Elle?”

“Well figure it out.” I promise. “We’ve been in tight spots before.” I remind her, “remember the summer we slept in boxes on the street after we ran away from the orphanage?”

“Yeah,” She nods with a sad smile. “But it’s winter now, I don’t think we’ll last long in the elements. And you weren’t pregnant then.”

“Yeah well, if I’m pregnant now….” I can’t look her in the eyes as I say this, “I don’t think I’m going to stay that way.”

“What?” Cora exclaims, looking horrified. “But this is your only chance! And we aren’t completely hopeless, you’ve got time to try to figure out a plan B.”

That phrase alone reminds me of Mike, and I realize I haven’t shared my latest news with Cora. “I can’t afford a baby even if I do find a job. I’m going to be paying off my debts for years to come.” I share, filling her in on the details of Mike and Kate’s latest betrayal.

“I can’t believe this!” She bursts out when I’m finished. “It just isn’t fair, Ella! I mean, I thought we paid our dues, I thought we were done with suffering. After everything we’ve been through, we deserve a better future than this! You deserve to be a mom – no one loves children more than you do.”

“And you deserve to be a doctor.” I reply. “You worked so hard.”

“I still don’t think you should give up yet.” She frowns. “You can terminate the pregnancy up until the end of the first trimester. It would be a tragedy if you aborted it, then pulled off a miracle and it turned out you could have kept it. Don’t take that risk. Keep the baby until the very last moment.”

“I don’t think miracles happen to people like me.” I remark softly. “Besides that seems kind of like it’s own form of torture – the longer I carry the baby the more attached I’m going to get. I don’t want this to hurt any worse than it has to.”

“It’s going to hurt no matter what.” Cora reasons, “You ought to give yourself a chance – keep the door open. Don’t give up hope completely.”

“Let’s just find out if I have to make that decision in the first place.” I state, changing the subject. “I may not even be pregnant.” Yet even as I say it, I can feel in my heart that I am.

“Okay.” Cora agrees, pulling a sterile cup wrapped in plastic from one of her cabinets. “You know what to do.”

I take the cup and quickly duck into the bathroom to provide a urine sample, returning it to her almost immediately. I pace back and forth across the office as Cora runs the tests. “Well?” I press, seeing the results pop up on her computer screen.

She offers me a sad smile. “Congratulations little sister, you’re going to have a baby.”

I told myself that I wouldn’t fall to pieces no matter the results, but as soon as the words are out of her mouth I’m crying. I’ve been waiting to hear those words for years and was beginning to think I never would. It’s both unimaginable joy, and unimaginable pain. I never knew my heart could hold such conflicting emotions at the same time, let alone in such extremes. “Really?”

“Really.” Cora confirms, hugging me. “Come on, let’s do an ultrasound. You can hear the heartbeat.”

“Isn’t it too early?” I squeak.

“Just one of the benefits of being at the finest lab in the country.” Cora quips, the words bittersweet on her tongue. “Our technology is years ahead of what’s available in public hospitals.”

Climbing onto the raised exam table, I lay back and lift my top, not bothering to change into a gown or cover my clothes with a sheet, I simply expose my flat belly as Cora wheels in an ultrasound on a cart. Within minutes the machine is emitting a strange whoosh woosh woosh, and Cora squirts a dollop of jelly on my tummy. She pressed the wand to my skin, and before long a tiny heartbeat sounds – making me cry all over again.

However Cora is frowning deeply. “This is so strange, the baby seems awfully large, but we tested you at your last visit to be sure you weren’t already pregnant.”

“What does that mean?” I ask anxiously. “Is the father just a big guy?”

“I don’t just mean size – I mean development.” Cora purses her lips and furrows her brows as she studies the images, suddenly looking very worried. She’s whispering now, speaking to herself more than to me. “It doesn’t look human… but that can’t be… it’s not possible.”

“What are you talking about?” I inquire, “How can you tell? Isn’t it just a tiny blob?”

“As I said, our tech is state of the art. It doesn’t just highlight shapes - it analyzes the molecular structure.” Before she can say another word, the door bursts open, startling us both. To my shock and horror, Dominic Sinclair is standing in the doorframe, glaring at us as if we’ve done something terrible. “What’s the meaning of this?” He demands.

“What’s the meaning of this? I repeat in shock, “what’s the meaning of you barging into a private exam?!”

“Because,” He declares fiercely, and I swear his eyes are almost glowing with rage. “I can smell my pup.”