“What!?!” Mart yelled, jumping up from his seat by Di. “That’s not possible,” he roared.
“Oh my God!” Diana cried, covering her mouth with both hands, as all the color drained from her lovely face.
Mart spun and saw Di’s reaction. Immediately he dropped to his knees in front of his fiancée. “Di, you know I’ve always been faithful to you. I’ve never wanted anyone but you. Ever,” he pled.
Di’s midnight black hair fell across her face as she rocked back and forth with tears streaming down her cheeks.
As her sobs grew louder, Mart reached out to take Di’s hand in his. Searching her deep violet eyes with anxious blue ones, he whispered softly, “I’ve loved you since I was seven years old. I’ve never, ever been unfaithful and I’ve never even lusted in my heart about any other woman,” he assured her as he gently wiped the tears away. “Please believe me.”
Di sniffed loudly, and then hiccupped. Her eyes roamed the face she knew as well as her own, searching for some unknown tell. “I know you wouldn’t be unfaithful to me. I just don’t understand how this could have happened.” She paused, closing her eyes and swallowing back the bile that rose in her throat. When she reopened her eyes, the vivid violet was dulled by confusion and worry. “Why is your name on the birth certificate, Mart? How did she know to come here to your home? How did she know all this information about you unless she knew you?” she demanded with another hiccup.
Mart sat back on his heels, stunned. His beloved Di said she believed him but then asked him tough, but important, questions. His shoulders slumped as he realized he had no answers to give.
Brian stepped forward and placed a comforting hand on his younger brother’s shoulder. “Hey, bro, Moms described the girl to Di and she drew this picture,” he advised, holding the drawing in front of Mart’s face. “Do you recognize her?”
Silence fell in the room as everyone waited for Mart’s answer.
Jim and Dan gathered close to look at the drawing, too.
Carrying the baby, Jim stood shifting his weight from one foot to the other in a rocking motion as he studied the drawing. He lifted concerned eyes to Trixie and shook his head. He stated firmly, “I’ve never seen her before.”
Dan shook his head as well, but it was more to dislodge a tidbit of incomplete memory.
Finally, Mart shook his head. “She doesn’t look familiar. She’s not anyone I’ve ever met or remember,” Mart assured Di, even though he questioned his memory. “Trixie, what does the baby’s birth certificate say about her?” he queried his sister. “Maybe there’s something there that will give us a clue.”
Trixie stared into the worried blue eyes of her almost twin for a minute. Mart, it will be OK. I promise you that I’ll figure this out so you and Di can be good again.
Please, help me, his eyes pleaded.
Trixie cleared her throat and began reading the document. “Porsche Cristal Belden…”
“That’s another reason she’s going by Myriam,” Honey said firmly, picking up a notepad and pen from the table by her chair. “Who in their right mind would name a beautiful baby girl that?”
Trixie giggled at her friend’s comment and relaxed slightly as several other chuckles were heard.
“OK,” she began again, glancing at Honey with a small smile. “Myriam was born April 28 at General Hospital in the city. She was five pounds and nine ounces, measuring nineteen inches long. Mother’s name is shown as Elizabeth Ann Charles. It lists her age as twenty-four and shows her address as the 166 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights.”
“We’ll need to check out the address and everything else,” Trixie replied. Her father entered the room carrying two bags of baby supplies. “Dad, may I use your all-in-one printer to make a copy of this birth certificate and the other papers? I’m sure the Chief will want to take them with him.”
“Sure, sweetheart,” Peter answered. “You can have whatever you need to get to the bottom of this.” He reached over the coffee table and picked up the sketch Di had made. “We’d better copy this, too. I expect Wen will want to take it along for his inquiries.” He gently patted his wife’s knee and hurried down the hallway behind his daughter.
Chief Molinson and the SPD forensics team arrived thirty minutes later. Statements were given by everyone in the household about the strange woman, the baby, and the black Ford.
Jim held the baby Honey had named Myriam throughout the police interviews. He even kept hold of her when she soiled her diaper, soliciting Helen’s guidance to teach him the proper way to change her.
As Trixie watched him handle the baby, her blue eyes moistened. She saw him fumble a bit but finally get it done. She was so proud of him when he comforted the baby as the technicians checked her for trace evidence.
The Chief’s team discovered two long hairs from the duffle bag that Helen identified as being the same color as the young woman’s hair.
“OK,” the Chief said, closing his notebook and signaling to his team to pack up. “I think we’ve got everything we can for now.” He reached out and smoothed back the baby’s light brown hair with a single, gentle finger. “This young lady needs to be checked out at the hospital,” he said gruffly. “Brian, I’d like you to take her for a full check-up. Drugs, bugs and whatever else you think needs to be done,” he ordered. “Mart, I want you to go, too, so you can both have a DNA check. The techs will deliver part of the hairs for testing as well. I brought you a car seat borrowed from the Traffic Safety Alliance.”
“Sure thing, Chief,” Mart said quietly, looking at the glum face of his beloved. “Di, are you going to come with us?”
Di stared at her feet. Mutely, she shook her head.
Mart’s shoulders slumped dejectedly, as he closed his eyes to hide the pain within.
The Chief frowned at the young couple. Shaking his head, he turned his gaze to the Beldens, and continued with his instructions. “I’d like for you two to take care of the baby for now. Since you’re approved by the Department of Social Services to be both a child protective service and foster home, I can’t think of any place this young lady would be safer. Besides, considering the situation, it makes sense.”
Peter and Helen exchanged telling glances. “We’d be happy to keep her,” Helen agreed in a worried tone, watching the Bob-White females glance sadly at the males. “I wonder if we should have all the boys be tested,” she said quietly to Peter and Molinson.
“Let’s wait until we’ve had a chance to investigate and then decide if anyone else needs to be tested,” the Chief advised in a low tone. Raising his voice, he called, “Dan, I’d like for you to go into the office and start checking into the mother.”
“Yes, sir,” Dan replied, standing up to head into the station. He clapped Mart gently on the shoulder. “Can I get a bottle of water?”
“Sure,” Mart replied, turning to walk slowly out of the room with his best friend on his heels.
“I think I’ll take the info into my office and run it, too,” Trixie advised the chief, glancing after her brother with worry evident on her face. “Jim, do you want to come with me? We can bring fresh doughnuts back for breakfast,” she paused to look at her watch. “Say eight o’clock, OK?”
When everyone nodded, in agreement, Trixie grabbed Jim’s hand and one set of the copies she had made and then followed Brian and Honey out the door.
Mart’s gait was slow and awkward like a tired, world-wearied person as he made his way to the kitchen.
Dan followed his friend slowly through the doorway. As the door swung shut behind them, he asked, “Hey, man, are you all right?”
“No,” Mart snapped, opening a cabinet and grabbing a glass. “Some woman shows up here, shoves a baby at my folks, says it’s mine, and leaves. Now my beautiful Diana looks at me like I am the spawn of Satan. Damn fine day. I feel just peachy,” he growled, tossing ice cubes into the glass.
“Mart, if you break that glass, Moms is gonna kill you.”
“Do you think I give a shit?” Mart asked gruffly, filling the glass with water. “My fiancée won’t even look me in the eye and you’re worried about a freaking glass?” he challenged, shoving the glass at his friend and sloshing water onto him.
“No, I’m worried about you and Di,” Dan replied, shifting the glass to wipe his wet hand on the leg of his jeans. “I’m sure she knows deep down that you can’t be the father but she’s just stunned right now,” he reasoned. “We all are.”
Mart scrubbed his face with his hands. “I don’t know,” he rebutted softly. “Seriously, Dan, she wouldn’t even look at me,” he lamented.
Placing a hand on Mart’s shoulder, Dan maintained, “You just need to give her time, Mart. She knows this situation isn’t anything like you.”
“I hope so, Dan. I really hope so,” Mart sighed, pushing splayed fingers through his hair. “Let’s go meet Brian and Honey to get this over with,” he added, moving toward the service porch as if he was going to face a firing squad.
As the four Bob-Whites and the baby disappeared out the door, Helen jabbed Peter in the ribs with her elbow.
“Helen…” he began.
“Darling, go make sure Brian gets the car seat Wendell brought for the trip to the hospital,” she ordered with a jerk of her head toward Di.
“Sure, dear,” Peter agreed, leaning in to kiss her cheek. “Good luck. She’s had quite a shock,” he whispered in her ear and tickling it with his mustache. “But then we all have.”
Helen sighed as her eyes followed her husband to the door. A second soft sigh escaped her lips as she turned to address her daughter-in-law to be. Taking a fortifying deep breath, she sat next to Di and put a comforting arm around her. She knew she only had a short time before the cars would begin to pull out of the driveway. Reaching out, she tipped the young woman’s face up to see her telling, deep-violet eyes.
Di’s eyes were filled with tears as she looked at Helen and saw the love and worry in blue eyes that were so like her fiancé’s and Trixie’s.
“Diana, I’ve known you since you were born and I know how strong you really are,” Helen said softly, as she wiped away the overflowing tears. “I also know that my middle son has been in love with you and has only had eyes for you since you and Trixie danced as daffodils.”
“I know, Moms,” Di acknowledged with a teary hiccup. “But the birth certificate says otherwise,” she cried. “I just don’t know what to think.”
“Diana, do you love Mart?” Helen asked, eyes searching the young woman’s face for the answer.
“Yes,” Di replied in a husky voice. “I love him more than life itself and I have forever.”
Helen brushed the dark cloud of hair away from her soon-to-be daughter’s face. “Then trust your heart and my son’s. Do you really think that he would cheat on you?”
Di shook her head quickly. “No.”
“Then you need to show the strength I know is in you. You need to weather this storm together or your marriage will not survive any of the tougher challenges life hands you.” She gently hugged Di to her and then set her away before handing her a tissue. “I believe your fiancé is still outside if you’ve changed your mind about going with him.”
Diana used the tissue to wipe away the remnants of her tears and then placed a swift kiss on Helen’s cheek. “Thanks, Moms. You’re the best,” she declared, jumping up and walking briskly out of the room.
Honey held baby Myriam in her arms, rocking her slowly back and forth as she and Trixie stood in the driveway watching Brian and Jim try to figure out how to install the car seat into the backseat of Helen’s SUV.
“Should we offer to help?” Trixie snickered, as Jim’s unintelligible growl was heard from the vehicle.
Honey chuckled softly. “No, I think they’ll get it eventually.” Lifting one arm, she pointed to the car. “Look, Brian has brought out the directions. They must be getting desperate.”
Trixie giggled then sobered when she saw Mart and Dan exit the service porch followed closely by her father. “This sucks,” she blurted out harshly. “Poor Mart and Di. Did you see his face when she said she wouldn’t go with him for the test? It broke my heart.”
“I know,” Honey agreed quietly. “I was mad at her for a minute until I put myself in her shoes. I think I’d be stunned and unsure for a bit, too.”
“I know you’re right, Honey, but damn it, she ought to know Mart would never cheat on her.”
Honey turned soft, understanding eyes on her best friend. “Trixie, how would you feel if someone showed up here with a baby and said it was Jim’s? If said baby had downy reddish hair, green eyes and his name on the birth certificate?” As she watched Trixie’s thoughts and emotions cross her face, Honey reached out and gave her a one-armed hug. “Exactly. Di’s feeling lost and confused right now. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love your brother. It just means she’s human,” she added.
“I see your point, Honey, but I don’t like that Mart looked so hurt.”
“Trix, Di’s hurt, too,” Honey argued. “We can’t take sides on this. We have to support all our loved ones and get to the bottom of this so we can figure out who should take care of Myriam.”
“You’re the best…” Trixie began but the slamming of the kitchen screen door distracted her.
Turning, Trixie and Honey saw Di fly across the patio toward the driveway.
“Mart!” Di yelled.
“Ow!” he yelled from inside the vehicle. He’d been leaning into the front seat giving Brian and Jim directions and raised his head sharply into the frame of the passenger door.
“Mart, wait for me,” Di yelled, launching herself at him and throwing her arms around his neck.
They stood holding each other and gazing into one another’s eyes for a moment before Mart murmured, “Always.” He kissed her sweetly on the lips before raining kisses over her face. “I love you, Di,” he affirmed, kissing her neck. “It’s only ever been you.”
“I know,” she whispered back. “I just lost it there for a few minutes.” She hugged him tightly. “Forgive me?”
“Nothing to forgive, love,” Mart whispered back, then kissed her more ardently.
Trixie wiped a happy tear from her face and gave Honey a watery smile. Stepping quickly to the car, she nudged Brian out of the way with her hip. “OK, people,” she announced. “Show’s over. Let’s get this seat in place so you can get on your way and we can solve this mystery. Move over, boys.”
“Trixie, we’ve got this,” Brian grumbled, attempting to pull her back out of the vehicle.
“Yeah, babe,” Jim voice trailed off as from the other side of the car seat as he watched Trixie install the base of the rear-facing baby seat with several quick and nimble moves. “Hey, how’d you do that?” he demanded, as she snapped the seat into the base.
“It’s all in the instructions, Jim.” Trixie grinned over the seat at him. “Remember a couple of weeks ago when I went to that traffic safety seminar put on by the New York State Police?” When he nodded, she continued, “Well, this was part of the seminar.”
“Huh,” he muttered.
“I’ll show you next time,” Trixie promised. “Right now, we need to get Myriam’s tests run and get her on a schedule so we can set her baby time clock.”
Jim stretched over the seat to give Trixie a quick kiss. “It’s a deal.” He moved to kiss her again, when he was tugged backward out of the vehicle. “Wait a cotton-pickin’ minute,” he sputtered.
“That’s enough, Romeo,” Brian admonished. “We need to get on the road. I called and asked a friend of mine to stay at Sleepyside Memorial Hospital to do the tests.”
Honey slid into the seat with the baby still nestled in her arms. As she carefully put Myriam into the seat and watched as Trixie secured her, she offered, “We can have the samples sent by courier to WGen Labs and have a rush put on the results.”
“Great idea, Honey,” Jim enthused. “I’ll call Dad and have him grease the wheels for a rush.”
“Your folks own WGen labs?” Brian asked, seating himself in the driver’s seat as Honey, Di and Mart joined him in the car.
“Yes,” Honey answered, smoothing a finger over Myriam’s hand. “They are the best in the country and this way we can get the answer as quickly as possible.”
“Good,” Di agreed, scanning Myriam’s face for any resemblance of Mart or any Belden for that matter. “We’ve had this mystery dropped on us and we need to get to the bottom of it. ASAP. ”
Our wonderful and patient editors of Joycey, Kelly and Mylee make us smile and our stories so much better with their edits and suggestions. If there are mistakes in this story, they belong to the SmushSisters.
General Hospital – not sure if there is a General Hospital in NYC, but we know there is a television show!
Background is from allfreebackgrounds.com
Header and dividers created using MS Clipart manipulated by Jo
Word count – 2942