The feeling in her gut was strange and familiar at the same time, and Coralie had no doubt what it meant. There was the same breathless flutter, the same innate sense of knowing – a mother’s instinct, maybe. She couldn’t pinpoint what was different, exactly – she only knew that it was. Which made sense, of course, when she thought about it. She’d been pregnant before, but Leo was no ordinary baby, and Coralie had never conceived the old-fashioned way. There were bound to be differences this time.
Coralie didn’t need a pregnancy test to tell her what she already knew, but there was something definitive in the little pink plus sign, and so she decided to take one anyway.
Coralie grinned. She could feel herself glowing. This is how it’s supposed to be, she thought.
Of course she loved Leo, but the circumstances around his conception and birth were less than ideal. She’d been afraid and alone, wondering how it had happened at all. Leo was created somehow, without her knowledge or consent, a Sixamite experiment she had no say in. But this baby, this time, was conceived out of love and desire and mutual respect – the way it’s supposed to be. The way she’d always imagined.
Coralie fought the urge to call Kody, to blurt out the words over the phone. She wanted to tell him in person, to see the look on his face when she broke the news. He would be thrilled, she knew. This was the beginning of their future together, the beginning of the rest of their lives. She smiled happily and resolved to wait until the next day, when she could see him face to face.
But as Coralie closed her eyes to go to sleep, a nagging doubt crept in. She was pregnant. With Kody’s baby. She stared up at the ceiling, thinking of the legacy, and of Lola, and of her own silly selfishness. She was thinking only of herself, of her own happiness, she realized. But what about Kody? If this baby was a boy, she would have no choice but to leave him, to find some other man to give her an heir. It would break his heart, and after all they’d been through already, the mere thought of it brought her to tears. But if she didn’t leave Kody, then what about Lola? She couldn’t possibly leave her sister to shoulder the legacy on her own – she couldn’t bear to rob Lola of her future and her freedom. It was an impossible choice, and there was no solution to make everyone happy.
Least of all, herself.
The next morning, Coralie woke with a start. She felt clear-headed and focused, and she knew there was only one way forward. It wasn’t perfect, but if she learned anything from her last falling out with Kody, it was that honesty was the only option.
She picked up the phone and composed a text message, asking him to meet her in an hour. Her finger hovered over the send button with hesitation –
The phone rang, Kody’s name flashing over the screen. Surprised, she picked it up to hear Kody’s cheerful voice in greeting. Windenberg, he said – he wanted to take her since they never did get to go on that trip. It was a special day, he said – the anniversary of the day they first met.
Coralie sighed. He was so excited, she just couldn’t tell him no. And so she found herself on her way to The Bluffs in Windenberg, for a romantic picnic with the father of her baby.
It was the perfect date with the perfect man, but as Kody laid out the picnic blanket and the mouth-watering array of food, Coralie knew the time had come. It wasn’t fair to keep this from him any longer.
“Kody,” she began, “There’s something important I need to talk to you about.”
Kody grinned. “There’s something I need to talk to you about, too, Coralie.”
She tried to stop him. “Can I go first, this is really – ”
“Oh.” Coralie gasped as Kody dropped to one knee, her mind racing in a million directions. Her heart screamed yes with every ounce of her being, but in the back of her mind, all she could see was Lola.
“Kody, I’m PREGNANT.”
Kody’s face beamed up at her. “Pregnant? You’re pregnant? Coralie, we’re having a baby?!” He sprung to his feet and swept her up in his arms. “It’s all so perfect, isn’t it? We’ll be a family!”
Coralie struggled to her feet. “Kody, I….. I want to say yes.”
His face fell. “Then say yes.” he prompted her.
“Oh, Kody, I want to, I really do. But what if the baby’s not a girl? You know I have to have an heir, and I can’t put all that pressure on Lola. She’s so young! What kind of sister would I be…?”
“But what if the baby is a girl, Cora? I love you. Can’t you trust me enough to know that we’ll figure it all out together?”
Coralie knew she should say no. But when she opened her mouth to speak, her heart betrayed her.
“Yes,” she breathed. “I’ll marry you!”
Over the following weeks, Coralie’s pregnancy progressed. She worried constantly about the sex of the baby, about her sister and Kody and the legacy. She made the right decision, she knew. This was the reason her mother had chosen co-heirs, after all – to give her daughters their best chance at freedom and happiness.
But still, Coralie prayed for an answer. She spent hours in front of the computer, researching all the ways to influence the gender of a baby. There was an old wives tale about strawberries, but Coralie was highly allergic. There was even something about pop music, but even Coralie knew that was ridiculous.
But while there was no way to “choose” a girl, Coralie found that there might be a way to increase her odds. After all, more babies meant more chances of an eligible heir.
“I’m sure it worked,” Kody gushed later at home. “I mean, look how big you’ve gotten!”
Coralie shot him a look, but she laughed. “I hope so! There aren’t any guarantees, but with any luck there’s an heir in there!”
When the time came to deliver, Coralie was more than ready. Kody, on the other hand, was a different story. He panicked as they made their way to the hospital, words tumbling out of his mouth like rapid fire.
“Are you okay, Cora? Are you okay? Really, I mean it, are you okay? What can I do? Are you okay?”
Coralie moaned, riding the wave of the contraction. “Shut UP, Kody!” spat. She felt bad, she didn’t mean to snap at him. But labor did not bring out the best in her.
She grimaced as she lay down on the hospital bed. She didn’t remember it being so painful with Leo. Maybe alien-bred babies were different.
But when it was finally over, the doctor grinned.
“You have a beautiful baby boy,” he said. Coralie’s heart lurched. “And, a beautiful baby girl! It’s twins!”
Happy Birthday, Theodore Hasslich-Wells…
and Jessalyn Hasslich-Wells!