1.7 Practically Strangers

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~Lauryn/Sabrina’s P.O.V~

screenshot-166I have a mom, a real mom, one who loves me and bakes cookies and made scrapbooks of my first year. I sat on the couch in disbelief, my parents sitting across from me, hardly containing their excitement. I nodded my head as they made light conversation, why I was so numb inside. Shouldn’t I be just as excited as they were? I shook my head slightly, and refocused on the conversation.

My mom laid her hand on my knee, “Would you like to see your room?”

I nodded, not sure what to expect, but she led the way down the hall, she stopped before the closed door, “I haven’t stepped in here since the night you were taken from us. Walter comes in here every now and then to open the windows, so it doesn’t get musty…”

She trailed off as she pushed open the door. I took in the sights and smells of a beautiful nursery…. my nursery. I started crying as memories of Christopher’s nursery plans filled my head.

My mom wrapped her arms around me, “I know we’re practically strangers, but if you need to talk, feel free to speak honestly, don’t spare our feelings. We’re just happy that you’re alive, honey.”screenshot-170

I broke down into harsh sobs, “Uh…a few months ago, I…*sob* was pregnant…my boyfriend..*sob*….got really drunk….and he shot me. He missed my heart..*sob* but he hit my stomach..”

She pulled me into her arms, “Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry.”

She held me tight until I stopped trembling. I soaked up the comfort, not used to having a mother who actually took care of me. She sighed, “So, how would like your room to look?” I looked at her quizzically before she laughed, “What I’m trying to say, is that our door is open if you want to stay a night every now and then, or even come live with us. But we know that that’s a big adjustment, so however you want to work it.”

I nodded my head, “Uhh…can I think about it? It’s a lot to consider…” She laughed before nodding excitedly.

We parted ways that night, as I headed for the hotel they insisted on putting me up in. I laid on the bed, big tears rolling down my face. I had so many emotions swirling around but the more I learned about them, the more I hated my mom, ugh…I mean my kidnapper. I called her after I had finished crying, and left her a voicemail, saying she could find her car at the nearest impound.

screenshot-190I hung up and took a much-needed soak in the tub. I flipped through the baby book that Vanessa, my mom, had sent with me. I traced my face in the picture, jealous of how happy she looked. I was determined to be that happy again. I packed my bag, left the hotel and found myself back on their doorway.

My dad opened the door and look concerned, “Honey, are you okay?” I found myself smiling ear to ear, “I have been robbed of too much time from you all. I want to move in and make the most of the new memories we can make. If that’s okay with you guys.”

He pulled me in and gave me a big hug, “Sweetheart, you don’t know how happy that makes me.”

I giggled and my mom appeared next to me, so I chose that moment to address them both, “Guys, I know you’ve been confused as to what to call me, because to you I’m Sabrina, and to me, I’ve been Lauryn for the last 18 years that I can remember, but I want to put Lauryn in the past. From now on I am Sabrina Daisy Quinn.” My mom’s eyes filled with tears and we hugged again, my dad encircling the both of us.

screenshot-165My brother, Ethan, who had yet to show any interest in me was on the couch playing the newest R.E.F.U.G.E. game. I grabbed the other controller, “Mind if I join?”

He looked at me, his eyes wide, “You play this game?”

I shrugged, “Not this game specifically, but at the shelter I was staying, they had this game system. I loved to play My Sims Go!.”

He laughed, and he showed me the basics. We were both in the heat of competitive driving while Mom made a delicious smelling dinner. Dad settled on the couch with his paper. Ethan shook his head in defeat when were done, and we gathered at the table for dinner.

My dad broke up the monotonous sounds of the silverware scraping the plates, “So, Sabrina, if you don’t have any plans this weekend, your mother and I thought we’d celebrate your return by having a family day at the Sunny Seashell Spa. We own a cabana there part time.” I nodded, thinking that it sounded perfect.

screenshot-180The rest of the week flew by in anticipation of our day at the spa. My mom and I both got deep-tissue massages and pedicures while the guys lounged by the pool. We met up by the pool in the afternoon. My dad and I relaxing on the loungers, while Ethan and my mom swam around. I was deep into a book when I heard a “COWABUNGA!!” With a huge splash, Ethan dove into the pool, smiling impishly when he resurfaced. I splashed him in annoyance, but I couldn’t help but smile. I got out and dried off, while trying to salvage my book. As I was walking back towards the locked room, something, or rather someone, nearly bowled me over, sending me to the floor. I ducked my head in embarrassment, dazed, but alright.

screenshot-187I took the hand offered to help me up, a rich warm voice apologizing, “Oh man, I’m so sorry. Are you okay? Oh crap, you’re bleeding.” I looked down at my knee, “Oh yeah, I guess so.” I looked up at him, and did a double-take, “You-you’re Nikolai Cruz……” He shrugged, “Yeah, but I’m also the guy who just knocked over a beautiful young lady.” I blushed but couldn’t manage to find my words. I was standing in front of Nikolai Cruz, world-renowned singer, famous for the hit song, “You’ve Got My Heart”. I stuttered before he gestured to my knee, “You should get that checked out…….” I sputtered, “Oh, uh, I’m Laur-I mean, I’m Sabrina.” I laughed nervously but he tugged my arm and led me to the first aid station. He stood near me while the on-call nurse cleaned my leg and put a bandage on it. I thanked her before turning to Nikolai, “Mr.Cruz, you really didn’t have to stay. I’m really alright. I’m sorry to take up your time.” He laughed before kissing my hand, “Please, call me Nikolai, and why don’t you make it up to me by having dinner with me next weekend?” I blushed, completely nervous, but I found myself agreeing……..

What in the world did I get myself into?

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1.6 The Rainbow After

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A.N.~This chapter is longer than most of the previos one, but I swear it has a better ending. Enjoy!~

~Lauryn’s P.O.V.~

screenshot-125“Hey, do you ever not sleep?”

I groaned inwardly before peeking out from under the blankets, “I dunno.” I rolled my eyes and ducked back under. I’d been recovering in a domestic violence shelter, and they had put me up in an apartment with a roommate, Stella. The covers were yanked off of my bed, and I shivered in the cold air, “Come on, it’s 7 in the morning, let me sleep.”

She flopped onto my bed, “Listen, you’ve been here three weeks and I’ve only ever seen you out of bed like four times. The only one you hurt when you wallow is yourself.”

I sat up in bed before looking her dead in the eyes, “Don’t pretend you know me, okay,” I lifted up my shirt and showed her my still-healing scar, “I’ve been through hell. My boyfriend shot me and killed our unborn baby in the process, while getting himself shot by the police. I have nobody, okay?” I was crying now, the sobs leaving me unable to speak. Stella stood up abruptly and I heard her bustling around in the kitchen.

screenshot-128The smell of something sweet tingled my nose, until she poked her head back in the door, “C’mon, I made us some comfort waffles. You need to eat sometime.”

Begrudgingly, I made my way into the kitchen and sat at our table. The first bite into my waffles reminded just how long it had been since I had eaten a “meal”. I stared down at my plate before apologizing, “Uh, I’m sorry if I was rude. It’s been a rough month.”

Stella put her hand on my arm, “Don’t apologize. I’m sorry if I was too pushy, I was a lot like you when I first got here. I just care aggressively, at least that’s what my therapist says. I have been here almost 9 months, and I promise you, it does get better.” I smiled until I realized I was crying again, before I whispered my thanks. Stella stood up abruptly, “Well, I gotta get to work. Maybe try getting outside today? Fresh air makes all the difference, when I get back we can binge watch some Simflix and eat all the chocolate we can.” I nodded and as fast as she talked, she was gone.

I decided to take her advice and I tentatively headed to the park. I brought one of the books I had bought to read to Christopher, and clutched it close to my heart. The sun was shining bright, and I sat down on a bench, hoping no one noticed the still-healing bruises on my face. The sound of someone sitting next to me, made me pause in my reading, but before I say anything, or even look up, the stench of cheap booze filled my nose. I looked up to meet the steely gaze of my mother, my very drunk mother.

screenshot-142She leaned into me, “You’re not as fat as I thought you’d be. That must mean you’ve had the baby.”

I shook my head, “Ma, I’m not discussing this with you.”

She plowed right through, ignoring my statement, “So, do I have a granddaughter or a grandson?”

I sighed, “None of your business.”

She scoffed before standing up and swaying, “Fine. You obviously don’t want me here, Lauryn. I guess I’ll go elsewhere.”

I thought of all the horrible things that my mother had done to me and to herself, I nearly hated her for them, but I still could not, in any  good conscience, leave her to find her way home. I pulled her arm until she sat down next to me, “Ma, let me take you home. How did you get here?”

My mom laughed, “Don’t be silly, you surely have to get home to your baby and his or her father. Don’t worry about me, I drove.”

screenshot-145I stood up, pulling her along, “You’re in condition to drive home , Ma. I’ll take you. She huffed about it all the way to the car.

Once inside the car, she began pestering me with more and more painful questions, so I finally interrupted her, “Y’know, Ma, you keep asking me about the father of my baby but in all of my 19 years you have not even mentioned my father. Not once. I think I’ve waited long enough.”

She leaned her head on the car window, “Surely, I’ve said something.”

I shook my head, “Not a peep.”

I had made a point of asking her when I was younger, but she always shut me down. I hoped maybe the alcohol in her might make her forget those walls. She looked at me with sad eyes, “I loved your father very much. He was a charmer. His big blue eyes crinkled when he laughed.”

It was hard for me to keep my eyes on the road as she described him. She burst into sobs and I pulled the car over, “Ma, what’s wrong?”

She looked at me and pulled at me for a hug. I tried not to stiffen, but she began to talk, “Oh, Lauryn, I’ve done something so very, very bad. Something awful. I can’t tell you.”

I couldn’t tell if this was the alcohol talking or if she was seriously upset, “It’s okay you can tell me.”

She nodded soberly, “Okay, but you can’t be upset,” she waited for me to nod before going on, “When I was sixteen, I fell in love with the star quarterback of the football team. Cliche, I know, but it was true. He didn’t notice me until a year after he graduated. We had one night of passion, and I ended up pregnant.”

“With me?”

My mother bit her lip, “No, I was pregnant with your sister, but I miscarried in my 5th month.” My eyes grew wide, but I remained silent as she continued, “Anyways, I never told him about the pregnancy or the miscarriage, but I kept track of him as he moved on from college to his career. In fact, I ended up working for him and his wife as their housekeeper.” I stared at her, trying to reconcile what she was saying to the woman I had grown up with. I started to say something but she waved me off, “Let me finish, your father never so much as looked at me after our one shared night, but when he and his wife brought home their perfect baby girl, I was so jealous. I still loved him, and in my mind he was mine. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s how I felt at the time, okay? I was given the care of their child while they went on with work and such,” She broke down into tears again, “One day, I realized that I might possibly love this child more than her own mother. She was so perfect, and tiny. She smiled whenever I entered the room, and cried when I left at the end of the day.”

screenshot-172I nodded, trying get her to the point, “So after I came to that realization, the next day, I waited until they left for work and……I took that little girl home with me, and we ran away together. I changed hers and my name. Her name was/is Lauryn.” She dropped that little bomb into my lap while I stared at her, my eyes widening by the second.

Finally my brain managed to put together a whole sentence, “You mean to tell me that  my mom is not my mom, but just some crazy woman who thought I was her daughter? Wait a minute….wait…a….minute….” She opened her mouth but I whisper yelled, “What’s his name?” My mom look confused, so I chose to scream, “What is my father’s name!”

She looked down at the floor, “His name is Walter Quinn.”

I laid my head on the steering wheel, “Get……out.”

She looked out the window, “But we’re on the highway, and you’re driving my car.”

I turned and yelled at her, “I don’t care! I’ve taken so much crap from you because I thought it was my fault that you didn’t love, or because it was something that I did. You treated me like I was the problem. Every time you came home drunk, every time you brought home a new man, every time you slapped me, or called me an ungrateful whore, I still loved you, because I thought I was your daughter and that it was my job to care for you, but i was wrong, okay? I have been caring for someone who has been trying to drink away her regrets, but now, I’m done. If you weren’t drunk I’d be the one to leave, but I don’t want yo to kill anyone by drunk driving, so please……..get out. When you’ve sobered up, call me, and I’ll bring the car back.”

After she stumbled out of the car, I sped off, making it home before bursting into tears. My heart ached for someone to talk to. I crawled into bed, back where I started this morning. The sun hurt my eyes when it came through the window. Stella had left some pancakes on the counter for me, but I was in no mood for eating. I got dressed before walking down the street to the library. The computer was open, so I made a beeline for it. I didn’t even know where to begin, so I pulled up my mother’s, excuse me, Maria’s, high school alumni page. I scrolled through it until I found the right yearbook. Smack dab on the cover was the quarterback, my father. I clicked on his picture, and it led me directly to his profile. I wrote down the current address and was out the door in seconds.

screenshot-152Several hours later, one long cab ride, one short ferry ride, and one stop on the bus, I stood on his street. I took a deep breath and forced my feet to walk forward. His house was at the end of the street, and as I neared, I could make out two figures on the lawn. It was him, and his son playing catch. I have a brother! Once within walking distance,  I cleared my throat, trying to get his attention. He turned to me and I approached, “Um, hi, are you Walter Quinn?” He nodded his head, searching me for some sign of recognition, “I am. How can I help you?” I shrugged my shoulders, “Well, this is going to sound weird, but I think I’m your daughter….” A wide grin split his face before he motioned to his son, “Ethan, go get your mom!” The blonde teenager shot into the house as I found myself being wrapped p into a hug, “Oh Sabrina, we knew you would come back to us.” screenshot-156

Before I could correct him on my name, an older carbon copy of me stepped out the front door. Once we made I contact, she dropped the mug in her hand and rushed toward me. I was pulled into her arms as she began sobbing. I was crying too, not sure how I had made it here. I had gone from being all alone in the world, to suddenly having these stranger become my family. I clutched my mom tighter, sending us both into a fit of tears again. Somehow, everything was going to turn out all right.

 

1.5 Desperate Measures

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~Lauryn’s P.O.V~

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I shut the front door behind me, “Raj, I’m home.” I kicked off my shoes and waddled my way into the bedroom. It had been two months since Raj had to sell his company. He had gone to a dark place, and most days he barely got out of bed. I laid next to him on the bed, sighing. He held me close, and for a while we said nothing. To supplement our income, Raj had sold the bar that he owned, but I managed to score a job as a bartender/waitress. It was hard work, and I was exhausted every day, but to me, it was worth it.

I laid my head on Raj’s shoulder, “Baby, maybe you need to go see someone and talk about what you’re feeling.” His eyes pierced mine,”What? Like a shrink?” I shrugged my shoulders, “Maybe. I don’t know how else to help you.” He sat up and faced me,”What makes you think I need help?” I sat back, “You just don’t seem like yourself, and I thought I would help.” He sighed and got out of bed. He wandered down the hall, and I heard the faint tinkling sound of the glasses in the bar. I began to undress slowly, my muscles completely fatigued. I laid my head down on my pillow, just resting my eyes.

screenshot-76 I woke up with a start, and realized I had dozed off. I hurriedly got dressed, knowing that Raj would be expecting his dinner any minute now. I bustled around in the kitchen, my protruding belly more of a hindrance than anything right now. Raj opened the door, “Dinner’s not ready yet?” I shook my head, but he was already heading towards me. I cowered too early and he began laughing, “Are you afraid of me, Lauryn?” I shook my head but still he towered over me, “you ain’t seen nothing yet,baby. Keep this up, and I’ll give you something to be afraid about.” He sent a swift hand across my face before he stormed out of the room, and I heard the bedroom door slam. I tried to stop my hands from shaking as I finished up dinner. I set it down on the counter and went into the bathroom. I locked the door and turned on the shower. I placed one hand on my belly, and one hand on my mouth and I began to sob loudly. I stepped into the shower and let the hot water relieve the ache in my muscles. I made a choice right then and there, to get out of there. I got dressed, and with a newfound purpose in my step, I headed toward the bedroom. I pushed open the door and found Raj snoring away, thanks to the alcohol. I tiptoed next to the bed and grabbed my cell phone off of the nightstand. I rushed back out into the kitchen before dialing 9-1-1.

screenshot-113“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

I began sobbing uncontrollably, “Hi, um *sob* my boyfriend has been *sob* hitting me but I *sob* can’t leave him.”

“Are you hurt, ma’am?”

I sniffled, finally gaining control of my emotions, “Uhh no. He slapped me, but I’m not hurt badly. I’ve had much worse.

“Okay, the police are en route. Does he keep any weapons in your house?”

“Uhh I’m not sure. I’ve never asked him.”

“Okay, ma’am. You should-”

Raj tore the phone out of my hand, “Who is this?” He hung up and grabbed me by the upper arm. His fingers dug into my skin until he threw me on the bed. He began yelling at me, “You think you can just up and leave me? After everything I’ve done for you? Yeah well, we’ll see how you feel about that when I’m done with you.

~Raj’s POV ~

screenshot-118I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard someone on the phone. She thought she could leave me?  That ungrateful bitch owed me her life. I grabbed the phone from her before hanging up. She and I needed to have a nice little chat in the bedroom, and she’d never want to leave me again. She started whimpering, so I threw her onto the bed. I could hardly think with all of her sobbing, “Shut up!” I put my hand over her throat and squeezed until she was quiet. “Just shut up,” I whispered furiously. I let go and watched as she gasped for air.  She started to get up, but one smack across the cheek put her back down against the bed. The flash of the blue and red lights filled the room with a glow. I turned to Lauryn, “You called the cops?!” She nodded weakly, and everything seemed to go red. I brought my fists down on her over and over and over again. I could hear the sounds of the front door being kicked down. As I reached for the gun I kept next to the bed, Lauryn cried out, “Help me!”

screenshot-119 I smacked her hard to shut her up. I grabbed her and held her against me before I put the gun to her head. The door opened slowly, and a voice called, “Hello, my name is Officer Walters, and I’m here with my partner, Officer Zargoza. Is everybody okay in there?” Lauryn whimpered softly, but remained silent. I called out hoarsely, “Anyone comes in this room and I’ll shoot!” The crackle of the police radio filled the room, but no one came in, “I need to know that the lady is okay, alright? I just need her to speak, so that we know she’s alive.” I could tell that Lauryn was fading out now so I shook her, “Hey! Tell them you’re alive and that you’re okay.” Her voice was soft, but steady, “I’m alive….and I’m…okay..” I put the gun back on her temple, “I don’t want to talk anymore, just leave us alone!” The officer put his hands through the door, “I’m unarmed and I’m coming in here so that we can talk, okay?”

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I dropped Lauryn like a rag, pointed my gun at the officer, and growled, “Leave…….now!” The officer backed out of sight, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before he came back. I turned to Lauryn, the gun pointed right at her. Tears streamed down my face as I whispered, “I love you so much, and even though you make me so angry, I don’t think I can live without you. If I can’t have you, then no one can.” She screamed, “No!” but it was too late. In the corner of my eye, the officers entered the room, but everything was in slow motion. Before they could raise their gun, I pulled the trigger……and everything went black…….

 ~Lauryn’s P.O.V~

screenshot-123I squinted against the bright light of the room. A nurse picked up my arm and checked my vitals. I groaned and asked, “Where am I?” The nurse smiled widely, “You’ve been in a coma for the last few days, but you’re in Glenn Terrace Hospital, hon. Don’t worry, the doctor will be in shortly to explain.” I nodded weakly and dozed off again. I awoke when the doctor entered the room, his kind eyes crinkling as he smiled, “I’m glad you’re awake, Miss Hernandez, you proved to be a fighter.” I nodded softly, “What happened?” The doctor came and sat next to me, “What’s the last thing you remember?” I thought long and hard before answering, “The police were at our house, and Raj had a gun. Did he shoot me?” The doctor nodded, “He shot you in the abdomen. He clipped your liver, but he missed all other vital organs. We were able to repair most of the damage done to your liver, but the liver will also continue to heal itself. He was shot by the police, and he did not recover” I gasped, “Raj is dead?” My head spun with this new information, but I forced myself to ask the question that had been in the back of my mind since I had woken up, “Is my baby okay?” The doctor cleared his throat uncomfortably, “We were unable to save your baby, ma’am. The bullet tore through the amniotic sac, and he died before you reached the hospital.” Tears fell as I asked, It..It was a boy?” The doctor nodded before squeezing my shoulder comfortingly as he left to give me a moment to compose myself. Iscreenshot-122I rolled over and sobbed until I was spent. I closed my eyes, and tried to sleep but it was no use. I was consumed with so many emotions, I was left spinning. I was angry that Raj had taken something so precious away from me, I was overwhelmed with grief for the child I would never meet, but I was consumed with guilt for being alive and not being able to protect him. I finally gave up on sleep, and tried to sit up. Bad move, the pain was unbearable, so I pressed the button for the morphine drip and succumbed to the drug-induced slumber. I fell asleep with dreams of my baby boy in my arms.