-Chapter Six-

Shawn Jones had taken back his old job at the restaurant, with a little bit of help from Theora. He was there when his older sister walked in with Bryce the day after Cheviot had informed him of his being fired.

Shawn, Theora told him, This is Bryce. The one I told you about on the vu-phone last night.

If anyone other than you had told me that story, I never would ve believed it. Shawn told her. He turned to Bryce. Would you like to sit down for a bit? I remember Winnie was always a little worn out.

I m fine, unless you count being fired for no good reason. But, thanks all the same, Bryce told him.

Bryce, Theora told him, you may no longer be working for Cheviot, but remember Edison is paying you to work for him.

Cheviot is an idiot if this boy is as brilliant as you say, Shawn told Theora. He turned to Bryce. Look I ve got to finish up my shift. I ve still got almost an hour. Why don t you two order something for dinner and then I ll take you home afterward.

You should have something, Theora told Bryce.

Alright, Bryce agreed. I am feeling a little hungry.

Edison stormed into the medical center where Bryce had been impregnated.

Where is the doctor who operated on Bryce Lynch? he demanded of the receptionist.

I don t know, she told him.

Not good enough, Edison told her. Find out.

What day was the surgery?

About two months ago. On a Tuesday.

Dr. Parker was the head physician on that day. He ll know. I ll page him for you.

That s better, Edison said, firmly.

Dr. Parker to reception, the woman summoned.

About ten minutes later, Dr. Parker walked into the reception area. I was with a patient, he apologized. What can I do for you?

Who performed the surgery on Bryce Lynch? Edison demanded, grabbing the doctor by the collar. I know it had to be someone from Ovu-Vat. Who was it.

Dr. Parker fought to compose himself. That wasn t easy with an angry reporter throttling him. It was Dr. Tsung! Thank you, Edison said, releasing him. And you just let him do it?

He wanted revenge on you, Mr. Carter, Dr. Parker explained. I just went along with it out of a sense of curiosity. I was, honestly, fascinated by the idea of a male bearing a child.

Then you should ve had the operation performed on yourself, Edison snapped. Bryce is sixteen. Did you even think of that?

That s what made him the perfect candidate, Dr. Parker told him. There are people in other countries who would peg you as a pedophile when they found out. They wouldn t even think about the fact that there was no way the pregnancy could ve happened through sex. All they ll hear is that he s pregnant and you re the father. The sex will be assumed because they relate pregnancy with intercourse. Think of what that will do to your ratings, Mr. Carter.

So Bryce has to suffer because you have a grudge against me, Edison said, angrily.

Life isn t fair, Mr. Carter.

You re right, Edison said, ending the sentence by punching Dr. Parker in the mouth.

I m guessing you re Bryce, Winnie said as Bryce and Shawn walked into the small home that she and Shawn shared.

Yes, Bryce replied. You re Winnie Jones?

Yes, Winnie told him. I m pleased to meet you. I m sorry we don t have a bed for you right now. We re planning on getting one in a day or too. The sofa is comfortable enough in the meantime.

The sofa will do just fine, Bryce told her.

You ll be wanting a bed later on in your pregnancy. Trust me, Winnie said. At the sound of her own child crying, she smiled. Excuse me.

Bryce watched her tend to her baby from across the room. As he did, it dawned on him that one of these tiny human beings was what was growing inside of his own body. One that had been created from simple cells stolen from himself and Edison Carter. It would be his job, for many years he guessed, to protect and look after that little life.

It can be overwhelming sometimes, Winnie warned him, guessing at what he was thinking. But there will come a day when she s old enough to talk and she ll tell me that she loves me. That s the moment that makes this all worth it. Until then, she tells me in other ways. Her little smile, her laughter. The smile in her eyes. Those make the wait for those words memorable. But it s hard work all the same. You ve got a difficult but rewarding time ahead. But I think you made the right choice. If you were a different teenager, I d suggest giving it up for adoption. But you re smart and you have a steady income from Edison Carter, so I think you ll be alright.

I hope so, Bryce sighed.

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