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The Beginning After by Kiersten Modglin (25)

Thirty

PEIGHTON

Peighton sat on the couch, waiting for Clay to arrive back from work. She flipped through the channels aimlessly, her mind continuing to fall back to the memories of the past day. Her body tingled just thinking of him. She missed his touch, his smell, the way he looked at her. She couldn’t help but smile at realizing just how far she’d fallen.

Someone knocked at the door. “Come in!” she called, expecting to see him walk through the door. Instead, she inhaled sharply as the door opened and Drew walked in.

“Drew, what are you doing here?” she demanded.

“I’m sorry to bother you. I brought you this.” He held up a manila envelope. “I thought maybe it could help you tie up some loose ends.”

She stood from the couch, staring at the envelope. “What is it?”

He continued to hold it out. “It’s the letter from the paternity test Todd sent me. I told you I had it, but I couldn’t find it. I found it yesterday and wanted to make sure you got it.”

“Well, thank you,” she said, “but you didn’t have to drive it all the way here. Had you already gone back home?”

“Yes. I thought about mailing it, but I worried Kyle would be the one to find it. I didn’t want to chance that because I wasn’t sure what you’ve told him, if you’ve told him anything.”

She smiled at him, surprised by his gesture. “That’s very kind of you. And no, to answer what might have been a question, we never told him anything.”

“I didn’t think so.” He shook his head. “And you shouldn’t. After all, there may be nothing to tell.”

She opened the envelope, pulling a piece of white paper out. “Were you…disappointed?” she asked.

“No,” he told her. “Kids were never in my plans anyway. I was happy it worked out for you and Todd. You deserved a great kid.”

“We got one,” she said honestly, her heart aching for her son.

“I’m glad to hear that.”

She looked down at the paper labeled DNA TEST REPORT. She scrolled down through the chart, looking at letters and numbers that made no real sense to her. At the bottom was a box with results, the only thing that truly mattered.

Combined Paternity Index: 0

Probability of Paternity: 0

The alleged father, ANDREW ROSS,

is excluded as the biological father of

the tested child. This conclusion is

based on the non-matching alleles at

the loci listed above with a PI equal to

0. The alleged father lacks the genetic

markers that must be contributed to

the child by the biological father. The

probability of paternity is 0%.

She looked up at Drew. “Well, that’s that then.”

“That’s a good thing, right?”

She smiled sadly, unsure why she felt so sad. “I suppose it is.”

“Are you okay?”

“I’ll be fine,” she assured him. “Thank you for bringing this over.”

“You’re welcome. I hope it helps you.”

“It will.”

“Well, that’s all I came for. I won’t stay.”

“Thank you, Drew,” she said again, holding the paper firmly. “Really.”

“Take care of yourself, Peighton,” he said, giving her one last smile before disappearing out the door.

* * *

When Clay arrived a few hours later, Peighton was still on the couch, staring at the paternity test. She couldn’t understand why Todd hadn’t told her about the results, had let her believe Kyle was Drew’s child all this time. None of it made any sense.

“Hey,” he said, announcing his presence when Peighton didn’t look up. She blinked twice, clearing her foggy vision, and looked up at him. A smile immediately spread across her face.

“Hey,” she greeted, standing up and walking to give him a quick kiss. “How was work?”

“It was a slow night. Thank goodness.” He yawned.

“Are you exhausted?”

“Yeah, someone kept me up all day,” he said, winking.

“Well, I’m sorry about that.”

He threw his arm around her waist, pulling her to him. “Don’t be sorry,” he told her, kissing her softly.

“Well then,” she replied, pulling their lips apart for only a second.

He pulled away after another kiss, slapping her bottom and laying his sun glasses down on the table. “I missed you today,” he said.

“I like being missed,” she gushed, watching him walk toward the bedroom and remove his shirt. She stared at the hard muscles that had been hidden beneath his bulky uniform. It made her blush to realize they were hers to look at. She walked up behind him, rubbing her hands over his abs. He turned his head to the side, kissing her forehead.

“Have you heard from Kyle?” he asked.

“No,” she said, sadness hitting her at the sound of his name.

He turned around, sighing, and pulled her into a hug. “We’re going to find him,” he promised.

She kissed his chin. “I know.”

“What are you going to tell him about us?”

“What do you mean?”

“Am I going to have to sneak out the window when he gets home?” he joked.

“No,” she said. “I’m going to tell him the truth. I think he deserves that.” In that moment, she wasn’t sure which truth she was talking about. She wasn’t ready to tell him everything. “Hey, could you do me a favor?”

“What kind of favor?” he asked, kissing her neck and kicking off his shoes.

She stared at him, watching as he removed his pants and pulled on a pair of jeans. “A…police type favor?”

He froze, his eyebrows raised. “Okay?” he asked, looking worried.

“You can do DNA tests, right?”

“DNA tests?” he asked. “Like what?”

“Like a paternity test?”

He looked at her seriously. “Yes, I can. Who are we talking about?” he spoke slowly, fear on his face.

“Kyle.”

His eyes grew wide. “Kyle got someone pregnant? Is that why he left?”

“No,” she said, holding her hand up. “I need you to see if Todd is Kyle’s father.”