The Lost Orphan: Stolen Identity Book One Chapter Twenty-One

Now that Claire is discovered to have been dead for several weeks and that Samantha has been deceiving Claire’s detective partner and other acquaintances all along, Sam is eventually arrested and held in custody. Samantha is mistakenly accused of murdering Claire; in reality she witnessed Claire’s suicide at the train station. To make matters even worse for Samantha, she has been mistaken for the serial killer who has so far murdered Portia Obinger along with other deceased European clones.

I was in the interrogation room and handcuffed to the table when Ant entered. ‘I’m going to be honest with you, Samantha,’ he admitted. ‘I still see Claire when I look at you. Except now I know this is not Claire sitting in front of me.’

‘I didn’t kill her,’ I stated quietly, using my native British accent. He couldn’t possibly have thought that I killed Claire. What reason would I have to do so, seeing that she was my Clone Sister?

‘No, you watched her commit suicide,’ Ant replied rather angrily. ‘And then you went straight for her wallet.’ He slammed the case folder down on the table in front of me and I couldn’t help flinching. He flipped the file open to reveal the finalized reconstruction of Portia’s facial imaging. ‘Who is this?’ he demanded, pointing at Portia’s photo.

‘I don’t know this woman,’ I fabricated, noticing that my voice was trembling.

‘You’ve been obstructing this investigation from the moment you took over Claire’s life,’ he accurately accused. ‘You’re the prime suspect, Samantha.’

‘But I didn’t kill Portia or any of those other women,’ I almost shouted, trying to exonerate myself as much as I could.

‘Do you know who did?’

Yes I knew who Portia’s killer was, and right now she was the one who should have been arrested, not me.

‘Just for your information, we have your foster brother Felix in custody,’ Ant revealed frostily. ‘And as for your daughter, that little girl will be left completely on her own unless you start talking.’

Isla, who was twice as furious as Ant, confronted Felix who was appropriately seated opposite her desk chair. ‘Why did you purposefully misidentify Claire’s body as Samantha’s?’ she demanded.

‘Only because I thought it was Samantha’s body,’ Felix insisted. ‘It was a terrible case of mistaken identity. You’ve got to believe me.’

‘Well I don’t,’ Isla countered harshly. ‘It’s actually fraud by misrepresentation, which means you face two to five years in prison, given your existing record.’

Felix froze in fear, his face almost turning white. ‘I really did think it was my foster sister.’

Isla whipped out her phone and dialled a private number, while Felix sat back and looked worried. She remained on the phone for a few minutes before hanging up. ‘I’ll try to find you a lawyer and get you a public defender,’ she offered. ‘But just so you know, I’m not promising anything.’

Ant came back with Claire’s phone, which I now officially owned. ‘This is your phone,’ he confirmed as he perused it. ‘Well it’s Claire’s phone actually. So help me wrap my head around this.’

He played the message I’d left him before confronting Helena for the first time in Bonnie Chen’s apartment. He had me listen to the voicemail as I spoke in my own accent, not Claire’s. ‘Ant, if you’re hearing this, you found a body. It’s not Claire. It’s me. My name is Samantha Branning and you’re about the only person I trust to figure this whole thing out.’

By now, Ant was beyond placated; his anger seemed to have faded completely as he took the seat across from me. ‘Samantha, my partner killed herself, and I didn’t see it coming. By helping me, you’ll be helping Claire. Although it won’t bring her back, of course. Help us both,’ he implored me. ‘Please, Sam. I know you care.’

I struggled to fight back the tears, as I was overcome with fear for Katrina’s safety and my own. ‘There’s a reason why we all look the same. Claire, Portia, myself,’ I confessed tearfully. ‘Why the prints match and why the DNA’s all fucked up.’ I was sobbing hard by then. ‘Please promise to protect me and Katrina. Please don’t let anything happen to my daughter.’

Ant nodded empathetically. ‘If that’s what you need, I promise.’

Neil Rosen, Samantha’s ‘lawyer’.

Suddenly, Lieutenant Marshall and another man burst into the room unannounced, causing me to jump slightly. ‘Miss Branning,’ the stranger said to me. ‘I’m your lawyer, Neil Rosen. And you will be leaving with me.’ He gestured for the interrogation to be ended as I was uncuffed and released. But then where was he taking me?

Neil led me to a downtown high-rise office building. The outside of the building looked like the Toronto National Tower, but I wasn’t too sure.

‘Where are we going?’ I finally demanded.

‘Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon enough,’ Neil merely explained. ‘And we had Felix released also.’

Who was ‘we’? Was he actually working for Doctor Leekie?

He escorted me off the lift and onto an abandoned floor where – believe it or not – we turned the corner and bumped into Lee. What the hell was we doing here?

‘Brilliant,’ I snarked.

‘Listen, Neil, could I speak to Sam for one minute?’ Lee asked. Without replying, Neil left us alone.

‘I didn’t expect to see you here,’ I scoffed. ‘Do you work for Doctor Leekie now?’ I was confused.

‘It’s more complicated than that,’ Lee admitted. ‘They still have Afghanistan on me. You changed the game for everyone, Samantha. Now I can only help you from here.’ He sounded quite sincere as he said this. But was I ready to start trusting him again?

‘Please just listen to what they have to say,’ he advised me. ‘Do you think you can do that?’

I didn’t really have a choice. Not that I wanted to hear any of it.

I headed across the empty room to the lone desk on the far side. There was a woman with short dark blond hair which came above her shoulders. She turned as I approached her. I was gobsmacked and quickly stopped in my tracks as I got my first look at this new clone. Like me, she had a British accent, except hers was upper-class.

‘Samantha Branning,’ the woman said. ‘I’m Alexia Duncan. And we are going to come to terms.’

Alexia flipped through my version of the Revelation contract with Dyad. ‘The agreement defines mutual closure. It formalises contact with what I call “Topside”.’

I stared at her in bemusement. ‘What is that supposed to even mean?’

Alexia didn’t answer my question. ‘You’re not an orphan anymore, Samantha,’ she reminded me. ‘We found you. And my role is to transition you to self-awareness.’

‘Clone fixer,’ I scoffed. ‘Perfect. What more could a clone possibly want?’ I was getting ready to call her bluff. ‘Maybe it’s time for me to embrace my Clone-age and go public,’ I suggested sarcastically.

Alexia tried to convince me. ‘My people are not the enemies here,’ she assured me. ‘Rather it’s Helena and her ilk that are the real problem. And we’re going to help with that.’

I shot her a disparaging look. ‘If you really want to help, then why don’t you offer me answers to my questions? Such as what are we here for?’

Alexia merely pushed the agreement across the table to my direction. ‘We want your trust,’ she summed up. ‘You want precious answers to the core of who you are.’ She stood up and strolled back to the window view as I looked over the contract. ‘But above all, I know you want to make the right choice for Katrina.’

I gaped in terror. How the fuck did they know about Katrina? I didn’t remember giving my daughter’s name away!

‘You’re very lucky,’ Alexia drawled. ‘Motherhood is such a pleasant experience.’ Rather than respond, I glared at her. She had no room to talk. After all, what did she know about having a child?

Her mouth turned up into a slight smile. ‘The forces behind Helena will never stop. The most important thing in this for you is protection for yourself and your daughter.’

I sighed and tossed the contract back on the desk. ‘No thanks. I’ll get by on my own.’

Alexia was miffed. ‘Scrambling to stay alive?’ she said accusingly. ‘I’m trying to offer you freedom with Katrina. You will be provided for and unmonitored but available.’

I got to my feet. ‘I’m not interested,’ I snapped.

Alexia scowled. ‘Fair enough,’ she insisted. ‘You have only 24 hours to properly consider it first.’

‘Whatever,’ I muttered as I left.

‘Midnight tomorrow,’ she called after me.

I packed a bag for Katrina. I was planning to leave for good, but this time I was taking my daughter with me. ‘When the police come for us, Mummy goes away,’ Katrina told Felix sadly.

‘That’s not the case this time,’ he assured her. ‘Your mother had returned to keep us safe from Helena and her religious cult leaders.’

I entered the room where they were. ‘Don’t worry about your Crazy Clone Aunt,’ I quickly reassured my daughter. ‘She can’t hurt us anymore.’

We finished packing our bags before hiding them. ‘We might have to go on a trip, but you can’t tell anybody,’ I warned Katrina. ‘Not even Siobhan.’

Katrina, wise beyond her years, nodded obediently. ‘I promise not to tell.’

Siobhan anxiously waited downstairs with her shotgun at the ready. ‘I’m off to meet Claudia,’ I told her as I descended.

‘Just be careful,’ she said bluntly. ‘Even though she’s your birth mother, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be suspicious of her. After all, she didn’t raise you.’

I totally understood Siobhan’s fear and where she was coming from. But it wasn’t Claudia’s fault, any of it. She had been lied to just as much as I and Helena had.I slowly reached for Siobhan’s hands and squeezed them. I had a feeling that she was insecure about Claudia’s impact on my life. Don’t worry, I thought silently. I know who my real mother is.

My private meeting place with Claudia was at the condo. ‘Thank you for meeting me,’ she said gratefully as I opened the condo door for her. I led the way inside and pulled out a chair for her. ‘Can I get you something to drink?’ I offered gently.

Claudia accepted a glass of water. ‘That poor child, Helena,’ she fretted as I joined her at the table. ‘How can two fates be so different? You two are like… night and day.’

She reached for the envelope containing the photo of Siobhan. ‘Your foster mother, Mrs. Saunders, she’s not who she says she is,’ she warned me compellingly. But before she could open the envelope to reveal the photo, I had an important question I needed to ask her. ‘How did scientists put babies inside you?’

Without warning, I pulled out the fish knife and stabbed a petrified Claudia in the abdomen! I glared icily at my birth mother, looking her stone cold in both eyes as the lethal sharp went through her.

Only it wasn’t me who stabbed her. It was… Helena in disguise!

Helena (disguised as Samantha) stabs Claudia!

Claudia struggled, pulling off the dark wig to reveal Helena completely, including the now shockingly visible cuts and scars on the backs of her arms. ‘You gave me to them,’ Helena accused, her voice filled with venom. ‘You let them make me this way.’ She released Claudia and then pushed her back. Claudia fell to the floor, wailing as she cried and begged for her life.

Completely unaware of what had just happened, the real me had yet to arrive at the darkened condo hours later. I turned on the front light. I was not at all prepared for what I had discovered. There was blood everywhere, the large blood stain on the floor caught my eyes instantly. I almost threw up. My phone rang, and I scanned the read out before answering it.

‘What in fuck’s name have you done, Helena?’ I demanded. I could hear Claudia gasping and convulsing in the background. ‘What did you do to Claudia?’

‘We missed you sister,’ Helena crooned. ‘Why don’t you come join us at the warehouse?’

I dropped the phone in horror.

I entered the ground floor of the abandoned warehouse Helena had directed me to. It looked like some industrial site with catwalks and mysterious piles of asbestos-like dust. I saw another large blood stain and pulled out my Lady Glock before slowly advancing.

On one pillar were more of Helena’s stick figure drawings. They depicted one female figure at the top (presumably, Claudia) and two other female figures branching off from each side of her (myself and Helena, respectively). On another pillar was a second drawing of myself and Felix with Katrina, and beneath that a final drawing of Helena in a cage.

I made sure my gun was loaded. I finally reached the basement and found a dying Claudia propped up against a pillar. ‘Claudia!’ I screamed.

I stashed the gun and hurried to my birth mother. She had lost a lot of blood by then, but was still alive. ‘Keep pressure,’ I instructed her, trying to give her aid. ‘I’ll get you help.’

Claudia pulled out the photo of the young Siobhan in the lab. I read the contents on the back. Two professors’ names were blacked out and ‘PROJECT LEDA July 22,1977’ was printed beneath. I couldn’t make head or tail of what Claudia had shown me.

Claudia tried to explain about Siobhan, but was running out of time. She only managed to push out a few words. ‘Your foster mother. She was…’

‘Claudia, I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me…’

‘My dear sister,’ Helena drawled as she arrived with a lit flare. ‘My beloved twin.’

Claudia took one last look at her would-be killer before breathing her last. I watched my birth mother die at the hands of my own twin sister!

‘I’m sorry, Mother isn’t feeling too well,’ Helena crooned emotionlessly as she descended the stairs.

Devastated, I got to my feet. ‘She’s dead, you fucking psycho,’ I sobbed. ‘You killed the one person I’ve been dreaming about my whole life!’

Helena crouched down next to Claudia and then spat on her. At that moment I felt like spitting on Helena! How dared she!

‘She fucking separated us,’ Helena growled. ‘She tore us apart.’ She came closer towards me. ‘But now, we are finally together.’

‘No we’re not,’ I spat. I felt sickened at being related to Helena by blood. ‘You’re nothing to me. Just some crazy twisted bitch wearing my t-shirt.’ It made me feel sick to even look at her.

Helena glanced down at the Clash emblem on her shirt – and then head butted me. She threw the flare away and kneed me in the stomach. I fought back as much as I could, but Helena had grabbed a nearby chain and attempted to strangle me with it. She dragged me to my feet with the chain wrapped around my throat. ‘Scientists made one little baby and then we split into two,’ she said through clenched teeth. She threw me hard into a pillar.

I yanked out my gun and got ready to finish her off. I had to stop her before she harmed or killed anybody else.

‘Surely you can’t bring yourself to kill me,’ she protested flatly, staring at the gun. ‘Samantha, we make a family.’

‘Wrong,’ I said. ‘I’ve already got a family.’

I fired the first shot. The bullet went straight inside Helena’s heart. Then I stood over her. ‘This is for Portia, and for all my other Clone Sisters. But most of all, this is for my birth mother, Claudia.’ I shot at my monstrous twin sister again.

The second bullet killed her for sure.

The fact that Helena was dead and no longer a threat didn’t bring me any consolation. I sat beside Claudia’s dead body and sobbed my heart out, as I mourned my birth mother.

Portia Obinger.

Portia Obinger’s body had since been recovered from the burial site at the quarry. The coroner was examining the rifle that had killed Portia. When she studied the fingerprints, they matched that of one particular female Ukrainian, much to her surprise. She called in the detectives.

‘Looks like we’re getting closer to catching the serial killer,’ Kelly Engers said confidently. ‘And that killer most certainly isn’t the same woman you lot arrested earlier.’

Isla was ready to challenge Kelly. ‘And you know this for a fact, do you?’

‘Isla, the evidence is all there. All we need to is connect this Crazy Clone killer to the other murders.’

One of the forensic experts was already pulling up Helena’s criminal profile and scanning through the long list of homicides Helena had committed. The profile included her history of looking up to other crazed rampage killers before her, hoping to follow in their footsteps.

‘That will be the German’s killer. We’ve definitely got him. Or should I say her.’

Lieutenant Marshall and his FBI team once again set out on their mission to issue an arrest warrant. Only this time they were planning to arrest Helena as they broke into the basement where I had fought with her and shot her.

They didn’t know Helena’s surname, but they didn’t have to. They were certain they already had all the evidence they needed.

‘Helena, come out where you are right now!’ Ant Bell called. ‘You are under arrest for the murder of Portia Obinger.’

They advanced further. ‘Fucking shit,’ Ant uttered as he discovered Helena’s dead body.

Kelly approached Helena, who lay completely lifeless before her. ‘An acquaintance of ours already beat us to it,’ she scoffed. ‘What a shame. I was hoping to see this crazed blonde in the electric chair.’

I entered the high-rise where Lee was waiting for me inside the elevator. ‘Going up,’ he said in a moody voice.

As I got in, Lee saw my wounds and reached for me. ‘What happened, Samantha?’ he asked.

‘Don’t,’ I ordered, recoiling and slapping his hand away.

Lee pushed the button and the doors closed. ‘About what happened during the war in Afghanistan,’ he began to explain. ‘Please promise you won’t be shocked. I was a private contractor who killed six Marines in a friendly-fire incident and covered it up.’

I looked at him with true feeling, but I was lost for words. Was this the same Lee?

‘That’s what they have on me,’ he continued. ‘Now if you were born outside their control, then what do they have on you?’

My PinkMobile rang. It was Melissa, and unfortunately it wasn’t good news. ‘Sam?!’ she called, sounding distraught. ‘You can’t make a deal with these people. Any freedom they offer is bullshit.’

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Had they just lured us into a trap?

‘I’ve just run a background research on the Dyad Institute, and I have evidence from this bar code sequence that Évelyne and I decoded,’ Melissa further explained. ‘The whole point of their organization is that we are their products. We’re property and everything we become belongs to them. On top of that, Samantha, they could claim Katrina.’

Which only meant one thing – they had patented us! ‘No fucking way,’ I responded in a dull voice.

Alexia checked her phone as she waited for me and Lee. The elevator arrived and the doors opened, but Neil stepped out instead. ‘Samantha has a message for you,’ he informed.

I had sent Alexia a newly arrive email. ‘UP YOURS PROCLONE,’ it read. There was no way I was going to come to an agreement with this bitch.

Angry, Alexia dialled a secret number. ‘You know what to do,’ she ordered.

I hurriedly entered Siobhan’s house to find evidence of a violent struggle. There was overturned furniture and scattered papers blowing in the breeze from an opened window.

‘Katrina?!’ I called. ‘Siobhan?!’

I ran to Katrina’s bedroom, which had also been turned upside-down. Her bed was empty and there was a letter on the pillow. It read: ‘We have your daughter and foster mother. If you want to see them again, you know where to find us.’

Katrina and Siobhan had been kidnapped!

I called Felix, hoping and praying he would answer immediately. Thankfully, he did.

‘They took Katrina,’ I told him. ‘And Siobhan too. Those bastards took them both.’

The Lost Orphan: Stolen Identity Book One Chapter Twenty

Samantha (being ‘Claire’) meets with Ant at the very place where it all began. When he shows her Felix’s picture, she denies knowing who he (Felix) is. Ant points out how ‘Claire’ visited Felix with that $75000, when Ant stopped ‘Claire’ from skipping town. Now he knows there’s a connection. Ant also takes ‘Claire’ back to the fatal shooting of Bonnie Chen.

After closing the door on her life as ‘Claire’ for what will be the final time, now it’s up to  Samantha to decide the killer’s fate, but the truth about where Samantha came from changes everything.

Felix’s flat, where Claire’s detective partners question Felix for a second time.

Ant and Isla invaded Felix’s flat. Felix played the mourning brother and once again identified the picture of Claire’s corpse as me. ‘It was all such a shock,’ he sobbed. ‘Seeing her lying there on that slab. Completely, well, lifeless.

‘I keep asking myself how I didn’t see the suicide signs. I should’ve at least tried to help her.’

Ant made a face, far from convinced. Isla pretended to take an interest in Felix’s portraits stacked on the canvas. Felix noticed her staring at the portrait of Melissa, and looked in her direction. ‘I’ve been painting the many sides of Sam,’ he claimed proudly.

‘It’s all working out your grief,’ Ant sniggered.

Felix nodded. ‘Wherever it takes me.’ Feeling somewhat satisfied, the pair upped and left.

Outside the flat, Ant and Isla discussed more about Claire. ‘Some punk with an English accent called me last night, saying he wanted to talk about Claire,’ Ant explained. ‘Then he hung up.’

‘Maybe we need to bring Felix Hawkins in for further questioning,’ Isla suggested.

The notorious gravel quarry, where Portia Obinger’s body was buried.

I agreed to meet with Ant in secret only for a few minutes. At the gravel quarry where most of it all began, I pulled the Jag up inverse to his car. Without hesitation, he pulled up Felix’s mug shot. ‘This is your look-alike Samantha Branning’s foster brother, if I’m correct,’ he informed.

I pretended not to recognise Felix. ‘I wasn’t even aware of the fact Samantha had a foster brother,’ I claimed in ignorance. ‘I just assumed he was a college friend of hers.’

‘You visited his place a few weeks back with seventy-five grand in your trunk,’ Ant concluded. ‘The day I stopped you from skipping town. Now it’s all coming back to the Bonnie Chen shooting.’

I was afraid he would bring up Bonnie Chen.

‘You won’t want to go there,’ I warned him ominously. ‘You put the phone in Bonnie Chen’s hand. You helped me make it look like it was an accident.’

‘Only because I was trying to protect my partner at the time,’ Ant claimed. He looked at me long and hard. ‘This is your last chance to come clean, Claire,’ he asserted.

Sadly, I had no other option. I put the car in reverse. ‘We do what we have to do,’ I said to him simply.

As I drove off, this would be my final time of stepping into Claire Richards’s shoes.

At the cop shop, Isla had all the evidence spread out on the tables in the murder room. Lieutenant Marshall entered. ‘You said you wanted to see me,’ he noted.

‘Yeah, actually it’s about Claire Richards,’ Isla said, exhaling hard. ‘There’s something she has been hiding from us all.’

The train station guard had the security tape showing Claire’s suicide, and he played it to Ant at the train depot. ‘Samantha Branning is the one who jumped in front of the train,’ Ant guessed incorrectly. ‘The one in the sleeveless flowy dress and platform sandals. It had to have been her.’

The train station guard shook his head. ‘Wrong. Not the one in the mini dress. But the other one.’

Claire Richards?! Ant thought in disbelief as his eyes turned to the doppelganger in the women’s tuxedo suit. ‘There must be some kind of mistake,’ he protested. ‘There’s no way Claire is dead! I only just spoke to her a few hours ago.’

‘Listen,’ the station guard replied impatiently. ‘The security tape shows Claire Richards – not Samantha Branning – jumping in front of the train. Now, in order to prove it to you, I will replay the tape for a second time.’

Ant got a closer look, identified Claire on the track and then saw me approaching her. I still had jet black hair at the time. The feed clearly showed my traumatised reaction right before I witnessed Claire jump to her death. He continued to watch in shock and horror as I strode and snatched up Claire’s purse. ‘Jesus Fucking Christ!’ he blurted, finally putting it all together. ‘Why did you do it, Claire?’

Lieutenant Marshall swore furiously as he compared my headshot with Claire’s. ‘Fucking hell! Seriously, how long have you been sitting on the connection?’

‘It’s only been a couple of days,’ Isla admitted, although she sounded like she was biting back at him.

Ant arrived back. He was still shaken up at what he had just seen, and his uneased demeanour indicated that something was seriously wrong. ‘Anthony, we’re going to need an arrest warrant for Claire Richards,’ Lieutenant Marshall said.

Ant paused. ‘Lieutenant… Claire is dead,’ he informed them. ‘We need an arrest warrant for Samantha Branning.’

I arrived back at Siobhan’s, but got more than an unexpected surprise. There was a middle aged-looking woman with her. The woman looked Brazilian and had curly chestnut hair, which she wore in a headscarf.

Siobhan introduced me to the beautiful woman. ‘Samantha, this is Claudia.’

Claudia had tears in her eyes. ‘Look at you,’ she said breathlessly in a Portuguese accent. ‘What a beautiful young girl you are.’  Then she paused to get a hold of her emotions. ‘Samantha,’ she revealed baldly. ‘I’m your birth mother.’

Claudia (Samantha’s birth mother).

It was my turn to become overwhelmed, as – to my own surprise – I burst into floods of tears. ‘My birth mother?’ I sobbed.

‘I’m sorry if I wasn’t what you expected,’ Claudia admitted. I’d kind of given up expecting by then.

‘I got word you were looking for me,’ Claudia affirmed as we were settled on the couch. ‘So I had to leave Brazil in a hurry as I was being watched.

‘I was only twenty-two and new to England when a wealthy couple asked me to be their surrogate.’

Claudia stopped to get a handkerchief, and dabbed underneath her damp eyes with it so that they were dry. Then she continued. ‘It was a legal arrangement, all expenses paid, but something was off,’ she explained. ‘They were not really a couple at all. They were scientists. The child I carried wasn’t meant for them. I realized the life inside me was in danger. So I ran, and hid. And then I gave birth to the two of you in secret.’ I flinched upon hearing this. ‘The two of us?’ I was shocked to discover I actually had a biological twin.

‘I knew I couldn’t keep either of you,’ Claudia concluded. ‘Therefore, I had no choice but to give both of my children away. One to the London orphanage, the other to the church in Ukraine.’ That was when it all dawned on me and the truth came crashing down. My biological twin sister was in actual fact… Helena!

Now everything was finally starting to make sense, and suddenly I understood what Helena meant by ‘We have a connection’. I could have kicked myself for being so blind and not seeing that connection before.

‘I need to see Helena,’ Claudia decided adamantly. ‘Even though she may not understand.’

I agreed that Claudia had every right to have Helena know about her real parentage. After all, like me, my twin sister had had her whole world turned inside out. ‘However Helena takes this determines what we do with her,’ I insisted.

My birth mother and I went down to the basement where Helena was tied up and bound. I immediately prepared for Helena’s reaction as I introduced Claudia to her. ‘This is Claudia,’ I said. She’s our birth mother.’

Helena looked at Claudia with disbelief, and with a dirty look. Claudia’s brow furrowed as she got her first look of her second daughter. ‘This bitch is our birth mother?’ she scoffed.

‘Now you listen to what Claudia has to say,’ I demanded sharply. ‘Or I throw you into the trunk and take you straight to Leekie.’

Claudia took the chair I set before Helena. ‘How can you be my birth mother?’ Helena asked flatly.‘I’m birth mother to you and Samantha,’ Claudia explained meekly.

Upstairs, Siobhan searched Claudia’s handbag and extracted and hard-back journal. She opened the cover and found an envelope. She pulled out something from the envelope. It was an old photograph of herself when she was young, dressed in a lab coat. There was an armed soldier on guard behind her, along with the colleague with whom she was consulting.

‘Who’s here?’ Katrina quietly asked, startling Siobhan, who was slightly annoyed.

‘Why are you still up?’ Siobhan chided Katrina. But Katrina didn’t seem at all hurt by the reprimand. Something was on the little girl’s mind. ‘I think something bad is going to happen,’ she said.

‘This connection you feel between us,’ I explained to Helena rather harshly. ‘It stems from the fact that we were all implanted by doctors.’

‘You and Samantha both split inside me,’ Claudia added more gently. ‘I was only supposed to give birth to one baby girl, but instead I gave birth to two. And I hid you because I felt you were in danger.’

Helena wasn’t interested in getting to know Claudia, but she seemed to want a sisterly relationship with me. ‘You are my twin sister,’ she relished to me.

‘Well I don’t want to be your twin sister,’ I responded in a frosty tone. ‘I just want you to know you’re not the original.’ But our moment was interrupted by insistent loud banging from above. Alarmed, Claudia and I hurried upstairs to see who had arrived. Frustrated, Helena angrily kicked the chair away and began to struggle against her bonds as she attempted to break free.

‘Samantha Branning,’ Ant Bell shouted through the door. ‘Come out now! We have a warrant for your arrest.’

I quickly shoved Claudia into the kitchen where she took a seat. ‘Just pretend you’re visiting,’ I said to her hurriedly.

Armed SWAT along with Ant and Isla burst into the house through both the front and back entrances. ‘Samantha Branning!’ Ant shouted my full name again, giving his final warning. I immediately threw up my hands in surrender. ‘Turn around and put your hands on your head,’ Ant ordered as Isla strapped me into handcuffs. Katrina and Siobhan watched helplessly as I was being led away by Claire’s former police partners.

‘Let’s go,’ Ant said more quietly as he pushed me out the door.

In the basement, the window was broken, and blood was streaming down sharp edges of the broken glass. Helena was nowhere in sight.