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.