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Authors: L. J. Sellers

The Baby Thief

BOOK: The Baby Thief
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Novels by L.J. Sellers

 

Detective Jackson Series

 

Secrets to Die For

 

Thrilled to Death

 

Passions of the Dead

 

Dying for Justice

 

Liars, Cheaters & Thieves

 

Standalone Thrillers

 

The Sex Club

 

The Baby Thief

 

The Arranger

 

The Suicide Effect

 

Nonfiction

 

Write First, Clean Later:
Blogs, Essays, & Writing Advice

 

THE BABY THIEF

 

Copyright © 2010 by L.J. Sellers

 

All rights reserved. Except for text references by reviewers, the reproduction of this work in any form is forbidden without permission from the author.

 

ISBN 978-0-9795182-1-8

 

Published in the United States of America

 

Spellbinder Press
Eugene, OR 97402
ljsellers.com

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual people, locations, or events is coincidental or fictionalized.

 

Cover art by Gwen Thomsen Rhoads
www.gwenrhoads.com

 

Digital Editions by:
booknook.biz

 

Contents

 

Novels by L.J. Sellers
Copyright Page
Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49
Chapter 50
About the Author
An Excerpt From…

Chapter 1

 

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2:45 p.m.

Elizabeth stared at the file on her desk, heart pounding with indecision.
Say it!
Her forehead went damp, and she reached for a tissue, avoiding her patient’s gaze. Ms. McClure sat calmly, waiting for her to speak. The patient had come to the Assisted Reproduction Clinic in good faith. How could Elizabeth violate that trust? She was a doctor!

The thought of Dr. Gybbs, her chief of staff, discovering her deception horrified her more than anything. She owed him so much. He’d promoted her to director of genetic science her third year with the hospital, passing over several male associates. Then Columbia had honored her with its Scientific Excellence award just last year. To risk all that…
Just say it!

McClure shifted in her chair. Elizabeth glanced at the file again and took a deep breath. “The test results show you have the genetic marker associated with cystic fibrosis.”

There, she’d done it. She’d told the lie that set the plan in motion.

Her patient’s eyes widened, then filled with despair. Elizabeth knew how she felt. Hearing that you couldn’t or shouldn’t have a baby was the most devastating news a woman could receive.

She wanted to reach out and comfort the woman. Instead, she leaned back and spoke casually.  “Don’t be too alarmed. One out of twenty-two Caucasians is a carrier. But unless the father is also a carrier, your chances of having a healthy child are still good.”

“What does that mean?” McClure’s light brown eyes flickered with anger.

Elizabeth understood the anger too. But she couldn’t let herself feel kinship with this woman. McClure had something she wanted, something she was entitled to. She had to be strong to take it from her.

“In practical terms, it means before you have yourself artificially inseminated, the donor should also be screened for the cystic fibrosis marker.” Damn, she was making it sound too easy. Elizabeth didn’t want her coming back to the clinic any time soon. So she continued, “The test is more difficult with the limited amount of DNA in sperm, thus more expensive. If you wait until you’re pregnant, then have an amniocentesis, you’re faced with the decision of either giving birth to a diseased child or aborting it. Perhaps you should take some time to read up on CF. You may decide to consider other options.”

“Like what?”

“Adoption.” Just saying the word made the old bitterness rise in her throat. Elizabeth swallowed hard to keep it down. “The joy of children isn’t limited to genetic offspring.”

If only that were true
.

The summer of her tenth birthday crashed on her consciousness like a tidal wave. Standing by her mother’s grave, watching the casket being lowered, Elizabeth had wanted to throw herself in and let the earth swallow her, too. But her grief then was only the beginning. The whispering of relatives at the funeral was followed by the sudden crushing knowledge that she’d been adopted, that her beloved mother was not really hers.

Elizabeth had never considered adopting a child, even when she learned her ovaries were worthless, damaged—so she believed—by pelvic infections she’d suffered as a child. Before she could compose herself, another memory engulfed her. The drunken sweaty face of Ralph, her adopted father, grimacing in a strange blend of pain and joy as he forced himself on her.

Elizabeth felt the tremors starting, the buried rage fighting to surface. She’d never been to a counselor, never spoken of it to anyone. Even after learning she was sterile, she’d kept her silence. But the rage never diminished. It surfaced less often now, but with the same intensity.

Her patient’s voice, hauntingly familiar, broke through the anguish. “Do you have any literature about cystic fibrosis that I could take with me?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t,” Elizabeth snapped.

She had to get this woman out of her office. Just looking at her weakened Elizabeth’s resolve. McClure had the same wide cheekbones and stubborn chin, the same wavy hair. “Here’s the name of an organization you can call for information. They can also put you in touch with a support group.”

Elizabeth stood and handed McClure a card, willing her to leave. She didn’t want to see her again until she was unconscious on the operating table. Elizabeth wished there was another way, but the laparoscopy was a simple procedure and wouldn’t hurt her at all.

What about afterwards, she asked herself for the hundredth time? The drugs would wipe out McClure’s memory, but what if the oocytes didn’t fertilize? What if the transfer failed? Could they keep her until she ovulated again?

Don’t think about it, she told herself. David was a great embryologist. If anyone could make her pregnant, he could.

“Thanks,” McClure said quietly, tucking the card in her purse. She squared her shoulders and wiped mascara from under her eyes before turning to leave.

Elizabeth admired her composure, her refusal to cry or complain like so many did at the first sign of trouble. She was a sturdy woman physically, too. An inch or so taller than Elizabeth and meatier all over. Not overweight; just robust, healthy. Elizabeth felt of pang of jealousy. She had always been pale and thin from spending long hours in the lab and skipping meals.

“Good luck.” Elizabeth bit the inside of her cheek. She had a sudden urge to call her back. Maybe they could become friends and eventually she could ask…

No. She couldn’t take the risk.

The woman was gone and Elizabeth was alone again. Collapsing back in her chair, she started to tremble. It had begun. In her whole life, she had never been so frightened, and so excited. Suddenly she had to see the slides again.

BOOK: The Baby Thief
10.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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