Chapter 7

Erica swung her legs over the side of the bed and sat up, facing away from him. Even where he stood, Jack could see her body tense at his words.

He half-expected, half-hoped that she'd shake her head at him, that she'd tell him no, of course not, but her silence spoke volumes.

"You were pregnant, with my… my baby?" he asked, stumbling over the word 'baby.' He had hoped that by saying it aloud, the words would somehow make sense to him, but they didn't.

He watched as her head bowed and her fingers clenched the bedding beneath her.

"Jackson? Erica? Is Erica alright?"

Jack and Erica both turned toward the door and Opal barged in.

"Oh, honey, I am so glad to see you sitting up. You gave us quite a scare!" Opal gushed.

Jack put a hand firmly on Opal's shoulder. "This is not a good time."

"Kendall went to try to talk some sense into Greenlee, and that sweet gal of yours… Erica, Bianca told everyone to stay put, that the wedding was gonna go on as planned in a jiffy," Opal said in Erica's direction with a reassuring smile. Her best gal pal was just sitting there on the bed, not looking at anyone and not moving. Opal looked up at Jackson and then back again at Erica. This was bad. This was very, very bad.

Jack escorted Opal out of the room. She wanted to know what to tell the guests. What the hell did he care about their guests? What was happening in this room was far more important.

He locked the door behind Opal and turned back to his fiancé.

"Why didn't you tell me?" He demanded.

She finally turned her head and looked up at him. "I didn't know I was pregnant until I was, well, too far along to do anything about it. I called every law school in southern California when I found out I was pregnant," she said evenly. "I couldn't find you. All I knew is that you'd either lied about being in law school or you'd lied about your name."

"Erica, that was more than 20 years ago! We've been engaged more than once since then. Why didn't you tell me that you got pregnant?" He said, trying to keep the shock and the anger out of his voice.

She stared hard at him. "You never mentioned it. Not once, Jack, in all this time, did you give me any indication that you knew I was the young woman in the bar in California, the woman you took to bed. You left the next morning before I woke up. You literally left me ALONE," she said, trying to keep her voice steady. "For all I knew, you were horribly embarrassed about it and never wanted to see me again."

She stood up and smoothed the front of her wedding dress. "I was pregnant with Bianca, with your brother's child, when I met you again in Pine Valley. What did you want me to say? 'Oh by the way, do remember that time we met in California, gave each other fake names and had drunken sex? Yeah, that? You knocked me up.' Be reasonable, Jackson."

He clenched his jaw in frustration before yelling at her. "Be REASONABLE? Erica, a woman you despise, a woman I don't particularly care for, just burst into our WEDDING and announced in front of all of our family and friends that she is our DAUGHTER. And now, despite being with you off and on for more than a decade, I am just now hearing that you got pregnant as a result of a drunken one night stand we had in our youth. I think we're far beyond reasonable right now!"

She cringed at his words and at the tone of his voice. He was right – she should have told him. He had a right to know. When she knew who he was, when she met him again in Pine Valley, she should have told him the truth. She'd had a million reasons why she had kept Jessica's existence to herself over the years, and if Jack pushed, she'd defend her choice to him, but deep down, she knew that he'd had a right to know, that she should have somehow found a way to tell him the truth. She just never could figure out how to do it.

As more and more time passed, the idea of telling him became more and more frightening to her, until at least she reached a point at which she decided that Jessica could and would stay in the past. Not even Kendall's entry into her life could dissuade Erica from keeping Jessica's existence a secret. There were plenty of adopted children who grew up happy and loved and who had no interest in searching for their birthparents. There were plenty of adoptees who were quite happy with the life they'd been given, and who saw no need to ask questions about their origins. Jessica was one of those happy adoptees, she told herself. Jessica would never come looking for her, and she could let the past stay buried.

Jack drew in a long, slow breath, trying to steady his emotions as he rubbed his temples. "Is it possible?" He asked her, his voice barely a whisper. "Could Greenlee be our daughter?"

Her eyes widened at his words. Surely he wasn't going to believe the rantings of a crazed woman like Greenlee DuPres!

"Jack…" she started. "Greenlee… she couldn't possibly be… She's Roger and Mary Smythe's daughter" Erica struggled to find the words. "No, it's not possible!"

Jack sat down in a chair on the opposite side of the room from Erica and put his head in his hands. "I need you to tell me everything. I need to know what happened to… it," he said, his voice slightly muffled by his hands. He nearly choked on the last word. He couldn't even bring himself to say the words, 'our baby.'

For years he'd wanted nothing more than to be with Erica, to build a life with her, to have a family with her. And now he was learning – on their wedding day no less - that they'd created a life together, that the family he'd wanted with Erica had been there all along, just out of his grasp. Pain stabbed at his chest at the realization that he shared a child with Erica, a child he'd never known, a child who had been lost to both of them.

"It was… it was a girl?" He asked in a near whisper.

Erica wrapped her arms around herself and looked away.

The "yes" that escaped her lips was barely audible.

Erica sank back onto the bed, sitting on the edge of the mattress. Her legs were shaking too much to stand on her own.

Jack leaned back in his chair and stared at Erica, at the stunned look on her face and the faraway gaze in her eyes. His stomach twisted in knots as he waited for her to continue.

"I went to Phoenix. My mother thought I was at a health spa."

"Mona didn't know?" He asked, shocked by this news. He knew how close Erica and Mona had been, the lengths she'd gone to in order to protect Erica when Erica had been pregnant with Kendall as a result of rape.

Erica shook her head. "She'd just remarried. My marriage had fallen apart. Again. Tom left me because I didn't want to have a baby, and I ended up pregnant by some man whose real name I didn't even know," She said bitterly. "I wasn't about to tell my mother the truth."

"Did ANYONE know the truth?" He demanded.

"What was I supposed to do, Jack? I didn't have any real symptoms of pregnancy. I didn't know I was pregnant until it was far too late for an abortion. If I'd known right away, frankly, I would have ended the pregnancy."

She watched as he cringed at her words. It was true, she really would have ended the pregnancy if she could have, but perhaps she shouldn't have been so blunt.

"Jack, I didn't think I wanted to have children at all. Having one and raising it by myself, when I didn't even know the father's real name wasn't an option," She said, trying to explain her abortion remark. It was probably pointless trying to make him understand, she realized as she looked at the tortured expression on his face. He was a man - he'd never have to suffer through an unplanned pregnancy or a secret birth, not the way she had. Men had it so easy in comparison.

"So you just gave our daughter away and never looked back," He said, the disgust clear in his voice and on his face.