Morning light brightened the window, and crept across the bed until it lit my body. I could not move. Ever since McAllister had gathered up his belongings, packed his suitcases, and walked out of our bedroom; I had remained curled up on my side with my back to the door. Neither of us had said good-bye to the other.
I should never have told him the truth about myself. I should never have told him that I was Cicero's genetically modified clone.
Six hours ago, I had lain in this same place, facing McAllister. "I have something very important to tell you," I had said.
He raised a pale blonde brow and looked me straight in the eyes, his way of telling me I had his attention. I placed a hand against his cheek, and he turned his face so that he could kiss my palm. His lips seared my flesh. I pushed him back when he leaned in to kiss me on the lips.
"I don't know how to tell you this," I said. "Where do I begin?"
No! Don't speak!" I placed a finger against his lips to silence him. "If you say one word I'll lose the courage to tell you what I must."
For a long while, we gazed into each other's eyes. I could not bring myself to speak. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to make love with McAllister, and lose myself in him. I did not need to tell him my secret. But what if he discovered it after we were married? Although it was the hardest thing I would ever do, I had to reveal to him that I was a clone.
"Where do I begin?" I repeated. "I suppose by telling you that I learned of this thing only six months ago myself. Most of my life I had been unaware of this fact about me. I'm beating about the proverbial bushes because I fear your reaction. Oh, McAllister, this is much more serious than my going to bed with my father and having sex with him. If I have judged your love wrong, then telling you this secret may cost me my life. You do love me, don't you?"
He took my hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Of course I love you," he said. "I've loved you since you were twelve years old, and nothing will ever stop me from loving you. Do you understand? Nothing will ever take away the love I have for you." He laughed. "Listen to me. I sound as cliché as one of the characters in those romances you love to read. I mean every word of what I've said. Why don't you tell me this little secret of yours, and then I can go on to show you just how much I love you."
I pulled the letter that father had written to me, which revealed my true origins, out from under my pillow. I took a deep breath.
"I'm a clone. This letter explains everything," I said, handing the envelope to McAllister.
He looked me over from head to toe with a puzzled look in his eyes. Then he opened the envelope, took out the sheets of paper, and read what was written there in my father's hand. When he finished reading, he folded the sheets of paper, put them back in the envelope, and handed it back to me. I held my breath as I took it from him. Again he looked me over from head to toe, and disgust filled his eyes.
"Please, don't look at me like that," I whispered.
In silence he moved off the other side of the bed, walked around it and made his way into the bathroom. I remained facing the place he had just vacated. I could not move. I could not cry. I would lie here forever, and McAllister's face with that look of utter disgust would float in front of my eyes for all that time. I heard the shower run for a long, long time. After he came out of the bathroom, I felt him leave. He returned a short while later, and from the rustling of clothing, I could tell he packed his suitcases to leave. The snick of the door closing behind him told me he was gone.
"Miss Nella, it is time for you to get up," said Jones, my AI-Sec. "You must be quick for the Purity Police are on their way. If you don't get up right now, I'll send in some of my bots to get you out of bed, and get you dressed."
I try, but I am totally incapable of moving.
"Miss Nella, get up now, if you value your life," Jones almost shouts this. "The Purity Police are at the door. McAllister is with them. Chaz will hold them off as long as he is able.
McAllister was with them. I rolled over and slid off the side of the bed, taking along blankets and sheets. I have to get away. I don't want to see McAllister, and I certainly don't want him to be there when the Purity Police inject me with the lethal potion that will snuff out my life. I can't take the idea of him looking at me in disgust as being the last thing I might possibly see. I dash toward the bathroom.
"There is no time, Miss Nella," Jones sounds frantic. "The Police and McAllister are on their way up. Go to the living room as quickly as you can. I have opened the French doors leading to the outside, and a flyer awaits you twenty feet away from the house. My bots are deployed to give you some time. Go and swiftly."
I run through the hall and down the five steps into the sunken living room. Ahead of me, bright sunlight streams in through a pair of windows that stand wide open. Shouts and cries of pain came from the direction of the kitchen. I run for the open doors, and skid to a halt before going through. I saw the vast green space beyond the opening, that vast space which I feared like I feared nothing else, and I could not move one step further.
"Move, Miss Nella, move," shouted Jones. "McAllister is behind you. Six more steps and he'll be able to catch hold of you. I have asked the flyer to come as close to the house as possible. You will only have to go outside for a short way. Keep your eyes on the flyer. Run, Miss Nella!"