He watched from his front porch as the sky grew dark over his quiet neighborhood. He could hear his five adopted children in the house behind him, preparing for dinner time.
Their mom had left to buy groceries, and she hadn’t returned yet.
He looked down at her phone that she’d left at the house, rereading the messages. How could she do this to their family?
Michael Jaquavius Cole had always dreamed of having a big family.
As a youngster, he often fantasized about meeting the love of his life and having many children.
But when he was just ten years old, tragedy struck. This was how he learned that nothing came easy in life.
The Life He Built
Living in Virginia, Mike was just like any other thirty-six-year-old. He was proud of everything he’d managed to accomplish in his life. He’d built quite the life for himself during his twenties.
He’d had a rocky start to his life, but he managed to turn it all around for himself.
He found a good job and an amazing wife who meant everything to him. He never thought that it would all come crumbling down around him.
He’d met Marissa, the love of his life, during his college years. She was a class above him, and her smile and mind had captivated him since their first meeting. He dreamed of being with her for the rest of his life.
He did everything to get her attention. He would often buy her flowers and invite her on dates and visits to the park.
Eventually, it paid off. She gave him a chance, and four years later, they got married.
But the problems popped up while they were trying to get pregnant. Naturally, people want a house full of children after getting married.
But Mike and Marissa were facing a big problem. They were unable to have children in the traditional way.
When they got married, they promised to stand by each other through thick and thin. But this would be too much for the couple.
They decided to see a doctor friend to confirm what they were already suspecting. When the doctor confirmed that Mike couldn’t have his own children, they were heartbroken.
Seeing their hurt expressions, the doctor quickly reminded them that her revelation didn’t mean he couldn’t be a dad.
She gave them a good solution to the problem, but this solution would drive them to end their relationship.
When they got home, the couple took a seat and discussed how they would handle the situation.
Mike had drifted between foster families in his younger years, which was why he suggested becoming foster parents.
Mike understood the pain of not having a stable and loving family. He wanted to give that to a needy child somewhere in his state. He had no idea what troubles were lurking ahead.
While they were talking, Marissa really listened to him. Hearing him out, she even suggested they look into adoption.
The more they spoke about it, the more he resonated with her idea. Marissa wanted something more permanent, so she suggested adoption, but she wasn’t ruling out being foster parents.
Mike had no clue what Marissa was planning.
Marissa told Mike about a few different adoption and foster care agencies around their state.
Not long after this conversation, the couple was foster parents to two amazing children.
Mike expected the two of them to take a step back and grow into their roles as new parents. Everything was going well until one day when Marissa made another suggestion.
Marissa wanted more children, and this time she was looking into adoption. She managed to find the perfect kids. They reminded her so much of her amazing brothers upstate.
They looked just like them, and this kept her up at night. She kept showing Mike photos of the boys, telling him how badly she wanted them in their care.
But there was one thing she wasn’t telling him.
The Resemblance Is Uncanny
Mike took a look at the three boys. The first, Jody had just turned fifteen. His little brothers, Aiden and Lester, were twelve and nine, respectively.
But the fact that they were already grown wasn’t what threw Mike off.
The kids bore such a striking resemblance to Marissa that Mike had to sit in bed and turn on the lights to study the photos better. The problem was slowly rearing its head.
Who Are They?
The fact that the three brothers looked like Marissa struck Mike as odd. He’d known her throughout college.
In all those years, he’d known her as a childless woman looking to start a family with him.
He considered the brothers possibly being her nephews but remembered that all her brothers and cousins were almost two decades younger than her. What was happening?
Marissa didn’t seem that shaken about the matter. If anything, this made her want to adopt the boys even more. She even brought their foster daughters, Lisa and Milo, into the fold, asking them if they wished to have brothers in the house.
The two little sisters nodded eagerly. They, too, were quick to pick up on the fact that their foster mom shared some features with the boys.
These included the shape of her eyes and nose. There was something Marissa wasn’t telling them.
The Key To Happiness
Mike decided not to worry too much about the matter. Even he had a few people around the state that could be confused for him.
He also wanted to make his wife happy, and if opening up his home to the three brothers was the key to that happiness, he would gladly do it.
If only he knew what he was stepping into.
The Cole family got in touch with the adoption agency responsible for the brothers and started the adoption process.
It was long and arduous, but after a few months of ups and downs, the three boys were finally coming home.
As Mike and Marissa drove them to their house, Mike realized one thing Marissa hadn’t mentioned. She and the brothers knew each other.
There Is More To It
Marissa had never mentioned meeting the boys before. She’d also acted like she didn’t know them in their previous meetups.
But that drive home convinced Mike that something else was underfoot.
The four sang along to songs Mike never knew Marissa liked and even shared inside jokes. He should have known that his issues were only starting.
As he always did when something bothered him, Mike brought up the matter as soon as they’d put the kids to bed.
They lived in a modest house despite both parents being young, so the kids wouldn’t hear them quarrel.
Mike told Marissa that he felt like she had met the brothers before and even knew them on a first-name basis. He expected Marissa to deny everything. But he’d soon get the shock of his life.
How Well Do You Know Her?
Marissa didn’t even bother to deny what Mike was saying. She nodded her head with a grin, still acting innocent. “Of course, I know them,” she said.
“How?” Mike asked, unsure of what to think. He thought he knew everything about his wife.
She was the love of his life, after all. How could he not know this?
What To Believe
“What do you mean how?” Marissa asked. She reminded Mike that she’d done charity work back in college. She assured him that she met the first two brothers then while they were still babies.
Mark took in a sharp breath. Although he wanted to believe his wife, he knew things would never be the same.
He’d never outlive his guilt for not believing her if she were telling the truth. But if she were lying, he’d never forgive her for hurting him this way.
A Cold Night
The two went to sleep that night without even saying goodnight. For the first time in their lives as a couple, they slept with their backs to each other.
But as dawn came, things seemed to have cooled down. Marissa, waking up with a bright smile, cuddled up to Mike and asked him how his night was.
It was like they didn’t have their biggest fight the previous night.
“It was good,” Mike lied. He ate back a sigh. Maybe he was looking too much into this.
He had already spent time with the brothers and loved them. They respected each other and him and even showed interest in his conversations.
They were well-behaved and intelligent, watching out for each other, their parents, and their new siblings. So why did Mike feel like something wasn’t right here?
Trust The Process
From a young age, Mike had always known to trust his gut. He’d gotten so far in life by that one simple rule. If something felt wrong, then high chances were that it was wrong.
So he kept his eye open as the weeks rolled by, praying that his gut wasn’t right this time.
But it wasn’t long before he caught something that made him lose all hope.
She’s Hiding Something
Mike had come home early that day when he discovered that Marissa was hiding something from him.
She was in the kitchen making the kids a snack with her phone in her ears as she cheerfully talked away.
Mike didn’t think anything of it at first. But everything changed when Marissa realized he had been watching her all this while.
She asked him how long he had been looking at her and what he had heard. She seemed too defensive about the matter, talking about personal space before storming out of the kitchen.
Mike tried to talk to her about the matter, following her into their bedroom.
When he asked who she was on the phone with, she maintained that it was her mom. Something was not right.
Another Cold Night
Marissa didn’t change one bit of her story. But she spent the night with her phone glued to her face, reading through text messages and replying to some of them.
Mike, who had started the night pretending he didn’t care what she was doing, was more than hurt.
The next day he wouldn’t go to work. One way or another, he’d get to the bottom of what was happening.
Too Much Pressure
Marissa was out of the house when Mike got hold of his phone. They had never had secrets, so he couldn’t understand why she was hiding things from him now.
After hours of debating whether or not he should go through her phone, he finally keeled over and opened it, rushing straight to the call log and text messages.
What he would find would leave him speechless.
Most of the messages were from Marissa’s friend, a doctor in town.
The conversations were mainly about Marissa’s relationship with Mike and their kids. But that wasn’t all.
Deep within the sea of messages was a topic that grabbed Mike by the scruff of his neck, showing him that he had no idea what was truly going on behind his back.
It turns out that Marissa was two months pregnant with Mike’s baby. She was so startled by the occurrence that she couldn’t even share it with him.
She feared he’d think she went out of their marriage after starting their beautiful family.
Over the past few weeks, she’d been frequenting the doctor for checkups. Each test had come out positive, which is why she seemed so distressed. But that wasn’t all.
Too Much Information
Marissa shared about their fights over the kids. Her friend had been among the individuals who accompanied her in her volunteering days back in college.
She knew the boys as much as Marissa did, given that she’d been present when they were born and was the one who introduced them to Marissa.
Mike couldn’t believe what he was reading. How did Merissa get pregnant when he couldn’t sire any?
Mike stood on his porch, eyes glued to the dark pink and orange horizon. He didn’t want to jump to conclusions about Marissa’s pregnancy.
He couldn’t wait for her to return home so they could talk about everything. He would have to be delicate about how he handled the situation. If only he knew there was more to this than he thought.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.