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Gen Three- Chapter Forty (FINAL)

For all the impossibly long months of pain and waiting for a pregnancy to complete, the moments after the children arrived defied time. In a way, it passed as it'd passed that night with Arbor. The minutes flowed onward even as they ceased to exist. I lay in a bubble of calm and quiet where my mind couldn't fathom what lurked on the horizon. My body rested deeply in the cushioned mattress overwhelmed by exhaustion, a bit of blood loss, and an extreme amount of comforting hormone surges that was its attempt to convince me that maybe I would want to do this again in the future. Little of the pain lingered, perhaps because of that or perhaps because of the epidural still kicking. I cringed at any small idea of moving or focusing on the sounds of Russet and Timber on the other side of the wall. Sterling kicked them out not long after the second girl had been successfully delivered. He told them they weren't needed while he helped me through the after stages of labor, which was majorly true. The real reason for having them leave, of course, was to provide him and I a chance to talk privately if needed.

     "You've got two happy babies here," Sterling, having ditched the stuffy delivery outfit as soon as he could, gushed while he held the younger of the two girls, "She's smiling already. Probably because she knows she has a great mama who held on through a lot to have her here."
     "Hell yes I have," I laughed quietly, "Oh, I only wish mom could have been here. She had this big plan for the birth of her first grandchildren. How we could talk now that I can see what it was like for her to give birth to Gilly and me..."
     "You'll have the opportunity, I'm sure." Sterling encouraged optimistically.

He swayed his held baby gently, much to her delight. I held my baby, my older girl, closer to my chest as I softly brushed my fingertips across her forehead. She lay content and tired slowly curling and uncurling her fingers against the blanket that swaddled her.

     "Now, I haven't been allowed to get my hands on any sort of official birth certificate for obvious reasons..." Sterling spoke after a moment, "But I'll be creating a Company record for these two in order to keep track of their development and health. I'll need to know what names to put down, unless Timber has demanded he be a part of that process."
     "If he had, I would ignore him. But no, Timber said I could pick whatever I wanted. He said giving me the courtesy was the least he could do when I would be doing all the hard work," I said his name with a bite before sighing and gazing tenderly at this new tiny set of twins, "This one here with me is Cinnamon. That one there with you is Nutmeg."
     "I like that. The names relate as they're both sweet spices, but they're plenty distinct." Sterling nodded in approval.
     "That's exactly what I was going for. It's similar to how mom and dad named Gilly and me. They're very different names, but they take inspiration from flowers. Then, again, that's why Papa Al and Mama Li named mom, Hollyhock, and Aunt Mimi, Mimosa, what they did too. I would have gone with the flower theme as well, but I'm not really familiar with the names of any brown flowers. I wonder if any even exist."
     "I think there's a handful, but nothing that would have fit like Cinnamon and Nutmeg. We seem to be in the clear with both of them being Solid brown. Nutmeg looks so much like Timber, but Cinnamon must have inherited the darker brown from someone further up his line."

My fingers stopped moving. I'd been waiting for Sterling to say something like that even while I'd been dreading it. This was what lurked on the horizon, and to stab the bubble to crash myself back to reality sprung tears to my eyes despite a smile remaining on my face. I loved my daughters with an intensity that forced happiness in my chest. It was a happiness that made the fear rolling and pushing on my gut dig with a nauseating fervor.

     "No. We're not in the clear," I began to reveal as I shook away my crying, "Nutmeg is Timber's daughter. Cinnamon is Arbor's."

Sterling took a hurried step as he more closely scrutinized the two girls. His eyes narrowed.

     "Are you sure?" he asked in concern.
     "Yes," I sniffled, "Arbor's parents are both Mixed, but he came out Solid brown. Just like Timber, although their shades are obviously incredibly different."
     "Is there a chance Timber might not come to that conclusion? He doesn't know you two were ever together. He could think the darker brown came from his birth mother's family."
     "Maybe for a brief bit, if we're lucky. I wouldn't give it any longer than past this afternoon. Timber's too perceptive to be duped like that," I mumbled reluctantly, "Here."

I shifted to sit up more and lay Cinnamon on the open space on the mattress near my feet before motioning for Sterling to rest Nutmeg near her. The differences were more clear when placed side by side. I lovingly stroked the distinct facial features of each of my children. Sterling could likely ignore them more easily due to not having any idea what Arbor looked like, but they were as clear as day to me. Timber, who knew Arbor, would see the same.

     "Damn it," Sterling exhaled in frustration, fiddling with his hair, "Heteropaternal superfecundation. I did think of it from time to time once you told me how Arbor and Timber slept with you within twenty-four hours, but I didn't really think it would happen. The odds..."
     "I would like to know if they were greater or lesser than Cinnamon and Nutmeg inheriting the albinism." I smiled wryly.
     "Honestly, I think it was more likely for them to be albino." Sterling's expression mirrored mine.
     "I should have tried my hand at the lottery."
     "At least you did warn me of this beforehand. Not that either of us truly anticipated this, of course, but that Arbor was a player in the whole situation. I have some ideas on the ready, but the longer Timber remains oblivious to the truth the better."

The two of us spoke in hushed tones. We could hear Russet and Timber chatting on the other side of the wall as they worked on getting the cribs put together. Funnily enough, they'd planned to set them up that afternoon anyway. Then the twins actually came. Even though I could hear Timber and his father not paying attention to us at all, with how things went when they returned to the bedroom several minutes later they might as well have been listening in.

     "Everything all good now?" Timber peeked his head into the room.

He waited for no answer and strode over beaming. I held Cinnamon and Nutmeg to me closely, and I turned Cinnamon as much as I could to show Timber almost nothing but blanket. He sat on the edge of the bed and wrapped an arm around me.

     "Have you decided on names?"
     "Cinnamon and Nutmeg." I answered softly, tilting my head towards each in turn.
     "How cute. They work as is, but Cinni and Meg are adorable nicknames too. Nutmeg took more after me, I see. And Cinnamon..."

Timber gave me a curious look when I hesitated on showing him her, and the tears threatened to burst out when he moved my arm firmly to take her into his own hold. He stood, softly ran his hand through her hair, and then frowned. All it took him was those several seconds.

     "Why does she look like Arbor?"

I stiffened. Sterling stiffened. Russet moved over for a better look himself.

     "Dianthus?" Timber quirked a brow my way.

I couldn't get my lips to move.

     "If I don't get an answer, there's a nice river full of rapids to drop her in." he then dove right for manipulating me through my children.
     "I was out with Arbor the night before you took me. We slept together then." my voice cracked as I admitted it.
     "Hmm," Timber mused, "You think that would have been something you would tell me. That wasn't very nice. In any case, Sterling? Is what I'm thinking possible? That this child is Arbor's and Nutmeg is mine?"
     " is." Sterling confirmed quietly.

He spoke nothing further until Timber gave him a look too.

     "Would you care to give me a bit more detail about it than that?" he prompted.
     "S-Sorry. It's all rather simple. The whole thing is referred to as heteropaternal superfecundation. Dia released two eggs when she ovulated, which led to the conception of fraternal twins. However, instead of the sperm of one man fertilizing both, she had intercourse with two men near her time of ovulation. Arbor's sperm fertilized one egg while yours fertilized the other."
     "I see. I see," Timber nodded, "And did you know before this that both children might not be mine?"
     "Dia had told me she slept with Arbor, yes." Sterling explained slowly.
     "And why didn't you tell me?"
     "You didn't ask."

My arms shivered with goosebumps. Timber, for the most part, looked as he always looked. A mildly pleasant expression sat on his face as he talked as if we were discussing something simple and casual. The truth should be that he shouldn't give a damn about the situation if he had no emotions, but there were strings as he admitted separate from emotions that worked his decisions. The terrifying thing was there was no way to tell what truly motivated him or what went on in his mind.

     "Well, Arbor never managed to work his way into my good graces. I have no need for a daughter of his, but I'll give Cinnamon the benefit of the doubt for now. Perhaps my birth mother has family that coincidentally looks like him. I'll wait until we get the results of a paternity test done. How long should that take?"
     "It's not a difficult thing to do at the facility. No more than two days." Sterling hid a cringe as he answered.
     "That's not bad. Why don't I help you get what you need to take the test so we can get you started on that right away?"

Timber handed Cinnamon back to me. I snuggled her tight without hesitation, shivering with fright as Timber gave Sterling no opportunity to deny his request. Out the two walked. My breath and voice remained trapped in my chest even after I heard the sound of the bookshelf open and close with its familiar thunk. My eyes, glassy with looming crying, desperately sought out the only other hint of an ally of mine.

     "Russet..." I all but sobbed his name.
     "There's nothing helpful you'll find looking at me that way." he denied instantly.
     "I have a day or two, but Cinnamon is obviously Arbor's daughter. Timber's going to do something bad to her once the test proves it. You have to help. She's just an innocent baby." I pleaded.
     "And you weren't innocent? Your mother, Ember, Gilly, Merlot? What did they ever do to warrant what happened to them?" he questioned back his argument.
     "I know you regret it all. I know you wish you didn't have a hand in their suffering," I reminded him, "You can stop the heartache before it begins now. Timber might not be capable of loving you, but your role as his father isn't unimportant. If you talk to him, he could change his mind. You could go against him even if he doesn't. Even if it can't be Nutmeg and I, at least get Cinnamon back to my family."
     "Dianthus," Russet shook his head, and his colder tone ripped gashes through my chest as my hopes died, "You clearly didn't accept what I told you that day. I will say something to Timber, but I doubt it will have little effect. I will not go against him. It doesn't matter how many times he rapes you. It doesn't matter if he wants to torture Cinnamon the way he tortured those cats. I will not abandon or betray my son. As I said, I have long since earned my ticket to hell. The best I can do until that point is hold on to the little, scattered pieces of what I love. That does not include that child there."
     "Then get the fuck out of here," I demanded, my voice low and dark as scalding tears of fury dripped down, "And don't ever come down here again. Knife or not, I will kill you."

Russet said nothing further. Just nodded without agreeing, gave me one of his sad smiles, and walked out the door.

I cried hard for a moment before packing it all inside. My body being in a right mess due to the pregnancy and labor meant nothing. The girls were here, and the last thing they needed was for me to spend my hours crying and sobbing in self-pity. My crying upset them, in fact. That, or that them only stopping their whining and squealing once I calmed down was a coincidence. I fed them, changed them, washed them, and otherwise got them comfortable and content. Thanks goodness one of my studying phases had centered around newborn care. Without Sterling's assistance, I otherwise would be at a loss for what to do.

Because I never saw Sterling again. Cinnamon and Nutmeg had fallen asleep for their first rest, and I was about to nod off myself when Timber returned. He'd given the samples needed to test his DNA against what Sterling could get from Cinnamon's umbilical cord before having Sterling write down a list of the next steps to take with the girls. That way Timber could take care of me and them while Sterling had no distractions on getting the results. So time passed. Russet was seemingly gone. Sterling was gone. I was left with Timber, the one I loathed most of all, to get through the tumultuous first day. Seriously, it was a blessing I had so much doctor training. No amount of verbal instruction from Sterling to Timber on how to tend to my post-labor body came close to real knowledge of how to handle everything. It was me, myself, and I who dealt with the worst of it. Timber majorly looked after the twins. True to his word, he showed no difference in how he treated Cinnamon compared to Nutmeg. The big issue came from the fact that Timber finally realized how right I was. Babies were annoying, and he had no motivation to suck it up. He toughed it out as best he could, but by the time Cinnamon and Nutmeg were a day old he only came down every few hours to see if there was anything required for him to do before leaving for another long stretch of time.

I didn't mind. Sleep disgusted me no matter how much my body craved it. Each second signaled the coming of something horrible, and so every second I spent with my daughters was beyond precious. While I did my best not to favor one over the other, of course more of my attention and cuddling went towards Cinnamon. Nutmeg was safe. She was Timber's, and he wouldn't hurt her. Cinnamon...what was her fate? Would Russet change his mind? Would Sterling pull through? Could Timber be convinced to leave her alone? Or did each of her breaths bring her closer to her last? Was Timber just playing on my fears, having no intention of hurting her, in order to bring me into line faster? I would actually weep in relief if such was the case. Perhaps I could even forgive him for it. The sheer force of love attaching me to Cinnamon and Nutmeg was unlike anything I'd ever known before. Their smiles and cute little baby burps nearly drove me over the edge with glee. For the peace of having them both safe with me, I could indeed forgive Timber some of his tricks.

Sleep forced itself upon me the next afternoon once Cinnamon and Nutmeg were settled down from a bout of crying. They preferred the closeness of the other, so keeping them in the same crib provided me better quiet to relax. I placed my head on my pillow, sighed, and soon was taken over by a familiar sensation of bliss. The pain was gone, and Arbor soon stood nearby. He stumbled as I leapt at him without wasting a second.

     "Are you almost here?" I demanded, collapsing into his arms and allowing my tears to fall now.
     "Am I almost here?" he questioned in confusion, holding me tight.
     "This place. This damn prison. It's been months- terrible, suffocating months that have passed like years. If I absolutely must, I can handle waiting longer. I will take whatever Timber throws my way, but I can't let Cinnamon and Nutmeg suffer. I'm so scared for Cinnamon too. You, or dad, or grandpa, or whoever's working on setting me free has to come now."
     "I'm sorry, Dia," Arbor mumbled, "You know we're looking, but it took eight years before to get any grasp on The Company to bring them down. They've refined themselves far better since then. Timber's right. Help might come, but it's not coming anytime soon."

I sobbed harder and shook my head. Those words were poison. If only they weren't the truth. Arbor either spoke the delusions I forced him to say or reflected back the truths I knew. This time it was the latter.

Arbor clutched tight to me as if to force all the life from my body. He was disappearing. I could feel it in my brain. Keeping him there, dreaming as I was...everything Sterling warned was another painful truth. I wouldn't be able to dream as I did before. Arbor faded from sight where I woke up standing next to the crib. Shaky legs dropped me to the ground like a dead weight, prompting both Cinnamon and Nutmeg to startle and fuss. My arm reaching over to drape across them and hold their little hands in turns settled them eventually. A hint of a smile caught on my lips when Nutmeg flailed until her hand caught under Cinnamon's elbow. That comforted them faster. Twins truly were interesting. Fraternal or identical- it didn't really matter. To be so close, to have such a strong connection from the womb, that bond couldn't be replicated or properly understood by those who weren't a part of one. My coral color hair that had blazed red fell over my shoulder into my sight. I held onto it tight as it prompted me to finally cry until I couldn't cry anymore. Nine months. In nine months, I had created two entirely new lives. In nine months, my sister had turned into a wrinkled, gaunt, awful corpse without hair or nails.

The sobbing fit collapsed me back into sleep. My face pressed up against the crib bars left imprints that took about an hour to fade. Cinnamon and Nutmeg were due for another round of feeding, burping, changing, and cuddling. They rested content afterwards long enough for me to take a most wonderful shower that granted me a bit more breath in my lungs. For some reason, being clean made the world a tad less dark. Russet making a return once I was changed proved he hadn't taken my threat seriously. I threw several books his way, but even though my chest welled with great delight at one particularly thick hardback clipping its corner right into the soft of his temple I realized I hadn't been serious. Did it make me weak that I couldn't muster the drive to wrap my hands around his neck and choke the life out of him despite wanting to? Did it make me strong? Was I a better person? A worse one? Honestly, with everything else going on such questions were low on my list of worries.

     "I'm glad you got to experience what it was like to be with someone properly." Russet spoke quietly after we ate dinner.

I was even letting him hold the girls. To claim some sort of victory, I only allowed him a brief moment with Nutmeg. He would have as little to do with his granddaughter as possible as long as I had a say, and in having him hold Cinnamon I hoped the good in Russet that did care about other people would work its magic. He certainly cuddled her like she was dear.

     "I don't want to talk about that with you," I dismissed his statement, although it sounded more like he was talking to himself anyway, "I have a question. At what point did you begin to notice something was off with Timber?"
     "Worried about the family curse being passed on?" Russet tried to joke despite my serious, deadpan expression on him, "You don't have to worry about Nutmeg. She doesn't have whatever he does. Timber cried when he was hungry or needed to be changed. When there was a physical discomfort. Other than that...he was so quiet. Right from the start I knew something was wrong. He had reflex smiles when he was first born, but after that it wasn't until he was eight months old that he smiled again."
     "When babies really begin to start imitating others." I nodded knowingly.
     "It took him that long to laugh too," Russet spoke sadly, "It's painful to think he's never done it for real."
     "Yeah, that really sucks." I drove the sharp bite of the comment in without mercy.

Not that me taking jabs at him was anything new. We'd been this way since the start of my capture. Russet ignored anything painful I threw his way clearly thinking willingly accepting the deserved abuse was a payment he could begin making for his crimes. As if letting a few nasty comments come his way was any kind of repayment for the misery of my life now. However, our unique conversations had come to an end. Russet left that evening after assisting me with another round of childcare. He showed me how to better swaddle Cinnamon and Nutmeg and provided me with a breast pump and bottle warmer to create a backup store of milk. I liked the comfort of breastfeeding even if it hurt, but I couldn't deny there would come a moment where having some bottles on hand would be useful. It was easy enough building up a supply when watching television between periods of getting up to tend to the girls. Slightly better sleep found me that night. The next morning passed quietly enough. Timber showed up around ten walking tall with a gleam in his eye that instantly tensed my muscles.

     "You just really had to go and sleep with him, didn't you?" he began as if annoyed, staring at me condescendingly.
     "Oh, don't even go that route acting like you're betrayed. Arbor is my boyfriend. You knew were we about to move into a house where we'd share a room on top of the fact that we'd be largely independent from our parents for the first time. How in the world could it be a shock that we'd had sex?"
     "It's not a shock in hindsight, but still very much a disappointment. After I put so much care into making sure that first time was everything a woman would want..."
     "Right, because raping me after abducting me, locking me up here, drugging me, revealing all your plots, and showing me pictures of my dead siblings is sooo romantic."
     "I could have been worse."
     "Thank you. I'm forever grateful." I mocked.

I then bit my lip. This was not the time for me to argue and snap back. If Timber was here with a different, frightening aura around him talking about me sleeping with Arbor, then it could only mean Sterling had finished the paternity test.

     "Sorry," I forced the poisonous word out after a deep breath, "It is true. You have taken me into consideration in your own way."

It was as much as I could muster. No way in hell would I ever honestly thank him for giving me a pretty cage or forcing himself on me 'nicely'.

     "Would you like to have brunch together? I'm still ravenous with my appetite, and your father left me a lot of fresh jams. You like the peach one the best, right? I even have some of your favorite almond scones." I spoke with a steady calm.

My best option at the moment was to distract Timber as long as I could from the topic looming over our heads while providing him with what he wanted. Subservience. A willingness to pretend. A showing that I would try to act alongside him in the fake life he supposed we could give Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

     "No. No, that really won't do. I don't have much of an appetite myself this morning," Timber shook his head with a glare, causing goosebumps to take over my arms and legs, "I truly tried to give Cinnamon the benefit of the doubt. She's adorable. She seems to be a sweetheart. I wished with all my heart her similar appearance to Arbor was a coincidence. I even dug into my surrogate's files to see if there was some connection between her and him. Second cousins once removed or something like that. But there was nothing like that."

His shoulders stiffened more as he twisted towards the cribs. Cinnamon and Nutmeg were sharing one again. Timber stood a stride in that direction, and I instantly stepped in front of him. I placed my hands against his chest, gently clutched at the collar of his shirt while letting my fingers thumbs trail up and down against his skin, and produced a soft, pleading smile with as much adoration as my protective mother strength could muster even as Timber snarled down at me.

     "Timber, I am sorry. Sleeping with Arbor was a natural progression in our relationship. How could I have known what you had in store? Do you remember where we were going when you knocked me out? To the pharmacy. I was trying to get a morning after pill to prevent me from having a baby of his," I spoke, going with logical words that had a higher chance of success, "When I said I would rather you sleep with me that same day, it was in the hopes that no pregnancy would occur. To avoid a situation like this. I should have told you sooner, but I've been so terrified. This has all been too much. I haven't been thinking straight, and I hope you can forgive me. You were right as well. My Timber, my very closest friend, he's standing right here before me."
     "Indeed," Timber beamed me his familiar smile, but he took my hands off of him and moved me to the side, "But I would like to see the girls now, Dianthus."

What could I do? I didn't know what to do. What was going on in Timber's horrible brain? Was I worrying for nothing? Should I be beating at him taking the opportunity before I lost it? Every nerve of my tightened until it screamed as Timber stroked Nutmeg's hair before gathering Cinnamon in his arms. She shifted and gurgled a bit but, but otherwise stayed calm and comfortable. A big yawn of hers prompted another grin from Timber. A grin that made him pulling out a gun I hadn't seen from his back pocket absolutely terrifying. He held both the weapon and my daughter with his right arm and hand before giving Cinnamon a little bounce.

     "Timber," my voice shook as badly as my desperate smile did, "Please forgive me. I didn't give you enough credit, and I've been too concerned about what I want. I did wrong. Cinnamon did nothing. She didn't get to choose her father. You though, you can be the best father to her. To her and Nutmeg both. I am yours. I'm done fighting, and I'm done staying angry. That life you said the four of us can make here, I would love that very much. Think of what it could be like. It can be so wonderful. All those times Arbor treated you poorly, you have the chance to get back at him. To make his daughter yours. To steal her love for him so hard there's no way he could ever claim it for himself."
     "True." Timber nodded in agreement.

He moved before I could blink. My scream came far too late. Timber shifted Cinnamon to his left arm, put the barrel of the gun right against her forehead, and pulled the trigger. The sharp bang suffocated all other sound from the room as blood splayed onto the carpet before Nutmeg began screeching in fright. Timber letting Cinnamon drop like a bored child discarding a doll was when the agonized shriek left my own lips. My legs shuddered under me collapsing me to the floor with a dull thud. My wide, panicked eyes could only focus on my daughter waiting for some sign that this was a trick. That the limp stillness of her limbs was her somehow playing along. That the glassy, blank star of her eyes was my exhausted mind playing tricks on me. That the gaping, viscous hole going through her skull, that the blood pooling from the wound was makeup. Timber rolled Cinnamon onto her back with the toe of his sandal and stared neutrally at her before glancing my way with a lightly regretful grimace.

     "All of what you said was true, Dia," he said steadily, "You and Arbor sleeping together was normal. You had no idea what I was about to do to you, and the stress of it all and your natural inability to know my thoughts and plans had you making decisions based on your emotions. You are, or were now, willing to pretend for your daughters' sake, and making Cinnamon mine would have caused Arbor much grief."

Timber shrugged and sighed.

     "Be that as it may, you were speaking under the incorrect assumption that there was a way to avoid this. It wouldn't have mattered if you'd be compliant from the beginning. It wouldn't have mattered if you told me you slept with Arbor before the girls were born. There was no way to save any child you had with him. If Nutmeg had been his too, I would be killing her as well."

His eyes fell on her, screaming madly still.

     "In fact, I had half a mind to kill her regardless." he admitted.

I pitifully shuffled my heavy body dragged down by horror and grief further in front of her, but Timber shook his head.

     "I decided against it. She is my daughter, and I don't want to have to go through waiting for another pregnancy to complete. I'm tired of not being able to sleep with you, and with the troubles you had carrying her and Cinnamon there was the risk I could lose you completely. How boring that would make things. Not to mention the fact that finding another doctor of Sterling's skills would be a tedious task."

My chest froze even more, if possible. My tear swollen eyes slowly rose until I saw Timber's elbows. It was the most I could look at him.

     "That all was another reason I contemplated killing Nutmeg. It would be punishment for you and for him for his betrayal."
     "Betrayal?" I mumbled.
     "Don't bother acting innocent. As soon as I saw how you two tensed up and looked at each other once I realized Cinnamon was Arbor's it was clear you two were acting together. I let him think he wasn't being watched while working on the paternity test, and sure enough he went against The Company. He tried to put some plan in action to smuggle the girls away back to your family. Of course, I stopped that right quick and revealed his intentions."

My cheeks were drenched. I couldn't contain my sobs, and Nutmeg screamed louder. It wouldn't surprise me if whoever was upstairs could hear her. Was Russet watching? I'm sure he at least knew of what Timber came down here to do. No matter how badly I wished for him to rush in and somehow turn back time, his words that he would allowed Timber to torture Cinnamon if that's what he wanted rang loudly within my mind.

I tried to calm Nutmeg with my touch, but it didn't do any good. I was just as frightened as she was, and she could sense that. The corners of my vision even went dark as my lungs spasmed from the unbearable shock and uncontrollable fit that seeing Cinnamon unmoving on the ground, blood seeping into her hair and blanket caused. That was my baby girl. That was my dear little one made against the stars on the most beautiful night of my life. She should have come into this world surrounded by overflowing love. How could I have ever thought to fear having her? The situation I imagined that morning after was no longer a dismal thought, but the sweetest of dreams. I clutched Nutmeg's tiny hand harder. She should have been Arbor's too. I'd spoken of Timber stealing Cinnamon, but Timber had stolen Nutmeg from the start.

     "So Sterling is dead too?" I whispered.
     "No. The Company considers him essential. Unlike how it was during your grandmother's time, it's not easy to recruit highly skilled workers anymore. They're not just going to toss out such a strong asset. Make no mistake that Sterling's not being punished though. It's safe to say even now he's regretting ever thinking of helping you. He'll hate you for coming into his life soon enough."

At least there was that small piece of good news. Sterling was alive. The Company would come down harsh and maybe he would hate me. But maybe he wouldn't. It would be wonderful if there was someway he could still help, still contact my family, yet as long as my daughters' birth didn't result in the murder of two people my chest could settle a little. Not that that would happen right now. I remained stuck motionless on the floor still wishing I could will Cinnamon back to life. All that happened was my heart did a somersault as Timber took a bullet from his pocket and loaded it into the gun. He didn't aim it at Nutmeg, but at me.

I stared at him with eyes wider than ever before. The sheer confusion of him setting it at my head swiped away my grief for a brief moment.

     "W-What are you doing?" I questioned, frowning.
     "I did a lot of thinking this morning once I got the papers that proved my suspicions right. The thought came to me right away that Cinnamon had to die, but then this other idea popped into my mind as well. What if I killed you too?"
      " wouldn't," I replied, too dazed and stunned at Timber considering that idea, "You just said how you chose not to kill Nutmeg because you didn't want me to go through a second pregnancy to give you another child. You'd rather my body return to how it was so you could resume sleeping with me."
     "I did."
     "How does killing me and getting rid of what you want make any sense then?"
     "Once you ponder on it, the whole thing is simple. Pros and cons, that's all there it to it. I've killed Cinnamon. Maybe on some level that's made you more resistant to following my orders, but it also means you're more likely to go along with them to protect the child you have left. I said it'd be troublesome to have you pregnant again and find another doctor, but I would take the risk if I needed to kill Nutmeg to bring you in line."
     "I won't...I won't go against you..."
     "And there's the other part of it. You're lying. You might not dare to stab anyone or conspire with another person for help, but no matter how much you state that you're mine you never will be. You'll fight back in your own small ways. You'll constantly be searching for paths for escape, and you'll manipulate Nutmeg as much as possible. If there's a chance to set you both free, you'll take it. That intellect and determination of yours makes you quite a risk, Dia. So much so that I could be better off taking you out now and letting Nutmeg be all mine for my own purposes. She's the one I can truly control."

Timber took a step closer. Complete silence took over the room despite Nutmeg continuing to wail. Timber and I were entrapped in our own little bubble. I stared at him, and he held the gun tighter. Desperately, I searched his face. There couldn't be nothing there. There had to be some small fledgling of emotion that drove him onward. It didn't make any sense if there wasn't. Pure logic and bodily desires couldn't be the sole motivators at work here.


My gaze rested on Cinnamon for a moment. She hadn't even made it to two days old. I thought of Mrs. Thicket and Arbor's little brother. How had she lived on with such a huge wound in her heart after his passing? Part of me wished Timber would hurry up and pull the trigger, but as Nutmeg's scared crying continued to fill the room I found the same motivation Mrs. Thicket had. She pushed on for Arbor. I would have to push on for Nutmeg.

     "Timber...I love you," I said, my eyes resting on his, "Please, let me love you. You can't understand because you can't care for Nutmeg, but the connection I have with her is too strong. It's not about what I want anymore. Please let me be her mother. Please let me be there for her. Please give me time to break completely, and the three of us will live together peacefully. I won't escape. I won't manipulate her. If my Timber can come back to me, everything will be fine. I thought once years ago of how wonderful life can be if my heart belonged to you. I didn't think it was possible then, but it's possible now."

The gun didn't lower. Timber's expression didn't change. Cinnamon remained motionless, and Nutmeg continued to cry. My words stayed useless no matter how much it burned my tongue to say them. My breaths turned even more ragged, although the tears slowed as all my pinching nerves went numb.

     "It sounds nice, and your words have a pleasing ring to them. Unfortunately, you're working under the same delusion you were before. My mind was made up before I came down here. Cinnamon was to die. You are to die."
     "Blame your grandmother. Blame Eden. They should have just let things be, and because they resisted the punishment has fallen on you."
     "I blame you, you fucking piece of shit."
     "And there it is. The truth hidden behind your pretty words. Not that I fault you for being unable to give in. I quite admire your determination. But..."

Timber pressed the gun's hammer. His finger slid on the trigger. I stared at the barrel so close to my head as the numbness took over entirely. I willed myself to move, but I couldn't so much as twitch.

I was about to die if I didn't do anything. I couldn't do anything. Even if I did, even if Timber missed, I was stuck here. He would have shot after shot to take me out. I tried to think of my family. I tried to think of Arbor. I tried to think of reuniting with Gilly, Merlot, and finding Cinnamon and never letting go again. I tried not to think of Nutmeg left behind with her murdering father and complacent grandfather in this isolated place.

All I could think of was a long distant memory. Of watching Eden cry over grandma's body. Of my tiny toddler feet crossing the carpet in grandpa's room as he head hung low. I could still recall the warmth of his body fresh out of a shower, of the calming scent of soap as he held me tight.

     "Can you make me a promise too?" he'd asked, "I know there are so many things out of your control, but can you try to eat your carrots more? Maybe drink a little less juice and drink a little more water? Can you make sure you get lots of sleep? Play a lot?"

I hadn't done well eating more of my carrots. I'd made sure to drink all the water I needed though. Maybe I hadn't gotten as much sleep as I should have once I got busy in high school, but I'd done my best. I'd certainly played my heart out when I had the chance.

Was Timber hesitating? Possibly. Perhaps giving me a chance to scream or beg some more. The blank stare behind his indifferent expression revealed neither would do me any good.

     "Can you simply just promise me to do what you can to prevent yourself from being lost before you should?" grandpa's voice continued to ring in my mind.

I was only twenty-one. Timber's finger squeezed the trigger.

     "Promise." I'd said with a yawn.

The bang burst deafeningly. I wondered if it would hurt. The bullet impacted against my head, and everything- grandpa's voice, Nutmeg's screaming cry, the sight of Cinnamon's dead body, Timber's steady hand, every last thought of mine- faded away into nothingness...
11 comments on "Gen Three- Chapter Forty (FINAL)"
  1. The poor baby!!!!!!!!! T-T

  2. He could have just taken the baby away!!!! Killing babies just isn't right!!!!

  3. At least put a warning on this stuff, it hurts to read.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Timber, as proven by these last chapters, wouldn't be the kind of person to let Cinnamon be free from consequence. He would never suddenly grow a conscience and send her off to safety, especially when it would risk compromising his location. Nor would Russet abruptly switch to helping Dia out. It was foreshadowed in the past three posts that any child of Arbor's would be in a great deal of danger, including a strong risk of being killed. Cinnamon's death, while sad, was strongly hinted at by all those examples and shouldn't be a great shot out of the blue.

    And again, while sad, I won't be putting a warning on this chapter. I put them on updates like 37 and 38 where there are more common triggers such as the descriptions leading up to Timber forcing himself on Dianthus, but, including that heavy foreshadowing of Cinnamon's death, with me stating in the past the story would eventually take darker, more intense turns coupled with the fact that none of the violence or death was described in deep, detailed depth make me resistant to add them every time something less than pleasant happens. A newborn was murdered and the main character got a bullet in her head. It's supposed to be painful to read.

  6. Oh noo Cinnamon!! Poor Dia... I guess that means Nutmeg is heir for the next generation? If she is then this is quite the twist. I assume she'll be on The Company's side now given that Timber is raising her. It'll be odd to have a different perspective from the company's side. I hope she doesn't turn out like Timber!! I don't think she will since she's smiling and crying like any normal baby would. Russet said Timber only cried when he needed something and never smiled, he even said he doesn't think she'll be like him.

    Did the twins come out solid brown in-game or did you change their colours for story reasons? I know you've said that you don't mess with the colours spares are born with.

  7. You're right. Any child of Arbor's wasn't going to come out of the story in a good place and it was foreshadowed to that. I guess some of us had hoped it might turn out different than it did.

  8. Yes, Nutmeg is the heir for the next generation. It'll certainly be a different story from normal, and most likely even not in the way it looks like with her being stuck with Timber and Russet. And yes, she did not inherit Timber's disassociation.

    It was always planned that Dianthus would give birth to female twins, one by Arbor with his coloring and one by Timber with his coloring. Twins with different fathers has been a plot point I knew I would do back when I first began planning Color My World. Cinnamon and Nutmeg's specific situation was set in stone long ago too. In fact, I urge everyone to go back and read Coal's opening paragraph from Gen Two's first chapter. Now knowing what's happened here will shed some more light on his narration. For Cinnamon and Nutmeg though, I used Master Controller to insure Dianthus would have multiples and simply edited the babies born to match what I needed. I'll reveal more about the babies born to use for pictures when I do this generation's Behind the Scenes. Overall though, yeah, heirs are edited as needed, but spare siblings and family members are stuck with the colors they get unless one of the glitched colors shown up. Then I roll to see what from their parents they should have instead.

  9. Half of me saw that coming and half of me didn't. Heaviest chapter yet!! I always hope for a happy ending, but it didn't work like it did for Ethereal- there wasn't enough time to find Dia, and with Sterling caught there certainly wasn't time to save little Cinnamon.

    I feel so awful for her family!! Holly lost all her children, Arbor will never see his love or his daughter or know he had a daughter, probably no one will ever know Dia had a baby at all.

    It's going to be bizarre being back in the company again- we haven't had the more neutral viewpoint since the early chapters of generation 1, and even then it wasn't this dark. Nutmeg...i wonder if she will ever know she had a twin, on instinct. I wonder what story Timber will spin.

    As always, cannot wait for the next chapter!!!!

  10. I KNEW Día would suffer more heartache in the future. Maybe not from being a doctor, but...
    Anyway, when November comes around, will you do an extra for this Generation with Coal and Holly?

    I want to get a sense of Coal's heartbreak.
    And please get the Behind the Scenes Up as well.

  11. @Chelsae- Even though I knew this ending was coming for years, it still hit me hard myself. I guess it was because I knew I very well had the power to change things to make it better in some way, and sticking to the original idea despite having full control is incredibly difficult. Trust me, I was sooo tempted to give Dia a break somewhere. Poor Cinnamon's fate was always the same though.

    @Justina- I'm not sure how many short stories I'll be doing as November is going to be during the break between generations this time around (I'll be doing a post soon about the upcoming story schedule), but I'll definitely see what I can do about including some of the effects going on with the other victims of the situation. I don't want to go too in-depth with the Vivids' lives post tragedy at it's partially spoilers and partially because I do want a hard break from Berrybrook and the Vivid family going into 4th Gen.

    The Behind the Scenes will be up on Monday.


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