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A Bond Between Strangers Sept 2012

The mistake that changed their lives… Yesterday John Carter and Lily Grayson were strangers. Now, following an IVF mix-up, their genes are bound together for ever—only someone else is carrying their child! John's only thought is to get his baby back...until he realises that Lily is the person he truly needs to complete his life… The Most Precious Bundle of All Tears, triumphs and a tiny miracle An extraordinary two-part story from Anne Fraser and Scarlet Wilson.

A Bond Between Strangers


John Carter’s feet thudded along the sidewalk, in rapid, regular beats. The early morning sun was beating down on his back, with the trickles of sweat pooling around the waistband of his shorts. He rounded the corner of his street, slowing to a stop outside his house.

He leaned forwards, taking slow, practised breaths as his heart continued thudding against his chest. He’d been running this same route along the San Francisco Bay area for the last two years, but it didn’t seem to get any easier.

He grabbed his water bottle from his waist band and took a slug. Right now he was wishing it contained anything but water. The flag on the mailbox was up. The mailman had been early today.

John took a few moments to stretch out his aching limbs. His hamstring twitched again. Damn. He’d agreed to play soccer five-asides tonight with some English colleagues. The last thing he needed was a pulled hamstring.

He reached into the mailbox and pulled out the barrage of catalogues and envelopes. A frown creased his face and he walked up towards his porch. He sat on the decking outside as he sorted through the mail, glancing at his watch. In another fifteen minutes time he’d have had a quick shower and be at work, ready to spend most of the day in the operating theatre. There wasn’t even any point going into the kitchen. The fridge was virtually empty and so were his cupboards. He’d discovered as much when he’d got home late last night, starving after spending hours in the office. He didn’t even have any coffee left. No matter how much he tried to avoid it, he was really going to have to do a grocery shop sometime soon.

He flicked past the usual array of catalogues containing clothes, make-up, candles, jewellery - or the latest ‘diet’ miracle – all addressed to his ex wife, Tabitha Carter.

Without blinking an eye he tossed them all into his nearby trashcan. It wasn’t as if she’d come looking for them. Wherever Tabitha had ended up, doubtless she’d re-sent for them all. Two years on, many tears and tantrums later, his divorce attorney still hadn’t tracked the woman down – though thankfully he had managed to acquire her signature.

The only thing she wanted from John these days were the alimony cheques.

His fingers stopped their automatic trawl through the mail. The usual bills and free offers ignored. One envelope was different from the rest. Bulkier. Heavier quality paper, premium bonded. And although there was no emblem, he’d recognise their mail anywhere.

This was it. The final nail in the coffin of his disastrous marriage.

He sighed and looked out over the family-friendly cul-de-sac where they’d lived. Tabitha had never fitted in here. She’d hated the fact that everyone’s kids played out in the front yards. She’d hated little people trooping in and out of their home in the search for cookies, or someone to fix their bikes.

This was the perfect family home.

Just not for them.

The initial fertility tests had created more toddler-sized tantrums than he’d ever seen. The discovery that Tabitha didn’t have any viable eggs had taken her months to recover from. The selection of an egg donor had almost resulted in their first major fall out. The first round of IVF had been fraught with difficulties – mainly because Tabitha hadn’t followed any of the instructions she’d been given.

The second round of IVF had resulted in an ectopic pregnancy. At this point Tabitha had refused to tolerate anymore treatment.

And by this stage, John had been inclined to agree. The cracks in their marriage had migrated into a fully-fledged San Andreas fault.

Tabitha leaving hadn’t really impacted on him. Her emptying the joint bank account and driving off in his new car hadn’t raised more than a few minor inconveniences. It also gave him free reign to buy the Ducati motorbike he’d really wanted.

He’d just been happy she’d left the house intact.

But the thought of never having kids. Never having the family that he’d always wanted, cut him deeper than he could ever have imagined.

There was still time. He still had some chance of meeting someone new, someone who might want to settle down and have kids. But at his age, 39, the chances seemed to be reducing every day. It had been three years since they’d tried the IVF - two years since Tabitha left. And in two years? He hadn’t had one date that remotely interested him. Too young, too old. Too career orientated, and the best one – the women who were only interested in him because he was a doctor.

Just like Tabitha. Once bitten – twice shy.

He turned the letter over in his hands.

This was it. His final dealings with the clinic. The letter telling him that the remaining viable embryos had been destroyed.

And for now, his hopes of fatherhood would have to be put to one side.

He tore open the envelope, pulled out the letter and scanned the page.

He gave a jolt. As if a bolt of electricity had just ran through his body. He stood up, his body on automatic pilot, his eyes never leaving the page as he tried to take in the words. “….our sincerest apologies……….never in our clinic’s history……wrongly implanted……….numerous messages.”

He marched into his house. Sure enough. The answer phone was blinking. He hadn’t looked at it in the last three days – work had been crazy. 16 messages. He didn’t even need to listen to them. He started stripping off his running gear as he strode into the shower. Work was the last place he would be today.

Somewhere out there – someone was carrying his baby.

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