“I really must insist,” Leon says awkwardly, looking around at the packed guest bedroom, “that we …
thin the crowd. Just a bit.”
“Well, I’m not leaving,” I say, stepping forward and bouncing Rafe in my arms as I look down at my
sister laying on the bed. Cora is awkward and uncomfortable as she looks around at the collection of
investigators, at Roger, at me, Rafe, and Sinclair, all standing around her. Leon sits primly squeezed
into a chair at her side.
“Perhaps…the child?” Leon suggests and I sigh, realizing that he’s right. I turn to Sinclair, my eyes
“Can you?” I ask.
Sinclair blanches at me. “Ella – I have to be here to hear this
“Please,” I say, stepping towards him. “Maybe we can….like, is there a way to make a video feed? Or
sound? So you can hear in another room?”
Leon’s eyebrows go up. “That would work,” he says, looking at Sinclair, who nods firmly, reaching out
“I owe you,” I whisper to him, standing on my toes to give him a kiss on the cheek and handing the
baby to him. “I can’t leave her.”
“I understand,” Sinclair murmurs back, “I’ll send someone up with AV equipment in a few minutes.” He
brushes my cheek with his thumb before signaling to the investigators to leave the room with him. I turn
back to my sister and then blink when I see Roger still standing in the
corner, his arms crossed.
“What are you still doing here?” I ask, surprised.
Roger just stares at me for a moment, apparently appalled that I would ask. “I’m the lead investigator
on this, Ella!” he informs me, frustrated, throwing out an explanatory hand. “I need to be here! To ask
questions! To guide the investigation!”
“Ooooookay!” I say, putting my hands up placatingly. “I just didn’t know lead investigators were usually
“Pissy!” Roger gasps, leaning forward to me, aghast. “Ella, I –”
“Roger,” Leon says, holding up a hand towards him. “We need a calm environment for this to work, and
your level of agitation is…non–conducive.”
Roger stares at Leon, his mouth open, shocked to have been put in his place so politely.
“Yeah,” Cora says, grinning at Roger and wrinkling her nose at him. “So, in other words, stop being so
Roger stares between us for a moment and then leans back against the wall with his eyes closed,
taking a deep breath and raising a hand to press the bridge of his nose between his fingers.” Sisters…”
he mutters, “I am never again spending any time at all with…sisters.”
A younger member of Sinclair’s team enters quietly then, nodding to me and beginning to set up a
computer and a microphone on Cora’s far side. He works quickly while Roger composes himself
and Leon prepares the ether shot. I sit down on the end of the bed, putting a hand on Cora’s ankle
– the only thing near enough for me to touch – and mouth “thank you” to her.
She sighs and leans her head back on the pillow, nodding to me and accepting her fate.
“Now Cora,” Leon says, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder that makes her flinch. I
grimace, knowing how tense she is about this. “I know that you’re aware of some of Ella’s
experiences with hypnosis, but everyone’s journeys are a little different. I’m going to give you the
shot, and then I’ll guide you back to your memories of that day. You’ll hear my voice, and then,
when you’ve accessed your memories, Roger will join me in asking you some questions. Is that all
“Can I stop whenever I want?” Cora asks, looking anxiously up at the doctor. “If I get….scared?”
“Yes,” the doctor assures her, tightening his hand a little on her shoulder. “The antidote is right
here. We will stop whenever you’d like. And if you’d like to give permission to your sister as well,
we can stop whenever she gives the word as well, if she sees that you are in distress. Would you
like to give your sister permission for that?”
Cora nods eagerly and looks at me for confirmation. I slowly bob my head, letting her know that
I’ve got her back, as I always do.
“All right then,” Leon says, smiling around at Cora and Roger and me. “Then let’s get this started,
nice and easy.”
Cora exhales a deep breath and closes her eyes again. She doesn’t flinch at all as Leon presses the
I see Cora’s eyes start to flicker, though, a little behind her eyelids as the ether takes over and she
quickly enters a dreamy half–awake state. I watch her, curious, wondering if I looked the same
under Leon’s care. His eyes also on Cora, Roger comes and sits next to me on the bed, wanting to be
closer to the action. I give him a warm little nudge of my shoulder, both in welcome and apology
for teasing him a few minutes earlier. I’m glad he’s here.
“Hello Cora,” Leon says quietly after a few minutes. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m just fine,” she says, a peaceful smile on her face.
“Where are you?” he asks.
“I’m at my apartment,” Cora replies, her voice carefree. I blink, surprised. This is indeed different
than my own hypnotic states.
“Ah,” Leon says, nodding and taking a little notepad out of the bag at his side, starting to write a
little. “And is this a happy place for you?”
Cora shrugs and makes a noncommittal noise. “Eh. I’d rather be at work.”
“Do you like work, Cora?”
I see my sister nod and smile, my heart warming to see her happiness. “I like to be helpful,” she
says, her voice breezy. “And busy.”
“That is lovely, Cora. Why don’t you go to work now, and tell me when you’re there.” There’s a
pause and then Cora nods. Leon continues. “What day is it, Cora?” he asks, his voice gentle.
“It’s today,” she says, almost as if Leon is stupid for asking. “Duh.” I bite my lip to hold back a little
“Well today is very dull isn’t it,” Leon says, his voice peaceful, soothing, and persuasive. “Let’s go
back a little bit in time. To that day, a few months ago, when your sister came to you and you
helped her conceive her little baby. Can you go there?”
Cora inhales a deep, peaceful breath and then a few moments later exhales it. “All right,” she says,
her voice humming now with contentment and ease. “Ella is coming soon. I am excited.”
“Go ahead, Cora,” Leon encourages, and I shift my gaze to him, interested to see the different way
that he’s handling my sister’s hypnosis. He took a much more hands–off approach when I was in
him. pleased that Sinclair had the forethought to bring him onto our team.
“Tell us what is happening,” Leon continues.
Tm preparing the sample,” Cora reports, a happy little smile on her lips. “We keep them onsite frozen in
liquid nitrogen. We had several vials of this patient.” She yawns a little, relaxing more deeply into the
memory. “But I’m just taking out one.”
“And were you quite careful, Cora?” Leon asks, his voice more curious than accusatory. “To ensure
that it was the sample from the donor that Ella selected?”
“Oh yes,” Cora murmurs. “No mistakes there. Donor 284726. I can see it on the vial as well as on the
paperwork. It’s the right one.” My eyes raise, interested to see that under hypnosis she can
remember such details.
“What’s next, Cora?” Leon prods, still calmly taking notes on his sheet.
“I take it into the lab for thawing to room temperature,” she murmurs. “Then, I will check it for motility to
ensure that the specimen is viable.”
“Is that what you’re doing now?” Leon asks.
“No,” Cora replies with a happy little sigh. “No, I can’t. Because there’s someone already in the lab,”
she replies, content. My blood runs cold at her words, as I realize that this is a detail she didn’t tell
“Who is it?” Leon says calmly, as if Cora just told him she saw a pretty bird and he’s asking what
color its feathers were. His voice betrays none of my shock and anxiety.
“A priest,” she murmurs.
“A priest?” Leon continues. “What kind of priest – a catholic priest? Or a priest of the goddess?”
“No,” she murmurs, shaking her head as if that’s a silly suggestion. “No, this one’s robes are like
the goddess robes. But they’re all black.”
Read Accidental Surrogate Chapter 314: Ether Confessions -
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