Previously with the Less family, Dream revealed her plan to steal Heart’s baby and pretend she, Dream, was the mother in order to trap Eric. Dream demanded Heart break up with Eric and go along with the plan, or else Dream would reveal their parents’ incestuous relationship to Eric, thus raising doubts as to Heart’s suitability to bear his children. Heart then decided she needed to tell Eric the truth herself in order to break her sister’s hold over her.
Warnings: Language, violence, references to past incest
“Heart?” Eric prompted gently. “What is it you want to tell me?”
Heart closed her eyes and looked away. “Eric...” She began, and then stopped, sighing. “This is so hard.”
Eric squeezed her hand. “Heart, whatever it is, you can tell me. Seriously. It’s okay.”
Heart took a deep breath. “Okay. Eric, there’s something you need to know about my family. It’s something I’ve always kept secret... and I have to warn you... it might shock you and disgust you, but I have to tell you all the same.”
Eric looked thoroughly confused. “Your family... a secret? Heart, what are you talking about?”
“Eric,” Heart hesitated. “Do you remember my mother and father?”
“Sure. Sure, I met them several times when I was dating Dr... uh... when I was...”
“When you were dating Dream.” Heart finished for him. “It’s okay, Eric. You can say it. It did happen, after all... and we were only teenagers then.”
“Right. So yeah, I did meet your mother and father. I thought they were awesome.”
“That’s good," Heart replied, smiling shakily. "And they were, but I need to tell you something about them.” Heart steadied herself. “To begin with, they weren’t really married.”
Eric let out his breath in a whoosh. “That’s the big secret? That your parents weren’t married? Heart, that’s not...”
"No," Heart shook her head. "You don’t understand. They acted married, but they weren’t.”
Eric’s voice had a slight edge of impatience. “So they were common law? What? Lots of people act married but aren’t. I’m not following you, Heart.”
Heart sighed again. She was handling this very badly, and she knew it. “I’m sorry, Eric. I’m not saying what I mean very well. It’s just so hard to come right out and say it... but I guess I’m going to have to. My parents acted married, but they... they couldn’t be. It wasn’t... legal for them.” Heart bit her lip. “Eric... they were brother and sister.”
Eric was shocked. “What?”
Heart nodded. “Yes. Brother and sister, Eric. My mother carried on a romantic, spousal relationship with her full brother. From as far back as I can remember, until the day she died.”
“But...but that’s...” Eric couldn’t hide the revulsion on his face. “Wow, Heart, that’s... um...” He trailed off and took a breath. “I don’t know what to say. They seemed so normal.”
“They were normal, Eric.” Heart replied, her ire rising slightly. “They were normal, and loving, and devoted... not only to each other but to me, and to Dream! They never made a show of what they did together, and as long as they lived I don’t think they ever realized I knew the extent of their relationship. They were the best parents anyone could ever ask for...”
“Parents...” Eric’s eyes flew open as he realized exactly what Heart was telling him. “... but you’re... you’re not... uh...” He shifted uncomfortably. “Heart, was he really your father? I... I mean, I know it’s not your fault, Heart, but...”
“No. No, Eric. I considered my uncle to be my daddy because he raised me like his own child. Perhaps he liked to pretend I was, I don’t know. He was a wonderful person, and I couldn’t have asked for a better father... but no. Eric, my mother told me I had another father... a biological father that was one of her early boyfriends and I believe her.”
Eric still looked worried. “And Dream? What about her?”
“She and I had different fathers, but no. Our uncle wasn’t her father either. Eric, I promise you my mother wasn’t lying.”
“Oh, thank God.” Eric put his head in his hands and choked back sobs. “I... I was afraid you were telling me all of this to warn me there could be trouble with Dream’s baby. I mean, I still want the baby to be okay, you know?” Eric sniffed. “It’s not the baby’s fault, and...”
Heart shook her head slightly. “No, Eric. I’m telling you this because keeping my parents’ relationship a secret was tearing me up inside. But... about the baby... that’s another thing I need to tell you.”
Eric lifted his head and looked at Heart questioningly. Heart took Eric’s hand again and gazed deeply into his eyes.
“Eric, Dream isn’t pregnant.” Heart smiled and squeezed Eric’s hand. “It’s me. I’m pregnant, Eric. I’m the one that’s having your baby.”
Eric looked stunned. “What? You? You’re pregnant, Heart? You are... and Dream isn’t? But I thought Dream told me she was... I thought she said...”
“She did, Eric. Dream did tell you she was having your baby, but trust me, she’s not pregnant.” Heart smiled again and placed her free hand on her belly. “But I am. I’m just about three months along. I’m so sorry I haven’t told you before now, Eric... but there never seemed to be a good time and well... I never thought Dream would ever...” Heart closed her eyes and shook her head slowly back and forth, still in disbelief over what her sister had planned to do.
“Eric... she was going to take my baby... our baby... and pretend it was hers. She was going to make you believe our baby was conceived the night she...”
“That was a fucking stupid thing to do, Heart.” Dream’s icy voice cut through the still kitchen like a blade. “Very, very stupid.”
Heart and Eric jumped and they both stood up quickly, their chairs scraping noisily on the kitchen floor. Eric half-turned toward the kitchen entry, where Dream stood silhouetted against the faint light from the hall.
Eric noticed something odd about the way Dream was holding her right arm, and then he saw a metallic flash from the area of her right hand.
“Heart, she has a gun.” Eric gasped. “Oh my God, Heart...” Subtly, he tried to put himself more fully between the two sisters, but Dream’s eye was sharp, and she turned the weapon directly on Eric.
“I saw that, Eric. Get over in the corner.”
Eric froze, his hands lifted in entreaty. “Dream, please think about what you’re...”
“I fucking said get your ass over in the corner! This doesn’t involve you, paperboy.”
“Go, Eric.” Heart murmured, never taking her eyes off Dream or the handgun. “Go on. Do what she says.”
“No, Heart! No! I can’t let you be...”
“Don’t worry about me.” Heart said evenly and quietly, still looking at her sister. “I mean it. Dream won’t shoot me, Eric. I know her better than that.”
Forgetting about Eric, Dream trained the pistol fully on her sister again. “Oh, you think you know me, do you? Then you should know that I’d have no problems blowing your fucking brains out right here and now!”
“It’s always been about you, Heart," Dream raged, waving the pistol carelessly. " Everything’s always fucking been about you! You’ve always gotten the best of everything around here... your whole damn life! You had the new clothes, and I had the hand me downs. You had better grades because your goddamned teachers liked you more than me...”
“Dream, I had better grades because I did the work! You could have done much better than me if you’d only...”
“Shut the hell up! What did it fucking matter anyway, Heart? Huh? What fucking good did straight-A’s do us anyway? Did it help us get into college? No, because we couldn’t go. Did it help us get better jobs? No, because we never get promoted. Did it ever get us more money? Fuck no!”
“Is that what all this is about, Dream? Money? Money and... material things?”
“No, it’s not all about money, Heart. It’s about everything. You’ve had it all. You had better things, you had better grades, you had more friends... all of that! If I fucking had half of what...”
Dream was still ranting, but Heart was only half listening. She was too busy watching Eric, but desperately trying not to call attention to him.
As soon as Dream had lifted the pistol from him, Eric had begun to traverse slowly around the room... maneuvering so as to position himself behind Dream. Lost in her own thoughts, Dream hadn’t noticed Eric’s movement, or else it hadn’t registered in her mind what he was planning to do.
Keep her talking, Heart... Eric sent a silent plea. Just keep her talking...
Although Heart didn’t exactly hear Eric’s thoughts, she understood the entreaty in his grey eyes very well. She had to keep Dream distracted.
Heart took a deep breath. “Dream, if you’d only let yourself be happy with what we had in our lives instead of always concerning yourself with what we didn’t have and what we couldn't do, things could have been so different. We could have been so close... truly sisters... the best of friends...”
“Yeah, like our mother and our uncle? No fucking thank you, Heart. That was just sick.”
“No, Dream! I mean like normal sisters!”
“We could never fucking be normal, Heart. Not with the demented shit we grew up with. No. It’s too fucking late for that. We’ve been scarred for life.”
"It’s not too late, Dream! It’s not! Listen... I’m sorry if anything I did or that our parents did made you feel bad. I honestly didn’t know, Dream. I’ve always wanted to be close to you, to share things...“
“That’s too bad, Heart... because I don’t share. Either I get it or no one does.”
“Dream, no. Don’t think like that. We still have most of our lives left... we could finally be real sisters.... just put the gun down and we’ll get through this, I promise.”
Dream hesitated, looking down for a moment at the pistol in her hand while Heart held her breath.
Eric took the opportunity and quickly dropped to the floor behind Dream, throwing his weight against her legs to knock her off balance and cause the weapon to drop. He tried to shove Dream back and retrieve the gun himself, but Dream was too fast for him.
Panting, she recovered the weapon and lifted it, pointing toward Heart.
Eric had no idea if Dream was intending to fire the pistol at that moment, but he couldn't take that chance. He dove for Dream, wrapping his arms firmly around her and pulling her down onto the hard floor with a thud, covering her quickly with his body, shielding the gun from Heart.
“Eric!” Heart screamed as the man she loved wrestled on the floor with her crazed sister. Dream was struggling, kicking, and biting... thrashing like an alligator. Eric painfully contorted his left arm and wormed it between the two of them, trying to get to the pistol, all the while pinning Dream down with the rest of his body as best as he could.
“Trying to cop a feel, Eric?” Dream sneered, her face inches from his. “Does this remind you of anything, paperboy? Huh?”
Eric ignored her, still working his hands toward the pistol. He almost had it... nearly there... he felt his fingers brush against the hard metal...
Then, a single shot rang out, echoing through the empty house.
“ERIC!” Heart screamed again, and fell to her knees, sobbing. “Eric... no, please...”
Neither of the two forms on the floor moved. Heart clutched at her chest, gasping for air through her sobs.
“No... oh no...”
A dark and shiny pool of blood began to materialize under the entangled bodies, spreading thickly over the white tiled floor. Heart saw this, and fell unsteadily backwards in horror.
“Oh God... oh no... Oh God...”
Heart hardly dared to breathe. The silence in the house was deafening.
“Please... Oh God, no...”
Heart moved over to Eric and Dream, crouching down to gently touch Eric’s shoulder. “Eric... Oh God, Eric... please don’t be...”
Eric dazedly lifted his head, and Heart nearly fainted from relief. “Eric! Eric... are you okay? Are you hurt? Did she shoot you? Eric, please talk to me!”
Slowly, Eric looked around, then down at Dream’s body under him. Shuddering, he lifted himself off of her motionless form and eventually he stood, leaning heavily on Heart. She noticed the front of his clothing was soaked in blood.
“Eric... Oh my God, Eric... you’re hurt. We need to get you to a hospital. We...”
“No.” Eric said hoarsely, shaking his head and indicating the blood. “It’s not from me, Heart. It must be...”
Both Eric and Heart looked at Dream’s silent and unmoving form on the floor, lying in the spreading pool of her own blood.
“Dream...” Heart whispered. “Oh, God... Dream...” She knelt beside her sister, pressing two fingers gently below Dream’s jaw, feeling for a pulse. However, that action was nothing but a formality, and only told Heart what she already knew.
Her sister was dead.
More to come...