Sophie stood outside the hotel, watching as cars pulled up. It was late evening, and there were plenty of customers arriving to check in for the night. She ignored the big tour bus, the flashy convertible, the vans filled with families. She had a specific car in mind.
Finally, she was it. As soon as it pulled up in front of the hotel, the door opened, and her girlfriend came running out.
“Skye!” She yelled in return, running to wrap her arms around the other girl.
It had been over a month since she’d last seen her girlfriend. They’d spent longer apart before, but that had been before they were dating. Besides, she had something important to tell her girlfriend.
Sophie had first met Skye the year that Sophie and her mom had moved out to the Bridge to re-open the Transcontinental Hotel. Living on the Bridge had been fun, but there weren’t too many kids her age around who actually lived there and weren’t just spending a few days on vacation.
Then she met Skye. Skye’s parents were divorced, and she spent her summers on the Bridge with her dad. Skye’s dad had been friends with Sophie’s mom years ago, and he’d been the one to suggest that their kids spend some time together.
They’d grown even closer when Skye decided to go to Sophie’s college. They’d started dating halfway through Skye’s second semester there; a bit over a year ago, now. The only one who’d been surprised was Sophie’s aunt; everyone else had known it was inevitable.
“It’s so good to see you!” Skye said.
“You too. I’ve missed you,” Sophie said. “How’s your mom doing?”
“She’s good. Vaguely resentful that my dad and my girlfriend live near each other, so she gets less time to see me in the summers. The usual,” Skye said. She rolled her eyes. “She’s just going to have to deal, though, because being away from you for that many weeks was awful.”
Skye’s dad came up, carrying their bags. “Hey, Sophie. How’s your summer going?”
“Hey, Frank. My summer’s been good. Busy, though. We’ve had a lot to do to prepare for the tenth anniversary.”
“How’s your mom holding up? Gotta be kind of hard, dealing with the anniversary of her mom disappearing and all that.” Sophie liked Frank, but she was glad Skye hadn’t inherited her dad’s complete lack of tact.
“She’s good. Running around doing a million things at once, but good.”
“Can you girls bring the bags inside while I park the car?”
“Sure, Dad,” Skye said as they grabbed the bags.
When they got into the lobby, Sophie popped behind the front desk to check Frank in and grabbed a keycard for him. She didn’t have to do the same for Skye; Skye was going to be staying with her.
Sophie handed the keycard and Frank’s bags off to him when he came in, then headed up with Skye to drop off her bags in Sophie’s room.
As they walked, Sophie said, “Okay, so I may have done something slightly crazy.”
“I’m concerned, but go on,” Skye said.
“I’ll tell you when we’re in the room. I just wanted to give you a minute to prepare yourself.”
“That is the least reassuring way you could have chosen to start this conversation,” Skye said. “Did you get a tattoo?”
“No!” Sophie said. “Well, not yet. That’s still on the agenda at some point in the next few years. No, this is bigger.”
Sophie opened the door to her room. As soon as they were inside, Skye shut the door behind her and said, “Okay, we’re in, tell me.”
“So, you know how your dad likes to talk about the time that he, like, led a mutiny in his hunting club and ended up saving the whole Bridge?”
“I pretty much tune it out at this point, but yeah, I’m definitely familiar with the story.”
“Well, months ago, he was in the middle of telling it. And I was kind of just nodding along, but then he mentioned something about the month it happened. And you know when it happened?” Sophie didn’t wait for a response. “It happened eight months before I was born. Which means that I was conceived on the Bridge.”
“Huh, I guess that is interesting,” Skye said, clearly not understanding why Sophie was so worked up about it.
“Which means that I was conceived during a month when the only people my mom saw were three coworkers, whose names I was able to find in the watchtower records.”
“Holy shit,” Skye said. “Do you know who your father is?”
“Not yet. I thought I could narrow it down a bit, so I looked them up on social media. I wasn’t able to find one guy, but I found the other two. At first I thought I could probably eliminate the woman as being less likely, but one of her old profile pictures is with a trans flag at Pride so she’s definitely still in the running. And the other guy, the one who actually uses social media, has been married since I was a baby. So he’s probably less likely, but his husband wasn’t on the list of coworkers, so he was either in a long-term long-distance relationship, even though the Bridge definitely didn’t pay well enough back then for that to be a good option for anyone, or else he only met his husband after he stopped working there.”
“Plus, he totally could have cheated on his future husband with your mom,” Skye said.
“That too. As for the other guy, he still works for the Bridge, so he’s still alive, but that’s all I know.”
“So how are you going to narrow it down? I’d ask if any of them look like you, but, well,” Skye waved her hand to indicate Sophie’s appearance. She looked just like her mom.
“Yeah, that’s not going to work. I figured, well, if I saw Mom’s reaction to seeing them again, I’d know. Because seeing old coworkers is totally different then seeing an old partner or hookup, and her expression and behavior will reflect that.”
“Oh my god,” Skye said, clearly starting to understand where this was going.
“I invited them all to the tenth anniversary party.”
“Oh my god,” Skye repeated. “Your mom’s going to freak out. She’s going to kill you.”
“No, she won’t. Because she won’t know that I know that one of them is my other parent.”
“I think she’ll suspect something, when they all show up.”
“That’s where my genius comes in. See, I didn’t invite them as guests. They’re all going to be working, in their actual jobs, as part of the event. One of them is a bureau agent, another’s coordinating with the watchtowers, and another’s doing the decorations.”
“And your mom hasn’t noticed them on the list?”
“I made the finalized list over break. She trusts me, and she trusts her staff. She doesn’t need to know the individual names of the staff from the other organizations we work with until right before the event, if then. She hasn’t noticed them yet, so worst comes to worst, she’ll notice their names on the list tonight, and I’ll still figure it out based on who she’s making a million excuses to avoid.”
“You’re setting your mom up to have, like, a breakdown or something. You know that, right? She’s overwhelmed enough by the tenth anniversary celebration, if I know your mom at all, and this is going to push her over the edge.”
“Or maybe it’ll provide a distraction from all the traumatic memories and event planning. Who knows, mom might even get back together with the love of her life or something.”
“Hopefully that’s not the married guy.”
“Ehhh, only a thirty-three percent chance of that. And his husband’s coming, too, so that should stop him from trying to cheat on his husband if he is the type to do that.”
“You invited the—of course you invited the husband.”
“Well, yeah. They kind of come as a set, since they work together.”
“Tomorrow is going to be such a clusterfuck.”
“No, it won’t. It’ll be fine. I’m going to meet my other parent, we’re going to have a great tenth anniversary celebration, and maybe mom will even be reunited with a long-lost love. If it’s not the married guy.”