Thomas’s life is turned upside down when he finds out that he is the father to seven-year-old Zack, but things get stranger when he discovers that Zack is a twin…

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I went from being a single man of 32, to suddenly being a father — a father to a child who was already well-established in his personality. I was just a stranger to him.

On the morning that my ex-girlfriend Linda called me, I was celebrating a work milestone. I sat at my desk feeling over the moon that all my efforts at work were being noticed.

A man sitting in an office | Source: Pexels

A man sitting in an office | Source: Pexels

“Thomas,” my boss said earlier that morning. “You’re doing well, son. You’re proving yourself to be exactly who I thought you were.”

So, I was quite content with the day — until an unknown number called me and changed everything I had known for the past decade of my life.

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A smiling older man | Source: Pexels

A smiling older man | Source: Pexels

“Thomas? Is that you?” Linda’s voice rang loud and clear through the phone.

“Linda?” I asked, shocked.

It had been years since I saw Linda. We met in college and became a big part of each other’s lives, until it was time to graduate, and I was determined to move away from home.

“What do you think is out there for you, Thomas?” Linda sniffled when I told her that breaking up seemed like the best option for us.

“New opportunities. I’ve grown since finishing high school, and now, even after college — I’m a different person. I need change.”

A couple in graduation gowns | Source: Pexels

A couple in graduation gowns | Source: Pexels

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And that was how we ended our relationship.

But hearing her voice now brought back years worth of memories that I had completely forgotten about.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” I asked, the instinct to protect taking over.

“Listen, Thomas, there’s no easy way to do this — so I’ll just come out and say it. You’re the father of my seven-year-old son, Zack.”

The words hung in the air, heavy with implications I couldn’t immediately grasp.

“How is that even possible, Linda?” I asked, my voice as dangerous as venom.

A man sitting in his office and holding a phone | Source: Pexels

A man sitting in his office and holding a phone | Source: Pexels

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How could she just come into my life and drop a bombshell like this?

“After all these years, why would you tell me now?” I managed, my voice losing the edge it had moments ago.

“I need you to understand that I didn’t mean for this to happen,” Linda said, speaking slowly.

How do you not mean for something like this to happen?

“I’d like for you to meet Zack,” she said. “This is my number, give me a call whenever you’d like.”

After I put my phone down, I stared at the plant on my desk for a while.

A pot plant on a desk | Source: Pexels

A pot plant on a desk | Source: Pexels

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If my son was seven years old, why did Linda wait so long to tell me? It made no sense. Unless she needed something from me? Like money? Child-support?

A week later, a court order landed on my desk — with Linda asking for child-support.

“Thomas,” my boss said after I told him what was going on. “You’re going to have to do a DNA test. There’s too much riding on this to just go in blindly. Do you believe that there’s truth to this story?”

I couldn’t answer him properly. There was no way for me to say that Linda was telling the truth. But at the same time, a DNA test would be the one true way of proving whether I was the father or not.

An envelope on a desk | Source: Pexels

An envelope on a desk | Source: Pexels

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The following weeks were a blur, culminating in a visit to the doctor for the DNA test results. I had purposefully asked Linda to keep Zack away from me — only because I didn’t want to try and forge a relationship with him, without knowing the truth.

He was seven already, and Linda had a husband — and as far as Zack knew, Paul was his father, not me.

I didn’t want to ruin that or confuse him — not until there was probable cause to do so.

A smiling boy holding a toy | Source: Pexels

A smiling boy holding a toy | Source: Pexels

The atmosphere in the doctor’s office was charged with anxious energy, as if the room itself was holding its breath.

“I can’t believe this,” the doctor finally spoke, breaking the palpable silence as she read through the results quickly.

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And then, I was surprised once again.

“The child in question is yours,” she said. “But only that child.”

A doctor sitting at a desk | Source: Pexels

A doctor sitting at a desk | Source: Pexels

“Only that child?” I echoed. “There’s more?”

“You’re the father of only one of the twins.”

“Twins?” I gasped.

In the entire time I had been speaking to Linda, she had never mentioned twins. It was always about Zack, as an only child.

“Yes,” she confirmed. “It’s rare, but it happens.”

“Explain it, please,” I asked.

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A couple holding two sonograms | Source: Pexels

A couple holding two sonograms | Source: Pexels

“Thomas, you see. Twins can have different fathers. This can happen when two eggs from the same mother are fertilized by sperm from two different men, within the same ovulation period.”

Oh, Linda, I thought — despite everything, I knew that it would have happened after we broke up.

“So, you’re telling me,” I finally said, after trying to process everything. “You’re telling me that my son has a brother who is not fully his brother?”

“Genetically, they’re half-brothers,” the doctor affirmed gently. “They share the same mother, after all. It’s a testament to the complexity of human biology. Your son, and his brother, are unique, each a product of a distinct combination of genetics.”

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Twin boys sitting together | Source: Pexels

Twin boys sitting together | Source: Pexels

I asked Linda to meet me at a diner so that we could talk about the results.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked her, my voice strained with a cocktail of feelings I couldn’t neatly categorize.

“It was complicated,” Linda replied, her voice trembling. “I didn’t want to disrupt my family. But it’s been eating at me, Thomas. And I see that Zack is yours — it’s so evident. And Jeremy is Paul’s. Both my sons are identical to their fathers.”

The complexity of our situation was daunting.

Empty booths at a diner | Source: Pexels

Empty booths at a diner | Source: Pexels

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Paul became an unexpected ally through his understanding and support.

“I can’t say that it didn’t hurt me,” he admitted. “Linda lived with her secret for all these years. We met two days after you guys broke up, and it was supposed to be fun and unattached, but then Linda found out that she was pregnant.”

“And you assumed that the baby was yours?” I thought aloud.

“Yes,” Paul chuckled. “The timing seemed about right. But I see how much Linda struggled with this. Especially because Zack has his own quirks that Linda said is all yours.”

Two men sitting and talking | Source: Pexels

Two men sitting and talking | Source: Pexels

I nodded. I was grateful that Paul had still raised my son as his own — although it had only been proven through the paternity tests now, it was comforting to know that Zack had a stable childhood.

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“So, what now?” I asked Linda at the diner.

She looked at me for a moment, picking up her chocolate milkshake — the one thing that always made her feel better when she was stressed.

“We need to figure out a way forward, for the sake of the kids,” she said.

A chocolate milkshake | Source: Pexels

A chocolate milkshake | Source: Pexels

Agreeing to co-parent was a decision born out of necessity, love, and a shared commitment to our children.

I had no idea how to fall into the lines of being a parent — but by building a relationship with Paul, I was able to learn how to navigate the waters.

Although, nothing prepared me for the night when Zack stayed over with me. We were watching movies and eating too much junk food when my son asked me the dreaded question.

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“Dad, why do I look different from Jeremy and Dad?” he asked, clearly thinking about Jeremy and Paul at home.

A boy standing in front of a TV | Source: Pexels

A boy standing in front of a TV | Source: Pexels

His innocent question pierced through the layers of complexity surrounding our family.

“It’s because you’re special,” I found myself saying, a smile breaking through the uncertainty. “Zack, you’ve got the best of two families.”

My son seemed satisfied with the answer and dug into his bowl of ice cream without any other questions.

A bowl of ice cream | Source: Pexels

A bowl of ice cream | Source: Pexels

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“We’re making it work, aren’t we?” Linda asked one evening, a note of hope in her voice as we gathered for dinner at her and Paul’s place.

The twins were happily playing in the backyard, with Paul keeping an eye on them.

“We are,” I agreed. Because for some reason, it did work.

A little boy playing | Source: Pexels

A little boy playing | Source: Pexels

Initially, it took a little while for me to warm up to the idea of being a father, learning to remove myself from the career-driven mindset that I had pushed myself into.

But it turns out that the wonder of genetics pushed all boundaries.

A smiling man | Source: Pexels

A smiling man | Source: Pexels

What would you have done?

Here’s another story for you | A man takes his aging single father back to his hometown for a visit and the two of them end up reconnecting with their pasts and forging a new future.

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