The 24-hour twin experiment—How it started
It all started with too much wine, a no-holds-barred conversation between sisters, and the inevitable “great” idea that turned into a blood-bonded pact (needle pricks on fingertips, not human sacrifice). From there, it was all downhill…
“I can’t believe I swore a blood oath promising to do this.” Megan glared at her identical twin. From their long blonde tresses to the tips of their toes, there was no telling them apart—unless you knew them well, and then their personalities gave them away.
Claire smiled brightly. “There’s no way out of a blood promise. Not without suffering dire consequences.”
By that, she meant the pact they’d made as teens—whoever broke their deal had to confess all sins to their older brother, Invertary’s only police officer. The confessor then endured all consequences without throwing the other twin under the bus. Considering that promise had been made back when their greatest crime was dyeing the Baxter sheep pink, it hadn’t carried much weight at the time. Now Megan was a security specialist for a company that didn’t always color between the lines, and confessing her sins could result in her ending up the long-term prisoner of some shady government agency.
Whereas her twin was a stay-at-home mum whose own “bad behavior” only occurred during kinky play with her husband. Megan cocked her head. Okay, so confessing her sins wouldn’t land Claire in jail, but it might make their brother’s head explode. That would definitely be worth watching.
“How do I look?” Claire put her hands on hips clad in Megan’s favorite jeans and grinned.
“Exactly like me,” Megan grumbled as she looked down at her own attire—mum jeans and a gray sweatshirt. Kill me now… “If you damage those jeans or that leather jacket, I will eviscerate you.”
“Good to know.” Claire cheerfully pulled on the black biker jacket that perfectly matched the kick-ass block-heeled boots Megan had bought while on a job in Milan.
“I’ve changed my mind.” And she wanted her boots back. “This was a dumb idea. Take it all off and put your own stuff on.”
“No backsies on a blood oath.” Claire held the edges of the jacket tight together. “You’re the one who wanted to know what it’s like being a mother. This was all your idea.”
“No, it wasn’t! I just told you that Dimitri’s been hinting about kids, and I wasn’t sure I was mother material. I suggested watching them for an evening, not twenty-four hours.”
“Yeah, but how will you know what being a parent’s like if you only babysit? This way, you have to deal with the bad and the good. It will help you make a proper informed decision.”
Yeah, right… “Fine, but nobody said anything about swapping lives.”
With a smug look, Claire picked up her phone, tapped the screen, and turned it toward Megan. There they were, two drunk women, agreeing to their stupid plan.
“We’re doing a twin swap!” Claire slurred. “I get to go shoot people, and Megs gets to be a mummy!” She frowned at Megan. “You can’t shoot my kids.”
“I’m not going to shoot your kids.” Megan tried to roll her eyes but failed and hiccupped instead.
“You shoot everything that annoys you,” Claire said.
“Not true. I only shoot things when I can get away with it. There’s a difference.”
“You shot your husband.”
“That was an accident.”
“And your boss’s lamp.”
“That was an accident too.” Megan burped. “I was aiming for my boss.”
They both dissolved into giggles.
Gasping for air, Claire pointed at Megan. “No shooting my kids. And no telling them you’re their mother. That kind of crap could mess with their tiny, squishy brains. You don’t mess with kids’ brains when they’re still deleloping. Devlepopling. Dev… oh hell, you know what I mean.”
“Whatever. I’ll be Aunty Megan for the day.” She pointed back at Claire. “But you can’t tell anyone you’re not me. I could get fired. Or worse.”
“What’s worse than being fired?”
Megan frowned, concentrating, then suddenly looked pleased with herself. “I could get forced to work with Rachel!”
“Rachel doesn’t even work with Benson Security anymore.”
They both started laughing again.
Claire stopped the video and cocked an eyebrow at her sister. “See? Just remember that you need to treat my kids the way I treat them, or the deal’s off, and you can go confess to big brother. So no messing with their heads, or using them as mini-servants, or running some sort of weird experiment just to see what happens.”
“That’s what you think of me?” Megan made a mocking face. “Fine, I can poop rainbows and shower them with glitter all day long while pandering to their every need and listening to their endless descriptions of TV shows about cartoon dogs. How hard can it be?”
“Oh, you have no idea.” Claire laughed so hard she had to reapply her mascara.
“I just don’t see why I have to wear this crap while doing the mother bit.” Megan waved a hand down her body, indicating the generic uniform of mothers everywhere. “Would it hurt you to wear something with a bit of style?”
“Trust me, you want practical clothes. Ones you don’t care about because they’ll get stained.”
“With what? I’m not doing any arty-farty stuff with the kids today.”
“You’ll see.” Claire smirked knowingly.
Which really annoyed Megan. “I think we should swap clothes back. I never should have let you pick what we wore anyway.”
“We tossed a coin. You lost.”
“I was too drunk to tell if it was heads or tails. For all I know, you lied. You just wanted to get your hands on my favorite outfit.”
“Boo-hoo. Poor you. Suck it up. I like wearing badass biker chic for the day.” Claire fluffed her long blonde hair, which she’d artfully waved to roll over her shoulders: Megan’s signature style.
“Is that how you talk to your kids?” Megan reached up to adjust her messy bun—Claire’s usual look when hanging out at home. “I hate scrunchies! They’re for toddlers and eighties aerobics instructors. Where do you even buy these things? Weren’t they banned at the same time as mullets?”
“I make them,” Claire said with devilish glee.
“Kill me now,” Megan said. Out loud this time.
“I don’t need to. The kids will probably do it for me.” Claire studied her cleavage in her bedroom’s full-length mirror. “Doesn’t your boss tell you off for flashing so much boob on the job?”
“No, because, like my husband, my boss knows that what I wear is up to me, and any unwanted opinions on the topic generally make me reach for my gun.”
“See! You do too shoot things at the slightest provocation. Where is it, by the way? I need it.” Claire glanced around the room as though it might materialize.
Like that was happening. “You’re not getting my gun.”
“But everybody knows you have a deeply disturbing and unnaturally close relationship with your weapon. How am I expected to pull off being you if I don’t have your gun?”
“You’re not going to pull it off no matter what you carry. My world isn’t all fluffy kittens and tending imaginary boo-boos. The best you can do is make people assume I’m having an off day. Anyway, I brought you a taser. Take that.”
Claire stared at her, aghast. “A taser isn’t the same as a gun.”
“I know, which is why you’re allowed to carry it. If you had a license, you’d get the gun. But you don’t have a license.”
“This isn’t fair.” Claire pouted.
“I know, and I don’t care. Them’s the rules.” Megan grinned. “Look at me. I’m already rocking this parenting shit.”
Claire rolled her eyes and reached for a sheet of paper on top of the dresser. “This is the kids’ schedule for today. Seeing as it’s the weekend, there’s no school to worry about, but they do have sports. The girls have rugby in a couple of hours—I’m on kit laundry this week, so remember to bring it home with you—”
Megan snatched the paper. “Wait? You wash the stinky, muddy uniforms belonging to all of the kids? It wasn’t enough to just clean your own kids’ stuff? You had to branch out?”
“I could explain it, but what’s the point?” Claire sighed. “The rest of the list is clear enough. Don’t feed Sam too many sweet things. He’ll puke. Probably on you.”
“This isn’t the first time I’ve looked after my nieces and nephews, you know.”
Claire touched up her lips gloss. “Yeah, but all those other times, you had Dimitri to help, and he’s good with kids.”
“And I’m not?” The hits just kept on coming.
“Uh, no. You weren’t even good with kids when we were kids.”
Now that was just below the belt. “You are so lucky I locked my gun in the safe.”
“We all are,” Claire said sweetly as she glanced at the clock. It was barely past six a.m. “I need to head off soon if I’m going to make it to Glasgow by nine. Any last minute advice?”
“This is an easy job. You’re close security for a teenage popstar for the day, while she performs at the Hydro. All you do is stay close and stop people from annoying her. There will be other security staff, but they have different roles. Don’t worry about them. Your focus is staying beside the singer. Just treat it like your kindy teaching—don’t let her eat anything dumb, make sure she naps and gets her work done on time, and keep all the other kids from annoying her.”
“You know, that isn’t all kindy teachers do.”
“Well, you can try getting her to make some macaroni art, but I don’t think she has time.”
“So funny. So, so funny…” Claire stuffed the taser into the pocket of Megan’s favorite biker jacket. “What other Benson Security staff will be there?”
“I’ve no idea. They brought me in last minute because Violet took one look at the pop princess and said no.”
“That was it, just ‘no’?”
“Yep. I want to be her when I grow up.”
“I’m not too sure Violet Lee’s somebody anyone should aspire to be. Okay, I’m ready.” She beamed at Megan. “How cool is this though? We haven’t swapped since we were teens.”
“Super cool,” Megan drawled as Claire’s phone rang.
“Ooh, it’s Grunt,” she squealed as though she hadn’t seen her husband in months when, in fact, they’d only waved goodbye to him and Dimitri the evening before.
“Don’t use video!” Megan lunged for the phone, but it was too late.
“Megan?” Grunt said. “Where’s Claire?”
And that was why a video call was a bad idea.
“Right here,” Megan said and tried to look Claire-like. Think soft, soppy, kid obsessed, optimistic…
“Babe,” Grunt growled, his eyes darkening.
Beside her, Claire blushed and made a little “needy” sound. Megan elbowed her in the ribs.
“Hey, is that Megan too?” Dimitri called before his face appeared on the screen. “Hiya, gorgeous.” He grinned at Megan’s sister. “What are you doing up in the middle of the night?”
Um, wondering why you can’t tell which sister you’re married to…
Fake Megan cleared her throat. “Claire made me get up early. She wants me to experience a full day in her life. Kill me now.”
Dimitri’s eyes twinkled. “Bet you wish you’d come with us to the conference, don’t you?”
Megan answered before Claire could say something stupid. “Are you kidding? She’s thrilled to be here. We’re having a great twin time, aren’t we?”
“Super-duper,” Claire agreed, with words Megan would never use.
Grunt grunted and looked suspicious.
“Oh, that’s the kids calling. Gotta go. Love you.” Megan grabbed the phone and shut it off. Then turned on her twin. “You said super-duper! Who says that?”
“It just slipped out.” Claire gave Megan an anxious glance. “Do you think they suspected?”
“I hope not.” Otherwise, their husbands would be on the first flight back from Brussels. Or worse, they’d call the twins’ brother and make him check on them. “We can’t think about that now. Here.” She thrust her phone at Claire, grateful that their identical faces meant they had no problem accessing each other’s secure tech. So much for facial recognition software. “From now on, you’re Megan. Try not to ruin my reputation with all your fluff.”
Claire’s eyes narrowed. “And you try not to upset Grunt. You know how sensitive he is.”
Yes, when Megan closed her eyes and pictured her oversized, taciturn, glaring brother-in-law, sensitive was the first word that came to mind. “I’m not flirting with him,” she warned.
“Ew! No, don’t even think about that. Try not to talk to him at all. Send text messages if he calls. Look at my past ones and copy them.”
Megan checked her sister’s phone and shook her head. “You have entire messages that are just emojis. How are we even related?”
A cry came from down the hall, and Claire glanced toward the bedroom door. “That’s your wake-up call. Better get going, Mum.”
Straightening her shoulders, Megan headed for the door. “I am totally regretting this already.”
“Can I have the keys to your motorbike?” Claire called out from behind her.
“No.” Megan stalked into the hall.
“How am I supposed to get to Glasgow? It’s hours from here.”
“Go borrow Jena’s car. She hardly uses it anyway.”
“I can’t. Jena crashed it again.”
There was no one on the planet more accident-prone than their brother’s wife. “Well, you’re not taking my bike. You’ll get in an accident, and then Grunt will kill me.”
“You used to be fun,” Claire shouted after her.
Megan just growled.
Next week’s newsletter, the Megan’s installment of The Twin Experiment.
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