The Scarlet Queen

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Great brother, best son with a kind soul and golden heart. Stellan grew up in a good family with a silver spoon in his mouth, but it didn't ruin the gentle soul that is him. Life is great but his heart is sad failing to find a woman that will love him instead of his wealth, good look, and social status. She is alone and she thrives on it. She's strong, independent, and indifferent. At least that is how Reiko had been known in the American underworld. She bathes in the blood of her enemy and rejoices in the death of the vile. Will she let go of the only life she knows that will protect her family for the man that her heart desires more than the life she leads. Who will be willing to leave their comfort zone for an exactly opposite kind of life the other lead? Or will they choose to turn their back to each other and take a separate path like before they met? Follow the Story of Stellan and Reiko on two opposite sides of the world they stand.

Action / Romance
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

The six-meter high main door of the Grand Ballroom hall opened. Everyone was silenced by the arrival of a new guest. The woman walked regally in a pace fit for a queen, that made the guests' jaw dropped. She is bedecked in an ombre burgundy jeweled tulle long gown. The only jewelry she wore is a simple ruby stud in both her ears and a ruby ring on her finger that holds her gold clutch delicately. Her hair long golden honey brown in a delicate wave flowing her back. She looks simple and modest. But the kind of crowd in the ballroom will not be deceived. Her gown alone can possibly buy a chopper plane.

She’s enchanting, who looks like a goddess that deign to attend a party of the lowly humans, not that the party is mediocre. The Grand Ballroom of The Paradiso Piazza is the most luxurious in the city if not in the world. It can accommodate 1000 guests easily. It also has an extended outdoor Eden like a garden that some guess chose to stay at. The ballroom is lighted by five chandeliers, four smalls are scattered in each corner and the largest is placed at the middle that sparkle with a bunch of diamonds. The ceiling is high and adorned in gold. All drapes are royal purple making the place fit for a king. The lighting is solemn and romantic. The floor is covered in thick purple and gold carpet just like the drapes. The ballroom is supported by a Greek column with the muses’ sculptures supporting each one. Furnished in antique but elegantly designed pieces.

She intentionally approaches the host of the party - Mrs. Delilah Elizabeth Eisenhower. The darling wife of the most prominent Senator in the current administration. No one dares to waste an invite to her party. Though the newcomer gets away with being fashionably late.

“Congratulations on a successful turn out of your charity auction Mrs. Eisenhower,” she smiled sweetly to Delilah and reach for a buzz on both cheeks as a greeting.

“Oh, dear Scarlet, Aunt Lilah will do. You are family after all. Thank you for being here. I know you are quite busy,” countered Delilah while leading her to the other side of the Ballroom.

“I wouldn’t dare miss it, Aunt Lilah. I run directly from the airport. I’ll always be your staunch supporter, you know it.”

“And I’ll always be grateful for that my Dear.”

Scarlet saw a group of men in the direction they’re leading, Aunt Lilah is subtle but not subtle enough. Her love life is on the top of her agenda as expected.

Delilah cleared her throat and wait for the group’s attention. “Scarlet this is my nephew Vincent Hamilton and his friends. Stellan Monaghan and Dominic Berett. Gentlemen, this is Scarlet Morgan, the daughter of my best friend Beatrice Morgan.” She didn’t wait for any reaction when she addresses Vincent. “Sweetheart you mind to please be a good host for Scarlet.”

“Not to worry your pretty little head Aunt. I’ll take charge,” Vincent indulges Delilah with a kiss at the back of her hand, not that he can turn her down anyway.

Delilah turns around and busies herself to begin the charity auction. When a couple of women approach their group. “Scarlet this is Annalise, Nick’s wife,” Vincent introduced the newcomer.

Scarlet reach her for a greeting. “And this is Fumiko.” It seems Fumiko came as Stellan’s date, but Vincent didn’t provide specifics. She does the same to Fumiko. But in Fumiko’s ear her lips move, subtle, quick and quiet, no one notices, but Stellan did. His attention is caught by the woman in red.

“Nice to meet all of you,” Scarlet charming her way like usual.

“How can a woman as gorgeous as you can be able to hide, to the point that we only met you now?” Annalise amused, lightly send interrogating eyes towards Vincent.

Scarlet cast him a glimpse but decided to get along with Annalise, “That’s the point I need to hide to avoid men like Vincent, didn’t I?” her smile didn’t leave her face.

Annalise giggle at that, the smile appeared in the faces of the men.

“Oh bad, Vince she seems to deduce you faster than her first champagne.”

Vincent held his hair and shake his head in that comment. “We haven’t met but I think just like me, she heard enough about me to detail a daily diary.”

“Ah, forgive Aunt Lilah, I believe she feels I need to be regaled of your adventures or misadventures, whichever fits.” Scarlet pushed through.

Annalise giggled indulgingly, “There are more mis if what I’ve heard is correct.”

“I can regal you of the same from your husband’s past life if you have time. It might take a week and it still won’t be over.” Vincent’s light response.

Dominic’s overbearing look was directed to Vincent immediately. “We have no time for that Vince. We are busy trying all my misadventure that now is focused only on my wife.”

Annalise blush with that comment. “I like Scarlet already. I cannot say the same about you, Nick.” Annalise blushing in her husband’s words. “These people are not interested in the married couple’s nocturnal activity. I believe they have enough imagination for that.” Scarlet giggle with Fumiko.

But looking back, Vincent’s comment is on point, Scarlet was regaled of all stories about Vincent when Delilah drop by their house. Being a best friend of her Mom, she frequented the house when she was just 18 years old. But that was so long ago now since her mother died, she has failed to see Delilah except during parties like that evening. She didn’t stay at that house since her passing. Good thing she has a lot of options where to live. She just made sure that the house is properly maintained, that was her Mother’s favorite after all.

Now that she met Vincent, she knows that Delilah will stop at nothing to push her agenda. But Scarlet is not a Morgan if not stubborn. And she can sense Vincent is not interested in her, at least not like what Delilah has in mind.

Fumiko looks casually enjoying the evening like Annalise, but with little reservation. Her change is inscrutable, but Scarlet noticed. Scarlet can’t blame Fumiko, their meeting at this party is unexpected for her. But Scarlet is well informed of everyone in attendance.

The banter between friends are light and funny, the proof of the time they have known each other. But Scarlet knows better. She can sense the disconcerted atmosphere below the surface. She is not sure yet, but there is also a foreboding in her own stomach that is getting more and more difficult to set aside.

“Excuse me, I’ll go to the women’s room,” Scarlet excuse herself from the group.

“I’ll go with you,” Fumiko offered and approach Scarlet.

Scarlet nod and lead the way. They both are quiet until they’re at the frills of the party. “You didn’t tell me you’ll be here, Reiko.” Fumiko started.

Scarlet Reiko Morgan Shuichi. The world knows her as Scarlet Morgan. The public follows Scarlet Morgan, the socialite. But behind closed door and family she will always be Reiko Shuichi.

“I do not remember the need to ask for your permission in my activities, Fumiko,” Scarlet stopped and faced Fumiko. She had managed to pull Fumiko in a small patio covered with a thick curtain. No one can hear nor see them.

“What made you attend? You never enjoyed these parties.” Fumiko insists on the only Cousin she knows.

“I need to be here for appearances, Miko. How about you? Trying to forget the jerk that dumps you, and do you really think this party will help you heal?” that is too brutal, she is more protective of Fumiko, but her frustration gets the better of her. She shakes her head regretting the harsh words she just uttered.

Fumiko did not respond. She indulges herself in her old nickname only Scarlet ever use. She avoids Scarlet’s eye, approaches the baluster and looks at the sky. “That’s harsh. You knew about him, Reiko?”

That is not a question. She knows Scarlet’s capability. There is no information on earth that she doesn’t know. Scarlet has been lenient on her for some time now, but she doesn’t believe Scarlet ever let her go completely. And she is the only person that still calls her Reiko.

“I am not sorry for saying that to you, but I am sorry for the way I fired in on your face. And as far as I’m concern, we both know I am Scarlet in a public setting, Miko.” She continued, “I may have allowed you enough freedom these past couple of years. But it doesn’t mean I forgo ensuring your safety, Miko.” Scarlet sighed, she was always brutal, but she consistently tried protecting Fumiko’s feelings except for today.

Fumiko is highly aware that her safety and that of her Mom is on top priority for Scarlet. Sometimes, even before her happiness. She despises those choices. But just like her, the stubbornness of Scarlet knows no bound.

“Let me live, Reiko. I accepted I will make mistake. I will be hurt. But that is what I needed to grow up,” she faced Scarlet with a sad smile. “It’s alright. They said what doesn’t kill me will strengthen me. It’s a little late for me, but I would like to experience all those things. You have protected me, too much actually. And I’ll always be thankful for that. But for now, let me prioritize my happiness. That is what they call living, and I really really wanted to live.”

“To the extent of your own pain? To the point of breaking your heart?”

“What is the sense of a whole heart if I have never really loved anyone as much as I can? Consider this my learning experience. Please accept everything that I wanted with this. I didn’t ask you not to protect me but let me pick the battle and stumble along the way.”

Scarlet was not the slightest regretful of her choices regarding Fumiko, but she is willing to accept her decision. “You know that I was never contrite for all the decisions I made regarding your life. I will do all of those again in the same way.” She looks Fumiko in the eyes entreating her to understand. “But I will respect your decision. I’ll let you have these, whatever it is you wanted to do here.”

“I know and I never wanted you to regret them. I will never fault you for those times. Not in the slightest. But I thank you for giving me this opportunity.”

“I just hope you won’t regret it. I can protect your life, but I don’t think you have allowed me to protect your heart. And that exactly is your destination. Please be ready.”

Scarlet left the patio and left Fumiko on her own. Fumiko needs to realize what she asked for. And however Scarlet hate the decision, she will let her. She loves Fumiko more than she ever loves herself. All the decisions she carried out is for her protection. But Fumiko is an adult now. It pains Scarlet, but Fumiko is right, she needs to grow up and learn to live her life. She cannot always hide in Scarlet’s protection. She sighed deeply. She needs to stick to the agreement. She will let her get hurt. But the agreement is out of the window the moment that her life is at stake and Scarlet knows too much not to be bothered by the man Fumiko chooses to experience her life with.

Behind the drapes, there are eyes and ears too sensitive not to hear everything that transpired between the two women. He doesn’t worry since it shows the two known each other deeply. Though it bothers him why they don’t want the world to know their connection. Stellan shakes his head, he needs to focus on the problem at hand. For now, all he needs to do is protect Fumiko. If only the stupid Jet didn’t leave and let Fumiko to her own devices, he wouldn’t be this worried. Though he knows that Jet left Fumiko not without protection. As a matter of fact, Jet doubled the security detail of Fumiko before he left to derail the trail that puts the target on his back.

Stellan decided to go back with the group. When Vincent initiated, “Stel, you like her.” That is a statement that Stellan didn’t seem to appreciate but he knows that is more than correct however he wanted to deny it. He chooses to drink his champagne instead of acknowledging his friend.

“I think so, Vince.” Nick supplied Vince’s observation. They are together since they are in their nappies, it is difficult to hide things from each other. Not to mention Stellan is quite obvious.

“She’s attractive.” Stellan finally conceded.

“And?” Vince pushed him.

Stellan released a deep sigh. “Interesting.”

“And?” Vincent doesn’t want to let it go unless he heard it from Stellan want he wanted to hear. His confirmation, though he already knows he is correct he wanted to hear it directly from him.

Stellan knows this as well, “Ok I may or may not have a little interest.”

Vincent and Nick smirk, content with the revelation. That is more than they can actually have from Stellan. The man has been the most indifferent among the four of them even when they were babies.

“Woo her brother, I’ll support you. I already like her.” Annalise speaks dreamily at that.

“Honey, don’t get over yourself here.” Nick holds Annalise back. But Annalise is so far off in the dreamland for her older brother whom she never saw had any serious relationship for so long. Nick looks at Stellan, he’s sure Stellan can bear and forgive Annalise. She’s Stellan’s baby sister anyway. Stellan just sighs and shakes his head.

Scarlet and Fumiko arrived just then.

The host of the auction spoke on the microphone, signaling the start of the activity.

“Please let me lead you to our table,” Vincent offered while offering his arms to Scarlet.

“Thank you,” her curt response looping her hands in his arm with an indulging tease.

The action flows smoothly. The friends bid here and there for support or to raise the price of the pieces in the line up. The items are varied widely. From antiques, vases, paintings, and out of the country vacation packages. Stellan actually won one vacation packages for two in Voavah, Maldives. He doesn’t look like someone for such a thing but who knows. The Maldives still has one of the best beaches and islands in the world.

Scarlet enjoyed observing and drinking her champagne smiling and nodding when needed or making the men blush with her tirades and below the belt comments. No one can tell how she handles herself, but she hates parties. She may be required to attend for appearances, it still didn’t lessen her aversion of such activity. She perfected the Scarlet the world knows for appearances to a T. But there are times that she missed a little especially this evening. There is something brewing she can’t just point her finger into it exactly.

The last piece is a painting of a woman in a red gown set with an autumn scenery around a lake. Her back is turned and for whatever reason, that captured Scarlet’s attention. This one was donated by one of the younger known upcoming painters in New York. For the first time that evening, she bid.

“500 Thousand,” her voice delicate, gentle, and almost quiet but strong and assured.

The Ballroom quieted for the second time that evening, and why not the starting amount is just a quarter of her bid. Even her companion in the table looks at her shock and mouth hanging open.

“510.” “550,” a man in the back and one at her far-right simultaneously shout their bided amounts. The one at the back is an old man in his 50’s an owner of multiple car distribution franchises, while the other is the spoiled son of the biggest shipping yard owner in New York, he’s at her late 20 if her memory is correct. She scanned the file provided to her of all attendees, but she does not care enough to remember everyone in detail.

The two men fight neck to neck for the painting and Scarlet just lets them. This is the primary reason Aunt Delilah wants her here. Men compete when they saw her interested in anything. They grovel to her feet to give her everything she’s even slightly interested in. It’s getting old, but for the advantage of the charity, she gets along with it. A deep sigh slips her lips, shortly forgetting her mask. Stellan at her left reacted, she felt his eyes before she saw them. She threw him a small raise of her lips and a small nod. The look Stellan send her way are full of question and doubt. She dismissed it, focusing on getting the party over.

“One million dollars, going once, going twice. Sold to the gentleman at the back.”

The man stands, raised his left hand, gave a few nods while everyone is clapping, and go back to his seat shooting Scarlet with a stare that cannot be misunderstood but interest and something else. Scarlet didn’t look long enough to analyze, she doesn’t want to appear creepy, that is these older men’s job.

The auction is over. The man who won the bid for the painting approach Scarlet, she is still with Vincent and his friends. “Good evening my lady. Would you give me the pleasure of meeting you personally? We seem to have the same taste in art,” the man vows in his introduction.

“Scarlet Morgan, Sir,” her response curt while offering her right hand for a handshake.

“Captain Howard Robertson. Would you accept the painting as a gift from this old man?” Capt. Robertson take her hands and kissed the back of it instead.

“I appreciate your thoughtfulness, Captain Robertson. I think the painting will liven up your place. I appreciate the thought, though.”

“Why, but I expected that response.” Captain Robertson responds with a small laugh. “Hope you have a great evening Lady Scarlet.”

“Thank you, the same for you, Captain Robertson. Take care,” Scarlet sensed the reaction of the men around her. Stellan, Dominic, and Vincent stopped their conversation, their eyes didn’t even lay at Captain Robertson, but it cannot be denied that all their attention is on the short exchange between her and the Captain. Men and their territorial tendencies. She can’t help but roll her eyes in her mind. Scarlet Morgan is always prim and proper, she will never be caught otherwise. But that’s not all of it, Captain Howard raised all alarms even for Scarlet.

Scarlet revert her attention to the group and send her goodbye. “I think I’ll call it a night ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the company. I enjoyed myself,” She hugs them all but took longer in Fumiko’s arms.

“Hope to see you again soon, Scarlet,” Annalise warm smile reach Scarlet. She likes the group, Annalise is easy to get along with, kind and warm-hearted. It saddened her that she cannot possibly agree to a meeting with these people. Not in this lifetime if she doesn’t want their lives in her conscience.

“We do lunch once a month it’ll be a pleasure to have you in attendance.” Annalise continues.

Scarlet cannot shoot the expectant eyes of Annalise. “Sure, I’ll be there if I’m in the city. Just tell me.” Scarlet knows it’s a lie, so as Fumiko. But they both didn’t voice it out. Annalise’s bright eyes are painful to disappoint even for her.

And there is another pair of eyes that is borring hole at the back of her head since she came back from the women’s room earlier, Stellan’s. She felt like a Physics problem that he’s been trying to solve the whole evening. It’s exasperating, it’s making her more aware of the atmosphere and her environment. It increases her self-awareness a couple of notches above what she usually needs in a party like this. what choice does she have? She will not fail in this party like a mission of life and death.

She waved on the group then she turned her back to meet Delilah halfway. Delilah being the good host thanking everyone that is in her path to Scarlet, her final target.

“Thank you, dear. The turnout is more than what we expected. And of course, it is because of you,” the delight in her face palpable.

Scarlet demurely hug the older woman. “Of course, it’s your effort, Aunt Lilah. I was just happy to be of assistance to you.”

“Ever the humble Scarlet.”

“I have to go, Aunt Lilah, please take care.”

“Sure, take care dear. Give my regards to Beatrice.”

She gives her a warm smile. Even in her death, Delilah never forgets her best friend. Maybe one of the reasons why she can’t let go of Scarlet’s love life.

When Delilah let her go, she was sidetracked by all the guests that try to talk to her. The attention she gets on these parties is always the same. She just learns to divert them, subtly but quickly.

Her steps are faster for her exit than her arrival. Not only does she badly wanted to get out of there, but she lost sight of Fumiko. Her heartbeat didn’t forgive and most of the time she hates that she always feels when something bad is about to happen.

She arrived at the entrance of the Paradiso Piazza the front is a grand rotunda that boasts the best garden in the city. With the number of guests for the charity auction alone, the whole rotunda is filled with limousines waiting for their owners to arrive and be driven back to their own homes. The rotunda alone covers an acre of the property but in this situation, it’s not enough. She doesn’t find Fumiko upfront she assumes they used the side entrance for its convenience with traffic.

She walks her way to the side entrance giving the order to her limousine to pick her up from there as a front if she met Fumiko’s group again. She saw the group saying their goodbyes, their side of the street is already full of limousines. Scarlet assent that one of those is their ride, but how wrong can she be.

Stellan crosses the road their ride in on the other side of the road. Before Fumiko can follow Stellan, Annalise pulls her again for a hug and thanks to her profusely.

But the nightmare is just starting, when Fumiko steps on the road a black pickup truck came fast with the intention to bulldoze everyone in its path. Stellan is quick enough to hold Fumiko and pull her but he is too far that the truck manages to hit Fumiko in her right side hitting her hips down to her feet.

Scarlet’s eyes dim in fury, she saw everything in slow motion, but she cannot do anything. Fumiko is too far for her to save and she cannot ruin her reputation in front of this crowd. She called the ambulance and the police. They will arrive and she is sure Fumiko will live, based on her observation she wasn’t hit that bad to worry about her life. But she is sure that her whole body will be painful for at least two weeks. It would feel like she was mugged and beaten.

She watched the crowd as they were dispersed by the guards. Vincent, Dominic, Annalise, and Stellan surround her. The ambulance arrived then the police. They load Fumiko, Stellan accompanied her. Annalise was pulled by Dominic to another limousine and left together, they followed the ambulance. Vincent stays with the police and answered their question. They go to the police station to formalize the report.

She looked around analyzing the area, when content she runs to her ride and disappears into the night. She must take this seriously. She must make her move, and she doesn’t need to sleep on it.

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