A Cradle of Wolves

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Chapter Sixteen: Aftermath.

Constance furiously stormed into the estate, throwing her daughter to the floor the second they crossed the threshold. “You’re a stupid bitch! Good for nothing!”

Jennifer wiped her streaming tears as she gazed up at her mother. Her hands were clasped together in front of her as she kneeled on the ground after she landed with a loud slam on the foyer floor. “I’m sorry!” cried the girl in supplication.

“If you were ever sorry you would have destroyed Theo just as you promised.” Constance shook her head in utter shame at her daughter before delivering a thunderous slap to her cheek. Jennifer yelped in pain and was thrown back to the ground by her mother’s violent strike just as she was about to rise.

Booker gasped in horror. He compassionately wrapped his arms around Jennifer as he looked up at Constance with wide eyes full of disbelief. “Mother!”

“Do not address me as your mother. The two of you have angered me beyond belief due to your incompetence,” Constance spat back. Her eyes shone even further with rage at the sight of her son.

“What have I done to anger you?” asked Booker with a curious crease in his forehead.

Constance shot him a look of disgust. “I saw you leave with Benjamin at the reception hall with your arm around his waist. Anyone would have thought that you two are lovers!”

Booker glared at his mom. Unlike Jennifer who was terrified of Constance, Booker did not fear the woman who gave birth to him as a force to be reckoned with. He would never submit to her abuse. “And if he and I are lovers? So, what? We’re in the year…”

Constance interrupted him by striking his cheek with a slap that was as vehement as the one she delivered to Jennifer. “Oh, shut up! Don’t you dare tell me what year it is. I know what year it is, and I don’t care what the Supreme Court says about the gays being equal. In my eyes and in the eyes of God you are nothing but a vile product of sin!”

“Sin, huh? Who are you to judge? You who ruined a woman’s life for the sake of it. Everything that was ever ours for the past sixteen years has been a lie—all of it are stolen goods from a woman you disgraced. You are nothing but a Judas and I am terribly ashamed to have come out of you—a being so despicable!” Booker took his sister before he opened the front door to the estate with his back turned on Constance and Julian in the foyer.

Constance clicked her tongue. She laughed curtly but menacingly as she gazed at her two children. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“I’m not a little boy anymore. I’m twenty-one years old and I’m free to make my own decisions.” Booker continued his way down the front steps.

“But you have nowhere else to go. You and your wife live under this roof because you’re a miserable loser with a degree in Art History and a minor in Business. You’re unable to find a job and you have no money because whatever money is yours is transferred from my account to yours. I don’t think you’re going to cope being in the streets like those vagabonds we see every Sunday lining up outside of the cathedral.” Constance knew very well how to keep her children on her selfish leash, after all, she has been doing it for years. “You’re a freak of nature but you are my son and she,” Constance nodded towards Jennifer who was inconsolable. “She is my daughter. We are a family and we are going through some troubling times so it’s best that we stick together.”

Booker clenched his jaw. He met his mom’s cruel eyes in defeat before he walked up the steps and back into the estate. However, Booker planned on having the least amount of contact with both his mother and uncle. He despised them and wished to see Theo just to congratulate him on exposing Constance and Julian. With Jennifer at his side, Booker retreated to his room.

Julian shook his head after he fully observed the scene that transpired before him. “Booker is not man enough to have the wife he has,” he began, shaking his head with a sly smile.

“What are you trying to say by that?” Constance caught onto Julian’s shrewd tone of voice, which came so suddenly. “Are you having an affair with your nephew’s wife?”

“Don’t act surprised. Ana needs a man, not the half-man that is your idiotic son.”

Constance fidgeted with the top button on her dress, anxious all of a sudden. It wasn’t a surprise to her that Julian was having the affair, but she thought of this affair as an inconvenience to her plans. Therefore, Constance was ready to put it to an end as soon as possible. “I don’t have a good feeling about your affair,” she began.

Julian shrugged carelessly. “You want me to end my affair with the woman that is satisfying my needs all because you don’t have a good feeling about it? Once upon a time I told you that I didn’t have a good feeling about your plan against Cristina, but you went and did what you did either way.”

Constance became silent after his brusque riposte.

“Instead of judging your brother’s decisions don’t you think you should try and fix things with the husband you stole. Losing him to Cristina would only make her feel more victorious, don’t you think?” continued Julian with a sneering tone.

Constance laid a hand on her brother’s chest, smiling sarcastically back at him. “Julian, can you shut up?” Then she hurried upstairs to go look for Mr. Clearwater. She checked his study, but he wasn’t there. He has to be in our room then, she concluded. The door to her room was closed but she didn’t bother in knocking before she entered. When Constance barged in, she found Mr. Clearwater with a large suitcase open on their bed. He threw clothes into the suitcase without folding them—all in a hasty manner.

Mr. Richard Clearwater noticed his wife enter and grimaced in return. “Ah, if it isn’t the most poisonous snake of the lot.”

“You have to hear me out on this,” she began to say, approaching him with her coaxing arms that are as dangerous as an anaconda’s hold.

Mr. Clearwater threw a shirt into the pile of clothes in his open suitcase, exhaling wrathfully through his nose. He suddenly took Constance by her neck and threw her onto the small couch by the window. “I don’t want to hear you! That video and those diary pages have said enough!”

Constance brushed her hair away from her face. “Look at you resorting to domestic violence. Cristina’s influence will do you nothing but harm!”

“I can’t believe I let you make a fool out of me for all these years! We even adopted a child because I thought you were genuine. How foolish I was to ever think so low of Cristina,” he flashed Constance a scornful gaze, “and to think of you so highly.” Tears began to flow from his eyes. “You destroyed my family! My children are out somewhere in this world and I don’t even know where to begin looking because I thought they were dead all this time! I hope to God that He takes you and gives me my children in return!”

“Where are you going?” Constance too began to weep. Her hair was disheveled from her hard landing on the couch and her mascara began to run down her cheeks with her tears.

“Back to the woman that I truly love. Oh, and I hope you burn in hell.” He closed his suit-case and hurriedly left the room as if he was running away from someone who had the plague.

Constance threw herself back onto the couch utterly defeated and forever falling into melancholy. She buried her face in her arms and continued to cry. After a minute, Julian entered the room and found his sister in her gutted state. He widened his eyes, amazed that Constance was actually crying for once.

“Are you alright?” he asked her.

Constance recognized her brother’s voice, so she turned around to meet his gaze. Julian expected to see her in grief but instead he was met with a shining grin. Her tears had dried quickly, and a smile danced across her lips. Was she ever crying in the first place?

Such feelings of defeat and desolation were alien to her. She never felt them, and she planned on further doing so. “Did you think I was going to cry over the fact that my husband was leaving me? Please! Mr. Clearwater has nothing now. We should celebrate instead.”

Julian chuckled. He sat next to Constance, wrapping his arm around her in brotherly affection. “Our mother owns his empire.”

“Exactly. Our reputation is the least of our worries. Theo is going to have a difficult time robbing us of our finances.”

“That means…” Julian smiled at the thought of retaliating against Theo. Constance rested her head on her brother’s chest with a scheming smile.

Theo returned home with a smile on his lips. He had successfully destroyed the reputation of his enemies; he reveled in such a victory. His anticipation for what would come next was at an all-time high. He was also glad that he mended his relationship with Cristina as well. If he didn’t turn out to be Dante Clearwater, then that was that. But if he did…

He couldn’t think about what his initial reaction would be if such a thought became reality; not because he blocked his mind from such hopes but because he was interrupted by Helen, who so lovingly came to him with open arms from upstairs.

Theo embraced her warmly. “I did it.”

Helen playfully rolled her eyes. “Obviously or else you wouldn’t be here. Unless this is all a dream.”

“I assure you that this is not a dream.” He glanced at her rosy lips, ready to kiss her.

Benjamin knocked at the door from outside, interrupting Theo from kissing Helen. Apparently, Theo had entered his house, forgetting all about Benjamin outside who had been behind him as they headed towards the house. Theo opened the door, laughing.

“Well someone was in a rush to get home!” Benjamin teasingly exclaimed. When he noticed that he had interrupted something between Theo and Helen he excused himself and went his way.

“He’s such a dork,” remarked Helen shaking her head as she looked at Benjamin walking up the steps to his room. “But tell me…what happened at the party?”

“It’s a lovely day out and I’d prefer to tell you as we take a walk in the garden.” Theo offered his arm to Helen. She took it and off they went to the front garden. He told her every single detail. Helen listened attentively, envisaging perfectly how everything occurred. “I was so nervous when the mass text wasn’t coming through,” he recalled, “But it went through.”

The two of them settled on the stone bench in the garden. He said all that was needed to be said concerning the engagement party. He was glad that that was all over with. Theo held Helen’s hands in his as they sat there in silence, relishing in the abundance of greenery around them. Before Benjamin had interrupted them, Theo was about to kiss Helen. Now the two of them were outside and hopefully no more distractions would come their way.

Theo’s lips had been yearning for Helen’s lips ever since he had left her before going to the engagement party. He fixed his eyes on her lips once more, which made Helen’s cheeks blush. Finally, he leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers in a passionate kiss.

The sight of the two of them, who were very much in love with one another, was truly a picturesque moment to behold. The flowers around them seemed like they were glowing like stars as they bloomed while butterflies circled the two lovers like satellites. The arch made out of vines above them framed them in a lovely portrait.

However, some things can never be avoided despite how much you wished for them not to happen. Theo’s cellphone began to ring in his pocket, beckoning him to cease his kiss. Once again, they were interrupted.

“Guess you have to take that call, huh?” Helen noticed the urgency in Theo’s eyes when he saw who it was that was calling him.

“It’s Cristina,” he began, “So I have no choice.”

Helen rose from the stone bench, kissing him on his cheek before she proceeded. “I’ll be in the house,” she said. Helen did so and closed the door behind her. Her back rested on the door as she stood at the entrance once she was inside; her breath had been taken away by Theo’s kiss. She was exasperated and that awful yet pleasant butterfly feeling when one is in love had invaded her stomach. She rested a palm on her chest, taking a deep breath and recollecting herself. I cannot believe at how much I love him, she thought in awe.

What Helen needed most at the moment was someone to confide in. Benjamin was nowhere to be found in the house, so she looked for him in the greenhouse, which lacked his presence. She heard someone swimming, so she deduced that Benjamin was in the pool. After all, who else could be swimming if not Benjamin, the other inhabitant of the house? She walked into the pool room and sat on one of the chairs at the pool-side.

“Do you think Theo will ever say that he loves me?” she asked aloud over the sound of the splashing water as Benjamin swam.

Benjamin acknowledged her presence, swam to the side closest to her and rested his arms on the concrete. He brushed his flaxen hair back while his light blue eyes gazed up at Helen. “I’m sure he will. He’ll come around when he’s finished with the Edmunds.” He pulled himself out of the pool and sat on the chair next to Helen. “I see you’re blushing,” he noticed.

Helen smiled at the reason why she was blushing. “Theo and I kissed. It wasn’t the first time but something about this time felt so good.”

Benjamin raised a brow when he noticed that behind her tone of contentment there was a vexation of sorts. “But?”

“We were interrupted by his ringing cell-phone,” she sighed. “I have a feeling that he was so close in telling me that he loves me in that moment if it wasn’t for that damn phone.”

“Like I said, he’ll come around. Plus, Theo is a man of action. He’ll most likely show you that he loves you way before telling you that he does.”

“I sure hope so.”

“I’m glad you’ve come, though,” began Benjamin with a tone of relief.

“Why? Is something wrong?”

“No, but it’s a secret that I’ve been withholding from not only Theo but Booker as well,” Benjamin continued with an uncomfortable edge to his voice. He wasn’t sure if what he was about to do would be the best thing to do. Nonetheless he proceeded because he and Helen had grown close in the past week or so and he felt like he could trust her. “If I tell you, you’ll have to promise me that you won’t speak of this ever again.”

“You have my word—I’ll never tell anyone. Is it something big?”

Benjamin gazed at Helen with grave eyes. “Ana is having an affair with Julian, Booker’s uncle.”

“Isn’t she Booker’s wife?” she asked after she gasped.

Benjamin nodded. “I saw the two of them exchanging quite a kiss a couple of days before I moved in with Theo. If Booker were to ever find out he’d…. well I don’t know how he would take the news but I’m sure he wouldn’t take it so lightly.”

“Why would it matter that she’s having an affair when Booker loves you and not her?”

Benjamin rolled his eyes. “Because it’s his uncle that she’s messing with so obviously Booker is going to resent his uncle afterwards for getting involved in their marriage. Yes, Booker doesn’t care about his marriage with Ana but some things you cannot do. Julian and Ana are crossing the line with their affair. Promise me that you won’t speak of this to anybody. When the time comes, I’ll tell Theo about it. I just needed to get it off my chest for now.”

“I promise.” Helen knew very well who Ana was. Ana was the same girl whom she loathed ever since they were children. She always knew the girl was a wretch, but she would have never thought that Ana would stoop so low. How could she have the audacity to sleep with her uncle-in-law and still have eyes for Theo? Helen knew how much Ana secretly wanted Theo for herself. She saw Ana’s desirous glint in her eyes at the theatre’s foyer on the premiere night. It was evident that Ana yearned for Theo. But one thing was more than obvious now: Ana was a greedy and malicious young woman who only cared about herself. She wanted everything and she would take it no matter the cost.

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