A Cradle of Wolves

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Chapter Twenty-Five: Results.

“Today is the day,” Helen said, sitting in front of her vanity table. She was busy fixing her satin headband as she spoke jubilantly.

Theo finished buttoning up his long sleeve lace button up shirt and sighed in a slightly thwarted tone after he did the last faux ivory button. “Who knows if I’m really Dante Clearwater.” His amnesia no longer impeded him from remembering the first three years of his life; the fall made him remember memories of a faint happy childhood in a big mansion. Ever since then all Theo did was find refuge in the memories of his past home. The mansion where he once lived always smelled of roses while the rooms were warm with comfort. His room, with its slanted ceiling, was a place where he would be transported to different worlds via his dreams when he slept. Early in the morning he would wake up to his mother playing the piano. The melody would flow through every room in the estate as if it were blood flowing through a heart.

Theo took himself out of his reverie, dismissing his thoughts. I’m just delusional, he concluded as he slipped on a burgundy blazer. Perhaps he was so obsessed with the possibility of being Dante Clearwater that his mind only made up those memories. Theo was sure that he was born an orphan and would die as one. The identity of his parents would always make him curious, but he was planning on leaving such a trivial thought behind once and for all. After all, he wasn’t entirely alone in the world; he had Helen and Benjamin.

“Are you okay?” asked Helen, rising from her ornate, leather padded chair. She stood behind Theo, wrapping an arm over him. Her palm touched his chest as she looked at his reflection in the mirror in front of them.

Theo gazed at the mirror to meet the eyes of Helen’s reflection. “I’m fine,” he assured, “But yes, today is the day. If I’m not their son, then that would be a relief because I wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore.”

“Aren’t you curious to know who your parents are though?” Once, Helen had tried finding out who her parents are. She got far in her search; she was going to keep on searching until a thought came across her mind: her parents had left her in the slums the minute she was born. Why should she seek out these deplorable people that didn’t care about their child? Helen indefinitely ceased her search and focused on starting a legacy, not continuing one. She didn’t care about another’s legacy. She was going to make her own legacy. Ultimately, her goal drove her to success.

“I’m not. At one point in my life I was. Now I wouldn’t care as much.” He turned around to meet Helen’s gaze. “You’re my only family. You’ve always been there since day one for me. I’m so grateful that I’ve been blessed with having you in my life. Together, you and I, we can start a family of our own one day.”

Helen blushed at his suggestion. She had always imagined herself marrying Theo and having his children. Theo kissed her on the lips and the two remained locked in an amorous embrace. They were two silhouettes against the morning light that shone through the bedroom window.

He broke away from her when he heard the doorbell ring downstairs. Immediately he hurried downstairs, opening the door to Cristina and Mr. Clearwater. The two of them entered with their elbows locked with one another. Theo took notice of their closeness and assumed that there wasn’t going to be a divorce after all.

The only reason why Theo bothered to look at either of their hands was to see if they were carrying a card with them. His heart sank when he noticed that they came in empty handed. Nonetheless he led them to the living room, offering them coffee or tea on their way.

Mr. Clearwater spoke. “Coffee, please.”

Theo nodded and made his way to the kitchen to prepare the coffee. Neither of them are carrying the results with them. They must know already! They must know whether I’m their son or not! Of course, I’m not their son if they already know. Why else would I be serving Mr. Clearwater coffee if I was his son? Theo pondered and pondered until the coffee was ready. He took the jug with one hand and two cups in the other. After he set the coffee down on the table in the middle of the living room, he sat on the couch opposite of them.

Cristina dug into her purse and pulled out a card—the very one Theo was eager to see. “We haven’t opened it yet because we wanted to do this in front of you.”

Theo furrowed his brow when his eyes fell upon the unopened card. They don’t know the results, he thought. He should have been happy that they were ignorant on the matter like him. Instead, he was indifferent. The anticipation had eaten itself away due to the excitement of the matter, oddly enough.

“In the end,” Cristina held the card in her two hands, “it won’t matter whether you’re our son or not. For the past year or so I’ve grown attached to you, Theo. I’ve come to love and care for you as a mother would. I wouldn’t want what this says…” she set the card down on the table, “…to affect our relationship. You must know that the only reason why I haven’t been keen on the idea of you being my son is because I don’t want to get my hopes up. What if I thought you were my son only for the results to tell me that you are not? I would be devastated.”

Theo tried to loosen up since he was quite tense from the stress and eagerness. All he wanted to do was reach across the table and rip the card open to see the results. “Believe me, our relationship will not be affected either way.” He smiled plainly, unmoved by Cristina’s reticent fear of the unknown results. However, his indifference was only external. From the inside the anticipation that was once dead a second ago had been lit again, burning within him like never before.

Cristina sighed, picking up the card. A part of her didn’t want to open it. She wanted to live thinking that indeed her children were dead, and Theo von Draken was the son that life had given her to make up for all the years she missed of being a mother. Ignorance is bliss, after all. Nonetheless, she couldn’t be selfish. She saw how much the unknown results affected Theo despite his taciturn response to the situation. She gave Mr. Clearwater a quick glance and he nodded, accepting her decision. She ripped the top off and pulled out a folded paper. Her head was bent forward as she looked down at the results. Tears began to drop onto the paper as she read the results. Mr. Clearwater was choked with emotion at the results, wrapping a supportive arm around Cristina. She then handed the results to Theo.

Theo’s heartbeat quickened dangerously as he read the results while beads of sweat began to glisten on his forehead; the letter became wrinkled due to how tight he held it in his hands. After reading the results he set the card down, exhaling fretfully through his nose. Cristina and Mr. Clearwater were no longer strangers to him of no relation, but the contrary.

Cristina wiped her tears with a handkerchief. “Is there anything you want to say?”

Theo averted his eyes. He was confused to say the least. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Anything,” she breathed out.

“Constance tore us apart and that is something that will take time to fix.” Theo was only speaking the reality of the situation. Hugs and kisses wouldn’t recuperate the sixteen years he had lost. Nothing now would fix the fact that he was orphaned and left to be torn apart by the world. His blood boiled within; destroying Constance was all he could think of. At seeing his parents Theo was reminded that he also would have had a brother if Constance hadn’t killed him. Constance was the bane of Theo’s existence and he was ready to vanquish her once and for all.

“It’s obvious that he has nothing to say and I understand.” Mr. Clearwater spoke and reached out to take Theo’s hand in his. “Your mind is on Constance, though. Am I right?”

“How did you know?”

“Because that is all I can think of right now. I want to see that pitiful woman behind bars as much as you do.”

Theo served himself a cup of coffee even though the coffee had gotten cold by then. “Constance told me that you were a murderer when I was at the hospital after my fall.” His gaze fell on Cristina when he brought up a topic that was still pending.

“I can explain.”

“So please, do so,” Theo retorted, allowing her to proceed.

“After my ten-year sentence was over, the owner of the labor home that I worked at married me. He only married me to take me into his house and keep me as a servant. He could have easily had maids to do his work, but he was a strange, masochistic man that only talked down on me and at times beat me. I couldn’t do anything because he threatened me, saying that he would gladly throw me back into imprisonment if I ever tried to divorce him.

“All I ever thought about since the day I was separated from my family was to go back to my family and take back what was once mine. My plans were crushed by this man. I suffered through four years of mistreatment under his roof. One day when he was beating me, the butler came and stabbed him from the back with a butcher knife. The butler confessed to me afterwards that he had grown to love me and could no longer see me be treated like a slave. He turned himself in. I was about to release him but the eldest son of the man I married ordered an assassination to take place. The target was the kind butler; the assassination went as planned.

“I was distraught by everything and left. I was relieved because I was no longer being held back but saddened because someone had died because of me. To this day I still carry this guilt around, but I’ve learned that life goes on. I’ve seen that no matter how much one suffers and no matter how big their problem might seem, to others their suffering is microscopic. The suffering of one is invisible to the world.”

Theo shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Like him, she too had suffered a great deal in their separation. Looking at her understandingly, Theo accepted her recount as the only truth. Mr. Clearwater held her hand tightly and caringly as she recalled those hideous four years and the culmination of the hell she went through.

“May I please have a word with Helen?” Cristina asked suddenly, breaking the morose and awkward air between her and Theo.

Theo nodded with a warm pressed lip smile. “Sure. She must be in the greenhouse.”

Cristina left the two men alone to seek the girl out. She found her in the greenhouse as she was told. Helen was sitting at the small table in the middle with a book in hand and a bowl of fruit salad in front of her.

“You’re more than welcome to have a seat,” Helen invited, setting her book down when she saw Cristina appear.

Cristina waved her hand, politely declining Helen’s invitation. “Oh, I’m fine. I just wanted to have a quick word with you.”

Helen looked up, wondering what Cristina had to say. The two of them had never spoken to one another on a personal level. Despite their lack of communication, Cristina knew how much Helen meant to Theo; she knew how Helen had been there for him all along. She also knew the heartbreak that had befallen the couple once upon a time.

“Theo has told me a lot about you,” began Cristina. Her plaintiveness was replaced with warm joy.

Helen chuckled. “Good things, I hope?”

Cristina followed with a small laugh. “Yes, yes. Of course. I know that you care about him a lot. I’ve seen the love you have for him; I saw it the day of the accident at the theatre. You looked like you were ready to follow Theo to his death if he had died.”

Helen pursed her lips as her heart clenched tightly at the memory of that dreadful day.

“I want you to know that I approve of you. You’ve been there for most of all his life and I would want you to continue being with him forever if possible,” continued Cristina. A stir of affection overwhelmed her, and tears began to brim in her eyes.

“Do you believe in destiny and the like?” asked Helen. She supported her chin on her fist as she gazed up at Cristina.

“I never really did but I have grown to believe in some form of preordained destiny. I’m only speaking out of experience. If Constance hadn’t destroyed my family, then Theo would have never met you. He’s happy with you and you’re happy with him and that’s all that matters for me. I’m glad that he received a form of love in this world, the same love that has kept him from turning into a cruel man without a conscience in his quest for vengeance.”

Helen got on her two feet and hugged Cristina. She was happy to hear that the woman who would one day be her mother-in-law actually liked her for her son. “That was a trick question by the way. There are some things in life that we cannot fully comprehend such as death and fate. All we have left to do is embrace them and make the most of what life gives us. I’m glad you like me for your son because I really love him and will always love him.”

Theo arrived in the greenhouse when the two women separated from their hug. “I’m sorry to interrupt but Tobias wants us to meet him in front of the Clearwater estate. He says it’s urgent.”

Helen exchanged looks with Theo. Meanwhile, Cristina sighed. “Tell him that we’ll be there. I’ll meet you there?”

Theo nodded. “Of course. I’ll be there in less than five minutes.” He followed Cristina and Mr. Clearwater to the door. They didn’t bother in saying farewells and neither did he. After all they were going to see each other in less than ten minutes. Cristina and Mr. Clearwater had arrived at Theo’s house as close acquaintances, but they left as his parents—the very ones he had been searching for.

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