Chapter 1: No more go backs.
I always pictured my wedding day being with someone I truly loved.
You know, the person whom I have kissed, who has made me laugh both during the epic times and the sad times—someone who has always been there to listen to my endless mind chatters and gossips from school.
Someone I was free to be who I am with.
I thought I’d marry someone like that—someone a lot more common. I’ve always just wanted a common love story like everybody else, but this? This was madness.
This was everything but that.
Although I should’ve known I’d never be able to pull simplicity off because my life has never been that simple. It came with the repercussions that I just had to be a Kristofer—a daughter of a conniving Kristofer at that.
And although this might not be the worst ending for me, this may just be absolutely the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I, for one, couldn’t believe it myself.
The Kristofer household has always been ambitious, given the contribution of my grandfather, Jonas Louise Kristofer, to the business and medical world, his children were venomous seeds that sought to inherit his 14-billion fortune. After all, they were raised with money and for money ever since they had developed consciousness that they were from a very affluent family.
However, the Kristofer’s didn’t always start from the top.
It was actually all grandpa’s doing.
He was the mastermind behind the works of a personal AI healthcare companion, which he got an idea from the Disney movie he watched while he was getting his hair trimmed at a barbershop near his old house.
With the help of his best friend, Leonardo Duesco III, who was a rising general surgeon at that time, and his integrated love for robotics, they were able to create a model that won a lot of investors at an international science fair held in the UK. From there on out, business just kept booming and their legacy became a catalyst for modern medical technology that has helped millions all around the globe.
At least, that was the story grandpa told us back when we were younger.
Saying we’re a family of smart people is an understatement though.
Of the five children grandpa and grandma had, only two of them had inherited the genius streak from grandpa, and that was Aunt Josephine and Uncle Keanu—both of which were the youngest of the five. My father just happened to be the eldest, and although he was an average man of intelligence, he was the greediest and the most cunning out of all the Kristofers.
I must have killed someone in my past life to be the daughter of a monster like that.
What terrible luck.
And so, flash forward, here I was finally marrying the very man I ran away from last year—Lucas Timotheo Duesco, my fiancé of two years, also the son of the most powerful man in the business and medical world at recent, Martin Clement Duesco, CEO of Duesco Medical Inc.
I still get entirely paralyzed at the thought of marriage. I mean who gets married at 17? This wasn’t the ancient times. It’s the 21st century for crying out loud! And marriage itself had its own qualms. It was something, I thought, I wouldn’t want to trifle with until I was absolutely ready; however, my fate stated otherwise.
Needless to say, I didn’t have much of a choice.
Besides that, I haven’t even met the man. Ever.
I’ve only been told of his existence last year. My mother sent me a photo of him talking at a company presentation. It wasn’t a clear picture; however, at that time it didn’t really matter to me. I was convinced to stay away from home for the longest of times. And so, I’ve always rejected my mother’s stubborn unyielding propositions.
Who would’ve thought that my grandfather’s death wish involved the innocent poor me getting married to some stranger I’ve never even met? I mean who gets an engagement as a gift for their granddaughter’s 16th birthday? Absurd, I know.
Technically, however, I didn’t really run away from him. I hardly even knew him.
I actually ran away from my father the moment I was brought back to my senses and had the courage to go with Aunt Livie and live with her in Florida.
I wouldn’t have gone home even after all this time. Even if my mom told me that our start-up company was at its end. I could care less about the family business as long as I was safe and free from that monster—in the comforts of an actual home.
But then there was Sean, my 13-year-old brother—the little sibling I loved the most in this entire world. I left that precious, little innocent child to suffer all alone in that monster’s house in an attempt to save myself.
And honestly, I’ve never felt so ashamed the moment I landed with my Aunt in Florida. I couldn’t believe that I left him to the sharks by himself.
The guilt I felt every day after that was dreadful. It was like a punch in the gut every time I remembered what I did. I couldn’t bear the thought that I was a really selfish person, a characteristic trait of a Kristofer. It was something I had a hard time accepting myself.
However, although I suffered from that conflict every day, I just couldn’t bring myself to return to that horrid home. And so, in order for me to lessen the guilt inside my heart, I tried reaching out to him on the phone from time to time.
He’d always either call me back or text me to tell me what was happening in the house while I was gone; however, just a few months before I turned 17, my brother had stopped responding to any of my messages and calls.
That last bit overturned my last ounce of relief from my excuse.
I knew something had gone wrong.
My gut feeling was telling me all the worst-case scenarios that the nightmare might have resurfaced, and I felt awful just thinking about our father damaging Sean all over again.
I had to go back and save him.
“This wedding has to pull through.”
Those were the eager words of my mother currently brushing the loose strands of my Princess-Diana-styled hair. She lifted the stray strands from my face and tucked them behind my ears. She then turned my chair to face her and cupped my face onto her gloved hands before leaning down to look me in the eye.
“Breathe,” she whispered to me.
It was only at that moment that I realized I wasn’t breathing or that I was even holding my breath in the first place. I nodded my head in silence before turning the chair for me to face the mirror once again.
There I was, puffed with make-up all over. The glam wasn’t too much—it was subtle, but elegant at the same time. The last time I looked at this very side of me, I ran away due to cold feet. That pretty and hopeful, little 15-year-old me, who once thought the world was all rainbows, died the moment it had encountered a taste of death.
As I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw my resolution. I remembered why I was doing this in the first place. It wasn’t because I agreed to marry the man, and it definitely wasn’t because I gave up on finding love for myself.
This was for my little brother, Sean.
After this, my incorrigible father wouldn’t have to keep harassing him to behave like the heir he wanted him to be when he was merely 14 years old. It tormented my heart to know that he had been suffering due to my irresponsibility as his older sister. What kind of father did that?
Who in their right mind would hit their own kid and name it as discipline under the guise of showing people that he was a responsible father and a trustworthy CEO? He’s sick and twisted, and he made me want to hide the fact that he was my father.
His ambitions were far too greedy for them to be called a selfless act; however, he did have extreme luck for finding a loophole to inherit grandfather’s assets. And by loophole, that meant marrying off his kin, aka me, to his father’s best friend’s grandson.
Of all people the heavens could have blessed me with, they chose a man of his maniacal stature. I thought good people were blessed, but this was just the irony laughing at me.
I was always the unfortunate one. My father, on the other hand, had always been lucky with his stars.
He was lucky to have me born, while I was unlucky to have him.
“Ten minutes till wedding mar—.”
“We’ll be there. Just give me a moment.” I interrupted the wedding coordinator, who nonchalantly gave us a quick nod before leaving us in the room.
As soon as she left us, the silence became prominent between me and my mother. Deciding to break the unbearable elephant in the room, I took in a deep breath and stood up wobbling on my white heels.
My mother handed me the bouquet and hugged me one last time.
“I’m sorry for letting you do this but thank you for being here.” My mother whispered to my ear as she caressed my head fondly in her embrace.
I couldn’t help but slip a tear at her comforting actions.
She didn’t know what she was asking for.
This was the thought I’ve always engraved inside my mind.
My mother was a good person, and I thoroughly believed and respected her in all of my life. She was my role model—an independent and strong woman who upheld her morals. She knew how to get what she wanted but in the kindest way possible. She taught me everything I needed to know about being a proper human being.
That’s why when it happened, I never had the courage to tell her. I couldn’t possibly break her heart.
For some reason, her warmth gave me courage. It gave me reassurance that this was the right thing to do at the moment. Besides, being married didn’t have to mean it’s the end of my world.
No. Nothing was ending. This was just the beginning of something new.
“Positive energy, Nessa. You can do this.” I mentally noted in my head several times as I walked out of the bridal room and stepped in front of the double doors.
It was huge, like that Narnia wardrobe from little Lucy’s perspective, and for a moment there, I felt my chest tightening from being anxious. I gripped my mom’s left elbow a little tighter than usual to try to calm my nerves down.
However, as I looked at my bohemian-inspired bouquet, the dread that I didn’t realize I was keeping, finally kicked in.
“Mom…I don’t know if I can do this.” I whispered softly before looking up to meet her in the eye.
She placed her hand on top of mine before she replied, “Come here.”
Mother hugged me once again and tried patting my back to calm myself.
She rested her chin on my right shoulder before whispering, “Do you want to run away? The guard by the door is distracted now. Just give me the signal and I’ll create a way out for you.”
I let out a little laugh at my mom’s latest diabolical plan. It felt nice to know that mom was on my side even after everything.
“My dear daughter, I know you must feel awfully conflicted. I can’t imagine the hurt you must be feeling right now. Whatever it is you decide today, please know that I will respect that. You don’t have to carry the burden all by yourself. We can find another way.” My mother said, reassuring me once again, wiping away the tears that I didn’t know were there.
“It’s okay, mom. Thank you for being here.”
My mom smiled at me, half-proud and half-sad with the decision I made to stay and get this over with.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please warmly welcome the Bride!”
I readied my position and faced the crowd with my nerves at bay. As I took another step forward, I let out a deep sigh and took in one deep breath afterwards. I laced one hand onto my mother’s arm and then looked front.
“No more go backs.” I whispered to myself.
This was going to be one hell of a night.