“Mom!” happy tears shredded down my cheeks she engulfed me into a tight hug and sobbed while I still couldn’t believe that I was in her arms.
“Oh my darling!” she cooed and kissed my cheeks.
“Julie!“I heard Jace’s voice and pulling away from mom I looked behind her to find Jace standing looking at me with teary eyes.
“You kid!” I cried and pulled him into a hug and he wrapped his arms around my body and laughed when I punched him softly on his side.
“What is all this facial hair?” I asked as I pulled away from him and touched his cheeks which had facial hair.
“And you look quite tall. Did you grow or something?” I asked and he nodded and wiped his eyes.
“How are you?” he asked nad I nodded telling him that I was fine.
“Dad!” I hugged him and he smiled down at me. Mom took out a handkerchief and blew her nose loudly and I looked at her.
“Mom!” both me and Jace said in unison.
“What? I am just too happy. I can’t help with my runny nose!” she exclaimed and blew her nose again using the handkerchief. Her actions brought a smile to my face but then I heard someone calling name almost like a whisper. Jace cleared his throat and took a step aside to reveal the person from behind him.
“Kiara!” I said once I took her in. She looked miserable. Dark circles under her eyes, she even looked thin, her hair was messy and oddly enough she was wearing just a simple sky blue jeans and a white t-shirt with black ballet shoes.
“Juliette,” she said and bit her lips probably trying to stop herself from crying but she failed miserably as the tears streamed down from her cheeks and minutes later she began to sob and weep.
“Oh, Kiara!” I exclaimed sadly and walked up to her and engulfed her in a hug.
“I-I am so sorry!” she cried and encircled her arms around mine burying her head on my shoulder.
“It’s okay! Don’t cry now!” I shushed her and tried to pull away.
“No! I’m really really sorry. What I did was due to of my cowardliness. You trusted me and I failed you. I-I am so sorry!” she sobbed and I patted her back and pulled away. I wiped her tears and smiled at her.
“It’s okay! Forget about it. I forgive you” I said and that made a small smile lit up on her face.
“Really?” she asked to which I nodded.
“She literally begged us to come with us to meet you!” Jace commented from behind me and Kiara glared at him.
“Shut up kid!” she said through gritted teeth which made all of us laugh.
“C’mon let’s go in!” I said everyone nodded. I took hold of Kiara’s luggage and as soon as I turned around we all stopped in our tracks when we saw Zachary coming our way and stood before us. His face unlike some hours ago, void of any emotions, shoulder straight, and chin held up high. He intimidated everyone in terms of power and strength and Jace looked kind of nervous when Zachary’s eyes fell on him. Zachary narrowed his eyes at Kiara which caused her to take a step back and she hid behind me avoiding his gaze.
“Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Swanson,” Zachary said and forwarded his hand for dad to take. Dad took his hand and then mom too shook her hand with him.
“You must be Jace Swanson,” Zachary asked Jace and forwarded his hand for him to take. Jace looked uncomfortable for a minute but then took his hand for a handshake. Very unusually, Zachary smiled at him and I watched Jace visibly relaxing before giving him a smile of his own.
Then he looked at me and I raised an eyebrow at him.
“And she must be your best friend Kiara Richmond,” he said but I felt as if he was taunting or more like mocking me by saying the word ‘best friend’. It was pretty much clear that Zachary heard the whole conversation back then when I had asked him to let me call my family. Kiara behaved as if she didn’t know me and she hung up on me.
Is it the fact that he doesn’t trust her? What is this look?
Clearly, Zachary didn’t like Kiara but why? I forgave her for that and he must do it too.
“Let’s go in,” he smiled at my parents and guided them in. Jace was the last one to go but he looked my way and then at Kiara who was shaking in fear from behind me.
“Kiara. It’s okay! Don’t mind him. He always like that!” I said and she nodded frantically. I sighed and picking up her small luggage took her in. Once, inside we all sat in the living room and I asked the maids to serve everyone water and drinks. Zachary sat next to Jace and I watched as they bonded well. Jace was smiling, even more, talking to him. Zachary looked interested hearing everything about his university and that made me little relieved. On the other hand, Kiara sat next to my dad and mom sat next to me.
“How have you been sweetie?” she asked and I looked at her and smiled.
“I am doing perfectly fine mom” I answered and looked back at Zachary who was now looking at me. He glanced at dad when he asked a question and they talked to each other while Kiara sat there nervously in a stiff posture clearly frightened of Zachary.
“And how is he to you?” mom asked and as I about to answer her I heard my dad speaking up.
“Did you by any chance track Vito?” he asked and Zachary shook his head no.
“I freed Nicholas and currently he is under my men’s watchful eyes. As soon as he tries to contact his dad we will get them both,” Zachary answered and I saw Jace balling up his fists, his jaw was clenched and he was visibly shaking out of anger.
“I hate that man!” Jace said through gritted teeth and I watched as Zachary looked back at him and said: “we all do!”
“He tried to hurt my sister,” Jace said and looked at my direction with teary eyes. I mouthed him that ‘I was okay, don’t worry’.
“Ugh! That man!” Dad exclaimed.
“Please, Mr. Sullivan try to get him as quickly as you can. You have already done so much for me and my family. I can’t burden you with Juliette’s responsibility. As soon as Vito is captured, I want to take Juliette back with me to her home,” he said and smiled at me before looking at Zachary.
My smile faded away from my face and I looked towards Zachary thinking how will he respond.
“Yes, I understand that! We are trying to get him as soon as possible and answering your first question, Juliette isn’t a burden for me” he said and that brought up a smile to my face but his expression when my dad told him that he wanted to take me back home kind of hurt me. He was neutral. Does this mean it will not affect him if I go back home?
“Oh, I’m glad to hear that!” my father exclaimed happily.
“Anyways, you all must be tired. I will let Hilda show you your room. Rest well and my parents will also be joining us tomorrow. I hope everyone to be comfortable and if you need anything let me know” Zachary said and asked Hilda to show the rooms.
“Rest well Mom,” I said as I hugged her and she nodded.
I nodded at Kiara who looked reluctant to go but then she went away when Jace pulled her with him.
Now only me and Zachary were left in the room.
“I am going out for a business meeting. I won’t come back in the night. I hope that doesn’t affect the family reunion” he said and I nodded ‘no’
“Great! I will come back tomorrow with my family in the morning. If you need anything, ask Hilda, she will not be going home today. She will be in the staff rest room and other than that I have people surrounding the house guarding the house. If any problem arises just call me” he said and I nodded.
“Okay,” he whispered and took a few steps back and then walked away.
I sat down back on the sofa saddened and troubled with my mind. A lot of things were going on inside my mind and I couldn’t quite decipher what to do. What type of situation is this where I am wishing for something very unusual. Where I am wishing for Vito to never be caught by him.
A sigh escaped my mouth and I got up from my seat and walked towards my bedroom. As I sat on my bed the somebody knocked on my door and I stood up.
“Is it Zachary? I thought he has already left. Why is he knocking?” I whispered to myself as I walked to the door and opened it only to reveal Kiara.
“Kiara!” I smiled and took a step aside letting her walk in.
“Am I disturbing you?” she asked as she walked to the chair and sat on it.
“Nope! Not all!” I said and took the other seat, sitting before her.
“I just came here to apologize once again. Juliette trust me, I was a coward. I saw guns and blood and when you called some of Mr. Sullivan’s man were around me keeping their eyes on my move. I was scared and that was the reason why I..You know behaved as if I didn’t know you. I am really sorry” she said and I could see the regret in her eyes.
“You can’t believe, what I have been through. I was traumatic losing you like that. But then I believe my pain must be nothing before yours. Juliette,” she stood up ad knelt before me keeping her hands on my thigh.
“Tell me, how are you? I got to know everything about that Emmett being Nicholas recently and I have been told that you know it too” she asked and I nodded pursing my lips I held her hands in mine.
“I am fine now. Honestly, I was broken both from outside and inside knowing that the person whom I loved the most cheated me, betrayed me. I was loving an unreal person and that is what hurts me the most” I sighed and she squeezed my hands.
“I am sorry for failing as a friend. I should have been there for you but look at me. I am such a coward” she put her head on my thigh sobbing.
“Kiara! Please stop blaming yourself. I understand and honestly, I don’t blame you. It’s okay. I’m all over it now and I have got nothing to do with him anymore,” as I said that she looked up at me.
“And what about Mr. Sullivan?” she asked and I raised my eyebrows in confusion.
“How does he treat you? Did he hurt you or did he tor-” I cut her off.
“Kiara!” I said and she halted in mid-sentence. “Look around! Do you see any bruise or sadness in my face? I am free in this big house and nobody has ever tortured or hurt me. Zachary has always saved me from every problem and the only one who has ever tried to hurt me is Nicholas” I said his name with distaste.
“Kiara, do you know this? He wants to kill me and he is after my m-” this time she cut me off “Your money.”
“You know?” I asked shocked and she nodded “Your father told me and Jace everything.”
“Truthfully I believed that in all this, Mr. Sullivan is the villain until I got to know about that jerk, Nicholas” she said and I nodded smiling a little.
“And yeah! It is also your fault!” she said raising her tone all of a sudden scolding me.
“Yes, when we all told you that we don’t like him, you chose to ignore us. See what happened” she said and got up but then stopped when her eyes fell on the region just below my neck.
“I see bruises” she sand and sat on the chair.
“What?” I hid the damn hickey marks with my cardigan and shifted on my seat.
“When you asked me if I can see any bruises on your skin, I do! I can clearly see it” she had a smug look on her face which I wanted to slap away.
“No, it isn’t what you think” I tried to explain but she shook her head mocking me.
“I will kill you!” like kids we were running inside the room. I chased her while she laughed and I missed her when she ran circling the chair. When we were near the bed, I grabbed a bolster and threw it on her. The bolster hit her on her face and she tumbled on the bed and I joined her and tickled her until the point where tears streamed down her face.
“Okay! Okay, I’m sorry. I won’t tease” she said and then I let her go and lay down next to her.
“Do you like him?” she asked all of a sudden looking my way.
“What? No! No, I mean I don’t know” I sighed and then looked up all of a saddened and confused by my own feelings.
“What do you mean by you don’t know? What is this love bites then? Was it not in mutua-” she asked and I looked at her.
“I was drunk last night!” I said and watched as her eyes grew big to the size of a saucer.
“What? Does this mean he forced himself on y-”
“Kiara!” I snapped.
“Then?” she asked.
“As much I remembered...” I licked my lips feeling little ashamed and awkward to tell her that.
“I-I kind of forced myself on him” I completed and she jumped off the bed looking at me astonished.
“What? Oh my goodness!” and then she was laughing.
“Kiara!” I threw the pillow on her.
“Yes, I agree. You can actually do that when you are drunk” she said and I got up in a crouching position on the bed. “Really?” I asked and she nodded.
“You just lose it when you’re drunk. Your emotions reflect from within you and guessing from what you just told me, I think” she halted.
“You think what?” I asked urging her to speak up.
“I think that you, my friend, are in love” she sang and I rolled my eyes at her even though I felt my cheeks burning. I fell on the bed from my side and hid my face using the pillow.
“No, are you mad? It’s nothing like that!” I argued.
“Oh stop denying it,” she said in a singsong tone.
“Stop it, Kiara!” I groaned.
“Fine! Tell me does he know this? Did you tell him that you at least like him?” she asked all of a sudden curious.
“No, he doesn’t know. And what will he even know? I don’t love him!” I argued.
“Okay! You don’t even like him?” she asked.
“Okay!” she said and lied down next to me.
“You know he is handsome and he is rich. If you have no interest in him, can I take him?” before she could finish I jolted up from the bed and snapped “Kiara!”
“Don’t even think of that! Do you understand?” I snapped and felt anger boiling up my blood.
“Why? What is your problem? He may like me asw-”
“He.is.mine” I said enunciating each word. As soon as I said that the room fell into a silence and she just stood there staring at me and then all of a sudden burst out laughing.
“Gotcha!” she said in between laughs.
“What?” I asked and sighed pinching the bridge of my nose.
“Do you remember when I told you I don’t like Emmett and even told you that I just put a finger on what I felt odd in him?” she asked and I looked at her.
“It’s his behavior and the way he treated you. It was as if he always wanted to keep you wrapped around his finger. Juliette, listen to me” she said and all of a sudden became serious as she walked up to me.
“Listen to me. I think Zachary Udolf Sullivan is the right choice for you. Do you know why I am saying this to you?” she asked and I waited for her to complete.
“Because he came to me and lectured me for being a coward friend. He told me that if you were in my place then you would have never acted the way I did, in fact, you would have done anything in your capability to reach me. He asked me to come to you and not to leave you alone. Juliette, he completely thinks about you. And I think he likes you too and yes, he is the right choice for you. Don’t deny it” she said.
“What? he told you all this?” I asked and she nodded.
“He told me that he is going to a meeting and I should mend the relationship between us,” she said and smiled at the end.
“Juliette, listen to me. Accept him and the feelings that feel for him before anyone enters and tried to create misunderstanding between you two. Accept it now else, unfortunately, I have to tell you this,” she kept her hand on my cheeks “you will have to go through that pain and suffering again which you went through because of Nicholas. Trust me, challenge your feelings and accept it before its too late. And even let him know this” she said and again for the third time of the day, her words left me in deep thoughts.