“Do you have to leave?” Vincent asks, pulling me closer to his chest as we lay naked in his bed. We’ve been together for four months, and it’s the best four months I could ever ask for. Vincent is the perfect boyfriend, and I know he will find someone meant for him. I wish I could be her, but with my mother sick, I need to leave. I need to be with her. At least everything happened after I graduated college. “I won’t ever find another assistant or VP like you.”
“You’re making it seem like you won’t ever see me again.” I kiss his bare chest.
“No, you made it seem like I would never see you again.”
“You will see me again. I just have to care for my mother.”
“I understand, and if you need anything, let me know. Also, your job will be yours when you come back.” He kisses my head.
Yes, my job. I don’t know how long I will be gone, yet he will hold my position. A position I know I shouldn’t have in the first place. I’m the VP of Marketing, right underneath Vincent himself. The guys trust Vincent’s decision to have me as the VP of marketing for their startup, and I’ve been working non-stop to ensure I will never let him down. And now look, I’m letting him—all of them down. They don’t see it that way, but I do.
“What if it takes me years to come back?” I had to ask because it might take years. I don’t know how long I will be gone, and I don’t know if I will be up to coming back either.
“Then the position will be vacant for years. You can work remotely if that’s what you want, too.” Gosh, Vincent is seriously the perfect guy. “Or do you want me to find someone to take over as VP? If you aren’t coming back, just let me—”
“I can work remotely.”
“Just settle in first. Figure things out with your mother, and then we can discuss your workload. How does that sound?”
“Perfect.” I prop myself on my elbows and look down at him. “I think I’m falling in love with you,” I admit.
“Well, I know I’m in love with you.” He gently takes my chin, bringing my lips down onto his.
6 years later...
“Arianna, please stop running,” I call after her. We arrived back in Georgia, my first time back in six years and my daughters’ first time. I stayed in Seattle longer than I originally planned. At 21, I had a lot on my plate dealing with my mother’s health and then finding out I was two months pregnant to being 22 years old, giving birth to twin girls. My mother’s health got better and then worse. She saw the twins turn two, and then she got her wings. There is not a day that doesn’t go by without me missing her.
There were a lot of things I had to do before moving back to Georgia. So, I continued to work remotely for Opal Inc. while keeping the birth of my daughters a secret. A secret is something that shouldn’t be, but I heard Vincent started talking to someone new, and I didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news—our daughters aren’t by any means bad news, but someone who is trying to move on with their life might think so.
“Ari!” I snap, gesturing for her to come back. Once she gets close, I squat down to eye level. Her blue eyes widen. “If you want to cut up in the airport, I will take you to the restroom and handle you. Do you want that?”
“No,” she answers quickly.
“Then act like you know better. Look at your sister; she is listening.” I look over at Brianna.
“I always listen, right, mommy?” Brianna asks.
“You have your moments too.” I kiss her cheek and then Arianna’s before standing back up. “We need to get our luggage and get out of here.”
My close friend, Charlotte, said she was going to have a personal driver pick us up, and I declined because I couldn’t have anyone see the girls. I need to talk to Vincent first about it. I would rather he finds out from me that for the last five years, I have been hiding his daughters from him. I would have returned to Georgia last year, but they needed more time to start kindergarten. I can’t officially go to the office and leave every day at noon. That would raise more red flags.
“Mommy?” Brianna tugs my hand.
“Are we going to see daddy?” Brianna smiles.
“Pretty please,” Arianna adds.
“Yes, we will finally see daddy, but remember what I said. We have to get settled in first before we do anything. You two also need to get school clothes and supplies. And then we can stop to get ice cream.” I added the last part to change the topic. The girls know of Vincent that I didn’t deny them. Once, they started babbling about him at the age of four. I would show them pictures. At times, I would be on Zoom calls with him, and they would hear his voice. Thankfully, I never had to keep my mic or video on. It was a lot. I did do a lot, but he seemed happier with whoever he was with now.
I should have just taken Charlotte on that driver. Getting all our things out of the airport into a taxi was tiresome. The girls fell asleep halfway through the drive to our new home. The taxi driver was nice enough to leave all my luggage on my porch while I carried the girls in the house. I need to thank my personal assistant and best friend, Ariel with dinner or something for getting my house together. She made sure everything was just the way I wanted it. I place the girls on the couch and head back to get our luggage.
My phone vibrates in my back pocket as I bring in the last suitcase.
“Hello?” I answer.
“Hey, Kenza. Did you land already?”
“Yes, I made it to my hotel.” I lie.
“You know I can help you find an apartment or even a house...you shouldn’t be staying in a hotel. Unless—are you only staying short-term?”
“No,” I chuckle. Charlotte never changes. “I’ll be living here for good. I will find my place soon, no worries. Also, I won’t be coming into the office until next week. I need to settle in and get some things done. Do you mind telling Vincent for me? I would send an email, but....”
“Hey, is everything okay with you and Vinny? I know it’s been years, but—he misses you.”
“Charles, he is in a relationship and happy. All I ever wanted was for him to be happy. I doubt he misses me. He could barely stay on a zoom call for an hour with me alone. But it’s okay; we’ve grown up and apart. So could you please do me that solid?” I sit on the opposite plush couch, looking over at my babies.
“Yeah, I can do that. Well, if you want to go out to eat sometime this week, I’m down. Selena and I are going out to a paint-and-sip event this Saturday. If you want to join us?”
“Oh, she is Darren’s soon-to-be-wife. You’ll love her.”Darren’s getting married, wow. I never thought he would be the next one to get hitched. I must meet this Selena person, and Charles seems to adore her, too. She must be something.
“I’ll think about it,” I tell her. “If not, we can do a brunch on Sunday.”
I could have Ariel come over to watch the girls on Sunday afternoon. I mean, she has known about the girls since I found out. Without her, seriously, I don’t know what I would have done or what I would be doing now. She has a kid and still manages to help me pull this off.
“Brunch sounds lovely. We can have it at the restaurant next to the headquarters building. I can give you a tour of the place without any of the guys there.”She says excitedly.
“Won’t we need a key?”
“Oh no. There is always a guard working around the clock every day. So Sunday at, let’s say, eleven?”
“Sure,” I answer. “Look, I have to wash up, so I’ll talk to you later.” I rush off the phone just as Arianna starts to stir in her sleep.
“Mommy?” she yawns.
“Yes, baby.” I smile.
“Are we home?”
“Is daddy here?” Brianna rubbed her eyes and yawned.
Damn it, I feel like a horrible mother. Before my mother passed she told me to reach out to Vincent to let him know about his daughters. I was, but then she passed, and things got hectic, and I didn’t want to deal with anyone. Besides, after all these years, Vincent never reached out to me. I was just someone he used to know. I don’t even believe he loved me. His sweet nothings were just that nothing. However, my daughters deserve better than this. I vow not to drag this out any longer and will let him know Monday once and for all about them.
“Let’s go look at your new room and wash up.” I ruffle her hair.
The brunch with Charlotte and Selena was a no-go on my end. Ariel was available when I asked, but then her husband was invited to a brunch the day of, and she was his plus one. In a sense, I was relieved that I didn’t have to go. I haven’t seen Charlotte in six years either, and I don’t think I would be able to hide the biggest secret ever from her—in person. She just had a way about her, when she wanted to get information out of you. I spent the entire week and weekend just hanging around the home or taking the twins shopping, and we just explored our new neighborhood.
“Ari, it’s bedtime. You have school in the morning.” I look up from my laptop as Arianna rubs her eyes, walking into my bedroom. Her teddy bear is tucked under one arm.
“Can I sleep with you?” she yawns. I have been stopping them from sleeping with me, but occasionally, they end up in my bed. “I won’t wet the bed.” she offers, and I smile, patting the empty spot next to me.
“Come on. Just for tonight, okay?”
“Okay.” She yawns again, and so do I. I should call it a night, but Vincent sent over some documents that needed to be revised before Wednesday. I didn’t think he would be okay with me taking off a week from work, but when I received an email from him that next day, it was an approval for my time off—not sure why he would think I would need his approval to take time off, but nonetheless I didn’t say anything but thank you. Yes, he is the Chief Marketing Officer, but as the VP of Marketing, I’m allowed to take time off, just not at crucial times.
Charlotte, just letting him know I wouldn’t be in was just a courtesy.
Halfway through the third document, Bri comes into my room. Rubbing her eyes--Mr. Octopus is tucked under her arm. I give her the go-ahead to sleep in my room just for tonight as well. By the fourth document, I was no longer functioning. Closing my laptop I placed it on the night, cutting off the lights, and drifted off to a semi-peaceful sleep. Tomorrow, I will finally be face to face with Vincent Beckett after six years, and he will finally know that I’ve been keeping a secret from him that will make him hate me. He’ll hate me, and I’m the only person I could be mad at when it happens.