Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 53: You're Poison to Him

What in god’s name are you talking about, Alexandria?” Mr. Kerrington cocks his eyebrows. “Listen, I don’t have time for this sort of nonsense. As you can see, I’m a really busy man-”

I don’t even let him finish his sentence before I snatch his phone from his hand and press end call. Then, I throw the phone on his desk and cross my arms. “I think you have a few minutes to spare now that you got that over with.”

Mr. Kerrington looks at me with pure shock. “I don’t know who the hell do you think you are, barging into my office like some deranged woman and making accusations at me like this. Honestly, Alexandria. I thought you were better than that.”

“You have no idea what I’m capable of Mr. Kerrington,” I glare at him. “I know you had dinner with your son last night-”

“Of course I did! I wanted to talk to my son! So sue me!”

“Bullshit!” I almost screamed. “Something happened between the both of you. I don’t know what the hell did I do to you, but I know you must have said something to Daniel last night that caused him to break up with me today. Am I right?”

“Are you even listening yourself right now?” He stands up, hands pressed against the edge of the table, eyeing me. “Are you saying that I had something to do with why Daniel broke up with you? You are out of your mind, Alexandria, if you think for one second, I actually care about your relationship enough to influence my son in that way.”

I shake my head. “You’re lying. Everyone is lying to me because they think I can’t handle it. And I’m just so sick and tired of it!”

“You need to leave my office right now before I call security.” Harry says determinely. “I cannot tolerate this much longer.”

“I can’t!” I shoot back. “I can’t because I know you’re involved in this!”

“Involved in your break up?” Mr. Kerrington throws his head back and laughs. “Has it ever occured to you that maybe the problem isn’t actually me at all?”

I blink at him. “You’re saying that-”

“Maybe the problem is you, Alexandria.” He says. “Maybe that’s why he err, what you people call it these days? Oh yes, -dump you in the first place. Because of your behavior- especially right now. I know my son like the back of my hand, and I know he gets bored of women real fast. Perhaps you’re just a passing phase.”

“No.” I shake my head. “No, I don’t... I don’t believe that-”

“I really don’t have time for this.” Mr. Kerrington looks down, rubbing his temples with his fingers. “I don’t have time to take care of my son’s emotional ex girlfriend right now.” He then looks at me and sighs.

“Alexandria, you need to leave. Not just because you’re causing a scene, but because you shouldn’t actually be here at all. You’re not in your right mind, and I just don’t have the luxury of helping you right now. You just have to accept the fact that Daniel doesn’t want you in his life anymore. You’re poison to him. He needs to move on and start a better life without you. Because all you’re going to do is pull him down.”

I suck in a sharp, painful breath.

“So are we done here?” Harry gestures. “Because I got to be in a meeting in ten minutes and I highly doubt you want to keep me waiting.”

“Wait,” I blurt out, a tear leaking down my eye. “What about the contract?” “What contract?” He looks at me, puzzled.

“The engagement.” I say, “Daniel and I.. we were supposed to do the thing for like three years.”

“Right. About that.” He starts off. “The contract is forfeited.“.

“But that means that you’re not providing loans for Woods and Co anymore?” I ask. “But you promised! You promised you would help my mom and dad-”

“Yes I did promise that.” He nods. “But I have helped Woods and Co enough. And in light of recent events...” He clears his throat, and I know he’s talking about my dad dying, “We no longer have a deal.”

“You can’t just do that!” I say, exasperated. “My mother is still head of the company! Just because my dad’s... no longer here, doesn’t mean you have to withdraw back the loans. My mother’s perfectly capable of running the company on her own.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Alexandria.” He says without a hint of emotion in his voice. “Your mother has not been in the office for almost a month now, and she’s left the company in quite a mess. She is incapable of leading her team right now, and well, action needs to be taken. Woods and Co’s shareholders will be err... terminating her. Forever.”

“WHAT!” I scream. “No! They can’t do that! That company is under my dad and my mom’s name! They can’t just kick her out like that! You can’t do this, Mr. Kerrington.”

“It’s not my call to make, I’m sorry.” Harry grabs his phone and places it into his pocket. “They’re discussing the fate of the company in five minutes, and if you’re not going to stop talking to me soon, I’ll be late.”

“And my mother doesn’t know any of this?” I say in a defeated tone. “That she’s going to lose the company any minute now?”

“I think she has known it for quite some time now.” He points out.

My mind can’t grasp this.

“Look,” Harry says, “Woods and Co has been damned from the start. It would be wise to leave it in better hands; don’t you think so?”

No.

He smiles at me and pats on my shoulder. “I really sorry about your parents and about Daniel, Alexandria.” I nod wordlessly.

“If there isn’t anything else, I’ll send my secretary to show you the way out.” Those are the last words Harry Kerrington says to me before walking out.

I replay his words over and over again as I make my way down the building and outside.

Woods and Co has been damned from the start. It would be wise to leave it in better hands; don’t you think so?

I’m not sure whether he’s talking about my mother’s company, or my relationship with Daniel.


I have no money to buy myself a cab, and I’m too ashamed to call Cara to pick me up after what I’ve just done. How can I ever accuse Daniel’s father for being behind all of this? I feel so stupid. I thought... I thought that Daniel would never leave me without any reason.

Turns out that’s exactly what he did.

I don’t feel much anymore, just hollow now. Like there’s this emptiness in my heart that I can’t seem to get rid of, so I start to accept it as it is. I’ve never known how a break up would feel like. I used to roll my eyes at those tear-streaked girls that get dumped by their boyfriends. Now, I know exactly how they feel.

I refuse to think about him anymore. Just the mere thought of him would increase the hollowness, and I don’t want to be that girl. I know I’m strong. I can get through this. If I can get through my dad dying, I can get through something as miniscule as this.

I don’t allow myself to think about anything anymore except to get back home. But, the problem still lingers, where is home? I thought home was with Daniel, and now it’s not, and I have to find a new home.

Mom.

I start running. I want to see her. The pain in my chest increases as I run and run and run until my feet ache and my sides hurt but I don’t care. My heart pumps and my head pounds and I’m turning, running, block after block disappearing before me.

I don’t know how long I run, only I know that I won’t stop unless I reach there. I think it’s been half an hour, I’m slowing my pace, exhausted to the point that I think I might just faint any moment. I pass through the neighbourhood, and I stop in front of the house.

I take a few ragged breaths and look up. The place looks so foreign to me now. It reeks of sadness. I see traces of my dad everywhere: the newspaper on the front porch that he would always read in the morning before going to work, the little garden gnome standing on the small patch of grass that we bought together that one time in a flee market and the red bow on our front door which dad never took out since three Christmases ago because he liked seeing it when he got back home.

Looking at those things makes me miss him even more.

I know I need to mourn his death. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks.

I know he’s gone.

But he wouldn’t have wanted me to just lie in my own grief. He would want me to patch things up with my mom and take care of her.

I walk over to the door and knock on it.

“Go away.” My mom groans after a while.

I press my ear against the door and sigh. “Mom, it’s me. Alex.” A long pause. Then, I hear shuffling.

“Oh, Alex,” She murmurs, her voice clearer now and I know she’s right beside the door. “Is that really you?”

“Mom,” I say, “Please let me come in.” Hesitation.

But after a few million heartbeats later, she unlocks the door and the first thing she does is embrace me. She tightens her arms around me, her head on my shoulder, sobs tearing out of her chest. “Alex, I’m so sorry. I should have told you, I should have and now he’s-”

I hug my mom tightly. “I don’t care mom. I love you. I still love you.” And then our tears wash away our past, leaving only a clean slate.


After what happened on the front porch, my mom finally invites me in. The house is a mess. It looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in forever. Papers litter the floor. Empty tissue boxes scatter all over the sofa. Takeout boxes pile up the kitchen bin.

It’s like a tornado wrecked this entire place without me knowing.

It takes a while for my mom to finally gather herself up. She wipes the smudged mascara on her cheeks with a piece of crumpled tissue (previously used for crying, I’m guessing) and change into some decent clothes. When she materializes again looking way healthier than how she looked fifteen minutes ago, I almost weep with joy.

“You want something to drink?” She asks me as she proceeds to the kitchen. “Tea?”

“Okay.” I find my voice again.

“How would you want it?”

“Black, please.” Like my soul.

I watch her from the corner of my eye, making sure she’s actually in the kitchen, and start picking up the litter. I make sure there aren’t any tissues left for her to use, but I doubt she needs them anymore. From the looks of it, she’s done with crying.

When she places the cup in my hands, I take a huge sip of it. My mom watches me as she places herself beside me on the couch. I put the cup aside and take a deep breath.

“When were you going to tell me you lost the company?”

The words hit my mother hard. Her lovely expression crumbles.

“I guess you were bound to know sooner or later.” She sighs. “I couldn’t keep it from you for long.”

“You have got to stop keeping things from me, mom. I’m not a child anymore.” I shake my head.

“I know, baby, I know.” She sighs again, “Maybe that’s why I wanted to keep it from you. Because I wanted you to stay like how I have known you. Just Alexandria. My baby.”

“I’m not ‘just Alexandria’ anymore, mom,” I tell her. “I need to know these things.

You can’t keep things from me just because you think it might upset me or hurt me.

I can handle it.”

“Maybe... that’s why I didn’t tell you. Because you’re so strong.” She reaches forward to cup my cheek. I lean into her touch. “You’re a brave, strong woman, Alex. And... I’m not.”

I don’t know what to say.

“I’ve made many, many mistakes, Alex.” She drops her hand and looks down, shame framing her eyes. “And I have just made a few more big ones. Ones that include losing the company. I… don’t know how to handle it. Your father dying. The pain ate me alive. Every time I wake up, I want to be normal again, to be happy, but this place, it reminds me to much of him. And the pain sets in again that he’s gone, and I just... I can’t...”

My mother takes a huge breath.

“I don’t know how to handle it.” She says.

“Me too.” I nod. “I miss him, too, you know.”

“I know, baby.” She scoots closer to me so she can put an arm around me. “I’m sorry I pushed you away when you needed me most. I just couldn’t forgive myself for not telling you about the disease.”

“I forgive you, mom.”

“I don’t deserve it,” She doesn’t meet my eyes again. “But thank you. It means the world to me.”

“So, what happens now?” I ask. “We can always sue the people who took the company away from you. I mean, they betrayed you. We can always file lawsuits against all of them-”

“We can’t.” Her voice breaks when she says it. “They didn’t betray me, Alex. They wanted what was best for the future of the company. And I guess the only way the business was going to progress is when I’m not leading it.” I open my mouth to protest but she hushes me.

“And... we can’t sue them, Alex. Because we have no money left.” “W-what?” Her words knock the breath out of me.

“We don’t.” She says, defeated. “Your dad made mistakes too, and he wasn’t very proud of them. He was a kind man, but he was always very confident. Too confident. The company wasn’t doing as well as he thought he would under Kerrington’s loans, and he made some very bad deals with very bad people. Money kept getting lost, and he never told me about it. I found out, Alex.” My mother croaks out. “I found out on the night he died. We had a huge fight about it. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of things getting thrown, and then...” “And then he had the heart attack.” I breathe.

“Yes.” She says, no more than a whisper. “And now he’s gone, and our money’s gone. Well, most of it.”

“Most of it?”

She hesitates on telling me the next part. “I guess he kept some money in case he ever passed away. His lawyer told me about it the day after the funeral. It’s not enough to get the company back, but it is enough for us to start another life somewhere else.”

“Mom? What are you saying?” I say even though I know exactly what she’s implying.

“I want to get out of here, Alex.” My mother tells me. “Everywhere I go, I’m haunted by him. It’s too much here. I want to have a fresh start, somewhere in another state.”

“That’s... good.” I swear. “I... are you sure about this?”

She nods her head determinedly. “Yes, Alex. I’m sure. And... I want you to come with me.”

“What?” I almost shriek.

Because it’s almost unbelievable. My mother’s asking me to move away with her?

“But…” I protest. “I go to college here. Cara’s here. Dan- my whole life’s here.”

“I know, baby.” She cups her hands in mine and her eyes connect with mine. Her eyes look so sad. “I know and I’m asking you to give up so much. Just for you to start another life with me somewhere else. But... I want you with me. It’s time I atone my mistakes and start by reconnecting with you again. I don’t want us to separate again. Your dad wouldn’t have wanted that. I don’t want that. I love you, and I’m sorry I ever made you doubt that. I don’t want you to ever doubt me again.” I press my forehead against hers and close my eyes.

“If... if we move... where would we go?” I question.

“I don’t know... California, maybe?” She suggests. “I have a few friends there. They might be able to help me get a job. A real one. I may have to start from the bottom again, but it doesn’t matter. Just please, Alex. Please say that you’ll come with me. I want my daughter with me.”

I press my lips together in a thin line. Moving to Cali with my mom? It sounded so impossible in my mind. Because everything I have is here. In Boston.

But... if I stay here, I cannot guarantee I’ll be happy here. Sure, I have Cara, and Nate, and maybe Simon and Daniel.

No, I don’t have him. He’s not coming back for me.

The hollowness increases.

If I move to Cali, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to start over with my mom. Have a second chance at life. I would be able to put much distance between me and my heartbreak, and maybe I can fully get over it. Maybe I can be happy.

My dad would have wanted that. He would have.

Somehow Daniel’s voice echoes in my mind. Sweetheart, you’re only running away.

Well. Screw him. I’m not running away from my old life.

I’m running towards my new one.

“Okay.” I nod my head, agreeing to mom. Her face lights up with glee. “I’ll move to California with you.”

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