When Samantha and Axel went downstairs, Sara and Henry looked at them with worry, but the intertwined hands of the young couple and the big smile on Axel’s face seemed to replace it.
They were eating a late breakfast in the living room and chatting happily with Grandpa Joaquin when the doorbell rang. A very excited Rodrígez was at the door before their servant could open it for him and Samantha snorted when he greeted a man with grey hair around his late fifties.
Had Rodrígez bent a little more it would look like he was welcoming a Royal with a deep bow.
He went to lead them to their office, but the new guy seemed to refuse the offer as he regarded Rodrígez with a cold look. “I’m not here for any pleasantries Mr. Del Campo,” the new man announced.
Everyone in the living room stopped what they were doing as they looked back and forth between Rodrígez and the new man. Axel recognized the guest as Mr. Ricardo Alvarez, he owned the Alvarez Enterprises, which was the second-ranking after Sinclair International in the market.
“That’s Dani’s Godfather,” Andrea whispered, and a sly grin lifted the corner of Axel’s lips.
“Mr. Alvarez, I am sure we can talk about this in my office in a more comfortable manner,” Rodrígez suggested.
“No need. I am here to tell you that we are no longer interested in signing a business contract with your organization,” Mr. Alvarez declared.
Andrea snickered beside Samantha. She had never seen her grandfather’s bewildered look before, and he pulled the expression well. Andrea knew the guest, she had met him at Samantha’s home a few times and he also was her Godfather.
The top three ranking companies in the market Sinclair International, Alvarez Enterprises, and Norman Group Holdings were started by the three best friends in the nineteen sixties. The company was passed on to their children, who were brought up together as one family.
The three were really closer than any blood-related family could be though they posed as business partners on the outside.
“What? Why? I agreed to all your terms,” Rodrígez didn’t bother to hide his surprise.
“Well, for one Mr. Sinclair is convinced that your company lacks the potential. Also, it’s not wise of you to go around and calling his lovely daughter, a tramp. It was a cheap action on your part Mr. Del Campo,” Mr. Alvarez deadpanned and Andrea spat the milk she was drinking.
A fit of giggles broke out and Axel tried to contain the laughter that threatened to bubble from his throat. The look on the face of his grandfather was priceless.
Mr. Alvarez looked at the girls and his face lit up when he noticed Samantha.
“Uncle Rick!” She giggled and launched herself at him, embracing him with a tight hug.
“What are you doing here?” He asked surprised.
“My friend got engaged and I came here for the party,” she answered.
“And, he called you a tramp,” Mr. Alvarez asked with a renewed anger.
“That he did,” she admitted.
“Wait, so you are the Sinclair kid?”
“She is,” Andrea answered.
Rodrígez looked at her with a dumbfounded expression and Samantha smirked.
“I didn’t know,” he whispered after a few moments and the girls went for another round of laughter.
“Still, that doesn’t give you permission to call any woman a tramp, Mr. Del Campo,” Mr. Alvarez sneered.
Rodrígez looked torn, everyone watching the scene unfold could tell his ego and pride took a huge blow and he was trying to come to terms with the situation.
“Mr. Del Campo, you are nearing sixty-five already. Maybe you should consider retiring from the business,” Ricardo quipped.
Samantha bit her lip to hide the smile that threatened to split her face. She could tell everyone in the room was enjoying the show. Ricardo was known for his short temper and if given a chance he would happily have a go at Rodrígez despite his age.
Grandpa Joaquin laughed at Ricardo’s snarky remark as he gestured for him to come closer. “You are the Alvarez kid. How is your father?”
“He passed away in his sleep last summer, sir.”
“Oh, he is a good man,” Grandpa Joaquin recalled.
“Yes, he is,” Ricardo replied in a soft tone.
“Samantha, has he met your man yet?” Grandpa Joaquin asked Samantha, who blushed at the word ‘your man.’
“No, grandpa,” She answered. “Uncle Rick, come, let me introduce you to my boyfriend,” Samantha decided to distract the older man.
“Boyfriend? When did this happen?!” Ricardo exclaimed.
“Um… Recently,” Samantha bit her lower lip nervously and motioned Axel to come closer. “This is Axel, CEO of Finlayson Group.”
“Oh, so you are Axel. I heard a lot about you,” Ricardo commented and gave Axel a once over. “Gregory talks a lot about you. He says you are very hard working,” he said, shaking Axel’s hand and clapped on his shoulder. “Do you mind if I share a word with you, Axel?”
“Good. Samantha, give us both a moment or two, will you?” With that, he led Axel out of the living room and to the secluded area outside the mansion.
“Is this some sort of game you are playing, boy?” Ricardo hissed and Axel gave him a puzzled look.
“I am not sure what you are implying, sir,” he replied heatedly.
“Hmm… I see. Let me be more specific. Is Samantha a part of your revenge plan, Mr. Finlayson?”
Axel staggered a few steps back with his eyes wide as he looked at the older man. Several questions bombarding his brain at the moment.
“What? No! Definitely not!”
“So you don’t disagree with your revenge plan, then,” Ricardo smirked and Axel wondered what did the old man wanted from him.
“I just found out that Samantha’s father owned the Sinclair International,” he answered vaguely, not wanting to accept Ricardo’s claim.
“So, will she play a role in your war against Alicia McKenna?”
Axel gazed at Ricardo for a long minute before taking a deep breath. “No,” he whispered. “She doesn’t know anything yet.”
“I’m all ears, Axel.”
“How did you know about this anyway?”
“I am her Godfather and it is my duty to know these things. I know your past and the little revenge plan you set in motion a few years ago. My only concern is that I don’t want you, using Samantha for your victory,” he finished with a warning look.
Axel took a shuddering breath. “Samantha will not even know about this if I can help it. I had given up the hope of finding love and having a family of my own. Then Samantha entered my life and changed my perspective on everything,” he explained in a gentle tone.
“I don’t when or how it happened. She makes me happy and I finally found the one girl, who has not judged me for my actions, instead stood by my side at every step I took. She looked past my façade and here we are. I would never do anything to hurt her,” Axel promised.
Ricardo looked thoughtful as his gaze bored into Axel. He relaxed his posture and nodded at Axel in approval.
“You’re lucky, boy. You got yourself a keeper. A random fact, Sinclair women usually have a soft nature, yet they protect their family ferociously. She took after her mom. She would never give you up. That is until you stay true to her in every way possible,” Ricardo said, thrusting his hands into his pant pockets.
“I was a victim once and I would never wish the same fate on any human being. Well, there is only one exception,” Axel chuckled dryly.
“You must tell her. She won’t take it kindly if she were to find it on her own. She won’t leave you, but you’ll be in the doghouse for a very long time in the future for hiding something like this,” Ricardo mused.
Axel scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Sounds like you’ve come across something similar. I don’t know if I am ready to tell her everything yet. She knows that my past is not fancy.”
“Give her a chance. I am sure she’ll understand. As for the first part, I can say that Gregory was in the doghouse for two years,” Ricardo winked and laughed as Axel’s expression morphed to that of horror.
“You’re joking, right?” Axel asked with a bewildered look.
“Unfortunately, it’s the truth. I told you, Sinclair women are ferocious yet soft,” Ricardo chuckled again.
“What did he do?”
“Um… Let’s say there was someone similar to Alicia in his life and he handled the situation in a most immature way possible. I got to give it to you kid, you’re good. Just reach out if you need anything from us, will you?” Ricardo clapped on Axel’s shoulder and squeezed gently.
Axel smiled, he liked Ricardo. “Sure, sir.”
“Cut the formalities, boy. Call me Ricardo or Uncle Rick,” Ricardo told him and Axel nodded with a huge grin. “Now, let’s get back before little Sammy comes to rescue.”
Both turned towards Samantha coming towards them.
“Told you,” Ricardo murmured earning another chuckle from Axel.
“I thought you needed only a few minutes. I hope you are not drilling my poor Axel,” Samantha commented and stepped into Axel’s embrace.
“Not at all. Just preparing him for the family barbecue, that’s all,” Ricardo shrugged.
“Yeah, and I’m definitely getting that bulletproof vest,” Axel commented, earning a heartfelt laugh from Samantha.
“My dad could be scary, but he is a big softie on the inside,” Samantha announced.
“That’s true,” Ricardo agreed. “You should be beware of her brother Eric though. He’s way too protective of his family.”
“Yeah. But, he will survive,” Samantha grinned.
Ricardo could tell Samantha was falling deeply for Axel, her eyes said it all. Gregory had only one worry when they found about Axel’s revenge plan. Though they were furious at first, his thirst for revenge made sense. There was a strong reason behind it and now that Ricardo has spoken to Axel, he decided that Samantha was not a part of Axel’s scheme and it was just a coincidence.
“All right, kiddo. I should get going. Else, I will be late for the meeting,” Ricardo said and opened his arms widely looking at Samantha.
She jumped into his arms, giving him a bear hug. “See you soon, Uncle Rick.”
“See you too, kiddo. Tell your mom to make that mean Dum Biryani of hers for the barbecue,” Ricardo winked.
“Sure. Will Antonio come too?” She asked hopefully.
“Yes. His fiancée wants a baby shower similar to Amelia. So, we’ll be staying in New York for a while,” he informed.
“Wow… That’s awesome. I can’t wait to meet Gracie, it’s been so long.” Samantha bounced up and down, drawing a smile from Axel’s lips. He never saw her enthusiastic and he hoped the barbecue would be fun.
“I can assure you, that she too feels the same way. You know, considering that she lives alone, she craves for friends.”
“Well, you can rectify that problem easily Uncle Rick. Let Antonio handle the New York operations and Keith handle the Spanish operations,” Samantha suggested.
“Yeah, we are talking about that too. Considering that he just finished his studies, he will need my help. So we will have to move to Spain temporarily. At least until he gets a hang of it,” Ricardo mused.
“Oh,” Samantha pouted.
“Okay, I am getting late. Sorry, no time to meet the rest of your family, Axel. See you soon,” Ricardo hugged both Axel and Samantha before getting into his car.
Samantha watched him leave before turning to go in with Axel. “Uncle Rick has three sons. Antonio is Eric’s batch mate. Keith and I are six months apart, he is younger than me. Then, there is Julius the naughtiest of the bunch, he and Ryan go to the same University,” she explained.
“He is Spanish.”
“A hybrid actually. Uncle Rick’s mom is from Spain and father is an American,” Samantha replied.
“Like me,” Axel smiled.
“So, your mom is from India?”
“Yes. Mom went to college here in New York. She met dad through one of her friends and the rest is history,” she smiled.
“It’s really tough to memorize all these names. Is there anyone else I need to know about?” Axel asked cautiously and already knew the answer.
“Yes,” she smiled mischievously as she dragged him inside.