“What happened?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.
If she thought it was unbearable to hear it from him, the forlorn look on his face twisted her heart, squeezing it painfully.
“She killed it, Samantha. She killed the child,” Axel’s voice broke and he breathed through his mouth, trying to control the sobs.
“She didn’t bother to tell me before. She did it so she could fuck that new boy toy of hers. I was brought up in a family which believed in love, I have seen my mom crying several times, just because she couldn’t have another child,” Axel wheezed.
“I was over the moon when I heard about the baby. It lasted only for a few seconds until she told me that she had an abortion. And, the worst part about all that is there was nothing I could do.” Axel took a deep breath. “I understand we were young, only seventeen. But, if she had told me I would’ve understood.”
“She spoke as if what we had between us never mattered to her. Alicia never loved me. You know what? Right after she dumped me on that pier, I jumped into the water to end my life. Not because I lost her, it’s because I felt ashamed of everything I had with her. I felt dirty for even touching her.”
“Someone rescued me and I lived, carrying the shame I felt for myself. I was ashamed of myself, Samantha. I was blinded by the name of love. Alicia said that no woman would keep me, that I am not a boyfriend material. She threatened that she would ruin my family for my mistake and I believed her.”
Samantha stood frozen as he broke in front of her, tears broke free of the confines of his eyes and this time he didn’t hide them. She blinked rapidly as her own tears blurred her vision.
This man portrayed as arrogant and ice-cold has broken down in front of her. Her legs moved as if they had their own mind, and before she knew she had him in her embrace. She let him cry until there were no more tears left. Her own tears joined his which were now soaking her shirt as he buried his face in her waist and held her in a tight embrace as if she was his lifeline.
Her mom always said that the bottled up emotions were too dangerous for a human. They should let them out every now and then.
“If you feel like crying, then you should just do that. Man or woman, it’s okay to cry,” her mother had advised Eric when he first had his heartbreak. Her mom held her brother as he poured his heart out that night.
Samantha combed Axel’s hair, massaging his scalp as his sobs reduced to hiccups. A shadow moved in her peripheral vision and she turned to see Sara and Henry with tears. Sara leaned on Henry as he rubbed her back soothingly.
They nodded at Samantha once, their eyes conveying several emotions which clogged her throat.
“I turned to drugs and became an addict. It took a year for me to come out of my shame. My mom’s described those times were the worst for her, she said that they were worse than the labor pain she went through during my birth,” Axel’s voice was distant once again.
“I’m seeing a therapist,” Axel mumbled and pulled away from her, only to pull her onto his lap and bury his face on her shoulder.
“He helped me to focus. I changed school as I couldn’t see her walking around unaffected by the entire ordeal. I had to move to escape the knowing glances, the looks of pity. My dad resigned and we moved out to a new city, a new school. My love for football lost forever, yet I played only for the scholarships they offered.”
“That’s where you met Xander,” she stated softly.
He blinked before nodding at her. “We clashed the moment we met. He was the popular bad boy of the school and I’m this new person, who looked for a reason to lash out at anyone.”
“He gave me several reasons and we fought with fists, getting several detentions. At one time, there was even a restraining order issued by the school principal to both of us,” Axel chuckled.
“Xander somehow found about Alicia and tormented me at times. It was something that set me off. They removed forcefully from the football field and they threw me out of the team.”
“Our enmity just hit a new level when that incident happened. One night, I was out for blood. I wanted revenge, I didn’t think about my family or future that day. I wanted his blood. So, I was on the road, looking for him.”
“I had an informer who told me about this secluded place just a few miles out of the city, close to the woods. I followed him there,” Axel paused.
“Did you hurt him?” Samantha asked, unable to contain her curiosity.
“No,” he chuckled. “When I found his car he was nowhere near the place. I parked my bike and followed the small trail which led me to the clearing. To my surprise, it was decorated with floating lanterns and balloons. A floral path littered the path with a small picnic blanket on the end.”
“Everything about the place was romantic. I saw him kissing a girl and my eyes found the new diamond ring, glittered in her ring finger.”
Samantha burst out laughing and Axel joined her as the memory warmed his heart.
“The girl with him was Naina. You know, that one typical person in the entire school would consider as a nerd. To me, she was the only girl who showed any type of kindness towards me when I was a wreck.”
“When the others thought thrice or more to even approach me, she did so without any fear. She looked so much like my Mom that I never treated her the same way I did the other girls. So, apparently, Xander had a crush on her for years and vice versa.”
“Xander’s parents were filthy rich who won’t accept a girl of her status as their daughter in law, so he tried to hit it with the other girls in school. When he couldn’t stay away from her anymore, he sought her out and proposed to her.”
“Wow!” Samantha breathed. “So what happened that day in the woods?”
“Oh, yeah. Um... Let’s say they both saw me holding a hockey stick, standing with my mouth agape. When Xander pushed Naina behind him, I realized what I was doing. I grumbled an apology and turned without another look at them.”
“That’s it?” Samantha exclaimed.
“No. It was when I reached my bike I heard her screams. I thought Xander was hurting her and ran like a madman towards the clearing,” Axel breathed harder as anger clouded his features.
Samantha held her breath as she listened to him, her entire attention trained on him.
“I saw Xander on the ground, blood pooling under his body from the multiple stab wounds he received and Naina nowhere in sight. I followed the direction Xander pointed me and soon enough, I heard muffled screams behind the dense tree line.”
Axel clenched his fists as he thought about that day of his sister got attacked.
“Those bastards were trying to force themselves on her. She was naked, hurt, bleeding and I know for a fact that she was saving herself for her wedding night.”
Samantha’s hold on his hand tightened as she watched him with wide eyes.
“There were four of them. That bastard was about to ruin her when I took him down with a huge blow to his head. I was a madman that day, my need for blood once again renewed and I took it out of them. When their blood splattered on my face I laughed at them and crushed their balls.”
Axel was breathing harder as he remembered the way Naina cried on the ground, trying and failing miserably to cover her naked body. Mud coated her skin and blood leaked from the cuts she received, her pale skin held several purple bruises that resembled their handprints.
“It’s hard to explain the rage I felt when I saw her like that. They were not humans, Samantha. I gave her my shirt, and when we came back, we saw Xander passed out, and barely breathing.”
“It took us half an hour to reach the hospital and the entire time, she kept breathing for him in the back seat. Naina’s cries for help and all that blood still haunt my dreams.”
Samantha rubbed his arm as he took a calming breath.
“The doctors said that he had only a five percent chance of survival and they didn’t have his blood stocked. His lungs were punctured and he lost too much blood already. His parents were abroad and we couldn’t reach anyone. Fortunately, my blood matched his perfectly.”
Samantha released a breath she didn’t know she was holding.
“Alexander McGregor lived and with my blood coursing through his veins, our rivalry was long forgotten. Later, I learned that he was tormenting me because I was close to his girl and he was afraid that I would steal her away from him,” Axel’s smile was heartwarming and Samantha leaned her head on his shoulder as she adjusted herself in his lap.
“So, how did you come up with a revenge plan?” Samantha mused.
Samantha shrugged in a nonchalant manner and he sighed.
“I don’t know how everyone finds about my plan. I thought it was flawless,” he mumbled.
Samantha let out a soft laugh and nuzzled his neck. “Tell me the rest of the story.”
“Okay. So, when his parents found about the incident, they blamed Naina for everything and threatened to disown Alexander. Naina was a wreck and Alexander was ready to give up his parents for her.”
“It was during that time Grandpa Joaquin reached out to us and gave me a few millions. When my parents found out that Naina didn’t have any parent or relations, they adopted her legally.”
“Really?!” Samantha asked wide-eyed. She never knew that he had a sister. “I never knew you had a sister.”
“Yeah, it’s because she never got to live with us. When Xander’s parents learned that I was an heir to Del Campo’s fortune, they relented, and with a heavy heart gave their blessings to Xander and Naina.”
“So where’s Naina? What is Xander doing with that bitch?” Samantha asked him in one breath.
“I am coming to that. Patience, sweetheart. You see, Xander wanted to repay me for saving his life and saving Naina. Though I refused and called it even because Naina is now my sister, he came back to me after a few years with this plan.”
“I had just started my company and he got selected for a new project in Hollywood. He was sure that the movie would be box office hit. I didn’t have any intention to go after her until Xander planted that seed inside me.”
“I learned that she was on her eighth boyfriend, officially that is. The men she was with mostly broken or bankrupted. Xander firmly believed that we should stop her before she hurt more men and I agreed.”
“Your plan will only bring her parent’s business empire down, Axel. She won’t be affected and if anything, she will move onto her next prey with ease,” Samantha mused as she got up from his lap.
“What else can I do?” Axel asked not understanding. “I can’t hurt her any other way, can I?”
“Well, first, tell me about Naina. What is she doing now? How is she taking all this?” She inquired.
“Um... Naina lives in Manhattan with Xander’s parents under a pretense of their caretaker. She and Xander are expecting their first child together,” Axel informed.
Samantha shook her head in a non-pleased manner. “How does she feel about Xander dating Alicia?” A mild anger was laced with her tone and Axel swallowed looking at her eyes, which were furious.
“She agrees with the plan too.”
“How could you do this to your own sister, Axel? Blood or by law, she is your sister now. How could you betray her like that? And, she is pregnant for God sake,” her voice boomed across the terrace, several octaves higher than her usual soft tone.
“Ah... Sam?” Axel looked at her with wide eyes, realizing for the first time how true the words of Ricardo and Eric had been. She looked like a devil with her wind messed hair and furious eyes, the only thing missing were a set of fangs and claws.
“Don’t say my name. Is she okay with him sleeping around for the sake of your revenge? That’s too low, Axel Joaquin Finlayson.”
Axel cringed at her anger and his body shuddered involuntarily. Fuck, this woman before him was something else.
“It’s not like what you think,” he defended.
“Xander doesn’t sleep with Alicia,” he intervened quickly before she inflicted any further damage. He felt like a kicked puppy, guilt, and regret written all over his face.
“So are you telling me that he doesn’t have sex with that bitch?”
“And, you expect me to believe this?” Her voice was still furious.
“It’s true, Sam.” Axel slumped in his chair with a defeated expression. “Do you still believe I would do that to my sister? Xander put up an act for the public, but on the inside, it’s all fake. He doesn’t even touch her.”
Samantha still looked unimpressed. “Are you sure?”
“Hundred percent,” he deadpanned. “Xander is actually not dating Alicia. It’s complicated actually. A part of her income comes from her company shares. We decided to pull the dating card just to get close to her, which would allow us to get more information about her because Xander was sure that not all her income comes in a legal way.”
“Our plans backfired and everything changed when Alicia took the game to the next level. She called him and practically coaxed him for multiple dates. She leaked the news to the media and made it look like they were dating. Then, when they went for dinner with her father, she pleaded Xander to pose as her fiancée because her father was terminally ill.”
Axel stopped Samantha when she tried to reply. “That’s not all. Xander listened to my advice and went to stay with his parents as Alicia was trying to get into his pants. He lied to her that he was on a shoot and when he came back after a few weeks he found out that she had moved in without his knowledge. His servants let her into believing the gossips. I know we goofed up everything, but I have the private investigators working on it. I just need to find something against Alicia, so Xander could publicly break up with her.”
Samantha contemplated his words for a moment before her posture softened and she took a relaxing breath.
“Axel, you are walking on a double-edged sword. Alicia is a bitch, I agree. But, she is not dumb. If you follow your existing plan, you can’t harm a hair on her body. In turn, it will be Xander, who will take a fall.”
“How so?” Axel asked curiously, secretly glad she was back to her normal self.