“How so?” Axel asked curiously.
Axel admired her beautiful legs, which not only were sexy, but her wheat-colored skin seemed to glow when the patio light cast their yellowish rays on her.
“She is a woman and that’s her first advantage. She will twist the truth and will put an act, blaming Xander for everything. She will gain the sympathy from the public without lifting a finger, considering her status as Xander’s fiancée,” she pointed out.
“Xander, however, has a girlfriend who is pregnant with his child. It won’t take long for her to create a scandal and come out of this,” Samantha said, looking at his eyes and Axel frowned realizing how this would end if Alicia learned the truth.
“The damsel in distress,” Axel agreed.
“Exactly. Now, for the company, you’ll ruin her parents’ business. Alicia holds only fifteen percent shares of the business. So, this will be nothing more than a bee sting,” Samantha added and plopped down next to him, she leaned back and placed her bare feet on the table.
“I was planning to buy their shares anonymously. We already own ten percent of the shares. Her dad gambled after his retirement to forget the cheating ways of her mother,” Axel informed her with a hopeless sigh.
“And, you’re going to punish the poor man who is trying to drown his sorrows by gambling.”
“I wasn’t going to punish him. Alicia is my only focus. I agree that my plan wasn’t good. What should I do?” Axel asked.
“By the sounds of it, her mother is no better than her. I wonder if her father is her real father at all. I believe, Eric found where her father is at the moment,” Samantha asked and Axel nodded.
“Yes, he got arrested for getting into a fight in one of the casinos in Vegas the last week. His wife didn’t even visit him when he called for help,” he informed.
“Bail him out,” she smiled with a wicked glint and Axel looked at her with amusement.
“Bail? Are you sure?” He asked.
“He holds fifty-one percent shares of McKenna Enterprises while Alicia and Alana hold fifteen percent each. I believe there is a strong reason why he holds the majority of shares in his father in law’s company,” Samantha mused.
“If my guess is correct Alicia coaxed Xander to pose as her fiancée for a reason. Marrying a Hollywood star means money and fame,” Samantha spoke as she started pacing back and forth. “Again, something isn’t adding up. What if she isn’t doing this for money or fame? What if she has some other motive behind this?”
“Alicia never initiated a relationship before. When Xander told me about this, I was wondering the same,” Axel explained.
Samantha had been a step ahead of him already and he could already see the wheels turning in her head. He watched silently as she pulled her phone out, dialing an unknown number.
“Daniel,” she called.
He didn’t hear what was being said, but watched as she nodded.
“I need a detailed bio of all the men she had dated, dig a few graves if you want to, this is important to me, Daniel,” she stressed and Axel’s brows knitted together.
“What was that about?” He asked once she was done with the call.
“Just the necessary. I don’t get into unknown waters without knowing their depth. Just, relax Axel. You are not alone and when I am done with her, she won’t have a place to go,” her wicked grin had his stomach do a somersault.
This woman was dangerous if you got on her bad side. He should always remember that, he made a note in his mind.
The week flew past in a blur and soon it was Saturday, the day of the barbecue.
Samantha spoke no word about her plan to Axel and he didn’t ask. He trusted her and just did what she had asked him to do.
Mr. Seemus Weston was now a guest in one of the hotel owned by his best friend. He made sure that he stayed low and away from the eyes of the public, most of all he made sure that he stayed away from gambling and booze.
On Samantha’s advice, he even arranged a counseling session for Mr. Weston with his therapist. His former principal was now only an empty shell with no lights in his eyes.
Axel still remembered how he used to look at his younger years. There was always a strong aura of authority around him. He was the best principal their school has ever had and Axel knew as a fact that he stayed true to his wife.
Samantha’s words sounded true, he never gave much of a thought to the fact that Alicia never had the same surname as her father. She still used her grandfather’s surname instead of Weston. Her mother followed the same and he wondered if they thought too low of Seemus to use his surname.
He must talk to Seemus soon. His former principal was in no condition to talk when he bailed him out. Seemus was depressed and was mostly talking to himself. He didn’t even seem to recognize Axel.
Axel shrugged off the thoughts about Seemus and got ready for the barbecue. His mother was bellowing his name by the time he got ready.
“I’m coming, mom!”
“We’re going to be late. Henry! I told you not to wear the usual blue T-shirt. Change it, right now!”
Axel laughed out loud watching his mother fussing around his father. His dad had a lucky T-shirt, which he preferred to wear anywhere he went. Though the color has faded and it looked worn out, his dad was not ready to give it out.
“Dad, listen to mom for once. You should wear the shirt mom chose for you if you want to impress Samantha’s family,” Axel said and plopped down on the couch.
“All right! But, Sammy said I can wear anything I’m comfortable with and I’m comfortable in this. Sara, how could you forget that I was wearing this when we first met,” Henry grumbled.
Axel boomed with laughter. “What? You were wearing this when you met mom. That was twenty-nine years ago dad.”
“Yeah, so? It’s special for me.”
“Dad, tell me the truth. Did you ever wash this?”
“Of course, I did,” Henry looked offended.
“He never washed it. I had to go behind his back to wash it when he is not around and when I do, he sulks in a corner for next two days,” Sara grimaced.
“Why is it, dad?”
“Because washing will ruin my T-shirt.”
Axel laughed out again. “That’s funny. Now, please go, change before mom burns it.”
“Don’t give her any ideas, boy,” Henry grunted. “And you, don’t even think about it,” he said, pointing at Sara. Henry changed as Sara and Axel exchanged a knowing look.
After a few minutes, they were off to Samantha’s home or in this case mansion.
Samantha’s home was easy to find. She lived in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York. The buildings thinned out on both sides as they took a turn on the road which led them to her luxurious mansion.
The entire estate looked magnificent and Henry had his face pressed to the glass like a small kid making Axel smile widely. His dad had grown up in a poor household and all these luxuries were still a foreign aspect to him, unlike his mom.
“This place looks like a park,” Henry mused in enthusiasm.
“Yes, it is, Dad.”
When they reached the grand mansion, Axel parked his car in the driveway and soon a few servants wearing uniforms were opening the door for them to get out. Henry grinned with a child’s enthusiasm as he thanked the servants. Soon, the Sinclair’s were filling out, greeting their family with a hug and so much love.
Sara immediately warmed up to Narmadha and has started discussing all the things they could do together.
Axel felt overwhelmed with all the warm greetings he was receiving. Narmadha greeted Axel with a hug and kissed his cheek. Eric pulled him for a manly one-handed hug while Gregory almost crushed his bones. Who thought the most serious businessman was a hugger.
A warm, homey feeling blanketed him the moment he set his foot in her home. Though the mansion was grand and screamed luxury in every bit, everything about it was strangely familiar.
“Is that Axel?”
A teenage girl who looked like the younger version of Narmadha asked curiously.
“Yes,” Eric replied. “Where’s Ryan?”
“He’s gone to pick up a few things for mom,” the girl answered. “Hi, I’m Sasha.”
“Hi, Sasha, nice to meet you.” Axel shook her hand with a smile.
Axel grinned when he noticed the furball who was inspecting the newcomers with hostility, his tail held high and his body brisk.
“So, that’s Mr. Whiskers. I heard a lot about him too,” Axel grinned.
“Oh, yeah. Wait until you meet the others. Eric, is Uncle Norman coming?” Sasha asked.
“No, he is still in Greece with Aunt Lillian. Uncle Rick and family are on their way,” Eric answered.
Axel’s eyes scanned the home looking for Samantha, who was nowhere to be seen. “Sammy is getting ready. Mr. Whiskers used her velvet dress to sleep in and she is trying to find something else,” Sasha answered as if reading his mind.
A ghost of a smile spread across Axel’s lips and they were distracted by Narmadha before he could respond. “Come on everybody, let’s move out to the backyard,” she called.
The spacious backyard buzzed with activities. Women fussed around the kitchen while the men set up the barbecue and carried the cooked appetizers and beverages out. Gregory came out wearing a Chef’s hat. He looked and acted like a professional cook as he shouted orders at others.
Axel’s eyes were constantly looking for Samantha and when she did arrive, she took his breath away. She wore a simple floral sundress which ended a few inches below her knees. It had a black belt under her bust and the skirt flared below. The peach color of her dress seemed to blend with her skin tone.
Suddenly, the ring he carried around in his pocket for the past couple of days felt so heavy. He stood up from his chair and went to greet her, his face beaming like a beacon, the world around him forgotten as their eyes met.
A throat cleared somewhere behind him, bringing him out of his trance. Axel blushed slightly and pulled a chair for Samantha to sit.
“No chair for the pregnant lady?” Amelia pouted beside her.
Axel who was just noticing Amelia blushed as he quickly pulled a chair for her, mumbling an apology. Sara grinned widely and winked at Narmadha who laughed with her.
Axel could feel all the eyes were on him. It was difficult to stay put with all the curious glances, yet when he saw Samantha, he felt like he belonged here. The Sinclair family shared the tasks and happily did the chores as they chatted about anything and everything.
He could easily compare them with his family, just a lot bigger than their nuclear family. Sara was mingling easily as Henry listened intently to something Gregory spoke. When Eric brought in the wine glasses, Axel politely declined and so did Samantha.
A high-pitched squeal grabbed their attention and they turned to see a pregnant female running towards them as a male raced behind her with concern.
“Gracie!” Samantha ran towards her and was just in time to catch Gracie, who tripped.
“Oh, God, Gracie, you shouldn’t be running like that,” Samantha scolded, hugging her friend.
“I missed you so much, Sam. Video calls are nothing compared to this. I’m not moving anywhere,” Gracie huffed.
“Gracie, you’ll be the death of me.” A very handsome male complained as he came to stand next to Gracie.
“Antony!” Samantha hugged him and he returned the hug with a wide smile.
“Hello my little panda, I see you decided to change the color code for once,” he teased.
Samantha slapped his hand playfully. “Where are Keith and Julius?”
“They are –“
Axel watched as Samantha greeted each and every one with a hug and a lot of pleasantries being shared. She grinned from ear to ear and just seeing her smile warmed his heart and lifted his spirits. Her smile was the first thing he noticed every day and now looking at her again, he thought how beautiful and carefree she looked when she smiled.
“So, did you get the ring?”
“Huh!” Axel looked startled at Eric’s question and momentarily shifted his glance to him. “Ring!”
“Yeah. A ring. That’s a rule of mom, you aren’t allowed to date her if you don’t have any intention to have a forever with her,” Eric warned.
“What? No, I mean... of course, I want that. But, isn’t it too soon?” Axel asked wide-eyed.
“Not for mom and dad agrees too, especially where his princess is concerned. They don’t know yet that you both were fooling around if they did, you won’t be leaving this place without a ring in your hand.”
“We are not fooling around.” Axel swallowed nervously and looked at the Sinclairs, who now greeted Ricardo and his wife. His gaze went to Samantha again and his confusion seemed to fade momentarily in the background.