Chapter - 9
“Hell is yourself, and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.” -TENNESSEE WILLIAMS
Rows after rows of books greeted her. The musky scent of papers held no appeal to her, but Rebecca reading helped to stay sane and she followed her to the library.
Alicia felt lost in the pool of books. She wasn’t a reader and didn’t know what to read. She found the newspaper and decided to catch up on the news. Her eyes wandered over them reading only the headlines and they halted when it landed on a specific title.
New York’s rising millionaire tied the knot with the love of his life.
Axel and Samantha’s Wedding photos were on display and the reporters had captured few cozy moments of the couple, who looked so much in love. Axel sported a bright smile in all the photos and his eyes were only on his bride.
Alicia swallowed the invisible lump that seemed to form out of nowhere as she looked at the photos, unable to look away. It could’ve been me if I hadn’t thrown him away that day at the pier.
Life threw her into the arms of several men. A few were sincere and offered the world to her. Yet, what did I do? I threw them all away.
She didn’t know where these thoughts came from. It seemed to occupy her mind these days. Her short time in prison made her thinking what if she’d done things differently. What if she hadn’t rejected Axel that day? What if she hadn’t ruined Francis Kaufman?
As if on cue, her eyes found him–a single photograph of Francis Kaufman on the same page. The news mentioned about a foundation his parents started in his name.
Her heart constricted at the thought of the innocent man, who’d loved her with his entire heart. He’d found her on the bed with Valtini. Even after he found out about her past, he was ready to look past them for the sake of the life that was growing within her. Only she was too stubborn to take it.
She left Francis in the aisle. He’d taken her to Vegas with hopes of getting married because his parents won’t give them their blessings. She’d been careless once again and fallen pregnant.
Though the prenuptial was tempting, the thought of having a child didn’t bode well. That would ruin her life and she’d no longer be independent. A heartbroken Francis vowed for revenge and she’d retaliated with her form of vengeance.
Everyone knew of her deception now. But, there was something that kept gnawing her mind. She’d visited Francis in prison, just to boast about her victory and rub it in his face.
However, she wasn’t expecting to come face to face with a broken man. Francis no longer looked handsome with his thick beard or sunken eyes. The broad shoulders he once carried with pride, slumped to his side as he sat before her.
He’d listened to her banter with a small smile on his lips and never once responded to her quirky remarks. It was when she finally got tired and stood to leave he spoke.
“It always feels so good to see you laugh. I am glad you came to visit. I thought I’d never see you again.”
“I am not here for sweet talks, Kaufman,” she spat.
“I know. But, I can’t help wondering this. We’ve spent four years together, Alicia.” He said her name as if he could taste her on his lips. “Was it all a lie? Was there a time, even by accident, you felt something for me?”
He pointed at her chest and she swallowed. Her heart thundered in her ribs. “No,” she lied.
Francis’ hands fell to his sides as he hung his head. His eyes no longer met hers. “I’ve always loved you. Even after everything that happened, even at this moment, I can’t help but love you,” he said.
“Leave, Alicia. Don’t come back. This is no place for someone like you.”
She’d left that day and the next day she’d learned from the newspapers that Francis Kaufman committed suicide in his prison cell. He hung himself using his blanket.
Alicia didn’t know when she began to cry. Thick, violent sobs erupted from her chest as she clutched his photo to her chest. Did she ever love him? There was no way to find out. She’d never known what it was like to love or be loved.