Six Months Earlier
My grandfather tossed the glass of wine. Deep inside, I was grieving. I promised him that I would protect the family because he knew I could be trusted. But right now, I might’ve failed him. What I was doing isn’t enough.
“How!” he howled as if someone died again. “How could you not tell me such information? Since when did you know about it?”
I wouldn’t want to believe it myself. “I was wrong for not telling you,” I clenched my fist, “but I thought we agreed that you would let me do these things my way. You get into my private files grandfather. Did you think I’m doing nothing?”
I knew that it’s going to hurt him, finding out another family was killed by his own family.
“My sister lost her life because her son Alfio murdered her. He made her transfer everything under his name then killed her. I didn’t mean to get into your files Brandon, I trust you, my boy, But you should’ve told me about this. Oh, Helen, my sister,” he whimpered. “What did they do to you? Oh! Why did you not tell me about this sooner, my boy?”
I swallowed. “Even before, they already have the half of your properties—money. When your brother Euricius died of a disease he already transferred everything to Helen. What are they going to do next? And what is this that I found out? There was a reason why you want me to have the rest of your fortune. You want to invest it in my company so you can secure it. Then what? So you could have it back at the right time?”
“You know that I decided to give my fortune to you since you’re just a child. Don’t say that, Brandon!” he bellowed.
I smirked. “I want to trust you, but how could you do this to us? At the end of the day, this is all about fucking money!”
“Watch your language, Brandon! That’s a long time ago! I regret all of it now, and I need your help. I already told you this, my boy.”
I shook my head. “I’m going to present myself publicly at the party this weekend. Now that your properties are under my name, please don’t think that I’m doing this because of you. I’m doing this for my mother and Elga.”
He nodded, his eyes filled with guilt. “After all these years, what this family is fighting for worth nothing.” He looked at me with sincerity. “I do not wish for us to fight. You are all I have. I’m so sorry, Brandon.”
“I don’t wish for us to fight too,” I mumbled, surrendering. “But all I want from you is your trust.”
“Of course, I trust you.” He forced a smile. “What is your plan now?”
“To start with the root of all. I can’t get rid of the root because it’s a foundation. But if I get rid of the stems, I might have a chance.”
“Your father’s mistress,” my grandfather said. “Annette. Your Uncle Alfio’s daughter.”
It was the second day Alayna didn’t come home. They told me she was sick. Things have changed. The house. The people. And me. I could go outside, yes. I could finally face people, but the constant pain in my chest was still there. It didn’t go away, and I would probably have until I die. One year wasn’t enough, but I knew I had to go back.
A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts. “Come in,” I said. “Master Brandon?” Lennie called.
I smiled. She pushed the trolley of food into my room like the usual.
Her eyes filled with excitement and relief. “Oh, my dear,” she croaked, as she gazed at my face. I immediately stood and went to her. She cupped my face instantly and looked into my eyes. This was the first we’re going to meet face to face after so many years.
“Look at how you grew up,” she said, holding my arm as she studied me.
I chuckled softly then wiped her tears with my thumb. “I missed you, Lennie,” I whispered, then wrapped my arms around her small frame. She became my mother as long as I remembered.
“I always know that this day would come. When I heard that you returned, I didn’t know if can finally come here… I hesitated.” She sniveled. “But look at you now, so healthy and a good-looking young man.”
“I don’t know what else to do, Lennie. I’m still afraid,” I confessed.
I parted away slightly. “You just have to let go of your fears, my dear. You can go out to the world now, and you have a girlfriend who loves you. What happened to you and Alayna? I heard you didn’t meet her.”
“I pushed her away.”
Her eyes widened. “But why?”
“I need to keep her safe,” I mumbled. “They’re going to hurt her too. I cannot be with her, you see.”
“Brandon?” Oliver abruptly appeared at the door.
“Is this a bad time?” he asked, looking back and forth at me and Lennie.
“I just brought our Master his dinner.” She gave Oliver a smile.
“Oh, thank you, Lennie,” Oliver said and stepped inside. “I’ve been looking for you, man.”
“We’ll continue this talk later, Lennie,” I said. “I’ll speak with Oliver.”
“It’s nice to see you again, Master Brandon.”
“Likewise,” I said, then she exited the room. Oliver closed the door.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
He blew out a deep breath. “Same old. You’ve been drinking?” Oliver walked over to my table then he grabbed the empty bottle of beer.
“Leave it,” I said. “That’s last night.”
“What else are you doing here?” he asked. “Alayna’s with Cassius, Brandon.”
I slumped on the couch and shut my eyes. “I can’t be with her anymore, Oliver.”
“Can you tell me why? Because I don’t understand you anymore. Is it true, then? What you said to Lennie.”
“You heard it wrong,” I said.
“No. I heard it right you said they’re going to hurt her too.”
I looked at him. “Don’t tell anyone about what you heard.”
“Are you not going to do about it?”
“This. This is what I’m doing. She can’t be with me.”
Oliver shook his head, then exhaled. “She’s waiting for you, Brandon.”
“Pauline and I are back together,” I snapped.
“What!?” he exclaimed. “Brandon, what the hell is happening to you?”
“I have my reasons. I have to. I will tell you everything that’s going on after I fixed all of this.”
“Is this how you fix things? Alayna’s hurting!” He ran his fingers through his hair. “Then maybe Cassius was right. You can’t be with her.”
“Damn it, Oliver, just listen to me. Pauline is in danger too because of me.” I tried to explain, but I knew it won’t make any sense to him.
“No!” He shook his head. “I don’t want to hear your shits anymore. Is this what you want? Everyone turning their backs on you?”
“I said I have my reasons,” I said tightly, clenching my fist, “and it’s good if you don’t know.”
“Right, because the more I know, the more I find how fucked up you are. Alayna is crying all night—whatever, you don’t seem to care,” he dismissed. “I’m going to Cassius. If you still have bones left in your body, you will come with me to see Alayna and tell the fucking truth why you can’t be with her.”