Gideon eyed me with amusement, while I only shot him a glare in return. He was enjoying this a lot, and all I could do was stare at the clock as the seconds ticked by and dinner time came closer with every tick and tock.
“Don’t worry, little peach, everything will be fine,” Gideon said for the fiftieth time.
I shook my head for the fiftieth time. “No, no. Your dad hates me, and he’s going to hate all this.” I gestured to the pots and pans on the stove. “Are you going to kick me out?”
Today Gideon was going to tell his family about the termination of the contract, and I was nervous as well. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the look of disapproval from Mr. Maslow out of my mind. And no matter what, my heart just wouldn’t stop pounding, like something really bad was going to happen and I better be prepared for it.
“Nobody hates you, little one.” Gideon kissed my forehead. “Relax, it’s not good for the baby.”
“You know what’s not good for the baby, your father’s hatred. Oh my God, what am I going to do, I didn’t even look for an apartment, where will I go?” I was speaking to myself.
Gideon’s grip on my arms tightened, and I looked up at him to see the green irises resembling shards of anger. “Get one thing straight, little bird, you are not going anywhere, got it. I am never letting you go, so stop thinking about finding another bloody apartment. Whether my father likes you or not, you are my wife and you will stay with me forever,” he nearly shouted.
“But—But your father—”
“Say that one more time and I’ll fuck your mouth so hard, you’ll lose the ability to speak,” Gideon threatened with no hint of jest.
I gulped but nodded reluctantly. Gideon keeps telling me that no matter what happened he would never leave me, but I just couldn’t believe it. Why would Gideon leave his family for me, when he couldn’t even fire Helga for me? I understood that my demand was irrational, but when he didn’t fire her for me, why would be leave his father?
“You have nothing to worry about. You are mine, and I protect what’s mine.” Gideon kissed me long and hard, forcing me to trust him.
“What time will they come?” I asked after Gideon released my lips and I was allowed to breathe.
“In an hour. Brenton had a meeting, therefore they’ll be an hour late,” Gideon informed me.
“Good.” I clamped a hand over my hand. “Sorry, I did not mean that.”
Gideon chuckled. “It’s a shame you’re pregnant, I wish I could drug you to help you relax.”
“I’m not that worried,” I defended, my cheeks heating up.
“Oh no, of course not, you just keep touching your neck and missing the presence of your broken necklace for no reason at all.” I could sense the sarcasm in his words.
“Well I miss my necklace. I had it for years, you know, that doesn’t mean I’m worried,” I lied. I did miss my necklace, but I was more worried about Gideon’s family.
Gideon came closer to me and bent his head until his lips brushed the shell of my ear. “I promise you, little fairy, you’ll forget that necklace very soon,” he whispered, before placing a soft kiss below my ear.
“Easier said than done,” I stated.
“Trust me, it’ll happen sooner than you think,” he said confidently.
I rolled my eyes. “Why are you here anyways, shouldn’t you be in the living room.”
“I’m here to keep an eye on you; make sure you don’t hurt yourself,” Gideon replied
“I’m not a child, Gideon. I can handle a fire and a few sharp tools,” I said, annoyance dripping from my words.
“Yes, I’m sure you can. But right now, you are acting like a child who’s about to take her first exam, so forgive me if I’m not entirely confident in your abilities right now.” When I shot him a deadly glare, he only winked at me, and that bloody wink did something funny to my insides. God help me, Gideon was not making it easy for me; everything he did only made me fall deeper in love with him. He had my heart in his hands and he knew how to manipulate it to his advantage.
“Get out of the kitchen,” I ordered.
Gideon chuckled causing me to scowl at him. “It’s cute how you think you can order me around.”
“Out!” I said more firmly.
“Instead of telling me what to do, why don’t you check on the rice, I don’t think they should be burning like that.” I turned just in time to turn off the stove, saving myself from a total disaster.
“See, this is why you should not be here. Look what happened because of you.” I took the pot of rice off the stove.
“You’re blaming me for this, seriously?!” Gideon exclaimed, causing me to giggle out loud.
“Yes.” I giggled.
“Finally, you laughed, I thought I’d never be able to put a smile on your face,” he said, relief and affection shining in his eyes.
I blushed at his words. “I’m sorry,” I murmured, feeling guilty about worrying my husband.
“Why are you apologizing?” Gideon questioned.
“Because I worry you a lot. You do so much for me and I can’t even face your family,” I replied.
“Hey, your anxiety over meeting my family is justified, dad can be pretty intimidating. And if I do a lot of things for you, you do a lot of things for me, too. You have nothing to apologize for, little peach.” Gideon took my hands in his and for a while neither of us said anything, too absorbed in the warmth of one another.
Our private moment was interrupted by Helga. “Mr. Maslow, your father and brothers are here, they are in the living room,” she informed us.
Immediately, my heart resumed its thumping. The Maslows were here, I was going to be judged. Somebody kill me. Maybe I could pretend to be sick, that way I wouldn’t have to face them.
“We’ll be there,” Gideon said, dismissing her. Helga nodded then turned and walked out of the kitchen, leaving me and Gideon alone.
“You should go, I’ll finish up over here and then join you.” I told Gideon.
“Oh no, you’re not getting out of this. You are going to come with me, and we’ll let the maids finish up.” Without waiting for me response, Gideon took my hand and led me out of the kitchen.
“But, but, the chicken—”
“The chicken can be handled by the maids, they are not that bad at cooking, little peach,” Gideon said.
“I have a special way of cutting the chicken.” I knew my excuse was ridiculous, but I wanted to avoid Mr. Maslow as much as possible.
“I’m sure my dad and brothers wouldn’t care if the chicken is cut in an ordinary style.” Before I could say anything, Gideon and I entered the living room, where Mr. Maslow along with Kieran and Brenton were sitting. All three of them were dressed formerly, one would think they came to a banquet and not a family dinner.
“Hello dad, nice to see you,” Gideon said as he went to hug his dad.
“It’s good to see you, too, son, how are you?” Mr. Maslow smiled affectionately at Gideon.
Not wanting to act like an idiot, I forced myself to go greet Mr. Maslow. “Good evening, Mr. Maslow,” I said, forcing myself to sound normal.
“Alice, how’s the baby?” Mr. Maslow asked me.
Nice to meet you too, Mr. Maslow, I’m fine, thanks for asking!
“The baby is doing great, we’ll meet him in a less than five months,” Gideon stated.
“Little mushroom, it’s nice to see you again. I didn’t think I’d miss you so much.” Kieran wrapped me in a brotherly hug, making me feel better. He had no idea, how much his hug meant to me. Apart from Gideon, Kieran was the only Maslow who didn’t make me feel like an outcast.
“Where have you been?” I asked Kieran.
“I’ve been busy with work...and other...things,” he responded.
I nodded then turned to see Brenton. “Hello Brenton, it’s nice to see you.” I held out my hand for him to shake.
Brenton gave me a nod of acknowledgement. “Alice, you look good.” But didn’t shake my hand.
We had just finished with the pleasantries when Helga came. “Mr. Maslow, dinner is ready,” she said.
“All right, Helga, we’ll be there,” Gideon responded.
“Let’s go eat before the food gets cold, I don’t know about you guys, but I am starving.” Everyone murmured in agreement before making their way to the dining table. I, for one, wanted to hide in my bedroom for the rest of the evening but I couldn’t do that to Gideon.
“What has Helga cooked tonight?” Mr. Maslow asked, taking a seat at the head of the table, the seat which Gideon usually occupied.
“Actually dad, Alice did all the cooking today. She is really great at cooking,” Gideon praised me, causing me to blush.
“All right! Good job, little mushroom, I always knew you were a special one.” I blushed deeper at Kieran’s words.
Mr. Maslow frowned. “Alice cooked? But what about Helga, her talent in cooking rivals that of professional chefs,” he said.
“I assure you, father, Alice is a much better cook.” Just as Gideon finished speaking, the door opened and the maids brought in the dishes, which they placed on the dining table before departing.
“Here.” Gideon passed the shrimps to his father. “You should be the one to try this first.”
Mr. Maslow took a few shrimps, dipped one in the sauce, and took a bite out of it. I swear, my heart did not dare beat as I saw Mr. Maslow’s mouth working as he chewed the shrimp. And when he swallowed, my eyes followed the decent of the chewed shrimp as it made its way down Mr. Maslow’s throat, his Adam’s apple bobbing slightly.
“It’s good, isn’t it. My wife has a special talent,” Gideon stated, pride dripping from his words.
“If you’re done bragging about your wife, can you please pass me the shrimps,” Kieran whined. Gideon chuckled but passed him the tray.
Mr. Maslow, however, did not comment. He simply went about eating the shrimps, not saying whether he liked it or hated it. And because of him, my heart was afraid to resume its beating, and I missed my necklace more than ever.
“So, why the sudden dinner?” Mr. Maslow asked Gideon.
Gideon clasped my hand under the table as a smile lit up his handsome face. “Actually, Alice and I have a couple of things we want to tell you all.”
“Oh? What is it?” Mr. Maslow looked intrigued.
Don’t do it, Gideon. Please don’t.
“Well, as you all know, Alice and I were married under a contract. But, now, I have terminated the contract,” Gideon announced.
The shrimp dropped from Mr. Maslow’s hand as his eyes hardened in obvious anger. “What?! You terminated the contract!” His voice rose, my heart froze.
“Yes. I realized I want Alice to be my wife forever, and so I had the contract terminated. I don’t need anyone else as long as I have Alice.” Gideon gave my hand a soft squeeze.
Mr. Maslow stood up. “This is not acceptable. She.” He pointed at me. “Is not going to be a part of this family, I forbid it!”
“Alice is my wife, dad, and I’m never going to leave her,” Gideon stated.
“The hell you’re not! You are my son and you are not going to defy me. She is not going to be a part of this family, understood?!” By now, Mr. Maslow was shouting.
Gideon stood up, pulling me along with him. “I am your son, but I’m not going to leave Alice.” Gideon locked his eyes with his father, while Kieran and Brenton sat silently, watching the show.
“You have to leave her. She is nothing but a carrier of your baby. The contract is only for a year. You deserve better, Gideon!” Mr. Maslow did not stop shouting. His words had tears burning my eyes, and I wished I could run away.
“Stop it! You do not get to disrespect my wife in front of me. She is not just the mother of my baby, she is my wife, too!” Gideon raised his voice, his hand squeezing mine, but I did not dare protest. I’d be here for my husband; I would never turn my back on him.
“She is not your wife, and she’ll never be! She is nothing but trash, born and raised in the bloody slums. Women like her are only good for entertainment, you deserve a woman with status and class, not someone who is fit to be your maid, even Helga is better than her!” A tear fell but I quickly wiped it away before anyone could see.
“That’s enough!” Kieran and Gideon said in unison. I saw Kieran standing up, staring daggers at his father.
“You do not get to insult her in that way,” Kieran stated.
Mr. Maslow ignored him. “I don’t understand why you’re talking like this, Gideon, but let me tell you that you are making a huge mistake,” he said.
“It’s not a mistake, dad. I love her,” Gideon responded, his words dripping with honesty.
I gasped at hearing this. Gideon loved me? He said loved me. How? When? Why? Did he mean it, or was he just saying all this? No, no, he meant it, I could feel the truth in those words. But why didn’t he tell me that before?
It looked as if Gideon’s words had shocked everyone, including me. A heavy silence descended upon the dining room; but it was quickly shattered by Mr. Maslow laughing.
“Love her?! Son, you don’t know the first thing about love. And let me tell you, you don’t fall in love with a trashy girl. You fall in love with someone of your standards, your caliber, not someone who is not even worth the dirt under your feet.” Mr. Maslow looked at Gideon as if he was a ten year old boy and not a grown man who was fully capable of making his own decisions.
“Shut up!” Gideon and Kieran shouted, surprising me once again.
“Dad, I swear if you say one more word against Alice—”
“You’ll what, huh Kieran?” Mr. Maslow then looked at me, really looked at me. “I can’t believe what a conniving bitch you really are. Not only did you trap my eldest son in marriage, you have also used your charms on my second son. Tell me, do you fuck Kieran by day and Gideon by night?”
His words sliced my heart, and lashed at my self-respect. I gasped and covered my mouth with my hand, not caring if everybody saw my tears. I couldn’t believe he would accuse me like this. How could he think, that I would do something like this.
If Gideon believed him...
The sudden sound of bones cracking penetrated the thick fog of disbelief in my mind and brought me back to reality. I saw Kieran towering over the now fallen body of Mr. Maslow, who was sprawled on the floor, holding his bleeding nose. I saw Kieran glaring at his father, he eyes blazing. Brenton stood behind Gideon, his face pale.
“How dare you disrespect her. How fucking dare you?!”
Mr. Maslow eyed Gideon, who stood in front of me as still as a statue, blocking me from view. “Leave her Gideon, this is the last time I’m telling you,” he said, his voice sounded strange.
“No,” Gideon said firmly.
“Fine. Then leave this castle. If you don’t divorce her, you do not get to be a part of this family. I will not have you taint the royal blood. So what will it be, Gideon, do you choose your family, your blood, or will you choose this trashy wife of yours?”
This was it, the moment of truth. Either Gideon would stay true to his words and choose me, or he’d do the right thing and choose his family. If he chose his family over me, I would understand and I wouldn’t hold it against him.
“I choose Alice. I’ll always choose Alice,” Gideon stated, and it felt as if his words were the final nail in the coffin. I was too shocked to even gasp.
“Fine, I want you to leave the castle before midnight, otherwise I will have you thrown out. I don’t care where you go, how you live, I don’t ever want you to contact me ever again. You are no longer a part of this family, get out of here,” Mr. Maslow stated.
“In that case, I want to tell you something as well. I am in love with Jenny, the girl who works at a toy store, and I plan to marry her very soon. So that means, I’m no longer a part of this family either. I’ll go and pack my bags as well,” Kieran stated, causing Mr. Maslow to let out an animalistic growl.
“I’ll be leaving now, father. But before I go, I want to say something to you. All this time, I have spoken to you with respect, but not anymore, since you’re not my father anymore.” Gideon paused to take a deep breath. “I just want to say, this is the reason why you lost Lizzy, this is the reason why you lost mum, and this is the reason why you’re losing me and Kieran as well.
“Love does not see money. It does not see a person’s physical beauty. True love only sees the purity of the soul and the sincerity of the heart, and that’s why, father, you’ll never know what true love is, because you see money and you see status, you don’t see what you should. You are blind, father, and I’m not going to waste my time making you see what you obviously don’t want to.
“And you say that Alice is going to taint the royal blood?! You’re wrong! I’m taking her away because I don’t want this family’s blood to taint her or my son. Good bye Brian Maslow.”
Turning around, Gideon kissed my forehead before taking my hand in a firm grip and leading me out of the dining room. Away from the Maslows—his family. Away from his home.