“Is dad all right?” Gideon asked Elizabeth who was standing outside the ICU.
As soon as Kieran had informed us that Mr. Maslow was out of surgery, Gideon grabbed my arm and rushed all the way here. I could see different emotions flashing in those sea green eyes: worry, relief, happiness and a tad bit of fear.
She shrugged her shoulders. “Brenton is inside. The doctor said he can’t have too many visitors.”
“Why didn’t you go?” Gideon enquired.
Elizabeth let out a bitter laugh. “Are you kidding? Father hates me, he doesn’t want to see me,” she said. I could see the sadness swimming in her eyes. No matter how rebellious she acted in the past, Elizabeth still yearned for her father’s love and acceptance, and I truly wished for her sake that Mr. Maslow forgave her.
Henry kissed Elizabeth’s forehead before wrapping his arms around her. He had barely said anything throughout the time we had been here, but I could see he was worried about his wife. And I could understand that, because I was worried about my husband as well.
“Gideon, why don’t you sit down,” I suggested.
“I’m fine, Alice,” he responded, his eyes glued to the doors of the ICU.
“You need to relax. You haven’t eaten anything, maybe I should get you something to eat,” I said.
“I said I’m fine.” Gideon voice rose, which was enough for me to shut up. Nodding my head, I perched on a chair which Gideon was standing next to. I didn’t want to admit it, but Gideon’s word awoke a dormant fear inside of me. The fear of him leaving me for his family. I mean, I would understand if he would leave me, but raising a child on your own was difficult; if Gideon left me, it would be extremely difficult for me and my brother.
After ten minutes, Brenton emerged from the ICU. Gideon rushed over to him while Elizabeth eyed him with worry; Kieran held Jenny’s hand tightly, his gaze not leaving Brenton.
“Is he all right?” Gideon asked immediately.
Brenton nodded, which resulted in all the Maslows breathing a sigh of relief. “Yes, he is fine, but he can’t deal with stress, so we have to take it easy with him. And he should not work anymore, which means I will be stepping in to take his place.” Brenton eyed Elizabeth. “He wants to see you. Both of you. I told him you were here and he wishes to see you. But please don’t do or say anything that would upset him,” he instructed.
Elizabeth looked as if she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The disbelief shining in her eyes was enough proof, and when she stayed rooted to her spot, it just told me exactly how surprised she really was.
Henry nudged Elizabeth a little to get her to move, and both of them shuffled inside, leaving the rest of us wondering how Mr. Maslow was doing.
“Gideon, Kieran. You guys are next. Once Lizzy and Henry come back, then dad wants to see you.” Brenton us. Gideon and Kieran nodded simultaneously.
My mind went into overdrive as I contemplated the possibilities of Gideon leaving me. Even though he had just told me that he would never leave me, I couldn’t believe that; especially after Brenton told us that we must not do anything to upset Mr. Maslow. Right now, Mr. Maslow had all the power; if he wanted, he would tell Gideon to leave me, and he would do just that because he would not want to upset his dad.
Why don’t you leave him? It’ll be easier for you. No pain. My subconscious suggested.
If it was that easy, I would’ve done it ages ago. But I love Gideon.
Be independent like you were before. If you can’t leave him, at least don’t depend on him too much.
“You okay?” Jenny asked, sitting beside me.
I nodded and glanced up at Gideon who was still staring at the doors of the ICU. “Yeah. I’m all right, what about you?”
“I am freaking out.” Jenny turned to see Kieran, who was messing with his cell phone. “I have a feeling Mr. Maslow is going to tell Kieran to leave me.”
My eyes widened. I couldn’t believe Jenny was having the same thoughts as me. Just like me, she was afraid of losing the love of her life. And just like me, I doubted she could do anything to prevent that from happening.
“To be honest, I am having the same thoughts,” I confessed, making sure my voice was low enough so Gideon could not hear me.
“Do you want to go to the bathroom, we can talk there,” Jenny suggested.
Nodding my head, I stood up. “Gideon, I am going to use the restroom.” I told him.
“Alright, but make sure you hurry back,” he replied.
Jenny and I went to the restroom to talk in private. And when we entered the bathroom, I actually relaxed. Now I could talk freely.
“Kieran is going to leave me, isn’t he?” Jenny said as soon as the bathroom door shut behind us.
“No, he isn’t. Kieran loves you and will never leave you.” Oh how I wanted to tell her about Keiran forcing her to marry him; but I couldn’t.
“No Alice, you don’t understand. You see, Gideon is married to you, so he will never leave you, but Kieran and I are not married. What if Mr. Maslow tells Kieran to marry a better woman than me?” Jenny looked genuinely worried.
“If he can tell Kieran to marry someone else, he can tell Gideon to divorce me as well,” I stated.
“Gideon loves you too much to leave you,” she responded.
“He might say he loves me, but his family is more important. I wouldn’t stop him if he left me for his family.” I told her.
“You are pregnant with his baby, trust me, Gideon will never leave you,” she argued.
I sighed. “You are worrying about nothing. Kieran loves you,” I replied.
“Do you think he loves me enough to fight this world for me?” She asked me.
I nodded. “I don’t think, I know.”
“How are you so sure?” She questioned, hope lighting up her eyes.
“I just do,” I replied.
Jenny nodded. “I don’t know what to believe. But I don’t think I have a lot of time, we should get going before Kieran and Gideon come here.”
“Yeah. I’m pretty sure, I’m pushing the soon limit,” I agreed, and together we left the bathroom and went back to Kieran and Gideon.
Both of them were in deep conversation when we returned. However, what caught my attention was Elizabeth, who was sitting with Henry, steady tears falling from her eyes. I frowned in confusion; why was she crying?
“What happened?” Jenny asked, addressing no one yet everyone.
Kieran shook his head which was an indication that he would explain later. With a final nod, Gideon headed towards me.
“Come. Father wants to see us,” Gideon said.
“Us?” Surely he didn’t mean me and him.
“Yeah. You and I. Come, we must not make him wait,” Gideon stated.
“Wait. Are you sure that he wants to see me?” I asked.
“Of course. Brenton just said that after Elizabeth, I would go and see dad,” he said.
“Yes, but you should go alone. I’m sure your father does not want to see me.” I told him.
Gideon frowned. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course he wants to see you. Come, when you’ll meet him then you’ll know.” Gideon begun tugging me along, but I resisted.
“No. Gideon, please. I know for a fact that your father does not want to see me. He hates me. Please go without me. I’ll wait for you here,” I stated.
“No. I am not going inside without you,” Gideon stated.
“Don’t be silly, Gideon. Brenton just said we should not do anything that would upset your father, and me being there will upset him. So please, go. I’ll wait here,” I said firmly.
Gideon sighed. “I am going to go in there, and I will tell dad that I’m bringing you inside to meet him, then you’ll come, is that clear?”
I shook my head. “I won’t come if my presence will upset him. I am not going to be the cause of his heart attack,” I replied.
Gideon gave me a look filled with frustration, but I did not budge. Mr. Maslow already hated me, I did not need another Maslow hating me; and upsetting the head of the Maslow family was not going to help.
“Stay here,” Gideon ordered before turning around and marching off to the ICU.
Glancing at Elizabeth as she wiped away her tears had me wondering just what happened to her. Was she crying tears of happiness? Or were those tears of sorrow? Did Mr. Maslow forgive her, or was he still angry because she ruined his reputation in the family? I wished I had the liberty to ask, but I knew I had no right to interfere.
“No. I’m not going in there with you, Kieran. You go, Gideon is there as well.” I heard Jenny saying. I turned around to see the two of them arguing in much the same way as Gideon and I were doing just a couple of minutes ago.
“If you think I’m going to see my father without you, then you are very much mistaken,” Kieran stated, giving Jenny a hard look. Was it crazy of me think that the look Kieran was giving Jenny felt as if he wanted Jenny to submit?
“Kieran—” Jenny began but Kieran cut her off.
“No arguments. You are going to with me in the ICU, even if I have to drag you there.” Kieran’s words left no room for arguments. I suddenly wished I could run away, because I felt like I was intruding.
No sooner had that thought entered my mind that I felt a hand clamp on my bicep. I looked up to see Gideon standing, his grip on my arm.
“What’s wrong? Why are you back so soon?” I questioned.
“Father wants to see you.” Without waiting for me to reply, Gideon dragged me inside the ICU.
“Don’t lie to me, Gideon. I know your father doesn’t want to see me.”
“Actually little fairy, I’m not lying. Dad told me specifically that he wants to see you,” Gideon replied, as we passed a number of beds all hidden behind white curtains.
Maybe Mr. Maslow is trying to give himself another heart attack by asking to meet him. Maybe Helga has made him suicidal.
Gideon stopped when we reached the fourth bed on the right. My eyes landed on Mr. Maslow who was sitting up in bed, hooked to a bunch of weird wires. He looked pale and frail, not like the powerful man I had seen the last time when he was threatening Gideon.
“Hello Alice,” Mr. Maslow greeted, his voice gravelly.
“Hello Mr. Maslow,” I replied softly.
“Gideon. Will you please give us some privacy? I want to discuss something with Alice,” he said.
No, no, I did not want to be alone with him. I gave Gideon a pleading look, telling him through my eyes how I did not want him to leave me. But my husband chose that moment to be oblivious to my pleas. Bloody husband!
Nodding his head, Gideon stepped back. “I’ll be just a few feet away,” he murmured before leaving.
“Come here and sit, Alice,” Mr. Maslow instructed after Gideon was gone.
Everything in me was telling me to run in the opposite direction, but I did as he said and perched on the bed beside him. Mr. Maslow grabbed my hand in both of his gently, a warm smile on his face. His skin felt paper thin but his eyes had a happy sparkle.
“How are you feeling, Mr. Maslow?” I asked.
“I’m much better now, honey. Thank you.” He gave my hand a soft squeeze. “Do you know what I called you here for?”
“Uh—You want me to leave your son?” I guessed.
Mr. Maslow smiled sadly before shaking his head. “No dear, quite the opposite actually. Gideon loves you, and you are his happiness. I was wrong to take his happiness away, and I made the worst mistake of my life when I chose pride over family. I want you to promise me that you will never leave my son. You make him happy, and I want you to be with him forever,” he said.
“But you wanted a better woman for Gideon,” I responded. Was he serious? Did he really want me to stay with Gideon?
Mr. Maslow laughed bitterly. “Like I said, I chose pride over family. I chose my reputation over my children’s happiness; and I regret it, Alice. So please promise me you won’t ever leave my son, no matter how difficult it becomes.”
I had no idea what to say. I was ecstatic that Mr. Maslow was admitting the fact that he was wrong, but I was still hesitant. However, despite all this, I knew that I loved Gideon and would stay with him no matter what.
“I love your son. I love Gideon, and I promise you that I am never going to leave him, no matter how difficult it becomes,” I promised.
Mr. Maslow kissed the top of my hand, a joyous smile on his face. “Thank you. Thank you so much, dear. And one last thing before I call Gideon back here.” I tensed at his words. What else did he want to say to me?
“I am sorry.” Now that surprised me. “For everything that I did, for everything I said to you. I’m very sorry. No one deserved such harsh words. Please forgive me, dear.” The sincerity shimmering in his gaze was astounding. Was he really the same man who abused me in front of the whole family?
Yes. Hell yes!
“Mr. Maslow...” I had no idea what to say. He had abused me. How could I put that all behind me so soon?
“It’s all right, dear. You don’t have to say anything. I know forgiving me will not come easy, and frankly, I don’t even deserve it. But I do want you to know that I truly am sorry for everything, and when the time comes, you can forgive me, that is totally up to you.
“And I want you to know, that regardless of the fact that you forgive me or not, I accept you not only as my daughter-in-law but as my daughter. I do not only accept you as Gideon’s wife, I accept you as a Maslow.”
Those words had me wondering whether I was dreaming or not. He accepted me. Mr. Maslow finally accepted me as family. I could not believe it. I thought it would be impossible to gain his acceptance, but I had done it. Or maybe Gideon did it, since he fought his father for me. But bottom line; Mr. Maslow accepted me as Gideon’s wife.
“Th—Thank you, Mr. Maslow,” I uttered.
“I should thank you for coming to see me,” he said.
“Are you guys finished?” Gideon asked, his voice sounding far away.
“Yes son, you can come back now,” Mr. Maslow replied.
In an instant, Gideon appeared beside me. When he saw my hand encased in Mr. Maslow’s a happy smile graced his handsome face. Gideon bent down and kissed my forehead.
“Did you guys have a good chat?” Gideon enquired.
Mr. Maslow nodded. “Yes we did, son. But don’t ask your wife what we talked about, it’s between me and her.”
Gideon chuckled. “All right, I’ll try to keep my curiosity at bay.” He winked at me.
Mr. Maslow laughed out loud. “You do that. Now where are Kieran and Jenny? I would like to see them now,” he said.
Gideon nodded before pulling me up and wrapping his arm around me. “I’ll let them know you wish to see them. I’ll see you soon.” With that, Gideon and I walked out of the ICU.
“Gideon?” I tried to gain his attention.
“Yes little bird?”
“Have you—have you forgiven your father?” I queried.
He nodded. “Yes, I have. Because he accepted you, and that is all I wanted,” he answered.
“Was that your only problem with him?” I questioned.
He nodded again. “Yes. I refuse to accept anyone who does not accept my wife. I love you, and I am going to make sure the whole world knows it.”
I chuckled. “Are you sure?”
“It doesn’t really matter if the whole world knows it, I just need to make sure that you know it, but if the whole world knows it then that’s just a plus.”
I smiled at Gideon. “I love you.”
“And I love you,” he replied.