Emilia stepped out of the car looking at the mansion in front of her. It hadn’t changed one bit, even the color was still the same as if they painted it every day to keep it that way. She felt a sliver of panic crawl up her spine but she shoved it back down. Now was not the time to be weak or show any fear. After nine long years, she was back to the place that had given her as much happiness as pain. Weakness was not going to help her do what she’d come to do. It was crucial that she finish what she’d set out to do or staying away would have been for nothing. Schooling her features she started moving forward.
She had been planning this moment for years. In her head, it was always different. Sometimes she’d chicken out and run back to the hole she’d crawled out of and sometimes she’d fly in like Wonder Woman taking back what was hers. Or she would meet with one particular witch who’d scare her off. What she didn’t expect was the place to be so deserted. Had they moved? No. Last she checked, which was a week ago, they still lived there. So then where was everyone? She asked herself a second before she heard the music. It was soft, coming from the backyard probably. Was there a party going on? She should have made sure before showing up. Thea had told her that she needed a grand entrance where everyone would be shocked. Well then maybe this party could work to her favor.
Opening the front door she walked in. There was staff, going around dressed in black and white attire carrying trays of food and drinks. The white marble floor was so clean that she had to take small steps to ensure she didn’t slide and fall flat on her face. And to think she couldn’t even walk in heels when she’d first arrived here. That seemed like another lifetime when she’d bounced through the door in her excitement to meet her husband’s family. That girl, who had been happy, cheery, bubbly felt like another person who had lived in another world. It saddened her to think she was never going to go back to being Em because that person was dead. The woman walking towards the back was Mrs. Carter. Hard, cold, unfeeling, dead inside, thirsty for revenge. That was what she’d become. That was what they’d turned her into.
Pushing the sliding doors apart she looked around at the people filled in her backyard. They were all immaculately dressed, each holding a glass of wine or champagne. Emilia took a moment to study them. There was a group of women surrounding someone, oohing and aahing at something the person said. Another stood by a table talking privately. Without realizing what she was doing, her eyes searched the crowd for that one person she hated but still wanted to see. However, her gaze landed on someone who made bile rise up her throat. She swallowed. Lisandra Brown. That bitch hadn’t changed. She still looked the same with that ugly face of hers and shapeless body. At least that’s what Emilia saw. In all honesty, Lisandra was stunning, with model like features and long legs that went on forever. But to her, that woman would always be ugly. It wouldn’t be long until the whole world saw her for the rotten person she was.
Moving her gaze from that unwanted sight, she quickly searched, then gasped when she spotted him. Tall, dark, sleek, masculine. He too hadn’t changed. But he looked better, more handsome. Did that mean that while she was slowly dying inside all these years, he was happy and content to live without her? Emilia knew that he wasn’t going to wait for her to come back when she was the one who’d left, but he could at least look sad or bored or something that wasn’t happy and glowing dammit. He couldn’t have moved on so quick and found someone else to love. He couldn’t. She wouldn’t let him because, despite everything, he was still her husband. As if feeling her gaze on him, he turned and locked eyes with her.
Everything around them faded into the background leaving just the two of them. Memories she’d long buried resurfaced making her heart beat a wild rhythm. The first day she’d met him. The first kiss. The first time he made love to her. When he proposed. When they got married. The days they’d spent together tangled in sheets, covered in sweat because they were on their honeymoon and had decided to spend two whole weeks in their room. In bed. It was all too much for her to remember. So much so that she felt like she was suffocating. Dammit, Mrs. Carter. You weren’t ready. You should have waited for a few more days, weeks, years.
No. She stilled those thoughts. It was now or never. Breaking their eye contact, she let her heartbeat calm down then started moving forward. Gradually guests started seeing her and almost half of them did a double take to convince their eyes they weren’t imagining her or seeing a ghost. Plastering a smile on her face, she kept walking. Heading straight to where her husband was. He still hadn’t looked away from her, but the shock on his face had been replaced by pure rage. Okay, so he was mad that she’d disappeared. Good. His rage would work into her plans perfectly. Stopping in front of him, Emilia widened her smile then said “Hello Max”
In a flash that bitch Lisandra was by his side. “Who the Fuck invited you?” she snarled, her face contorting in anger.
“I don’t need an invitation to my own house, Lisa,” Emilia replied in a sweet voice.
“This is not your house!”
“Calm your titties, my friend. As the law dictates, half of what my husband owns is mine. Which means you have no right to kick me out or even talk to me. So go sit down and wait for your turn”
“You Fucking....” she started toward her but was pulled back by Max who shoved her behind him. Then his hand was on her neck squeezing. Very tightly. Not the welcome she was hoping but it was better than she could have imagined.
“What the Fuck are you doing here you Fucking bitch?” he bellowed his voice sounding like he was on a microphone because everyone had gone silent to watch the drama unfold. Rolling her eyes Emilia thought that the first thing she was going to do was wash their mouths. The F word had been uttered more than a hundred times in the last five minutes and that wasn’t okay. It just wouldn’t do. Period.
Max smiled at Gwen who couldn’t stop giggling. Finally, his little sister was happy after the tragedy that had happened nine years ago, leaving them sad and struggling to come to terms with it, he and Darren, his younger brother, had tried the best they could to help her but she still ended up depressed and heartbroken. It was a hard time for their family, but it was twice as hard for him because his wife abandoned him, when he needed her the most. Had he not been busy taking care of Gwen and his mother, he would have been the one who ended up depressed. Just the thought of Emilia alone made his stomach churn with anger. He’d loved her so much but how had she repaid him? Realizing he was gripping the glass he was holding harder than necessary, he loosened his grip, banishing thoughts of that woman. Never again would he let himself be deceived like that. Never.
Today was a happy day for the family. His little sister had gotten engaged and that was cause for celebration. Of course being the overprotective guy he was, he’d refused to give them their blessings until he knew for sure that Albert Knox was good enough for his sister. He had investigated, interrogated, threatened and sweet talked him into doing things that would get him into trouble but the guy was clean. Which only made Max happy that his sister was a lucky girl for finding someone so honest. Someone who loved her and was willing to walk to the end of the earth just to prove it. So even if he was slowly dying inside, he was going to plaster a smile on his face all day and celebrate with Gwen. It was the least she deserved. Later when he was alone in his room, he’d let himself feel everything.
Moving around the crowd, he made conversation with everyone, making sure they were enjoying the party before moving on. Most of the guests were Gwen’s friends and colleagues but he had also invited a few of his closest friends. Seeing an empty table, he walked to it and placed his glass on top of it. His face hurt from smiling too much but he wouldn’t let any other expression show. He was genuinely happy for Gwen but it also reminded him of a time he had been so happy. When he’d proposed to Emilia. They were so in love that they hadn’t waited to plan a real wedding. She’d worn a veil she’d found at home with jeans and sneakers and he had been dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. They had been that spontaneous because they couldn’t wait for another second to be man and wife. How blind he’d been back then. Feeling the hairs on the back of his neck stand, he turned and came face to face with his worst nightmare.
Shock at seeing her there was the first feeling that coursed through him. It had been so long that he thought he was never going to see her again. Christ. She’d changed but for the better. She looked stunning, so beautiful like his Emilia but it wasn’t really her. The woman looking back at him had matured. Just from looking at her, he knew the Emilia he’d married was long gone. And then relief flooded through him. She was okay. A part of him had feared that one day he’d get a call telling him to go for his wife’s body so seeing her there, well and healthy made him breathe a sigh of relief. Then anger kicked in. How dare she show up there after what she’d done? How dare she?
“Hello, Max” when had she walked towards him? He hadn’t seen her moving but Fuck! Up close she was more beautiful than he remembered. He wanted to grab and kiss her but he also wanted to strangle her. How could two completely different feelings be so incredibly strong all at once?
“Who the Fuck invited you?” Lisandra’s voice boomed from beside him, making him snap out of his haze. He also wanted to know who invited her.
“I don’t need an invitation to my own house Lisa” she sounded so sarcastic. So different. Anger won and he pushed Lisandra behind him grabbing her neck and squeezing. He realized how smooth her skin was. The more he wanted to put his mouth there, the harder he squeezed. Then suddenly someone was pushing him back, making him drop his hand from her neck. Emilia coughed but it was like her eyes were laughing at him. What was wrong with her? Why had she come back? Oh, how he wanted to snap that little neck of hers.
“What the hell Max? Are you trying to kill her?” Darren asked from beside him. So he was the one who had pulled him off her then. Figures, since he always defended her even after what she had done.
“You shouldn’t have stopped me, Darren.”
“Control yourself. Everyone is looking” Darren hissed in his ear. Looking up he found shocked eyes staring back at him. He’d forgotten they weren’t alone. Damn this woman for making him embarrass himself like that.
“Now that we’ve gotten past that, let’s move on shall we?” she asked then turning to the guests said “Sorry for that little show. My husband tends to get carried away sometimes. I think that is his way of saying he’s happy to see me” Snarling, Max broke out from Darren’s grip and grabbed her shoulders.
“Carried away? You Fucking bitch after what you did to my......”
“Mom?” a voice said from behind her stopping him. Dropping his hands he stepped back. He didn’t remember anyone showing up with a child. Either way, he wasn’t going to do what he wanted to do in front of a child. He was so angry but he had limits. Emilia turned, smiling at the little boy.
“What happened to staying in the car until I came back?”
“You took too long. Can we leave now? I don’t want to be here” the boy said looking at him. It was strange how he conversed with Emilia like he was...... Mom. He’d called her mom. He was her son? Emilia had a son? Max took a step back unconsciously. Did she also have a husband? Is that why she came back? To get a divorce so she could start a new life with her new family?
“Honey this is now our new home,” She said making him snap his head up to her. What did she mean this was their new home? This woman had definitely gone crazy and he was going to stop this madness right that second. Squaring his shoulders, he moved closer to her.
“Oh. Pardon me. Max meet Zander. Zan honey meet your father” She said then moved to point over at his sister “That’s your aunt Gwen, your uncle Darren and Lisa. I don’t know who these people are but I’m sure we have time to get to know them”
His father? That boy was his son? It couldn’t be. No, it couldn’t. Emilia had aborted their child before she left. The hospital had told him so. He had the documents. He had the ultrasound picture she’d left behind like it was nothing. How could this boy be his son? It wasn’t true. But even as he denied it, he saw the similarities. In fact, he was a carbon copy of himself when he was nine or ten. And if that wasn’t enough proof, what Darren said confirmed it. “Christ. I feel like I’m looking at my older brother when I was a kid. It’s so weird”
“Get used to it Darren,” Emilia said winding her arm around the little shoulders and pulling him closer to her. Max was still in shock. He kept looking from Emilia to Zander then back. How?
“Listen here, you bitch. No one is going to believe that the little brat is Max’s son so take your stupid allegations and get out!” Lisandra said approaching them. When Emilia didn’t move, Lisandra bent down, grabbing the boy’s arm ready to throw them out but a hand stopped her.
“Zan honey, look away for mommy, would you? It’ll be just for a second baby” Emilia told him and he turned a second before she slapped Lisandra who stumbled back from the force of it. “You put one finger on my son, and I swear, I will kill you with my own bare hands. Is that clear Lisa?”
Max looked at the two women still in shock. Everything was happening too fast for him. First, his wife was back after disappearing for almost ten years and she had a son. They had a son. A son who didn’t like it there and wanted to go back to where they’d come from. A son who was looking warily at him like he was scared. What the hell was this? How had he not known he had a son? Dear God, was this a joke?