Max hadn’t noticed he was following her until he stopped outside the kitchen. That little display of affection had really gotten to him. It was clear as day that Zander was his son. Aside from being his carbon copy, the boy also loved chocolate chip cookies. They were his weakness and he’d told Emilia that before marrying. He remembered how she’d laughed, saying that it wasn’t manly and that he shouldn’t mention it to anyone else.
Was that it? Had she told her son to say the cookies were his favorite? Had it all been a show? No. Zander, as she called him, looked exactly like him. He was his son. More than anything Max wanted him to be his son. The feeling was unlike anything he’d ever felt. When Emilia had told him she was pregnant, he’d been over the moon. Finally he was going to be a dad, something he’d longed for since his father passed away.
He’d looked after his siblings as if they were his children but deep down he’d always wanted to have his own children. The day his wife had left him, he’d been abroad on business. Gwen had called him crying hysterically while trying to tell him that his wife had ran away after pushing his mother down the stairs. He had packed his things and flown home immediately. But even after seeing his mother lying on that hospital bed, he still couldn’t believe it. He had been in denial for so long, refusing to accept that his wife could do something like that.
For days he’d stayed at the hospital praying she would come back and explain what had happened. Praying she would at least call him just to ease his anguish. But then a mail had arrived with the ultrasound sound photo and medical bills. For abortion. As if that wasn’t enough, the doctor had told him his mother would never be able to walk again. That was the darkest moment of his life. He would have done something stupid were it not for Darren. He had lived for his family knowing that without them, he’d be nothing. But now Emilia was back, telling him, no, presenting him with a son he thought he’d lost.
How was he supposed to feel? Angry that she’d kept him away for so long? Relieved that she hadn’t had an abortion? Happy to see her again? It was all too much at once. All of it was just... he couldn’t handle it. That is why he’d stopped when he heard them laughing in the kitchen. His little boy already knew how to take responsibility. He’d promised to look after Mel while his mother took a shower and all he could think about was how much he’d missed.
The day he was born, his first cry, laugh, the day he learned to walk, talk. He’d missed so much and it was all his fault. He shouldn’t have stopped looking for her. Even after he’d received those medical bills, he should have kept searching. Maybe then, he wouldn’t have missed the first eight years of his son’s life. But Emilia had left him. She’d left him and made sure to take her revenge before she left. Thinking that she’d had an abortion had nearly destroyed him.
He knew his mother didn’t like her as his wife but she shouldn’t have pushed her down the stairs. At the end of the day, she was still his mother even though she hadn’t approved of his wife. They’d fought nonstop. Genevieve had wanted him to marry Lisandra claiming that she was the right woman for him. Coming home with Emilia, a simple girl from a small town had sparked a series of never ending arguments. He wasn’t blind to how they treated her.
Some nights he came home to his wife locked in their bedroom crying her eyes out. He’d talk to his mother and tell her to treat Emilia like her daughter in law but then Genevieve would start ranting about how disappointed his father would be because he had married a nobody and he’d end up leaving her alone. He thought that with time, they’d learn to accept her. Maybe even see what a kind person she was.
That had clearly been his mistake. Not insisting that his mother and sister try to get along with his wife. He should have moved out. Bought a house for his wife where she would be happy. Maybe then he wouldn’t have been away from his son. Fuck! Even after everything she’d done he was still defending her. Coming up with excuses for what she’d done. His mother was in a wheelchair and Max was defending Emilia. The woman who’d put his mother in that wheelchair. What was wrong with him?
“Max, don’t just stand there. Come in” Mel called out from behind the aisle. He walked in awkwardly, not knowing what to say. “We put a dent in your cookie jar. I hope you don’t mind”
“No it’s alright Mel”
“Good. Because Zander here is worse than you. I had to wrestle the jar from him”
“I would never wrestle with a girl Nana. Now where is my cookie?”
Mel laughed “Not happening young man. You’ve had enough”
“But you said I could get a treat every time I called you Nana”
“I didn’t say it would always be cookies. It could be an apple or a banana”
“That’s not fair.”
“She tricked me like that too when I was young. You have to be careful when it comes to Mel or you’ll find your lunch box stuffed with vegetables”
“You had it coming Max.”
“I had to stay hungry that day since Darren refused to share his lunch with me.”
“But you learnt your lesson. Didn’t you?”
“Yeah. Want to know what I did to get broccoli for lunch?” Max asked Zander who was busy nibbling on his last cookie. When he got no answer he looked up at Mel pleading with his eyes for her help.
“Your father is talking to you Zander” Mel said then repeated when she too got the silent treatment. “Zander?”
“Mom says that if I have nothing nice to say I should shut up but then I should never be afraid to speak my mind.”
“Okay” he said glancing at Mel. She shrugged then asked
“What’s on your mind Zander?”
The boy placed the half eaten cookie on the plate, squared his shoulders then looked him straight in the eyes. Max had never been so nervous about anything in his life but in that moment he wanted to run and hide. His son was about to talk to him for the first time ever and he knew without a doubt that whatever Zander was about to say wouldn’t be nice. After all he’d seen him try to strangle his mother.
“I love my mother. She taught me that it’s not okay to hurt girls even when you’re mad at them. I was really excited to meet you but when I saw you hurt mom, I decided I didn’t like you. I’m eight years old and I respect my elders but the next time you try to hurt my mother I will not spare you.”
“Leave me and my mom alone.” turning to Mel he said “Can you show me my room?”
She looked at him. Max nodded knowing Zander wasn’t ready to listen to him. And even if he was ready what could he say? “Forgive me for trying to kill your mother?” how would Zander understand something like that? Christ, what was he thinking? He’d let his anger blind him and now his son wanted nothing to do with him. Sighing, he watched as he left with Mel and felt a pang of jealousy when Zander slipped his hand through Mel’s.
As they left, Emilia walked in. She’d changed into shorts and a T-shirt. Her legs were smooth, just as he remembered them but more shapely. Her hips were wider probably due to childbirth. Her breasts were bigger too. Fuck, everything about her had changed but for the better. It was as if she was mocking him by saying that she had been better off without him. He’d married a sweet girl from a small town who didn’t care how she looked. The woman in front of him was nothing like the Emilia he’d married. Where had she been hiding all these years?
“You should try to keep your anger in check Max.”
“You’re one to talk” he retorted not able to stop himself. Every time she opened her mouth, he wanted to wring her neck.
“I’m just saying, if you keep letting your anger get the better of you, you’ll never have a relationship with your son.”
“Is that a threat?”
“Take it however way you want. Just know that between me and Zander, there are no secrets. I tell him everything”
“Who are you? I mean what have you turned into Emilia? Using our son to threaten me is just low. Even for you”
She moved to the fridge and opened it. “You’re the one who’s taking it as a threat.” opening the can of soda she’d taken out, Max watched as she threw her head back and guzzled the fuzzy drink. Some of it spilt down her mouth, to her neck and disappeared in the valley between her breasts. He licked his lips wondering how she’d react if he followed the path the liquid had taken with his tongue. When he felt his cock jerk to life, he cursed. It had been too long since he’d lusted after a woman that way. Normally it would take months before he went in search of Lisandra. Now one look at his wife and he wanted to bend her over the kitchen and claim his conjugal rights. After all she owed him. If Emilia wanted to reclaim her right as his wife, shouldn’t he do the same as her husband? Jesus Christ Max, could you want her any harder? She’s the enemy. Don’t forget that.
Licking her lips, Emilia said “I don’t mean to threaten you Max. I brought Zander here so he could spent time with his family and get to know them”
“Why now? Why after all these years did you decide to come back?”
“Because I thought the time was right.” she shrugged nonchalantly reminding him how cruel she really was. She’d kept his son from him for eight years because she thought it wasn’t the right time for them to meet? Who the hell did she think she was to make that decision? He was Zander’s father. He had rights too, dammit.
“You’re a bitch” he snarled kicking the chair beside him.
“But you still married me”
“I was wrong. I realize now that my mother had been right about you.”
“Fuck you Max. Fuck you and everyone who think I’m not......”
“Well, well, well. Am I invited to this reunion” Lisandra asked strolling in. She still hadn’t changed from the dress she’d worn to Gwen’s engagement. He’d thought she looked provocative in it but now he couldn’t help comparing her to Emilia. She was beautiful, with long blonde hair, legs that went on forever and a lean figure. Once upon a time his wife couldn’t come close to her looks. Now? He wondered why he’d ever thought Lisandra was beautiful. Everything about her was fake. Long fake nails, fake eyelashes, fake breasts, even her smile was fake. But at least he knew what to expect from her. Emilia on the other hand was full of surprises.
“Well if it isn’t the mistress” Emilia taunted.
Lisandra’s eyes flashed “Don’t call me that. I am no one’s mistress”
“What do you call sleeping with my husband then?”
“Girlfriend. I’m his girlfriend until he divorces his wife”
“Building castles in the air I see. You haven’t changed Lisa.”
“On the contrary, I’ve changed a lot. I’ve been there for Max through his good and bad times. I was there when you abandoned him and I won’t let you come here and ruin what we’ve built together”
“What you’ve built together?”
“Yes. Our relationship is stronger and not even you can come between us”
“Thank you for warming my husband’s bed while I was away Lisandra but now that I’m back, I’m going to need you to move out of my bedroom”
“She’s not going anywhere” Max snarled hoping to hurt Emilia but she just smiled.
“Oh yes she is. It’s either that or I kick her out myself. I don’t think you’ll like that Lisa will you? And can I call you Lisa? Seeing as we’ve shared so much I think that we’re closer than co-wives. Wouldn’t you say so?”
“You have no right to kick her or anyone out”
“I have every right because this is my house and you’re my husband Max. Mine" she said the last word through gritted teeth in case they had all forgotten who she was. Crushing the empty can she was holding, she hurled it across the room then walked out, without caring where it landed.
Max found himself smiling for no reason. Actually that was a lie. He knew why he was smiling. His wife still considered him hers. It was juvenile to feel proud when Emilia called him hers but he couldn’t help it. That only meant that a part of her hadn’t forgotten she was married. Which could only mean that she hadn’t been with another man while she was away. He was still her husband. Hers. Mine. That’s what she’d said.
“Why are you smiling?” Lisandra asked startling him.
“Nothing” he replied leaving the kitchen. Maybe there was still hope for them. They could still be a family.
Over the years he’d fantasized how his life would have been if she hadn’t left. They would have three or maybe four children. Zander would have had a brother and two sisters to play with. He would have been close to his sons and adored his daughters. He’d even pictured how they would look. If Zander looked like him then his daughters would take after their mother. With black hair and brown eyes, they would have been beautiful.
Of course he had lost hope of ever having that when Emilia hadn’t come back but she was there now. And he could make everything right. He would even forgive her for pushing his mother down the stairs. He would forgive her for leaving, for keeping Zander away because he knew that she hadn’t stopped loving him. All of a sudden, his future looked brighter. He was a man who wanted a family of his own and his wish had come true.
For the rest of the day, Max walked with a spring in his step. It would take a bit of time to convince his wife that they could still have the family they always wanted, but he’d do it. God, he’d do anything to have her and their son back. He just had to come up with a plan. They would be just fine as long as they still loved each other. He really believed that.
Until he saw her kissing another man the next day.
The rest of this book can be found on Dreame. I use the same username SIOBHAN JK everywhere so anyone can find my books easily.
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