Billionaire's Ex-Wife

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VI. Shape to Perfection

Vivian’s POV:

Amoli sat on the couch, in front of us, with her fingers pressing against her forehead. She looked at us and exhaled before looking back down. Lisa and I were kneeling on the floor, a bit too afraid to sit on the couch with her. Marisa was resting on the ground.

We didn’t say a single thing after Marisa told Amoli about her abusive ex-husband. She didn’t want to raise Marisa in that type of environment, so she left Marisa temporarily under my care, which is entirely irresponsible, while she faced him.

Marisa began rolling on the floor and giggled as she lifted her legs. Opening her toothless mouth, she chews on her socks. We all smile at the scenery.

“We got two beds and a couch, but we need to get a crib for Marisa since it isn’t safe for her to sleep beside us,” Amoli said.

I shot up and embraced her, “Why is your heart so big?”

“Hey! Where’s my expensive ramen? You message me that you got the job!” she smiles widely.

Lisa held her hand over her mouth, stray of tears dripping down her cheeks. “Thank you,” she muffled. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” she continued chanting while her head hung low. Lisa began curling into a ball as if it’s her safety zone. “Thank you.” Amoli and I look at each other before going on the floor with her. We kneel there and pat her back. “Thank you...Thank you.”

It took roughly two hours for Lisa to calm down, only because she fell asleep on the carpet. Amoli drapes a blanket over her while I hold her head, pushing a pillow underneath.

Amoli sighs, running her fingers through Lisa’s hair, revealing more of Lisa’s bruises. “She looks like she hasn’t slept for days.”

I smile, rushing a thumb across Marisa’s chubby cheek. “I’m sorry...I told myself not to do it.”

Amoli crisscrosses her legs, wrapping her arms around her. “It would be worse if you decided to turn a blind eye.”

“Can we do it, though?” I ask, knowing we can barely take care of ourselves. Amoli is in a rocky relationship with her parents, who hardly send her enough money for college and living expenses. I may receive a paid internship, but it doesn’t mean I’ll bring back a substantial income.

Amoli stood up and walked into the bed. After some ruffling, she came back with two blankets and pillows. She hands me one of each before throwing hers on the ground. Amoli stumps down, “We’ll manage. We always do.”

I sat there, drifting my head on the pillow. “I can call my parents.” That would be the easiest option right now.

Amoli smiled, “What happened to want to make your parents proud? What happened to give yourself one more chance before you crawl back with your pride in the toilet?”

I look at Lisa and Marisa. “Am I too quick to cave?”

“A little bit, yes.” I threw myself down, eyes staring at the ceiling, “But, at the same time, no.” She turns to her back, “You got nearly 400 job rejections, but you still fought and bit your tongue. You applied, knowing there may be another chance of rejection. So, don’t think you can’t amount to anything and need to be babied by your parents.”

“Says the girl who’s parents paid her college tuition and living expenses.”

She pitched me, and I cringed back. “You ungrateful brat.” I giggled, “That small amount of money is what got us living.”

I sigh, “I know.”

“Plus, if you go back, your parents will make you get married.” She turns towards me, “I don’t understand why parents think that their daughters need to get married to be happy? To be taken care of by someone else.”

I sigh, knowing Amoli is in the same situation as me. In real life, Amoli got two options. One barely lives on the money her parents send her while going through college. Two, go home and get married to the person her parents arranged for her.

My parents believe that I should get married instead of establishing a career for myself. They love me, yes. However, that’s what they believe is best for me. They think I should marry a respectable man and settle down. Who else is best for me more than my ex-husband. Even if it is arranged, at least I get to be able to marry someone I love.

I exhale, “I don’t understand either.” I curled my body towards her.

She pats my head once, “Let’s discuss this tomorrow. Preferably, after breakfast.”

Moreover, that’s exactly what we did. We slept soundly that night, or so I thought. While the moon was high up in the sky, I dreamt of someone. Someone who I never want to see again.

“Liam.”

I kneel against the floor and glance upward, seeing his usual blank features. Upon analyzing it, I saw a rather cheeky guy who held wondrous features, although it was still baby-like; he was sweet, but addictive like a piece of candy.

“Pardon?” I asked.

“My name is Liam,” he said. “Now, can you show me the location of this class?” I look down to see a slip of paper in his hand.

Lifting a finger, I point it to my left. “Down the hall, turn right, and it’s the third door to the left.”

Liam nods, “Thank you.” He bows his head slightly before walking down the hall.

My eyes rest on my bloody knees from when the other students shove me down earlier. It’s not their fault, I wasn’t moving out of their way quickly enough, and they were too much in a rush to go to their classroom.

I sighed and began picking up the scattering papers across the floor. I pile up the papers one by one until another one is pulled in front of me. Glancing upward, Liam chocolate browns met mine. “Here.”

“Thank you,” I responded, grabbing the paper from his hand. Liam squatted, putting down his books, before helping me gather the documents.

I didn’t dare look into her eyes. “I-I never saw you around here.”

“Transfer student.”

“Where are you from?”

“UK.”

I look up to see our proximity, causing the beating inside my chest to increase. My cheek scorches hot as his minty breath fanned my face. Inhaling a shaky breath, the scent of sweet green apple and lemonade pick up. I think that’s my new favorite smell.

Liam stood up straighter, tucking a hand into his pocket before pulling out a few bandages. He hands it to me, “Be more careful from now on.” I grab the bandages. Liam walks away while I stare at his back, not broad, but somehow strong.

Liam halts his steps before turning around. “Next time, if someone bumps into you, don’t silently take it. At least say something.”

I took a few blinks, feeling the sun sinking into my lids. Groaning and stretching out my aching back, I sat up to see Lisa and Amoli making breakfast. I groaned slightly when Marisa crawled on top of me. “I’m not ready for the day.”

“Fine. Then, you don’t need to eat Lisa’s amazing quesadilla.”

I snap my head towards him. “Quesadilla. Sign me up-a.”

We sat around the island, munching on the quesadilla. I look up to see Lisa feeding Marisa, who continuously spits out the milk. She sighs, wiping Marisa’s cheeks.

Amoli placed down her quesadilla. “Today, we will go purchase a baby crib and a few items for Marisa.”

Lisa placed down the bottle with her head hung low. “I-I don’t have any money.”

“I have some in my savings,” I declared before Amoli gets a chance to offer. “We can use that.”

“Didn’t you say your workplace has childcare?” Amoli asked me.

I quickly nodded, “Yes! We can have them take care of Marisa during the daytime there, and it’s free!” I used not to understand the appeal of free things in the past, but in the past year, I finally realized why everyone gets so excited over it. Now, I love to grab anything free.

“And I’ll get a chance to go get a job, for those hours,” Lisa pitched in quickly. “Thank you.” She thanked us once more than smiled brightly at Marisa. “See this baby girl? Angels do exist.”

Amoli covers her face, a muffled cry exiting her lip. I turned away, “Please, let’s not do this, not so early in the morning. You can call us Angels around dinner.”

Marisa smiles brightly at us before we all burst out laughing. For the rest of the week, Amoli spends her days as usual with classes, part-time gigs, and more classes. I took care of Marisa since I haven’t started my internship while she goes around the city, searching for a job.

“You got hired...already?” I asked, laying Marisa down on the high chair.

“Yes, there’s this grocery store that needs a part-time cashier. So, I applied. It doesn’t pay much, but it’s something.”

“What store is it?” Amoli asked, practicing her dance routine in the living room.

“Arrow.”

“Oh, I worked there before,” I said, remembering my seasonal shift. “They give out high discounts there for their employees so that we can shop there.” I gave Lisa a high-five.

I glanced at Amoli, who stretched her leg in the air. My lip twist, wondering if I can work extra hours on an internship if that’s legal. If I can save enough, I can help Amoli get an actual dance studio. Glancing at Lisa, I believe she had the same idea due to her need to express her appreciation.

Monday quickly rolled around, and it was my first time to work. I button up my skirt and wipe it down before forcing a smile on my face.

“Don’t force it. It will come naturally,” Amoli sang, before grabbing her dancing bag.

I walked towards the kitchen to see breakfast prepared by Lisa, and everything was in its tip-top shape. I didn’t know what to do next because I woke up early to help cook and clean. I wonder how Lisa manages to do all this without making a single sound. “How did we not hear you?” Amoli asks, grabbing a plateful of eggs.

Lisa stopped feeding Marisa and gave us a grimy smile. “My ex doesn’t like too much noise in the morning,” she said.

We decide to terminate the conversation there.

I open the fridge to grab some fruit juice before closing it. “Hey, you got a dance performance at the end of this month.”

Amoli shrugs, “Yeah, just a small one. No big deal.” She brushes it off, but we can see her still smiling.

“Oh, then we won’t go.” I wink at Lisa, who chuckles slowly before shaking her head and returning all her attention to Marisa.

“Okay. I do not expect to see you there with flowers-” she scoop a mouthful of eggs and ham, “and cake pops.”

Lisa and I couldn’t hold it in. “We will not be there.” She grins widely. Despite being here for less than a week, she fits in quite nicely.

I pour the juice into the cup and grab an empty plate. Settling myself on the island, I tickle Marisa’s cheek before sitting down. “Do you think it’s okay if you bring Marisa to work and use their daycare despite her not being your daughter?” Lisa asked.

“Did they ask for her name?” Amoli question, grabbing a warm bread before spreading butter on it.

“Well...I can always tell them she is my niece.” I ate the eggs and ham, humming lowly at its delight.

Amoli looks at Marisa. “She’s white.”

“This is the 21st century. She can be whatever color she wants to be,” I said, throwing a spoon in the air. “I’ll tell them she is my distant niece.”

“How is that supposed to work?”

I swallow the eggs, feeling the grease on the corner of my lip. “She is...my fourth adopted brother’s daughter.” I smile, “Yeah, that sounds like a believable story.”

Amoli grasps her chin on top of her palm. “And why is your fourth adopted brother daughter under your care?”

“My fourth adopted brother knocked up this chick, who happened to have cancer. She passed away not too long after having Marisa. After her passing, my fourth adopted brother went into depression and decided to-” I held a hand and slashed it across my neck, “went upstate with my sister-in-law.”

Amoli spoon drop. “That is quite the story.”

I held a hand in the air, telling her I’m not finished. “Because he is merely my fourth adopted brother, the other three decide not to take care of his daughter. Since I’m so holy like an angel, I decided to take her under my wings despite being a young suffering teenager.” I finish the story and pat my back.

Lisa dab her eyes. “Poor Marisa, she has such a sad family history.” She rocks her daughter, “You’re so kind.”

I smile, “I know.”

“You’re kidding me, right? That’s the story you’re going with?”

I shrug, “I’ll make it up while they ask me questions. For all we know, they won’t care.”

Amoli releases a deep breath. “I got to practice today after class, so I can’t go baby shopping this time.” Apparently, a baby needs a lot of diapers and other necessities.

“It’s okay. You guys don’t have to go with me every time we go baby shopping. I can go after my shift,” Lisa said.

“Doesn’t your shift end at 11?” I nudge a brow causing her to hang low. She probably didn’t expect us to remember her daily work schedule, but we do. Plus, we hang all of our weekly schedules on the fridge. “I’ll go after work.”

“Oh, n-”

“It’s fine. I need to pick up a few cleaning supplies. Write down what Marisa needs.”

Lisa smiled, “Thank you.”

“Stop that,” Amoli said.

“Stop what?”

“Always thanking us. You can silently thank us by helping us pay the bills.”

She smiles widely before a low chortle leaves her lungs. “Definitely.”

After breakfast, Lisa and I walk towards the bus stop together. She bends down, “Listen to Vivian, okay?” she told Marisa, and I gave her a blank look. Lisa kisses her cheeks, before embracing her tightly, “I love you.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of Marisa,” I said before she reluctantly hands Marisa over to me. I put her down on the stroller before lifting the wheels off the bus steps.

“Milk is in the bag, and if she-”

I look at Lisa, “I’ve been taking care of her for 125 hours, 30 minutes and 12 seconds. I got this.” I gave her a random number. “Now go,” I shoo her off.

Lisa smiled and gave Marisa another kiss before stepping out of the bus. I paid the bus fee and settled us on an empty seat. “Heard Lisa and Marisa are living with you and your roommate now?” Bob said. He never met Amoli since she rides a different bus.

“Yeah,” I responded, glancing outward to see Lisa waving vigorously at us. I didn’t want to move Marisa, so I told her: “Marisa is my baby now!” which got her burst out laughing.

The wheels squeak, and we begin moving down the road. Bob glanced at the rearview mirror while I played with Marisa. “It’s nice to see humanity still cares.”

“Lots of people would do the same thing.”

He stops the bus, allowing more people to enter. I look out to see a few people resting underneath the bus stop. “You know that’s not true,” Bob said before closing the doors.

The bow dropped from Marisa’s single strand of hair, and I tucked it back on. “Humans are not shaped to perfection.”

He exhales, a somehow long one, “Just be careful.”

“What do you mean?”

His hazel eyes drift towards the reflection once more. “Sweet young girls like you and your roommate tend to get taken advantage of by the...flawed.”

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