Billionaire's Peeping Piper

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XLVIII. Happy Family

Harrison stares at Dustin.

Steadily, Dustin turns his head to look at Harrison but then he hides again.

“You look exactly like your dad when he was younger,” Harrison said. There was something about the tone of his voice, something soft about it.

My eyes went around the park. Even though there is only one bodyguard behind him, I know there is more. They’re hiding. “What do you want?”

Harrison turned his attention towards me, “Is it wrong for a grandpa to want to see his grandchildren?”

I chuckle, “My own dad doesn’t even have the privilege to drop by unannounced to see my children. You think you do?”

“Your hostility toward me hasn’t waiver.”

“And what have you done to earn my kindness?”

“Kindness isn’t-”

“Kindness isn’t a privilege,” I intervened. “I’m kind towards those who deserve it.”

“I can understand your hostility.”

“If you really understand it. You would back off." Throw away any thoughts of getting custody of my children.

“I can understand, but it doesn’t mean I will step down.”

“If you’re lonely, adopt some children.”

“Who would ever abandon their own blood?”

I pressed Dustin’s head towards my chest and covered the exposed ear with my hand. “You abandoned your son the moment you decided to sign him up for that damn program,” I forced each word to come out in a low tone.

Harrison’s hand tightens on the cane, “You do not understand the situation.”

“But, I do know enough. You were there when Emerson grew up. If you really love him, you would know how miserable he is. And if you really love him, you wouldn’t let him live that miserable life until he breaks.” The video replayed in my head over and over.

The broken smile.

The lifeless eyes.

The forced words that came out of his lips.

Everything about Emerson was so unnatural.

He was like a puppet, hanging on his life by strings.

“And if you think, I’ll let my children go through the same thing, you got another thing coming.” I stand up, “Have a horrible day.”

“Do you think you can keep them safe?” Harrison question. “You barely scratched the surface of my son’s life-”

"Stop." I turn towards him, “You have no right to call Emerson your son. You have no right to be Emerson’s family.”

“No matter how you feel in regards to the situation. The children are my grandchildren and they will come with me.” Harrison stands up, “It seems we are done here. I can tell your thoughts won’t change.” He turned towards the parking lot to leave.

“And you think they will be happy with you?”

Harrison stops, “They will be safe.” Involuntarily, my arms grip tighter onto Dustin as if someone will come and take him away from me. “I heard you lost your job. It will be quite difficult for a single mother to take care of two children without an income.”

“We’ll manage.”

With that single response, he left.

On the walk back, Dustin didn’t utter a single sound. I know a child his age doesn’t understand and eventually, he’ll forget but it doesn’t mean he can’t read the atmosphere. And right now, the atmosphere around mommy isn’t so good.

I close the front door to see Jackson and Crystal in the kitchen. I laid Dustin on the living room ground and went to the other room.

The door squeaks open, “Something happened?” Jackson’s hair was still all over the place.

I inhaled a sharp breath and told Jackson about my encounter with Harrison. His face turned from a calm one to a deep shade of red.

“He’s not going to give up,” I said. “Even when he knows how Emmy was miserable. Even when he knows he can’t make the children happy. He won’t give up. What the fuck is wrong with that old man?”

“Hey.” Jackson cups my cheeks, “Don’t let him get to you. This is what they do. They meet you and try to get the best of you. Don’t let him crawl under your skin. Don’t let him push you into doing something that will benefit him.”

I inhaled a sharp breath and nod, “Yes. You’re right. I’ll calm down. Get a job and stabilize everything.”

Crystal is going back to school and she’s opening up more to the therapist. Dustin is talking more and more each day. When I get a job, there won’t be any more holes. The lawyers should be able to handle the rest and Harrison won’t have a case.

“Why don’t you work for me?”

“Excuse me?”

“You need a job right? I can employ you.”

“Jackson.”

“I saw your resume. You can work at one of my hotels up here - at the front desk. Temporary. Until you get an actual job.”

“Is that really okay?” I don’t have a reason to decline his offer. I do need a job right now to show the judge that I have an income; that I can take care of my children.

Jackson smiles, “Yeah.”

After a few months, it was almost time for Crystal’s birthday. The court date had been pushed back several times because of both sides. Each side had been working overtime to gather enough evidence; because we both understand the gravity of the case.

Matt sent his personal family lawyers over when we heard that Harrison acquired the best family lawyers throughout the world. Lawyers that had never lost a case.

He’s not playing a losing game.

But, neither am I.

I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my children and if he wants to get them, he’d have to pry them from my cold dead hands.

“What?” I question. Right now, Jackson and I are inside a large bird-like room with the lawyers. “What did you say?”

“There may be a possibility that Harrison Hanson may use the fact that you’re a single mother against you.”

“Do you hear the words coming out of your mouth?” I look around the table, “You all agreed with this? How is he going to use the fact that I’m a single mother? I mean, as long as I can raise my children well, it doesn’t matter if my husband isn’t-”

Jackson rubs my back to cool me down.

I inhaled a sharp breath, “Isn’t it better to have one parent instead of none?”

The lawyer fixed his glasses, “It may sound a bit ludicrous. However, it had been used in court prior and we shouldn’t overlook it. The fact that you’re a single mother, Mrs.Lun, means that there will be only a single income in your family. They may argue that you aren’t fully present to raise the children. However, Mr.Hanson is retired and he can be present.”

“And he may die at any time.” I hope death catches up with him before the court date.

“And even with his death, the children will be left with an astronomical wealth. Which indirectly stated that they will be well taken care of.”

“So, it all boils down to money. You’re making excuses. What is really happening?”

They all look at one another. “We believe Mr.Hanson may know a sizable amount of political figures.”

“There’s more. Talk.”

“We received information that the judge had been seen with him.”

I closed my eyes and inhaled a sharp breath, “So, you’re telling me. No matter how tight my case is, the judge will find some fuck up hole and give Harrison custody of my children.”

They all stayed quiet.

I stood up and the chair behind me rolled back, “You’re all supposed to be the best of the best! Don’t you know people too? Do you want more money?! I’ll go and beg my sister for money! Is that what you want?”

Jackson rubs my back, “Remember what we talked about?” Jackson forced me to look at him, “Breathe. Let’s breathe and think of the best result.”

I swallowed and inhaled a sharp breath.

“They’re trying their best,” he said. “We’ll win. Okay?”

I nod, “We’ll win.”

Jackson looked around, “We’ll win. Right?”

They all nod along.

I don’t know how, but I manage to make it out of the meeting room and into the elevator. There it is - the uncomfortable static sensation inside my head. I grab the medication from my purse and tap out two pills.

Once I pop them into my mouth, I gulp down the water. “Marriage.” I chuckled, “Ridiculous.” I turned towards Jackson, “Ridiculous...right?”

Jackson stared at me for what felt like an abnormal amount of time. I watched as his lips slowly parted and waited for the words to flow out. But, before he could say anything the elevator ding and we were greeted by one of his many securities.

Soon, I find myself in the backyard with colorful balloons and banners. The atmosphere is much too happy for my taste, but I would never show it.

“Happy birthday!” Everyone shouted.

Crystal smiled brightly as she stared at the number eight on the cake. She clasped her hands together, closed her eyes, and made her wish. After a few moments, she opened them, and blew out her candles.

I watched as Crystal tore up the pile of gifts on the table and squealed each time she got a new toy. Of course, she would give thanks to the people who gave her the gift.

And after the toys and cakes, it was back to the bouncy house.

“Hey you.” Nina handed me a cup of juice. “How’s everything?”

We stand at the edge of the yard, “The lawyers said things are progressing smoothly. We should win.”

“You don’t sound confident.”

Because I’m scared. I’m scared of what Harrison will bring to the table.

“How’s your newborn?” I changed the subject.

Nina exhaled before her eyes went towards the nanny that cradled the newborn baby - Mike.

“Fine.”

“And Matt’s grandpa? How is he?”

“He said he wants to be here,” she responded.

I can tell that the situation doesn’t look too good from their end. Matt’s grandpa had been bedridden for a while now and his health had only gotten worse each day. The last time I saw him, he didn’t remember anyone. He didn’t even remember Matt, his own grandson.

Then again, for a man like him to live to meet his great grandson, that in itself is a blessing.

“I heard a lot of Matt’s relatives had been visiting.”

Nina chuckled, “Yeah. I wonder why.” She takes a sip out of her cup.

It’s not a secret that Matt’s relatives appear to fight for the family fortune. It sounds like something that will only happen in a tv show, but it seems to also happen in real life. Aunts. Uncles. Parents. Brothers. Sisters. Cousins. Distant relatives. People who rarely ever visit an old man somehow appear and talk about their past memories together in hopes of earning a chunk of the fortune.

“It’s disgusting,” Nina mumbled.

I’m not particularly close to Mike, but Nina had grown fond of him. She would always visit him every Wednesday to play chess and drink tea. Even though he had forgotten about Matt, he somehow still remembers Nina.

I didn’t notice it earlier because of all the distractions, but with a closer look, I can tell Nina is tired. Past the makeup are probably layers of sleepless nights.

She is Matthew Greyson’s wife.

Mike Greyson, the man who brought riches to the Grayson’s family name, favorite grandchild.

And it isn’t a secret that Nina is his favorite in-law.

With that, I’m not surprised if Mike decides to leave most of the fortune to Matt and Nina. They don’t particularly care about the money since they’re already wealthy, but I can’t say the feeling is mutual for the other relatives. I’m certain the battle she faced is quite bloody and tiring.

She doesn’t care about the money, but it doesn’t mean she’ll tell everyone else they can have it.

“Leaving early?” I asked. I already know the answer. She can’t bear to leave Matt there all alone with his relatives.

She nods, “Tonight.” Nina arrived this morning for Crystal’s birthday.

“Hang in there.”

She chuckled, “I’ve been through much worse.”

Whenever I look at Nina, the fear only emerges.

This is it.

This would be the life I have to live if I-

“Hey,” Jackson appears. “Where are the bubbles?”

“The extra bubbles are underneath the table. Please, don’t grab them all.”

“Got it.” I watched as Jackson went towards the table and grabbed the bottle of bubble then poured it into the bubble machine. Dustin, along with several small kids, screamed when the bubbles came out in massive forms.

“How are you two?” Nina asks. She’s indirectly asking about the status of our relationship.

“He’ll be here until we move on.”

With that response, Nina didn’t ask any further. If it was someone else, they would ask me why. But, someone like Nina doesn’t have to ask.

I watched as Crystal climbed out of the bouncy house and rushed towards the bubbles. And when the clouds finally flew away and the sun made its appearance, I could see the colors circulating around them. It’s beautiful.

Crystal fixed her tiara then leaped on Jackson’s back. He laughed and spun her in circles in the bubbles. Of course, Dustin won’t allow him to leave him out. So, he has to carry Dustin in one arm.

The scene in front of me is just like the ones I would see on tv.

“Spin faster! Faster!” Crystal burst out laughing. With a large smile, she threw her head back and allowed her hair to flow.

If I was a stranger watching this, I would only think of a single sentence.

A sentence that’s entirely incorrect.

Inaccurate.

Unreal.

What a happy family.

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