Getting off work early was one thing but forcing myself to do so for Stella was another. She had planned for us a pre-wedding something. I don't even want to know what it was, never having bothered to ask.
It was the appearance and publicity, I was playing along for. For the world to see the Oswald Murphy alliance. It was also meant to send a message to Brandon, not mess with my company. Roger Murphy wasn't his shy and scared son anymore. I was a force to be reckoned with.
At the Oswald mansion, I walked straight ahead, unwilling to be the center of attention. At the mansion's poolside area there were less people, I settled into a lounge chair.
Stella had weird notions about the engagement party. I mean, who would throw a party at ten in the morning! But I knew better than to question the woman and her ways. After all, it was a deal. Not love.
"Good morning future son," a voice boomed through the lobby. I recognized it the instance it hit my ears, having heard it a million times when I was dating Stella. I can't forget the voice or the man. Malcom Oswald; Stella's father and my pretense father-in-law.
"Good morning Malcom," I bobbed my head in acknowledgement while he trotted up in front. The man, wrinkled face and serious looks scanned me with his peering gaze.
"Hey come on now son." He shifted his weight, leaning on his left, with his hand in his pocket. "You should start calling me father now.." He patted my back which only infuriated me more.
Malcom was no less offensive or vile than Brandon himself. I'd assume they both shared the same Satan bond; men who could rain hurt on any woman without any remorse.
"You and I both know the show is only for a time being," My head tilted, watching him shift uncomfortably. "Why play the part when it has to eventually come to an end." I scoffed.
He laughed out like I cracked a joke. "Eventually... Yes yes.. eventually.." Taking a deep breath and exhaling, I could smell the alcohol stench at daybreak. "How eventual is this eventually.. we'll have to see."
Malcom walked away but I knew what he meant. He would use every armour in his box to come at me once the actual theatrics of the deal all began. Once the merger was underway and his daughter bound to me for the world, he would do anything to keep it that way.
I sat back, staring at a distance, feeling the calm before the storm.
Before the photographer took over the entire place and paraded me with Stella, posing for god knows what magazines, I sat alone and introspected my life.
The life I lead when, as a child, I had to grow up and be responsible. To take care of my ailing grandparents after mother's demise and with Brandon making way into every brothel. Even this merger, this deal was a way to secure me and my company, whenever Brandon's snorting money would run out.
It was only a matter of time and I could feel his plan already in motion. I can't even fucking breath the same air as him, let alone share the company.
Greta cried out. " Please Brandon don't do this.. Please I beg of you. Leave him out of this.."
Brandon took a nearby rod and bashed Greta, his wife and the mother of his child, on her back while she tried holding her child, Roger in her arms, protecting him from his drunk and angry father.
"Yooouuu will disobey meee yoou bitchh.." he slurred his words and slowed in action.
"No I won't. All I said was let me feed Roger first," she held her hands out, begging in front of the drunk monster "Roger is hungry."
The sound cracked through the air
Another lash on her back, but she never left her kid's side, taking all the assault on her.
"He Iss nottt hungry, I am." Brandon roared.
"DON'T TOUCH MY MOTHER!"
A young, defiant Roger stood up to his father, protecting his mother. He stood there challenging him. And although that day would be any normal day for Brandon; Roger because a man that day.
A seven year old kid grew up that day to defend his mother. Tear streaked face and heaving chest aside, the kid was unwilling to let his mother suffer anymore. He choose to fight than be a mute spectator.
"You know who your mother is.. She is a whore" Brandon shamelessly uttered those words to the kid.
"Please don't say this to him... I have always been faithful to you Brandon" Greta cried. She couldn't hold herself up. The shooting pain up and down her spine rendered her helpless. Her husband tuned to a moster whenever he was drunk. Any object he found in hand was used to channel his anger at her. Upon her body.
"Then how do I have herpes?" Brandon trembled, pointing his shaking finger at her.
She cried with the realization that although she was always faithful to her husband, he wasn't.
"Probably because of some...." She stopped, not letting rage get ahold of her. Roger was still young to see all this and understand what Brandon was doing. She controlled her voice and talked in a calmer tone. "You have not been faithful to me Brandon.. And I don't have to bear this.."
But before Greta could get Roger and walk out of his life, Brandon got hold of her. Shoving her into a corner of the wall, he held her jaws hard enough for her face to run bright red.
Roger takes a log of wood from the fireplace and hits Brandon on his leg, shouting at him. "Let her go Brandon."
"What did you call me you filth." Brandon pushed Roger to a corner and the kid flew off in another direction. With all the pent up rage, he took an iron rod and started beating his wife, till the alcohol in him got used up as rage.
A man's voice pulled me off the dark memories of childhood.
I opened my eyes to see Charles standing and smiling at me.
"Good morning Charles" I said.
"It seemed you were lost in some disturbing thoughts.." he pointed towards my face with a concern in his voice.
"Nothing that would kill me.." I waved my hand sideways. After all, it was my sadness to burden which I didn't want to dump on Charles.
"Good one boy.." He patted on my back too.
But this sensation was different. Although Charles was Malcom's brother, they both were poles apart. Charles was a humble and kind man. Maybe because he served in the army before getting into their business. Or maybe, it was just who he was.
"So are you waiting for the party to start?" he gestured to the assembling crowd outside. "Stella will be right out.. Well that's what she informed me.."
I don't know if I could be frank with him or not. Technically he was my fiancé's uncle.
"Seems like ages now.." I tapped at my watch.
He chuckled. "Anyways.. you will have Xavier to give you company.. If he has left his room, that is.."
Sounding forward, I asked. "Or I can have your company till then, Charles."
"Any other day, I would have loved to give you my company, Roger. It would have been my pleasure.." He looked around, as if telling me a long guarded secret. "But today.. Today is special.."
I have never seen the man this happy. "What is so special about today Charles?"
"Today I might meet someone very close to my heart.."
"Well you can never be too old to love again.." I make a bold statement. He was alight at my words. The jovial man that he was, everything was fun with him.
"It's the other way around... This isn't a matter of love.. it's a matter of family, a matter of my daughter."
Although I nodded, barely did I understand what he meant. Charles wasn't married, not that I knew of. Maybe he was talking about something else. But as they say, one shouldn't ask too many questions, I politely let him be on his way while waiting for the impending doom.
After what felt like ages, I heard stilettos in the marble lobby.
"Where is my handsome fiancé?" Stella's voice boomed across the place.
Ohh here I am. please kill me now.
I could be doing anything in the world right now. But what was I doing? Waiting to get photographs.
"How do I look?" She twirled around in her red dress that covered her body but the plunging necklike and slit from her thigh down was the show for all. Her blonde hair were managed in a messy bun and sprayed with so much chemicals, it would kill all the fishes in the ocean, once she showered.
"Fine. You look fine." I bark, annoyed with the waiting.
We were on least wordily interactions. Atleast I was.
"Ohh come on. Don't be a shrew. Tell me, do I look sexy? Someone who looks like the future Mrs. Murphy?" She battered her eyeslids.
Rolling my eyes inwards, I exhaled all the air inside. "Stella we have talked about this. We are doing it for the publicity.." I moved away from her, hands waving in explanation. "Me for my company and you for whoever you want to get revenge on."
"Can't a girl have fun, Roger?" she played with my lapel while I took her hands in mine, staring into her eyes. Those beautiful eyes which I once loved now reminded me of the nothing but betrayal.
"DON'T TOUCH ME." I clenched my jaws speaking in a lower tone for her hearing. Moving back, she knew better than to poke the bear.
Walking away, my voice echoed. "Let's get it over with."
We walked together hand in hand into the crowd. Everyone in the crowd beamed with joy over our union. Malcom surely knew how to get the most out of this situation by inviting paparazzi and elite socialites to the event.
Why the hell they kept an event at ten in the fucking morning, I wondered.
"Ladies and gentlemen.. Please welcome the newly engaged Roger Murphy and my beautiful daughter, Stella." Malcom spoke over his mouthpiece.
The cheering became louder while the paparazzi had a field day with Stella holding on and kissing me. Flashes went on and on, blinding me and warming the room with the light. Thankfully this wasn't the real deal. My mind was already planning escape routes.
Once the photo shoot died down, Stella took me back to the garden where we needed to pose some more for magazine about celebrity status and stuff. Something that Mrs. Rose had consulted my stylist and confirmed on.
"You need to hold onto her waist while she bites your earlobe" the photographer blushed out these instructions.
I raised my hands hearing those abhorrent poses. "What? That's ridiculous."
"That's how the magazine's cover sells," he protested.
"By making us look like hillbillies?" I grunted.
"Come on Rog.. Don't be mean.." Stella sided with him.
"I can't do that.. Give something easy."
Waving his hand around, the photographer rolled his eyes. "That is easy."
"What's difficult according to you then?" I really wanted to know the taste of this man.
"You carrying her in your arms, shirtless." He rolled his eyes, yet again.
The moment those words hit me, it crossed my threshold of patience. "That's it.. I am out of here.."
I walked out of the mansion with Stella's howling behind me. I didn't even wait for the valet to help me with my car. That's how desperate I was.
"Hold your horses there Brother..." I saw Xavier stepping out of his car.
"Hey Xav.." I smiled at him. Xavier was Malcom's adopted son and Stella's name brother. He was the sane one among the two of them. Charles being the sanest of them all.
"Isn't this your party?" he questioned.
"It is.. and I am making and exit."
"Well.. your loss is my gain.." he gibbered.
"And what gain would that be?"
"More woman for me.." he clapped his hand together, winking at me.
I laughed at his comeback while getting into the car. Although I took the whole day off to do this shot, I realized spending only a few minutes with Stella drove me insane.
And to think of it, I was in love with her at one point.
After a relaxing drive which took away all the built up anxiety in me, I stepped into my office. Mrs. Rose was quick to follow me inside.
"Weren't you on an off today?" She asked.
"Yes I was.. But it seems like photo shoots aren't my thing."
"Well in that case, this might be." She handed me a stack of papers. Legal notice from Brandon. He was suing me for mental harassment when he was in rehab.
Fuck! this man was insane.
"Call Arin.. I need to have this replied and checked by an attorney."
She was quick to dial her phone while I sat, staring at her in confusion. "What are you doing Mrs. Rose?"
"Arin is on leave.. She is sick.."
"And what happened to her.. She was alright yesterday!" I enquired.
"Flu.. She has flu.." Mrs. Rose stuttered.
I don't believe it. I saw her yesterday. She was perfectly well. She must be shopping for Christmas while stating sickness.
"Call her and put her on loudspeaker." I instructed Mrs. Rose who hesitated for a bit but did it anyways. The call went by unanswered. "Keep calling her until you connect and then bring it to me."
"Roger, she is sick. That girl never takes off without a reason.." she protested further.
"Well that girl is lying Mrs. Rose.. I know because I saw her just yesterday."
"In this weather anyone can have flu anytime."
"Fine." I surrendered with my hands up. "Be as it may. Call her and when she picks bring it to me. I need to ask her about the latest letters she typed anyways."
Before Mrs. Rose could leave, her phone rang and her expression changed. Her smile spread fell into a thin line across her lips. She turned around with a guilty look on her face. I was sure it was Arin, calling her.
I gestured her to pick up and put on speaker.
"Hello child," she said.
Mrs. Rose called Arin child. I always thought she used to only call me child.
"What happened Mrs. Rose.. Everything alright?" Arin replied.
"How are you feeling now?"
Before she could reply, I could hear door chimes making it obvious that she was out. It was during Christmas season that London shop doors have chimes attached to them which resembled like Christmas bells. Arin was out shopping.
Taking the phone from Mrs. Rose's hold, I answered. "Arin. I need you to report back to office. NOW."
"Roger!!" There was silence at her end. Then she spoke again. "I can't come back today Roger, I am on an off. But you will see me tomorrow first thing in the morning."
"Well Arin let me tell you something." I was at the brink of loosing the last of my patience strands with the day I had. It was only a matter of time, I snapped. "If you are not back in office in an hour's time, then don't bother coming back."
There was another silence on the call. Mrs. Rose put the call on mute while looking at me, pleading. "Please don't do that to her. She is still paying her dues. She will have no place to go."
I pacified her. "The ultimatum is for her to return back. Not anything else.."
Nodding her head in disagreement, her expressions slipped into sadness. "Roger.. this is a mistake.."
Before I could finish, Arin spoke .
"Then I guess it's goodbye, Roger."
Hello all you beautiful people
Did you like this chapter?
I gave a background on why Roger hates Brandon. Now that you know the troubled background of Roger, maybe you would know why he is always so angry. Any guesses why he hates Stella and Malcom?
Please do comment. I love to read your theories.