The Call of a Lifetime (18+)

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The Domino Effect

Arin

I never thought of coming back to this place again. Never did I think that I would ever interact with her but apparently it was the need of the hour. What was more annoying was the fact that she played such a major role in all this without anyone having a whiff about it.

The knock at the door was loud for not only Stella but anyone else who might be present inside. I was seething, my insides were lit on fire. Ever since Xavier’s conformation, I was riled to my very core. Having known Stella and her nonchalant attitude, we all assumed her to be the dumb girl who only knew how to spend daddy’s money. But after today, I wouldn’t be fooled by her face or her act.

Another louder banging on the door was received from the inside with a muffled voice. Although I couldn’t understand a word, standing on the opposite side, it was safe to assume Stella heard it.

Door was opened by none other than Stella herself. She donned a velvety robe and panted, holding he knob. It was clear, I disturbed her peaceful bath. But there were pressing matters that needed attention that her stupid bath.

I shoved her to a side, walking inside. “Hey,” she called me out rather annoyed but I didn’t pay any heed.

The last time I was in her room, scared and trembling while the bully that she was dominated me. In a way, it was her defiance to tend me an apology that made me who I was today. Fearless.

“What do you want?” she asked.

I turned on my heels, scanning her disheveled bed towards before tossing my head her.

“We need to talk. I need to know certain things about Roger’s case.” With a dismissive hand wave, Stella walked away from me into the wash. I trotted behind, unwilling to be treated like a person whose existence didn’t matter to her. “Listen woman.”

Her head snapped up to scan me. Her hands stopped whenever they were doing to her cheeks and jawline. “Who did you call..”

“We know about Brandon,” I cut her short.

With wide eyes and an ajar mouth, Stella tried talking but all that came out was stuttered words. Her hand held the pristine marble table top in the washroom, balancing her and the news that fell on her fragile shoulders. Before she could form a line of defense that would require strategic countering, I moved closer.

“I have proof that you were involved with Brandon while being engaged to Roger.” As my words hit her, she scrambled back, almost hitting on the wall behind.

Her breaths paced up and her chest rose and fell at a pace like that of a marathon runner. Her hands coiled over her shoulders, probably trying to protect the dam of news before it hit her chest. “What do you want?” She cried out.

Her reddened eyes were the proof of truth. Of the sad truth about her affair with the father of the man who once loved her.

“I will tell you all that but first I wanted to ask you. How does it feel to act all dumb, reckless, not telling anyone what’s going on in that tiny mind of yours and them suddenly, jumping into the limelight?”

“Listen you,,” her finger pointed at me was twisted as my hand grabbed it, turning it in the opposite side. She growled in pain but the hurt that she caused was more. “Stop it.. please..”

I shoved her hand off. My own heartbeats could be heard ringing inside my ears, rhythmically beating up with every word I uttered.

“Why did you do it?” I asked, standing close to her so to spoil any escape plans of her if she planned any.

Her hands coiled onto her hips, striking a confident pose. Yet I knew, deep down she was scared. Trembling to the fear that we might leak the news about her to the tabloids.

“I didn’t do anything. I just...”

I placed a finger on her lips before she could spew any more lies. “Sshh.. Only speak the truth my darling. Only the truth. Because if you don’t, then I would do the same that you did to me.”

Her eyes widened again. Sweat beads formed on her forehead, tickling down as if on a race. Her hands left her pose, falling to her sides. “It was Brandon. It was his idea for me to date his son. I was always faithful to him.”

I scoffed, remembering the time when Xavier and I walked on her with another man in this same room. “Faithful and you are like oil and water. Even your words won’t mix.”

Stella bent her head low before pulling up, inhaling deep. “Listen Arin. I know that you think I am the culprit but let me tell you. I am the victim. Brandon played me too.”

As much as I wanted to shove her back into the marble wall, a part of me wanted to listen to her. Maybe she was telling the truth. Just maybe.

“What do you mean?” I asked. Stella straightened, gesturing me to walk out with her. In the room, she fell on her bed, hanging her head low.

“I was in love with Brandon. He promised me marriage and a family and everything. When his rehab happened and Roger got the control, he asked for my help. He told me lies about his son and I believed all that. I even believed when he said that he loved me.” Tears ran down her dewy face. Her sobs seemed genuine but I was cautious this time, being bitten by her once. “I was asked to be with Roger, chat up with him. Brandon knew all of Roger’s weakness and he told me all that. I exploited it all for him because I was told that he would come out soon but as Roger wouldn’t give him back his CEO position, he would have to defame him son. That’s when the rape charges were made up.”

Without any more words out her but only dry heaves, I sat beside. I knew Stella wasn’t the main artist in any of the play. It was always Brandon, pulling his puppet’s strings for his benefit. No more. This was his end game.

Unknowingly my hand traveled to her back, running circles to pacify her. With a reddened face, she turned to me.

“You must think I am a bad person but I am not. I was in love to do all that but the moment I felt wrong about the rape charge, I dropped it. Dad helped me with it.” She gasped for air as if the next words were going to be heavy. “That’s when he broke up with me. Brandon. He said I was a dumb woman whom he never loved. It was dad who helped me get sorted. He helped me get out of the mess by somehow.. I don’t know.. I asked many times but he never told me..”

As a thunder striking an open area, my mind lit up. Malcom was helping Brandon financially. We wanted to find motive but never could. It was all falling in place now.

Brandon must have blackmailed Malcom with Stella’s information or he must have threatened to defame her. We all knew that the rape charges never saw the light of the day. Now it was clear. All clear. Malcom too was a victim like Stella. He was protecting his daughter from the vicious clutches of a man who was known to ruin lives. Malcom was doing it to protect his family.

My feet were on fire as I rushed out of the mansion. Oddly there was no signs of dad or Malcom and I was grateful for it. I wanted to tell Roger and dad about Malcom’s doing. It was I who suspected him and every nerve in my body now prodded me to declare him innocent.

Tears ran down my eyes as I drove back. It was partly due to Roger’s suffering. Having a vile man like Brandon as a father must have been heavy on him since childhood. Yet, it was his mother’s upbringing that made him a perfect man. Roger though had his flaws, was perfect to me. He was my missing piece of the heart that I always longed for to be fitted and completed with.

Gravel beneath the tires crunched up faster and with higher intensity while I raced the last mile leading to Roger’s place. Flinging the door open, I ran into the study. Being greeted with the sight of a failed faced Roger and bridged eyebrow Dad, my panting increased. Yet, the news about Stella and Malcom took priority.

“Dad, Roger. I talked to Stella. She told me that..”

Dad’s hand rose up, halting my words. His teary eyes landed on me. With trembling lower lip, he tossed a sheet of paper towards me.

It was a tabloid paper. I was scared to pick it up. My hands trembled, throat pricked with an unknown fear as my fingers pulled them towards me from the table. I shot a look at Roger whose helpless looks didn’t convey much.

The tabloid news had a black background. Its headline caught my attention. Oswald heiress was a sex worker.

My legs turned jelly. I fell on the carpet as my eyes warmed up to spew tears on the sheet that narrated the conversion pieces I had my clients. Roger slid to my side, holding me onto his chest. He patted my back and spoke something to me, it was muffled as the ringing in my ears increased.

My whole body shook, trembling like a dead leaf ready to fall of the branch. It took me this news to get me crumbled. My confidence shattered, turned to ashes and smithereens.

Dad pulled me up, forcing me to look at him. My head tilted down, unable to match him intense stare. His index pulled up my chin.

“You are my daughter no matter what. I accept you for what you were and what you are..”

He pulled me into his embrace. My bolting heart found its pacemaker. It slowed its bearings, coming back to its usual state. Dad didn’t care about my past. He loved me nonetheless. I saw the light when he hugged me back. It came from the same place where Malcom’s deeds seemed justified.

The Oswald men always loved their daughters even with all their flaws.

~

Babies

Liked the chapter? Let me know in the comments..

I loved writing this chapter.. It was like final bow to the family who does bad things to keep their loved ones safe..

For fathers who’d do anything to protect their daughters.

Hope you all liked it..

Love

S

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