Fire and Flames

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III. Help!

Athena

I was grateful my parents didn’t bring the marriage subject last evening, and I happily avoided them for the rest of the evening. My siblings, though, didn’t know what happened. They tried to hunt for the sudden silence between me and our parents. Even if they somehow found out the truth, there’s nothing they could do about it. I wish my life was uncomplicated. I pursed my lips.

My phone went off, breaking my chain of thought, I noticed it was Ruby. I answered the call immediately and was met with her loud, interrogating voice. “Athena! How could you not tell this earlier?” she bellowed.

I pulled the phone away from my ear. Man, she was yelling so loudly that I thought I might go deaf. “Calm down Ru, I’m not gonna die or anything.” I said rolling my eyes, mentally cursing Derek. I told that idiot not to tell her before I could explain it myself. Gosh, I need to stop sharing my secrets with him. That idiot can’t shut his big mouth.

“Tsk, but still you could’ve told me earlier instead of that donkey Derek.” I could imagine her rolling her eyes.

“I was planning to call you. Now, listen, I need your help. I’m coming to France.” I announced right away.

The line went silent for a few moments before she squealed, “OMG! Girl! When are you coming? How long are you going to stay?”

I chuckled at her silliness ” Probably next week, the sooner the better. I have to do it without raising any suspicions. I don’t want my family to figure out what I am planning before I am able to actually do it.” I hushed as I walked over to my door to close it after checking the coast was clear.

“Ya, what should I do? What about your studies?” she quizzed.

“I’ll tell you everything once I get there. Till then can you find an apartment for me to live in. I don’t mind even if it’s small.”

I could’ve bought an apartment easily, but if I use my debit card, Dad would be notified about my transaction. I will have to use my money carefully to buy the required stuff this whole week. I have my account which isn’t linked to dad’s, but it only has the money for my college fund.

“Don’t worry you can stay with me and trust me I need a roomie, the boredom is killing me.” she whined

“I really appreciate that Ruby, you’re the best” I stated gleefully, I feel so thankful to such great friends who’d always help me no matter what the situation is.

“Aww, you too sis!” she cooed, making me chuckle.

I heard a knock on my door, shit! Who’s here now?

“Talk to you later, someone’s here” I whispered and hung up quickly before walking over to the door. The knocking continued as if the person was running out of patience.

Thinking it’s one of my annoying siblings, I opened the door and yelled without looking at who it was “What the heck do you want?”

When I didn’t hear any answer, I looked up, and paled when I saw a pissed off man, who is none other than my dad. Shit!

I mustered a sweet smile “Hey, Daddy! What a surprise. I’m sorry I thought it was Asher or Alex. Do you want something, Dad?” I gave a nervous laugh as I calmed myself.

Shit! He’s going to yell at me.

I saw him close his eyes while breathing in, his jaws clenched. Oh lord he is pissed, I gulped in fright. His eyes opened, it was blank, no traces of emotions to be seen.

“Starting tomorrow, you will be training in my office. It’s an order and nonnegotiable. Now come down for lunch.” He stated sternly.

“Umm, okay Dad. I’ll be there in a minute.” I gave him a gentle smile and closed the door as soon as he left.

I plodded towards my bed and plopped onto it like a log. “Stupid training is starting. I really need to get out of here before I am trapped!” I grumbled into the sheet as I fisted it.

I rolled over and groaned out loud “Why me!!”

After spending a few more moments thinking about my miserable life, I climbed off the bed and went to the bathroom to wash my face before going downstairs to the dining hall. Everyone was seated silently. That’s unusual!.

Normally, I’d hear the boys ranting loudly and Alex scolding them.

Dad was sitting on the chair at the head of the table, wearing a frown on his face. Mum was staring at her empty plate. Adrian and Asher glanced at each other with a downcast face. What the heck is happening?

Their behavior brought a frown upon my face. I greeted everyone with a smile as I stepped in to cheer this tense atmosphere. I gave dad and mum a kiss on their cheeks, a hug to Alex and both the twins a slap on their shoulder.

I tried my best to look happy and normal. I want them to think I’m alright. “What happened, boys? You guys are unusually quiet!”

Asher pretended to focus on his food while Adrian looked like he wanted to say something. Something is wrong!

My mum seemed to be glad to see me happy again. Sadly it’ll be short lived. I glanced at the table and it had most of my favourite dishes, which brought a genuine smile to my face.

I took a seat and filled my plate with lasagna before taking a huge bite of it. Yummy! “The food tastes marvelous, mom,” I said with my mouth full.

She chuckled “I know this is your favorite.”

I nodded giddily and continued to munch on my food. Dad ate silently before grabbing our attention by clearing his throat.

“Athena, as I stated before, you will be starting your training tomorrow at the company until I feel you are ready. It will take some time but I know you’re capable of handling a vast company.” he scolded,

I gulped, thinking about my plan. What will he do when he finds out? I nodded my head “Thank you Dad. I won’t fail you.” what a lie. I lost my appetite because of this.

Dad gave me a gentle smile which increased my guilt for the sin I haven’t committed yet.

“And one more thing!” I looked back at him with a questioning look.

“Your wedding will be in three months!”

I choked on my food as those words registered in my mind. My mum quickly gave me a glass of water and I gulped it down and took a deep breath before narrowing my eyes at my father.

“I never agreed to get married!” I said through gritted teeth. How could he do this to me?

“But you should, this will benefit both our companies’ relationships. Raylan’s son is a rising businessman and marrying you would increase his popularity also.”

I clenched my jaw in anger “Am I just a pawn for you father? Don’t I have my wishes too? I don’t want to marry any guy just for the sake of popularity and reputation.”

“You have no say in this Athena!” He seethed in anger.

“You can’t decide it dad, I haven’t even met him and you expect me to get married to a stranger? What if he isn’t a nice guy? And treat me like shit?”

“I know him very well and he’ll never hurt you.”

“I’m done with this shit!” I yelled and stood up, rushing out of the dining room hearing him call my name but I ran towards my bedroom. I went inside and locked the door before walking towards the balcony. I slid open the glass doors and stepped outside, the cold air welcoming me. The sky was clear and lit by the crescent moon. The trees swaying to the chilly October breeze.

I enjoy this view up from here. I could see our huge flower garden below, which has a marble fountain at the centre. I’m gonna miss this place.

I had some hope that my dad would listen to me but he didn’t, if he gave me a chance I would’ve stayed here but no, he decided to dictate my life. Now I have to leave this place, I have to pack slowly and discretely. I don’t want to alarm my parents or give them a heads up on my plan.

“Amy dear!” I turned back and saw mum standing at the threshold of the door. Her eyes were glistening with sympathy and guilt.

“If you are here to convince me to marry a stranger then you’ll be disappointed.” I stated blankly and turned back to facing the garden.

“I know you are hating me now!” I heard a soft painful whisper, making my heart clench in pain and regret.

“I don’t hate you mom! I’m just angry or maybe disappointed.” I said unsurely, what am I supposed to feel right now? Hate towards mom because she’s taking his side or angry that she can’t go against him? This is so messed up!

“Love, I am not with your father in this matter. I know how much you sacrificed just to make us proud.” My eyes widened slightly at her words, so she does realise everything.

“I’ll try to change his mind or maybe give you more time to get to know Raylan’s son and maybe you might change your mind once you meet him.” She tried to convince but I wasn’t going to listen to her.

“I won’t, I’m sure about it.” I stated with finality.

“Whatever it is, all we want is you to be happy. The final decision rests with you and think before you make up your mind in doing something.”

I’ve made up my mind and I’m sure of it especially when dad gave me a reason to not stay here. I nodded my head and stared ahead. Few moments pass by and I heard her exhale a breath. “Good night love!” she placed a kiss on my cheeks. I glanced at her and wished her good night and she left my room.

After spending some more time on the balcony, I went back in to brush my teeth and do my business before going to sleep. I closed my eyes and all I could imagine is my life ahead. Little did I know it won’t go just the way I wanted.


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