Prologue - Meeting Julian
Cassandra Daniels's POV
"Max baby, mommy needs to go to work. You be a good boy and stay with granny, okay?" I said as I deposited my 18 month old baby boy into aunt Caroline's lap.
"Mommy, max goo," gurgled Max happily as he chewed onto a teething stick shaped like a bunny.
"No, baby, you can't go to my office with me," I said smiling as I nodded at him..
He too nodded, "nooo," he said as he gave me a toothy grin and I kissed him.
"Thank you aunt Caroline, for everything, I would have been lost without you," I said kissing aunt Caroline's cheek.
"It's nothing honey, you're just like my Avery. I've always thought of you as my own daughter. Max has every right to be here. I don't know what I'd do without you and him. After Avery's marriage, I would have been so lonely, but you two fill my life so well. Go and manage your job, don't worry about Max. I'll take care of him," aunt Caroline said as she hugged me. She was my best friend Avery's mom. After my mom's death, I had literally grown up at their house which was next door to mine.
"Okay, bye, see you both in the evening," I said as I left for work.
My life had turned upside down when my dad was diagnosed with fourth stage leukaemia four years back. He had always ignored his health, concentrating more on his job as a Tax Consultant in a multinational firm. After my mom's death seven years ago from a car accident, he would drink more, smoke more than ever and work harder than necessary. I tried talking to him but he didn't listen to anyone.
His constant fatigue, his sunken eyes, his zero resistance power, his steady weight loss were indications enough of his deteriorating health, but he was adamant that he did not need a check up.
I used up all our savings and resources to treat dad, but after a year of treatment his blood pressure and diabetic conditions complicated matters and he stopped responding to his treatment and breathed his last breath two days later. I was an orphan and with Avery newly married and gone on her honeymoon, I spent the next few days bar hopping to forget my sorrows.
It was there that I met the sly, handsome, spoiled and notorious Desmond Reid who was a police officer. I was just eighteen, freshly graduated from high school. He was ten years older and more experienced in taking advantage of innocent, distressed girls like me. He was very sweet to me for a few days, made me trust him, pursuing me, convincing me that he cared for me. In my disturbed mental state, I had stupidly believed his lies and one day he spiked my drink and took advantage of me.
After that I didn't see him for three weeks. I continued with my life, dad's funeral, dad's medical debts, our pending bills and payments.
I had to sell our house, our cars to pay off everything. Avery's mom, took me under her wing and gave me shelter in her house. I discovered my pregnancy then and tried to contact Desmond for days, as my nausea got worse. Aunt Caroline, took me to the doctor. I hadn't applied at any college due to dad's serious condition, so my life was basically a mess.
When finally I could contact Desmond after a week, he refused paternity test and verbally abused me, threatening to arrest me with false charges to my name. I was too scared to go any further. Aunt Caroline took care of me and after a very difficult pregnancy, I gave birth to Maxwell Daniels, giving him my maiden name Daniels.
I took up a short term course on shorthand and basic computers, and since I was always a grade A student at school, I got a job as a receptionist at 'Happy Feet', an upscale dance academy just walking distance from aunt Caroline's house. I was happy, after a long time. Taking care of Max and working at a full time job, helping with the housework did not leave me with much option of pursuing any further studies. I did not have adequate savings to do the same though.
I walked quickly and reached the dance academy in 10 minutes. For the past one year that I had been working at this place, I had become good friends with all my colleagues. A new teacher Annabelle Carter had joined as a dance instructor and she and I had become quite close.
My distant cousin Sandra also worked here as a dance instructor and it was to some extent due to her recommendation that I got this job.
Anna left earlier than me everyday. She would walk down to her boyfriend's house nearby where she was staying.
Suddenly, as I was attending a phone call, the door opened and a sinfully handsome man with chocolate brown hair and beautiful jade green mesmerising eyes, model like attractive physique with six pack abs, conspicuous from his figure hugging Tshirt, and bulging biceps, came looking for Anna.
I thought he was Anna's boyfriend, so I made him sit at the reception. His continuous hot stare made my knees turn to jelly, thankfully I was sitting at my desk. It was an uncomfortable situation and I just looked here and there till Anna came out, ready to leave.
Her eyes popped out on seeing him, "Jules, what are you doing here?" She asked with irritation.
"I'm on duty to pick you up and drop you off every day." he said rolling his eyes at her.
"What utter nonsense! I don't need a bodyguard, dammit." Anna said with more frustration.
"Sorry, bro's orders. If I follow I would get free booze for a month." He said grinning as he eyed me and I looked down at my hands.
"Go to hell, both of you," Anna told the man and looking towards me, she nodded indicating that she was ready to leave. I nodded at her, mouthing a bye.
"Whoa, wait. Won't you introduce me to your friend?" He asked indicating towards me. I blushed at the attention. I loved staying in the background. I was not comfortable with strangers.
"Alright. Julian meet Cassandra Daniels, Cassandra this is Julian Christian Henderson, my…" before she could finish her sentence, he interfered. "I'm her boyfriend's brother, on duty. Pleased to meet you Cassandra. " he said winking at me. I looked up at him, expressionlessly, as I didn't want to encourage any guy. I didn't want a relationship. I didn't date ever, and after that fateful night, I had sworn off men.
Anna rolled her eyes and went to the door. Julian said "See you tomorrow" to me, then followed Anna out. I heaved a sigh of relief as I concentrated on the work and phone calls again.
By the time I got over it was already dark. I walked home cautiously as it was 9pm, doing 3 hours overtime paid me extra which I needed very much as I couldn't be a burden on aunt Caroline.
Out of the corner of my eyes I saw a white BMW follow me as I walked. Its shaded windows were rolled up, and it cruised alongside me as I walked home. I was officially petrified, maybe some kidnapper or mafia wanted to murder me. The innocent face of my baby flashed in my mind.
I walked faster, as fast as my legs would carry me. I rounded the corner and hid behind a large boundary wall of a mansion. I couldn't see the BMW anymore. Sighing in relief, I ran down the road to aunt Caroline's house which was the last house at the deadend.
Was Desmond sending goons to kill me? I couldn't erase the negative thoughts and fear that gripped me.
The next day, I was late for work. I fixed my long blonde hair into a bun and wore a blue top matching my ocean blue eyes. I wore a white pencil skirt and flat pumps as I had to walk to work. I didn't possess any makeup, just used lipgloss and moisturiser. I didn't have any money for such stuff anyway. I quickly hurried out of the house and started walking. Suddenly the white BMW from yesterday, which was parked opposite aunt Caroline's house started following me again. I panicked and half ran and reaching the dance academy, I collapsed on the couch at the reception room. Fear gripped me, I had to live for my son's sake. What do I do? I couldn't go to the police if it was Desmond who was behind it.
I nervously fidgeted with my fingers, couldn't concentrate on anything the whole day. Suddenly the door opened and in walked Julian with a smirk on his handsome face. He came to my desk and leaned in, as close as he possibly could get, "Hey, gorgeous, when do you get off?" He asked.
"Why?" I asked, irritatedly.
"I could take you out to dinner," he said with a smug expression.
"Who said I wanted to go out with you?" I said as his face fell. Served him right.
"Why can't you go out with me? What's wrong with me?" He asked impatiently.
"Firstly, you are a stranger to me, secondly, I'm not hungry, thirdly, I have someone waiting for me at home," I told him, truthfully. Max, my baby, my world was waiting for me. I didn't go out anywhere since he was born. I didn't want him to miss out on a parent's love.
"Oh," he said dejectedly,"Your boyfriend?" He asked as he turned and sat down on the sofa and waited for Anna, his eyes staring at me constantly as he sulked and sighed. I laughed in my mind, let him think anything. At least he will not pursue me then.
When I got over, I scanned the entire area, but the white BMW wasn't around. Heaving a sigh of relief, I rushed home. My eyes popped out, when right opposite aunt Caroline's house, the white BMW was parked.
My heartbeats quickened as I approached the house slowly. Would he shoot me today right in front of the main gate? Right in front of my son?
A sob escaped me as I tried not to panic. Please God, help me, I prayed as I walked ahead slowly. Suddenly my whole world started spinning and I collapsed to the ground in a heap.
When I woke up, I was on my own bed, with Max trying to climb into my lap. "Mommmmyy, mmommyy," he said as he bit my nose and cheek, lathering me with a little drool.
"Oh my baby," I said as I picked him and placed him onto my lap, my eyes wandering to the figure who just came into my room along with aunt Caroline. Julian? What was he doing here?