Chapter 1 - Our Athena
(4 Months Ago)
Athena could feel the winter breeze brush up against her skin, she knew she should have listened to her gut and stayed at home but here she was, following her crazy best friend to her dad's awards party. She hated attending high-class events, even though she belonged to a rather good reputed family, she still felt left out. Her skin-tight, red dress was making her very uncomfortable and the stilettoes were doing her no justice. Chloe, her best friend had told her as she quotes that she looked 'sexy' in the dress but she felt like....a slut. The dress was extremely tight and this showed off all the curves on her body which made her very insecure, she was not flat and not model material. "Stop frowning, you look like a troll." Chloe laughed at her friend who seemed to be in deep thoughts. The party had already started and Chloe could not find a way of getting Athena inside the venue. "Well, at least you admitted I look like a troll and that is just a sign I should be heading back home."
Before Athena could step away, Chloe grabbed onto her friend's wrist and yanked her forward, almost sending her flying to the ground. "HEY!" Athena began to protest but was shushed by Chloe, "We are going inside, whether you like it or not. Because I did not get you dressed up for nothing." Athena continued to protest but stopped immediately when they entered the hall. She wanted to shrink and fade away but now here she was, all eyes on the late arrivals. "Stop pushing into me." Chloe smiled and gritted her teeth as she pushed Athena away from her slightly. Before Athena could turn back and run out like Cinderella, a voice stopped her, "Darling, why are you so late?" Mr Smith came up towards them, his hands wide opened as he engulfed his daughter into a hug. Athena smiled at the sight as she thought about her father and herself. They were always close, people would assume they are brother and sister.
"Sorry dad, Athena was afraid." Mr Smith pulled away from Chloe and looked at the young lady who he also considered to be his daughter. "Ah! How nice to have you here Athena!" He quickly embraced her and gave her a small smile. Mr Smith and Athena's father go way back in high school. The two were best friends ever since and never parted. "I guess you didn't want to attend this party as seen by those crease lines which I presume is from a very deep frown." Athena pouted in agony, "She called me a troll so who would be confident enough to enter a place like this." Luke Smith presented a hurtful look when those words left a troubled Athena. "I didn't mean it in a bad way, you know Uncle Luke that these types of events, don't suit me."
Chloe grumbled in annoyance, she faced Athena and huffed out, "How many times must we all tell you, you are beautiful, young, smart and an amazing girl, stop feeling like you anything below that." Athena tried to feel better about herself but she couldn't. In the current world that she lived in and the society she belonged to, everyone would have thought Athena Carter would be this thin, model-material woman but she was the opposite. She always wore what she was comfortable in, never put her status or money to use in any situation, she was simple and loved been that way. "Maybe if she meets someone special, then she would probably realize her worth." Luke chuckled as Chloe agreed with her father which only made Athena's eyes widen. "That won't be happening anytime soon, trust me." They all laughed and walked further into the hall. "Sorry about all this drama Uncle Luke, I made Chloe late for your awards." Luke smiled and wrapped an arm around the two girls, "Don't worry Athena, I understand. By the way, did your dad tell you that he was coming home tonight?" Athena smiled and immediately nodded, "Yes, he did. He's probably already on his flight." Andrew Carter, the proud father of his only daughter had been on a business trip in China for over two weeks, trying to tie the knot of an agreement. Athena missed her father dearly and finally, he was going to be back home.
"Come on, girls. I want you to meet one of our very good business partner. Andrew and I have just got him to buy half of the business, due to investments and now while Andrew was getting a business deal sealed in China, I got mine done here." Luke smiled proudly at his achievement while he pushed the two girls to the bar side of the venue. Athena congratulates him but soon her eyes were fixed on the two figures they were walking towards. She could only see one of their faces as the latter had his back towards them. As they neared the two men who were engaged in a conversation, Luke pulled away from them and called out to the man who had bought a share of The Co. & Founders Company. "My man!" The man whose back was facing them turned on his heels and once his dark, grey eyes focused on them, Athena felt herself squirming. She gulped hard as she took in the sight in front of her. The man wore pitch-black pants that fitted him all too well, his white button-up shirt showed off his defined stomach while his rolled-up sleeves revealed the dangerous tattoo on his left hand. When she looked up, she found herself holding in a breath once she found him gazing back at her.
His dark eyes were fixed onto her as if he was looking through her soul, his slight stubble and perfect defined jawline made her feel very intimidated, his hair could easily be seen as the result of his long fingers running through it, numerous times. "Please meet my daughter Chloe and Andrew's daughter, Athena Carter." Chloe greeted the man but Athena still felt intimidated. She started feeling weak on her feet, "Girls, meet 'Dominic Romano'."
"Nice to meet you both, Chloe and Athena Carter." His smirk that played on his plump lips made Athena feel like she could disappear - and this brings us back to the present.
"You know nothing about love, you only met the man 4 months ago and now you stand in front of your father stating that you in love and want to get married!" Andrew was fuming as he watched his daughter with rage. Tears continuously fell from her eyes when she realized Dominic was right, her father would never accept their relationship. "Dad, I do love him. You know I would never take such a drastic step if I didn't know what I wanted. He treats me right, he loves me as well, Dad." Athena sobbed as she tried to make her father realize that they both loved each other but the only response she got was a burst of mocking laughter. Andrew gripped onto the side table in his office and with rage, he threw it across the room, making his daughter flinch in fear. "You say he loves you right?" He stepped in front of Athena, gripping her shoulders, waiting for an answer, "Yes, he does Dad, I have seen the love in his eyes. He-" Andrew cut her off by shoving her backwards. He laughed again but this time he took a seat and stared out in space.
"You say he loves you? Because the man is 12 years older than you. He is much more experienced while you...you are just a kid! He is 31 years old for god's sake! You will ruin our damn image! You were sneaking around with a man who is almost double your age and expect me to get the only heir to the Carter industry married off to a man who is probably only using you for your body! What do you think people will say about me? You will disgrace the Carter name!" Athena's sobbing started getting out of control. She didn't expect her father to be so harsh and rude towards her, her mind wondered of to Dominic and how he would wrap her in his arms and whisper loving things to her. He didn't force her to ever sleep with him, he made her feel so comfortable and safe, she just knew he was the one and she promised him, she would give him a call afterwards and give him the good news - only good news. After all, she thought when she walked in and told her father she was in love, he would accept her, accept her happiness.
"You are in a Taboo relationship, Athena. Did you hear me? A TABOO relationship!"
Athena had enough, she ran out of her father's office but stopped abruptly when the tear-stained face of her mother came in view, "Mom...I-" Athena was once again cut off, "Why? Why Athena?" Athena could not take it anymore and dashed past her mother and went straight upstairs to her bedroom. The 19-year-old girl, fell to her knees, pulling onto her hair as she poured her eyes out. She felt like she was breaking. Athena never felt like she could ever have her parents against her, she was always their pride and joy but, now she was nothing. She would not put it past her father if he didn't begin hating her at this moment. After all, she was in love with a man who was 12 years older than her, his business partner and also a man who was married before.
Yes, Dominic Romano was married before and he had a little boy which Athena had never met, Dominic had told her all this himself and that's why she trusted him, she fell more in love with him when he had told her, his wife had passed on. She felt her heartbreak for him and as he opened up to her, she knew then and there she was in love with him. It was just the day before where he had taken her on a 2-hour drive to a secluded beach. He had set up a stunning private dinner on the beach itself and popped the question for having her hand in marriage.
Athena immediately stopped crying when she realized she could not let him go, he needed her as much as she needed him. She stood up, walked to her walk-in closet and packed a few things that she may need, once she was done, her eyes roamed around the room she grew up in. A tear slipped from her right eye, falling onto her red cheeks but she quickly wiped it away, she had to be strong, strong for Dominic and her future. Without a second thought, she opened her bedroom door and carried the suitcase with her. She took out her phone and requested an Uber and walked downstairs as she heard her father and mother arguing. The anger and fury could still be heard from her father's voice. She passed the kitchen doorway where her parents stood in a heated argument but her mother was quick to question, "Where are you going, Athena?" Athena stopped in her tracks as she felt her parents eyes on her, "I'm leaving, if you can't accept me for who I am and for who I love, then I won't stay under your roof."
Athena took one more step until her father's voice stopped her and with what he said next, she could feel her heart already breaking into pieces, "If you leave, we will disown you. You will no longer be Carter's heir and I would never want to see your face again." Andrew looked at his daughter with hope in his eyes, he didn't want to lose her, no father would ever be sane to lose their daughter but here he was threatening his daughter's final exit of his house. Athena continued walking, leaving both father and daughter heartbroken. Once she exited the front door and it slammed shut, Andrew collapsed on his knees, tears fell from his eyes. His daughter. His only daughter had just left him. Amanda fell next to her husband, holding him for support as she balled her eyes out as well, "Our Athena!" She cried in defeat.