I received a summons.
It couldn’t be good.
In a way, I knew it was way overdue and I had anticipated it with dread. As a matter of fact, I thought it would have come sooner than today.
I knew better than to rebel. When the weekend before graduation rolled in, I simply packed my bags and caught the private jet that was already on standby.
“When are you serving the divorce papers?” she began to nag as I got ready to leave.
“I’m not going to divorce my wife, Marlena.’
“She doesn’t want anything to do with you. Are you hoping I’ll let you off the hook and she’ll come running back?”
“One can only hope,” I uttered under my breath.
“I want to come with you,” she whined as I lugged my suitcase down the stairs of our penthouse. “Take me with you. Please?”
“I already told you, no.”
“But I need a break!” she quipped waspishly.
“Don’t make that my problem,” I retorted, wheeling my bag down the hall. “You know the reason I’m here is because you blackmailed me and not to play house.”
“You’ve made that pretty clear,” she remarked with irritation. “You won’t even touch me. Let alone sleep in the same bed.”
“Why would I share your bed, Marlena?” She had tried everything to seduce and entice me. From sneaking into the bathroom while I was in the shower to creeping into my bed at night when I’m sleeping. I had since taken to locking the doors. She was relentless and shameless that it made me want to revolt.
“There was once a time you wanted to-”
“That time is regrettable and has long passed,” I told her as I stepped into the elevator.
“I’ll change your mind…” she smiled and the last thing I saw was her sultry gaze as the doors closed me in.
Taking Marlena was out of the question, although she had tried to persist. Nana wasn’t going to be pleased to see me, what more the one person that was at the center of the chaos. Besides, I was glad to be away from the mistress of manipulation. As the days progressed, I realized how she was so wrong for me and I was so wrong about her. I couldn’t fathom how I was so strung up over her to begin with. More and more, I realized that Paisley was such a breath of fresh air and exactly what I needed. It might sound cliché but the saying is true: you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
I was so anxious that I couldn’t eat or drink anything on the plane. All I nibbled on was my fingernails. My grandmother was going to give me the fourth degree-third was putting it lightly. When I left the island I’d most probably be deaf. Or dead.
Chances are she was going to kill me.
I’m sure she had heard about the breakup by now and she would be anything but pleased by the news. My parents didn’t take it well either and if I thought I couldn’t disappoint them anymore than I already had, I was wrong. My mother couldn’t even look at me these days. My father still had me on mute but voiced his displeasure through his wife.
Across the sea, the beginning glow from the late summer sun broke through the low clouds, signaling an end to the rain.An equally displeased Nana was waiting for me as soon as I landed. She stood outside her Bentley ramrod straight, her grey hair tied back in a severe bun and her face livid, the features pinched and sharp. Her eyes followed me as I disembarked right until I was halted in front of her.
“You know why you’re here.” It was not a question.
I nodded silently.
“You must know I am way beyond disappointed in your recent actions,” she issued in a clipped tone. “I warned you not to hurt her.” She clutched the gold rimmed china in her handbag, which matched perfectly with her classy outfit.
“And you did it anyway.” Again, not a question. “You manipulated that poor, sweet innocent girl-you were probably her first..?” A grey eyebrow rose and she stared at me until I squirmed. “You pursued her. Used her. Discarded her. Manipulated her in the worst way possible. Tricked her into marrying you!” Her face clouded and she paused, staring at me with undiluted revulsion. “You are a disgusting human being, Ryker Pierce!”
Consumed with guilt, I jabbed my hands in my trench coat and my gaze dropped to the tarred road. I had nothing to say that could justify what I did. She was right.
“What does she have on you, Ryker?”
“Nothing.” Avoiding her sharp eyes, I looked to the side.
“Hmm…” she grunted. “You are going to fix this.”
“You are going to win your wife back,” she tipped my chin to meet her gaze, her eyes spitting ice. My grandmother in this mode was terrifying and uncompromising. “I don’t care how you do it. Beg, grovel, and woo her-kiss her feet-heck-sing a song outside her bedroom window. But you will do it. You will win her over. Do you understand me?”
“I can’t, nana.”
“You can,” she pressed her lips together for a moment. “And you will.”
“You don’t understand-”
“What? You finally realized that you’re in love with that-thing?!”
Unable to meet her sharp gaze, I turned to the side. “I do love her.” The words sounded insincere and hollow, even to me. “She’s the love of my life.”
“It’s true.” I murmured, tugging at my beanie.
“Then look me in the eye and repeat your statement…”
I looked straight into her eyes and tried to do as she said, but she was far too intelligent to be made a fool of. My mouth opened but the false words caught in my throat.
“Nothing to say?” she scoffed. “I thought so?”
“I can’t be with Paisley.”
“That’s not what I asked you and you know it.” The scowl faded and she scrunched her brows. “If you don’t do as you’re told, I’m going to cut you off.” She had the power to do that. She was my trustee until I proved I was capable of handling the vast wealth my grandfather bequeathed to me. “You have until graduation,” she said tersely. “You may go.” She turned her stiff back and strode away, her high heels clacking on the tarred road.
“Wait!” Did she bring me all this way just to send me right back. “Is that it?!”
“Go home and sort out your mess. Ryker!” she shouted over her shoulder. “Don’t make me come there,” was her parting shot. She would to. It wasn’t an empty threat.
That wasn’t a threat by the way. She meant every single word she said to me. How do I tell her that for once I was unable to do as she had commanded? Even if by some miracle, Paisley took me back, that would mean getting her dragged in the media circus all over again. She didn’t need that. She deserved a normal life.
Marlena was like a loose cannon. There was no telling what she would do at this point. I couldn’t take the chance of getting thrown in prison again. It had taken a lot of convincing for me to get back my endorsements and contracts. My career was at its peak right now and any wrong move would tip it over the edge. I was not going to risk that in any way.
The only way to fix this was to stay with the witch who made my life a living hell.