A sudden, loud banging on the door disrupted the peacefulness of the moment as we relaxed in the Jacuzzi. Kyle couldn't be bothered to open the door, and I didn't do anything to encourage him. The two of us were both way too lazy to move. The banging continued, this time followed by Liz's furious words, "Kyle! I know you are in there! GET OUT HERE RIGHT NOW!"
"Are you sure it's a good idea to ignore her?"
He gave me a droll look. "Do you want to face her right now?"
"It wasn't my fault. I tried to stop you."
"If you didn't look so damned sexy in that dress of yours, then this wouldn't have happened."
I reflected on that and suddenly giggled.
"If you think about it that way, then it's actually Liz's fault. She was the one who chose the dress."
He chuckled on realizing my logic. "I don't think she would see it your way."
"No. I suppose not."
We looked at each other and burst out laughing. By then, the banging had stopped, and we just assumed that Liz had given up.
"Where do you think she'll go look for us now?" I asked.
"Sam, Aaron, your room."
"You're so evil. Leaving Sam and Aaron to deal with her alone."
"They can suck it up."
"Easy for you to say. You're not the one dealing with her."
He raised an eyebrow at that. "Would you rather that I am?"
"Of course not. You can stay right where you are."
"That's what I thought," he said smugly.
We finally got out of the Jacuzzi when the water became lukewarm and we were dying with hunger. That was when I realized that I didn't have any clothes at all except the ruined dress beside the Jacuzzi. Kyle gave me one of his shirts, but that was not very presentable.
"I guess we have to go to your room." He said after seeing me in his shirt, which was huge on me.
"Can't we just order room service?" I wasn't ready to risk discovery by Liz or anyone else.
"I had something else in mind for dinner today."
He refused to elaborate on it. Instead, he opened the door to his room and tentatively looked out. "It's all clear. Are you ready?"
"Yes…" I was halfway out of the room when I stopped and stared at him, horrified.
"I don't have my key!"
"You're the one who dragged me here with nothing but that dress! What do you expect?"
He slapped his forehead with frustration. "Come back in here," he said, dragged me back in, and shut the door again. He pulled out his cellphone and called someone.
"Who're you calling?"
"Sam. I'm telling him to get your things from the ballroom."
I could tell the moment when Sam answered, because Kyle's expression changed to one of annoyance. "Yeah, yeah, I know, Sam. Calm down. Just deal with her for a moment," he said and rolled his eyes.
There was a while when Kyle didn't say anything, no doubt letting Sam ramble on about what a pain Liz was being. "OK. OK. I got it. It won't happen again. By the way, do you have Elva's stuff? She needs her key to get some clothes."
"I know. I owe you one, man. Thanks."
Hanging up, Kyle looked at me and said, "He'll be here with your stuff in a minute."
"I'm surprised he agreed."
"He's got nothing better to do anyway."
"You're so self-centered. So how's the situation with Liz?"
"Apparently it's been decreed that anyone who sees or even hears from us are suppose to contact her personally, but as of now, Sam is the only one who knows where we are, and he's not going to tell on us."
"You're so sure of yourself. What would you do if we're found?"
His eyes narrowed. "I'd tie him down with stones and throw him in the sea."
"I didn't mean Sam," I said, exasperated. "I meant Liz."
"Kidnap her and just leave her somewhere so she can't leave. When she doesn't show up at the wedding I'll just spread the rumor that she eloped with someone. I'll let her go maybe a week or so after the wedding. In that time I'll marry you instead," he described the plan with the most serious face I have seen.
"You make it sound so easy."
"It is easy."
Finally, Sam was here with my clothes. Kyle went to get the door while I stayed behind in the living room dressed only in his shirt. He came back in carrying the stuff that I left behind at the ballroom when he dragged me up to his room. I jumped up in joy at seeing my clothes and purse.
"God, what would I do without Sam?"
"Perfectly fine," Kyle mumbled.
"Ooh… Is that jealousy I hear?"
He actually looked taken back and a tinge of red appeared in his cheeks. Wow, I actually made him blush. "Just go get changed. I'm hungry as hell."
I sashayed to the bedroom with a secretive smile on my face. Then I quickly changed into my clothes and found that everything was still in my purse. I was afraid that some things would be stolen, but then again, I really had nothing that all the rich people here would find valuable, unless you count Kyle, but he wasn't that easy to steal. If he was, I wouldn't still be here with him.
"Alright. I'm done!"
"Good." God, he looked hot even when he was impatient.
Once again, he opened the door just a little and peeked out to see if anyone was lying in wait for us. When he deemed it clear, we quickly got out and went down the stairs since we didn't want to risk waiting for the elevator. The only people that lived on this floor other than Kyle were his parents and Liz's family, so if we waited for the elevator, it was highly likely that we would be caught.
"Where are we going?" I asked him as we ran down the stairs.
"To the kitchen."
"The kitchen?" I didn't really understand what we could do there. If we wanted to eat, shouldn't we go to a restaurant? Why the kitchen?
The stairs seemed endless. I was actually starting to get dizzy from all the turns when Kyle finally stopped in front me. Since I wasn't even looking ahead by that point, I bumped into him.
"What's the big deal?"
He smiled, amused. "We're here."
He opened the door. A hallway stretched before us. I could somewhat hear people's shouts and orders from ahead of us.
"Are you sure this is a good idea? Liz will find us as soon as we set foot in the kitchen."
"Don't worry. The cook I talked to is someone I trust."
I followed him into the hallway. He walked casually and confidently as if there wasn't anyone trying to find us at all. Soon, the hallway opened up into the kitchen. The place was bustling with activity. Waiters and waitresses were screaming out orders along with the chefs and other assistants. I didn't know how anyone could understand anything in the sea of voices. It must be an acquired ability.
Kyle walked through it all without bothering anybody, although somebody carrying plates almost ran me over. The person glared at me as if asking what the hell I was doing in his way. Other times, I would feel offended, but I really felt out of place in the kitchen. I had no right being here. I was intruding on their work place and technically disrupting them by just being in their way.
Just then, somebody called Kyle's name. We turned at the same time. A young man about Kyle's age wearing chef clothes was running toward us carrying a picnic basket. Then I realized what Kyle had planned, though he could've told me earlier.
"Mike, what's up? Do you have everything I asked for?" Kyle greeted the person with a warm smile.
"Yep." He handed the basket to Kyle. "I'm surprised you dare to come down here. Liz is looking everywhere for you. She's definitely mad at you."
"Madder than usual?" Kyle asked sarcastically.
"Wouldn't be surprised if she stabs you, the way she looked when I saw her earlier." Then he saw me standing behind Kyle. "So who's this?"
"Oh, this is Elva. Elva, meet Mike. We were in school together in Oxford."
"Nice to meet you," I said and we shook hands.
"So she's the reason Liz is spitting fire at everybody."
Kyle merely shrugged and said, "We've got to go before Liz comes down here. I'm sure one of these people has called her already."
"Then go ahead. Have fun!" Mike waved us off and then went back to wherever he came from.
"When did you get time to call down to get a picnic basket?" I asked as we went upstairs toward the exit.
"When you were changing."
"Do you have a place in mind?" I still wasn't familiar with the area. I had no doubt that if we just ate at the private beach behind the hotel, Liz will be on us in no time. He must know that.
"Yeah. No one will find us there."
Instead of ending up outside at the hotel at the beach, which was where I thought we were going, we ended up at the parking lot. Kyle had a Mercedes convertible down here waiting for us. We drove out of the hotel. The sun was just starting to go down. The sky was a beautiful shade of orange, red, yellow, blue, and violet. The wind blowing against my face also felt nice. I didn't care where we were going at the moment. I hoped that we could keep going and going and just leave everything else behind.
We drove about 15 minutes before Kyle turned off the main road and into a wooded area. He parked in a place between two trees that was actually hidden from the road. I followed him out of the car as he grabbed the basket out of the trunk.
"Wow, it's absolutely gorgeous." I stopped when the trees opened up to reveal a pristine white beach with blue waters and an open sky where the sun was slowly sinking below the horizon. I took off my shoes and ran to the water, laughing all the way there. "This place is wonderful. How did you find it?"
The sun's last light was reflected by his eyes, turning them once again into a beautiful, rich golden color. "Let's just say that I have a knack for discovering places."
He said and laid out a blanket on the beach for our dinner. I opened the basket eagerly. It was completely packed with food. There was a fruit tray, a veggie tray, and sandwiches. There was even cheesecake, not to mention…
"Wine?" I took the bottle out of the cooler.
"It's supposed to be romantic."
"Whatever you say." I gave the bottle to him and took out the rest of the food. He, on the other hand, opened up the bottle and poured us each a glass.
"You don't like wine?"
"It's not that. You just never had taste for such classy things back then. It was always beer."
His eyes darkened at my mention of the past. His mask came back on as he looked at me, as if judging me like I judged him. I really should've thought about it before I blurted it out. I just had to go and open my big mouth. Now I've ruined everything.
"I'm not the same person I was 5 years ago," he said coldly.
"Damn it!" I couldn't help but snap at him. "Don't get all cold and defensive on me. Do you really think I care if you drink wine or beer? You're still the same Kyle I love 5 years ago. If you are a different person, I wouldn't have slept with you! Even your damned defense mechanism is the same."
That got a smile out of him. He leaned over and kissed me softly. "Sorry. It was reflex."
I kissed him back. "Well, get over it. I won't be so nice the next time."
"Nice?" His hand played with my hair. "I'd say that was anything but nice. What would not be nice?"
I ran my hand down his cheek teasingly. "A kick where it hurts."
"Ouch. Elva, always so forward."
"Just a warning, so you won't be such a blockhead the next time," I said between kisses.
"I'll try not to."
My stomach growled hungrily just then, which caused him to laugh and move off of me. He handed me a sandwich, which I took graciously and started unwrapping. Then he took his time getting everything out of the basket and laying them out on the blanket. We had a very enjoyable dinner, where we took our time catching up on the last five years. At first I thought it would hurt to hear about his life in England, but after a few minutes I was really curious about everything that had happened to him and wanted to know everything. It was the same with him. Whenever he got a chance, he'd ask me about my life for these last few years. After hearing his tale, I understood him better. I can reconcile the Kyle that I knew with the person that is in front of me right now.
"Am I really not that different than five years ago?" He asked after a while.
I thought about it before I answered. "I can't say you didn't change. When I first saw you after you came back, I thought I didn't know you, because you're so cold and calculating. You were the epitome of a blue blood businessman, but then I realized that you weren't that different. You had to protect yourself somehow to live in the world. Deep down, you're still the same person. It doesn't matter if you drink wine or beer. You're still the Kyle I know when it comes to things that matters."
He didn't say anything to that. I wondered if he had wanted to hear something else. I rested my head on his shoulder and wrapped my arms around him in a comforting embrace. "Would you rather have changed?"
"I don't know. What I know is that I'm not as powerless," he said with a humorless smile. "Father will find that he's more successful than he thinks when it comes to educating me as his successor."
"What do you mean?"
"He's given me the tools to fight him."
"Yes." He held me tighter. "He won't find me obeying his every single command anymore."
I was somewhat scared to hear him talk like this. "Do you have a plan?"
He didn't answer my question directly. Rather, he lifted my head and looked into my eyes. "Do you trust me?"
I had no doubt as I answered him. "Always."
"Good." His smile was rather ruthless.
"Now you're just scary." I pouted.
"Scary?" He looked confused as if not knowing what I was talking about.
"Yes. Just now. That smile. That's one thing they've bred into you."
"What smile?" Now he simply looked amused at my explanation.
"The one that says 'I'm planning your demise but you don't even know it's coming.'"
He laughed at that while I glared at him. "Don't worry. I don't plan on committing any crimes. I just want to show my parents that they can't control everyone in the world. People aren't pawns for them to use just to earn more profit."
"I wish you would tell me what you're planning."
"It's better that you don't know. Just know that no matter what happens or what people say around you, I won't marry Liz."
Even though he told me not to worry, I couldn't help but think about what he could possibly have planned in such a short time. However, as if knowing where my thoughts were going, he kissed me and completely distracted me.
"Do you want to go for a swim?" He asked after pulling away from the kiss.
"Huh?" It took me a moment to understand his meaning. "But I didn't bring my swimsuit."
He rolled his eyes. "It's only the two of us."
"What? Oh…" My eyes widened at his meaning. Then, sensing that he was going to make a smartass comment, I quickly said, "Fine." Then I stood up and started stripping.
He did the same. Then we both ran into the water, which was cool and refreshing. We had a lot of fun just playing around like little kids, splashing each other and pulling each other under. Most of the time, Kyle got the better of me, so I often found myself dragged under. The last time, when I finally resurfaced, he was waiting for me and kissed me. Just like that, one kiss, and it ignited the fire that was between us. Yet, this time, we made love slowly and leisurely on the beach, taking our time exploring each other and savoring each touch as if it was our first time.
We stayed out as long as possible. When we both decided that it was too late, we headed back to the hotel. Although I never wished for the night to end, we still had a lot to do before we could stay together. As long as Kyle doesn't marry Liz, we could stay together forever, just like this, with no one to separate us. What a comforting thought.
We were very cautious when we came back to the hotel. We took a different route than the one we used when we left earlier during the day. However, we still didn't manage to evade Liz. She was waiting for us in front of his room. It was easy to tell that she had been waiting for some time from the expression on her face. Instinctively, Kyle placed himself in front of me as if defending me from her attacks, but I wasn't her first victim. He was.
"How dare you?" Liz's voice was full of anger and hate. It probably was an effort for her not to scream outright at us.
"Dare what?" Kyle was full of cold calmness, so much so that I was even afraid standing behind him. I could only imagine how scary it would be to have his full attention on me if he was in that mood, but maybe Liz had dealt with him enough times to become immune to his coldness.
"Don't play dumb with me! You took her in her bridesmaid dress to god knows where in front of all my friends! How can you do that to me?"
"Really? But you are the one that invited her here, not only a wedding invitation, but as a bridesmaid. It seems to me that you're giving the go for our relationship."
"You know that's not what I meant!" Liz finally started screaming at the top of her lungs.
"What did you mean? Would you like to enlighten me? I can't possibly read your mind."
"I want her to suffer! I want her to see you marry me and know that you're mine and will always be mine!"
"It's too bad things aren't going your way, isn't it?" Kyle paused and took a deep breath. "She'll never see me marrying you."
That brought Liz back down to earth. "What do you mean?" Her voice actually quivered when she asked the question. Her eyes were starting to get moist as well.
"I won't marry you, Liz."
"You will! You can't back out of our engagement!"
"We'll see about that."
"You can't!" She was really crying now, but her voice had risen to a higher pitch and loudness. "You can't! Your parents and mine won't allow you to do such a thing!"
"Your parents and mine don't control me. They won't control me for the rest of my life."
"They can make you marry me."
"Then let them try."
She sniffed. Realizing that nothing more she said could change Kyle's mind, she started to leave. However, when she passed by me, she glared at me and said condescendingly, "I won't let you have him. He's mine."
We'll see about that. I didn't say anything, but just watched her leave.
"She'll go to your parents," I said as we walked into his room.
"It doesn't matter whom she talks to. I won't change my mind about this."
"They'll change it for you," I said, thinking that there was no way he could stand up to the combined forces of his parents and hers.
"I'm not a kid anymore, Elva. I know how to fight back."
"They still have more power than you do. More money. More everything."
"Elva, do you want me to marry Liz? Is that it?" He glared at me.
"No!" I said, horrified. "That's not what I…"
He chuckled and hugged me. "Stop worrying so much. We'll face the obstacles when they come. Now let's just enjoy ourselves."
Then he showed me exactly what he meant by "enjoying ourselves."
Kyle was gone once again when I woke up the next morning. This was becoming a habit. I sighed and looked at his side of the bed longingly, wishing that he was here. I wasn't in the mood to eat breakfast by myself, so I decided to call Sam. He picked up after the first tone, but was somewhat apologetic as he said, "Hey, sorry. I can't talk right now. I'll call you back in ten minutes."
I felt pathetic as I wandered around the room aimlessly while waiting for Sam to call me back. It took him about 11 minutes to call me back. Yeah, I know. Pathetic, right?
"Took you long enough," I said with irritation when I answered the phone.
"Wow! Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed."
I sighed. "Sorry. I'm just feeling useless right now. Have you had breakfast yet?"
"Not yet. You have any place in mind?"
"Not really. I don't really care where we eat, but if you're not busy for the day, why don't we go out and do something?"
"I'm not busy, but what do you want to do?"
"I don't know. Whatever tourists do, I guess. It is my first time in the Bahamas."
"All right. Why don't we eat at the restaurant downstairs, then we'll see what we can find."
"Sounds good. I'll meet you down there?"
"Sure. See you in a few."
I felt much better after the conversation with the thought of something to do for the rest of the day instead of being cooped up at the hotel. I went down to my room and changed. Then basically bounced the rest of the way to the restaurant, so excited was I to discover what the rest of the day had to offer.
Sam smiled amusingly when he saw my bounciness. "Feeling better now?" He asked dryly.
"A lot better," I replied with a huge smile.
"So what were you doing when I called you?" I asked after we both ordered.
He shrugged nonchalantly. "I had to take care of some business."
"Business?" I was truly curious by then. "What business could you possibly have? You're on vacation."
He rolled his eyes. "Just because I'm not the heir doesn't mean I'm not involved in the family business. We were having a merger talk," he said the last sentence quietly.
"Oh. But if Kyle doesn't marry Liz the merger won't go through right?"
"Do you really have that much faith in him?"
"I do. That's why I'm here," I said with conviction. I trust Kyle no matter what. If he said that he wasn't going to marry Liz, then I won't let some merger talk bother me.
"Well, I'll tell you a secret," Sam suddenly said conspiratorially. He paused when the waiter brought our food, and then continued, "The Stylers aren't doing very well."
"Aren't doing very well?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"I don't know the details. Even Uncle and Grandpa don't know everything. Liz's parents are keeping it very quiet, but apparently one of their big investments went under a few months ago and it brought up their liabilities, so the merger would actually bring the corporation more debts than originally planned. I know Uncle's already having second thoughts and is trying to find out more about this."
"Does this mean they might cancel the marriage?"
"I'm not sure about that, since it's so close to the wedding. However, depends on the market for the next few months, the Stylers might recover or might suffer more losses, so the merger is temporarily on hold until Uncle and Grandpa can find out more details."
I took everything into consideration. Despite what Sam had said, it seemed that the marriage was going to happen no matter what happens to the economic situation of the Stylers. I was sorely disappointed. I had momentarily thought that with the merger on hold, the wedding wouldn't happen, but then, what would they tell the guests? They had to let it happen to save their reputation.
"So what do you want to do today?" Sam asked when we were finished with breakfast.
"I don't know. What do tourists usually do?"
He shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I've never been a regular tourist."
Disgusted with him, I went to the lobby and looked at the tourists brochures. In the end I wanted to go see the dolphins, scuba dive, and parasail. When I told him that, Sam was completely agreeable. However, 30 minutes later, we were at the dock and Sam was apparently preparing the private boat his family owned.
"Where are we going?" I asked him, not sure what he was doing.
"You wanted to see the dolphins, right?"
"I wanted to go with a tour group."
"Why?" I asked back, exasperated. "Because it's more fun that way. You can get into the mood. This… this is too…" At a loss for words, I could only point.
"Too what? Trust me. You don't want to deal with all the tourists. I know where the dolphins are, and there are scuba diving gears on board. It's much better this way."
I didn't really believe him, but I followed him on board anyway. "Do you know how to drive this thing?" I asked sullenly when I realized that we were the only ones on board.
"Trust me. I've done this plenty of times."
"Right." I watched the shore slowly getting further and further away while sending a prayer to God for our safe return.
However, even though I was worried, I still enjoyed the ride. We sped through the water at top speed. I couldn't help but laugh at the exhilaration that was building inside of me. When Sam heard me laugh, he shouted over the noise of the boat and water, "Enjoying yourself?"
"Yes!" I screamed back with a bright smile.
The ride ended too soon, much to my disappointment. However, seeing my sad face, Sam chuckled. "Don't worry. You'll see the dolphins soon."
I perked up at that. "Dolphins. Where?"
He pointed toward where another tourist boat was several hundred feet away. I stood at the side and waited impatiently. Soon I saw them. They were little dark shapes racing underneath the water. "Look! Look! There they are!" I jumped up and pointed like a little kid in my excitement. As if responding to my words, two of them jumped out of the water. "They look so free," I said with a dreamy sigh.
"Do you want to go a little closer?"
"Yes." So saying, he started the boat again and drove closer to where the dolphins first appeared. This time, I could really see them clearly. Their lithe bodies moved underneath the water, so elegant but powerful. Sam didn't stop the boat and drove it beside the swimming dolphins. I laughed when one of the dolphins did a jump right beside the boat and splashed water everywhere. Yet, it didn't matter that I was wet. Having them swim beside the boat made me feel just as free as they were.
I didn't know how long we chased the dolphins, but we finally stopped when Sam decided that we should eat lunch. Once again, he stopped the boat not far from an island and took out the food in the fridge. After lunch, I felt rather lazy and didn't want to do anything remotely active. I would've wanted to get tanned outside except I knew instead of getting a tan I'd probably be badly sunburned. Sometimes I just hated my fair skin.
Before I could decide what I wanted to do, my phone went off. My heart soared when I saw that it was Kyle.
"Hey!" I sounded way too cheerful for my own good.
"Where are you?" Unlike me, he was literally growling.
"What's wrong?" I was perplexed by his hostility.
"Nothing. Just where are you?"
"Uh…" I wasn't sure how to answer that as I didn't know where I was exactly. "Sam took me out on the boat because I was tired of being cooped up at the hotel with nothing to do."
"Come back," he grounded out those two words.
"What? But I…"
"Come back here right now!" He cut me off angrily.
"What's your problem?" I couldn't figure out why he was so angry.
"Give the phone to Sam."
"Fine." I snapped and thrust the phone toward Sam. He looked puzzled as he answered, and doubtlessly after hearing Kyle's tone of voice, his eyes narrowed.
"We're near Paradise Island. She wanted to do some scuba diving."
After a short pause, Sam sighed and said, "OK. I'll bring her back."
"I don't want to go back yet," I said, almost petulantly, after he hung up.
"Elva, now's not the time to be angry with him. I'm sure he has a good reason for wanting us back. He's usually not this unreasonable."
I gave up. Truthfully, I wanted to see Kyle and find out what made him this angry, but he better have a good reason for making me go back this early. If I had my choice, then I'd want to spend today with him, no offense to Sam, but because I knew he was probably busy, so I bothered Sam instead. Instead of being grateful, he was angry with me! He'd better have a good reason for it, or else!
"How's everything going?" I asked Grandpa as soon as I was in the room. Sam and Uncle James were already here. There were papers on the desk, no doubt for the things we were discussing today.
"You're late," Mr. Lebrun said sternly.
"I'm sorry," I said almost automatically, although I wasn't really sorry. It had been hard to get up and leave with Elva right next to me. I had almost decided to just stay there with her. If this meeting wasn't so important, then I definitely would've stayed beside her.
Grandpa sighed as if knowing I didn't really mean it, but he ignored that and answered my first question, "It's going well, actually. Nobody seems to suspect anything. I've bought everything under different names. A little here and a little there. It shouldn't be any problem, but it'll still take a few more days for us to get all that we need."
"But it will be done before the wedding?"
"Yes." This time, it was Uncle James who answered.
"How much will we have in total?"
"A bit more than 50%. Just barely."
"They really don't suspect anything?" I asked again just to make sure. Usually, Father was quiet keen on this subject, but lately he'd been more focused on the economic welfare of the Styler Corporation than his own due to the Styler's loss.
"Not yet, but if we drag this out, somebody in the company will notice and probably inform him. Let's just hope that investigating the Stylers will keep him busy until then," Uncle James said.
Before I could say anything else, Sam's phone rang. He looked at it and then looked at me while answering, which made me suspect who it was on the other line. "Hey, sorry. I can't talk right now. I'll call you back in ten minutes."
After he hung up, I asked my next question, hating the uncertainty that question presented. "Will this work?"
"It's the only way that you can get out of this situation. If you don't want to marry Liz, then you have to control everything and take it away from Adam."
I looked at Grandpa and said dryly, "I don't really want it, you know."
"You won't really have it. I don't plan on giving it to you just yet," was his answer.
"Good. Is there anything else I should know?"
Uncle James shook his head. "Nothing else. I'll let you know when everything's ready."
"Cool." I looked at the clock and grimaced when I saw the time. "It's time for the merger meeting."
"I'll pass on it. Something's came up that I have to take care of," Sam said and headed for the door.
"Sam, you need to go to this meeting. You're a part of this company too," Uncle James said sternly.
He simply shrugged. "You didn't even need me here for this meeting. What's the point if I go to the other one? None of you will even listen to what I say, so it's no big deal if I don't show up. The merger doesn't really affect me either way, so I'll just sit out of this one." Then he left before his father could get another word in.
"That kid. One of these days he needs to learn how to carry on his legacy."
"He's still young," Grandpa said kindly. "Let him do whatever he wants right now. It won't be long before he finds something meaningful to do with his life."
I stayed quiet throughout the discussion. Sam reminded me of myself when I was younger, when I tried desperately to rebel against my family and my legacy. Yes, he'll eventually come to grips with who he truly is and his place in the world, but not too soon. Right now, he should go enjoy himself. The problem was that phone call. I had an awful suspicion that it was Elva, but why would she call him and not me? Despite everything that has happened in the last few days, I still find myself overly jealous when it comes to Sam and Elva.
Soon we arrived at the conference room. The meeting had already started as my grandfather had given them the go earlier, saying that he had some other business to take care of before coming here, and that I would be with him, along with Uncle James. We walked in just as Mr. Styler was talking. "You can't postpone the merger!" He was saying with indignation. "We already have the terms all drawn out. The marriage will be the start of the merger!"
"Mr. Styler, please calm down. I understand your agitation, but you have to understand our position. The merger was meant as a benefit to both of our companies, but as of now, with the investment loss that has just occurred this year in your corporation, it is the best for both of our families that the merger be postponed until your company is in a better position," Kyle's father, Adam Lebrun, said with perfect calm and easiness.
"My company is perfectly fine. The investment loss didn't affect anything," Mr. Styler stated with clenched teeth.
"Then you wouldn't mind if I have some of my people look over your financial statements for the last quarter, Carl," Mr. Lebrun said with a wolfish smile.
Mr. Styler blanched at that, but he couldn't back down. "Yes, of course. I want the merger done as soon as possible."
"Yes, I want the same thing as well. I trust you will have everything faxed over to Fred's office. As soon as he looks over the statements and find nothing amiss, we'll announce the merger right after Kyle and Liz's wedding."
"All right." Mr. Styler said reluctantly while I wondered what he was planning. While it had been kept on the down low, the Stylers definitely suffered a huge loss recently from their investment. No doubt it will show on their financial statements, so the fact that he agreed to let Fred and his team examine those statements means that he had something up his sleeve.
The meeting was quickly over while they hassled out some other details dealing with the merger if it should happen right after the wedding. Little did they know that there wouldn't be a wedding. If they want the merger, go ahead, but I wouldn't be another pawn in their little game.
Just as I was about to leave the room after the meeting with Grandpa, who didn't really agree with the merger, Father called my name. Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and looked at us.
"Do you need something?" I answered insolently.
His eyes flashed with anger, but he retained his outward calm. "Mr. Styler told me that you spoke to Liz yesterday about there not being a wedding?"
"Yes, I did."
"What was the meaning of that?"
"Nothing. She needed to learn her place. If I am to be her husband, then she should learn not to question my every move."
An arrogant eyebrow shot up at my reply. "You mean to say that she should overlook your affairs?"
"I don't recall having an affair. I simply took Elva out to show her the view. It's her first time here at the Bahamas. Since Liz was too distracted to treat her guest, I thought I would do the honors."
"Then I take it to mean you have nothing against the wedding."
"Nope. None whatsoever," I stared into his eyes as I lied. I had to make sure that he didn't suspect anything unusual was going on. However, I could tell he didn't completely believe me, but that he would continue to observe me for the next few days until the wedding.
"Then in the future please refrain from upsetting your wife-to-be. It was quiet hard to calm her down last night after your hurtful words."
"I'll try my best. Now if you'll excuse me." I left with Grandpa and Uncle James, leaving the rest of them to ponder my words. I could care less what they thought of me and my actions. As long as they were oblivious to what we were doing, they could whisper behind my back whatever they wished.
"Elva will hear about this," Grandpa said when we were safely in the elevator. "Liz will go find her first when she hears about this from her father."
That disturbed me a little, but then I thought of last night, when she said she trusted me. "Elva will be fine. She won't believe Liz."
"I certainly hope so."
I went to my office afterwards to take care of more business that Father had dumped on me just yesterday. Doubtlessly it was "busy work" for me to stop spending all my time with Elva. You'd think that since I was getting married, he'd cut me some slack, but no, business goes on just as usual. The wedding was nothing more than a business transaction.
I was doing my own little research on the Styler Corporation and its recent investment loss when Liz marched in with a smug smile on her face. Sitting back in my chair, I observed her with narrowed eyes as I said, "I guess you've heard about what I said in the meeting."
"Oh yes. But don't think for a minute that I believe you," she replied coyly. Her smugness bothered me. If she didn't believe me, then where was her confidence coming from? As if reading my mind, she continued on, "I don't suppose you know where Elva went, do you?"
I haven't really checked, but I just assumed that she was probably in her room. I was planning on taking her out to lunch a little later. "Did she go somewhere?" I couldn't let Liz know that her question bothered me. If she knew how unsettled I was, then I'd already lost our little battle.
"You don't know!" I clenched my teeth at her faked surprise.
"Liz, I'm sick of playing this game of yours. Either you tell me what you want, or I'll throw you out right now."
At least she was smart to realize that I wasn't joking when I said I'd throw her out. She shrugged and said, "I guess I'll tell you. She went out with Sam."
I laughed. "Is that all you had to tell me?" Her eyes narrowed at my reaction. "They're good friends. I thought you had something more important than that."
"Are you sure they're just friends?" She asked viciously. My face turned to stone the moment she said those words. If looks could kill, she'd be dead right now. "After all, they spent the last few years together while you were off to England. Who knows that kind of relationship they'd developed? Maybe she has him as a backup. You never know. Even if she loses you, she'd still have a claim on the corporation through Sam."
"Not everyone is a gold-digging whore like you," I gritted out.
She looked shocked and offended at my suggestion. "How could you say that? I don't need the money."
"With the rate your family's losing on investments, soon you'll all be out on the street begging for money," I said with a smirk and savored the shock on her face.
"The corporation is doing fine."
I snorted at her ridiculous comment. "That just shows how much you know about the family business. You'd better save up some money before you lose everything to your creditors."
"How could you!" She slammed both her hands on the table.
"How could I what?" She backed away from my cold stare. "Even if I marry you, and that's a big if, the merger won't be taking place. As soon as Styler Corporation files for bankruptcy, you'll be out of my life."
"You…you can't! You're my husband."
"Ever heard of divorce? I already have a divorce lawyer waiting for my call." That wasn't true, but what the heck? If I was scaring her, then I might as well add that to it. Deep down, I felt bad about everything, but when I thought of how much shit I had to go through because of her, I decided that I deserved my revenge.
"You'll never get rid of me that easily," she threatened and stormed out of my office.
We'll see about that.
With Liz out of my sight, my mind returned to Sam and Elva. Sure, I'd told Liz that the fact they were together didn't bother me, but that was just a blatant lie. No matter what I told myself, I couldn't help the jealousy that was slowly starting to consume my feelings. Once again, I saw those two laughing together at the racetrack. I knew that if I took myself out of the picture, eventually Elva will accept Sam. Knowing Sam as well as I do, he already has feelings for Elva, but he was just being a gentleman about this entire thing.
Just thinking about this entire thing made me angry as hell, but I had no one to blame except for myself. Before I could stop myself, I dialed Elva's number. She answered cheerfully on the second ring, but I couldn't bring myself to match her tone of voice.
"Where are you?" I asked and grimaced at how rough I sounded.
I wasn't in the mood to answer her questions. I just wanted her to be back here beside me with Sam staying far away from her. "Nothing. Just where are you?"
"Uh…" She hesitated, as if she was trying to hide something from me yet not knowing what lies to tell, which only made me lose even more control. Before I could say anything, she continued, "Sam took me out on the boat because I was tired of being cooped up at the hotel with nothing to do."
"Come back!" I ordered.
"What? But I…"
"Come back here right now!" I cut her off rudely and could basically see her eyes glare angrily at my words.
"What's your problem?"
Ignoring her question, I said, "Give the phone to Sam."
A few seconds later, Sam spoke, "Something wrong? Elva's ready to kill you."
"Yeah! Where on Earth did you take her?"
"We're near Paradise Island. She wanted to do some scuba diving."
That only made it worse. I couldn't fathom why Elva would drag Sam out instead of me if she wanted to have some fun. Did she really prefer his company over mine? Did the last few days mean nothing to her? Or has our relationship changed so much that despite our physical desires we can't even be friends anymore?
"Bring her back right now!" I ordered, but felt bad about it right afterwards. I was surprised when Sam didn't say something caustic back, but instead just agreed, "OK. I'll bring her back."
"Thank you." I was relieved that he hadn't decided to argue with me. That was the last thing I needed at the moment. I sat back in my chair and sighed, hating this entire thing. Right now, I just wanted some peace, but things just seem to spin out of control more and more. I couldn't wait for the wedding day so that this will all be over.
My anger was gone even before Sam and Elva came back. Elva, on the other hand, seemed to be just the opposite. She didn't even bother to come find me. Instead, it was Sam that found me sitting at my office looking out of the window.
"You better go talk to her," Sam said after I turned around to face him.
I grimaced. "I guess I have to. I don't know what I was thinking. It's just when Liz told me you two had gone out together, I…"
Sam's eyes narrowed. "You still think there's something between Elva and me?"
"I don't know what I think anymore. You're good for her. You won't hurt her like I did."
"She doesn't love me."
"But feelings can change."
"Kyle, if she still loves you after these five years, she'll still love you after fifty years. We've already had this conversation."
"I know. I know." I sighed and stood up. "I'll go talk to her now. Sorry for the trouble."
"Oh, it wasn't any trouble at all. Good luck with Elva."
I glared at his blithe tone, but I thought about what I have to say to Elva while in the elevator. How should I explain myself to her? If I tell her the truth, she would be even angrier since I had asked her for her trust, but in the end I wasn't able to trust her. However, if not the truth, what could I tell her? Nothing else made sense for why I would be so angry. It wasn't like she had done anything wrong.
I still wasn't ready as I stood in front of her door, but I knocked anyway. I'll just let things unfold however it would. Surprisingly, Elva opened it without giving me any trouble. She didn't look angry, but rather sad and guarded in a way, which totally threw me off track. I was prepared to have a verbal match with her, but now she looked in no shape to have any arguments. Instead, I wanted to just hold her and comfort her.
"You're not mad at me?" I asked once we were in the living room and she hadn't said anything at all.
She sighed. "Sam told me why you were angry."
That was another surprise. "What did he tell you?"
"That you're jealous and insecure."
"I'm sorry." That was all I could say.
"You can't expect me to trust you, but at the same time don't give me the same trust. It doesn't work that way."
"I know!" I ran a hand through my hair in frustration. "I shouldn't have let Liz get to me like that."
Her eyes narrowed in anger. "What did she say?"
"It doesn't matter what she said. I shouldn't have listened to it. I'm sorry."
She looked grim and uncompromising, and I was searching my brain for something that would make her forgive me, but then she surprised me with a bright smile. "Apology accepted, but you do owe me one scuba diving lesson."
I sighed inwardly with relief and asked, "Do you want to go right now?"
She gave me an annoyed look. "No. I just got back. Thanks to you."
"Tomorrow then. It's a promise." Then I remembered something. "Why didn't you ask me in the first place? Why did you ask Sam instead? I'd have been happy to take you."
"First of all, you weren't even here when I woke up this morning. I thought you'd be busy, with the wedding and whatever you're planning, so I called Sam instead."
I'm such a fool, I realized. She's done nothing but trust me, but I couldn't even give her a little credit for that. Instead I'd doubted her. I didn't deserve her at all. Overcome by my emotions, I pulled her into my arm and buried my face in her hair, taking comfort in the scent and feel of her. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?"
She looked up at me playfully, "Maybe a little, but I'd rather you show me how much you love me."
"You wish is my command."
The next day, Kyle and I were about to leave for some scuba diving when his phone suddenly started ringing. He looked rather alarmed as he saw the caller ID, which made me wonder if something bad had happened.
"Hi, did something happen?" There was a short pause.
"What?" Kyle shouted. He was even more alarmed than before. I started to worry. What could have startled him so much?
"OK. I'll be there in a few minutes." After hanging up, he turned to be apologetically, "Sorry. Something came up. I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Don't worry about me. I'll be here."
He left just like that. A part of me couldn't shake off the trepidation I felt at his departure. Something was wrong. I knew it, but what? I wanted to chase after him and tell him not to go, but I dismissed the feeling. Maybe I was just being too paranoid. He'll be back before I know it.
However, after an hour had passed with no sign of Kyle, I was worried to death. When I tried to call him, I only got his voice mail. Therefore I called Sam. I was about to give up when Sam finally answered.
"Where is he?" I demanded.
"I know you know! Just tell me, damn it! He got a call this morning and left, but he never came back." To my surprise, my voice started to quiver and I felt tears burning behind my eyes.
"He's under house arrest."
"House arrest?" Surely that wasn't what he said.
"Not for any crime he committed. It's under his father's orders. He is locked up with no contact to the outside world until the day of the wedding."
"What happened? His father never did anything like this before. It's not like he didn't know Kyle never wanted to marry Liz. And where is Kyle?"
"Honestly, I don't know where he is. He could be in another hotel for all I know. His father didn't tell us anything and just took him away. As for what happened, his father found out about Kyle's little plan to get out of the marriage. He was furious, even at Grandpa."
"What was Kyle's plan? Maybe I could help."
"Unless you own 5% of the corporation's stock, then maybe we still have a chance."
"You mean Kyle's plan was to take over the business by force?"
Sam hedged a little at that. "Well, he didn't really want the business. He just wanted to have the power to threaten his father so that he wouldn't have to marry Liz. As long as his father agrees, then he won't have to actually take over the company."
"But now his father knows before you guys have enough shares, right?"
My mind worked furiously as I slowly figured out what Kyle had been up to in the last few weeks. He had to have been planning this for a while. It takes a long time to buy that much stock belonging to one corporation and to not be noticed until now. All the while, he'd put up the façade in front of his parents and Liz. I wished he'd told me his plan earlier so that I could have helped him. Now it was too late.
"Thanks, Sam. Can you try to find Kyle? I want to talk to him if possible."
"I'll try, but I can't promise anything. Uncle Adam is furious beyond belief. He would not even listen to Grandpa. I doubt I'll be able to find Kyle without anybody noticing, much less sneaking you off to see him. Uncle Adam probably has you under watch as well, so be careful."
"I will. Thanks again."
After hanging up, I racked my brain for ideas, but none came to me. Although I do not understand all the complexities that underlies a takeover, but I know the basics. If they only needed 5% more of the stocks, then that means they probably already have the rest, but where could I get that much needed 5%?
Then I remembered something and my mouth curved into a smile as bright as sunshine. Yes. I could do it. Then I picked up the phone and started dialing a very familiar number.
The day of the wedding was finally here. I paced back and forth in the living room of the suite as I had done for the last hour or so while Kyle's Grandpa, Sam, and Uncle James looked on. The ceremony is starting in two more hours, but the people we were waiting for still hadn't arrived yet.
"Damn it! Just where are they?" I glared around in frustration.
Grandpa came over to me and patted my shoulder gently. "Calm down, child. They'll be here soon enough."
"Why couldn't they get have gotten an earlier plane? It's not like they weren't invited to the wedding in the first place."
"They had some business to take care of. Stop pacing before you drive all of us crazy. They'll be here before the wedding," Sam growled and literally dragged me and pushed me into the sofa.
I thought about jumping up and continuing to pace back and forth, but Sam was standing there with a black scowl on his face. If I even tried to annoy him anymore, he'd probably tie me to the sofa or something. Therefore, I glared at him as I crossed my arms in front of me. After maybe two minutes of this glaring contest, I turned to Grandpa and asked uncertainly, "Will everything work out? What if they won't let him go?"
In the last few days, no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't find where Kyle's father had hidden him under the so called "house arrest." As for me, I was sick of seeing Liz's smug expression. Whenever she had the chance, she'd talk about the last time she saw Kyle, which only pissed me off even more, but then I'd think about what she didn't know, and took pleasure in the fact I was going to ruin her wedding.
"It will. This time Adam can't stop us anymore." Then he added dryly, "Although this is more based on our luck then skill. Now why don't you go do whatever you're supposed to do as a bridesmaid and let us handle the rest?"
I grimaced just thinking about Liz's gloating, but I was here as a bridesmaid. I couldn't really shirk my duty after all, not to mention being a bridesmaid allowed me to better see the shock on her face when she realizes that she wouldn't get to marry Kyle after all.
Before I left the room, I threw one last look back at Grandpa, who nodded and waved me off. I dreaded every step that took me to Liz's room where she was getting ready. When I got there, I realize that she really didn't have any use of me and all the bridesmaids are instead in another room getting ready by themselves. When the bridesmaids realized I was in the room, all the chatter stopped as everyone turned to look at me. Some of them gave me looks of pity while others like Victoria sent me smirks.
Jennifer and Leah came out of the group towards me. "You poor thing, I'm so sorry," Jennifer crooned.
I sent her a forced smile. "Well, this is what I am invited here to do."
"You don't have to do this, you know," Leah said gently. "We all know why Liz invited you here. You don't have to put up with her."
"Yeah, you should take the next flight home and learn from this experience. Next time don't look for guys that are already taken and way out your league," Victoria added viciously.
I totally ignored her and said, "I can't let Liz's hospitality go to waste. Now if you don't mind I'd like to get ready for the wedding." So saying, I moved to the corner of the room where Leah and Jennifer were. Out of all the bridesmaids here, they were the only ones I could count on for now. All the while, as I dressed up, they sent worried glances my way, but refrained from saying anything. As I dressed I was worried about if the plan would work, but there was no way I could find out right now.
When most of us were finished dressing up and getting ready, we decided it was time to meet our bride. When I saw Liz, no matter how much I disliked her, I still have to grudgingly agree that she was one of the most beautiful brides I had ever seen, not that I'd seen that many brides, but anyway, anyone seeing her right now without knowing her true manipulative self would think that she was the most lovely woman in the entire world. Her wedding dress was a traditional white one, with the top part hugging her figures perfectly while the bottom part fanned out in layers. Her hair was done up in one of those complicated up-dos that you'd only see in magazines. At this moment, everything about her was perfect.
It almost made me feel bad about having to ruin her wedding, until she spotted me and spoke, "Look who's here. I'm surprised you didn't take the first plane out of here today."
"I'm still your bridesmaid, remember?"
"Oh yes. Otherwise you wouldn't even be invited."
"I wouldn't be so sure of that," I murmured as I remembered Kyle when he first returned. Would he have invited me to his wedding? Maybe not. I couldn't be sure. At that time, we were both sure that there was no way we could be together, but then again, he'd have been already implementing his plan to take over the company, so he didn't plan on marrying Liz after all, but then again that didn't mean he was going to invite me to a wedding that wasn't going to happen.
After our little verbal match was over, some of the bridesmaid started complimenting on how beautiful she looked. As for me, I stayed in the back of the room and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible while pondering how this wedding will turn out. Luckily, I didn't have long to brood on this very long as someone I didn't know told us that we should go now for the wedding was about to start. After everyone wished Liz good luck, except for me, we filed out of the room and headed to the church where the wedding was going to take place.
As we got closer and closer to the church, I was getting more and more nervous. Once inside the church, I looked for Grandpa, Uncle James, and Sam. Grandpa was sitting in the front row with Kyle's parents while Uncle James and Sam sat behind him on the second row. On seeing me, he gave me a slight nod and tilted his head to the side a little. I turned to look in that direction and smiled happily with relief when I saw the people I was waiting for.
Kyle finally entered after what seemed like forever. He looked extremely handsome in his tux, but from where I was standing I could tell that the past few days had been hard on him. He looked a little worse for wear. His eyes were just a little bloodshot and there were black circles under his eyes. When he saw me, his face was stricken with sadness. I wished I could just tell him now that he wouldn't have to marry Liz, that I'd found a solution to our problem.
When Liz walked in with her father, everyone gasped. Even though I'd already seen her, she looked differently somehow with the sunlight streaming through the rose-colored stain glass and falling around her like a halo. However, Kyle was the only one unaffected by her as he stared straight ahead without even looking at his bride-to-be.
Then the priest started speaking the words of holy matrimony. Somewhere along the way my eyes met his and my heart ached at the agony in his eyes, but there was also a resolve I couldn't understand. It was as if he knew another way to end this somehow.
So lost was I in his gaze that I didn't even notice that the priest had already asked Kyle to say "I do." It was only when he pronounced a loud "No!" that I crashed back to earth. Everyone was just as shocked as I was. Murmurs started to spread through the guests like wildfire as everyone started to talk about Kyle's answer.
Before the priest could ask for a clarification, Kyle turned toward the guests and said with a confidence he shouldn't have, "I will not take Elizabeth Anna Styler as my wife."
His father shot out of his seat like a bullet. "How dare you?" He hissed quietly, as if that would make this any less of a scandal.
However, Kyle didn't care about discretion as he loudly answered, "I cannot promise to love and cherish Liz for the rest of my life until death to us apart. I don't love her. I cannot lie to God by agreeing to take her as my wife."
Liz was slowly backing away from the altar and shaking her head in denial. Tears were gathered in her eyes and ready to spill over at any moment. Her father stood up and asked furiously, "What is the meaning of this?"
"Kyle, take Liz as your wife this instant! Or…"
"Or what?" Kyle broke in.
"Or I'll disown you and ruin you for the rest of your life. Along with Elva's and anyone associated with the two of you. No one will want the two of you and you will come back begging me for mercy."
"That's enough!" Grandpa semi-roared and marched over to where Kyle and his father were by the altar. "Adam, if Kyle doesn't want to marry Liz, then let him be."
"You can't. You've already signed the marriage contract. You cannot go back on your word," Mrs. Styler said triumphantly.
"The marriage contract only works if they're married. And since they're not married, then it's void." Grandpa pointed out angrily.
"Father, please stay out of this." Mr. Lebrun used the same commanding voice he had with Kyle. "You must know that they must be married for the merger to take place."
"Screw the merger!" Grandpa waved his hand and said with uncharacteristic acrimony. "I'd like our corporation to stay independent of their stinking business."
"Right now I am the CEO of the company, and both our boards had voted in favor of the merger. Now if you'll stop messing with my plans for the future of our corporations…"
At this time, I couldn't stand to stay silent any longer and butted it, "Actually, that's not true anymore."
Now every eye in the room turned to me. "Explain yourself," Mr. Lebrun commanded.
"You're no longer the CEO anymore." Everybody's eyes widened at my pronouncement, even Kyle's. I continued on when I saw that Mr. Lebrun was about to speak. "Grandpa and Kyle had already bought up 46% of the company by the time you revealed to them that you know. At that time you had already ordered the buyback of the rest of the stocks that was in the market, but you didn't realize that the stocks your family members owned were not counted in the stocks that were floating in the market."
As if seeing a hole in my plot, his lips curved into a victorious smile. "Unfortunately for you, I did count. Other than Kyle, my father, James, Sam, my wife, and myself, the only one that owns any more stock in my family is Cissy, but she only owns 2% of the stocks. That only gives them 48%, not enough to take over the company."
"But you forgot the last 3%," I pointed out triumphantly.
"There's no last 3%," Mr. Lebrun denied. I could tell that he believed what he was saying.
"Yes, there is, or did you forget about Evan?"
"Evan?" He was truly shocked, so was everyone else except for those that already knew what was going on. "Evan didn't own any stocks," he said after recovering a little from his shock.
"Actually, he did." This time it was Grandpa who corrected him. "Although he and his mother wanted nothing to do with us, I tried my best to provide for them after what you did. When he showed some interests in investment during his teens, I had it bought for him as a gift so that he could play around with it and learn the trade."
"But he's dead."
"Yes, but the stocks are still here, and his mother has the rights to them." Grandpa pointed to one of the back aisles. Mr. Lebrun staggered a little when he saw Evan's mother staring at him with hatred.
"So you see," I continued, "We have enough shares to remove you, but that's not our plan. We want nothing to do with you or the board unless you still insist on forcing Kyle to marry Liz."
Mr. Lebrun's expression was stern and unyielding, as if he didn't care about his position, but then again, this wasn't only about him. All the board members were present there as well, and at hearing that they could be removed from their position in the company, their dissent was apparent. Finally, Mr. Lebrun saw that there was no way out for him.
"All right. The wedding is canceled. You win."
A giant smile split my face as I ran toward Kyle. He lifted me up easily and kissed me. I moaned with pleasure at the feel of his lips on mine. It's been too long since I'd last seen him and touched him.
"No!!!" The wailing cry broke us apart. I turned to see Liz collapsed on the floor sobbing her heart out. "No! No! No!" She wailed with agony as her mother and half of the bridesmaid rushed over to tend to her. I saw that Jennifer and Leah were standing to the side and smiling at me.
"How could you break our agreement?" Mr. Styler shouted at Mr. Lebrun, who glared at him.
"I had no choice."
"I can't believe you let a bunch of kids get the better of you," Mr. Styler's face twisted with disgust.
"You say that now, Carl, but you'd better worry about your own position first before you reprimand me. Don't think that I don't know how much you've lost on the investment no matter how hard you are trying to cover it," Mr. Lebrun said and then left.
By then, the church had mostly cleared out with only few people still loitering around hoping to catch some more drama. Evan's mother was one of those still here. I took Kyle's hand and went over to see her. "Thank you for your help, Ms. Peterson."
She smiled warmly. "I didn't really do anything. I don't even remember have those stocks if Mr. Lebrun didn't call me and ask me about them. Besides, it's the least I could do for you," she looked at Kyle gratefully. "You made a difference in Evan's life. He wouldn't have been the man he was without you or Cissy."
"Thank you. He was a great brother. If there's anything you need, I'll be here," Kyle said softly.
"You two should be happy together. I think I'll go back to the hotel for now," she said and left.
"Congratulations!" Cissy rushed over to us with Jed behind her. "I can't believe it. You two really did it."
"We couldn't have done it without you." I gave her a giant hug.
"Pshh. I didn't even have to do anything."
"But if it weren't for your stocks…"
"We didn't make the difference. Ms. Peterson did. I just wish that we could do more for her. She still grieves over Evan's death," she said sadly.
"I know. There must be something we can do for her," I concurred, but how could we ever make up for the loss of her son?
"We can think of something later. Now it's the time to celebrate." Cissy forced a bright smile on her face for our sake.
Kyle wrapped his arms around me and nuzzled my neck softly. "Let's go back to my room first. I missed you these last few days," he whispered so that Cissy and Jed wouldn't hear.
Desire shot through me like lightning. We quickly said our good-byes to Cissy and Jed and then flew off to some place very private. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly with each other and made up for the last few days.
Later that night, I stood on the deck of the yacht that belonged to Kyle, watching the light of the city reflected in the waters. A gentle peace had settled over me in the last few hours since the end of the wedding. All my fears were gone. Yet, I felt somewhat aimless, rather like the yacht that was drifting on the waters. I didn't know what to do anymore. In the last few weeks, rather, in the last few years, I'd had one goal. Now that was accomplished I didn't know what to do anymore.
"It's really over, isn't it?" I said when Kyle came over to stand beside me.
"Yes, it is."
"Why do you think your father never thought about that last 3% of the shares?"
"I think he knows there was still 3% out there, but in his arrogance, he thought that if he couldn't find it easily then there was no way any of us could find it before the wedding to stop him. Not to mention, even if we did find the owner, it didn't mean the owner would be willing to sell it to us."
I pondered his answer for a moment. He was probably right. Then I asked the question that had been on my mind for the last few hours, "So what now?"
He looked at me quizzically. "What do you mean?"
"Now that you don't have to marry Liz anymore, what will become of us?"
His lips curved into a handsome smile. "Do you really have to ask me that?"
Before I could say anything, he suddenly kneeled down in front of me. At that moment, my world stopped. Even though my heart picked up speed and I thought I was starting to hyperventilate. Oh no, he couldn't…he wouldn't… but he did.
He took my hand in his. My eyes met his and I was trapped in the love I saw there. His words flowed over me like honey as my entire world turned on its axis. "Elva Dermont, you have shown me what it is like to love and be loved. For the last few years, you have been my world. Now, with no one to stop me, to stop us, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, so will you marry me?"
Then he took out the ring I recognized. He had given it to me five years before, but how had he gotten it? I had left it back home before coming here, but that question quickly vanished when he kissed my hand softly. When he looked at me again, his eyes were filled with love and hope, hope for the future. "Will you be my wife?"
Just then, I realized that this was what I wanted. I was no longer floating in a sea of aimlessness. Blinking back the tears that had suddenly clouded my vision, I kneeled down in front of him. Taking his face in my hands, I kissed him lovingly, enjoying the feel of his firm and warm lips on mine. When I pulled back from him, I stared into his eyes so that he could see the resolution and love I felt.
Then, with happiness flowing out from the very soul of my being, I gave him my answer. "Yes! My answer is yes!"
A/N: FINALLY! AFTER ALL THESE YEARS! IT'S FINALLY OVER!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the chapter!!!!! Thanks for your support all these years, even after I stopped updating for so many years.