A/N-Okay, Okay. Way past the deadline, I know. But trust me, I was supposed to post this even later because I just got sick recently. There's a huge pack of tissues next to my laptop and my nose is so horribly red my brother laughs at it every time he sees it. In fact, I'm not exactly supposed to be using my computer for more than a couple of hours since I'm supposed to be resting, so I fear this chapter may be a little short to what you guys are used to.
Anyways, enjoy this chapter, and like the last chapter, no fluff, more drama! :D
No freaking way.
The will reading was over and people were leaving the study but I stayed rigid on my seat, mouth literally open in shock next to my mother whose expression probably mirrored mine.
Mr. Clarke coughed and started reading the will again. I zoned out and started playing with the frayed threads from my sweater, but I felt his gaze on me and I looked up, embarrassed.
He cleared his throat and spoke. "Mr. Christopher John Williams left not only his English mansion and various other estates in the world, but also majority of his assets including but not limited to Williams Motors, John the III, The Regent, and his large fortune to his—"
I swear people leaned forward, eyes widening at this moment. I noticed Samantha's face looking eager than most, her mouth forming a half-smirk.
"—Daughter, Ms. Dana Williams, and to his granddaughter, Tori."
My mouth dropped open and from my peripheral vision, I could see Samantha looking half-shocked and half-disgusted, her eyes shooting daggers at my mother and I.
It was insane how a grandfather I never even met left more than fifty percent of his gigantic fortune to his daughter who ran away from him with her husband, and to me, the granddaughter he never saw grow up; someone he must have despised for quite some time along with his daughter, yours truly.
The room emptied and suddenly the study seemed vast and large, soft sounds echoed loudly. Every nuance, every breath, every footstep—they were all clearly heard because of the silence in what seemed to be the room than changed everything. So it came to me as a surprise when I saw Kierran and his uncle still seated in the back, the former with his head bowed down while the latter smiled beatifically at my mother and I.
"Hello, Dana," he said, his mouth curling up into a smile, but for some reason, it looked sinister. "And little Tori," he added.
I grimaced. "Hi Mr. Grey." I looked over at Kierran. "Kierran? Can we talk?" Now that I was less surprised about the whole will thing, I could focus on Kierran. Loads of questions were flowing in my brain and I had so much to ask him.
What was he doing in England?
Why did he look so guilty?
But the most important of all—What was he doing at my grandfather's funeral, of all places?
He finally lifted his head so that his stormy gray eyes met mine. Now that I could see him closely, I noticed that his face grew thinner and he had eye bags. He nodded slightly and got up to follow me out of the room. But right before I left, I saw his uncle give him a warning glance that clearly screamed "if you do something wrong, you're going to face my wrath."
Hm, definitely something fishy.
I pulled Kierran into a random room and crossed my arms. "Why are you here?"
Kierran tugged on the collar of his shirt uneasily, his gaze dropping down to the floor again. "Well-ah, I think my uncle was quite close with your late grandfather and—" His lower lip trembled and I knew he was lying.
I tipped his chin up so that I could stare into his eyes. "The truth."
"Yes, the truth."
He sighed and shoved his hands inside his pockets. "You're going to hate me after I tell you."
What did he do that was so bad?
"I—I won't." Would I? I couldn't promise not hating him if what he did was unforgivable, something so bad that it could drastically affect my life or the life of any of my loved ones.
He slumped down on the ground, hearing the uncertainty in my voice. Covering his head with his hands, he whispered, "What have I done?"
"Please?" I tried. "Please." An edge of vulnerability crept into my voice and his head lifted up.
He groaned, giving in to my request. "Alright," he said firmly, standing up. He took two long strides so that he was right in front of me and he stared unflinchingly into my eyes.
"The whole reason I transferred schools and the only reason I'm here at your grandfather's funeral is because of my uncle."
"What does that have to do with me?" I asked warily.
He sighed. "Are you going to let me finish?"
I hesitated then nodded quietly.
"My uncle—" Before he continued, Kierran locked the door to the room and led me to the farthest corner of what seemed to be a game room. "He is a power-hungry, money-cheating egomaniac and he wants nothing more than to seize your family's fortune."
"Your grandfather was one of the most influential people in England. He charmed just about anyone and when people heard his name, they immediately answered his every beck and call. My uncle wants this kind of influence, this kind of trust that came so easily to all the citizens when your grandfather was the one involved."
The door rattled slightly but we ignored it as it stopped quickly. It must have been a maid or something.
I raised my hand, trying to ask a question. Kierran obliged and nodded at me.
"Why does your uncle want money if he's already rich?" I inquired.
Kierran shook his head ruefully. "For most people, what my uncle has is enough. But it isn't to him. He wants everything in his grasp; he wants to be the best of the best. He loathes being second."
"Then how do you and I come in the picture?"
He grimaced. "This is where it gets kind of crazy and unbelievable, but believe me, anything's possible with my uncle, so try to keep up."
"Do you remember Kelsey and Brittany?"
"Alright, so my uncle persuaded Brittany Dupont to move in with her aunt here in the United States instead of living in France with her other cousins. Kelsey was more indirectly affected but she still knew of the plan."
I quirked an eyebrow. "The plan?"
"I'll explain it later; it's hard to understand without knowing all the players first." he said cryptically.
"Okay. So. Back to the whole power-hungry concept of my uncle. Apparently, he was so set-out to being the best because he moved here with me with plans of somehow attaining all the power and riches of your grandfather, and if you add all that to his, he'd probably be the most influential man ever."
In my head, I was desperately itching to ask that one vital question. How is all that related to me?
It was like Kierran read my thoughts.
"So you're probably wondering how my uncle's 'plan' all connects to you, right?" He smiles a bit, reading my frustrated expression correctly.
"Well, yes. It just doesn't come together for me!" I yelled, throwing my hands up in the air. "It's like there are these huge loops in your story, it's—it's like train tracks that veer away from one another instead of connecting and leading the train in one direction. Bits and pieces of information are just being thrown in my face but I don't know…I just don't know."
Kierran sighed sadly. "I hoped to explain it in a gentle way but since you obviously cannot understand it unless I just say it out clearly for you, I will." A wave of sadness flashed in his face before he spoke.
"In short, simple words, my uncle planned for me to seduce you—well—" He cut off when he saw my wide eyes at the word 'seduce.' "He knew that your grandfather was almost near-death and for some unbeknownst reason, he also knew that you grandfather would somehow pass on all his fortune to you."
My brain whirred; trying to unscramble what Kierran had just told me. "So are you saying that…you pretended to like me so that…you and your uncle could somehow gain my grandfather's assets, fortune, and power?" Betrayal slashed at me, hurting me more than a physical weapon. "It's not like we were going to get married or anything," I added. "How are you supposed to get all those assets and stuff?"
"Well…" Kierran scratched his head. "I don't know that for sure. My uncle has his ways, though he must have hoped that we would get together."
"But I like Aidan," I spat out bitterly. "So was what all you did a façade?"
"That was when Brittany came in the picture," he said warily. "She got together with Aidan so you couldn't—wouldn't pine after him."
My eyes flashed in anger and I raised a hand to slap his face, but Kierran caught my arm. "Tori, it wasn't fake, I promise you. I never pretended to like you; I have always liked you."
I trembled, not knowing what was true and not true anymore. "Don't touch me," I threatened, but my voice cracked.
Kierran looked concerned and hurt, but not at all surprised. He let go of my hand and I raised my hand again to slap him, but shoved it in my pocket at the last minute. "I trusted you," I accused. And with those last words, I burst out of the room, nearly crashing into Mr. Grey.
"Why, hello, dearest," he said softly, a slimy smile on his face. "Let me escort you back to your mother. She has grown quite worried."
"Er…no, it's okay. I can find my way."
"I insist," he said; smile growing wider, but a cleverly disguised threat hidden underneath.
I gulped and nodded. "Alright," I replied.
He linked his arm with mine and walked me through a hallway full of rooms. The corridor seemed to grow darker and darker with each step though lights burned bright over each door.
"Are you sure we're going the right way?" I ventured tentatively.
"Oh, I'm quite sure," he answered, grasping my arm even more tightly. "Just go through here." He opened a door and stepped back. "After you."
"I'm not sure I should—"
"After you," he repeated, the eerie smile never wavering from his face, but his tone was clipped.
I took a few steps into the room and he slammed the door shut, locking it from the inside. I backed into the corner of the room, beginning to feel a little bit frightened. "My mother isn't in here."
Mr. Grey flicked the light open and it washed over his hard features. "She is most certainly not," he agreed.
"Then…why am I here?"
"I heard your little tête-à-tête with my nephew," he said simply. "And there was a lot of information there that must not be divulged to other people."
"Well, it affects me the most," I argued, anger clouding my mind again. "You have no right to use Kierran like that and you most definitely have no right to toy with me like that as well!"
He remained silent for what seemed like hours, but when he finally spoke, his words made no sense.
"I am a man of many secrets. And I always have separate plans if things don't go my way." His eyes hardened and he no longer kept the rather disturbing smile on his face. Rolling up his sleeves, he began to walk closer and closer to me as adrenaline surged through my spine, ready to face whatever was going to happen to me.
Dana Williams checked her watch for the tenth time and dread coursed through her veins. Thirty minutes had passed since Lawrence Grey had offered to check on her daughter and Kierran, and there was no sign of Tori still.
The door to the deserted study swung open and a disgruntled Kierran came inside, swearing. "Uncle!" He yelled, not bothering to look up.
Dana stood up and rushed to him. "Where is Tori?" She asked frantically, shaking him gently by the shoulders.
Kierran looked up, surprised. "I—I don't know," he replied. "Where's my uncle?" He asked in return.
"Why, I haven't seen him!" Dana answered, massaging her temples in frustration. "Thirty minutes ago, he left to check up on you two, but now they're gone and you're here!"
His eyebrows knitted together in concentration. Thirty minutes ago…thirty minutes ago, he was talking to Tori in the game room. Their voices were quite loud and the lock on the door did nothing to change that. In fact, the door rattled a bit in the middle of their conversation though none of them minded that small but terribly vital fact.
"Language," Dana reprimanded sternly.
He ignored this, rushing out of the study instead and racing down the hall. Behind him, he heard Dana trying to catch up, her heels clicking on the polished hardwood floor.
His uncle was wildly eccentric and a little bit crazy, but surely he wouldn't resort to something that could potentially harm a living being, would he? Kierran's mind flashed back to the conversation he had with his uncle long ago.
"You're a fool, Kierran," my dad snarled. "So much like your mother. Love, love, that was all she talked about. She didn't understand the importance of anything else besides that." His eyes turned into steel, and there was a forbidding glint in his eye. "She went so far as to intercede in my many plans to rise to power, and for that I can never forgive her. Being poor is something I will never be again, Kierran, and if I have to kill someone to do it, I will. In fact, your mother—" He cut off, but the power-hungry expression never disappeared from his face.
"What about my mother?" A strong feeling of dread coursed through my veins.
Those two words flashed again and again in Kierran's mind. It couldn't be possible, he thought. His uncle could be terribly weird and cryptic at times, but he definitely wouldn't harm somebody. Or would he?
Kierran rushed down the hall, not knowing what he was looking for but searching anyway. Please, please, let nothing happen to Tori, he thought. Please.
Down the hallway he just passed, Kierran heard a distinct female voice scream.
A/N-Another cliffie! *rubs hands together gleefully* Sorry, but I just couldn't resist. Don't worry, I love HEAs (Happily Ever Afters) *wink, wink*
I recently made a community with my friend ChocolateCoveredCheetos (great author, check her stories out!) called Your Daily Dose of Romance. Feel free to go and check it out!
I also have a romance/humor story called The Complexities of Falling in Love which is a more lighthearted one that Smitten, and I'd be really glad if you guys took the time to go and read it. Thanks to all the readers of Smitten who are reading TCoFiL, though. *hugs* I'll be updating that one soon.
I've got one question for you guys, though. (Please answer as honestly as possible) Has my writing improved over the 17 chapters of this story? Why or why not?
Anyway, thank you as always to all my faithful and loyal readers. If I could give you all a big hug right now, I would, but I can't so...virtual hug! =))
Thank you especially to my reviewers-
Nami98-Yes, I do love my cliffhangers. See there's another one right up there! Lol.
MiisColly-Actually...I didn't at that time. Sorry for the long wait! There are loads of other stories to check out in the meantime. How about ChocolateCoveredCheetos stories? :)
91-He kind of does, though not much. Maybe you'll see some action in the next chapter though. I'm not giving anything away. ;)
Sarah-Nikole-Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy this update! :D
Anushree-Thank you for that lovely compliment. I don't consider myself up to par with many authors here in FP so that really brings a smile to my face. :)
Random Reader (anon)-Thanks a lot and yep, you're right! Though some schools in my country have the 'normal' summer.
xoxoRachel-Wellll, I do love my cliffies :D
Jalooloo-Very cool. I actually got Kierran's name from a book I love. Thank you! I am not American, and I'm a Virgo. What age do you think I am? ;) I just want to know how old (or young) readers think I am. =))
randombubbles221-Yup! School definitely keeps people busy. Thanks a bunch!
ChocolateCoveredCheetos-Hey! Thanks for reviewing! I seriously can't believe I added the uncle; I'm sure I was high-lol. Update your stories so I can read them already! :) See, I updated one of mine! Plus, I gave you an excerpt (hem, hem, a rather LONG one) from TCoFil.
Thank you also to the subscribers and other readers who do not make their presence known, lol. :)