Copyright 2014 © Rosesareforever

Cruel Fate

Chapter 1

~ Landon ~

Shit. Shit. Shit! She was going to be late!

Amelia cursed some more as she practically ran inside the building without looking where she was going, almost pushing over a woman that was trying to leave. Apologizing without looking at the person she bumped into, Amelia headed to the elevator and quickly pushed the tenth floor button.

Shit. Shit. Shit!

Traffic was always busy in Chicago on a Monday morning, but she hadn't counted on the fact that there would've been an accident that blocked the damn road. The moment Amelia realized she'd be stuck for hours she'd jumped out of the bus and told the driver she'd walk the rest of the way. Sadly, she'd miscounted the distance and ended up walking over five miles. If she'd been fit, it would probably have been easy. Too bad it had been months since the last time Amelia visited the gym. With a seven year old boy running around the house, she didn't have enough time to work out on a weekly schedule. She barely had any time to herself.

Landon was her top priority, the shimmer of light in her darkness. Honestly, she didn't know what she would do without him, her sweet boy, the joy in her life. It had been tough, but Amelia could never regret having him. Yes, she lost her home and the opportunity to have the future she'd always dreamed of by deciding to keep him, but he'd been worth it, all of it.

At the tender age of eighteen with no boyfriend or doting parents to lean on, it had been pretty damn scary when she found out she was pregnant. Her nightmare became even worse when her parents gave her an ultimatum, she could get rid of the baby or move out of the house. Even scared as she had been, Amelia just couldn't get an abortion. She went to the clinic to get some information, but eventually decided she couldn't go through with it. Once she heard her baby's heartbeat, she'd fallen in love.

Fortunately, her grandmother had been kind enough to take her in and make sure she could raise her baby. Amelia had to give up on her dream to go to business school and started working part-time during her pregnancy, fulltime afterward to be able to take care of Landon. Her grandmother wasn't exactly rich and Amelia didn't want to take advantage of the woman's kindness.

Landon had been an accident, but he could never be unwanted. If she could've changed her past, Amelia probably would've chosen to have her son a few years later, preferably after getting a degree. It would've made things a lot easier on her. Sadly, there's no such thing as going back in time.

She had to work hard to get where she was today. After Landon was born, Amelia took a few online classes and eventually became a secretary. She worked hard, showed everyone she was capable of a lot more and behaved kindly to all. It led her to the job she had today as personal assistant to George Davis, CEO of Davis Inc. With the money she made, she could afford a small two bedroom apartment in a relatively safe neighborhood and enough to care for her son. It was more than she ever dared to hope for.

"There you are! Mr. Davis was worried something might've happened. He's waiting in his office. I had to let him know when you arrived," Megan, the woman behind the reception desk and Amelia's best friend, said the moment she stepped out of the elevator.

Amelia sighed and nodded. She hated being late on the day her boss wanted to announce something important. Usually, she was a very punctual person, always right on time. "I'm so sorry," she apologized. "There was an accident on the I–290. They blocked the road so I had to walk."

"You walked in those shoes?" Megan stated in disbelief, looking down at Amelia's three inch strappy, crimson heels. "Damn, Lia, that's crazy!" It kind of was, but some days called for crazy and today was one of them. Her feet hurt like hell.

"I couldn't miss George's board meeting, Megs. He'd be very disappointed," Amelia pointed out. Her boss might be a very patient and understanding man, he'd still feel disenchanted if Amelia arrived two hours late on the day he called the board together. He must have something important to declare if he convened all the members.

"Girl, that man loves you to bits. He'd be furious if something happened to you because you had to walk here. You could've sprained your ankle!"

Amelia smiled at her friend and shook her head. "Nothing happened, Megs, no need to cause drama. I'm going to George's office now. I'm sure he'll be happy to see me."

"Good luck!" Megan called after her. Amelia winked at her friend before turning around and heading to her boss' office.

After she knocked on the door, it took less than two seconds before George swung the door open and sighed in relief the moment he noticed her standing in the doorway. "Amelia, darling, I'm happy to see you. The meeting starts in five minutes," he proclaimed as he ushered her inside.

"I'm so sorry I'm late, George. There was an accident on the I-290 so I had to walk here. The bus got stuck in traffic," she apologized as she took off her coat. After working for George for a week, he'd called her to his office and told her if she didn't stop calling him Mr. Davis soon, she'd be out of a job. Ever since Amelia always called him by his first name, despite the fact she was raised to call her elders by their last name.

"That's terrible, dear," George mumbled. "You should've called me. I could've rescheduled the meeting. No pretty girl should have to walk that far."

Amelia smiled and shook her head. "That's very kind of you, George, but it honestly was no trouble. You shouldn't have to reschedule a meeting because I'm running late," she assured. It had been a major trouble, but she wasn't going to admit that to her kind boss.

"You're too valuable to me and this company for anything to happen to you, darling. I'm sure the board members would agree. This company was close to bankruptcy when you started. My office was a mess, I missed vital information and lost many great opportunities thanks to my forgetfulness. If it hadn't been for you, my dear, this company wouldn't exist today," George clarified, putting his hand on Amelia's shoulder and squeezing gently. "You would've achieved many great things if you'd gone to business school. Such a shame you were never given the opportunity."

Moisture collected in Amelia's eyes as she stared into the proud eyes of her boss. He'd given her the perfect opportunity to prove herself worthy when he hired her as his assistant. She'd never dared to hope to get a position that valuable without a decent degree. Yet, George had always believed in her. He'd treated her like she was a long lost daughter and guided her with kindness and patience. He was the best boss any employee could wish for.

"Thank you," she whispered, genuinely thankful for his words of encouragement. To her own ears, her voice sounded strained and hoarse, but George didn't comment and just smiled.

"Let's go to the meeting room, dear. The board members are scheduled to arrive any moment now," the man exclaimed. Amelia swallowed down the lump that had formed in her throat, blinked the tears away and nodded like the professional she was.

The meeting finished mere minutes ago as Amelia was standing next to her boss in his office. "I can't believe you're retiring," she murmured in disbelief, still unable to comprehend that her mentor, the man she'd always looked up to, was leaving the company.

George deserved to finally relax and take a break after many years of hard work, but she couldn't help but feel saddened that he was leaving. The company wouldn't be the same without him.

"It's for the best, dear. I should've retired years ago, but my stubborn streak kept me from doing the right thing. This company deserves a strong leader. I'm no longer capable of leading an empire. I rely too much on you and the managers."

Amelia shook her head. "You're more than capable, George," she argued.

George laughed, shook his head and patted her back. "I'm glad you think so, darling. It means a lot to me, but it's time for me to leave. The man I designated as the new CEO will be lucky to have you at his side."

Amelia smiled and decided to keep quiet, despite the fact that she didn't agree with her boss. George was still more than capable of leading an empire. He'd done a remarkable job over the years. The thought that someone would soon take his place still sounded ridiculous to her ears. George never had any children. The next CEO would be someone completely new, someone without George's experience or knowledge of the company.

Why, Amelia didn't know, but George had decided the company could use a breath of fresh air, someone with a different opinion that would make the changes the company needed before it could expand any further. Amelia enjoyed the way things were. She didn't see why the company needed to change. It was perfect the way it was.

The sudden ringing of her phone interrupted her thoughts and after a quick look at the caller ID, she apologized, "I'm sorry, George, but I have to take this one."

"No problem, dear," the man smiled as he sat down behind his desk and opened his laptop.

Amelia quickly walked to her adjoining office and closed the door before answering the call. "Amelia Parker speaking," she greeted, her voice betraying her worry.

"Hello, Mrs. Parker. This is Aubrey, Landon's teacher," the woman at the other side of the connection said kindly. "Landon got ill during class this morning and we've decided to send him home. Could you pick him up at the school's infirmary?"

"I'll be there," Amelia assured, praying that George wouldn't mind if she left work early.

"Perfect. Have a nice day, Mrs. Parker," the woman replied before ending the call. Amelia used to point out that it's Miss Parker and not Mrs. Parker, but gave up after correcting people for the umpteenth time. She had a son, naturally people assumed she was married and had a Mr. Parker running around. It was a woeful mistake.

Sighing softly, Amelia knocked on the adjoining door between George and her office before entering. "I'm sorry to disturb you, sir, but I just got a call from my son's school. He's ill and they're sending him home."

George smile twisted to a worried look as he furiously started nodding his head. "What are you still doing here, dear? Your boy needs you. Get your coat and go home," he declared.

"Are you sure, George?" Amelia worried. "I haven't yet finished the file you wanted me to deliver at the end of the day," she admitted guiltily.

"Of course I'm sure, darling. A mother's top priority is still her child, whether she loves her job or not. Your boy needs you, you go to him," the man stated in a no-nonsense tone.

"Thank you so much, George," Amelia replied, gratitude shining in her green orbs.

"No need to thank me, dear. Now get going," he pressed gently, nodding at the door. "Take good care of that boy of yours."

"I will," Amelia assured, smiling at her boss as she took her coat and headed to the elevator. She thanked the lord that she had such an understanding boss and tried to get to her baby boy as soon as she possibly could.

"My tummy hurts, mommy," Landon whined, pulling his blue blanket up to his chin as another shiver rocked through his small body. The day before, after Amelia collected him from school, she'd put him in a warm bath before sending him to bed. All night long he'd gotten sick until early that morning the vomiting finally stopped and his temperature started to rise. A fever.

Amelia thought he was finally getting better. His teacher had told her many children were getting the flu, but she'd hoped her baby wouldn't catch it. Usually, Landon felt a little bad, but he never got properly sick. Her boy had a strong immune system. Sadly, it seemed like he wasn't resistant to the current virus.

"I know, baby, it'll get better," she assured as she softly touched his cheek and smiled. If he'd been feeling better, Landon would've undoubtedly told her to stop calling him a baby. He hated it when she babied him and constantly reminded her he was a big boy.

Time flew by. Amelia could still remember when Landon was a tiny little bundle of joy like it was yesterday. She would never forget the moment they laid him down on her stomach after hours of labor and declared she'd given birth to a healthy son. It was the best, most joyous, day of her life.

Scared as she had been, giving birth was a beautiful experience. Fortunately, her grandmother had been there for her during the delivery. The woman held her hand as she cried and cursed. Amelia didn't know what she would've done without her.

Thinking back on those joyous days, Amelia felt tears well up in her eyes. She missed her grandmother, still couldn't believe she was gone. Two years ago a brain tumor had brutally ripped the woman away from her in a matter of weeks. The birth of her son might have been the most joyous day of her life, losing her grandmother had been the saddest. Amelia would forever miss her like crazy.

"I'm going to call Auntie Megan to let her know I won't be going to work today," she told her son as she sat up and got to her feet. She'd decided to let Landon sleep in bed with her while he was sick. It was easier to get to him when he was close to her than when he slept down the hall.

"Okay, mommy," Landon whispered softly, his eyes already fluttering closed. He hadn't slept a wink. Her poor boy must be exhausted.

Careful not to make too much noise, Amelia exited the room and shut the door before heading to the living room. Dialing Megan's office number, she patiently waited. "Davis Inc. Megan speaking," the woman said as she answered the call.

"Megs, it's me," Amelia greeted, speaking quietly to make sure she didn't wake her baby boy.

"Honey, how's Landon doing? I was worried when you didn't call last night," Megan stated. Usually, Megan picked Landon up from school because she finished work early and took him home with her. Megan had a six year old daughter herself and loved being around children. It was a great help to Amelia. Childcare cost a fortune.

"He's fine," Amelia assured. "He caught the flu and is now sleeping it off. He had a rough night, but I'm sure he'll get better soon."

"I hope so. I take it you're staying home to take care of him today?" the woman guessed correctly.

"I am," Amelia agreed. "I can't send him to school like this and it's too late to find a babysitter."

"Oh honey," Megan sighed. "You need a man to take care of your little family, to share some of the burden."

"I'm perfectly fine on my own, Megs," Amelia assured. It might not always be easy, but she could handle everything on her own. She didn't need a man. All they did was break hearts.

"We both know that's a lie, darling. You could use some help," Megan argued. Despite that Amelia would love nothing more than to deny that fact, she knew her friend was right. Raising a child on her own without family to rely on was a mighty difficult task. She could handle it, but that didn't mean it wouldn't be easier if she had someone to help her out. "I'll survive, Megs, it's what I do best. I won't argue that it would be easier, but it's not necessary."

"Honey, it would bring some peace of mind to me if I knew someone was properly taking care of you. You never date, never have fun. All I ever see you do is work and take care of your boy."

"It's what makes me happy," Amelia insisted.

"No, sweetie, it's what keeps you going. There's a difference between being content and being happy. You're content with your life, but you're not truly happy," the woman wisely clarified.

"Whatever it is I am, I don't want it to change," Amelia stubbornly persisted. She had a job she loved that paid the bills, a healthy (well most of the time) son and a nice apartment. She could afford to buy herself something new from time to time and could offer her son whatever his little heart desired. If he needed a pair of new shoes, she could buy them. If he wanted a new toy, she could present it to him on his birthday or on Christmas day. It was more than she once believed was possible.

"Keep telling yourself that, hon. We both know you could use a man, whether you want to admit it or not. You're lonely. You come home to an empty apartment at night and once your son goes to bed, it's just you."

"I don't miss having someone around, Megs," Amelia contended, lying through her teeth. Ever since her grandmother passed, she felt lonely at night. It was nice to have someone to talk to after Landon went to bed, someone to watch a movie with or complain to about her day.

"Right," Megan muttered her tone disbelieving. "You don't miss those late night conversations, cuddling on the couch or a passionate night of sex."

Amelia closed her eyes for a moment and sighed softly. She couldn't miss what she never had in the first place. There hadn't been any late night conversations, loving cuddles or passionate nights. Her baby daddy left her without realizing what arduous consequences his departure would have. To this day, he still didn't know he had a son.

After Landon was born, Amelia just didn't have the time to date. When she finally found the courage after three long years, it turned into a disaster after she admitted to have a child. No man seemed to be interested in a twenty-one year old mother. Two disaster dates later, Amelia officially abandoned the thought of finding a boyfriend. Landon and she were a package deal and it seemed like it was a deal no one was interested in.

"I have to go, honey. Someone just stopped at my desk. I'll call tonight," Megan suddenly exclaimed.

"Bye, Megs," Amelia replied before ending the call and heading back to her baby boy.

It was past eight o'clock in the evening when a sudden knock on the front door awakened Amelia. After checking up on Landon for the umpteenth time that day, she'd lain down on the couch and apparently fell asleep. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, Amelia went to the hallway and cautiously opened the door, careful not to make too much noise. Landon needed all the sleep he could get.

As the door slid open, Amelia was surprised to see George standing at the other side. "I'm sorry to disturb your evening, darling. I couldn't find the 'Torrent' case anywhere when I realized you probably still had it," the man apologized. "I wouldn't have stopped by if it wasn't important."

"Of course," Amelia nodded, stepping aside to let her boss enter. "It's no trouble, honestly," she assured.

Immediately, Amelia headed to the desk in the living room and started looking for the file her boss needed. "Don't rush, dear," George interrupted. "You look like you could use some rest."

"I'm fine," Amelia insisted. "Just a little tired."

George gave her a doubtful look and shook his head. "You should take a break, darling. Don't you have a man around to take care of you and your boy?"

"Um…no, not really," she admitted. George had never asked about her personal situation before. She considered him a friend, but that didn't mean he knew everything. Amelia liked to keep things to herself. Beside her deceased grandmother, she'd never told anyone the truth about Landon.

Her answer made George frown. "No?" he repeated. "Where's your boy's daddy?"

Amelia closed her eyes for a moment before replying, "He passed away years ago. Car accident," she lied smoothly. It was what she told everyone. Landon's dad would never suddenly appear, so it was easier to just tell people he was gone instead of explaining her extremely complicated situation.

"Good gracious," George whispered. "I'm sorry, dear. I had no idea."

Amelia watched as the man's confused frown turned into a face of pure horror. "It was a long time ago," she assured, not wanting George to feel bad about asking.

"Time might heal wounds, but the scars will forever stay," her boss wisely spoke as he softly patted her back. "It might have happened a while ago, but that doesn't mean you'll ever forget."

Instead of replying, Amelia just nodded and gave George a small smile. It was true. She'd never forget Landon's dad, but she'd learned to let go of the hatred she'd felt for such a long time. He left her, but he had no way of knowing about Landon. They used protection. The guy was convinced they'd just had a one-night-stand without consequences. Neither of them knew at the time that the condom probably broke.

"Here you go," Amelia mumbled as she finally located the file George was looking for at the bottom of the pile.

"Thank you, dear, you're a lifesaver," the man smiled gratefully as he took the file from her hands. "I won't waste any more of your time. You should go to bed and rest," he added as he watched her tired face.

"I will," she agreed, accompanying George to the front door. "Goodnight, George. Hopefully, I'll be back at work in the morning."

"Take as much time as you need, darling." It was a nice concession for the man to make, but they both knew Amelia would be back as soon as Landon could go back to school.

Once George left, Amelia closed her eyes and sighed deeply as she leaned her head against the door. She needed sleep, lots of it!

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