A Billionaire Husband and The Substitute Wife - Love Story of Dominic Peterson and Rachel Daley

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In the Daley household, young Rachel's life was akin to a continuous uphill battle. Her mother was relentless in her relentless teasing and torment, and her sister seemed intent on acquiring everything Rachel held dear, including her boyfriend. Yet, the most pressing challenge was the mounting medical bills of her foster mother, Norma—the one soul who had shown Rachel unwavering kindness since her early years and had raised her with a tender heart.

Desperation had driven the Daley family to a rather peculiar arrangement: they agreed to shoulder Norma's medical expenses, but with a caveat. They insisted that Rachel take the plunge into matrimony with Dominic, the illegitimate and seemingly directionless scion of the affluent Peterson family, replacing her sister as his spouse.

As the wedding bells chimed and the ink on their marriage certificate dried, both Rachel and Dominic would soon discover that their newlywed partner harbored a closely guarded secret, poised to shake the very foundation of their union.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 238 – "The CEO and the Husband: Rachel's Dilemma"

“I understand, Miss, but you still cannot go inside. The club has been booked to accommodate the Porter Group, and it was the CEO himself who made the arrangements.They will be having a business meeting here tonight.”

Minutes had passed, but the group was still loitering around the entrance.

Shea was upset about the whole thing, but she knew there was nothing she could do.She certainly couldn’t afford to offend anyone from the Porter Group. She took a deep breath and mustered a smile.

“Let’s just change venues, shall we? The staff told me that the whole club was booked by the Porter Group.”

They looked at each other in disappointment.

There were very few people in Sunhaven who would dare to go against the Porter Group, and none of them belonged to that demographic, Just as they were preparing to leave, several lengthened black limos cruised into the club’s driveway

The cars stopped in a single file next to the entrance, and each chauffeur alighted to open the door to the backseat Men in sleek business suits and hand-made Italian leather shoes emerged one by one, looking serious and dignified, Shea’s posse gawked at them, particularly at the man in the middle.

He stood tall among his peers, with broad shoulders and sharp features. He posed an imposing figure, and his eyes were cold and distant.

“Look, look! That man is gorgeous.Is he the CEO of the Porter Group?”

Rachel was trying to send Dominic a message, but she was jostled around by her classmates in their hushed frenzy. When she heard mention of the CEO of the Porter Group, she instantly perked up and looked over curiously.

She wasn’t sure why she did it, either.It was as though a voice at the back of her mind was nagging at her to look.

And just like that, her eyes fell on a very familiar face just a few feet away.

Rachel’s eyes widened in shock, and she murmured, “Dominic Her classmate next to her was even more surprised “Do you know anyone over there? These people are so well dressed! They don’t look like commoners.”

Pretty soon, Rachel regained her composure and nodded in response. He’s my husband! But what is Dominic doing here? Did he come here with his boss?

Of course, I know him. She turned her gaze to the side and saw Kristian standing next to Dominic.

The man was speaking to Dominic with a stern expression, which was quite different from his usual nonchalant attitude…

“Didn’t the receptionist say that Braden Porter booked this place? They’re probably from the Porter Group,” her classmate whispered.

Her classmate’s words pulled Rachel back to her senses.

Thoughts reeled through Rachel’s head.

For a moment, an idea formed in her head.

Right… the only ones who can be here are senior executives of the Porter Group”

As she stared at Dominic, her heart raced at the thought of the possibility.

The people around her husband were all staring at him with admiration and caution.

Dominic was standing in the center, surrounded by lots of people.

Any man in that position must be the most powerful man in the Porter Group, even more powerful than the likes of Kristian There could only be one explanation.

That man was actually Braden Porter.

Rachel stared in awe at the silver gray suit Dominic was wearing.

It was a tailor made suit designed by a famous designer from Paris.

The fabric alone cost a fortune.

Suddenly, Rachel felt very confused.

She was wondering if that man donned in glamorous clothes was Dominic or Braden.

He was only a few feet away, but Rachel felt like the person before her was so distant and unreachable.

“Hey, Rachel, which one of those people do you know? Do you know who that guy in the silver suit is?”

Rachel’s classmate nudged her arm.

“I don’t,” Rachel replied, shaking her head Her classmate pouted, visibly disappointed.

“What a pity! I was hoping if you could tell me if that man in the middle is Braden. He’s so handsome!” Rachel smiled bitterly.

She suddenly pieced it all together. She now understood why she had led a charmed life ever since she married Dominic.

Aside from that, she no longer wondered why Braden treated her well.

The mystery of Dominic and Braden’s “special relationship” was finally solved.

And most of all, she was able to understand why Braden’s figure and facial features resembled Dominic’s.

It turned out that Dominic and Braden were the same person! .

All of a sudden, Rachel was uncertain of how to face this realization. Maybe I should be happy. After all, my husband is the Porter Group’s CEO” she remarked inwardly.

But then, she felt no joy in her heart.

Her mind was clouded at this moment.

‘I can’t understand why Dominic had been lying to me. Is he worried that I’d ask him for money once I find out that he’s actually Braden?’ Rich people were always rational and utilitarian.

They were adept at weighing pros and cons.

Is Braden trying to fool around with me as Dominic? What’s going to happen once he’s tired of playing with me? Will he toss me side like a used napkin?’ Countless questions flooded Rachel’s mind.

She felt like she had been a fool that Dominic had toyed with for years. She turned around, intending to leave this place the soonest that she could.

“Rachel?”

Suddenly, she heard someone’s loud voice calling her from behind. Her heart skipped a beat. She turned around once more.

There, she saw Kristian’s pale face as he looked at her through the crowd.

Now, all eyes were on her.

All the senior executives, partners of the Porter Group, and Dominic looked at her.

Dominic looked really tense and shocked to see her.

When Dominic headed to the company and started his day, Kristian told him about the matter that had happened between Rachel and Savannah.

“Can you solve this issue?” Dominic went on to look through the document.

It was inconvenient for him to deal with such a trivial matter in person, since Savannah was just a senior designer after all.

Pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, Kristian said vaguely, “The only person who can be a witness for this is Earnest.But Earnest has made the decision to cancel the cooperation with the Porter Group. I heard that Rachel visited their company, but she didn’t even get to see Earnest there.”

After closing the file and thinking it over for a few seconds, Dominic raised his eyes and said to Kristian, “The Porter Group is going to invite the companies we are cooperating with to have a meeting. Be sure you invite the CEO of their company.”

“Are you going to talk to him in person?”

Kristian couldn’t believe his ears.

He couldn’t help but sigh in his heart that Rachel was so lucky to have a husband who went out of his way to spoil her so much.

Hearing that Braden was inviting him, Marciano Rizzi, the CEO of Solaris Fashion, was very happy and immediately agreed to attend.

Braden happened to be the most popular new billionaire in Sunhaven.

It would be, of course, a good thing to be on good terms with him.

Dominic made their meeting place at the Merry Club, which was one of the best clubs in the city.

Those who showed up in this kind of place were all celebrities.

Dominic didn’t think Rachel would actually appear here.

While Kristian was talking to Dominic, he thought he saw a woman staring at them.

Kristian as a man was very sensitive to women.

When he saw that the back of the woman who was turning around and was about to leave looked like Rachel’s, he immediately called out her name to stop her.

When Rachel made eye contact with Dominic, she inexplicably became flustered and afraid The man standing before her was Braden Porter, the CEO of the Porter Group.

He was simply wearing different clothes as Dominic’s, but she had the feeling that his temperament and expression had all changed noticeably.

Tears were welling up in Rachel’s eyes.






Chapter 239 – "Unmasking Mr. Porter"


All of a sudden, she felt that the Dominic she knew, who would gently fold laundry on the sofa, was long gone.

It made her sad to think that she might never get to see his gentle expression again Braden was a complete stranger to her.

She took two steps back and fled the scene, The moment Rachel made her getaway, Dominic ran after her.

Everyone present was flabbergasted and many of Rachel’s classmates were so shocked that their eyes were opened wide.

Dominic caught up with Rachel in just a few steps.

He grabbed hold of her wrist and pulled her body to him.

“You must listen to me, Rachel.”

Though his tone was aggressive, his eyes were filled with helplessness.

While clenching her teeth, Rachel lifted her head and saw his face again at closer range this time.

Needless to say, she was still shocked.

Her heart would pound faster every time when she saw Dominic standing before her even just in his tank top.

But now, the handsome man with beautiful facial features only made Rachel feel inferior and helpless at the same time. To her, he was like the stars in the sky that could only be looked at and never obtained.

“What do you want me to call you now? Mr.Porter or my husband? You kept it a secret from me for so long, Dominic Porter!”

Rachel couldn’t help but sneer.

At this time, Kristian also quickly came over to them.

He knew that it was inappropriate at the moment, but so many partners of theirs were waiting for Dominic, so he had to remind Dominic that there were people he still needed to attend to. He looked at Rachel and then whispered to Dominic, “Mr.Porter, there are so many people waiting for you.”

Dominic’s eyes darkened noticeably.

“Why don’t you apologize to them on my behalf and change the time of the meeting?”

After having said that, he looked at the woman in front of him and pulled her into his arms again.

“Let’s go somewhere else together and solve this problem of ours,” he said in a firm tone.

“Excuse me! What… What’s going on?”

It wasn’t until Rachel was taken away that everyone realized what had happened.

“When that man strode over here and took her away just now, he looked so cool and elegant!”

Some girls had to cover their mouths in case they screamed in excitement.

Shea kept staring at the direction in which Rachel disappeared.

Like the people around her, shock was written all over her face.

When Kristian came back to the club, many partners and senior executives of the company were still shocked by Braden’s action just now.

In their eyes, Braden had always been a decisive and ruthless man who looked at the bigger picture.

It was inconceivable that he would leave his business partners behind and go after a woman in public like this.

“Don’t just stand here. Go inside.”

Kristian’s expression grew serious immediately.

“Mr.Porter had some personal affairs to attend to, so let’s go ahead first. We can rearrange the meeting some other time.”

Some of the senior executives of the company knew of Rachel.

Confused, they turned to Kristian for answers.

“Mr. Higgins, what’s going on? What’s the relationship between Miss Daley and Mr.Porter…?”

Kristian smiled ambiguously.

The look on Dominic’s face just now was priceless.

For the first time, he was almost scared to death, but he had to pretend to be calm.

It was so funny.

Kristian had never seen Dominic like this before.

He should have taken a video of his reaction : “Well, it’s exactly as you saw.”

Kristian coughed lightly and regained his composure.

“You won’t be spreading this around, yes?”

The senior executives were suddenly enlightened.

They snapped their fingers and exclaimed, “Miss Daley is Mr.Porter’s wife?”

Kristian said nothing but smiled meaningfully.

Everyone was shocked.

Standing in the background, Shea had also heard it clearly.

“Rachel is Braden’s wife?”

Shea was shocked and felt like she was slapped across the face. She had no idea that Rachel was married to the CEO of the Porter Group.

It was no easy feat that her husband established a cooperative relationship with the Porter Group not long ago, and he had to seriously butter Braden up to keep the business afloat.

But she had made a fool of herself by bragging so shamelessly about her “rich husband” in front of Rachel just now.

The classmates standing next to her also had eyes as wide as saucers.

They exchanged glances, too flabbergasted to speak. Rachel had told them just now that her husband didn’t have a decent job.

But it turned out that her husband was the CEO of the Porter Group.

Wasn’t that the most decent job in the world? Some of them stole glances at Shea and clicked their tongues in secret.

Shea had been mocking Rachel just now.

Now, she must’ve felt terrible.

In a five-star hotel next to the Merry Club, the receptionist saw a handsome man coming in with a woman.

The woman was only wearing light makeup, which made her look delicate and naturally beautiful. Her most poignant feature was her eyes, but they seemed to be burning with rage at the moment.

The woman’s expression was ominously cold.

Obviously, she was holding back her anger.

It could be seen that the man had forced her to come here, Although the man looked serious, his eyes were firmly glued to the woman

After checking in, Dominic pulled Rachel into their suite Rachel had never been to such a luxurious presidential suite before, but here she was and now she felt the whole thing was ironic. She shook off Braden’s hand and retreated a few steps away from him.

“Mr.Porter, there was something you wanted to tell me?”

Rachel asked firmly, looking down at the soft carpet beneath her feet Dominic stared at Rachel guiltily.

“Thank you for giving me the chance to explain.”

Rachel raised her head and sneered coldly. “You’re my boss, Mr.Porter. We should make things clear to each other”

Dominic’s body stiffened.

His eyes wandered around the living room and then he walked to the nearest chair and put it in front of Rachel, motioning for her to sit down first.

After hesitating for a few seconds, Rachel stayed glued to the spot.

“I won’t bite…”

Dominic looked at her reassuringly and found that this scene was somewhat familiar.

On the night of their wedding, he had also gotten a chair for her and said something similar.

At the time, Dominic was lethargic and slovenly, like a hooligan.

Finally, Rachel sat down stiffly.

Dominic loosened his tie and breathed a sigh of relief.

Placing his hands on the wine cabinet next to him, he drummed his fingers on top, as though he was thinking about what to say.

“The Peterson family hates me as both Dominic Peterson and Braden Porter. So you will definitely be in danger if they know I’m Braden and you’re Mrs.Porter. I originally planned to announce your identity as my wife after I defeated the Peterson family.”

Rachel clenched her fists so tightly that her fingernails dug into her palms.

Even though Dominic’s explanation made sense, she still felt inexplicably sad.

The man standing in front of her now was graceful, gentle, yet indisputably powerful.

He was wearing an expensive suit, leather shoes, a luxury watch. Rachel couldn’t help but feel like they were not from the same world.

She had grown close to Dominic, but now she felt that there was still an insurmountable gap between them.

A lump formed in her throat “But you lied to me, Mr.Porter.”

The words “Mr. Porter” cemented the huge gap between them.

With tears in her eyes, she said, “Even if I knew your other identity, I wouldn’t have leaped at the chance to announce to the world that I am Mrs Porter I still would’ve wanted to be an employee at the Porter Group. Did you think that women have to be housewife after marrying a rich husband? Or were you afraid that I would take advantage of the situation after finding out that you are the CEO of the Porter Group? You don’t trust me, do you?”

“You misunderstand me, Rachel,” Dominic started to say.

“I do trust you.! just feel that you will be hurt if we can’t tell the world that you’re Braden Porter’s wife.”






Chapter 240 – "The Weight of Deception: Rachel's Struggle with Reality"


Rachel shook her head and bit her lower lip, trying so hard not to cry.

“You never thought that I’d like to be by your side as Dominic Peterson’s wife even if I found out the truth. Because of that, you lied to me countless times. I was so stupid to think that I was just lucky! I had even started to wonder if you and Braden were either lovers or twins. Did you think it was fun to keep me in the dark like some fool?”

Seeing Rachel’s mounting anger, Dominic was at a loss for words. He could only lower his head and keep silent, like a child who knew he had done something wrong. Dominic had chosen not to tell her the truth because he believed it wasn’t the right time.

Now, he was tongue tied.

Seeing that Dominic had fallen silent, Rachel stopped asking him questions Suddenly, a thought occurred to her. She stood up and asked in a panic, “Is it possible that you know Nadia?”


Nadia always showed up when she was in danger and had saved her on more than one occasion.She had always chalked it up to luck, but now, she wasn’t so sure.

Dominic’s heart skipped a beat. He didn’t dare to deny it. He looked up at Rachel cautiously and said, “Yes.Nadia is a bodyguard I hired to protect you, because—”

“You don’t have to tell me anything more, Mr Porter. No wonder she’s so good at fighting. Now I understand…”

Her voice trailed off to a whisper.

In the end, she looked up dejectedly and said, “My husband has been lying to me from the beginning, and so has my best friend.”

Dominic rushed to Rachel and grabbed her wrist, explaining in a hoarse voice, “I did all those things for a reason I had no choice-”

“Get your hands off me! Stop defending yourself, Dominic!”

With her mind in a mess, Rachel slapped Dominic’s hand away and took two steps back. The memories of the past resurfaced in her mind.

“My name is Nadia Ortiz I was just passing by when I saw you fall into the river…”

“This is my house. Please make do with it first. When we have the money, we can move into a bigger house…”

“How do I know what’s real and what’s not?”

Rachel raised her head to look at Dominic, unable to hold back her tears any longer.

Before Dominic could say anything, tears streaming down her face.

She turned around and ran out, slamming the door shut behind her.

Rachel was so angry that her whole body was trembling. Her mind was in a mess, and she felt like the whole world had been turned upside down she didn’t know what was true versus what was just deliberately created to deceive her. Everything now seemed fake and strange.

As soon as she walked out of the hotel, she saw that Kristian was standing outside, along with several senior executives of the Porter Group. Rachel often ran into them in the elevators.

“Hey. Rachel! Where’s Dominic?" Kristian pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and smiled flatteringly if he got along well with Rachel, he would have more vacations in the future.

But upon a closer look, he realized that she was crying bitterly.

Kristian had thought that the two would reconcile, but it turned out to be the opposite.

So he immediately stopped smiling and stammered, “I’m sorry, I…" Rachel simply ignored him. Looking around, she found that the senior executives of the Porter Group who should have been in that club were all standing outside. Perhaps they didn’t know what to do, so they had all waited for Dominic here When Rachel walked out of the hotel so aggressively just now, everyone exchanged glances and then looked away pretending not to have seen her Rachel wiped the tears on her face with the back of her hand and proceeded to leave, but Kristian stopped her “Rachel, sometimes Dominic’s terrible with words, but I’m with him every day. I know that he only cares about you.”

Kristian touched the back of his head awkwardly, glancing anxiously at the hotel from the corner of his eyes.

Damn it! Rachel was running away! Why hadn’t Dominic come out to chase after his wife yet? With Kristian blocking her way.

Rachel crossed her arms over her chest and sneered.

“I’m now the wife of Mr.Porter How dare you stop me?”

Her chilling gaze sent a shiver down his spine.

Rachel and Dominic had been together for a long time, so now even their tones were practically the same.

“Rachel, you misunderstand me. I didn’t mean to stop you.”

Seeing that Rachel was so angry, Kristian’s voice faltered.

Finally, he stepped aside and let Rachel go.

Only then did Dominic come running.

“Why didn’t you stop her?” he asked Kristian harshly.

“Bro, your wife is angry as hell right now. I couldn’t stop her! Besides, whatever you say now might only add fuel to the fire. If she wants to leave, just let her be and give her some space. Just follow her from a distance”

Kristian wiped the cold sweat on his forehead.

Dominic was speechless. He had no choice but to chase after Rachel himself.

It was late winter now, and the night was freezing cold.

The surrounding trees were covered in a layer of white snow.

Under the dim-lighted street lamps, the woman in a red overcoat trudged in the heavy snow.

In the surrounding grey and white scenery, she was like a flickering red light.

When she saw a taxi approach, Rachel hailed it.

“Where to, Miss?”

After getting in the taxi, Rachel looked out of the window at the snow.She didn’t know where to go. She just wanted to leave this place.

“Wherever. If I want to get off, I’ll ask you to stop.”

The driver didn’t press her further and stepped on the gas.

Seeing Rachel get into a taxi, Dominic immediately drove his own car and followed them.

Sunhaven was developing rapidly and the tourism industry here was exceptional.

The taxi driver drove around several scenic spots until it was late, and the taxi slowly came to a stop at the river bank.

The sounds of the ferries came closer and closer.

The wind over the river, with cold snow, swept past Rachel’s face and went through the gap of her scarf.

“Miss, please close the window. It’s too cold outside to keep the windows ajar like that.”

The taxi driver went on to stop the car.

After driving for so long, it was now time to get more gas.

“By the way, where in the world are you going?” The driver snuck a glance at Rachel in the rearview mirror.

She was innocently beautiful, and the more he looked at her, the more charming she appeared in front of his eyes. From the rearview mirror. Rachel made eye contact with the curious driver. She wrapped her scarf around her neck and said, “Please stop at the nearest hotel ”

“Okay, let’s head out”

The driver smacked his lips together and started the engine of the car. She was indeed a very beautiful girl and it was obvious that she had been hurt by love. The taxi driver felt very bad for her. The cold wind made Rachel shiver in her seal.

She was way calmer now.

On second thought, she knew that Dominic hadn’t done anything heinous. He just lied to her. If this was someone else, they might not take this matter to heart.

Rachel wondered if she was being overreacted.

Dominic had now become Braden, the richest businessman in Sunhaven who started from scratch. He had many good traits. He was not only young and promising but also handsome and rich.

She should feel fortunate to have such a husband.

However, there was one thing that Rachel couldn’t wrap her mind around.

Everyone around Dominic knew about his true identity, except for her.

Why didn’t he tell her? Did she even matter in his heart? Rachel didn’t want to return to “Braden’s” villa.

Dominic had also lied to her about this.

It turned out to be one of his many assets. The driver stopped at the entrance of a chain hotel, which also happened to be affordable.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 241 – "Secrets Revealed, Trust Concealed"

After settling the cab fare, Rachel entered the hotel.

Dominic, who had been tailing her, breathed a sigh of relief.

The weather was bitterly cold.

At least Rachel was now sheltered from the frigid winds. He exited his car and hurriedly followed her into the hotel.

“Get in touch with your manager.”

This particular chain hotel was also one of Dominic's investments.

Spotting Dominic, the hotel manager quickly approached with a servile smile.

“Mr. Porter, it's quite late. How can I assist you?”

Dominic's gaze remained fixed on the woman entering the elevator.

“I'd like you to arrange the room opposite hers for me.”

With the room key in hand, Rachel swiped it and wearily opened the door.

Clearly drained by the day's events, she stepped inside.

As the door creaked open, a noise emanated from the adjacent room.

Rachel instinctively glanced back, locking eyes with Dominic's intense gaze.

Dominic held her gaze.

He contemplated speaking but hesitated, his hand frozen mid-air.

Struggling to find words, he managed to utter a few from his tight lips.

“Rachel, I…” Rachel cut him off with a snort, turning away and marching into her room as if she hadn't seen him.

She slammed the door shut in Dominic's face.

And just like that, a barrier seemed to separate their worlds. After a prolonged pause, Dominic made his way to Rachel's door.

He contemplated knocking but feared saying something amiss and upsetting her further.

Coaxing women was not his forte.

Employing a forceful approach would yield the opposite result.

Yet, leaving wasn't an option either.

Leaning against the wall, his eyes veiled with unreadable emotions, he lingered outside her door.

Lying on the bed, Rachel stared at the closed door.

Restless, she tossed and turned through the night, unable to sleep. It wasn't until early morning that she managed to doze off.

Upon waking, the sun streamed brightly through the windows.

With bags under her eyes, Rachel brushed her teeth and washed her face, contemplating whether to go to work later.

Despite love life setbacks, work awaited her at the company.

She opened the door, coat in hand, and encountered the man standing outside.

Dark circles under Dominic's eyes betrayed his exhaustion.

Seeing Rachel, he nervously blinked, holding out a bag of food.

“Let's have breakfast.”

A lump formed in Rachel's throat.

Dominic had waited outside her door all night. Rachel lowered her head, concealing her mixed emotions.

“You can eat alone,” she retorted coolly, swiping her room card and shutting the door.

Her anger toward Dominic remained palpable. His overnight vigil outside her door only fueled her irritation.

“Mr. Porter, please don't obstruct me,” she asserted. Dominic had concealed his true identity from her, deceiving her.

It all seemed absurd. Whether she was Dominic's wife or Braden's made no difference; what mattered was his lack of trust and deception.

As a couple sharing a home, Dominic had disregarded her feelings. “Rachel, can we talk?” Dominic hesitated, seeming to struggle with unspoken words.

Without a response, Rachel averted her gaze, walked past him, and departed.

Rachel wandered the streets aimlessly, engulfed by crowds.

Arriving at a rental agency, she paced outside restlessly.

“Looking to rent? Come in. We have suitable options for every budget.”

An agent greeted Rachel with a smile.

Rachel hesitated, contemplating renting her own place. Staying in Dominic's villa was untenable.

The idea of returning there incensed her. He had spun countless lies; he was a deceiver. Yet, she refrained from entering the agency.

Her belongings remained in the villa, necessitating a return. As for her job at Porter Group, Rachel lacked the resolve to work.

In a daze, she hailed a taxi back to the villa to pack.

Unexpectedly, she encountered Nadia at the gate.

Perched on the steps, Nadia rose upon spotting Rachel.

“Why weren't you at work today? I was worried,” Nadia expressed genuine concern, having learned of Dominic's unmasked identity.

Rachel's absence and lack of response had prompted Nadia to wait.

“Hello, Miss Ortiz. I'm fine,” Rachel replied with a faint smile.

Her disappointment lay more with Nadia than Dominic. Once considered a close friend, Nadia's true role as Dominic's hired guard had shattered that illusion.

Nadia likely fulfilled her duty to protect her client.

“Miss Ortiz, do you tire of guarding me round the clock? I no longer need protection,” Rachel stated with a detached smile.







Chapter 242 – "Apologies and Confrontations"

Rachel’s words rendered Nadia speechless. She was used to dealing with people straightforwardly with force, but Rachel’s outright coldness made her flustered and helpless.

Nadia would’ve preferred it if Rachel beat her to vent her anger rather than cut off their friendship.

“Don’t act like we’re strangers, Rachel…” Nadia forced a smile.

“If it weren’t for Mr.Porter, you and I would have been strangers, Miss Ortiz,” Rachel retorted coldly.

“Okay. It’s true that Mr. Porter hired me to protect you, and it’s true that I’ve been lying to you. For that, I’m sorry,” Nadia apologized right away.

Rachel’s anger was unsettling; it made her realize just how terrible it was when a usually gentle and nice person got mad. Rachel nodded but didn’t say anything else.

“Sorry, I just need some time to calm down,” Rachel said with a sigh after a while. She didn’t want to talk to Nadia anymore, so she started to walk past her.

“Wait!” Nadia stopped Rachel, and then quickly lowered her head.

“I’m sorry, okay? My contract said that I couldn’t reveal my identity nor could I reveal Mr.Porter’s. I couldn’t violate the terms.”

Rachel put on a calm smile, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes.

“I know you were just doing your job. I just feel like I had been such a fool for believing you were my friend ever since you saved me. Miss Ortiz, I’ve never had a real friend since I was a child, so when you treated me well, I couldn’t help but believe that you had considered me as a friend, too.”


Nadia anxiously explained, “It’s true that at the beginning, I was just hired to protect you, but I gradually came to regard you as a real friend. I wasn’t lying to you about that. You’re a very worthy friend. You’re gentle and refined, whereas I’m a straightforward person. Few girls are willing to be friends with me. When you treated me sincerely, I was really happy that I had you.”

Nadia’s voice sounded genuine.

Rachel’s cold eyes softened somewhat and she fell silent.

It wasn’t that she didn’t believe what Nadia was saying, rather she was still hurting from the fact that their friendship was fake in the beginning.

Other than her biological parents, no one in this world would have treated her well for no reason.

With Nadia, she just didn’t figure it out at first.

The more Rachel thought about it, the more distressed she felt. She didn’t say anything as her mind raced.

How was she supposed to treat Nadia now? She didn’t think it was necessary to cut off all ties with Nadia, but she couldn’t continue to view Nadia as a friend either.

She lowered her head, walked past Nadia, and unlocked the door with her fingerprint.

“I won’t invite you in, Miss Ortiz. You can go back and tell Mr. Porter that I’m safe and I don’t need anyone to protect me from now on.”

Then, without waiting for a response, she closed the door on Nadia’s face.

Being left outside, Nadia felt helpless.

It was clear that Rachel was still too immersed in her anger io listen to reason now.

No matter what Nadia said, it would likely fall on deaf ears.

Just as Nadia was about to leave, she sensed that someone was behind her.

She whirled around vigilantly and when she saw who it was, she sighed in relief.

“Mr. Porter, why are you sneaking around in the daytime?”

Dominic brushed the snow off his shoulders and emerged from the bushes. He was wearing a long face, and he was carrying a bag of food that had clearly gone cold.

Dressed in a luxurious suit, his image was full of contradictions. On the one hand, he looked like a warm partner who had prepared breakfast for his lover.

On the other hand, he also looked like a mature and steady socialite. Dominic didn’t answer Nadia. The truth was he had been following Rachel ever since she left the hotel. He just didn’t show himself until Rachel was inside the villa. Nadia approached him anxiously.

Considering how Dominic was her employer, it wasn’t her place to judge him. She could only shake her head wryly and say, “Mr. Porter, you’ve really done it this time. No wonder she’s so angry. But I think you can still fix things. Go and apologize to her right now.”

Dominic wasn’t good at expressing his feelings. He could only nod and say, “Rachel only spoke out of anger just now. Your contract hasn’t expired, so you still have to protect her at all times.”

Nadia smiled. “Even without you telling me, I would’ve protected her to the ends of the earth.” Looking at the closed door to the villa, she added softly, “Because she’s my best friend.”

Rachel opened her suitcase and began to pile her clothes in it. When she took them out of the closet, she found that every article of clothing was folded neatly.

Dominic was good at doing housework. She had seldom done laundry ever since they got married. She looked around the room quietly.

The windows and furniture were clean, and even the floor was shiny. Now that she knew that Dominic was loaded, she wondered if he had hired maids to clean the house whenever she was away. Even so, there was no doubt that Dominic was good at cleaning: she had witnessed this herself.

She still remembered that when the two of them first got married and moved into that small house of his mother’s, he couldn’t do the dishes properly and even broke a few of them. A smile crept on Rachel’s face. As the CEO of such an esteemed company, he shouldn’t have needed to do such housework. No wonder he was so clumsy at the time.

Now that she looked back carefully, she realized there were a lot of clues that alluded to Dominic’s secret identity as Braden Porter. For example, he knew multiple languages and liked to pay attention to stock and financial reports.

But she had ignored all those clues.

Just then, the sound of the intelligent door unlocking interrupted her train of thoughts, Dominic strode in. Seeing that Rachel was packing up her things, he strode over to her suitcase and closed it. Rachel glared at him and demanded, “What do you think you’re doing?”

Dominic rested his hand on the suitcase firmly, showing no intention of letting it go.

The two of them stared at each other in a stalemate. After a long while, Dominic broke the silence and said in a low voice, “I’m here to apologize to you. I’m sorry.” Rachel sneered coldly.

“You’ve deceived me for so long. Do you expect me to forgive you after just a simple ‘sorry’?” Dominic pursed his lips and looked at her steadily.

‘lll do anything you want me to do, but you can’t leave.”

For the first time, he looked very humble, like a little child who knew he was in the wrong

Seeing him like this, Rachel didn’t have the heart to stay so angry at him. Instead, she tried to snatch the suitcase from under his hand, but it didn’t even budge. She had no choice but to give up. She glared at Dominic and said, “Let me go. I want to move out.”

Dominic frowned.






Chapter 243 – "The CEO's Wife"


“What are you going to do after you move out?”

‘It’s none of your business. Mr Porter!”

As Rachel canned the folded clothes, she tried to grab the suitcase from him.

“Where am I supposed to go? I don’t even have any idea It’s going to cost a lot of money to find a new apartment, and that’s money I don’t have at the moment. I’ve given most of my saving to Hubert,’ she thought.

It was almost impossible to rent an ideal apartment nearby her workplace. Because of her current financial situation, her salary wouldn’t be enough to cover both rent and living expenses. Rachel hadn’t thought about what to do next at the moment.

Should I really get divorced? Should I resign and leave the Porter Group for good?’

Things didn’t seem to be that serious, but she had blurted out some unpleasant words when she was angry She couldn’t just take back what she said now. Seeing as Rachel was still fuming with rage, Dominic stared at her in silence for a long time before he found his voice.

“You can get mad at me all you want, but you can’t leave. I’m not going to let you leave” He refused to let go of the suitcase. He straightened himself up, and lifted the suitcase, intending to take it away

“Don’t think I’m going to forgive you that easily!” Rachel pursed her lips while staring at the clothes in her hand. It seemed as though she was determined to go through with this. She glared at Dominic for a long time, uncertain of what to say. Finally, she grabbed all of her clothes and belongings from the sofa and brought them into the room. She shut the door behind her and decided to ignore him.

Dominic, on the other hand, took a deep breath.

For now, the situation was still under his control. At the very least, Rachel wasn’t going to move out anytime soon.

The sadness in his heart diminished, but he knew full weil that the problem was yet to be solved. Dominic clenched the suitcase handle and put it down. He carefully took all of Rachel’s stuff out of the suitcase and put them back where they used to be

Once Rachel was inside the room, she wanted to find out what Dominic was doing outside, so she opened the door quietly. Outside, she saw him carefully putting away her stuff before taking off his coat and doing household chores. Dominic was the CEO of the Porter Group. There was no need for him to do such menial labor. As a matter of fact, he had changed so much for her.

Rachel closed the door again and leaned against it, feeling a lump in her throat

After that encounter, she didn’t speak to Dominic again. She wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do. Right now, all she wanted to do was to be alone and at peace.

Whenever she was frowning, she looked really unapproachable

Sometime later, Rachel was able to stay calm and assess her situation.

‘I’ve been living a happy life with Dominic ever since we’re married. Is all of this going to be ruined just because of a lie?”

Truthfully, she didn’t want to give up on their relationship, but the fact that he had lied to her really bothered her a lot

Dominic was cautious around Rachel, for fear of irritating her again. He was finding it difficult to understand women more and more. Most of the time, she would ignore him. But all he could do was tolerate her behavior for now and carefully observe her.

Rachel spent the entire day inside the room, forgetting that she had to go to work today.

She had thought it over later, and decided to just go to work tomorrow. Whether she liked it or not, she’d have to decide if she still wanted to continue working for the Porter Group or not.

It was imperative that she dealt with the matter of her job properly. She was well aware that she couldn’t just skip work for the rest of her life just because of this matter.

Rachel returned to the Porter Group’s headquarters the next morning. She heard some people laughing inside the design department. But the second they saw her come in, an ominous silence ensued in the room. Everybody else in the office realized that there was a tension in the room, so they all glanced at the door.

“Hey! Shut up! Can’t you see that Rachel is here already?”

“Wait… Is Rachel the one who’s secretly married to Mr. Porter?”

“Who else could it be?”

Rachel could hear them whispering among each other, and they all sounded surprised.

Deciding to ignore them, she went to her seat and sat down as if nothing happened.

When Hilda saw Rachel, she poked her head out and went to the latter’s seat Visibly excited, she said, “My queen! You’re finally back! Everyone in the company is shocked to hear the news about you and Mr. Porter!” Rachel could tell from the look on Hilda’s face that the latter was excited.

“Who spread the news?” she asked.

Hilda had no idea either.

“When I arrived at the company yesterday, everybody was already discussing that you’re the CEO’s wife. Someone even took a video of Mr. Porter chasing after you!”

When Rachel looked around, the people inside the department fell into deeper silence. The air felt tense and it get worse with every passing second.

The moment she entered the company building earlier, she could sense that people were looking at her differently Some were curious, others were confused. But most of them were giving her a modicum of respect, and were cautious around her. It seemed that the entire company already knew that she was Braden’s wife.

“Everyone’s scared of you now!” Hilda declared as she looked around Rachel burst into laughter.

“Why would they be scared? Do they think I’m going to bite their heads off or something?” Hilda winked at her and replied, “It’s because of your conflict with Savannah. It didn’t end well, did it? Didn’t you feel that everyone was keeping their distance from you at the time?”

“Of course, I did! Savannah’s boyfriend is a department head of our company. I can understand why everyone chose to side with her,” Rachel responded.

It was difficult to keep healthy interpersonal relationships in the corporate world. In their world, any common fool who would go up against someone who had connections, someone like Savannah, would just be asking for trouble.

“Well, that’s the point! Since you’re the wife of the boss, you’re completely different in everyone’s eyes now. They’re all nervous around you, because they’re scared you’ll take revenge on them,” Hilda remarked with glee.

She wasn’t a sensitive person, and she had always been on Rachel’s side. Thus, she wasn’t nervous around her. As a matter of fact, this turn of events excited her. Rachel lowered her head and said, “I’ve already got a lot on my plate now. I don’t have time to waste seeking revenge on everyone.”

Hilda pouted. “They just feel guilty. Putting that aside… What the hell, Daley? How could you hide the fact that you’re Mr. Porter’s wife from us?”

A bitter smile appeared on Rachel’s face. ‘How am I supposed to answer that question? I don’t even know the answer, myself.’

Although it was quiet in the design department, all eyes were on Rachel. Just as she was feeling unsettled, someone gave her a pat on the shoulder from behind.

“Daley, can I see you in my office?”

Stephanie stood behind Rachel, crossing her arms. She looked as calm as ever, and she acted like she always did.

Rachel warily followed Stephanie into her office “Miss Miller, is this about me asking for another leave yesterday?”

Rachel bit her lower lip. She was aware that she had been asking for leaves too frequently lately. Sitting cross-legged on the sofa,

Stephanie couldn’t help but giggle.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 244 – "Schemers Exposed"

"Daley, I always had a hunch you were tied to Braden somehow, but I never imagined you were his missus!"

Stephanie was the Sherlock Holmes of our design crew. She'd catch onto things quicker than a cat snags a mouse. She'd spotted Kristian secretly aiding Rachel more than once. But since Kristian was supposedly dating someone else, Stephanie took a leap and guessed it was Braden who had a thing for Rachel. After all, Kristian worked for Braden, so it made sense he'd pull strings for his boss's crush.

Now that her theory was confirmed, Stephanie was cool as a cucumber. She wasn't one to play favorites. Sure, she had a soft spot for Rachel, but that was because she admired her skills and work ethic.

But when it came to running the department, Stephanie was all business. She handled company matters like a pro.

Rachel took a deep breath. "Miss Miller, Braden's his own man, and I'm my own woman. I'm still on the clock here. I won't bend the rules just 'cause I married the CEO. Don't sweat it." Rachel couldn't read Stephanie's thoughts, but she wanted to make her intentions crystal clear. Stephanie just smiled and waved it off.

"I'm not sweating that. I'll be as tough as ever, and you'll catch flak if you slip up." Stephanie stood up and strolled over to Rachel.

"But, as a friend, let me ask: now that everyone knows you're Mr. Porter's better half, what's the game plan for you?"

Rachel, taken aback, lowered her gaze. "I haven't figured that out yet."

Stephanie breathed a sigh of relief. "You're talented, Daley. It'd be a shame to chuck your career 'cause you hitched a billionaire. The whole Porter Group knows who you are now. Stick around, and you'll have folks kissing up to you left and right. You'll breeze up the corporate ladder. But that might not be the best move for your career. Look at Savannah. If you wanna grow, consider spreading your wings beyond Porter. The world's your oyster. Don't be a frog in a tiny pond. Limited horizons won't get you far in your career."

"Are you saying I should leave Porter?"

Rachel stared at Stephanie, disbelief written all over her face.

Stephanie saw right through her. "Is this place sentimental to you?"

Rachel shook her head. After a moment, she said slowly, "I love what I do, and I want to climb higher. I'll think about what you said, Miss Miller."

Stephanie smiled, a hint of sadness in her eyes. "Whatever path you choose, it won't be easy. That's life. What matters is you're happy and have no regrets." Rachel met Stephanie's gaze steadily.

After a moment, they both smiled. Rachel got up to leave, but Stephanie stopped her.

"I almost forgot. Mr. Porter messaged me. He sorted things out with Earnest. Turns out, Savannah's the one who caused the ruckus. You can clear your name now."

Stephanie wasted no time. She called a meeting of the design department and played Earnest's confession.

The staff were shocked but not entirely surprised. They knew Savannah's reputation.

Many had defended Savannah because of her connections. But they also knew she was reckless enough to blame Rachel for her mess. Savannah's face went pale as she listened to the recording. She'd known her game was up the moment Rachel became Braden's wife.

"I panicked and blamed Daley. I'm sorry."

As the recording ended, Savannah burst into tears, playing the victim. Rachel scowled, but before she could speak, her colleagues apologized.

"Daley, we're sorry. We should've known better. You're too sweet to pull something like that."

"We messed up, Daley. We believed lies. You're a good person. Please forgive us."

Rachel accepted their apologies with a forced smile. She felt uncomfortable with all the attention.

"Ugh…" Dominic sighed for the umpteenth time. He felt powerless and frustrated.

"Is Rachel still mad at you? You gotta patch things up, man. Your bad mood's affecting all of us," Kristian said gloomily.

Dominic sighed. He always felt helpless with Rachel.







Chapter 245 – "The Wife They Want vs. The Wife They Got"


Kristian undid a couple of buttons on his shirt and plopped down beside Dominic. Giving the situation some serious thought, he chimed in, "Man, you've been keeping this secret from her for ages. It's only natural she's upset, but you did it for her own good. This isn't an impossible fix. Best bet is to stay humble and let her cool off. She'll come around eventually, mark my words."

Kristian understood Rachel's frustration all too well. Back in school, Dominic had a knack for pulling pranks on him. Having been on the receiving end of Dominic's mischief firsthand, Kristian got where Rachel was coming from. Dominic stayed silent, letting out a heavy sigh instead. He just hoped Rachel would find it in her heart to forgive him. But deep down, he knew it wasn't going to be that easy.

"Hey there, Miss Daley, let me introduce myself properly. I'm the head honcho over at HR."

"Good afternoon, Miss Daley! How about we grab some tea? My treat."

"Miss Daley, if you ever need a hand, don't hesitate to ring me up anytime. I'm the guy in charge of marketing. You can call me Mike."

Rachel was being swarmed by folks left and right. It felt like they were about to build a fortress around her desk any minute now. Since Rachel got to the office today, she hadn't even had a chance to dive into her work yet. She'd been flashing a polite smile and gracefully dealing with higher-ups trying to cozy up to her one after the other. It had only been one day, but already, she had a slew of colleagues and execs conveniently popping up to introduce themselves or strike up a conversation.

Thanks to Rachel, Hilda had snagged quite the stash of snacks and drinks that afternoon. With her belly full and content, she remarked, "Being the CEO's wife must be a dream. You're one lucky lady, Rachel."

Hilda let out a loud burp, eyeing the goodies on Rachel's desk with envy.

"All these gifts and treats ain't just for show. Everyone's looking to get something out of me."

Rachel shook her head, feeling more drained by the minute as she organized the gifts cluttering her desk, her patience waning as she glanced at the eager faces crowding around her.

Maybe Stephanie was onto something. Perhaps she couldn't stay at Porter Group much longer.

Finally, the workday came to an end, and Rachel felt a wave of relief wash over her.

She was the talk of the whole Porter Group. Everyone from top to bottom seemed intent on buttering her up. Even the janitor downstairs made a point to greet Rachel with respect when they crossed paths. Eager to avoid any more flattery, Rachel decided to take the stairs down instead of the elevator. She didn't want to be stuck in a confined space, suffocating under the weight of more insincere compliments.

As Rachel descended, a waft of perfume hit her nose. She rounded the corner and spotted Charlene leaning against the doorframe, wearing a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon. "Well, fancy meeting you here, Miss Daley," she said with a smirk.

Charlene, tall and slender, fixed her gaze on Rachel, tilting her head ever so slightly.

"Hey there, Miss Palmer. Pardon me, I'm heading out," Rachel forced out a smile.

Trapped between Charlene and the door, Rachel felt her discomfort grow. It was clear Charlene knew about Dominic's double life, leaving Rachel feeling like the last one to know.

Raising an eyebrow, Charlene watched Rachel closely.

"Just so you know, I'm well aware that Braden is Dominic," Charlene said, her tone casual but a hint of malice glinting in her eyes.

"Cut him some slack. He kept it from you because he's got a lot on his plate. You two come from different worlds, after all."

Rachel's fake smile vanished in an instant. She wasn't in the mood for a chat with Charlene, who was clearly stirring up trouble on purpose. Deciding to take the elevator out, Rachel froze when Charlene spoke again.

Charlene let out a long sigh before continuing, "It's incredible, really. Feels like just yesterday Braden and I were starting up, and now, Porter Group's practically a juggernaut. Always knew Braden had it in him. From nothing to running a multibillion-dollar empire and being responsible for thousands of livelihoods. But he's still got unfinished business with the Petersons. When he picked a wife, it wasn't just about love."

Rachel locked eyes with Charlene, her patience wearing thin. "What exactly are you getting at? Dominic married me. Regardless of your history, he's my husband now."

Tension crackled between them.

Charlene narrowed her eyes, realizing she'd underestimated Rachel's resolve. But she kept her cool, refusing to show any sign of weakness. Closing in on Rachel, she sneered.

"I mean exactly what I said. I pity Braden. He deserved better."

Each step Charlene took felt like a stab to Rachel's heart. When they stood face to face, Charlene leaned in, a mocking smile on her lips.

"You get it now, don't you? Braden should've married into wealth and power, someone who matches his status. He needs a wife who can help him climb higher, achieve more. Maybe he has some feelings for you, sure, but does he really think you're worthy of being Mrs. Porter? Businessmen don't make moves without weighing the risks. Maybe that's why he kept his true identity from you, huh?"

Rachel didn't want to hear another word from Charlene.






Chapter 246 – "The Charlene Effect: Stirring Up Trouble"


As she hurried past the other woman and raced up the stairs, Charlene let out a knowing chuckle. Her voice was calm, but her words hit Rachel hard.

"I'm just worried about you, Miss Daley. You might end up feeling broken and miserable down the road. You know, there's no such thing as forever. Sure, you and Braden might be all lovey-dovey now, but how long will that last? When the initial passion fades, you'll realize you were never truly compatible. You two come from different worlds. The gap between you is like a giant chasm, and no piece of paper can bridge it. Your marriage won't mean much in the grand scheme of things. Haven't you figured it out yet? Because of you, he gave up on a better future, on his chance for revenge—his one true purpose in life. Do you honestly think Braden won't regret his decision?"

Rachel tried to block out Charlene's words as she climbed the stairs, but they kept echoing in her mind.

If she were any less of a person, she might have marched right over and slapped Charlene.

But Rachel wasn't that type of woman. Plus, deep down, she knew Charlene had a point.

Rachel took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, but her heart felt like it was sinking deeper and deeper into darkness.

Facing Dominic now seemed impossible.

Her doubts and fears crashed over her like a tidal wave, leaving her feeling like she was drowning.

The worst part? She couldn't shake off Charlene's words. She couldn't argue against them. All she could do was run away.

Upstairs, Hilda was in the gym, trying to work off some guilt from indulging in a big meal earlier. While running on the treadmill, she spotted Rachel rushing out of the stairwell, tears streaking her face.

"Daley, what's going on? Why are you coming out of there like that?" Even though Hilda was usually upbeat, she could tell something was wrong.

Seeing the concern on Hilda's face only made Rachel feel more despondent. She collapsed into Hilda's arms, sniffling.

"Just... don't ask, okay?" Rachel mumbled into Hilda's hair.

So Hilda just held her, offering silent support. When she felt Rachel trembling, she felt a pang of sympathy and anger.

"Who did this to you?" Hilda's voice was filled with righteous anger. She was ready to go and give someone a piece of her mind.

Rachel shook her head, trying to compose herself, and managed a weak smile at Hilda.

"It's fine, Hilda. I'm feeling better now. You don't need to do anything."

She paused, then added, "Sometimes, you just need to focus on yourself, you know?"

Rachel's words left Hilda speechless.

What did she mean by that? Was she thinking of leaving? Hilda couldn't quite understand.

When the elevator arrived, Rachel stepped in without another word, lost in thought. And the more she thought about what Charlene had said, the more it seemed like she was right. There was a vast difference in status between her and Dominic. Rachel used to be part of the Daley family, with their own company, but now she felt like she had nothing. Compared to Braden, the CEO of Porter Group, she was just an ordinary employee. Dominic had always helped her, but she hadn't been able to help him in return.

Rachel walked out of the Porter Group building in a daze, feeling like she didn't belong there anymore. Just seeing Charlene reminded her of everything the woman had said.

It was clear she couldn't compete with Charlene. "Where should I go now? Back to the villa?"

But that was where Dominic lived. If she wanted to leave, he would try to stop her. Rachel was lost, unsure of what to do next. As she looked around the bustling city, she felt utterly alone.

The world seemed so vast, yet she had no place to call home.

Meanwhile, Charlene strutted back to her office, a smug smile on her face.

Seeing Rachel run off with a pale face confirmed that her plan had worked. She closed her eyes, breathing a sigh of relief.

A senior leader had tipped Charlene off about the incident between Braden and Rachel outside the club. Learning that Braden's true identity had been revealed so soon startled her. Charlene was annoyed that Rachel might bask in the glory of being the CEO's wife.

That gold-digger would surely latch onto him tighter now that she knew Dominic was Braden.

But Charlene didn't act immediately. She wanted to observe, analyze, and find the perfect moment to strike at Rachel.

So she watched Rachel closely. Several managers and executives tried to win Rachel's favor with gifts and treats.

But even though Rachel seemed pleasant, Charlene could see she was unhappy deep down. Rachel might pretend to be calm, but she was seething inside.

Charlene smiled. Rachel's anger likely stemmed from Braden lying to her. Her opinion of Rachel shifted instantly. She hadn't expected Rachel to be so unfazed by wealth and power.

However, this presented an opportunity. If Braden and Rachel were fighting, Charlene could use it to drive them apart for good.

After all, she couldn't let this chance slip by. Braden had warned her, but Charlene couldn't resist. If she didn't act now, she might never get another opportunity to separate Rachel and Braden.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 247 – "Charlene's Machinations"

Charlene strutted back to her office, wearing a smug grin on her face. Seeing Rachel dash away with a pale face, she knew her plan had hit the bullseye. She closed her eyes and let out a relieved sigh.

A top executive had filled Charlene in on the encounter between Braden and Rachel outside the club the other day. She was surprised to hear that Braden's true identity had been revealed so soon.

Charlene was irked that Rachel might bask in the glory of being the CEO's wife at the Porter Group. That gold digger would surely latch onto him tighter now that she knew Dominic was Braden.

But Charlene didn't strike immediately. She wanted to play it cool, observe, and pick the perfect moment to strike against Rachel.

So, Charlene kept a watchful eye on Rachel's every move. Department heads and senior execs showered Rachel with gifts and compliments.

Despite Rachel's composed demeanor, Charlene could sense her inner turmoil. Rachel was fuming inside but put on a brave face. A smirk spread across Charlene's lips. She figured Rachel was mad because Braden had lied to her. In that moment, Charlene's opinion of Rachel shifted. She was amazed that Rachel wasn't as interested in Braden's wealth as she'd assumed. If Rachel wasn't her romantic rival, Charlene would've admired her sincerity. Growing up in luxury, Charlene had seen plenty of gold diggers pretending not to care about money, only to reveal their true colors over time. Rachel's indifference to wealth baffled her, but it also presented an opportunity to execute her plans.

Braden and Rachel had a spat. Charlene could exploit this to drive a wedge between them and keep them apart forever.

It wasn't her fault; she was just seizing the opportunity fate handed her. Braden had warned her, but Charlene couldn't pass up this golden chance. If she didn't act now, she'd never be able to separate Braden and Rachel once they made up.

Charlene couldn't let that happen.

She had to take the risk. Otherwise, she'd never have a shot at being with Braden.

After a long day of dealing with flatterers, Rachel decided to take the stairs to avoid her colleagues.

"Did they upgrade the security cameras on the staircase?" Charlene asked her assistant.

"They're shutting down all the CCTV cameras in the staircase when we leave work. The tech team will upgrade them tonight," the assistant replied, juggling documents. "Anything else before I head out?"

"Make sure the tech team finishes the upgrade quickly. It's a safety issue. Without working cameras, we won't know what's happening if something goes wrong," Charlene said, waving her hand.

Coincidentally, the company was upgrading the security system. Charlene could wait for Rachel in the staircase after work when the cameras were off. That way, there would be no evidence left behind. Things were going better than expected.

Watching Rachel's reaction, Charlene realized she must've been deeply hurt. Standing by the window, Charlene gazed at Sunhaven's business hub, pondering her next move. It was simple. Charlene just had to make Braden kick Rachel out of his life, and he'd be hers forever.

After work, Dominic sat in his car, observing everyone leaving the Porter Group building.

He didn't drive off until he spotted Rachel exiting. Following her discreetly, he pulled up beside her when he saw she wasn't heading home.

Rachel glanced at Dominic's car. He looked dashing in his suit, his smile adding to his charm. Dominic hesitated before asking, "Want a ride home?"

Ignoring him, Rachel kept walking.

Dominic trailed her for a few minutes until she stopped abruptly, visibly frustrated.

Why am I mad at Dominic? It's Charlene's fault for provoking me! It's all because of my low self-esteem and insecurities, Rachel thought in distress.

That thought only made Rachel feel worse.

She and Dominic were like two parallel lines, never meant to intersect. If not for his mother's dying wish, they would never have ended up together.

Stopping in her tracks, Rachel got into Dominic's car in silence.

Dominic furrowed his brow.

Instead of feeling elated, he sensed something was wrong. Rachel had been silent before because she was angry with him, but now, he could tell it was something else.

His eyes dimmed, his heart heavy as he silently drove back to the villa.




Chapter 248 – "Flight of Freedom: Rachel's Escape Plan"


Slowly, the black Maybach pulled over at the gate of the villa. When Dominic unfastened his seatbelt, he noticed that Rachel wasn’t getting off the car. She was staring at an old couple beside the pedestrian crossing. The old woman was holding the old man’s arm as they crossed the road together. It somehow reminded her of something she always read in fairy tales, “And they lived happily ever after.”

‘That’s beautiful,” Rachel exclaimed, her face lighting up along with the setting sun Dominic’s heart tightened and his voice became hoarse, “Someday, when our hair greys out and our bones go brittle, we’ll be like them”.

Rachel shook her head, chuckling under her breath.

“I don’t think so.”

Dominic clenched the steering wheel, immediately feeling tense.

Thereafter, Rachel looked at him intently and smiled.

“You’re much taller than that old man, so I won’t be able to support you like that.”

Just as Dominic felt relieved and was about to say something, she cut him off and added in a trembling voice, “Dominic, I want a divorce.”

For the first time ever, Dominic’s mind went blank. Despair and disbelief clouded his thoughts and his heart.

“Who talked to you and what did they say?” he asked.

Dominic had thought that Rachel was merely upset.

He had led himself to believe that after a period of time, she would stop getting angry, and by then, he’d apologize to her again.

Then, everything would be okay again. Not once did he think that they’d get a divorce. Still shaking her head, Rachel looked down while twirling the lace on the hemline of her dress.

“I just want a divorce, Dominic. I’m exhausted…”

‘Rachel, why do you suddenly want to get a divorce? Everything was fine before!” The way Dominic narrowed his ajar was daunting

After casting him a glance, Rachel looked down once more His intimidating appearance frightened her “I’m not okay with the fact that you’ve been lying to me, Dominic! I can no longer trust you and in a marriage trust is the most important thing.”

Dominic knew that he did lie and Rachel was indeed mad, but there was definitely more to the story so he was patient with her.

“Are you hiding something from me?”

Rachel shook her head again.

No matter what he said, she didn’t want to say another word.

Dominic rubbed his temples and closed his eyes as he sat in the driver’s seat in silence for a long time. When he opened his eyes again, he said, “I will never agree to a divorce, Rachel.”

The setting sun finally slid down the horizon, and everything around them turned dimmer. Dominic couldn’t see her face clearly anymore.

I'll pretend that I didn’t hear what you said today. Never mention it again,” he said in a soft voice.

The car was filled with a thick silence.

Instead of making a scene, Rachel chose to be calm and asked, “Will you please unlock the door? I want to go back.”

She turned away and stared at the scenery through the window. It was a very long winter this year, in Sunhaven.

Dominic unlocked the door with shaky fingers.

The tremor in his fingers had not stopped yet.

Rachel shut the car door carefully and went back to the villa.

She had to get Dominic to agree to the divorce because she didn’t think she would be able to live with him as a couple like they had done in the past.

She knew if he didn’t agree then the divorce would not happen.

Rachel was completely worn out as she entered the villa. She knew she could not be compared to someone as perfect as Charlene, which was why it baffled her that Dominic was so into her.

These questions without answers left her feeling confused and pained.

No, she would not think about this anymore.

It only proved to be a waste of her time since she could not find the answers to them anyway.

She went to her room in silence and buried her face in the pillow, covering herself with the bed sheet.She had thought that everything was done with. She would leave Dominic even if he refused to grant her a divorce She did not belong here with him, not after the hell he had put her through.

Tears fell from Rachel’s eyes and she bit her lips hard to try and stop them from falling.

She missed home and wanted to return there, to the house where she and Norma had live before.

A huge wall separated them.

Dominic found it difficult to get the words he so desperately wanted to say out of his mouth. He remained in front of Rachel’s door, lost in thoughts.

Ever since Rachel had found out about his secret identity as Braden Porter, she moved out of their bedroom Dominic was quite busy lately, by taking care of work from his company.

He had to go to work early in the morning and come back late at night.

To make it worse, Rachel was avoiding him on purpose.

He hadn’t seen Rachel for a while now and he knew the situation would continue if he hadn’t gotten off work early today to wait for her outside the Porter Group.

Dominic massaged his head.

He had a terrible headache that made his head throb. He figured that someone must have said something to Rachel. He decided to call Kristian “I did not say anything to her so don’t add me to your list of suspects.”

Kristian had been sitting in a booth at the bar and complaining about the way young people prefer to dance in the bar, when he got the call from Dominic.

He sighed loudly after gathering his thoughts.

“In my opinion the only thing you did wrong was to hide your identity from Rachel, and it is not so unforgivable. And despite the fact that the senior executives in our company like to gossip, I believe that they aren’t stupid and they can at least behave themselves in certain situations. I believe she must have been prompted by something Rachel was devastated and probably believed that her world might collapse at any time when she found out about the truth.I do not think she can handle any more stress right now. You will need to figure out what it is that happened to her before you try to find a solution to the problem.”

“What exactly has Charlene been up to lately?”

Dominic ground out.

Kristian had not been expecting that line of question from Dominic so suddenly. He frowned at Dominic’s words.

“She traveled abroad to deal with some financial issues we had a few days ago. She just got back actually. I think she will mind her words. She is smart enough to know that.”

“I tasked my assistant with investigating what happened to Rachel today. There appeared to be nothing unusual during the day, but the surveillance video cannot account for what happened when she went downstairs by the time she was off duty.”

Kristian could not help but think that Dominic was making accusations he could not support with facts.

“There was a general meeting of the top executives a few days ago and the decision was made at the meeting to upgrade our security system. So it wasn’t really an accident that the CCTV cameras were shut down after work. The two things happening at the same time is purely coincidental and I think you are overthinking it.”

Rachel walked downstairs from the floor of the design department, but then she chose to take the elevator from the second floor.

Why? What exactly on the first floor made her so afraid that she went back to take the stairs. Dominic could feel in his gut that something dubious had happened.

Rachel woke up the next day with a sharp throbbing in her eyes. She padded into the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was a mess, and her eyes were al bloodshot and puffy. She looked terrible “Just skin and bones,” she muttered, pinching her arm and forcing a smile.

Realization suddenly struck her she had nothing to worry about at all.

She was only in her twenties, she still had much of her youth to squander, not to mention a whole life waiting ahead of her Rachel delved into her thoughts.

She had never had much ever since she was a little girl.

When she was in primary school, she had a favorite pencil box with a pretty Barbie pattern.

Ivonne ended up throwing it away out of spite. And while Rachel was torn over the loss, she eventually forgot about the knickknack altogether.

Perhaps Dominic would be just like that pencil box. Besides, he had made a point of keeping his true identity from the start.

Rachel didn’t want to think that it was due to some misgivings on his part, but she couldn’t really blame him if that was the case.

With renewed resolve, she opened her computer and proceeded to send out her resumes to design companies all over the country. Shortly after, she received a notice for interview from SoarCraft Design Co., a famous establishment in Meadowview.

The thing, however, was that she hadn’t sent them her resume.

Curious, Rachel opened the e-mail to confirm its contents.

Sure enough, the HR Manager of SoarCraft Design Co. expressed their appreciation for her designs, and even mentioned that they were aware that her former superior at the Porter Group had nothing but praise for her.

It occurred to her then that she had previously spoken to Stephanie about changing jobs.

Was it Stephanie who had recommended her to SoarCraft Design Co.? Gratitude bloomed in Rachel’s heart.

She hadn’t expected that someone else in Porter Group genuinely cared about her besides Hilda.

SoarCraft Design Co. came second to the Porter Group.

Because it engaged mainly in the overseas market, and it wasn’t particularly known in the local landscape.

But Rachel had seen their designs, and they were quite on par with those of the Porter Group And here she was now, staring at their invitation and the impressive pay they stipulated.

Rachel pondered it for a second before deciding to accept their invite. She had been planning to leave, anyway, and they did offer a very attractive salary.

Given her skills and experience, she was almost certain that she was going to get this job.

More importantly, Meadowview was located farther up in the North, while Sunhaven was in the South She could finally escape Dominic, and stay away from him for good..

After she settled down in Meadowview, Norma could also come over and stay with her.

Rachel didn’t pack much. She only brought some necessities, which didn’t even require a suitcase.

Dominic had already gone to the company early that morning.

Without telling anyone, she booked a plane ticket online and took a taxi to the airport.

On her way, she called Stephanie.

“Thank you, Miss Miller. I received an offer from SoarCraft Design Co., and I’m on my way to the airport as we speak. Can you send me the forms needed to file for resignatian? I’m afraid I don’t have time to drop by the company.”

“I see, of course. Well, I wish you a smooth journey and a bright future ahead.”

Their conversation was brief.

After hanging up, Stephanie paused and wondered.

She wasn’t sure why Rachel thanked her in the first place.

Was it for formality’s sake? She was actually neutral on whether Rachel should leave or stay, and she was just surprised to learn that Rachel had already made such a bold decision so soon. Nadia hid behind a large pillar as she watched Rachel walk through the airport entrance.

She immediately sent Dominic a message, and then followed Rachel inside Dominic had instructed her to keep an eye on Rachel and report her every move.

Nadia had initially thought that Rachel was merely going out for a walk, since the latter didn’t bring any luggage with her.

But Nadia’s cool soon crumbled when she realized that they were heading to the airport.






Chapter 249 – "Destination Meadowview: Rachel's New Beginning"

"Mr. Porter, the surveillance system has just been updated. It was scheduled to be done yesterday, but the tech department said a woman came and said that something important might occur while the security cameras were out of service, so they put it off until after the employees leave for the day."

The assistant explained the situation in a shaking voice. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he was scared nonetheless.

"Keep looking into it. Contact me once you find new leads."

Braden's lips curled into a sneer. "Call Miss Palmer here."

He was nearing the end of his tether. The mandate to execute the system update at such a fortuitous time had come from the senior executives—all of them, it seemed.

"We just had three separate meetings in a row. The recent turmoil in Wall Street and the collapse of the stock market has put everyone in a state of panic."

Charlene entered Braden's office with a stack of documents and her laptop. She looked tired, as though she had spent the last several nights buried in work.

"What were you doing at the stairwell yesterday after work?" Braden asked bluntly, though his voice remained calm.

Charlene frowned for a brief second before it was replaced with a smile. "You must be kidding, Mr. Porter. You know that I hate taking the stairs. I had a meeting until ten o'clock last night, long after everyone has gone home. As soon as I was finished, I packed up and left the office through the elevator."

Braden stared at her in silence, a myriad of emotions flickering in his eyes.

"Did you have a quarrel with Miss Daley again? You've been wearing a long face since yesterday."

She heaved a long, dramatic sigh. "I don't know what you fought about, but if you think I had anything to do with it, then feel free to check into it. There are surveillance cameras everywhere in the company. You can confirm my whereabouts throughout the day."

Sure enough, she was in a meeting when Rachel had left the day before. Braden had confirmed it himself, and more than a dozen senior executives served as her witnesses.

He was starting to have doubts. Deep down, his instincts told him that Charlene was involved in this debacle in one way or another, but he didn't have any proof to back up his hunch.

"I'm not suspecting you. You're thinking too much."

Charlene's smile widened. "In that case, I'll be taking my leave. Look at you, you should go home soon, too. No matter how important you work is, you still need to take care of yourself."

As soon as Charlene left and closed the door behind her, Braden received a call from Nadia.

"Mr. Porter! Rachel booked a plane ticket out of Sunhaven. It leaves at 2 P.M."

"I'm coming right now. Make sure she doesn't see you."

Braden's heart was hammering inside his chest. He grabbed his suit jacket from the sofa and strode out of his office.

The airport was crowded when he arrived. Nadia walked over, looking really anxious. "Mr. Porter, her plane just took off. I followed your orders and stayed out of sight, so I wasn’t able to stop her.”

Nadia was visibly upset. She could have prevented Rachel from leaving. She could have even dragged her away from the airport if necessary. Braden raised his hand and shook his head.

"She hasn't been herself lately. Let's give her some space. She probably needs a break."

Even as he said that, his face turned glum, like a dark cloud had formed above his head. He had felt his heart sink into a bottomless pit with every word Nadia spoke. "Go and see where she's headed."

He stared out of the floor-to-ceiling windows and watched a plane soar into the distance, disappearing into the clouds. His scowl deepened, and people noticeably steered clear of him as they passed by.

At six o'clock that afternoon, Rachel finally landed in Meadowview after a four-hour flight. The winter in the North was very cold, much colder than anything she had experienced back in Sunhaven. She wrapped her down jacket tighter around herself before walking out of the arrival area.

However, before Rachel could even reach the end of the lobby, a group of burly men wearing black surrounded her. With her clear eyes slightly open, Rachel's lips parted and she vigilantly looked at the group of men in black making their way towards her.

"Miss, you must come with us!" The men dressed in black stood in a row before Rachel and bowed their heads in unison.

Rachel's heart stopped beating in her chest.

"Bros, stop scaring her!" Nadia's nervous voice sounded out from outside the crowd. She brushed past the tall and strong men and somehow managed to squeeze through.

When she caught sight of Rachel, she wanted to say something but stopped once she thought about it. Seeing that it was Nadia, Rachel looked around the airport, searchingly. Pretty soon, she could make out a tall figure walking from the landing platform in the distance.

The man had handsome features and his crisp black suit set off his thick and strong neckline. Today, he was wearing a dark gray cashmere scarf around his neck with a black coat as his outermost layer. His handsome appearance attracted many people's gazes in the airport. While holding a white scarf in his hand, Dominic made his way towards Rachel. His black eyes seemed to pierce through the stunned woman.

"You didn't bring a suitcase with you. At the very least, you should have taken the scarf and gloves and put them on." Dominic's face was calm through and through. He proceeded to wrap the white scarf around Rachel's neck. His cold eyes finally softened in appearance now. He placed his hands in his pockets and then began to look around. "You should've told me before you went ahead and left. If you want to relax some more, I'll take a few days off and take you abroad to have fun at a later time."

Rachel seemed to be avoiding him and said simply, "I want to put Sunhaven behind me. Dominic, why don't you leave me alone, all right?"

Dominic seemed to ignore what she was just saying. After thinking it over for a few seconds, he bowed his head and turned to look at her dotingly. "If you really want to stay here, I'll go on to accompany you for a few days."

"Is that right? What the hell is it that you want to do?" Clenching her teeth tightly, Rachel glared daggers at him. "You refused to divorce me, but I can't continue to be husband and wife with you anymore. I no longer want to work in the Porter Group anymore either, so I must move to another city."

The tenderness in Dominic's eyes instantly dissipated. He went up to her, clenched her wrist with his hand, and narrowed his eyes at her. "What's the issue? There's no problem we can't solve together."

Rachel's ears immediately reddened. She calmed herself down and turned her gaze away. "There's nothing we can do to solve this problem."

Looking down at Rachel's lowered gaze, Dominic lifted his hand and grabbed hold of her chin. He bit her bottom lip hard and said in a low and stubborn voice, "You really want to leave? There's no way I can let you do that."

Rachel wanted to push him away with all her might. “Ah!”

Suddenly, she was in the air.

Dominic grabbed hold of her waist, lifted her up with just one of his hands, and carried her on his shoulder.

Dominic pinched her buttocks hard, and then patted her twice there with a very vengeful look on his face.

“I remember you finished the food I cooked every day this month. So why didn’t you gain weight?”

“We’re at the airport! There are people watching!” Rachel covered her face with her hands in absolute shame and anger. She was so embarrassed!

Regardless of the fact that they were in a public space, Dominic quickly carried Rachel into the luxury car that was parked outside.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 250 – "Runway Reunion: Love Lands at the Airport"

“Dominic! Let me go!” After a moment of dizziness, Rachel tried to get up from where she was in the passenger seat Dominic was already sitting in the driver’s seat. He proceeded to press a button and locked the car doors.

“Why are you doing this to me?” Rachel used everything she had to try and open the door.

“Just because you happen to be my wife.” Dominic placed his arm to block her from leaving and didn’t move an inch no matter what Rachel did.

Rachel glared at him with fierce eyes.

“I’m only Dominic’s wife! I’m not Braden’s wife!”*

Dominic knew what Rachel meant. He sneered and pressed down on her. He pinched her small face and rubbed her lips with his fingers until they were raw. His face was devoid of emotions, but his tone was filled with threat.

“If you don’t change your mind, I’ll take you back and lock you up. You won’t be able to go anywhere.” Dominic’s fierce eyes frightened Rachel a great deal. She curled up in the passenger seat, trying to put some distance between them. When she thought of what had happened before, tears appeared in her eyes. She choked and said, “Dominic, you’re way too selfish. Since you don’t want me to be Braden’s wife, why do you want to keep me here? Why don’t we just go our own separate ways? We can both be free and happy in that case.”

The sight of tears in Rachel’s eyes made Dominic panic. The whole world knew him for his decisiveness, but when he saw Rachel’s tears, he didn’t know what to do.

Dominic pulled a tissue from a box on the top of the dashboard and wiped the tears from her face. Then, in a soft voice, he said, “When did I ever say that I didn’t want you to be Braden’s wife? I told you that I didn’t say anything in the beginning because I was afraid it would put you in danger. Later on, as time went by, I couldn’t tell you because I thought you would be angry at me.”

Rachel took the tissue from Dominic’s hand and sniffled slightly, raising her tearful eyes before she replied, “I’m not worthy to be Braden’s wife.”

A gust of cold wind blew through the window, driving chills down Rachel’s body Dominic closed the window, took off his coat, and wrapped it around her body before sitting back on the driver’s seat. He held the steering wheel with one hand and sat there silently for a moment as if he was thinking before he said, “Who told you that?”

Finally, at long last, he knew what was troubling Rachel. She looked down to avert his eyes and said nothing Dominic rested his face in the palm of his hand and sighed exasperatedly. He glared down at her, shaking his head in frustration.

Unfortunately, he had no choice but to patch things up with his wife.

After all, he didn’t want to have a fight with Rachel. Deep down inside, he truly felt sorry for her. All of a sudden, Dominic couldn’t help but recall the days they had spent living in a small apartment, like any other ordinary couple.

Rachel would always have to track their living expenses.

In truth, he enjoyed her nagging and didn’t mind being yelled at by her because no one else would dare to treat him like that.

Dominic suddenly came to the realization that he was nothing but a puppet whose strings were being pulled by Rachel.

He leaned over, gazing her deeply, and said, “Why do you have to think of our relationship in such a superficial way? I’ll admit, at first, I married you just to fulfill my mother’s dying wish, but then I truly fell in love with you. And since then, I’ve loved you unconditionally. If I wanted to marry the daughter of a rich and powerful family, I could’ve gotten married before I met you. Why do I have to put so much effort to keep you by my side if I don’t have feelings for you? No matter what happens, you will always be my wife.”

Rachel’s heart skipped a beat when she heard Dominic’s words,She used to think that Dominic was a frivolous man who never took anything seriously in his life.

However, when she looked into his eyes now, she could see that he was speaking the truth. When she locked eyes with him, her breathing became erratic and her heart started beating faster.

She looked away, not knowing how to respond to the intensity of Dominic’s gaze

She lowered her head, knowing that Dominic was still staring at her, and faintly said, “Why are you looking at me like that? I’ve already told you what I want. Please just let me go.”

With tenderness in his eyes, Dominic raised his hand and stroked her hair.

‘It’s okay. I have plenty of time. I’ll wait for you to change your mind. But, you wouldn’t have brought it up for no reason. Rachel, please tell me who have you been talked to?” he said in a gentle tone.

“Please?”

Rachel thought that Dominic should know the truth, so she raised her head to look at him and said, “Miss Palmer came to see me and she told me some things that sounded very reasonable.”

“How could you believe a word of what Charlene says?” Dominic shook his head in disappointment. Sometimes he wished Rachel wasn’t so easily manipulated, “I knew she was up to no good, but what she said was true.”

Rachel’s eyes darkened Dominic squeezed her cheeks and looked at her sullen face carefully. As his eyes fell on her pink lips, he said, “Can’t you tell that she desperately wants you to leave me?”

Rachel turned her head away, pouting her lips.

“Don’t touch me, Mr. Porter. I’m a married woman I should warn you that my husband is very good at fighting if he finds out about this, he’s going to pin you against the wall and teach you a lesson” Clearly, Rachel was still mad at him.

Dominic turned a deaf ear to her words. He grabbed her leg and slowly moved to the gap between her thighs.

Although Rachel was wearing jeans, she could still feel the warmth of his hand. With his strong arms, Dominic put down the passenger seat and pressed his body against hers.

“Dominic!” Shocked, Rachel clamped her legs and propped up her elbow on each knee.

“I’m the only one who gets to spoil you.” Dominic pinched Rachel’s legs and then moved his hands to her waist. He leaned down and rubbed his nose against Rachel’s.

“What are you afraid of? Have I ever forced you? If I had known earlier, I would have made love to you already if I can’t have your heart, then at least, I could have had your body”

“Don’t say that,” Rachel scolded him in a low voice. It was as though Dominic’s old roguish self had returned. She knew she shouldn’t care about what Charlene said either, but she couldn’t help it. After all, Charlene sounded very convincing.

Like a magic spell, her words kept repeating in Rachel’s mind Looking closely at her fluttering eyelashes, Dominic raised his hand and gently smoothened her knitted brows.

“I know you still have doubts, but you can go back with me first. It’s okay if you don’t want to work in the Porter Group, but you have to stay with me.”

Dominic’s words softened her heart.

Maybe she just couldn’t say no to this man.

Now that this man had come all the way here chasing after her, she could never escape him.

After tidying up her messy clothes, Dominic took Rachel back into the airport.

His private plane had been waiting there for a long time.






Chapter 251 – "Friendship Tested"


It was the first time Rachel had ever been on a private plane and she was nervous. Dominic put his arms around her and said, “You’ll be taking private planes more often in the future.”

Pretending as though she didn’t hear him, Rachel kept silent. In truth, she didn’t want to be so close to Dominic. Although she had no choice but to play along and go back with him, she panicked at the thought of what she would do later.

It was already eleven o’clock in the evening when they arrived in Sunhaven. Dominic dropped Rachel off in front of the villa. Having no intention to go inside, he simply said, “You can either wait for me or get some sleep. There’s something I have to take care of at the company.”

Dominic’s face darkened at the thought of who he would have to face later Biting her lips nervously, Rachel looked down in disappointment, but she nodded her assent in response. She wasn’t used to the fact that Dominic was actually Braden, but she was willing to try and understand him from another perspective.

After all, the Porter Group was one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. The pressure of having to hold such a high standard must have been exhausting,

“Be good and I’ll be back soon, okay?” Dominic rubbed Rachel’s ear gently and winked at her before he got in the Maybach.

Dominic returned to the Porter Group and made his way over to Charlene’ office. He pushed her door open and entered, wearing a stone-cold expression, “Where can I find Charlene Palmer?”.

The assistant had never seen her boss like this. She had also never heard him call Charlene by her full name Did this mean the company was going through a financial crisis? The assistant battled with so many feeling.

“Miss Palmer is currently in a meeting with a foreign group, which should be concluded in a few minutes” Charlene assistant glanced at her watch and surreptitiously looked at Dominic who was still sporting his cold expression. Her nervousness at his presence increased as her heart beat wildly

A few minutes later, Charlene stepped out of the meeting room, looking worn out.

“Get my things. Do you know if the driver has arrived for me yet?” The assistant pointed in Dominic’s direction with shaky fingers, unable to utter a word Charlene looked in the direction she was pointing and saw Dominic sitting cross-legged, on a black leather sofa. He stared at her with sharp eyes Charlene suddenly had a recollection of a young man in a white shirt, constantly standing in front of a window, looking preoccupied with his thoughts.

“You can go now,” Charlene said, signaling for her assistant to leave. After she left, it was just the two of them in the office.

I believe I’ve warned you never to play any of your mind games on Rachel, but you have refused to listen, and now you’ve crossed the line” Dominic stood up before Charlene could utter a word and looked down at her.

His eyes were frosted over in anger. Charlene had thought that she was ready for whatever consequences her actions brought.

Now, however, as she stood with Dominic alone in the office, she realized she was very afraid.

Dominic moved in an unhurried pace and stopped right in front of Charlene “Since we were once friends, I will not punish you for your actions, but if you wish to keep your dignity, you will leave Porter Group. We can no longer be colleagues.”

Charlene latched onto Dominic’s arm as soon as she heard what he said. Her face had crumpled dramatically, “No, please don’t do this, Braden”

Charlene was not one to ever show weakness, but now she could not help it not with what was happening and the heartache it was causing her. “What I told Rachel was the truth. You are each on different levels. It will not be beneficial to you in any way to marry her. You should marry someone you can consider an equal i promise I was simply looking out for your future.”


Dominic firmly pushed her away, his expression resolute. "I don't care about your noble ideals of marriage equality. I'm not one of your kind. For me, marriage is about love, protecting the one I care for, and ensuring her happiness. That's my belief, and it won't waver. I don't seek or value any benefits she may bring. A marriage built solely on what you can gain from your partner isn't genuine, and it disgusts me."

“Your mindset will change sometime in the future! Our family can help you get Porter Group to a greater height!” Charlene wiped her eyes of any evidence of tears. She was the daughter of the Palmer family and right now she had to act like one

Dominic stared deep into her eyes with so much cruelty.

“It is none of your business who I marry, for it certainly will never be you.”

Charlene’ pupils shrank in fury. “Dominic! Why do you think I do not deserve to be with you?” Charlene asked. She was devastated by how blunt and hurtful his words were.

Dominic did not deem it worthy to give her a reply Embarrassment slowly seeped into her at his silence as her heart raced uncontrollably. Charlene stared at Dominic’s cold and calm face with resentment and turned on her heels, running out of the office in tears.

With a large pile of files in his hands, Kristian made his way toward Charlene’ office in good spirits.


“I heard that I could find Mr. Porter here” When he caught sight of Charlene’ assistant standing outside the office, he paused for a few seconds He had just finished meeting up with some business partners. At this time, Sunhaven was going to develop a new plot of land. He was planning to talk it over with Braden first.

Before Charlene’ assistant could say a word, the door was opened from the inside. Charlene probably didn’t expect Kristian to be standing outside. Embarrassed, she was startled for a few seconds. After that she chose to ignore him and ran away.

“Did the two quarrel inside the office?” Kristian pointed his finger at the door and asked the assistant

“I have no idea, Mr. Higgins. If you don’t need anything else, I’ll be on my way now.”

The office just so happened to be soundproof. The assistant didn’t hear a word, Staring at Charlene’ back which soon disappeared around the corner, Kristian could guess what was going on. He let out a long sigh and thought that Braden’s guess should be right at this time.

He knocked on the door and proceeded to go inside.

“You’re really heartless! You’ve been friends with Charlene for so long. Are you going to really punish her regardless of your friendship? What are you going to do about her?”

“Braden was always decisive, especially when it came to his own personal interests. When his interests happened to be threatened, he would turn into a ruthless person. Rachel should also be a part of his personal interests. With a very unhappy look on his face, Braden made his way out of Charlene’ office and said, “I asked her to resign from the Porter Group.”

Kristian followed him closely behind. After hesitating for a bit, he said, “That might be a good idea. After she’s gone, she may give up on you entirely. I’ve already reminded Charlene before, but she’s way too stubborn. Don’t take this matter too seriously. She’s just a girl anyway.”

Braden shot Kristian a cold glance.





Chapter 252 – "Love's Measure: Dominic's Romantic Gesture"

“Rachel is also just a girl, and Charlene shouldn’t have bullied her like that.”

Kristian rolled his eyes at him and pouted. Fine, Braden always protected his beloved no matter what.

“How are you and your wife doing? You’ve come to settle things with Charlene. I’m guessing you must’ve reconciled with Rachel, is that right?” When Kristian heard that Rachel had left Sunhaven, he became even more worried about the relationship between the two of them.

After all, Braden had been in bad spirits the past few days. His face was so overcast that the senior executives were too frightened to even speak up during the daily meetings. Braden suddenly stopped in his tracks and said, “I wanted to discuss this matter with you. Rachel has returned, but she still doesn’t believe me.”

Kristian put a finger to his chin and said, “The trust issue can’t be solved in such a short amount of time. What are you going to do next?”

Simply peering down at the leather shoes on his feet, Braden mulled it over in his head for a while and suddenly smiled.

“I think at least there is one thing I can do.”

Ever since Rachel had returned, she had been sitting on the sofa in a complete daze. She really had no idea what to do. She had already let Stephanie know about her resignation from Porter Group. Now she was just a jobless vagabond who didn’t have a lot of savings in her bank account.

After watching TV for a bit, she began to swipe through her cell phone. Soon after, she felt bored again, so she went to cook something

But for whom?

Who else could it be other than for the master of this house?

Thinking about Braden, Rachel proceeded to put down the cooking utensils in silence.

She didn’t want to cook for that lying man! She angrily stormed back to the living room and then idly nipped through some fashion magazines, thinking about where she should go in the future and what she should do about her relationship with Dominic.

Rachel had no idea when Dominic came back because she soon had fallen asleep.

When the smell of delicious food came to her nose, she woke up in a daze and could make out Dominic in the kitchen.

He had tucked in his shirt casually and his tie had not been taken off. Right then, he was wearing a pink floral apron around his waist.

That damn contradictory charm.

Dominic heard her stirring in the living room and guessed that the sleeping beauty on the sofa had just woken up.

He walked out with the steaming seafood risotto, pulled off his apron, squatted in front of Rachel, and asked her, “How about we go for wedding dress shop tomorrow? My little lazy princess.”

Rachel blinked several times, thinking that she had misheard him.

She awkwardly ran her fingers through her hair and clutched the blanket that was draped around her body.

“What-” she choked, then had to clear her throat.

“What wedding dress?”

Dominic smiled at her patiently and spoke slowly, as one would with a child.

“We married in a rather shabby ceremony. You wore a simple white dress, and not much happened besides us exchanging vows.

I always thought you may not have a good memory of our wedding day.” Rachel didn’t expect Dominic to still remember these trivial things, much less care about them. Her heart softened despite herself. She could be so easy sometimes.

Luckily, she snapped back to her senses a moment later.

“Forget it, Dominic. That would be too much trouble.”

He insisted, of course.

“The wedding day is one of the most important events in a woman’s life, this much I know. And it is important to me. Now that you know my other identity, I want to pledge myself to you again, this time as Braden Porter.”

Rachel was stunned speechless at his smooth declaration. In the end, she could only nod in agreement.

Glamour was the most expensive wedding gown shop in Sunhaven, catering mostly to custom-made orders for the upper society. They were proud of their clientele, too, as evidenced by an advertisement they had once run on TV.

Then, it was known as a luxury brand that only serviced the wealthiest ladies the city could offer. And today, Rachel was going to get that full, exclusive experience. Dominic and Rachel walked into the store hand in hand. She was still opposed to the whole idea, especially since she was still mad at him. But now that they were here, she couldn’t just flee and make Dominic lose face in public.

“Mr. Porter! Why have you come so early? Isn’t your appointment for three o’clock this afternoon?” A woman who looked to be in her forties greeted them at the door, wearing heavy makeup and chunky jewelry.

As she drew closer, however, Rachel realized that it was actually a man. She tried not to stare at his fake lashes and his Adam’s apple.

“This is Mr. Vesela.” Dominic introduced the man.

“He is the chief wedding gown designer of Glamour. He’ll take you to get your measurements, and then browse around the shop. If you encounter any problems, just let him know. He’ll take care of everything.”

Rachel barely nodded before she was whisked away by the zealous designer.

“I never imagined that Braden was really married! I thought he was just kidding when he called me.” Mr. Vesela put a hand over his mouth and chuckled demurely. His gestures were more coquettish than most ladies Rachel had met. He narrowed his eyes and peered at her.

“You have a small face and such dainty features. Do you want to try a sexy, backless dress? Or would you like an evening gown style that shows off your cleavage? What color are we thinking, by the way? White is too common in this day and age. How about champagne or rose pink?” He chattered on as he rounded Rachel and looked her up and down. She had a slender waist and all the right curves. She would probably look splendid in any type of dress. Rachel, on the other hand, was in a daze.

The rows of dazzling dresses overwhelmed her. It was like she had stepped into designer heaven. It was obvious that each garment had been crafted carefully, with their exquisite details and all kinds of jewels inlaid in the fabric.

One corner seemed to be dedicated to the simpler, sweeter styles, while another corner burst with shades of pink. The first one boasted of satin and lace dresses with pearls and sewn flowerettes as accents. The second one had massive dresses with layers of tulle and ruffles. But the most remarkable of all was the line-up of traditional wedding dresses from different countries.

This shop truly had it all; they had even thought about the possibility of having foreign customers.

“Are those displayed behind the glass for sale?” Rachel nodded at a long cabinet lining an entire wall.

“Or are they off-limits?” The dress in the center had caught her eye. It had an intricately embroidered bodice that tapered down to a full skirt peppered with tiny tulips. Mr. Vesela giggled meaningfully.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 253 – "The Art of Elegance: Rachel's Exquisite Evolution"

“Nothing is off-limits when it comes to Braden. Those dresses are from the “True Love” series that was released earlier this year. Each element was handmade by professional craftsmen.”

Hearing that, Rachel surmised that the price they fetched must be over the roof. Her frugal nature kicked in, and she immediately looked away.

There were a lot of other amazing dresses to choose from anyway. Soon enough, she began to wish that they weren’t all so gorgeous, since it made for a very difficult choice. Four hours later, Dominic knocked on the door to the fitting lounge and let himself in.

“So impatient!” Mr. Vesela chided good-naturedly. He could tell what Dominic was thinking at a glance.

“You were taking so long that I started to worry you might have done something to my precious lady.” There was a long corridor connecting the female dressing room and the male dressing room here. Dominic leaned against the door frame and quietly watched Rachel. The black suit he was wearing was pretty simple, albeit finely tailored to his figure. Even so, he made it look like a million bucks, Rachel tried on a few more dresses, only to realize that she liked everything so far. Eventually, even she thought that she was taking too long. She helplessly turned to Dominic and gave him a pleading look. In response, he stared at the cabinet display and settled for the dress encrusted with diamonds.


“Vesela, take that one out and box it up. Send it to my villa along with every dress my wife has tried on.” He was a man of action, after all. He strode over and put an arm around Rachel’s shoulders.

“From now on, you don’t have to push yourself to choose one over the other. If you like something, just buy it. You can get whatever you want.”

Mr. Vesela clapped his hands with glee. “Oh my, how generous of you, Mr. Porter.”

He then turned to a panic-stricken Rachel and said, “Miss, you definitely made the right decision marrying this man.”

By the time they arrived home, a delivery truck was parked in the driveway, and staff from StarTrack were carefully transporting one exquisite dress after another into the villa. Any woman would be quite overwhelmed to see so many gorgeous dresses at the same time, let alone own them. Still, Rachel couldn’t help but frown and scold her overly indulgent husband.

“Dominic, you don’t have to spend so much money on me. We’d better save for the future, just in case. Stop squandering your wealth like this. I know you’re filthy rich, but…”

She unconsciously drifted into silence, thinking she might have said too much. She hadn’t completely reconciled with Dominic yet, and besides, it was his own money. By all rights, she wasn’t in a position to interfere with his finances.

“Forget it,” Rachel muttered angrily and stomped over to the sofa.

Dominic chuckled at the grumpy look on her face.

He knew he should coax her and bring her over back to his side. If he let this selfless woman go, she would only end up getting bullied by other people.

“How about this, then—what if I surrender all my assets to you? You can take charge of my finances from now on.” Dominic plopped down next to Rachel, rather surprised at himself. It seemed that he had taken well to getting tied down and submitting to his dear wife.

Rachel gaped at him, just as shocked by his proposal, maybe even more. Dominic had an obscene amount of money, and they both knew it. Was he even aware of what he was saying? He cleared his throat and chuckled again, a mild attempt to lighten things up.

“Take your time and think it over. There’s no rush. For now, just stay at home and get some rest. I’ll take care of everything else.”

Sure enough, Dominic was so busy in the next three days that he barely spent any time at home. They had been sleeping in separate rooms ever since their fight, which only made it all the more difficult for Rachel to see him. He’d be gone long before she woke up in the morning, and when he returned, she’d already be fast asleep.

Rachel found herself overthinking the possibilities, especially since she was in the dark about whatever was keeping Dominic so busy. She tried to find things to do at home, if only to distract herself from her budding expectations and anxiety.

Finally, on the third day, their doorbell rang. Rachel opened the door to find a young man with short, curly hair and a bright smile.

“Good morning, Miss Daley. I’ve brought the stylists.” Rachel tilted her head to the side and narrowed her eyes. This man looked familiar for some reason. Noticing her confusion, Andy promptly introduced himself.

“Ah, pardon me. My name is Andy Davis, and I’m Mr. Porter’s personal assistant. We have met once, a long time ago.” Rachel gasped and exclaimed, “Oh, so it’s you! Do come in and make yourself at home.”

Andy stepped into the foyer followed by several other people that included of a makeup artist, a hairdresser, and an employee from StarTrack.

Rachel instantly recognized them. For one thing, the makeup artist was renowned in the entertainment industry for having done international stars and supermodels. Briefly, she wondered how Dominic had managed to book such a high-profile team.

This time, however, Andy ignored her puzzlement and proceeded to direct everyone to their respective duties.

“Alright, you guys, let’s get to work! We only have three hours to get everything ready!”

The team sprang into action at once and got busy. Rachel found herself feeling intimidated by the sharp and efficient atmosphere that Andy commanded. Nonetheless, she let herself be swept away by the motion of things.

True to their reputations, the makeup artist and the hairdresser handled her appearance like they were crafting a masterpiece.

Rachel was stunned when she looked in the mirror afterward; she hardly recognized herself. Her hair was braided intricately and coiled on top of her head, highlighting her delicate features.

Her eyes glimmered under her curly lashes and the soft blush on her lids. The stylists opted for minimal makeup, but it never diminished Rachel’s beauty. She looked far more elegant, more dazzling; than most socialites in Sunhaven.

She certainly looked different compared to how she looked on her first wedding ceremony.

Andy watched the final product of their combined efforts and nodded approvingly. He glanced at his wristwatch and checked the time.

“You may go out now, Miss Daley. Mr. Porter is waiting for you outside.”

Right on cue, the servants opened the door of the villa. Dominic stood at the driveway, clad in a silver gray suit and holding a bouquet of tulips and lilies of the valley. He looked just as dashing as ever, but there was a more mature and steadfast quality in the way that he held himself.

He watched the love of his life emerge from the villa, the sunlight pouring over her lovely face. A wave of awe washed over him as he drank in the sight. He offered his arm as Rachel drew close, and when she took it, he murmured, “Only you could give this dress justice.”

Rachel curled her gloved fingers around his bicep and grinned as he ushered her into the car. The sound of salutes rang around just as the car door slammed shut, and then they were off to the wedding venue. The Bugatti Veyron cruised out of the villa grounds with dozens of luxury cars in its trail.








Chapter 254 – "A Match Made in Sunhaven: Braden and Rachel Say 'I Do'"


The wedding was being held outside on the lawn of a manor that Dominic happened to own. It might be because Dominic had prevented the other cars from entering this area ahead of time that they could drive unimpededly Rachel was so anxious that her palms were pouring out sweat.

Looking at the scenery passing by outside the car window, she kept taking deep breaths in order to calm her nerves.

“Relax, you’re making me nervous, Mrs. Porter.” Dominic held Rachel’s quivering hand, his eyes full of tenderness for her.

Turning to give him a look, Rachel asked in a solemn voice, “If you do this, will your true identity as Braden Porter be revealed?”

“It’s not too much of a big deal compared to getting married to you.”

Dominic was concerned that Rachel might overthink things, so he looked at her to see how she was doing.

The woman’s face was a little flustered, her drooping eyelashes shaking ever so slightly, and her soft and slender fingers were fiddling with the hemline of her wedding dress. Dominic knew that Rachel was very nervous today. She didn’t like to stir up trouble for others. She was always afraid of becoming a burden to others. But she and he had been married, and it was only right that they took care of each other.

“Rachel.” Clenching Rachel’s hand, Dominic looked expectant right then.

“From now on, the person next to you is Braden Porter. Do you have any objections to starting a new life with him as the wife of Braden?”

Rachel’s heart skipped a beat and her face reddened unnaturally. In fact, she was willing to right then. But Dominic still had the feeling that Rachel was still rejecting him since she didn’t say anything. He looked down at her gently and then said,

“There’s absolutely no rush. I didn’t ask you to give me an answer right away.”

Their car made its way into the manor.

The whole white villa was overflowing with guests.

Seeing the luxury car coming in, everyone started to clap their hands. Rachel was shocked by the grandness of the wedding.

On the road just outside the mansion, all types of luxury cars lined up and the queue was about several miles. It looked like the lawn in the manor could hold thousands of people. Those who attended included celebrities from various fields and rich families, as well as those in the media, came to witness the joyous occasion

“Dominic, you should at least put a mask on. If you expose yourself, the Peterson family will come right away to cause trouble for you, won’t they?”

In addition to being shocked by this scene, Rachel was worried about Dominic revealing his current identity

“There must be other reasons why you’re hiding your true identity. Even though I have no idea what the specific situation is, I don’t want you to fall short of success just because of me.”

As Rachel said this, her nose started to twitch.

Dominic was startled for a few seconds. It looked like Rachel had already guessed it.

His wife was really so smart.

Dominic placed his arm around Rachel’s shaking shoulder and whispered in her ear, “I just want to make it public that Braden and Rachel are married. In this way, it will be common knowledge that you’re Mrs. Porter. Then you’ll feel at ease and won’t feel that I’m not being sincere enough. As for what you’re worried about, I’m going to handle it.”

Rachel’s moist eyes widened. Tears wet her curled eyelashes, which gave a charming and enchanting look.

Rachel cried even harder and a hint of bitterness surged up in her heart.

Dominic burned to take out a square handkerchief from his suit pocket and proceeded to wipe the tears off Rachel’s face. He was too anxious to say a coherent sentence for a moment there while wiping the tears off her face, he tried to comfort her, “Please stop your tears now, babe. You’ll need to fix your makeup if you keep crying like that.”

Rachel smiled through her tears. The man before her was the decisive and ruthless CEO of the Porter Group. But now Was he was acting so cautious in front of her. She was feeling moved and she didn’t know if she should cry or laugh for a moment there

“Dominic, since you’re willing to marry me, of course, I won’t be giving up on you so easily. Even though being Braden Porter’s wife is no easy thing, and I may be too young and not qualified enough, I’ll definitely try my best to be stronger and make you proud of me. If you feel worn out and want to go home one day, I’ll always be by your side the whole entire way.” The two embraced each other.

All sorts of feelings welled up in Dominic’s heart right then.

“Rachel…”

Dominic could tell that underneath Rachel’s gentle and calm appearance, there was an incomparably strong, unyielding heart and that she would always stand by her man. She was obviously a very good woman.

The wedding music sounded out at that time. Dominic led Rachel out of the car, interlocked ten fingers with hers, and they both walked into the wedding site.

It had been snowing in Sunhaven the past few months. Today, however, was a rare sunny day. Hand in hand, Rachel and Braden made their way down the carpet covered with white rose petals.

The whole wedding venue was decorated with white roses and lilies of the valley. As soon as they got out of the car, they felt as though they had stepped foot inside a sea of flowers. The whole place was filled with the sweet floral fragrance. With her head slightly lowered, Rachel held Braden’s hand tightly.

Everyone immediately turned to look in her direction, as they were curious to see who had won the heart of Braden, one of the richest golden bachelors of Sunhaven.

“Who is she? She’s gorgeous!”

‘I feel like I’ve seen her somewhere, but I can’t remember exactly.”

“I think she hit the headlines recently. Isn’t she an Internet influencer or something like that?”

All the guests discussed their theories amongst themselves, curious about Braden’s bride.

The Daley family was by no means prominent in Sunhaven. It was normal that the upper class had no idea who Rachel was.

They only knew the successful Braden Porter-not Dominic Peterson, an illegitimate child who had once made his vows in a church wearing a cheap suit. Braden, on the other hand, led Rachel to the priest, with their friends standing beside them. Nadia, Stephanie, and Hilda were Rachel’s bridesmaids. Nadia in a dress was a rare sight. She was a petite girl, and the light blue bridesmaid’s dress made her look gentle and lovely.

Stephanie, on the other hand, was like a wild rose on the steep cliff. Even the elegant light blue long dress couldn’t dampen her charm.

Many of the male guests couldn’t take their eyes off of her. Lastly, there was Hilda. She held the bridesmaid’s bouquet happily, grinning from ear to ear. The only problem was that she had been eating a lot lately.

After gaining an extra ten pounds, her bridesmaid dress was nearly ripping at the seams. On the other side of the priest was the groom’s wedding party: Kristian, Booker, and Andy. Andy had burst into tears. He felt so lucky to be Braden’s best man. He could boast about it for the rest of his life.

Then, the priest began the ceremony.

When Rachel said “I do”, Braden’s heart skipped a beat.

He took out the ring he had prepared.

“Is that the ring I bought in the department store before? When did you take it off my finger?”

When Rachel first saw the two simple wedding rings in the counter in the department store, she had taken a liking to them. Seeing it in Braden’s hand now, she felt moved. She had thought that he would dislike them since they were two ordinary rings.

“Let me put it on you,” Braden said softly.

A gentle smile tugged at the corners of his lips. Last night, he had secretly taken it off Rachel’s finger when she was fast asleep.

Today, she was probably too nervous to notice it was missing. Braden carefully slipped the diamond ring on her finger again. He swore to himself that he would never let Rachel leave him again.

After they recited their vows, the crowd burst into thunderous applause. The sudden marriage of the Porter Group’s CEO had caused a sensation in the upper-class circle of Sunhaven. All the major media outlets were there and snapped countless photos of the newly-weds.

Except for the notorious Daley family and the Peterson family, the vast majority of the nobles in Sunhaven had come, whereas the

Palmer family had declined the wedding invitation.

During the wedding, many guests approached to give gifts and congratulations.

Most of them were strangers to Rachel. Talking to them tuckered her out. Her weary eyes looked around the venue and finally, she saw a familiar figure in the distance.

With a gift in his hand, Spencer was leaning against a table, sipping some champagne leisurely. His cheeks were slightly flushed from the alcohol. He was looking back at Rachel with mixed feelings. He wanted to say something, but stopped on second thought.

It had been a long time since Spencer tried pursuing pretty women.

A few days ago, he and his old friends got together at a nightclub. When he mentioned his plight, they recommended that he see a doctor.

Only Spncer knew that his lost sexual drive was because of his anxiety.

Today, he had been to represent his family at the wedding.

The wedding of the Porter Group’s CEO was by no means a small event and had caused quite the sensation in Sunhaven.

That was to be expected. After all, given Braden’s wealth, it was only natural that countless rich people wanted their daughter to marry him.






Chapter 255 – "Whispers of Desire: Rachel and Dominic's Intimate Evening"

Spencer had no idea what Braden looked like. He came here today to socialize with other wealthy families and to satisfy his curiosity about this man. He had even prepared an excellent jade antique as a wedding present.

When he saw the groom clearly, he was shocked. It turned out that Braden Porter was Rachel’s poor husband Dominic And the bride was none other than Rachel herself. Seeing this, Spencer grew depressed and was in no mood to socialize.

He drank glass after glass of champagne, trying to swallow his anger. During the whole ceremony, he was in a bad mood. He knew that after today, it’d be even more difficult for him to alleviate his anxiety.

“Mr Porter, congratulations!” When Rachel and Braden came over to thank the guests for coming, Spencer forced a faint smile.

Braden nodded, looking at Spencer calmly. He clinked glasses with him and said with a somewhat smug smile.

“Thank you, Mr. Dixon.”

Rachel, on the other hand, stood beside him quietly and tock a sip of her wine. Given the occasion, she didn’t have anything else to say to Spencer anyway.

Just then, Kristian dragged Nadia over to propose a toast to the couple. Nadia was not a talkative person, nor did she have many girl friends. When she approached Rachel, she simply lowered her head apologetically.

“I’m sorry again for lying to you. What can I do to make things up to you?”

Seeing the desperate look on Nadia’s face, Rachel chuckled gently. Last time, she was so angry that she had lost her mind. But now, she had obviously already forgiven Dominic.

As a result, her anger towards Nadia had also diminished.

“Oh, just let bygones be bygones. You work for my husband; you were just doing your job. I should be the one saying sorry. I was angry at the time and I said some hurtful things. Please don’t take it to heart.”

With a bright smile, Rachel whispered, “Friends?”

Nadia’s eyes lit up instantly. The two clinked glasses and downed their drinks. At this moment, silence was better than speech.

After mingling for a while, Rachel caught a glimpse of an old woman with grey hair sitting at a table.

“Dominic, why didn’t you tell me that Norma was here?” Rachel scolded, making a beeline for the old woman. It was the first time that Norma had been to such a luxurious and extravagant place. She was even amazed by the tall hedges which were taller than her.

She had never seen such a grand scene in all her years. She didn’t know much about Dominic’s true identity. She only overheard the guests saying the groom was the CEO of the Porter Group.

Norma didn’t know what that meant, but she could tell that Rachel had married a very rich and powerful man.

“Rachel, did Dominic win the lottery? Why does he suddenly own a mansion? And the car by the gate looks so expensive!”

Norma reached for Rachel’s hand nervously. Her confusion was warranted. After all, how could an ordinary young man become rich and powerful overnight?

Rachel was at a loss as to how she should answer Norma’s questions. “I’ll explain everything later,” she said helplessly.

Tears welled up in Norma’s eyes and she smiled wistfully. “All sufferings end in rewards.”

Then she sighed again, murmuring, “But rich families are trouble. Be careful, Rachel.”

On the one hand, she was happy for Rachel, and on the other hand, she was worried about her. Norma used to work as a servant for those wealthy families. As an outsider in the background, she could see the conflicts, deceptions, and entanglements in those families.

“Norma, don’t worry. I’ll be fine,” Rachel said with a reassuring smile.

After the wedding ceremony came the reception, which was a dinner party and a ball.

Kristian was no stranger to such an occasion from groomsman, he transformed into a wedding DJ and dragged

Nadia to join him on stage.

Everyone was having a good time. The music was deafening and lively, and the guests flocked to the dance floor.

The party lasted until well past midnight

“Everyone, if you’re too tired to go home, you can stay the night in Braden’s manor. There’re dozens of vacant rooms here,”

Kristian announced to the guests as he closed the event.

Kristian himself was still bouncing with energy. He often stayed up late in night clubs, so he was used to such a scene.

Dominic had spent the whole night chatting and drinking with Rachel. He usually worked until two or three o’clock in the morning, so he too was still sober and fully awake. On the other hand, Rachel’s face was flushed, but she wasn’t drunk just yet.

“Rachel, look at you! Drunk already?” Kristian chuckled. He patted the shoulders of the couple with a huge grin plastered on his face.

“The room is ready for you.”

Rachel looked up at Dominic questioningly.

“I thought we’re going home today?”

Kristian spoke on Dominic’s behalf.

“This is your home too, silly. I mean, it’s one of Dominic’s houses. Come on; what’s his is also yours. Don’t you know that every second of a wedding night is precious? Why are you still standing here?!”

As Kristian kept pushing them towards the room, Rachel’s face turned redder and redder.

Dominic cast a cold glance at Kristian to silence him and patted Rachel on the shoulder reassuringly.

‘It’s late so we’ll stay here tonight. And don’t worry about it. If you don’t want to consummate our marriage tonight, I won’t force you.”

Rachel was stunned for a moment. After a short pause, she covered her mouth and tried to stifle her giggles.

‘Take it easy. I’ll wait for you. I won’t force you.” These phrases made Dominic sound like a broken record these days. When she first met Dominic, he was such a flirt and always said and did inappropriate things.

Now that he took her so seriously, Rachel didn’t know how to react.

“Don’t ask me…” Rachel’s ears turned red. She lowered her head and retreated into the room quickly. Dominic frowned and scratched the back of his head awkwardly.

It seemed that he still couldn’t have sex with her. At this rate, he was going to go crazy. Today was their wedding night after all.

Kristian was quite amused. He approached Dominic and whispered in his ear, “What are you waiting for? Bro, she’s waiting for you inside! Go!”

“She doesn’t want me yet…” Dominic’s expression darkened.

“Are you dumb? Rachel meant that she’d do whatever you want! It’ll be too late if you keep waiting here like a fool.” Kristian was at a loss for words and shook his head helplessly

“Really?” Dominic was dubious. He clenched his fists, suppressed the turmoil in his heart, and followed Rachel into the room.

The room was covered with a sea of gorgeous flowers. Standing at the door, Rachel picked up a few rose petals on the floor and rubbed them between her fingers subconsciously

“Are you going to say I spent too much money again? Do I have to return these flowers?” Dominic asked playfully as he closed the door behind him. He slipped his arms around her waist from behind and rested his chin on her shoulder.

Rachel couldn’t help but giggle when she recalled how angry she had gotten when Dominic bought a room of flowers to woo her not long after they first got married. She turned around, cupped Dominic’s cheeks, and chuckled.

“I still think you spent too much.” Her eyes lingered on the man’s face. He was still as handsome as the day they first met, perhaps even more so now. She pursed her lips and wanted to say something, but stopped when her eyes met Dominic’s. With his hands on her waist, Dominic’s eyes clouded over. He lowered his head and kissed her on the lips. His hands reached up and tucked her long hair behind her ears.

“I want you now, Rachel,” he murmured.

His words made Rachel’s heart skip a beat. Without thinking, she threw her arms around Dominic’s neck, stood on tiptoe, and kissed him back. Her actions spoke louder than words.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 256 – "Silk Sheets and Swept Away Sensations"

Rachel’s actions bewitched Dominic.

After the reception, she had changed into a silk slip dress, which outlined her figure perfectly. Unable to hold himself back any longer, Dominic scooped her up and carried her to the bed, kissing her deeply.

The room was quiet, and the lights were dim on the bed was a blurry entanglement of limbs

Blushing furiously, Rachel wanted to close her eyes, but in the end, they stayed open. She wanted to see just how much Dominic would lose control of himself.

Sure enough, her husband was out of control. After all, he had restrained himself for what seemed like an eternity. The bed had a heart-shaped flower petal arrangement, but now, it was a complete mess as the man and woman kissed each other with reckless abandon.

The kiss lasted for a long time. Rachel lost track of the time, fully immersed in Dominic’s presence. His breath grew short as he reached for the hem of her dress, planting kisses from her lips to her neck to her waist, and finally in between her thighs…

Rachel felt her legs being parted and her lace underwear was rolled to her ankles by the man. The man’s warm breath tickled her exposed pussy, his wet, soft tongue drawing circles on her labia.

“Dominic…” Rachel arched her back subconsciously and her voice sounded different-it was thick with desire.

“Hmm… I’m here.” Dominic got up and held her legs, propping them on his waist. His fingers reached between her thighs and parted her labia.

The moment his finger entered, it was enveloped in soft flesh.

“You are not wet enough. Spread your legs a little more.” Dominic took off his clothes. The muscles on his back were defined yet smooth, chiseled to perfection. He returned to the area between Rachel’s thighs. His finger moved in and out slowly, until transparent liquid flowed out with his finger.

Dominic brought the wet fingers to his lips and sucked it. With her toes curled up. Rachel stared at the ceiling, gasping with every move Dominic made.

Then she felt something hard rubbing against the entrance of her pussy.

“Ah… Dominic…” Rachel trembled all over. She wanted to look up, but was held down by the man’s powerful arms. Dominic’s eyes were full of desire and his hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat. Rachel looked at him in a daze. Grabbing her chin, he whispered, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here.”

Then he pressed his lips against hers passionately.

His hard penis was slowly slipped into her body. When it met a thin film, Dominic took a slight breath and gently broke through it.

The pain made Rachel wince and curl up, and she held Dominic even tighter.

Her bra was unclasped from behind by the man, and tossed to the floor together with her dress.

The naked man and woman were entangled on the bed, the woman’s legs wrapped around the man’s waist.

Dominic gently kissed Rachel’s lips. He didn’t thrust until she stopped trembling. Then, the huge, hot penis was thrust all the way inside the woman. Rachel forgot how to breathe. When the tip of the penis reached the deepest part of her pussy, she gasped.

Dominic took his sweet time, kissing her neck and slowly thrusting back and forth. The thick liquid mixed with blood stained the white sheet. Gradually, the pain dissipated, and Rachel also felt a strange pleasure as the penis rubbed against her vagina. She couldn’t help but pant, biting her lower lip. Dominic bit and sucked at the skin on her shoulders and collarbone, leaving a trail of red marks.

Rachel put her arms around his shoulders and wrapped her legs around his waist tightly, goading him to push inside her further Dominic’s lips made their way back to hers and their tongues intertwined. His lower body paused for a few seconds, and then he thrust inside her with all his strength.

The pain mixed with pleasure was electrifying. With bated breath, Rachel couldn’t help but gasp. After a while, Dominic changed positions and turned the woman to his side. He propped her long leg on his shoulder and continued to thrust. They didn’t stop making love until the sun started to rise in the horizon. Exhausted, the two fell asleep in each other’s arms atop the disheveled bed.

It was already bright outside when Rachel woke up the next morning, She was sore all over, and her limbs felt like they might fall apart any second. When did she fall asleep last night?

The last thing she remembered was Dominic on top of her.

The man was an absolute beast in bed.

“Oh!” Rachel blushed as memories of their lovemaking flashed in her head. She burrowed back under the sheets.

But then the door opened, and she couldn’t help but peek over the edge of the quilt.

Dominic sauntered in carrying a breakfast tray. He was clad in black pajama bottoms and nothing else.

Rachel’s eyes immediately went to his broad shoulders and his muscular torso. She could almost feel the warmth of his strong, hard chest under her fingertips. Dominic set the tray down on the table and padded over to the bed. He leaned over Rachel and gently swept his thumb over her brow. “Hello, Mrs. Porter. Do you need more sleep? It’s already well past noon. If you want to keep sleeping, we can take our private plane later.” He had booked flights to Europe for their honeymoon trip.

She perked up at his teasing words, and poked his arm jokingly.

‘It’s all your fault. You’re the reason why I’m so exhausted.”

They shared a chuckle and cuddled for a moment before she asked, “Don’t you need to go to the company? Won’t the Porter Group fall without your supervision?”

In fact, she hadn’t expected a honeymoon trip. “I took a week off,” Dominic said, looking unbothered as he pulled her closer and rubbed her shoulders.

Hearing this, Rachel shot up in bed and grinned.

“Then, I’ll go pack and get ready right away.” She had always wanted to travel with Dominic, but they never found the time.

he whispered and nipped her earlobe. She probably had no idea how irresistible she looked when she just woke up. It only took a single taste to get addicted to something, but once you reached that point, the matter of restraint became a constant battle.

With that said, Dominic and Rachel stayed in the bathroom for two hours. Sure enough, they ended up taking their private jet and arrived in Europe at nine o’clock that evening. The night sky over Paris was still a light shade of blue despite the hour, and the lights of the Eiffel Tower glimmered in the surface of the River Seine. It truly was the most romantic city on earth.

By the boulevard, a tall, striking man was busy snapping pictures of a smiling woman across the pavement. Her eyes were clear and bright, lending a youthful charm to her petite frame.

“Aren’t you done yet, Dominic?” Rachel complained. She was growing tired of smiling for the camera.

Her husband, bless his heart, seemed to be enjoying his new gadget. He looked rather adorable in his knitted wool hat and his black wool overcoat as he fiddled with the lens. Dominic had never taken photos of other people before, much less a woman. He never had any reason to. And so, he was understandably uneasy about this particular activity. Fortunately. Rachel appeared to be pleased with the pictures when he showed them to her.










Chapter 257 – "Brushstrokes of Desire: Billionaire's European Escapade"

“Oh, is that the Louvre?” Rachel had turned toward the southern bank of the Seine, her eyes filled with awe as she stared at the magnificent building in the distance.

Back when she had been studying painting, her biggest dream was to explore this historical site.

Dominic silently watched her bask in wonder; then he brought her chilly fingers to his lips and kissed them.

“Let’s go over there and have a look,” he said softly.

The winter wind was cold, and Rachel shivered despite the layers she wore. Dominic reached out an arm around her shoulder and tucked her under his coat, and the two of them walked down the streets, talking and laughing.

Rachel was still in high spirits when they retired for the night. She lay back in bed with her arms spread as she recounted everything she had seen at the Louvre with unmistakable fondness.

“I thought the Mona Lisa would be bigger. Her smile didn’t look as mysterious as the Internet hyped it to be.”

Dominic emerged from the shower and found her wriggling on the bed. Her slender and even legs were kicking randomly in the air, and her plump chest was heaving slightly, which was like a silent temptation.

His mouth suddenly felt dry, and he had to swallow a lump in his throat. All the blood in his body surged downward. Dominic gritted his teeth.

“There you are, honey.” Rachel said, flashing him an inviting smile. “Come here, let’s look at the photos we took together.”

But Dominic wasn’t interested in the photos at all.

What he wanted to do right there and then was to rip off her clothes and keep her in bed for hours on end.

Without another thought, he walked to the bed and straddled her, pinning her down with his body.

“You’re too heavy.” Rachel said innocently, though a knowing smile was dancing on her lips.

The Peterson family broke into an uproar.

Braden had invited all the influential, wealthy people in Sunhaven to his wedding, except the Peterson family.

When Amanda went to play cards with her friends, her fellow wealthy ladies mocked her, saying the Porter Group didn’t respect the Peterson family.

Although Peterson Silk Fabric and the Porter Group were rivals, Victor still wanted to make peace and ensure the development of the two companies. If Peterson Silk Fabric and the Porter Group joined hands, they would undoubtedly monopolize the economic lifeline of Sunhaven.

However, Braden’s enigmatic personality irked him. Although the Peterson family belonged to the wealthiest strata of society, they never interacted with Braden. They didn’t even know what he looked like.

“How come Braden got married all of a sudden? I haven’t even heard of him being in love with anyone before.” Amanda grunted angrily and took a sip of the tea. Her nose scrunched up with disgust as the horrible taste spread in her mouth

Eric slept all morning and finally woke up in the afternoon. He went downstairs, yawning, and turned on the TV in the living room.

“Why do you care about Braden? Our Peterson family is in no way inferior to him. His invitation means nothing to us.”

Eric scoffed disdainfully as he sat on the sofa, cross-legged.

“You don’t understand. Braden has invited all the famous people in Sunhaven except our Peterson family. You have no idea how those bitches insulted me while playing cards. They want to defeat me in everything, so those ladies took the opportunity to mock me by talking about his wedding the whole time. It was horrible!” Amanda was fuming with rage.

She glanced at the entertainment news on the TV. Suddenly, her face turned pale, and her eyes almost popped out of their sockets.

Seeing the horror in his mother’s eyes, Eric also turned to look at the TV.

“Mom? What happened? Damn it!”

They were broadcasting Braden’s wedding on TV. However, the couple getting married was the coward Dominic and his humble wife. Just then, Victor came downstairs. He was equally shocked. He stared at the TV with wide eyes.

“Oh my God! It’s Dominic.” Victor couldn’t believe his eyes. He repeated the words over and over again as he stared at the TV.

No two people in the world would look this alike. Braden was none other than Dominic.

No one would have thought that a loser like Dominic would establish a business empire like the Porter Group, which was as powerful as the Peterson family, and become a successful CEO. Nobody had a clue about his secret life. Amanda couldn’t deal with the shock. She didn’t know what to do. Unfortunately, Victor was here; she couldn’t even show her resentment. She turned around and winked at her son, secretly expressing her feelings.

Victor picked up the newspaper on the table and unfolded it. A slow smile emerged on his face.

‘This boy amazes me.”

Looking at Dominic’s achievements, Victor realized he was more smart and outstanding than his eldest son, Lewis Peterson, who was in charge of a branch company of the Peterson family in a different city, Victor regretted kicking Dominic out of the family. It had been a hasty decision. If he had known Dominic’s potential, he would have never asked him to leave.

Amanda’s heart sank when she saw the smile on Victor’s face.

She should have killed that boy when she still could. Dominic was wealthier and more influential than the Peterson family now. He wouldn’t bother acquiring their property, for his assets surpassed theirs. She couldn’t bear to watch him, an illegitimate child, grow right before her eyes.

“Damn it!” Eric angrily stomped his foot.

He threw the remote and stormed out of the room. Amanda followed him out to the garden.

“Things have gotten out of hand. We should get rid of Dominic!” Eric’s head throbbed. He looked at Amanda and scoffed.

“Do you think he is still a loser whom we could mess around and get away with it? He is now Braden Porter — the CEO of the Porter Group!”

“So what? Just because Dominic has another identity, doesn’t mean we should just give up. The Porter Group and the Peterson family are enemies. The only solution is to get rid of Dominic.” Amanda fisted her palms as anger coursed through her veins.

After a week, Dominic and Rachel returned from Europe. Sunhaven had grown quite warm by then. As soon as the two of them stepped foot outside the airport, countless reporters swarmed around them.

“Mr. Porter, when did you and your wife fall for each other?”

“Why was your wedding so out-of-the-blue? Are you two expecting a child?”

“May I know what Mrs. Porter does? Our source said that she’s an employee of your company. Was it an office romance?”

The reporters bombarded them with a barrage of questions. Covering half of Rachel’s face with the scarf, Dominic held her in his arms protectively. His cold gaze swept across the sea of reporters and he didn’t say a word.

Perhaps it was because Dominic’s face was bone-chillingly cold that the reporters didn’t dare to ask any scandalous questions. When they made it home from the airport, Rachel couldn’t hold her curiosity at bay any longer.

“Dominic, I noticed that although our marriage is a trending topic, all the media’s reports on me are simple and objective. They were never judgmental with me. Did you put any pressure on the media?” Dominic put his suitcase down and began to sort out the luggage.

‘It’s their job to report the truth. I just reminded them that.” With a sweet smile on her face, Rachel suddenly walked over and threw her arms around Dominic’s neck.

“Honey, I want to go back to work.” While she had already resigned from the Porter Group, she hadn’t found a new job yet.











Chapter 258 – "Fashion and Friction: Dining Divas"

And she had no plans of becoming a full-time housewife.

Dominic’s heart instantly softened when Rachel called him honey.

He slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her close.

“What do you mean? You want your job back? Or do you want me to support your search for another job?” Swirling her finger on his chest a few times, Rachel said in a pouty tone, “I don’t want to go back; I don’t want to work for you either.”

In a word, she didn’t want to rely on him.

Dominic understood what she meant. He pondered for a while.

“In the design industry in Sunhaven, the biggest and the best two companies are the Porter Group and the Peterson Silk Fabric.

You can’t join Peterson Silk Fabric of course.”

He held Rachel even tighter and said possessively, “You’re not leaving Sunhaven either. I refuse to be in a long-distance relationship.”

Leaning against Dominic’s chest, Rachel smiled and said, “Then give me advice.”

A thought occurred to Dominic and he suggested that Rachel open her own studio. With his help, she didn’t need to worry about reputation or clients.

But she didn’t think she was experienced enough to be an independent designer, nor did she want to rely on Dominic to develop her career.

So she decided to talk to Stephanie about it.

Stephanie was surprised when Rachel came to her for help.

After all, Rachel was already the Mrs. Porter. Stephaniey doubted there was anything in this world Braden couldn’t give to her.

Wait until I get off work. I still work for your husband, remember? I can’t just sneak out and have dinner with you,” Stephanie whined jokingly on the phone. She was a professional and drew a firm line between work and personal affairs, a line she refused to cross.

“Okay. I’ve booked a table in the French restaurant downstairs. Focus on your work first. I’ll see you later,” Rachel said with a smile

After tidying up at home, Rachel headed to the restaurant and waited patiently for Stephanie. When she and Dominic had visited Paris, she fell in love with French cuisine.

Just as she was scanning the menu and thinking about what to order, a voice interrupted her thoughts.

Try the foie gras. This restaurant is known for it. I myself find it the most delicious dish in the whole world.”

The woman’s voice was lively and crisp, sounding very youthful.

When Rachel looked up, her eyes met that of a beautiful girl in a white dress. She had long, dark hair that hung over her shoulders. Her outfit and accessories were all from designer brands, and she was carrying two Hermes shopping bags. The Cartier necklace resting on her clavicle twinkled brightly. After hesitating for a few seconds, Rachel smiled politely. “I’m sorry, Miss.

I don’t think we’ve met.”

“Who I am is none of your business. Are you Rachel, Braden’s wife, from the news?”

What an arrogant tone! The girl standing before Rachel was indeed beautiful, but her voice dripped with arrogance and contempt.

Rachel put the menu down and rested her chin on her hand.

“Yes, I’m Rachel. If you want something from me, at least tell me your name. Otherwise, I won’t know how to address you.”

The girl pursed her lips and raised her chin slightly.

“Heard of Slater Mart? It’s a national chain supermarket owned by my family. Other than the famous Peterson family and the

Porter Group, our company is the biggest and most well-known.”

Jesus!

This girl was too silly.

She had given Rachel so much information—but still not her name. Rachel’s smile faded away.

“I’ve heard of Slater Mart, but I still don’t know your name, Miss.”

“I’m… I’m Ivy Slater of course!” Ivy didn’t like Rachel’s expression. Was she mocking her? No one in the world dared to mock her, the daughter of the Slater family. Rachel smiled again and turned to the waiter.

“Foie gras, please. Good for two people.”

Noticing that Rachel seemed completely disinterested in her, Ivy asked bluntly, “May I sit with you?”

Without waiting for an answer, she plopped down on the seat opposite Rachel. It was clear that she still had a sense of superiority as she stared at Rachel with disdain.

“You’re Braden Porter’s wife. What’re you wearing? Your clothes look very cheap.” Ivy shook her head and clicked her tongue in disgust. She didn’t think her words were impolite at all because in her household, she grew up saying whatever she wanted to say.

“There are dozens of popular families in Sunhaven, but I’ve never heard of the Daley family. What’s your background, Rachel? How did you meet Braden?”

Rachel shifted in her seat uncomfortably. She didn’t know the woman sitting across her that well, nor did it look like Ivy had anything to do with Braden. Despite this, Ivy brazenly interrogated Rachel.

Judging from her words and tone of voice, Ivy seemed to be saying that Rachel was too ordinary to be with a man like Braden.

Not wanting to waste her breath on her, Rachel said dismissively, “I have no reason to answer you, Miss Slater. Thank you for your dish recommendation, but if there’s nothing else, please leave now. I’m expecting a friend.”

Ivy didn’t give a damn. She firmly believed it was fate that she ran into Rachel today. No media outlet would reveal Rachel’s specific identity, shrouding Braden’s wife behind a veil of mystery.

“Cancel on your friend and have dinner with me today. Tell me, how long have you been with Braden? And how did you get him to fall in love with you?” Ivy asked persistently. Sometimes even the servants who worked for her family couldn’t stand her, let alone Rachel, who didn’t even know her.

"I don’t talk nonsense to annoy others, or maybe it’s because I’m more beautiful than most women,” Rachel answered in a casual tone, mirroring Ivy’s arrogant manner.

“Excuse me, but who do you think you are? How dare you talk to me like that?!” Ivy instantly flew into a rage from the humiliation.

She sneered and looked Rachel up and down carefully.

Well, even she had to admit that Rachel was indeed a very beautiful woman. Her skin was fair and delicate, and her features were refined. She could’ve drawn anyone’s attention with her eye-catching beauty.

Ivy bit her lower lip and her eyes flashed with anger.

The girl sitting opposite her was arrogant and annoying, but she hadn’t gone too far yet. She was clearly another rich princess spoiled by her family, so Rachel didn’t want to waste her breath and argue with her anymore.

But Ivy had taken Stephanie’s seat. Where would Stephanie sit when she arrived?

Thinking about this, Rachel glanced at her phone to check the time. It was time for Stephanie to get off work.

“Oh, hello. Who’s this? Did you invite someone else to dinner?” Speaking of the devil, Stephanie approached their table and looked at Ivy questioningly.

Rachel looked at Ivy and said impatiently, “Miss Slater, my friend is here. Can you go now?”

When Ivy saw the domineering woman standing next to Rachel, she snorted with disdain, gathered her things, and left in a huff.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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Chapter 259 – "Champagne Conversations: Stephanie's Wisdom"

Rachel’s eyes flickered with annoyance as she watched the girl leave.

Stephanie put down her bag, took off her coat, and sat on the seat Ivy had been sitting on just moments earlier. “What’s wrong?

What happened? Who was that girl?”

Making sure that Ivy had left the restaurant, Rachel told Stephanie how the girl had provoked her for no reason.

“Oh, I see how it is. Initially, you were married to Dominic Peterson-an ordinary, unknown man. But now, you’re married to Braden Porter, the CEO of Porter Group. Do you know how intimidating this title is? Braden is young, promising, and rich. Many rich families have tried to get him to marry their daughters, but he was too aloof. He showed no interest in being with anyone, nor did he show any interest in getting married. All the women who hoped to marry him eventually had to give up.” After such a lengthy explanation, Stephanie found herself thirsty. She gulped down a glass of water and then continued, “Yet now, he announced out of the blue that he’s married, and his wife is not from a prominent family. It’s unheard of-it’s like breaking the barrier between social classes. Naturally, those rich families feel that they’ve been robbed by you.

Rachel sighed. “It was stupid of Ivy to outright provoke me, and I can deal with a small fly like her. But, my worry is that she’s not the last one. I think I’ll encounter a lot of similar situations in the future.”

Stephanie smiled at her knowingly. “It’s good that you know that. Since you can’t change your fate, you have to learn to embrace it.”

With knitted brows, Rachel rested her chin in one hand and mulled over things carefully.

After a long while, she finally said, “Dominic— I mean Braden has announced to the public that I’m his wife, but they don’t seem to be okay with it. Because Braden is an excellent man, people think he should’ve married someone from the same social status. Now that he’s married to me, an ordinary woman, everyone’s in disbelief. I guess I can see where they’re coming from. It’s true that I don’t deserve Braden in terms of social rank’. But I can’t change where I came from.”

“Don’t belittle yourself. One can’t change where they came from. Besides, rich and powerful families didn’t start out rich and powerful. You’re a talented designer. What you need to do is to work harder. Soon, the public will acknowledge and accept you-whether they like it or not.” Stephanie waved her hand dismissively, Just then, the waiter came to serve black truffle, foie gras and a bottle of aged wine. Swirling the glass of red wine in her hand, Stephanie’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“This is expensive. Is Mr. Porter paying for it?” Rachel shook her head.

“My money is mine, and his money is his. I just wanted to thank you for all of your help. I doubt I’d be where I am today without you.” Stephanie clinked her glass against Rachel’s and smiled leisurely.

“You don’t have to do this. I didn’t do much.” Sipping her wine, Stephanie nodded in satisfaction.

“But I won’t say no to a bottle of Lafite. So, what’s the real reason why you invited me to dinner? Ask away.”

Rubbing her fingers, Rachel smiled sheepishly.

“Okay. Well, here’s the thing. I want to be an independent designer.” Hearing this, Stephanie pursed her red lips.

“Has it been a year since your graduation?”

This question made Rachel’s heart sink to her stomach.

“No. It has only been ten months.” Rachel was so nervous that her palms started to sweat. Generally speaking, becoming an independent designer was no easy feat.

Except for those extremely talented, no one in their right mind would be arrogant enough to open their own studio within a year of graduating. It was expected that they gain experience from working in a company for a few years before going independent.

Stephanie fell silent for a second.

‘That’s a little tricky. Experience is important for a designer. Plus, it’s somewhat an insult to those experienced designers if you become a successful independent designer at such a young age.”

After a while, she smiled gently. “If it were up to me, I wouldn’t see it that way. You’re clearly a talented designer and I’m sure you had a lot of ideas even back in college. But my experience tells me that it’s still early for you to set up your own studio. What if you work for another design company to gain experience first?”

Hearing this, Rachel’s expression was complicated.

“It seems that you have something on your mind, Rachel.” Stephanie saw through her immediately.

“Mr. Porter doesn’t want you to work for anyone else, am I right? That’s so macho of him.”

“No, it’s not that. Rather, he doesn’t want me to work outside of the city. A long-distance relationship is not for us. If I had the chance, I’d want to go to Meadowview. But Sunhaven is in the south and Meadowview is in the far north. It will not be easy for us to see each other in the future,” Rachel explained dejectedly.

She didn’t want to be separated from Dominic, but she didn’t want to be dependent on him either.

Stephanie shook her head and sighed.

“You managed to marry a rich man yet you still have a lot of things to worry. Men are indeed the stumbling block to a woman’s career.”

Rachel was amused by her opinion. She looked at Stephanie carefully.

Stephanie was beautiful and sexy, but she always seemed to cast aside worldly desires and lived independently. She was a tough woman. She was professional and capable and it was as though she didn’t need a man at all. Nobody knew whether she was born like this or it was because of something she had experienced.

The two of them proceeded to have a nice dinner. Finally, it was time to say goodbye.

Before getting in the taxi, Stephanie turned around to warn Rachel.

“This is no small matter. You two had better discuss it and make things clear as soon as possible.”

“You’re right. I’ll see what I can do. Be careful on your way back.” Rachel waved goodbye to Stephanie.

When she got home, Rachel was preoccupied with thoughts on how to discuss her predicament with Dominic.

Dominic was wearing a dark blue suit and tie, looking tall and mature. With his shiny leather shoes, he was the epitome of a cold, meticulous CEO.

When he saw her come in, Dominic wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her on her cheek.

“It’s good you’re back in time. There’s a charity party tonight. Let’s go there together.”

“Did you just say a charity party? Is it being held by the Porter Group?”

Putting away the coat she had just pulled off her body, Rachel thought it over for a few seconds and then added, “But I don’t have an evening dress for such an occasion. When you were Dominic, it was no big deal for me to wear my usual dress to attend a formal event. But today the situation happens to be very different. You’re Braden Porter now. If I underdress, it will go on to be a huge disgrace to you.”

In fact, Rachel didn’t want to go at all. If she went to the party, she’d have to face those who looked down at her.

After adjusting his tie, Dominic asked in a very gentle voice, “Didn’t I buy you a custom-made dress before? If it’s not something you like, I’ll ask my assistant to send over a few more for you to choose.”

Dominic quietly looked at Rachel for a few seconds and as if sensing her thoughts, he touched her hair and asked her, “Don’t you want to go to the party? A distinguished guest from Meadowview will be there. Joyce Colton happens to be a famous philanthropist in

Meadowview. I want to introduce you to her.”

With a sweet smile on her face, Rachel leaned her head against Dominic’s shoulder and said, “I nearly forgot about the dress you gave me. Wait a minute; I’ll go get changed.”








Chapter 260 – "Navigating the Social Scene"


After that, she walked into the room and put on the dress. She knew in her heart that Dominic had good intentions for doing this.

He wanted to bring her to such important occasions to emphasize and consolidate her position. Sooner or later, she had to adapt to such things.

After putting on her dress and fixing her makeup, she headed to the party with Dominic.

The charity dinner just got started. This event was totally different from any party that Rachel had attended before. This kind of charity dinner was obviously on a higher level than the other events. Everyone here was refined and talked properly

“Mr. Porter, it’s good to finally meet you.” Two men in tuxedos, who were about fifty years old, made their way over with huge smiles on their faces.

When talking to them, Braden was not as level-headed as he was to other people. Perhaps they were business partners. The three of them talked together rather casually for a while. The atmosphere seemed to be relaxed and pleasant.

Rachel sat on the side and enjoyed the desserts and champagne quietly. At this moment, several middle-aged rich ladies came over to talk to her.

“Mrs. Porter, do you like sweets?” a rich lady in a fitting dress and curly hair asked with a smile on her face, staring at the plate resting in Rachel’s hand.

After a short pause, Rachel nodded with a slight smile. The desserts here were indeed very delicious and at the same time, she was not that much of a fussy eater.

“Booth’s Cake is way better. Mrs. Porter, please go try it when you have the time. Its taste is much better than these cheap desserts they serve here.”

These rich ladies proceeded to exchange glances with one another.

“In fact, it matters very little wether the dessert is cheap or not. If one never gets to see the world and thinks that these are already good stuff, then that will be the real joke here.” The rich lady flipped her hair and turned to look at Rachel with a thoughtful look on her face.

“I heard that Mrs. Porter graduated from a local design school.” Stephanie was right. Ivy wouldn’t be the only one who didn’t like the fact that Rachel married Braden.

These rich ladies mocked her one after the other. They pretended to act like they cared about Rachel, but in fact, they were ridiculing her in a way that said that she didn’t deserve to be Braden’s wife.

“Yes, I am a designer.” Rachel tried her best to stay calm.

“Designing isn’t in demand right now. Besides, all those famous designers graduated from prestigious foreign universities. Our domestic design schools here aren’t very good.” .

“Mrs. Atwood, is it true that your daughter is studying fashion marketing at UCIA?”

With a proud expression on her face, Mrs. Atwood replied, “Yes, she’ll graduate in one year. She met Mr. Porter before and said that she wanted to work as an intern in Porter Group after she returned. Now, there’s no chance for that anymore.”

Mrs. Atwood let out a long sigh and then went on to say, “You have no idea how excellent my daughter is. She went to study ina foreign country alone at the age of fifteen. Many rich young men are pursuing her, but she only likes mature men.”

With a faint smile on her face, Rachel acted like she didn’t understand what Mrs. Atwood meant. She was feeling so angry and aggrieved that she couldn’t even taste the dessert in her mouth.

“What are you girls talking about? It appears to be something funny.”

At this time, a middle-aged woman in a royal blue V-necked evening dress walked over toward them. She was noble, low-key, and elegant all at once. She had a graceful and elegant appearance, with an easy-going and calm aura emanating from her. Her long black hair was held up on her head by a black wooden hairpin. When those rich ladies caught sight of her, they became restrained and courteous right away.

“Good evening, Mrs. Colton. We’re just chatting with Mrs. Porter here.”

The middle-aged woman had a friendly smile on her face. She glanced over at Rachel, appearing stunned for a few seconds, and then asked with a gentle smile on her face, “You’re Rachel, right?”

Rachel was still hung up on the ladies’ sarcastic remarks that she didn’t notice the woman approaching her.

Joyce had to wave her hand in front of Rachel’s face before the latter came back to her senses.

Rachel blinked at Joyce, at a loss for words. She looked familiar for some reason. But Rachel couldn’t figure out where they had met before, so she decided to brush off the thought. Thinking that Joyce was about to mock her just as the others had done,

Rachel squared her shoulders and lifted her chin.

“Hello. Can I help you with anything?” She held her breath and braced herself for the inevitable. What sort of abuse was she going to hear this time?

‘It’s very nice to meet you. My name is Joyce Colton, and you may call me Mrs. Colton just like everybody else.” The woman stretched out her hand, her eyes gleaming as she peered at Rachel with obvious curiosity. Joyce had noticed Rachel the moment she had entered the room, mainly because she had the same eyes as her husband

As for Rachel, she was rather taken aback by the distinct lack of hostility. It was a breath of fresh air after what she had just experienced. She set her plate down and reached out to shake Joyce’s hand.

“Hello, Mrs. Colton,” she said with a polite nod and an apologetic look. So, this was the Mrs. Colton that Dominic had mentioned earlier. Upon closer inspection, Rachel finally realized why this elegant woman looked so familiar—she saw that same face in the mirror every day. Joyce Colton looked just like her.

“You caught my attention when you came in just now,” Joyce said with a smile.

Before either woman knew it, she had already clasped Rachel’s hand between both of hers.

“Are you a native of Sunhaven? I’ve grown very fond of the local cuisine. Can you give me a few recommendations?” Joyce was genuinely amiable and didn’t put on airs, unlike the other rich ladies in attendance. She had a gentle aura that inspired the confidence of the people around her.

“Oh, there’s a restaurant near my school that sells the best lamb stew in town,” Rachel replied instantly.

‘This is the perfect season to have a hearty lamb stew I think.”

Seeing that Rachel seemed to be in good terms with Joyce, the other women had no choice but to back down. They stood to the side and exchanged pointed glances, not daring to interrupt the other two’s conversation.

Joyce finally turned to them after a while, though her expression was not as warm as when she had been speaking to Rachel.

“It’s cold out here, ladies. Why don’t you come with us to the lounge inside?”

The Colton family was one of the most prominent lineages in Meadowview. Each generation had studied abroad and gone on to become notable figures in their respective field, and some of them had even held important positions in the military. Needless to say, Joyce was a key player in society, and everyone pandered to her at every chance they got. And since she was courteous toward Rachel, the women had to keep themselves in check, lest they inadvertently offended Joyce. It was the early days of spring, and the floor-to-ceiling windows of the lounge opened to the garden. Despite the lack of snow, the cool, refreshing scent of winter still lingered in the air.

“You know Sunhaven so well. Have you lived here since you were a child? May I ask who your mother is?” Joyce was usually reserved, but she was inexplicably interested in Rachel.

Aware that she might be crossing a line, she smiled kindly at Rachel and assured her, “It’s all right if you don’t tell me. I know it’s a little abrupt and may not exactly be appropriate. Just forget I asked.”








Chapter 261 – "Charity Ball Bombshells"


The matter of her family background was a sensitive issue for Rachel, so she was grateful for the other woman was consideration

But she sensed no malice from Joyce, so after a moment’s hesitation, Rachel decided to answer her question.

“l was adopted by the Daley family. As for my biological parents, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I have no idea who they are.” Her voice instinctively quieted down as she spoke, and the words fell heavy between them.

Joyce’s face immediately changed. A mix of complicated emotions flashed across her eyes.

“Are you saying that you’re adopted?” she asked urgently, as if to confirm a crucial truth.

Joyce suddenly got overly emotional, which had a way of overwhelming Rachel, who then said in a gentle voice.

“Yes, it’s true. I was adopted by the Daley family.”

Tears started to well up in Joyce’s eyes. She patted Rachel’s shoulder and went on to ask, “How did the Daley family adopt you?”

Rachel shook her head. Her memory of it was long gone. Besides, she didn’t want to recall such sad memories from her childhood, so she had been deliberately avoiding thinking about what happened in the past.

At the same time, Joyce had nothing to do with her. Why was she asking so many questions? Rachel was feeling a bit confused about what was going on.

“Mrs. Colton, if there’s nothing else you’d like to talk about, I have to go now.” Rachel thought that there was no more need to say anymore to a stranger. More tears welled up in Joyce’s eyes. Her hope, which had been long lost, was now back again. She clutched onto Rachel’s hand and smiled lovingly at her.

“I’m sorry, Rachel. I must’ve scared you just now. I was being too overly emotional.”

Seeing this, Rachel proceeded to sit down again and said in a resigned tone, “I can’t remember what happened that day in the past clearly. I’ll have to think it over.”

She tried her best to recall the past. She had no idea why this lady suddenly burst into tears, but she had a feeling she might feel better if she told her something.

“I don’t know exactly where it was they found me. But I’ve heard my adoptive father say that I was picked up by an acquaintance of his in Meadowview. At that time, there had been an earthquake that turned the whole city into chaos. Many people were seriously hurt, leaving behind a lot of orphans and I happened to be one of them, I suppose. That friend of theirs heard that they wanted to adopt a child. That was why he sent me to them.”

After having said that, Rachel was lost in thoughts. She had never even talked about this with Dominic before, but now she was telling it to a woman she had just met for a few minutes.

Hearing this, Joyce’s face turned extremely pale and her whole body shook. She covered her face and suddenly burst into tears, unable to hold in her excitement.

Rachel had no clue what was going on. She patted her on the shoulder and tried to comfort her, “Mrs. Colton, what’s the matter?”

Joyce took out a handkerchief from her bag in her hand and proceeded to wipe her tears. She looked up at Rachel again with a serious expression on her face and said while sobbing at the same time, “Twenty-three years ago, when my daughter was born in the hospital, there was an earthquake. It was such a chaos and I mistakenly took someone else’s daughter home. Over the years, my husband and I have always been looking for our real daughter but never managed to find her. Not long ago, I saw on the news of your marriage with Braden Porter. I noticed that you look a lot like my husband and me, so I came here to see you.”

Rachel was shocked and didn’t know how to feel. She looked at Joyce with a faint smile on her face and said, “Maybe this is just a coincidence. Things like this happen in the world.”

Joyce wiped away her tears. After that, she argued, “I didn’t make a mistake. I just knew it. I’ve been having a familiar feeling ever since I saw you. Families are linked by blood, you know? I believe that. I really think that we’re family.”

Rachel also had the feeling that Joyce was familiar and kind. From what Joyce said, that might be true. After all, everything from her age, appearance, and her story all matched that of Joyce’s daughter.

Noticing the panic and hesitation in Rachel’s eyes, Joyce held her quivering hand and asked cautiously. “Rachel, would you like to undergo a paternity test with us?”

Rachel averted her gaze hesitantly, not knowing what to say. Her first instinct was to doubt it. She scared that she’d only be disappointed if it turned out that they weren’t really related. But this was the closest she had ever gotten to find her real parents.

“O… Okay.”

In the end, she had no reason to refuse. Ever since she had cut off all ties with the Daley family, she only had one person left in the world that she considered family-Norma. She had been hoping she could find her biological parents

Of course, the rich ladies had overheard their conversation. Surprise, shock, and embarrassment were written all over their faces.

How could this be? The plain charity party had unfolded so dramatically. The rich ladies quickly looked away awkwardly, knowing full well that they had just been insulting Rachel moments earlier.

No one dared to say even one more word.

They had all mocked Rachel for being born into a low status, but now, it was revealed that she might be the daughter of the Colton family.

“Wonderful! I’ll book an appointment at the hospital soon. Give me your number, Rachel. I’ll call you as soon as it’s settled.”

Joyce’s face lit up with undisguised joy and excitement. She couldn’t even take her eyes off of Rachel. What a beautiful girl!

She had liked Rachel ever since she first saw her on TV.

After chatting for a while, she started to feel sorry for the girl. The way Rachel talked about her foster parents was very cautious yet gloomy. It was clear that the Daley family didn’t treat her well.

I'll call my husband as soon as I get back. He’ll definitely be thrilled!” Joyce added with a bright smile, clutching her purse tightly Rachel couldn’t help but reciprocate her excitement. She immediately looked around the hall, searching for Dominic.

Dominic had been talking shop with a businessman that had just arrived. As soon as he turned his head, he found that Rachel was gone.

Luckily, Dominic was a tall man who stood a head above the crowd. It didn’t take long for him to spot the petite figure at the other end of the hall.

Dominic strode over to her and pulled her into his arms in a warm embrace. Nibbling her earlobe playfully, he asked, “What’re you up to, Miss? Want me to accompany you?”

As he spoke, he buried his face in her neck. As he breathed in her scent, he was a bit turned on, and his hand wandered to her lower back.

Rachel instantly blushed. They were in a public place! She gently pushed him away and said with a giggle, “Stop it! Anyway, there’s something I wanted to tell you.”

Seeing that Rachel’s eyes were slightly teary, Dominic’s expression darkened.

“Who bullied you?”
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
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Guys i believe the author should have finished the story right after the night Dominic finally made it.. There is no more interesting story to look forward to... 😜
 

Wafumad

New Villager
Dec 9, 2023
12
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Thank you, Junlee, for keeping this story up to date even without much interaction from others (as seen in your other thread). I always read all of your posts. Mabuhay!
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Thank you, Junlee, for keeping this story up to date even without much interaction from others (as seen in your other thread). I always read all of your posts. Mabuhay!
Hey kabayan. Thanks for reading with me. Dont worry, while discussions and interactions add fun to the reading experience, it's not the driving force behind me to do what I do. I just love the story and I post as I read along. And this website attracts, mostly, those people who read martial arts stories. so, i am really expecting less readers here. I guess I am one of the few readers here that loves variety.
 

Rossan

New Villager
Oct 9, 2023
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Chapter 259 – "Champagne Conversations: Stephanie's Wisdom"

Rachel’s eyes flickered with annoyance as she watched the girl leave.

Stephanie put down her bag, took off her coat, and sat on the seat Ivy had been sitting on just moments earlier. “What’s wrong?

What happened? Who was that girl?”

Making sure that Ivy had left the restaurant, Rachel told Stephanie how the girl had provoked her for no reason.

“Oh, I see how it is. Initially, you were married to Dominic Peterson-an ordinary, unknown man. But now, you’re married to Braden Porter, the CEO of Porter Group. Do you know how intimidating this title is? Braden is young, promising, and rich. Many rich families have tried to get him to marry their daughters, but he was too aloof. He showed no interest in being with anyone, nor did he show any interest in getting married. All the women who hoped to marry him eventually had to give up.” After such a lengthy explanation, Stephanie found herself thirsty. She gulped down a glass of water and then continued, “Yet now, he announced out of the blue that he’s married, and his wife is not from a prominent family. It’s unheard of-it’s like breaking the barrier between social classes. Naturally, those rich families feel that they’ve been robbed by you.

Rachel sighed. “It was stupid of Ivy to outright provoke me, and I can deal with a small fly like her. But, my worry is that she’s not the last one. I think I’ll encounter a lot of similar situations in the future.”

Stephanie smiled at her knowingly. “It’s good that you know that. Since you can’t change your fate, you have to learn to embrace it.”

With knitted brows, Rachel rested her chin in one hand and mulled over things carefully.

After a long while, she finally said, “Dominic— I mean Braden has announced to the public that I’m his wife, but they don’t seem to be okay with it. Because Braden is an excellent man, people think he should’ve married someone from the same social status. Now that he’s married to me, an ordinary woman, everyone’s in disbelief. I guess I can see where they’re coming from. It’s true that I don’t deserve Braden in terms of social rank’. But I can’t change where I came from.”

“Don’t belittle yourself. One can’t change where they came from. Besides, rich and powerful families didn’t start out rich and powerful. You’re a talented designer. What you need to do is to work harder. Soon, the public will acknowledge and accept you-whether they like it or not.” Stephanie waved her hand dismissively, Just then, the waiter came to serve black truffle, foie gras and a bottle of aged wine. Swirling the glass of red wine in her hand, Stephanie’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“This is expensive. Is Mr. Porter paying for it?” Rachel shook her head.

“My money is mine, and his money is his. I just wanted to thank you for all of your help. I doubt I’d be where I am today without you.” Stephanie clinked her glass against Rachel’s and smiled leisurely.

“You don’t have to do this. I didn’t do much.” Sipping her wine, Stephanie nodded in satisfaction.

“But I won’t say no to a bottle of Lafite. So, what’s the real reason why you invited me to dinner? Ask away.”

Rubbing her fingers, Rachel smiled sheepishly.

“Okay. Well, here’s the thing. I want to be an independent designer.” Hearing this, Stephanie pursed her red lips.

“Has it been a year since your graduation?”

This question made Rachel’s heart sink to her stomach.

“No. It has only been ten months.” Rachel was so nervous that her palms started to sweat. Generally speaking, becoming an independent designer was no easy feat.

Except for those extremely talented, no one in their right mind would be arrogant enough to open their own studio within a year of graduating. It was expected that they gain experience from working in a company for a few years before going independent.

Stephanie fell silent for a second.

‘That’s a little tricky. Experience is important for a designer. Plus, it’s somewhat an insult to those experienced designers if you become a successful independent designer at such a young age.”

After a while, she smiled gently. “If it were up to me, I wouldn’t see it that way. You’re clearly a talented designer and I’m sure you had a lot of ideas even back in college. But my experience tells me that it’s still early for you to set up your own studio. What if you work for another design company to gain experience first?”

Hearing this, Rachel’s expression was complicated.

“It seems that you have something on your mind, Rachel.” Stephanie saw through her immediately.

“Mr. Porter doesn’t want you to work for anyone else, am I right? That’s so macho of him.”

“No, it’s not that. Rather, he doesn’t want me to work outside of the city. A long-distance relationship is not for us. If I had the chance, I’d want to go to Meadowview. But Sunhaven is in the south and Meadowview is in the far north. It will not be easy for us to see each other in the future,” Rachel explained dejectedly.

She didn’t want to be separated from Dominic, but she didn’t want to be dependent on him either.

Stephanie shook her head and sighed.

“You managed to marry a rich man yet you still have a lot of things to worry. Men are indeed the stumbling block to a woman’s career.”

Rachel was amused by her opinion. She looked at Stephanie carefully.

Stephanie was beautiful and sexy, but she always seemed to cast aside worldly desires and lived independently. She was a tough woman. She was professional and capable and it was as though she didn’t need a man at all. Nobody knew whether she was born like this or it was because of something she had experienced.

The two of them proceeded to have a nice dinner. Finally, it was time to say goodbye.

Before getting in the taxi, Stephanie turned around to warn Rachel.

“This is no small matter. You two had better discuss it and make things clear as soon as possible.”

“You’re right. I’ll see what I can do. Be careful on your way back.” Rachel waved goodbye to Stephanie.

When she got home, Rachel was preoccupied with thoughts on how to discuss her predicament with Dominic.

Dominic was wearing a dark blue suit and tie, looking tall and mature. With his shiny leather shoes, he was the epitome of a cold, meticulous CEO.

When he saw her come in, Dominic wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her on her cheek.

“It’s good you’re back in time. There’s a charity party tonight. Let’s go there together.”

“Did you just say a charity party? Is it being held by the Porter Group?”

Putting away the coat she had just pulled off her body, Rachel thought it over for a few seconds and then added, “But I don’t have an evening dress for such an occasion. When you were Dominic, it was no big deal for me to wear my usual dress to attend a formal event. But today the situation happens to be very different. You’re Braden Porter now. If I underdress, it will go on to be a huge disgrace to you.”

In fact, Rachel didn’t want to go at all. If she went to the party, she’d have to face those who looked down at her.

After adjusting his tie, Dominic asked in a very gentle voice, “Didn’t I buy you a custom-made dress before? If it’s not something you like, I’ll ask my assistant to send over a few more for you to choose.”

Dominic quietly looked at Rachel for a few seconds and as if sensing her thoughts, he touched her hair and asked her, “Don’t you want to go to the party? A distinguished guest from Meadowview will be there. Joyce Colton happens to be a famous philanthropist in

Meadowview. I want to introduce you to her.”

With a sweet smile on her face, Rachel leaned her head against Dominic’s shoulder and said, “I nearly forgot about the dress you gave me. Wait a minute; I’ll go get changed.”








Chapter 260 – "Navigating the Social Scene"

After that, she walked into the room and put on the dress. She knew in her heart that Dominic had good intentions for doing this.

He wanted to bring her to such important occasions to emphasize and consolidate her position. Sooner or later, she had to adapt to such things.

After putting on her dress and fixing her makeup, she headed to the party with Dominic.

The charity dinner just got started. This event was totally different from any party that Rachel had attended before. This kind of charity dinner was obviously on a higher level than the other events. Everyone here was refined and talked properly

“Mr. Porter, it’s good to finally meet you.” Two men in tuxedos, who were about fifty years old, made their way over with huge smiles on their faces.

When talking to them, Braden was not as level-headed as he was to other people. Perhaps they were business partners. The three of them talked together rather casually for a while. The atmosphere seemed to be relaxed and pleasant.

Rachel sat on the side and enjoyed the desserts and champagne quietly. At this moment, several middle-aged rich ladies came over to talk to her.

“Mrs. Porter, do you like sweets?” a rich lady in a fitting dress and curly hair asked with a smile on her face, staring at the plate resting in Rachel’s hand.

After a short pause, Rachel nodded with a slight smile. The desserts here were indeed very delicious and at the same time, she was not that much of a fussy eater.

“Booth’s Cake is way better. Mrs. Porter, please go try it when you have the time. Its taste is much better than these cheap desserts they serve here.”

These rich ladies proceeded to exchange glances with one another.

“In fact, it matters very little wether the dessert is cheap or not. If one never gets to see the world and thinks that these are already good stuff, then that will be the real joke here.” The rich lady flipped her hair and turned to look at Rachel with a thoughtful look on her face.

“I heard that Mrs. Porter graduated from a local design school.” Stephanie was right. Ivy wouldn’t be the only one who didn’t like the fact that Rachel married Braden.

These rich ladies mocked her one after the other. They pretended to act like they cared about Rachel, but in fact, they were ridiculing her in a way that said that she didn’t deserve to be Braden’s wife.

“Yes, I am a designer.” Rachel tried her best to stay calm.

“Designing isn’t in demand right now. Besides, all those famous designers graduated from prestigious foreign universities. Our domestic design schools here aren’t very good.” .

“Mrs. Atwood, is it true that your daughter is studying fashion marketing at UCIA?”

With a proud expression on her face, Mrs. Atwood replied, “Yes, she’ll graduate in one year. She met Mr. Porter before and said that she wanted to work as an intern in Porter Group after she returned. Now, there’s no chance for that anymore.”

Mrs. Atwood let out a long sigh and then went on to say, “You have no idea how excellent my daughter is. She went to study ina foreign country alone at the age of fifteen. Many rich young men are pursuing her, but she only likes mature men.”

With a faint smile on her face, Rachel acted like she didn’t understand what Mrs. Atwood meant. She was feeling so angry and aggrieved that she couldn’t even taste the dessert in her mouth.

“What are you girls talking about? It appears to be something funny.”

At this time, a middle-aged woman in a royal blue V-necked evening dress walked over toward them. She was noble, low-key, and elegant all at once. She had a graceful and elegant appearance, with an easy-going and calm aura emanating from her. Her long black hair was held up on her head by a black wooden hairpin. When those rich ladies caught sight of her, they became restrained and courteous right away.

“Good evening, Mrs. Colton. We’re just chatting with Mrs. Porter here.”

The middle-aged woman had a friendly smile on her face. She glanced over at Rachel, appearing stunned for a few seconds, and then asked with a gentle smile on her face, “You’re Rachel, right?”

Rachel was still hung up on the ladies’ sarcastic remarks that she didn’t notice the woman approaching her.

Joyce had to wave her hand in front of Rachel’s face before the latter came back to her senses.

Rachel blinked at Joyce, at a loss for words. She looked familiar for some reason. But Rachel couldn’t figure out where they had met before, so she decided to brush off the thought. Thinking that Joyce was about to mock her just as the others had done,

Rachel squared her shoulders and lifted her chin.

“Hello. Can I help you with anything?” She held her breath and braced herself for the inevitable. What sort of abuse was she going to hear this time?

‘It’s very nice to meet you. My name is Joyce Colton, and you may call me Mrs. Colton just like everybody else.” The woman stretched out her hand, her eyes gleaming as she peered at Rachel with obvious curiosity. Joyce had noticed Rachel the moment she had entered the room, mainly because she had the same eyes as her husband

As for Rachel, she was rather taken aback by the distinct lack of hostility. It was a breath of fresh air after what she had just experienced. She set her plate down and reached out to shake Joyce’s hand.

“Hello, Mrs. Colton,” she said with a polite nod and an apologetic look. So, this was the Mrs. Colton that Dominic had mentioned earlier. Upon closer inspection, Rachel finally realized why this elegant woman looked so familiar—she saw that same face in the mirror every day. Joyce Colton looked just like her.

“You caught my attention when you came in just now,” Joyce said with a smile.

Before either woman knew it, she had already clasped Rachel’s hand between both of hers.

“Are you a native of Sunhaven? I’ve grown very fond of the local cuisine. Can you give me a few recommendations?” Joyce was genuinely amiable and didn’t put on airs, unlike the other rich ladies in attendance. She had a gentle aura that inspired the confidence of the people around her.

“Oh, there’s a restaurant near my school that sells the best lamb stew in town,” Rachel replied instantly.

‘This is the perfect season to have a hearty lamb stew I think.”

Seeing that Rachel seemed to be in good terms with Joyce, the other women had no choice but to back down. They stood to the side and exchanged pointed glances, not daring to interrupt the other two’s conversation.

Joyce finally turned to them after a while, though her expression was not as warm as when she had been speaking to Rachel.

“It’s cold out here, ladies. Why don’t you come with us to the lounge inside?”

The Colton family was one of the most prominent lineages in Meadowview. Each generation had studied abroad and gone on to become notable figures in their respective field, and some of them had even held important positions in the military. Needless to say, Joyce was a key player in society, and everyone pandered to her at every chance they got. And since she was courteous toward Rachel, the women had to keep themselves in check, lest they inadvertently offended Joyce. It was the early days of spring, and the floor-to-ceiling windows of the lounge opened to the garden. Despite the lack of snow, the cool, refreshing scent of winter still lingered in the air.

“You know Sunhaven so well. Have you lived here since you were a child? May I ask who your mother is?” Joyce was usually reserved, but she was inexplicably interested in Rachel.

Aware that she might be crossing a line, she smiled kindly at Rachel and assured her, “It’s all right if you don’t tell me. I know it’s a little abrupt and may not exactly be appropriate. Just forget I asked.”








Chapter 261 – "Charity Ball Bombshells"

The matter of her family background was a sensitive issue for Rachel, so she was grateful for the other woman was consideration

But she sensed no malice from Joyce, so after a moment’s hesitation, Rachel decided to answer her question.

“l was adopted by the Daley family. As for my biological parents, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I have no idea who they are.” Her voice instinctively quieted down as she spoke, and the words fell heavy between them.

Joyce’s face immediately changed. A mix of complicated emotions flashed across her eyes.

“Are you saying that you’re adopted?” she asked urgently, as if to confirm a crucial truth.

Joyce suddenly got overly emotional, which had a way of overwhelming Rachel, who then said in a gentle voice.

“Yes, it’s true. I was adopted by the Daley family.”

Tears started to well up in Joyce’s eyes. She patted Rachel’s shoulder and went on to ask, “How did the Daley family adopt you?”

Rachel shook her head. Her memory of it was long gone. Besides, she didn’t want to recall such sad memories from her childhood, so she had been deliberately avoiding thinking about what happened in the past.

At the same time, Joyce had nothing to do with her. Why was she asking so many questions? Rachel was feeling a bit confused about what was going on.

“Mrs. Colton, if there’s nothing else you’d like to talk about, I have to go now.” Rachel thought that there was no more need to say anymore to a stranger. More tears welled up in Joyce’s eyes. Her hope, which had been long lost, was now back again. She clutched onto Rachel’s hand and smiled lovingly at her.

“I’m sorry, Rachel. I must’ve scared you just now. I was being too overly emotional.”

Seeing this, Rachel proceeded to sit down again and said in a resigned tone, “I can’t remember what happened that day in the past clearly. I’ll have to think it over.”

She tried her best to recall the past. She had no idea why this lady suddenly burst into tears, but she had a feeling she might feel better if she told her something.

“I don’t know exactly where it was they found me. But I’ve heard my adoptive father say that I was picked up by an acquaintance of his in Meadowview. At that time, there had been an earthquake that turned the whole city into chaos. Many people were seriously hurt, leaving behind a lot of orphans and I happened to be one of them, I suppose. That friend of theirs heard that they wanted to adopt a child. That was why he sent me to them.”

After having said that, Rachel was lost in thoughts. She had never even talked about this with Dominic before, but now she was telling it to a woman she had just met for a few minutes.

Hearing this, Joyce’s face turned extremely pale and her whole body shook. She covered her face and suddenly burst into tears, unable to hold in her excitement.

Rachel had no clue what was going on. She patted her on the shoulder and tried to comfort her, “Mrs. Colton, what’s the matter?”

Joyce took out a handkerchief from her bag in her hand and proceeded to wipe her tears. She looked up at Rachel again with a serious expression on her face and said while sobbing at the same time, “Twenty-three years ago, when my daughter was born in the hospital, there was an earthquake. It was such a chaos and I mistakenly took someone else’s daughter home. Over the years, my husband and I have always been looking for our real daughter but never managed to find her. Not long ago, I saw on the news of your marriage with Braden Porter. I noticed that you look a lot like my husband and me, so I came here to see you.”

Rachel was shocked and didn’t know how to feel. She looked at Joyce with a faint smile on her face and said, “Maybe this is just a coincidence. Things like this happen in the world.”

Joyce wiped away her tears. After that, she argued, “I didn’t make a mistake. I just knew it. I’ve been having a familiar feeling ever since I saw you. Families are linked by blood, you know? I believe that. I really think that we’re family.”

Rachel also had the feeling that Joyce was familiar and kind. From what Joyce said, that might be true. After all, everything from her age, appearance, and her story all matched that of Joyce’s daughter.

Noticing the panic and hesitation in Rachel’s eyes, Joyce held her quivering hand and asked cautiously. “Rachel, would you like to undergo a paternity test with us?”

Rachel averted her gaze hesitantly, not knowing what to say. Her first instinct was to doubt it. She scared that she’d only be disappointed if it turned out that they weren’t really related. But this was the closest she had ever gotten to find her real parents.

“O… Okay.”

In the end, she had no reason to refuse. Ever since she had cut off all ties with the Daley family, she only had one person left in the world that she considered family-Norma. She had been hoping she could find her biological parents

Of course, the rich ladies had overheard their conversation. Surprise, shock, and embarrassment were written all over their faces.

How could this be? The plain charity party had unfolded so dramatically. The rich ladies quickly looked away awkwardly, knowing full well that they had just been insulting Rachel moments earlier.

No one dared to say even one more word.

They had all mocked Rachel for being born into a low status, but now, it was revealed that she might be the daughter of the Colton family.

“Wonderful! I’ll book an appointment at the hospital soon. Give me your number, Rachel. I’ll call you as soon as it’s settled.”

Joyce’s face lit up with undisguised joy and excitement. She couldn’t even take her eyes off of Rachel. What a beautiful girl!

She had liked Rachel ever since she first saw her on TV.

After chatting for a while, she started to feel sorry for the girl. The way Rachel talked about her foster parents was very cautious yet gloomy. It was clear that the Daley family didn’t treat her well.

I'll call my husband as soon as I get back. He’ll definitely be thrilled!” Joyce added with a bright smile, clutching her purse tightly Rachel couldn’t help but reciprocate her excitement. She immediately looked around the hall, searching for Dominic.

Dominic had been talking shop with a businessman that had just arrived. As soon as he turned his head, he found that Rachel was gone.

Luckily, Dominic was a tall man who stood a head above the crowd. It didn’t take long for him to spot the petite figure at the other end of the hall.

Dominic strode over to her and pulled her into his arms in a warm embrace. Nibbling her earlobe playfully, he asked, “What’re you up to, Miss? Want me to accompany you?”

As he spoke, he buried his face in her neck. As he breathed in her scent, he was a bit turned on, and his hand wandered to her lower back.

Rachel instantly blushed. They were in a public place! She gently pushed him away and said with a giggle, “Stop it! Anyway, there’s something I wanted to tell you.”

Seeing that Rachel’s eyes were slightly teary, Dominic’s expression darkened.

“Who bullied you?”
thank you for update
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 262 – "A Tale of DNA: Rachel's Parental Journey"

Rachel shook her head and said seriously, “Dominic, I may have found my biological parents.” She then told him the whole story.

If it turned out to be true, then of course Dominic would be happy for her…

“It sounds a little too good to be true,” he said after thinking about it for a while.

“But if it was Mrs. Colton who brought it up, it could be true. She wouldn’t prank you. The Colton family is just as powerful as the Porter family used to be, so she shouldn’t have any ulterior motives. I suppose there’s nothing we can do but wait for the results of the paternity test.”

The waiting game was always the hardest.

Dominic sat with Rachel in one of the corridors of the hospital.

It was mid-January by then and still a bit cold. Joyce wore a dark green maxi dress with a Colton cashmere coat on top. Her eyes kept darting between Rachel and the man next to her as they waited.

Braden Porter. She had seen his face in their wedding photos on the news, but she didn’t like him very much. Braden was indeed a handsome man, but Joyce didn’t think that was a good thing. Rich, good-looking men more often than not turned out to be playboys. And Braden was rich, handsome, and successful. He had to be a scheming person, right?

On the other hand, Rachel was a kind and lovely girl. She could easily have been played by Braden.

But now that she, Joyce, was here for Rachel, she would never let Braden bully Rachel.

Dominic could sense the hostility in Joyce’s eyes whenever she looked at him, but considering how she might be his mother-in-law, he could only politely nod to her. Whenever their eyes met, it was hard to tell which one of them was the dominant one.

Soon, a man with glasses and in his mid-fifties arrived. He looked like a well-read gentleman.

“Jo, I’m sorry I’m late. Traffic was so heavy on the way here.” The man wiped the sweat on his forehead and apologized sincerely. He wasn’t that handsome.

In fact, he looked pretty plain. But his eyes were bright and had a certain look of wisdom to them.

Joyce’s eyes flitted to the man. Although she was scolding him, her eyes were gentle.

“How could you be late for something as important as this? I’ll deal with you when we get home!”

“I’m really sorry, Jo. I swear to God that I left early! Can you not punish me today? You just punished me recently…” The man tugged at the corner of Joyce’s clothes like a little kid.

Obviously, Benjamin Colton, a business whiz in Meadowview, was a hen-pecked husband.

The second Rachel saw him, she instantly recognized his eyes—because they looked exactly like hers. While Benjamin was trying to butter Joyce up, he noticed Rachel’s intent gaze.

At a glance, he felt that Rachel had the exact same temperament as Joyce’s. And he had also noticed Rachel’s eyes.

He rubbed his hands excitedly and walked up to the girl.

“You must be Rachel, am I right? Nice to finally meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too, Mr. Colton.”

For some reason, Rachel suddenly grew nervous. Dominic had just managed to calm her down, but now, she couldn’t help but want to cry again.

“You look a lot like Jo when she was young. How old are you? You should’ve graduated from college by now, right? Where did you study? Do you have a job now? Do you want to work in Meadowview?”

Benjamin was so excited that he kept firing questions at her, one after another. Seeing the way Braden’s arm was tightly wrapped around Rachel’s shoulder, there was a flicker of annoyance in Benjamin’s eyes. “Mr. Porter, do you mind giving us some space?”

Benjamin had no clue what Rachel saw in her husband.

Dominic was a little stunned, but he obliged and walked away to give the two a chance to talk. Seeing that Rachel looked a bit flustered hearing all these questions, Joyce patted Benjamin’s shoulder.

“Give our daughter some time to think before you ask more questions!” Benjamin scratched the back of his head and smiled sheepishly.

“Okay, okay. We can talk later. Let’s do the paternity test first.”

Dominic and Joyce had decided prior to do the paternity test at Booker’s hospital.

And to err on the side of caution, Joyce had also sent another blood sample to their own hospital in Meadowview.

After the paternity test was done, the Coltons asked Booker nervously, “When will the results come out?”

Booker took off his mask and said calmly, “Today.”

“Oh, my God! That’s great!” Joyce exclaimed, holding Benjamin’s hand excitedly. “I don’t want to go home and come back later for this. Let’s just wait here.”

Of course, the obedient Benjamin agreed.

“We should wait as well.” Dominic knew that his wife was feeling extremely anxious now. She wasn’t a talkative person to begin with, and she usually fell completely silent in important situations like this.

“Okay,” Rachel said softly, her hands trembling slightly. It wasn’t until late afternoon when Booker approached them with the report.

‘The results are ready. Please follow me to my office.”

‘The result of paternity test has proven that Rachel is indeed your biological daughter.”

In fact, when Booker first saw the match rate between the two was as high as 99.8%, he couldn’t help but be in awe of Dominic’s wife. The Colton family was considered one of the most influential families in the country. They had the most contacts the most resources, and the most enterprises.

Although the Peterson family in Sunhaven was by no means weak, it was not as influential as the Colton family. They had become so strong thanks to years and years of accumulated businesses and connections. Few families were as influential as this one.

As Booker continued to discuss the results of the paternity test, Dominic noticed that the Coltons had been looking at Rachel for quite a while with tears in their eyes.

Benjamin stood up first and stumbled over to Rachel, throwing his arms around her clumsily.

The middle-aged man disregarded any semblance of dignity and burst into tears. Afraid that she might frighten Rachel off if she broke down as well, Joyce simply stood aside and simply patted Rachel on the back, covering her mouth with a handkerchief as she sobbed.

Rachel, on the other hand, was stunned. Finally, the sounds of her parents’ sobs brought her back to reality, and she too couldn’t help but burst into tears. They had finally found each other after so many years. They had only met their daughter once before, right after she was born. Naturally, Benjamin had a lot to say to his daughter, with whom he had lost contact ever since.

“How have you been all these years, my dear child? I’m so sorry. Your mother and I weren’t able to find you until now. This is all our fault.” Benjamin took off his glasses and wiped them with the hem of his shirt. When he put them back on, his eyes were still tearful and red.

“I heard that the Daley family adopted you.”

He had investigated the Daley family before we came here. Although the Daleys were not that big a family, they were well-off. At the mention of that particular family name, Joyce’s nostrils flared in anger.

“There is not a single good Daley,” she snorted.

After all, judging from the way Rachel spoke of her adoptive family, she didn’t have a good time with the Daley family.






Chapter 263 – "Fault Lines: The Earthquake that Changed Lives"


“Joseph and Kate adopted me and it was also true that we had some issues, but that doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve cut ties with them.” Rachel wiped the tears on her face.

She still wasn’t used to the idea of her biological parents.

Joyce hugged Rachel tightly and said, “It’s okay, my child. If you don’t want to talk about it, then don’t.”

Joyce stroked Rachel’s hair gently. Her heart ached at the sight of her daughter crying.

With a small smile, she said, “Okay. Anyway, the past is in the past. I have a good life now. I’m married to a wonderful man.”

She looked at Dominic affectionately and added, “My husband treats me very well.”

Only then did Benjamin and Joyce turn to look at Dominic seriously. They knew that Dominic was the president of the Porter Group, but they just didn’t really care. Even the CEO of such a successful corporation was a nobody in their eyes.

“We can see that he is… nice to you.” Joyce smiled, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes. Truth be told, she had been thinking about Braden, and he was a thorn in her side.

They finally managed to find their daughter after all these years, but she was married. That was absolutely unacceptable! No matter how excellent this man was, Joyce still felt like he was taking her daughter away from her all over again.

And for that, she didn’t like Dominic one bit. Benjamin probably harbored the same thought for he had been cold fo Dominic ever since they met. Dominic knew what was on their minds, but he knew it wasn’t the right time to bring it up, so he just smiled helplessly

Booker, who was standing in front of them, found the scene interesting.

Now that Dominic had such difficult in-laws, he was bound to have a hard time in the future. Gradually, Rachel calmed down. But many things plagued her mind. The most pressing question was: how could she have been replaced back then?

This was the last thing that Joyce wanted to talk about. She had been depressed for years, knowing that her daughter had been replaced. She even considered taking her own life, but Benjamin had stopped her. The Colton family had a lot of connections in Meadowview. They had asked anyone and everyone they could to look for their missing daughter, but there was no sign of her.

Gradually, Joyce came to believe that she would never reunite with her daughter. Benjamin, on the other hand, didn’t lose hope and suggested they search in other cities. After all, Meadowview was a metropolis and lots of people came and went every year, so it was possible that their daughter wasn’t in Meadowview anymore. Now, they finally found her-their long lost daughter.

Joyce looked at Benjamin hesitantly. Benjamin didn’t say anything and gave her a reassuring look.

Holding Rachel’s hands, Joyce bit her lower lip nervously. She took deep breaths, but she was so emotional that she couldn’t squeeze a single word out.

Finally, Benjamin looked at Rachel and sighed heavily.

“When you were born, there was an earthquake of unprecedented magnitude in Meadowview. The whole city was in chaos. The hospital collapsed, and all the expecting mothers and infants were trapped inside. Your mother, who was staying in a VIP ward at the time, was moved with the other mothers during the evacuation. The situation was a complete mess at the time and she had no idea that you were replaced. Later, when we did find out, we investigated the matter and found that a couple took advantage of the chaotic situation to replace you with their daughter and took you away.”

Tears rolling down her cheeks, Joyce lowered her head guiltily and covered her mouth with the handkerchief in her hand. In between sobs, she said, “It’s all my fault. I wasn’t able to protect you. If! did, you wouldn’t have been replaced. You were born without birthmarks. I didn’t get to see you clearly because I was too weak and therefore didn’t memorize what you looked like.”

Benjamin hurried to comfort his wife.

“Don’t blame yourself. All babies look alike when they were just born. It’s difficult to tell them apart.”

Rachel patted Joyce’s hand, too.

“You’ve found me now and that’s what matters. Truth be told, I never wanted to look for my biological parents before. I always thought that they had deliberately abandoned me.”

Now that she knew that Joyce and Benjamin never meant to lose her, she didn’t feel unwanted anymore. Joyce threw her arms around Rachel and wept tears of jay. Rachel had grown up to be such a gentle and considerate young lady.

“I’m so glad we found you, my child. My life would’ve been meaningless otherwise.”

Rachel could keenly sense that her mother really cared about her. Thinking of the baby who had taken her place, she asked, “How is the girl now?”

“Her name is Lorena. She lives in Meadowview with us now. Your mother and I didn’t know that she wasn’t ours at first, so we raised her as our own.” Benjamin sighed.

After all, the baby girl had looked a lot like baby Rachel. Benjamin and Joyce had no idea that the girl they raised wasn’t theirs.

It wasn’t until Lorena had a blood test that they realized that something was wrong. Benjamin’s blood type was A, and Joyce’s was O, while Lorena’s was B — there was no possible way she was their biological daughter. So they secretly conducted a paternity test and found out that indeed, Lorena wasn’t related to them by blood. They launched an in-depth investigation into the matter. That was when they found out that their baby had been replaced amidst the chaotic aftermath of the earthquake.

“People can be really evil. Even the clothes and wristbands on the two babies were switched, so it obviously was not just a simple mistake. I knew what my baby was wearing and that was why we took that girl with us.” Joyce sneered angrily. Just thinking about the evildoers who had stolen her daughter made her want to tear them to pieces.

It was because of them that she wasn’t able to see her own child in more than twenty years. Lorena, on the other hand, had been treated as Joyce’s and Benjamin’s biological daughter for years. They loved her deeply and by the time they realized the mistake, it was too late for them to leave her. Thus, they continued to treat Lorena as their own while secretly looking for their real daughter.

A few years ago, they had managed to track down Lorena’s biological parents, but the evil couple had abandoned Rachel as a baby and had no idea where she was. With her lips pursed, Rachel asked warily, “Has Lorena met her biological parents?”

"Lorena is still with us. She has no idea that she’s not our biological daughter…” Joyce sighed heavily.

These problems were not easy to solve.








Chapter 264 – "Confronting Destiny: Rachel's Brave New Chapter"

Rachel could tell that her parents loved Lorena very much. Speaking about her, Benjamin and Joyce exchanged embarrassed glances.

“We hate Lorena’s real parents. They took you from us so that their daughter could be raised by a rich family. If it weren’t for the kind soul who took you in, you might’ve died in the streets. You were separated from us for over twenty years because of this evil couple… If none of that happened, you would’ve been raised as the daughter of the Colton family. You wouldn’t have had to suffer so much with the Daley family.” As she spoke, Joyce looked at Rachel with guilt and pity.

Fortunately, her dear daughter had grown up to be a wonderful young woman. Otherwise, she would’ve destroyed the couple who kidnapped Rachel. After some slight hesitation, Joyce continued, “Your father and I have been thinking. It’s true that Lorena had inadvertently stolen your life, but she’s innocent. She was still a baby at the time. It wasn’t her fault her parents swapped her out with you. Besides, we love Lorena, and we would never be so cruel as to kick Lorena out now that we’ve found you. But we want to listen to what you have to say on the matter.”

Obviously, Joyce was partial to Rachel.

Maybe it was because Rachel was her real daughter, or perhaps it was because she had grown incredibly fond of the young woman.

Whenever they met, Joyce found herself wanting to give Rachel the whole world.

After mulling it over for a while, Rachel realized that she didn’t want much. She just wanted to be with Benjamin and Joyce, her biological parents.

“You raised her. I understand that it’s difficult for you to let her go. Let’s just say… I have a sister. Besides, I already feel lucky that you found me. I never would’ve thought of asking for anything more,” Rachel concluded with a gracious smile.

Indeed, she didn’t want much.

She just wanted her loved ones to be safe and sound and for those close to her to be happy and healthy. Now that she was reunited with her parents, she felt more than content.

In fact, in her eyes, her life was already perfect.

But Rachel’s words only made Joyce feel guiltier.

What on earth had her daughter gone through to become so sensible? At home, Lorena was always spoiled. Whenever she was met with any displeasure, she would complain.

“Is that really what you want?” Joyce pressed her worriedly.

Rachel nodded firmly.

‘I’ve never met Lorena, and she didn’t do anything to hurt me. I don’t hate her. I wouldn’t mind if Lorena remains a Colton. We can be sisters. I’m already more than happy to have found you. I doubt Lorena’s presence will be an obstacle to our relationship. Mom, Dad, you’ll always be my parents.”

Hearing this, Dominic’s expression darkened. Rachel was the victim here. She didn’t have to be so generous.

“Rachel, you’re too considerate,” Benjamin said with a sigh. He and Joyce were happy to see that Rachel had grown up to be such a sensible young woman.

After all, they didn’t want to abandon Lorena. She might’ve been a little arrogant and domineering, but she was still their daughter, albeit not biologically.

But Joyce was partial to Rachel. She looked at her husband firmly and said, “We need to tell Lorena the truth when we get back: that she’s not our biological daughter, and that Rachel is. Then, we can make an announcement to the public. We have to bring Rachel back as the daughter of the Coltons.”

Joyce held her daughter’s hands and looked at her face intently. Rachel looked so much like her when she was younger. “If I don’t do this, it will be too unfair to you. You’ve suffered enough.”

Benjamin supported Joyce’s decision, but he was a bit hesitant. “Lorena’s a spoiled child. She has never experienced any setbacks in her life. If we tell her the truth now, I’m afraid it will be a big blow to her.”

Joyce sneered icily. “Do we have to make Rachel suffer because of her inability to cope? We’re not abandoning Lorena. She is still our daughter and we will still treat her the same way. Anyway, somebody’s going to be unhappy either way. And I’d rather it be Lorena than Rachel. We owe Rachel too much. It’s her turn to be spoiled.”

In Joyce’s youth, she had become famous in Meadowview for being a decisive and sharp-tongued female entrepreneur. She was still that same fierce woman even after decades.

‘If Lorena finds out she’s not our real daughter, do you think she’ll look for her biological parents?” Benjamin asked warily.

Joyce looked at Benjamin as though she was looking at an idiot. “We’ve spoiled Lorena for years. Do you really think she’ll go looking for her real parents?”

Benjamin fell silent and didn’t say anything more.

Rachel couldn’t help but look at her mother with awe. She was quick-witted and sharp-tongued, and she spoke with a certain authority.

Dominic also found that Joyce was much smarter than he had imagined and that she was very sensible.

Rachel, on the other hand, was naive and innocent. With a mother like Joyce looking after Rachel, at least she wouldn’t be easily cheated in the future.

Later, Benjamin and Joyce temporarily took residence in Dominic’s villa.

The two of them then discussed and made arrangements to take Rachel back to Meadowview, intending to publicly announce that she was their biological daughter.

They were engaged in a heated discussion and didn’t even think to ask Dominic for his opinion. Rather, they just ignored his presence.

Rachel looked at Dominic questioningly. “You haven’t talked much today.”

Before, Dominic had made it clear that he wouldn’t let her leave him.

Dominic sighed helplessly. He smoothed Rachel’s hair and said gently, “What can I do? You’ve finally found your biological parents. I would never want to get in the way of that.”

In fact, he had already made up his mind. He would let Rachel go back to Meadowview with her parents. The Porter Group could expand to Meadowview so that Dominic could relocate there in the future.

Anyway, Rachel was his wife now. She would never leave him.

Rachel’s face lit up and she smiled at Dominic sweetly. She pinched his cheek and said, “Then I’ll go to Meadowview. Visit me often, okay?”

Dominic couldn’t help but chuckle. He kissed the corner of her lips when Benjamin and Joyce were looking away and held her in his arms. ‘I will, my dear wife.”

That night, Rachel went back to Meadowview with her parents. Meadowview was known as the capital of ancient culture. Unlike Sunhaven which was a developed, urbanized city, Meadowview carried with it a long history of cultural heritage. The Colton family’s mansion sat quaintly in the middle of a classical-style garden. The mansion was huge, and the stone sculptures flanking the grand door gave a glimpse at just how rich and powerful the Coltons were.

“Your grandfather lived in this house. I wanted us to move out before, but your father didn’t agree. He’s too sentimental.”

Joyce noticed that Rachel kept looking around the mansion with wide eyes, so she thought that Rachel didn’t like it.

“If you want to live in an apartment or a villa, we can move out.”

Rachel waved her hand quickly.

“No, it’s okay. I’ve never lived in a place like this before. I’ve only ever seen it on TV. Now that I’m actually standing in it, I just wanted to take a closer look at its details.”

Joyce looked around the mansion alongside Rachel and her expression softened. With a loving smile, she said gently, “It will all be yours in the future. You’ll have plenty of time to look around.”

“Mom, what on earth are you saying?” A sweet voice interrupted the conversation between Rachel and Joyce Rachel turned in the direction of the voice. A woman in a pink floral dress and a pale grey sweater was standing in the yard.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
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Chapter 265 – "A Night of Celebration: Rachel's Grand Debut"

The woman’s eyes and brows were somewhat similar to that of Rachel’s. They both looked smart and charming, but there was a hint of arrogance in the woman’s eyes. Joyce frowned immediately when she saw the girl.

‘Lorena! You have to put on a coat whenever you leave the house! It’s January now—the coldest time of the year!” Lorena pouted and threw herself into Joyce’s arms, acting very much like a spoiled child.

“Mom, I just wanted to see you sooner. The servant told me you were finally back, so I came as fast as I could. What have you and Dad been up to these days? I didn’t see you at the office.”

She peeked at Rachel and asked curiously, “Who’s that? You never bring strangers home.”

Joyce placed her hands on Lorena’s shoulders and pushed her away firmly. With a hardened expression, she said, “Let’s talk inside. Dad and I have to tell you something important.”

Lorena frowned. She obviously picked up on Joyce’s indifference to her. Something was definitely off. She took a sidelong glance at Rachel before nodding and following her mother inside the house.

“What?! Impossible! Is this a prank? Mom, Dad, you can stop teasing me now.”

Upon hearing the whole story, Lorena immediately sprang out of her seat indignantly.

She couldn’t accept the cruel truth. In the span of mere minutes, she had become a child who was brought home by mistake instead of the esteemed daughter of the Coltons she was a moment eallier.

Joyce picked up the cup of tea on the table and took a sip. She was afraid that Lorena would blame herself if she told her that her parents had switched the babies out on purpose, so she just said that it was all a big mistake.

“Tell me you’re joking!” Lorena’s eyes suddenly brimmed with tears.

Her carefree life was about come to an end.

Benjamin and Joyce felt bad when they saw that Lorena was about to cry.

Pretending to be relaxed, Benjamin walked up to Lorena and patted her shoulder comfortingly.

‘Lorena, we only told you this because we think you deserve to know the truth. We won’t interfere with your choice. If you want to remain our daughter, you can stay as our adopted daughter. Rachel was lost to us for too long. We have to take her back into our family.”

Lorena gritted her teeth, looked at Benjamin angrily, and spat, “If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t have told me the truth.”

Without waiting for a response, she stumbled and turned around to storm off. Suddenly, her eyes met Rachel’s. This woman had stolen her parents.

After giving Rachel a hard look, Lorena ran to her room. The minute she was gone, Benjamin and Joyce sighed. They knew that the truth would hurt Lorena, but they had no choice. Rachel was a little worried about her new sister.

“We should go to her. What if she go to extremes?” “Don’t worry. Lorena just needs time to accept the truth. Just leave her alone for now.” Joyce waved her hand dismissively. She knew Lorena well. Their priority now was to announce to the public that Rachel was their long-lost biological daughter.

‘I’ve asked a maid to prepare your room. You can use this one for the time being.” Joyce personally escorted Rachel to her designated room.

The decoration was quaint and a little old-fashioned, but there were many plush dolls in it, which gave the room a strange and funny vibe. Looking at all the plushies, Joyce smiled awkwardly, “I didn’t know what you’d like, so I ended up buying all these dolls…”

In Joyce’s mind, Rachel was the baby she had lost all those years ago. They were practically strangers to each other now.

Rachel looked at the dolls and chuckled softly. “I’ve never had so many toys before. Thank you, Mrs. Colton.”

For now, she couldn’t bring herself to call Joyce “Mom’” yet. Seeing that Rachel didn’t seem to have a problem with the room, Joyce breathed a sigh of relief and smiled happily.

“I won’t force you. Just take your time. Well, you just stay here and make yourself comfortable. Your father and I have discussed, and we have decided to hold a big party for the announcement as soon as possible.”

“There’s no rush…” Rachel said falteringly, trying to stop Joyce. She wasn’t used to her new status as the daughter of the Colton family, but Joyce and Benjamin couldn’t wait to tell the world.

Noticing the embarrassment on Rachel’s face, Joyce reached for her hand and said sincerely, “You are our daughter. You’ll have to get used to it one day. Your father and I were talking and… We were hoping to have your surname changed. Since the Daley family has nothing to do with you now, you don’t have to keep their surname anymore.”

Rachel nodded. She didn’t care about the Daley family name anyway now that she married to Dominic.

All of Meadowview’s upper class was in an uproar the next morning. The Colton family had just announced that their daughter, who had been missing for over twenty years, was finally found. Joyce revealed Rachel’s identity to the public and changed the latter’s surname to Colton.

The Colton family invited all the celebrities and influential people in Meadowview to their dinner party.

That night, they all gathered in the Colton Cloud Club.

The security of this banquet was strict, and Joyce specially ordered that no stray entertainment reporter was allowed inside.

Those kinds of reporters tended to cover nonsense. She didn’t want her daughter to be scrutinized on the Internet, so she took all the necessary precautions to avoid it.

It was the first time Rachel had attended such a grand party. And she was under the spotlight. Joyce introduced her to many esteemed guests.

Throughout the entire night, Rachel heard countless names.

“Is it tiring?” Seeing the exhausted look on Rachel’s face, Benjamin gave her a slice of cake, feeling sorry for her. Over the past few days, Joyce had taken up all of Rachel’s time. Benjamin felt a little sad that he hadn’t had a good talk with his daughter yet. Rachel subtly rubbed her aching ankles.

She was wearing a pair of 3-inch heels tonight. She forced a smile and said, “I am fine. Mr. Colton, your wife is awesome. She’s still so energetic even after chatting with all these rich people.”

Benjamin looked at the energetic Joyce in the distance and smiled.

“Let me tell you a secret. Your mother actually hates those rich ladies and often speaks ill of them. The only reason why she still talks to them is to keep up with the latest gossip.” Rachel couldn’t help but chuckle. Benjamin held a finger to his lips and winked at her.

“Don’t tell her I told you her little secret, or else she’ll kick me out of the bedroom tonight.”

Rachel nodded and promised him solemnly. She suddenly envied Lorena. Growing up in such a loving family, she probably had a very happy childhood and youth.

Benjamin had only chatted with Rachel for a few minutes before he was surrounded again by many guests. Rachel didn’t want to disturb their talk, so she retreated to the yard. She took this opportunity to call Dominic.

“Guess who’s calling?” Rachel said sweetly.

“Let me guess. It’s my wife, isn’t it? It’s been a whole day since you last talked to me. I thought you were too busy having a good time in Meadowview and forgot all about me,” Dominic said in a pouty voice.

He sounded almost resentful.








Chapter 266 – "Lost Identity: Lorena's Search for Self"


Rachel chuckled helplessly. “Dominic, you’re so childish.” She explained, “I’ve been so busy at the banquet. People have been taking my photo all day long. I really didn’t have the time, honey.”

Being called “honey” instantly dispelled the gloom in Dominic’s heart. He sighed and secretly scolded himself for being so soft.

“Okay. I forgive you. When are you coming back? I miss you.”

Rachel blushed slightly, feeling warm in her heart. “I left yesterday. It’s only been a day, Dominic.”

Before Dominic could say anything, Rachel heard her name being called. “Rachel? What’re you doing here? The party’s far from over.”

Joyce noticed that Rachel wasn’t in the hall so she went out to look for her. Rachel quickly said goodbye to Dominic and then hung up the phone. Joyce dragged her back to the party. Because both Joyce and Benjamin felt guilty for the lost time, they wanted to make it up to Rachel in one go. They spent every waking minute with Rachel, buying her all kinds of things. Joyce in particular was very excited. She would take Rachel out to go shopping, and always end up buying all the things she laid her eyes on.

Their shopping spree was all very exhausting for Rachel. Rachel’s parents were so immersed in the excitement of getting their real daughter back that they completely forgot about Lorena, who had locked herself in her room sulkily.

Lorena leaned against the door, trying to listen in. Hearing the raucous laughter downstairs, she grew even angrier. She threw herself on the bed and tears fell out of her eyes again. In the past two days, there had already been a lot of news about Rachel.

Some news outlets even compared her with Rachel.

There was gossip saying that she was not as beautiful as Rachel. Some even accused her of stealing Rachel’s life.

“Why me?” More tears streamed down Lorena’s face. She threw her phone onto the ground, her eyes wide open and furious. She wanted nothing else but to grab hold of Rachel’s neck and strangle her.

A few days ago, she was still the only daughter of the rich and powerful Colton family in Meadowview, but now she suddenly had turned into some sort of imposter. Lorena couldn’t wrap her mind around it. She was extremely unwilling to accept it. She even began to believe that what Joyce and Benjamin did was extremely unfair to her.

They announced to the world that Rachel was their biological daughter. Obviously, this was a huge insult to her.

Lorena’s phone then rang. It happened to be a call from one of her best friends.

“What’s going on? Who’s that Rachel girl? Why did you suddenly become your family’s adopted daughter?” Lorena had a splitting headache and shouted angrily at the phone, “Stop yammering about Rachel! Just hearing her name makes me very angry!”

“So the matter’s true. Where are you right now? Are you at the Colton’s house, or your biological parents’ home?” It seemed like her best friend only cared about Lorena’s status.

Lorena almost became crazy. She learned straight from Joyce that her biological parents were just ordinary people. She had been treated well by the Colton couple for so many years. It was impossible for her to go back to her real parents and live a hard life!

“Don’t worry about it. My dad and mom said that I’m very much still their daughter.” Lorena smiled awkwardly and lied through her teeth. She knew clearly that even if she stayed in the Colton family shamelessly, she would only be an adopted daughter. She was no longer the legitimate daughter of the Colton family and staying due to that would be very embarrassing indeed.

According to the sounds downstairs these days, she figured out that Benjamin and Joyce treated Rachel very well.

Her best friend tried telling her words of comfort over the phone.

‘That’s really great. Your parents must be tolerant of you.”

Are they? If they were really tolerant, they wouldn’t have taken Rachel back and let Rachel take away everything that was truly hers.

Thinking about this, Lorena felt that it was extremely unfair to her. She resented that God was unfair toward her. At first, He gave her the identity of the daughter of a rich family that everyone envied, but suddenly took it all back.

She hung up the phone with a downcast expression on her face and cried for several days in her room. She cried at night deliberately. The noise of the party downstairs in the daytime was so loud that even if she cried aloud, nobody would be able to hear her.

However, though she had been crying for a few days straight, no one came to see her except the servants who came to deliver her something to eat every day. Lorena had a feeling that if she did nothing but cry, she would be forgotten by Benjamin and Joyce pretty soon. She finally calmed herself down and began to think about her next plan of action.

Lorena would never go back to live a hard life with her biological parents. That was why she decided to stay with the Colton family. After all, she had a close relationship with Benjamin and Joyce for over 20 years, which Rachel didn’t have. Furthermore, she had been well educated since she was a child, so she must be much better at her demeanor than Rachel. She could still win Benjamin and Joyce’s love back. It would only be a matter of time before they saw the light.

After mulling everything over in her head, Lorena finally left her room.

This was the first time she had taken the initiative to go out of her room in the last few days. She headed down the stairs and could make out her parents watching a TV drama in the living room with Rachel. Lorena could see that Joyce was moved to tears by the scene in the TV drama. She was wiping her face as she held Rachel.

‘It’s obvious that the heroine in this drama is so pitiful.”

Rachel comforted her with a warm smile on her face.

‘This is just a TV show. It’s all fake. This kind of thing never happens in real life.”

Benjamin peeled the oranges for them as he said, “Your mother happens to be a very sentimental woman. Whenever she sees a baby being taken away from their parents in a drama, she’ll go on to cry hysterically.”

Joyce placed a piece of orange into her mouth and glared daggers at Benjamin.

“Stop blowing my cover in front of our daughter.”

The family was sharing a moment of intimacy right then. Lorena felt that she was intruding on their moment. She endured the bitterness in her heart and went over calmly to them. Her eyes were red and swollen and her face was wet with tears.

“Mom, Dad, what TV drama are you watching? Your discussion of itis so intense.” Hearing the sound of her voice, Benjamin and Joyce turned their heads around. Seeing the pitiful look on Lorena’s face, they began to pity her.

Joyce quickly pulled out two pieces of tissue from the table, got up, and made her way over to comfort Lorena.











Chapter 267 – Fashion, Friends, and False Impressions

“If you’re unhappy, just tell us. Don’t keep it in your heart. No matter what happens in the end, we’re still family.”

At the start of all this, Joyce wanted to take the initiative to comfort Lorena. But after thinking it over for a while, she thought it would be better to let Lorena digest the matter by herself. Lorena was no longer a child anymore. She should be able to deal with it by herself. Lorena nodded while tears streamed down her face at the same time. She embraced Joyce tightly and said, “Mom, I don’t want to leave you. Even though I now know I have my biological parents, I haven’t seen them for over twenty years. We don’t know each other and I don’t want them back. I’ve always regarded you as my biological parents. I’m crying because I really don’t want to leave you.”

Benjamin got up and walked over to her. He patted Lorena on the back and tried to comfort her.

“Your mother and I never want you to leave us either. If you want to stay, then just continue to live with us. You’re still our daughter no matter what.”

He believed in his heart that Lorena’s biological parents were not good people. If she really went back to them, she wouldn’t be able to live a good life in that kind of family.

Lorena peered up at them happily. She sniffled and turned to look at Rachel with tears all over her face.

“Then we’ll be sisters from now on, Rachel.” Rachel smiled and said, “Yes.”

“That’s really great.” Joyce was happy to hear that now they were going to be one big happy family. She held Rachel’s hand and said affectionately to her, “Lorena was born a little earlier than you were. That means she’ll be your elder sister from now on.”

After pausing for a few seconds, Rachel opened her mouth to say, “All right.”

Lorena smiled and promised Joyce, “Okay, Mom, I’ll go on to take good care of Rachel in the future.”

At first, Rachel thought that this was going to be a happy ending for them, but out of the corner of her eye, she found that the way Lorena looked at her didn’t seem to be as friendly as what she showed on the surface. However, Rachel didn’t say anything in front of Joyce. The last thing she wanted to do was make her sad.

Benjamin pushed his round-frame glasses back on his nose and had a gentle smile on his face. He placed his arm around Joyce’s shoulder and said, “Well, it looks like our family is finally reunited.” Joyce turned to look at him, with tears glistening in her eyes. Finally, their family was complete now.

Rachel had just returned to the Colton family home. Joyce didn’t want her to go back to Sunhaven so soon so she vehemently insisted that Rachel stay in Meadowview.

“I’m going back to the company for work tomorrow. If you’re bored, you can go shopping with Lorena. She has many friends in Meadowview. This is the supplementary card of my credit card. You can buy whatever you’d like.”

Before Joyce made her way to the company, she gave a card to Rachel to use as she pleased.

“Thank you but no, I can’t accept this. You have bought me innumerable things.”

Rachel felt embarrassed to accept such a grand gesture.

Joyce pressed the card into Rachel’s hand and hugged her again, feeling reluctant to leave.

“You’re being too polite with me. Well, I really have to go now. I’ll give you two the time to bond with each other today.”

Lorena was positively green with the jealousy that consumed every fiber of her being. She had been longing for a supplementary card for as long as she could remember. However, no matter what methods she tried to employ, Joyce didn’t agree to it.

Now Rachel had made little to no effort yet she was gifted the card. How could Lorena not envy her? Lorena had a catch-up date with her best friends to enjoy afternoon tea. She had no desire whatsoever to take Rachel along with her. However, since Joyce had asked her specifically to do so, she had no choice but to let Rachel tag along.

The place they patronized was a restaurant in a five-star hotel. The desserts of this hotel were well-known, which made it a popular place for many wealthy ladies to spend their leisure time.

“Lorena! You’re finally here! Do you know how long have we been waiting for you?”

As soon as Lorena and Rachel entered the restaurant, a woman in a sexy slip dress with leopard print pattern stood up and waved to beckon them over. Lorena quickly walked over and kissed the woman on the cheeks. She smiled and asked, “What made you stay abroad so long?”

When the woman was about to speak, she saw Rachel standing behind Lorena. She raised her eyebrows and smiled, “Who is this? Why don’t you introduce her to us?”

Lorena took a glance at Rachel. She walked behind her and introduced her to her best friends, “This is my sister, Rachel Colton. You must have heard of her in the newspapers.”

Of course, these women knew full well who Rachel was. They had read the news about her in the newspaper over and over again. Lorena led Rachel to their seats to sit down.

The young ladies made conversations with Rachel from time to time about some mind-numbingly boring topics.

From these conversations, Rachel could tell that these young ladies were all from rich families and had no ambition to strive to make progress. They lived a comfortable life and were waiting for their parents to arrange husbands for them in the future.

As the conversation lulled, Rachel couldn't shake the feeling of being out of place among these affluent young women. Despite their polite chatter, she sensed a profound emptiness in their lives, a lack of purpose beyond their family's wealth and social status.

As Rachel and Lorena returned home from meeting Lorena's friends, Joyce greeted them with a warm smile. She could sense tension lingering in the air.

"So, how was the meeting with Lorena's friends?" Joyce inquired, her eyes scanning Rachel's face for any signs of discomfort.

Rachel hesitated for a moment, her thoughts racing. With honesty and a hint of hesitation, she spoke up, "Honestly, Mom, I don't think I want to go out with them anymore. It's just... not my scene."

Joyce's expression softened as she listened to Rachel's response. She placed a comforting hand on Rachel's shoulder. "That's perfectly fine, sweetheart. You don't have to force yourself into situations that don't feel right to you."

Lorena shot Rachel a puzzled glance, but Joyce quickly intervened. "Let's focus on what makes you happy, Rachel. We'll find activities that suit you better."

Joyce looked into Lorena’s eyes meaningfully. “I could see that Rachel was quite nice to you. Did you happen to misunderstand her?”

Lorena felt wronged right then. “I have no idea what happened. My best friends and I went shopping together with her. We treated her very considerately. I don’t know why that happened.” Joyce knew Lorena very well. Though she was a little spoiled, with regard to morals, Joyce thought she and Benjamin had taught her a great deal.

“Well, it’s getting late, why not go upstairs and have a rest first? I’ll deal with this matter.” Joyce didn’t bother asking any more questions. She decided she would talk to Rachel first.

The next morning, when Rachel woke up, the servants were preparing breakfast in the kitchen. In Sunhaven, she had the habit of getting up early in the morning.

Joyce returned to the house from a morning run outside. Sweat was pouring off her body. The habit of morning exercise gave her a perfect figure even though she was nearly fifty years old.

“Good morning, Mrs. Colton.” When Rachel saw Joyce walk in, she nodded at her. Even though Joyce and Benjamin were her biological parents, Rachel still felt a little awkward around them and could not make herself call them Mom and Dad for now.

“Mom” and “Dad” were both unfamiliar and awkward phrases to her still. When she lived with the Daley family, she seldom called Joseph and Kate Dad and Mom. Wiping the sweat off her forehead, Joyce was startled.

“I’m not your boss, why are you still calling me “Mrs. Colton”?”

She then glanced over at the empty table, covered her stomach with her hands, and winked at Rachel.

“Breakfast has yet to be served. Why don’t we go to the kitchen to check? You haven’t had the chance to try my cooking, right?
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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Chapter 268 – "Fashion's Finest: Rachel's Meadowview Debut"

Just to let you know, I cook delicious eggs and bacon.” Rachel nodded with a smile on her face, feeling a warmth flood through her heart. Like a little child, she followed Joyce into the kitchen. Rachel watched as Johann cracked the eggs into the sizzling pan.

Soon, the kitchen was filled with the aroma of fried eggs.

Joyce then put the bacon in as she asked rather casually, “Why did you stay in instead of going out with Lorena to have some fun? You’re not friends with anyone in Meadowview. It’s good for you to go out and forge new friendships.”

The aroma of the bacon had a way of intoxicating Rachel. But hearing Joyce’s question, Rachel knew that she couldn’t tell

Joyce said directly that she didn’t like Lorena’s friends. She simply smiled and replied, “I’ve been searching for jobs on the recruitment website recently. I’ve grown used to working, so I want to continue focusing on my career. Also, I feel a little flustered when I’m out with Lorena the whole day.”

In fact, Rachel was telling Joyce the truth. She wasn’t in the mood to hang out with Lorena every day. She began working after graduation and had grown accustomed to it. If she suddenly stopped working, she would feel useless and abandoned by the world. Joyce turned off the stove and looked at Rachel for a very long time.

This daughter of hers was just like her. Joyce was relieved to hear what Rachel said just now. Joyce herself was a powerful woman, but Lorena was spoiled as a princess and couldn’t bear to live a hard life. Lorena happened to be average in ability and was not all that ambitious. They had long stopped expecting Lorena to achieve anything in regard to a career. Anyway, there was no need for Lorena to inherit the family business. They just wish her happy and healthy.

Knowing now that Rachel was so ambitious, Joyce was really happy to learn that.

“I know that you majored in fashion design and was working as a fashion designer in Sunhaven before. I’ve seen your work and found that you are indeed a very talented designer. If you need money or any connections, you can tell me at any time. Our family also has dealings in the fashion industry.” Joyce clutched Rachel’s hand tightly and patted it twice.

“You’re really like me when I was younger.”

“Thank you. If I need anything, I’ll tell you.”

After that, Rachel turned her attention back to the eggs and bacon in the pan. It just smelled so good. Rachel didn’t think too much about her conversation with Joyce. However, Joyce obviously did. She made up her mind to let her daughter establish a business in the fashion circle of Meadowview, so that was what she was working on.

Two days later, Joyce received the news that a high-end party was going to be held in the fashion circle soon.

She received the invitation and went to the party with Rachel and Lita, hoping with all her heart that Rachel could make a smashing debut within the fashion design circle of Meadowview.

When Rachel saw the invitation Joyce had handed to her with her own eyes, she had no choice but to admit that her mother was indeed a decisive person.

“Mrs. Colton, to be honest, I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll be working in Meadowview or not.”

Holding the invitation in her hand, Rachel didn’t know whether to laugh or cry in response. After all, she had to take a lot of people into consideration, especially Norma and Dominic.

Joyce had her own master plan. She secretly hoped that Rachel would stay with her in Meadowview for the rest of her life. Besides, the Colton family was wealthy enough to support Rachel. However, judging by the reluctance on Rachel’s face, Joyce surmised that she must have been thinking about Braden, the man in Sunhaven. He was a good-looking fellow, but Joyce wasn’t fond of him at all.

‘I didn’t say that you have to work in Meadowview, but it would be good for you to expand your connections. Meadowview may not be as fashionable as Sunhaven, but it’s a developed city with a healthy ecosystem of experienced designers to learn and gain knowledge from.” Joyce showed a gentle smile on her face.

Unwilling to disappoint Joyce, Rachel eventually agreed to attend the party.

At the party, Rachel followed Joyce around the hall, meeting all the big shots from the fashion circles because she wasn’t quite familiar with the designers in Meadowview.

“This is Mr. Brook. He is the chief designer of the project of redefining women’s clothing that has been popular all over the country recently.”

Joyce was elegant and unhurried, while Rachel complimented her with her gracious and refined temperament. Lorena was looking for an opportunity to humiliate Rachel. Since she used to rub shoulders with Meadowview’ upper class, Lorena had several friends at this party. Mostly daughters from rich families who had graduated from famous design schools abroad.

“Mom, Rachel has just graduated. Don’t you think it’s too soon for her to talk with these experienced designers who have been in the fashion industry for decades?” Lorena whispered to Joyce.

Lorena pretended to be concerned, but deep down inside, she was just waiting for Rachel to make a fool of herself and get laughed at by these famous designers. After all, in her opinion, Rachel was just a novice, unworthy of public appreciation. Perhaps then Joyce would come to regret bringing Rachel to this party in the first place.

“I trust her,” said Joyce calmly and firmly. Lorena’s heart sank almost immediately.

After all, Joyce had never talked about her with such pride and certainty. That realization irked her even more. Mr. Brook, the renowned designer, was a very arrogant man who despised people who tried to win him over with flatteries.

If it weren’t for Joyce, he wouldn’t have spoken to Rachel, but after spending a few minutes with her in conversation, he realized that Rachel had a profound passion for designing, “I remember seeing your work at Sunhaven Fashion Week not too long ago.”

“I am honored and delighted to hear that. After all, I’m just a newcomer with still so much to learn,” Rachel answered in a natural manner.

“The smooth fabric was a good choice. It emulated the fluidity of the wind, incisively and vividly.” Mr. Brook raised his eyebrows and clinked glasses with Rachel. suddenly, all eyes were on Mr. Brook and Rachel. As they became the focus of the party, everyone walked and joined them in conversation,

Meanwhile, standing in the corner with her fists clenched in anger, Lorena watched in awe as she didn’t expect things to work out so nicely for Rachel.

How could this be? How?

It looked like Rachel had all the famous designers, the chief editors of various fashion magazines, and the founders of brands eating from the palm of her hand, Lorena gritted her teeth to stop herself from screaming. Rachel was thriving amongst all the talented people around her and yet Lorena couldn’t even understand what they were talking about.

With pride in her eyes, Joyce said, “When I see Rachel, I feel like I am looking at my younger self.” Lorena felt bitter in her heart. It suddenly dawned upon her that she wasn’t as good as Rachel. Everything about her was superficial, but Rachel had real ability and talent. Rachel wasn’t intimidated by all those big shots and was actually wise enough to control the whole conversation. Rachel was a quiet woman who didn’t talk much, but she could express her ideas brilliantly when it came to something she was good at.

Lorena was utterly disconsolate. She also noticed one more important detail.

In the past, handsome men would flock to her since she was the daughter of the Colton family, but tonight, there wasn’t a single man who came up to talk to her.

Joyce was relieved in her heart to see that Rachel and the other designers were getting along well. She said to Rachel “I’ll go say hi to Mrs. Radclyffe now.”

Lorena was ignored in the meantime.

At this sort of fashion party, people usually chatted together in groups. At just a glance, Lorena appeared to be isolated and she looked a little embarrassed. Everyone walked past her and proceeded to ignore her.









Chapter 269 – "Fashion Frenzy"

After all, the Colton family announced that Rachel was their biological daughter, which immediately turned Lorena into a joke.

With a glass of wine clutched in her hand, Lorena sat there rather awkwardly.

She used to be popular at all the parties, but now, she was sitting alone on a bench. As she sat there, she caught sight of a familiar man. Chase Calderon had been one of her craziest admirers.

The Calderon family started from scratch, engaging in the real estate business. Originally, Lorena looked down upon them, but no one was willing to talk to her right then. And she didn’t want to be made into a joke here. With a glass of wine in her hand, Lorena made her way up to Chase with a smile on her face and said, “Chase, what a nice surprise to see you here. I thought you didn’t like such parties.”

If this was in the past, Chase would have felt overjoyed that she wanted to talk to him. However, hearing her words now, Chase turned around and said in an indifferent voice, “My dad asked me to come here. He said Mrs. Colton would show up today.”

Lorena smiled and said, “Yeah, my mom likes these sorts of events. She usually has a lot of time on her hands.”

Hearing her words, Chase only gave her a perfunctory answer. He simply took a sip of the red wine in his glass and turned his head to check out Rachel.

“Enjoy yourself. I’ll go talk with them now. Please excuse me.” After having said that, Chase made his way toward Rachel. Lorena was startled, to say the least.

After that, she could make out Chase enthusiastically introducing himself to Rachel, “Miss Colton, I’m Chase Calderon, the eldest son of the Calderon family. It just so happens that we live in the same neighborhood. I heard that it’s your first time in Meadowview. If you’re feeling bored and want to hang out, you can call me at any time. I’m very familiar with the city.”

Chase wore the same warm smile he used to give Lorena once.

Lorena’s heart sank in her chest. She figured that he changed his attitude toward her because she was no longer known as the daughter of the Colton family. Everyone who had originally wanted to fawn over her had turned to Rachel.

Lorena trembled so hard that she almost couldn’t hold her glass. This was the first time that she had experienced just how snobbish people could be. At the same time, she was feeling very resentful toward Rachel. She bit her lip so hard that it bled.

All this should’ve belonged to her, but now, it had all been taken away by that Rachel! While she was burying herself in hatred, Rachel was talking happily with all the designers and celebrities.

In less than ten minutes, a lot of people were gathered around Rachel, who didn’t even seem to notice it herself.

They all looked at her with flattering smiles on their faces.

“Miss Colton, if you need cloth for any of your designs, my company can provide them for you at any time,” a clothing supplier said right away when he heard that Rachel was a fashion designer.

The CEO of a clothing design company said to her, “My company has the very best pattern makers in the world.

Miss Colton, you can borrow them at any time.” Rachel knew that this was all because she was now known as the biological daughter of the Colton family.

“All right, I’ll contact you if I need anything.” Rachel answered with a pleasant smile.

Suddenly, a scream sounded out from the crowd, “Look over there! He’s here!”

Everyone looked over to where that person was pointing at, including Rachel. The door of the banquet hall was opened from the inside by the staff members.

The light was a bit dim, but the man who had just walked in appeared very eye-catching. Everyone couldn’t resist but fix their eyes on him.

The man, who was wearing a black suit, looked both elegant and handsome at the same time. A faint mole could be seen on the bridge of his nose and he had charming eyes with the slightest hint of indifference in them.

“Oh, my God! Did he actually, seriously come back?”

‘I thought an international designer of his standing would usually live abroad. The last thing I expected was that he would come back to Meadowview.” Rachel had only seen the man everyone was talking about on the cover of fashion magazines and in news articles before.

Like everyone around her, she was very familiar with this highly famous figure. Homer Grant. He was one of the most influential fashion designers in the entire world. He was a genius when it came to the art of design. His name had been famous for many years now. Practically everyone had more or less heard of him.

He represented the glory of being a successful designer.

When Rachel was in high school, she had read an interview he had given.

He pursued fashion design as if it was the light of his life and had never given up on it. At that time, he was still a young man in his twenties. His eyes glowed with sheer ambition and certainty whenever he talked about design. Rachel peered at him and found that the years had given him a gentler and calmer aura than he had when he was a young man. He looked much more mature and composed now.

In just six years, her idol had become the titan of the fashion industry, a force to be reckoned with.

At the age of thirty-two, he had his own fashion brand, Grant'd. He had achieved so much in fashion design. In addition to being famous in the fashion industry, he was born into a rich family, and he was handsome and charming. He undoubtedly played the role of Prince Charming in innumerable women’s fantasies.

Rachel covered her mouth. She had looked up at him for many years, and finally, she could meet him in person. She had trouble putting her mixed feelings into words now.

“Mr. Grant!”

All the women at the party swarmed around him, like bees flying around a beautiful flower.

“Mr. Grant, can we still manage to obtain reservation for your new collections? I failed to make one, the items were too hot.”

“Mr. Grant, can we take a picture with you?”

Looking at the crowd with a gentle smile, Homer said, “Of course.”

Rachel stood there, hesitated for just a moment and looked at Homer. It was a rare opportunity for her to meet him. She wanted to say hello to him and ask him some questions about design. Just when she was about to walk over, several women from the rich families who had afternoon tea with her before, Lorena’s besties, pushed her unceremoniously away.

“Miss Colton, please get out of the way! Don’t block our way!”

‘There is plenty of room here,” Rachel looked at them and said, absolutely disgruntled.

“I wasn’t in your way.” A short-haired women pushed her aside and said impolitely, “We were just kindly reminding you not to squeeze in. Mr. Grant won’t be attracted to ordinary women.”

She added in a tone dripping with haught iness, “There are a lot of excellent women who admire him. You, of all people, don’t stand a chance.”









Chapter 270 – "Rachel's Unexpected Offer"

With a frown, Rachel clenched her fists and said unhappily, “I wasn’t trying to…”

As soon as she spoke, Homer looked over and their eyes met. Suddenly, the light of the crystal chandelier seemed to become brighter. Homer’s eyes lit up and a smile stretched across his handsome face.

“Sorry, everyone. Excuse me.” With an apologetic smile, he walked through the crowd and made a beeline towards Rachel.

Homer stood in front of Rachel. He was much taller than she had expected, and had a rather affable expression, though it didn’t make him any less manly.

“Excuse me, Miss. Are you Rachel Peterson, the designer who participated in the first show of Sunhaven Fashion Week?”

He had to duck his head slightly as he spoke to her, if only to avoid looking arrogant and self-important. He was so tall that Rachel seemed petite beside him, despite her average height. She flushed at his question, both surprised and embarrassed.

“You’re right, Mr. Grant. But Peterson is no longer my last name by now.”

Homer’s face broke into a smile, his eyes curving into tiny rainbows.

‘I see. I finally get to meet you, Miss Colton. You’re a lot cuter than I imagined.”

“What do you mean, Mr. Grant?” Rachel asked, visibly confused.

“You see, I paid close attention to your designs at the Sunhaven Fashion Week. I really liked them, but for some reason, they were suddenly removed from the selection. I was abroad at the time, so I naturally had no idea what went down. A friend told me later that you were involved in a plagiarism scandal. How did it go, by the way? Has the matter been solved?”

Rachel tilted her head curiously. “I wonder, Mr. Grant, why aren’t you asking me whether I did plagiarize another designer’s work or not?”

“A plagiarized work will never be able to earn my appreciation in the first place,” the man said firmly.

“Are you sure about that?” This time, Rachel’s surprise turned up a notch. Homer chuckled gleefully.

“How interesting you are, Miss Colton. I happen to have a very discerning eye. Besides that, I also have a phone, which allowed me to read about the press statement released by your company.” The two of them chatted amicably, completely unaware that the people around them were staring.

Homer was easy and pleasant to talk to. Rachel felt the tension slowly leave her body.

“Ah, you look more relaxed now,” Homer said with a smile, as if he had meant to ease her worries all along.

“Well, I’m actually not used to this, socializing with the upper-class elites, so I’m sure my stress is justified,” Rachel joked.

“Are you still working for Porter Group, then?” Rachel shook her head.

“I quit because of some… personal issues.” Homer immediately perked up.

“Have you taken a new offer elsewhere?”

“I haven’t decided yet, to be honest. A part of me wants to run my own studio, but I can’t help but feel intimidated. I think I should continue as an employee for now and gain more experience. God knows I need it if I’m to thrive in the industry.”

Rachel sighed wistfully just as the warm, soft light fell on her delicate face. It lent her an innocent and youthful glow. Homer didn’t hesitate to put his offer on the table.

“How about joining my studio? You can work as my assistant and get all the experience you need. You’ll be free to leave once you think you’re finally ready to set out on your own.” Rachel gaped at him in disbelief.

“Mr. Grant, I-Are you kidding me right now?” Her head was buzzing from the sudden and ludicrous opportunity that fell on her lap.

Homer’s studio was a much-coveted post for all young designers who wanted to make a name for themselves.

Rachel had never even dreamed of setting foot in that hallowed place.

“Does it look like I’m kidding?” Homer teased, though there was an unmistakable serious edge to his voice. Rachel took a couple of seconds to process his words, and then she grinned.

“Not at all. I’ll be more than happy to work for you. It’s every designer’s dream.” After hearing her exclamation, the young socialites nearby glared at Rachel in shock and envy.

“Great! How about starting next week?” Homer was already taking out his business card and handed it to Rachel.

She was over the moon. Having no reason to refuse this once-in-a-lifetine chance, Rachel nodded and promised to be at his studio the following week. Joyce saw it all unfold from the sidelines. She walked up to Rachel as soon as Homer left and whispered, “Lucky you! It’s a good thing to be in Mr. Grant’s good graces. You’re definitely headed for a bright future.”

But there was another side to Joyce’s elation over Rachel’s promising prospect. After all, if Rachel worked for Homer, then she wouldn’t be coming back to Sunhaven any time soon. Lorena felt conflicted as she watched Joyce and Rachel whispering and giggling among themselves.

Although Joyce didn’t express any dissatisfaction toward her, the woman was obviously very proud of Rachel.

And Lorena had to admit that Rachel was truly brilliant, more so than herself.

Rachel was still in high spirits long after she had arrived home. She lay in bed and stared at Homer’s business card, turning it over and over between her fingers.

Then, out of the blue, Dominic’s glum face flashed in her mind. It suddenly occurred to her that she had been too busy recently to go on video calls with her dear husband. Rachel wasted no time remedying that.

As soon as the video call connected, Dominic’s scowling face appeared on her screen.

“Have you finally remembered that you left your husband here in Sunhaven?” he complained.

“I’m so sorry, honey,” Rachel immediately apologized.

“My mom has been taking me to parties and getting me to meet the local socialites. I get so tired that I pass out as soon as I come home.”

Dominic snorted at that and rolled his eyes. “You don’t think about how I would feel, do you? You don’t care about me at all.”

It looked like he was becoming a very clingy and needy husband. Rachel had no choice but to cajole him with everything she got.

She even talked sweet nothings to him for several consecutive minutes, until she finally noticed the corners of his lips twitching.

“By the way, I have some good news.” She told him about Homer’s job offer. And just like that, Dominic’s face darkened all over again. This time, he looked even more sullen and cross.

“You… Are you really planning to work for him?” He spoke through gritted teeth as he tried his best to rein in his jealousy.

Rachel’s parents had spirited her away with no regard for Dominic’s opinion, and he was still mad about it. In addition, he was all too familiar with Homer, what with the man being a reputable icon in the fashion industry.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 271 – "Awkward Encounters"

Dominic had also seen photos of Homer before. The latter did have a pretty face, though Dominic thought he looked rather effeminate. While it would do wonders for Rachel’s career to work at Homer’s studio, it certainly wouldn’t do her bereaved husband any good.

“Mr. Grant is a genius in design. I look forward to learning a lot from him.” Rachel’s voice had instinctively turned an octave deeper in the face of Dominic’s displeasure. In the end, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

“I won’t stop you from achieving your dreams, but… It’s just that, we’ve only just been married, and you’re already making plans to live apart from me. For how long are you going to Leave your husband all alone?”

Rachel gave him a tight and apologetic smile. “For now, it looks like I’ll have to stay in Meadowview for a while. Why don’t you come over, honey?”

And so, Dominic dropped all his work and flew straight to Meadowview. He yearned for his wife so much that he could barely hold himself together. He was starved of her, both physically and emotionally, and he feared that if they stayed apart any longer, someone might snatch her away from him.

Early the next morning, Rachel woke up to a call from Dominic.

‘I’m at the door.”

“It’s only six o’clock,” Rachel yawned.

“You’re way too early, honey.” She stretched and got dressed, and then hurried over to open the door. Dominic found himself frozen in place when their eyes finally met. He had been missing that bright, loving gaze day and night.

Rachel yawned again and ran a hand over her face. Clearly, she was still sleepy.

‘It’s still dark outside,” she muttered, smacking his chest playfully.

“Why are you here at this godforsaken hour?”

Dominic blinked at her in disbelief. “Do you even know how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other in the flesh?” he grumbled.

He looked deflated and angry at the same time. Rachel thought it was cute. She hooked her arm around his and smiled up at him.

“Of course, I remember. It’s almost been a week. I missed you so much, honey.”

For sure, Dominic also missed her like crazy. But he was a mature professional who always remained unflappable even in the worst circumstances. He had no business losing his composure so easily. Dominic calmed himself before asking in a nonchalant voice,

“Really? I don’t feel it at all.”

With a knowing smile, Rachel pulled at his tie and stood on tiptoe to plant a kiss on the corner of his lips.

“What about now?” Dominic sighed to keep himself from grinning like an idiot.

“Nope.” Rachel pinched his cheek.

“Don’t push your luck, Mr. Peterson.” He chuckled as his hands slowly went around her waist. Dominic leaned close, and the next thing Rachel knew, he was pressing her against the door and ravaging her mouth.

“Ahem!” There suddenly came a loud cough, interrupting their passionate embrace. Rachel pulled away from Dominic away and looked behind him.

Benjamin and Joyce stood there, staring at them with unreadable expressions on their faces.

With a slight blush of her cheeks, Rachel cupped her face and murmured, “Mom, Dad, it’s…

These days, she eventually grew accustomed to calling Benjamin and Joyce Dad and Mom. As if nothing had gone down, Dominic turned around and greeted politely to them, “Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Colton.”

What he really wanted to do was strangle himself. His actions earlier must have left a bad impression on Benjamin and Joyce.

Furthermore, when they kissed just now, he even stuck his tongue in her mouth! Benjamin and Joyce didn’t really like him to begin with.

Their faces darkened when they witnessed how he kissed their daughter just now.

“You’re in a public space.” Joyce looked at Dominic up and down with displeased eyes.

Rachel was such a sweet girl while he was a bad influence on her.

“Well, come inside first so we can talk.” Joyce didn’t look very happy, but she knew she couldn’t let Dominic just wait out here.

After they walked inside, Dominic proceeded to sit upright on the sofa.

As soon as Rachel walked into the house, Benjamin asked her to come into the kitchen with him to help him make breakfast. She kept looking in the direction of the living room.

“Stop looking. Your mother will do her best to not give him a hard time.” Benjamin washed the vegetables and smiled gently at his daughter.

Rachel bowed her head down and said guiltily, “I wasn’t really looking.”

Inside the living room. Joyce said in an aggressive voice, “We just found our daughter who has been missing for the past twenty some years. We want her to stay with us for a while Longer to bond as a family. What do you think about that?”

“Of course, I can understand,” said Dominic with a smile on his face.

At this time, Lorena was yawning as she headed down the stairs. She glanced at the man, who was sitting downstairs in the living room. Her heart seemed to be hit by something huge and it seemed to have stopped beating for a few seconds there. Her face turned red unconsciously. She had seen Rachel and Braden’s wedding on TV before and she didn’t feel anything back then. She admitted that Braden was indeed a very handsome man, but at that time, she was still the daughter of the Colton family. She didn’t feel inferior to him during that time. She had originally thought that her future husband would be someone equally as excellent as Braden, or someone even more excellent than him. But Lorena was very clear now that with her current situation, there was no way someone like Braden would want to marry someone like her. Rachel used to be a nobody.

How in the world did she manage to marry such a rich and handsome man? Why was she so fortunate? Lorena didn’t dare to show her emotions on her face. She forced a smile and headed down the stairs.

“Mom, why are you up so early?”

“I just went grocery shopping with your father this morning. He asked for a day off today. Your father said he would cook for today. He’s in the kitchen with your sister right now.” Joyce simply sipped on her tea and answered without even bothering to look at Lorena. Lorena had a smile on her face and didn’t say a word.

Even though she was talking to Joyce just now, she had her eyes fixed on Braden. He really was handsome. Even in the suit, she could feel that he must have a good body.

When she looked into his eyes, she was captivated by him. He looked just like a king. Sure enough, people would usually only fall for the things that were unobtainable to them. With envy in her eyes, Lorena glanced over at Rachel, who was busy cooking in the kitchen. She wasn’t really outstandingly beautiful, so how could she land someone like Braden? The resentment in her heart was growing stronger and stronger and she was no longer in the mood to look at Braden anymore. She clenched her teeth tightly and made her way into the kitchen.

“Dad, let me help as well.”

Dominic was going to stay at the Colton family house and planned to head back on Sunday night. After breakfast was over, Rachel took Dominic to see her bedroom. As soon as she walked into the room, she felt someone holding her waist from behind.

Dominic proceeded to hold her waist with one hand and lock the door with the other. He then threw her on the bed.

With an unnatural flush of her cheeks, Rachel pushed him away and said, “It’s daytime and my parents are downstairs right now.”

What was he thinking? He had acted like a well-mannered gentleman in front of Joyce just now while everyone was downstairs. And now he turned into a savage beast!

The two of them were in such close proximity to each other that they could feel the other’s body temperature.

Dominic’s Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat and he felt his body growing hotter and hotter. He placed his hands into Rachel’s jeans and could feel her delicate skin underneath them.

He took off his light gray wool shirt and showed off his muscles. His eyes darkened visibly. He rubbed his cheek against Rachel’s own and asked, “Don’t you want to do it?”

They hadn’t had sex for an entire week. Dominic really missed her a great deal. Rachel’s legs were clamped tightly shut. Underneath her underwear, she was all wet. She glanced over at the closed door and paused for a few seconds. After that, she lifted her hand and poked Dominic’s muscles.

“You have to keep quiet. I don’t want my mom to hear us.” Dominic kissed her on the cheek and caressed her breasts. His voice grew hoarser with lust.

“Yes, ma’am. I have no objection with that.”







Chapter 272 – "Ceiling Catastrophe"

Dominic pushed the crotch of her panties to the side and slid his fingers into her folds, rubbing and stroking her soft flesh. Rachel bit her lips, but that didn’t stop a long moan from escaping. Her waist lifted involuntarily from the bed, even as she clutched the covers beneath her.

“Good girl,” Dominic rasped and pressed two wet kisses on her cheek. He pulled back and straightened before unzipping his trousers and discarding them to the floor. Then, he hooked his fingers on the waistband of both her jeans and underwear and pulled them off her in one swift motion.

Rachel shivered from the cold, but Dominic was immediately above her, pressing his hard member against her slick wetness. He rubbed against her until she was dripping down to her thighs; then he slowly pushed inside. She was so tight that he had to pause and take a deep breath to keep himself from losing control.

A faint stabbing pain accompanied Dominic’s thickness as it entered her. Rachel had the vague feeling of being stretched apart, and she couldn’t help but gasp at the sensation. Dominic grabbed her by the calves and braced himself before burying his entire length into her.

“Ah! Dominic…” Tears welled up in Rachel’s eyes, while Dominic groaned in ecstasy. She could feel him throbbing inside her, as well as his pulse travel from where they were connected to every inch of her body.

Dominic hiked her legs up and wrapped them around his waist, then he leaned close and captured both of her wrists with one hand, pinning them over her head. His other hand cupped Rachel’s jaw, prompting her lips to part for a deep, hot kiss. He ravaged her mouth until he felt her relax and loosen around him.

Only then did he start moving, pulling backward and plunging back in. She seemed to grow tighter with each thrust-or maybe it was he who was growing larger-but he kept thrusting, and she kept swallowing him up.

Dominic’s cock glistened in the dim light of the room. As he picked up his pace, their combined fluids slid down her tender flesh and soaked the sheets. Rachel’s back arched upward.

Dominic kept pounding into her, his face pressed against the shell of her ear, his short, hoarse grunts filling the air. He pulled back a little to release her wrists. She immediately wound her arms around his neck, leaving a trail of red fingerprints on his broad shoulder as she held on for dear life. With his hands now free, Dominic cupped her breasts and squeezed. He played with her nipples with his thumbs, alternating between flicking them and rubbing them in lazy circles.

“Oh…” Rachel gasped. They became a panting, writhing mass of intertwined limbs. The air above them soon became thick and heavy with their mingled breaths. Rachel felt trapped in a never-ending web of pleasure, though she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to escape it. Her head fell to the side as another wave of raw bliss washed over her, and her gaze fell on the window.

Spring was almost upon them. Outside, small, delicate buds were appearing on the withered trees.

A few birds were perched on the branches, eager for the warm season to begin. Rachel briefly wondered if they were sparrows or swallows… She couldn’t tell from this distance. But before she could mull it over further, Dominic took her chin again and turned her toward him for another torrid kiss.

His fingers splayed out on the width of her neck as the rocking of their bodies grew more urgent. Rachel trembled at the force of it all, and Dominic chose that moment to put his palm on her lower abdomen, just below her navel.

The next time he thrust into her, he simultaneously pressed down, causing her to clench even more tightly around him.

“Ah! Don’t… Dominic…”

The next thing Rachel knew, ripples of pleasure took over her body, wringing a scream out of her mouth. She felt herself burst into a million little pieces before falling back to the ground.

She collapsed against the pillows, quivering and spent. She might have passed out for a second there, but Rachel didn’t really care. Dominic thrust into her one last time, shooting his hot semen inside her with a throaty, drawn-out growl.

Rachel’s eyes fluttered open and met his wild gaze. His lust was nowhere near slaked, and it showed in his face.

She opened her mouth to say something, but his large hand came over her eyes and forced them closed. He shifted their legs in a different position, then proceeded with another round of his passionate onslaught.

By the time Rachel woke up again, it was already the next day.

When she went downstairs, Joyce immediately rushed to her side. worry written all over her face.

“I heard that you didn’t come downstairs for lunch and dinner yesterday. Are you not feeling well?” Joyce and Benjamin had gone to work after breakfast yesterday, so the servants must’ve informed them.

Indeed, Rachel didn’t feel well-between her legs. Her eyes flitted to the man who was sitting on the sofa as though nothing had happened. Sighing subtly, she put on a smile and explained, “I’m fine, Mom. I just get drowsy this time of year.”

“Drowsiness is not a good thing. I’ll take you to the hospital this afternoon.”

Joyce frowned worrtiedly. Rachel had just made a random excuse, but she didn’t expect Joyce to take it so seriously. Just then, Dominic stood up from the sofa and grabbed her arm.

“Mrs. Colton, we’re planning to watch a movie this afternoon. Rachel’s a fan of the leading actress in it.”

At first, Joyce wanted to talk them out of it, but on second thought, she let them go. Pursing her lips unhappily, she snapped at Dominic, “Fine. Take good care of her.”

It seemed like she really wasn’t fond of her daughter’s husband.

In fact, Rachel wasn’t planning to watch a movie. Dominic had just come up with an excuse on the fly.

But when they walked up to the cinema, a poster of a thriller film caught her eye. The poster looked very dreamy, full of artistic direction. She had heard about the movie on social media before.

When she watched the trailer on the screen outside the cinema, she was even more intrigued.

“We’re already here, so we might as well watch a movie,” Rachel suggested, linking her arm in Dominic’s. Dominic glanced at the poster she was staring at and whispered, “I have a private cinema in my villa in Meadowview.”

In his villa, they could do whatever they wanted. The mere thought made Dominic swallow. However, Rachel didn’t seem to get what he meant. She dragged him into the cinema stubbornly and said, “But I like watching movies with other people!” Dominic couldn’t help but burst into laughter. Fortunately, this was a thriller, and there were very few guests in the cinema.

With a tub of popcorn and a cup of coke in his arms, Dominic sat in the back row with Rachel.

Rachel had her eyes glued to the screen attentively whereas Dominic’s mind was elsewhere. He put his hand on her thigh and stroked it gently. Today, Rachel was wearing a gray knitted dress and a black silk stockings.

At this moment, he just wanted to tear the stockings apart and rip them off. Feeling a slight tickle on her thigh,

Rachel glanced at him and whispered, “We’re watching a movie. Get your hand off of me.”

Dominic turned a deaf ear to her words. At the climax of the movie, the hero and the heroine began to kiss passionately on the big screen. Dominic reached for Rachel’s hand expectantly, waiting for a kiss from her. Just as he was about to whisper something, there was a slight sound that came from the ceiling of the cinema. It sounded like something was loosened.

Dominic raised his head vigilantly. Sure enough, the ceiling above them started to shake violently, causing the lamps to sway dangerously from side to side.

“Rachel, watch out!” Dominic quickly pulled Rachel out of her seat and they both lay low on the aisle. Gritting his teeth, Dominic flung his body on top of hers to protect her from under him. With a gut-wrenching bang, the ceiling of the cinema collapsed, and everything around them suddenly fell into darkness.

Rachel didn’t know what had happened. She was so engrossed in the movie that she didn’t notice when the ceiling started to shake. The next thing she knew, she was lying flat on the floor of the aisle underneath Dominic as the ceiling collapsed.

To her horror, something heavy fell on Dominic and she heard a loud noise. Then it was pure chaos. The room fell into darkness.









Chapter 273 – "Darkness Descends"


She could hear people’s screams and cries for help and Dominic’s heavy breathing.

“Dominic, are you hurt?” she asked urgently.

A faint smell of blood wafted in the air. Rachel had no idea if it was Dominic’s or someone else’s. Having been hit just now, Dominic had rolled down the stairs. Rachel’s voice trembled as she fumbled for Dominic in the darkness.

“Dominic?” She knew that he must’ve gotten hurt. She could hear his low, pained moans in the darkness.

However, after a few deep breaths, it became deathly silent. Rachel couldn’t hear anything from the direction where Dominic was.

Rachel wanted to rush to his side, but a ceiling frame had inadvertently caged her. When she tried to stand up, her head hit the slate, causing a flurry of concrete powder to fall all over Rachel’s face.

“Ahem!” She inhaled the powder and couldn’t stop coughing.

It was pitch black and she could barely see her hand in front of her. As she tried to get a feel for her surroundings, Rachel concluded that the collapsed ceiling had fallen on top of the rows of seats, trapping them inside the aisle.

“Hello? Is anyone else there?” She shouted at the top of her lungs. Although there weren’t many other people watching this movie, she recalled at least a dozen other movie-goers in the cinema. But now, it was eerily quiet.

The cries for help just now had stopped. Perhaps the fallen ceiling had knocked them out. Without thinking too much, Rachel continued to crawl ahead.

“Ouch!” Pain shot up from her knees. Rachel winced and fumbled forward, trying to navigate with her palms. Finally, she touched something that felt like knitted fabric. It had to be the dark blue sweater that Dominic wore today.

“Dominic! Dominic, can you hear me?” Rachel tapped him, but she received no response. He must have passed out.

The smell of blood in the air was more intense now that she was near Dominic. When she reached out to touch his arm, her fingers sank into something sticky and warm. Her mind went blank. Suddenly, panic seized her. She took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself down. Then she placed her hand under Dominic’s nose to see if he was still breathing.

After a few seconds, she sighed in relief. She could still feel a faint breath coming from his nose. Next, Rachel pressed her ear against Dominic’s chest. She could hear his heart beating.

He was alive! Gritting her teeth, Rachel hastily wiped the blood on her knees with her hands. Then she retraced her steps back to her seat, hoping to find her phone and bag in the rubble.

When the ceiling collapsed just now, the chandelier had fallen along with it. Consequently, the floor was covered in broken glass.

Rachel tried her best to avoid them.

Now she only hoped her phone wasn’t smashed to bits. She had been texting Joyce throughout the movie, so her phone wasn’t inside her bag. Rachel managed to make it back to her seat.

She fumbled around in the darkness, searching for her phone. Finally, she found it under a pile of dust. The screen had been cracked, but the phone itself was still functioning. She immediately dialed 911.

“I’m in Sherwood Cinema and the ceiling has just collapsed. Please, we need your help.”

After giving the 911 operator all the details, she called the hospital. Then, all she could do was wait. Seconds felt like minutes, and minutes felt like hours. Suddenly, she heard the sound of falling stones.

“Help! Is there anyone here?” she shouted desperately. Although there was no response, soon she heard noises from outside. It sounded like somebody was trying to dig a hale into the fallen ceiling.

Finally! They were going to be saved! Rachel was optimistic. She never even considered that digging through the rubble would take a lot of time. Moreover, this was the biggest cinema in Sunhaven. She waited anxiously.

Several hours passed. The sound of digging outside continued, but she could tell that it was still far away from where she was.

The air was thick with dust.

Rachel licked her chapped lips. It had been several hours since the ceiling collapsed. She had turned off her cellphone to save its battery. She only turned it on to check the time occasionally.

Last she checked, it was already eight o’clock in the evening. She and Dominic had arrived at the cinema at around two o’clock.

Six hours had passed.

Her stomach kept grumbling, reminding her of how hungry she was. She was used to having meals on time, so naturally, she was quite hungry by now. The popcorn Dominic had bought was now mixed with dust and pieces of the ceiling. She picked out the clean popcorn and ate it to calm her angry stomach. The coke had also spilled. The brown liquid was all over the floor.

‘There’s a bit left!”. Rachel’s eyes lit up. She was lucky.

There was a bit of coke left in the cup.

Using the light from her phone, she crawled back to Dominic.

There was a huge slab of slate on Dominic’s body. One side of the slab had pierced into his body. Blood trickled down along his body, forming a pool of blood on the ground. His wound was covered with dust and rubble. The space under the seat was too narrow, so Rachel couldn’t reach him. She wanted to check his wound, but she couldn’t see it clearly.

Fearing that Dominic would lose too much blood, Rachel held his jaw and tried to pour the coke into his mouth. Dominic was unconscious. The coke she poured simply spilled out from the corner of his mouth.

“Honey, can you hear me? If you can, please drink…” Rachel was choked with sobs. Tears rolled down her cheeks uncontrollably.

Dominic’s wound was still bleeding, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. Dominic seemed to hear what Rachel said. He frowned and struggled to peel his eyes open. He raised his hand slowly, wiped away Rachel’s tears, and said with difficulty, “Don’t cry.

When Rachel saw that his eyes were open, she immediately pressed the cup of coke to his lips.

“I don’t know when the rescue team will come Honey, just hold on, okay?” A faint smile tugged at the corners of Dominic’s lips.

Only then did Rachel notice how pale his lips were. She couldn’t tell if he had heard what she said just now. Soon, he closed his eyes again.

Rachel sniffed, stroked Dominic’s eyebrows, and wiped the dust off his face. Time passed. Rachel didn’t know when, but she had fallen asleep. She woke up to the sound of digging around her. She glanced at her phone. It was already early morning of the next day.

Suddenly, a beam of light shot out in the darkness. Rachel had to shield her eyes from the strong light.

“Miss, are you okay?” A rescuer asked warmly, reaching out his hand towards her with a flashlight.

“Please save my husband first. He’s trapped down here.” Tears welled up in her eyes. She refused to let them save her first. The rescue team obliged. Several men lifted the huge slab of slate off of Dominic’s body.
 

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