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 338 – Vengeful Ambition

Almost everyone in the business world was excited to watch a good show.

Would the Porter Group defeat the Peterson family or would the Peterson family trample over the Porter Group? Too many things had happened during this period of time, and it seemed that the business world of Sunhaven was about to change greatly.

Charlene thought that Dominic would be too busy to care about her, so she continued to focus on her career.

She also learned from Luke that some time ago, Dominic had put Amanda behind bars. It was said that Amanda had poisoned Rachel, nearly killing the latter.

Charlene felt bad that Rachel survived the whole ordeal.

Charlene shook her head, burying those messy thoughts in the back of her mind.

She hadn’t seen Dominic in a long time.

When she saw him again, her suppressed feelings surged up all of a sudden.

She couldn’t resist approaching him and striking up a conversation.

“Braden, when did you get back to Sunhaven?”

Charlene walked over and greeted the man with a decent smile, as if nothing had happened in the past.

Dominic’s first reaction was not to respond to her, but to stand up and step in between her and Rachel. He carefully protected Rachel behind him, as if Charlene were a man-eating demon.

Charlene smiled bitterly.

“Is this really necessary? Braden, we’ve known each other for years, but now you see me as an enemy. Am I so terrible in your eyes?”

She felt ridiculous. She used to be Braden’s classmate and business partner. She had thought that their relationship wouldn’t have become so strained even if they had a falling out.

Standing over Charlene domineeringly, Dominic said in a cold voice, “I’ve told you very clearly that you’re dead to me. Who knows what you’ll try to do to my wife again? “

“You…”

Charlene stepped back subconsciously. She felt her heart shatter into a thousand pieces and tears rolled down her cheeks. She felt wronged and helpless. She had done so much for this man, yet he hated her to the core.

Dominic frowned, his good mood ruined by Charlene.

Ignoring Charlene, he turned and patted Rachel on the back.

“There’s a really nice seafood restaurant here. Do you want to go there?”

After swallowing the last of her sandwich, Rachel nodded obediently.

While Dominic took her away, she looked over her shoulder and glanced at Charlene.

The latter’s eyes were burning with hatred and jealousy.

Rachel would probably never forget the look in Charlene’s eye for the rest of her life.

Charlene stood there and watched as Dominic and Rachel leave. She felt completely and utterly powerless. She knew that no matter what she did, she wouldn’t be able to turn back time with Dominic. But she refused to give up.

Getting Braden was her dream for the longest time.

Although she had reached rock bottom now, she couldn’t just stand by and watch Rachel being happy.

Just then, a harsh ringtone interrupted Charlene’s thoughts. She wiped her tears away and picked up the phone.

“Hello?”

“Miss Palmer, something bad happened! It’s one of our employees! She suddenly fainted on the beach!”

It was another employee of Palmer Group calling. Her voice sounded particularly anxious.

Charlene quickly calmed down and started giving orders.

“Maybe it’s a heatstroke. Take her to the seaside medical station first. I’ll be right there.”

“No, no, it’s nothing like that, Miss Palmer. I think she encountered some poisonous fish or something!”

The employee was so panic-stricken that she couldn’t speak coherently.

“Alright. Don’t worry. I’ll be right there.”

Charlene tried to comfort the employee.

Smoothing her hair, she rushed over to the beach. It was just a little past ten o’clock.

The sun was getting higher and the sand was already scorching hot.

When Charlene arrived at the scene, several people were trying to give the unconscious employee CPR. She rushed headlong into the crowd.

When she got a closer look at the unconscious employee’s body, she saw all the angry rashes on her arms and legs, which made Chans’s skin crawl.

Taking a deep breath, Charlene took off her coat to cover the unconscious employee’s body while giving instructions to the others.

“It seems she’s been stung by some kind of jellyfish. We have to rush her to the hospital. Contact the rest of the company; tell everyone to gather here after packing their things. I’m sorry but the rest of the trip has to be canceled. I promise we’ll select a safer spot next time. You can also recommend a place you’d like to see, if ever. Now go!”

The company trip had to be canceled because of this accident, which naturally disappointed the employees.

They all reluctantly collected their things and regrouped at the hotel.

Charlene also noticed that everyone was in low spirits, so she asked her assistant to book enough tables in the hotel restaurant to treat all her staff to a hearty lunch to cheer them up.

After dealing with this matter, Charlene suddenly thought about how Amanda had attempted to poison Rachel. It was said that Rachel nearly died at the time because the poison had caused a cardiac arrest.

If it weren’t for the fact that her colleagues had taken action in time, she wouldn’t have survived that ordeal.

At first, nobody suspected foul play.

They all thought that her heart attack was due to stress and exhaustion.

Perhaps poisoning was the method to go…

Charlene began to contemplate this plan. If she could poison Rachel and get her to die of natural-looking causes, no one would know that she was the murderer.

If she couldn’t be with Dominic, nobody could—not even Rachel. But she didn’t know where Amanda had gotten her hands on such a poison, nor if there was anything else on the market that had the same effect.

Thinking of this, Charlene drove back home in a hurry.

Before she enacted this plan, she had to first try asking Amanda about the poison.

Charlene had once taken a chance and visited Joel Scott in prison but she was later discovered by Dominic. She had learned her lesson back then and knew much better now, so she was certain that it was unwise for her to personally visit Amanda in prison this time.

The Peterson family members could pay Amanda a visit in jail most naturally, without raising much suspicion, and now was the best time.

The Peterson family and the Porter Group had reached an impasse. If she wanted to deal with Dominic’s wife, the Peterson family would definitely support her.

As soon as Charlene thought about that, she went to Peterson Silk Fabric.

****

In the Peterson Silk Fabric office building, Lewis had temporarily taken over the business since Eric had been paralyzed.

Too many things had happened this past month, which made Victor actually feel physically and mentally exhausted.








Chapter 339 – A Deal with the Devil

Lewis was one of the most promising young men.

His company in Williamland had developed steadily in a positive direction.

It would be helpful to stabilize the board if he took over Peterson Silk Fabric in Sunhaven.

When Lewis was informed that there was a beautiful lady waiting downstairs, he thought it was Jodie. He wondered why she hadn’t given him a heads up in advance that she was going to stop by Lewis was a little surprised to see that his visitor was not Jodie but Charlene.

The Palmer family was well-known in the entertainment and fashion industries.

Although these were not the major economic businesses, capital laundering in recent years always had something to do with the entertainment industry.

“Nice to meet you, Miss Palmer,” Lewis said in a gentle and easy-going manner, while he squinted slightly from his curious, thoughtful frown.

“What brings you here today? The last time I saw you, you were still in college.”

Lewis remembered that the last time he met with Charlene was before he went to Williamland.

At that time, she was a simple, young girl who was infatuated with Dominic to the degree of obsession. Charlene made her way straight into the office and took a seat opposite Lewis.

“Mr. Peterson, I indeed have my agenda here, and I’m sure you’ll be interested in my proposal. So let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?”

She then explained everything to him and requested that he assisted her.

Lewis was wary of Charlene because he knew full well that she loved Dominic.

Even though her love now seemed to have turned to acidic hatred, no one knew what a woman driven crazy by love like her would do the next second.

With desperation in her eyes, Charlene said, “Dominic is too ruthless to me. He can’t see how well I treat him. All he cares about is Rachel. I’m nothing to him. Maybe he even hates me now.”

Thinking of the indifferent look in Dominic’s eyes that morning, Charlene almost couldn’t breathe.

“I don’t care what Dominic will do. All I want now is to kill Rachel. As long as she is dead, I will feel much better,” Charlene said with firm, determined resolve.

“The Porter Group and the Peterson family are now fighting. Think about it. If something happens to Rachel, it will definitely distract Dominic and make him panic. Let’s do this together. And as a token of our sincerity, the Palmer family will always give priority to the Peterson family in all future projects.”

Lewis thought her proposition over in his mind. He leaned back in the leather chair, picked up the lighter, and lit a cigarette.

“Let me think about it.” Lewis’s jaw was tightened. His face was soft and harmless.

At this moment, however, he looked a bit insidious despite the softness of his expression. His eyes were calm yet menacing at the same time.

In Charlene’ memory, Lewis had always been the most excellent child in the Peterson family. He was modest, polite, and decent.

She had never seen this side of his character until this very moment.

“I will help you ask my mother, but Miss Palmer, I still want to remind you that if affection becomes an obsession, it will harm both others and yourself.”

Lewis peered at Charlene quietly through the hovering smoke.

Charlene stood up and looked back at him with a faint smile, but the smile was so faint that it completely disappeared almost as soon as it appeared.

Her voice was calm and even as she replied, “There’s no turning back already. I want people to go to hell with me. The more, the better.”

After saying that, she left. Lewis smiled, took another drag of his cigarette, and snuffed it out in the silver ashtray.

If Charlene succeeded, he would also benefit from it. It was good for the Peterson family if Rachel were to die. If something happened to her, Dominic would definitely have no time to take care of Porter Group.

The next day, Lewis made his way to the prison facility.

Being incarcerated had caused Amanda to look much more haggard than ever.

Now she hated Dominic to the core.

“How are you doing?”

Lewis was born to be indifferent and collected.

Even though he saw Amanda is such a haggard state, he still maintained his expressionless composure.

“You can see for yourself.

Anyway, did you just say that the girl of the Palmer family wanted to do something to Rachel? Isn’t it great news that she wants to do the dirty work for us?”

Amanda sneered and continued, “There is the contact information of the seller on the computer in my room. Give it to Charlene.”

Soon, Lewis came to Charlene with what she had asked for.

“Is this real?”

She didn’t expect things to move so fast. It had only been two days.

Lewis smiled at her, but his eyes were devoid of warmth.

“You can pay my mother a visit in person and ask her if it’s real or not if you don’t believe me. Anyway, I’ve upheld my end of the deal. I hope you will, too.”

“I’ve already talked to my father about your… ‘plight’. He’ll know what to do.”

With a snort, Charlene turned around and left.

She went back home, opened her computer, and logged in to the website that Lewis gave her. She had to input several passwords and answer countless questions, but in the end, she made it to the dark web.

Back when Charlene was still in college, she had logged into the dark web once out of curiosity.

There were indeed all kinds of people in it-psychopaths, murderers, escaped convicts, drug addicts, and so on. Illegal transactions such as human trafficking and organ selling were rampant there.

With Lewis’s help, she was able to find the poison seller on the dark web.

The web page was still the same, but a very simple dialog box popped up.

Charlene described the poison that Amanda had bought and asked the seller if he still had it or anything similar to it.

Soon, she received a reply.

“No. That person you mentioned has already asked me for that poison twice. It’s something that was developed twenty years ago. Where’s the fun in studying something similar?”

Charlene sighed in disappointment.

Was this opportunity about to slip through her fingers? Just then, another sentence popped up in the dialog box.

“Who’re you trying to get rid of? I can check if there are any other drugs that’ll meet your requirements. Quality and low price guaranteed.”

Charlene rolled her eyes.

Clearly, this seller just wanted to make some money off of her. But Charlene decided to tell the seller her situation without scruples.

After all, IP addresses were untraceable in the dark web and she didn’t have to worry about censoring anything.

“I need to get rid of a woman. She took my man away from me.”

The seller replied quickly, “It’s easy to kill a person. But if you kill the lover of your loved one, he’ll only miss her. You’ll never be able to defeat a dead person. Isn’t that more annoying? It’d be better to make your loved one forget all about his lover. I have something that can help with that.”

Charlene’s eyes widened when she read this. How could there be such a good thing?

“You have a drug that can erase one’s memories?”







Chapter 340 – The Memory Elixir

“Of course. Not only that, you can also accurately control how long the effect will last by manipulating the dosage.”

It sounded too good to be true…

So Charlene started to suspect that the seller was lying.

But the drugs Amanda had bought off of him were indeed effective.

Thinking of this, Charlene decided there’d be no harm in trying.

Anyway, she had plenty of money.

She wanted to erase all of Braden’s memories of Rachel, which meant erasing everything in the past two years.

As long as he forgot Rachel, he could go back to himself from two years ago.

Charlene believed that based on their deep friendship before, she would have a bigger chance to win his heart if Rachel was out of the picture.

If she could get her hands on those drugs, she’d finally be able to have Braden all to herself.

Charlene typed in the dialog box, “I need him to lose about two and a half years’ worth of memory. Is that possible?”

“Sure thing. I’ll send you a link. You pay and leave me the address. I’ll deliver the drug to you in three days.”

Before long, the dealer sent her a link that allowed her to make an online payment.

The cost of the drug was considerably high.

Charlene sneered at the blood-sucking dealer in her mind for charging her five million.

In truth, five million was just a drop in the ocean for Charlene.

The cost was not a matter of concern for her, she only cared about whether it would work or not. She had no choice but to take the risk, no matter what the cost.

Just as long as she could make Rachel suffer, she didn’t care about the money. It would all be worth it as long as she could be with Braden in the end.

“Are you sure the drug will work? I am not someone to be trifled with. If you dare to trick me, you will definitely regret it.”

Charlene wasn’t going to accept any cheating.

The seller reassured her, “The people who deal with me are not ordinary people. If I were a liar, I wouldn’t have been in this business for more than twenty years.”

Charlene paused to think for a while before she agreed.

After all, this was the same drug dealer Amanda had dealt with twenty years ago.

The fact that he was still in business convinced her that he must have been a man of his word.

Otherwise, he wouldn’t have lasted this long in this business.

Those who lurked in the dark web were not ordinary people after all.

When Charlene paid and filled in the address, out of caution, she gave the address of an empty villa near her home.

The owner of the villa had emigrated to Canada, and Charlene also left a note stating that the package should be placed at the gate of the villa.

Two days later, when she was jogging past that villa, she saw a parcel in front of the gate. She cautiously picked up the package and brought it home when no one was around.

As soon as Charlene got back home, she opened the tightly wrapped package.

Finally, she had the drug and an application guidance booklet.

The drug was to be taken orally.

Although she had received the drug in hand, the hard part would be getting Braden to take it.

Moreover, she would have to carry out this operation without arousing any suspicion.

After all, Braden was a male in his prime. He wouldn’t just lose his memory out of the blue.

An orchestrated accident would have to do the job.

Charlene patted herself on the head and sat back on the chair, trying to calm herself down. She had to think it over in great detail.

Braden losing his memory would only be the start as her path to success entailed far more troublesome things.

The whole world knew about Braden and Rachel’s marriage.

Even if he were to lose his memory, Charlene couldn’t go back to the past and change that.How could she take Rachel’s place and be with him?

After all, she couldn’t make everyone lose their memories, so she had to come up with a solution really quick.

Charlene carefully read the manual that came inside the package.

The drug had a shelf life of six months, which meant that she still had time to plan for it. She breathed a sigh of relief slowly.

This time, she had to be prepared for anything in case something unexpected were to happen again.

Initially, Rachel had only planned to stay one night at the beach. However, the seaside was so beautiful, and Dominic hadn’t relaxed in so long, so they decided to stay the whole weekend.

Come Monday, Rachel went back to Meadowview. She felt bad for asking for a week’s leave.

Moreover, she hadn’t been able to contact Nadia ever since she left her house. Rachel was worried that something might’ve happened to Nadia, but Dominic kept reassuring her that Nadia was a tough woman and a bodyguard.

If anyone could protect her from harm, it would be herself.

Still, Rachel went directly to Nadia’s apartment when she landed in Meadowview. She rang the doorbell a couple of times before the door was finally opened.

“Nadia, you haven’t replied to any of my texts. Did you ever stop to consider how worried I’d be?” Rachel pulled a long face. She had brought with her two bags of groceries.

Nadia was by no means a good cook, so Rachel knew that Nadia hadn’t been taking care of herself while she was gone.

Nadia stepped aside and let Rachel in. She was still in low spirits, but she managed to force a smile.

“Sorry. My phone’s screen broke the day you left, so I had it repaired and didn’t get it back until today.”

Looking at the dullness in her eyes, Rachel didn’t have the heart to scold her again.

Instead, she went straight to the kitchen and got busy.

Soon, the sound of vegetables being chopped echoed in the apartment.

Nadia stood by the kitchen counter and watched Rachel cook absentmindedly.

Seeing how listless she looked, Rachel sighed.

“What’s on your mind? Tell me. Maybe I can help.”

“Kristian used to come to me all the time, with all kinds of excuses. But ever since I rejected him, he has never showed up,” Nadia said in a low voice.

Rachel stopped what she was doing and looked at Nadia seriously.

“If you feel sad without him, then be with him. Don’t worry about what might happen in the future and just enjoy being with him.”

Nadia shook her head.
 

Nayagan

Villager
Sep 19, 2023
56
91
900
Seems Charlene never gonna stop. We do crazy stuff in the name of love. It's never gonna end
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Seems Charlene never gonna stop. We do crazy stuff in the name of love. It's never gonna end
It doesn't make sense. Even if rachel and dominic gets separated, Dominic will not accept Charlene. She better go chase for John White, she might get what she wanted.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 341 – Rescue Mission at the Club

“I can’t do that. Rachel, when will the sadness go away? I’m just not used to the fact that Kristian’s not in my life anymore. But I’ll get used to it someday, right?”

Rachel looked at her sympathetically.

“I can’t give you an answer. If I chose to break up with Dominic after finding out that he was actually Braden Porter, I have no idea what my life would have been like now. Maybe I would’ve felt bad about it for a while, but I just know I’d find another guy, get married, and have children. I can’t make a mess of my life just because of a single man.”

Nadia took a deep breath and smiled with relief. “I see.”

After preparing dinner and sharing it with Nadia, Rachel left. She had come to check how Nadia was doing.

Seeing that Nadia was going to be fine, she was relieved.

As for the issue between her and Kristian, Rachel believed that Nadia would find the answer herself.

Nadia knew that the only way she could get rid of her rambling thoughts was to bury herself in work.

Fortunately, the new members of Shadow Collective trained by her finally got their first order. They were tasked to get the financial statements of a club.

However, this club was protected by local gangs, thus Nadia’s subordinates suffered a setback on their first mission. One subordinate was even captured.

Given the gravity of the situation, Nadia went to the club disguised as a bar girl to rescue him.

The rescue mission went smoothly.

With Nadia’s help, the subordinate managed to escape through the back door. But just as Nadia was about to slip away through the entrance, the door to a private room next to her was suddenly opened from the inside.

“Hmm…”

A crazed-looking Kristian jumped out of the room and threw himself at Nadia “What the hell are you doing, Kristian?”

Nadia wanted to push him away, but she soon noticed that there was something wrong with him. His face was flushed and his body was burning hot.

Suddenly, she heard a woman’s voice from inside the private room.

Nadia frowned and asked, “Did… Did someone drug you?”

Before Kristian could respond, a middle-aged, heavily made-up woman came out of the private room. She pulled a long face and whined, “I didn’t expect that Mr. Higgins would be really difficult to deal with. I’ve never seen anyone so stubborn even after being drugged. Is he gay? Why does he run away as though my girls are monsters?”

She wiped the sweat on her neck with a silk scarf and glanced at Nadia approvingly.

“You came at the right time. He seems to like you. Go and get a room upstairs. Take good care of Mr. Higgins, understand?”

After saying that, the woman left with a complacent look on her face.

Nadia pursed her lips tightly.

Before she could refuse, Kristian hugged her tightly, pressing his burning face against her neck.

He breathed in Nadia’s scent and said hoarsely, “You smell just like the woman who dumped me.”

Kristian was also having a hard time lately.

After being rejected by Nadia, he knew he couldn’t keep pestering her, but he couldn’t forget about her either.

Tonight, he was supposed to meet a client in the club. In low spirits, Kristian planned to leave as soon as the contract was signed.

The woman he was meeting with was the representative of the partnering company.

During the negotiation, she deliberately stood up and poured tea for Kristian.

At first, Kristian didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

However, as she bent over to pour him some tea, she deliberately pulled down her collar, revealing the top half of her plump breasts Kristian couldn’t help but feel disgusted. He turned his face away, took a sip of tea, and said irritably, “If you want to talk business, go straight to the point.”

The woman probably didn’t catch the anger in his voice. She batted her eyelashes at him coquettishly and said, “Mr. Higgins, don’t you remember me? We met in a business meeting three years ago, and I’ve never stopped thinking about you since then…”

In that moment, Kristian lost any semblance of patience he had left. He stood up, splashed the tea on the woman’s face, and scolded, “If you wanted to talk about cooperating, you shouldn’t have played these little tricks. Since you’re clearly not here to talk business, I’ll take it as a sign that you’ve given up the opportunity to work together with us.”

After saying that, he took his coat and left directly, ignoring the woman’s shocked expression. Now, Kristian was even more annoyed.

Not knowing where else to go, he decided to book himself another luxurious private room and ordered some wine.

After all, he was a VIP at this club. He had planned to get plastered, but soon, he felt an indescribably heat all over his body.

Coincidentally, a middle-aged woman entered the room with two bar girls.

All of them were wearing heavy make-up and skimpy clothes.

Kristian’s eyes flashed in annoyance.

Why did they all have to wear such heavy makeup? Nadia never put on any makeup at all. She had a natural beauty about her.

Kristian imagined her delicate face must be very soft, but he couldn’t know for sure because he hadn’t kissed her yet.

The middle-aged woman kept pushing the two girls into Kristian’s arms. This only served to anger him even further.

He pushed them away and rushed out the door.

Without looking where he was going, he ran straight into a woman.

Smelling the familiar scent, he looked up and saw that it was indeed Nadia.

Gradually, his eyes became clear.

“It’s you…”

“You can let go of me now—”

Nadia frowned and was about to push him away, but Kristian held onto her more tightly.

Without warning, the man pressed his lips against hers and kissed her forcefully.

Kristian was too immersed in his sexual desire to care.

The second he realized that it was Nadia in his arms, the last ounce of his self-control disappeared and he kissed her crazily, sucking the tip of her tongue hungrily.

Nadia had never kissed someone before, so she didn’t know how. She went stiff and just let him kiss her, her legs going weak.

Before she knew it, Kristian had pulled her into the elevator.

The top floor of the club consisted of rooms for the guests.

Kristian was a VIP member of this club, so the presidential suite was always reserved for him.

The two stumbled into the suite, entangled in each other’s arms.

Kristian scooped Nadia onto the bed and hurriedly tried to take her clothes off.

Trembling slightly, Nadia closed her eyes. She could’ve knocked Kristian out with the snap of her fingers, but it never even crossed her mind to resist his advances. She had never been so intimate with a man before, but she was willing to give herself to Kristian.

He was the only man she had ever liked, and she had been missing him a lot lately.

Nadia knew this was wrong, but she suddenly remembered what Rachel had said to her.

Since she couldn’t forget him, she should just cherish what she had with him now and simply enjoy herself. His touch lit her up like a fire.

She wrapped her arms around Kristian’s neck instinctively, closed her eyes, and indulged herself in his kisses.

“Well, it’s just one night…” Nadia tried to convince herself in her mind.






Chapter 342 – When Worlds Collide

It was as though Pandora’s Box was opened.

Kristian kissed Nadia tenderly all over her body, igniting her desire endlessly. His touch was enough to make her tremble.

With her arms around him, Nadia could feel Kristian’s fingers reach for the zipper of her dress.

Everything around her made her feel horrible.

The dazzling light, Kristian’s naked body, and the desire in his eyes… Suddenly, Kristian seemed to notice that she was scared. He had had several girlfriends before, but he had never slept with a virgin.

Almost all the women he had been with were masters of sex.

They had the power to make men obsess over them in bed. He nibbled on Nadia’s neck as his hand slowly reached towards the spot between her thighs… But Nadia clamped her legs tightly and suddenly opened her eyes, her heart racing.

“Kristian, get your hand away from me!”

Kristian pinned her wrist down with his other hand. He licked her earlobe and whispered, “Why? This is how to make love. Don’t you know that?”

Nadia shook her head blankly. She never had any female friend until she met Rachel, and her male friends always avoided her when they talked about sex, telling her that they didn’t want to lead her astray.

Nadia had focused solely on training herself and practicing fighting skills over the past twenty years. She indeed knew nothing about sex.

Kristian didn’t say anything more. He had no patience left in him and forcibly separated her stiff legs.

“Kristian, it feels weird…”

Feeling his rough fingers slid inside of her, Nadia panted out in a low voice.

However, when she heard how lustful her voice sounded, she immediately covered her mouth in embarrassment.

As Kristian took off his trousers, he sobered up slightly. He had loosened up her vagina with his fingers.

Feeling it get wet, he held his penis and rubbed it against her entrance. He didn’t try to insert his penis until there was some sticky liquid covering the tip.

However, as soon as he thrust inside of her, Nadia yelped in pain.

“Uh… It hurts…”

“Raise your legs… Relax…”

Kristian whispered in a hoarse voice, sweat breaking out on his forehead.

Enduring the pain, Nadia obediently raised her legs.

With his hand cupping her cheek, Kristian kissed her lips and thrust himself deeper. His scorching hot penis seemed to have ripped something as it made its way to the deepest part of her body.

Nadia felt as if her whole body was torn apart. She held Kristian tightly, her fingernails digging into the muscles on his back.

When Nadia gradually relaxed, Kristian began to move in and out of her slowly.

Her tight and warm vagina wrapped around his penis like a glove, making him want to go deeper every time he moved.

Nadia had no choice but to allow him to do whatever he wanted to her. She didn’t know how much time had passed.

Kristian pinched her pink nipple and moved faster and faster.

Just as she felt she was going crazy from the pain and pleasure, a stream of hot semen shot into her vagina..

After resting on top of her for a few minutes, Kristian gently kissed her lips and cheeks. He reached for the tissue on the side table and gently wiped Nadia’s pussy.

As he moved, his softened penis gradually swelled up again inside her, making her cry out in pain.

Perhaps it was because the effect of the drug had worn off, but Kristian became much gentler and slower this time. He called her intimately in her ear as he moved, his voice filled with passion.

Summer season was just around the corner, and the first heavy rain this year finally came. The heavy raindrops pattered against the window loudly, waking Nadia up.

Despite the chilly weather, she felt warm, because she was nestled in the man‘s arms. Kristian‘s steady breathing brushed against her burning ear.

Nadia tried to move her body slightly and then felt a sharp pain in her lower body. She couldn‘t help but gasp. Noticing that the woman in his arms was awake, Kristian frowned, rubbed his eyes, and turned over. He murmured, “Baby, let‘s sleep a little longer.”

Nadia slipped on her underwear and glanced at the man coldly. Feeling her gaze, Kristian reluctantly opened his eyes.

When he saw the coldness in Nadia‘s eyes, he instantly became sober. He hurriedly got up and stuttered nervously, “W–why don‘t you sleep a little longer, Nadia? I‘ll drive you back later. I‘m sorry. I was drugged last night and couldn‘t control myself. I promise I‘ll take responsibility.”

Nadia lowered her head and kept silent. She put on her dress quietly and stood by the bed.

After a long time, she said, “I know you were drugged. I could have stopped you, but I didn‘t. It‘s not entirely your fault.”

Kristian was stunned again. Now that he thought about it, it was true that Nadia didn‘t refuse him last night.

Did that mean she really liked him?

Complicated emotions surged in his chest.

Kristian looked up at Nadia, not knowing what to say. After a long silence, he suddenly blurted, “Be my girlfriend, Nadia.”

As if she didn‘t hear him, Nadia unhurriedly zipped her dress in silence. Finally, she sighed. “Do you say that to every woman you‘ve slept with? No one was forced last night. I couldn‘t control myself, either. How about we just pretend that nothing happened and move on with our own separate lives?”

Kristian leaped out of bed and cried indignantly, “How can I forget what happened between you and me?”

It was the first time that he had encountered a woman so indifferent after having sex with him, and this made him even angrier.

He grabbed Nadia‘s hand and pulled her toward him. “Why are you doing this to me? You can‘t just dump someone after sleeping with them! Am I so cheap in your eyes?”

Nadia closed her eyes and took a deep breath.








Chapter 343 – Closure and Departure


Why didn‘t she realize sooner that Kristian could be so annoying?

“Stop yelling, okay?” Nadia looked at him impatiently. The more Kristian behaved like this, the more her heart softened.

After thinking for a few seconds, she decided to throw caution to the wind.

“Free meals are always cheap. I already said that we should forget this ever happened and just move on. Don‘t you understand?”

Kristian put his dignity aside and forced a smile. “I don‘t care if you think I‘m cheap. Let me escort you before my ‘value‘ increases.”

Nadia didn‘t like hearing this from him. She frowned and said resolutely, “We can‘t be together, okay? If you keep pestering me, I‘ll get sick of you.”

Hearing this, Kristian fell silent.

After a while, he asked in a low voice, “Are you saying that this was nothing but a one night stand?”

Nadia pulled her hand back, picked up her things, and turned around without answering him.

Finally, when she reached the door, she paused for a second and said, “Yes, that‘s exactly what I‘m saying. I hope we never meet again, Mr. Higgins.”

After saying that, she walked out of the room and slammed the door, leaving a dazed Kristian alone inside.

The second Nadia stepped out of the club, the cool breeze chilled her to the bone. She rubbed her arms and ran to the nearest convenience store to buy an umbrella. As she was about to pay, she saw a mother with her child nearby.

The child seemed to want to buy the candy bar on the shelf, so he reached out to take it. However, the mother immediately patted his hand and shook her head.

“You already have a cavity, little one. You can’t have sweets until the dentist fills it.”

Having been stopped, the child immediately burst into tears. The mother shot Nadia an apologetic smile and pulled the little tyke out of the store. The cashier smiled helplessly.

“Kid, am I right?” Nadia smiled back subconsciously, but then the smile froze on her face. It suddenly dawned on her that last night, Kristian didn’t wear a condom.

After paying for the umbrella, she headed to the pharmacy to buy emergency contraception. They had sex less than a day ago; she couldn’t take the risk. As soon as she got home, she quickly took the pills and then sat there, not knowing what to do next.

If she stayed in Meadowview, she’d inevitably run into Kristian. After thinking for a while, Nadia soon came to the conclusion that she had to leave. Last night had made it clear that she couldn’t control herself around Kristian.

It was best if she removed herself from the situation literally.

And the best way to put some distance between them was for her to go far away. Anyway, she knew she’d have a job anywhere given her prestige as a bodyguard.

Thinking of this, Nadia felt a bit better. That very night, she packed up all her things. When she went to Dominic to tender her resignation, the latter didn’t have any reason to object. Dominic simply asked, “Are you sure that this is what you want? Your salary here is way above average.”

Nadia nodded firmly. “And I appreciated that, sir. But it’s not that I’m dissatisfied with the pay. I’m just not used to life here in Meadowview and I want to try going abroad. Plus, I have too many enemies here. I live in constant worry of being ambushed.”

Well, at least what she said was half true. Seeing that Nadia had made up her mind, Dominic didn’t force her to stay and simply signed her resignation papers. Before leaving the city, Nadia went to Rachel to say goodbye.

When Rachel saw Nadia at her door, she was pleasantly surprised. She smiled and teased, “What brings you here?”

She stepped aside, letting Nadia into the house. Fidgeting with her hair, Nadia looked a little uneasy and embarrassed.

“Actually, I came here to say goodbye. I’m leaving the country tonight.”

“What?” Rachel gasped in shock.

“You never told me that you were leaving. Is it because of Kristian?” Nadia nodded.

After she told Rachel about what had happened between her and Kristian, she didn’t know what else to say.

“You guys moved way too fast… But I’ll support you no matter what choice you make. Take care, okay? I’ll visit you when I have the time, or perhaps you can come back to see me.” Rachel sighed heavily, clearly reluctant to part with her friend.

Nadia stayed with Rachel until it was time to go to the airport. Rachel drove her there herself. The atmosphere was depressing.

Neither one of them knew what to say. It wasn’t until Nadia was about to depart that the two looked at each other with silly smiles, their eyes filled with tears. Holding the flight ticket tightly in her hand, Nadia suddenly threw her arms around Rachel tightly.

“I’m lucky to have you as a friend. But I never thought we’d be separated so soon.”

Patting her on the back, Rachel smiled through the tears.

“We’ll meet again.”

Just then, the airport announced that Nadia’s flight was about to depart. Wiping her eyes, Nadia took one last look at the cityscape in the distance and then turned around to walk towards the boarding gate.

Two days later, Kristian found that Nadia had left. He had been staying in the presidential suite of the club. When he finally checked out he went straight to Shadow Collective to see Nadia.

Only then did he find out that Nadia had resigned. As for where she had gone, nobody at Shadow Collective knew. It was as though she had vanished into thin air. Kristian knew that if anyone knew where Nadia was, it was Rachel.

*******

As soon as Rachel got off work, she saw Kristian‘s car parked in front of W Marks Studio. She wasn‘t surprised at all, though.

Ignoring the man in the driver‘s seat, she started walking towards her home.

Kristian released the brakes slightly and followed Rachel. He honked several times and asked, “Where‘s Nadia? I can‘t get in touch with her. She won‘t answer my calls. You must know where she is, right?”

Rachel stopped and glanced at Kristian indifferently.

“Obviously, she doesn‘t want to see you. And even if you knew where she was, what‘re you going to do? Get her back? And then what? You can‘t give her what she needs, can you? So what‘s the point?” Kristian wanted to say something but stopped on second thought.

Seeing that Kristian had fallen silent, Rachel sighed and softened her tone.

“Anyway, you think it over. No one can help you but yourself. If you really want to be with her, you should be prepared for a fallout with your family.”

After saying that, Rachel turned to leave. The next second, she paused and warned him, “Don‘t follow me!”

With a long face, Kristian didn‘t say anything. He refused to listen to her and followed her to her house. Seeing that she was about to enter the villa, he jumped out of the car and caught up with her.

“Just tell me where Nadia is, and leave the rest to me.” Ignoring him, Rachel entered the house and slammed the door shut.

Annoyed, Kristian rang the doorbell incessantly. Unexpectedly, it was Dominic who came to the door.

“What do you want?” Kristian was still on edge. He pointed a finger at Dominic and hissed, “I need to talk to your wife. Let me in.”

Dominic reached out one hand to block Kristian‘s way. He gave him a warning look and said,

“You‘re a grown man. You have to think before you act. If you really want to be with Nadia, you should get prepared to face the consequences. Make sure that you‘ll be able to protect her no matter what before you go after her. If you can‘t do that, don‘t go.

You‘re not strong enough now. Even if Nadia agrees to be with you, you can‘t protect her. In the end, you‘ll only make her suffer.

Is this the kind of love you want to give her?”

After hearing what Dominic had to say, Kristian stopped in his tracks. His anger was suddenly extinguished Dejected, he returned to his car with his head lowered and drove away. The second he got home, Kristian sought solace in alcohol. He drank one bottle after another.

A few days later, he had finally calmed down. Nobody knew how Kristian had managed to get all his ducks in a row, but one day, he went back to the Porter Group and started to work hard, devoting himself to his career.

Seeing him like this, Dominic had a new impression of him. At lunchtime, he asked, “Do you still want to look for her?”

Kristian unhurriedly pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. There was a calm look about him.

“I respect Nadia‘s choice. The reason why she refused me was very rational. Besides, she doesn‘t want to be with me. If I forced her back, we wouldn‘t be happy. I can only let her go.” He smiled and looked into the distance with a trace of sadness in his eyes.

“The earth is round. If I keep on walking forward, I can eventually meet her again in the near future, right? I have to prepare for that moment. When that day comes, I will definitely be ready with my own choice, and by then, I‘ll never let go of her.” Dominic raised his eyebrows and looked at Kristian quietly.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 344 – BROKEN VOWS

After a while, he patted him on the shoulder and said with a smile, “That day will come. I‘m sure of it.”

In the Peterson family.

Recently, Lewis and Jodie had been getting along well. Jodie even moved into his villa in Sunhaven. The media made a big deal about it, and their love affair instantly became a hot topic.

Leaning against Lewis‘s chest, Jodie drew circles on his chest with her fingertips. Her voice was soft, almost angelic.

“Are you planning to make me live with you like this for the rest of my life? Hiding here in your villa? Like I‘m a vampire who can‘t go out in the sun?”

Being flirted with like this, Lewis felt a little turned on. He grabbed her restless hand and pointed at the teeth marks on his arm.

“Look at all these bite marks. You must be a vampire, since you have such sharp teeth. Come on, show me your fangs!”

Then he tried to pinch Jodie‘s chin playfully.

“Meanie!” Jodie turned her face away, hammered his chest, and giggled. Then she batted her eyelashes at him bashfully.

“My parents have been asking about our relationship. What should I tell them?”

“Don‘t worry. I‘m going back to Williamland this week to make it clear to my wife.”

Lewis coaxed Jodie softly, rubbing her shoulder dotingly, but the warmth in his voice didn‘t reach his eyes. Now that he had this silly woman wrapped around his finger, it was time for him to go back to Williamland to divorce Tina.

*******

Ever since Lewis had gone to Sunhaven to temporarily take charge of the Peterson family‘s business, he had seldom come back to Williamland. The few times he did come home, he was only there to fulfill his duty as her spouse and have sex with her. He and Tina had been married for so many years, but they didn‘t have any children.

Before, Amanda used to urge them to have a baby. Now that Amanda was in jail, it was the Jefferson family‘s turn to urge them. As soon as Lewis stepped foot inside the house, Tina walked up to him and took his coat and suitcase, smiling tenderly.

“You must be tired after the long flight. Go get a shower and get changed. The dinner will be waiting for you when you‘re done showering.” Tina‘s tone was gentle and considerate.

He had never felt attached to anyone in his life, including his own wife. To put it bluntly, he didn‘t feel an ounce of love for Tina.

After taking a shower, he jogged downstairs. Tina had already served several dishes on the table.

She was the textbook definition of a good wife. While she wasn‘t particularly stunning, she was charming in her own way, not to mention kind. After they got married, Amanda had always praised Tina as a good wife to Lewis.

“What‘s on your mind?”

Over dinner, Lewis glanced at Tina, who was sitting next to him. She looked particularly excited. The smile on Tina‘s face became brighter. Shyness flashed across her face. She put down the fork and started to say, “Here‘s the thing,”

Lewis actually didn‘t give a damn about whatever she had to say, nor did he have the patience to listen to her. He interrupted her abruptly, saying, “Whatever it is, it can wait. Let‘s have a divorce.”

All the color instantly drained from Tina‘s face.

“Why?” Lewis didn‘t bother to make up some excuse. He put down his utensils, crossed his arms over his chest, and asked frankly,

“Haven‘t you seen the news lately? Do you really want to hear it from me? Alright. I‘m having an affair.” Tina couldn‘t believe her ears. Tears welled up in her eyes and a lump formed in her throat.

“The media always makes stuff up. I thought that the news was fake…” Her voice trailed off. She stood up, went back to their bedroom, and brought a piece of paper to Lewis.

“I‘m pregnant. That was what I wanted to tell you just now. It turns out I was ovulating the last time you came home.”

Lewis took the pregnancy test report and looked at it with a frown.

After a moment of silence, he said, “Then we‘ll divorce after you give birth to the baby. I‘ll raise the child and compensate you for your trouble.”

Tina was dumbfounded. “It‘s my child, too. How could you suggest such a thing?” She couldn‘t believe what was happening.

Was Lewis out of his mind?

Before Tina could graduated from college, her family had arranged for her to marry Lewis. Although the Peterson family held a certain level of prestige in Sunhaven, Tina initially was against this arrangement. She couldn‘t bring herself to marry a total stranger.

However, after meeting Lewis several times, Tina found that he was a handsome man with a gentle personality. He had always treated her well, like a proper gentleman.

As she admired both his good looks and personality, Tina gradually developed feelings for Lewis.

Ever since they got married, Lewis had been devoted to his work.

On the other hand, he thought that Tina‘s main duty was to be a good housewife.

Moreover, he wanted a child as soon as possible, so he asked Tina to stay at home and focus on getting pregnant.

At the time, Tina was about to graduate from college. She didn‘t want to have a baby so soon. She was still so young and wanted to work for a few years.

If she had a child, she would be restrained in all aspects of life and her career planning would also but put to an abrupt halt.

Tina had voiced her opinions to Lewis, but he seemed a little unhappy to hear them.

After thinking for a long time, she finally decided to give up on her dreams and devoted herself to the family. She pulled out of fashion design, which surprised even her parents.

Truth be told, Tina was gifted when it came to fashion design.

In her pursuit of such a career, she had even given up on the chance of studying business management abroad.

Now, she just gave up her dream for Lewis.

It seemed that she really loved him very much.

At the time, Tina was so absorbed in the joy of finding her Mr. Right that she felt it was worth it to sacrifice so much for Lewis.

Some time ago, Lewis went to Sunhaven to take care of his family‘s business. He only came back once a month.

Given the circumstances, she had thought it would be difficult to get pregnant, which worried her.

But a few days ago, she suddenly felt sick and vomited a lot.

After getting checked at the hospital, she was told that she was in fact pregnant.

The news brought Tina endless joy.

Little did she know that Lewis was planning to divorce her as soon as he came back home.

And even after she told him that she was pregnant, he didn‘t change his mind about the divorce.

Ever since they got married, Lewis had been consumed with his work. He was ambitious and only cared about his own career.

Even after they got married, he didn‘t really spend much time with Tina. She used to think that Lewis valued his career too much, but she understood him in a way. She also believed that after they had a child, Lewis would slowly change.

He would learn to be a good husband, a good father. It never occurred to her that Lewis was such an unfeeling person.

“Are you really going to do this to me?”

Tina looked at Lewis with tearful eyes and asked in a trembling voice. Lewis plucked a napkin from the table and dabbed at his mouth slowly.

Then he tossed the napkin and said, “Have I not made myself clear? This is not a discussion. I‘m just informing you.”

Tina was rendered speechless. She was too shocked to even cry and simply stared at Lewis blankly.






CHAPTER 345 – A MOTHER'S RESOLVE

Seeing that she had gone silent, Lewis stood up to leave. He took his coat from the rack and glanced at Tina indifferently.

“That‘s all. Take care of yourself and the baby.”

Then he left, closing the door behind him.

Tina sat there in a daze for a long time.

After what felt like an eternity, she slowly stood up and was about to go back to the bedroom.

However, as soon as she stood up, the sudden weakness in her legs made her stumble. Her vision went black as she fell to the floor.

Since then, Tina had been deeply depressed.

Lewis had arranged for several doctors and nutritionists to live with Tina in the house.

They were responsible for her diet and the health of the baby in her belly.

Save for the divorce and the affair, he was no different from a considerate husband, but he seldom went home.

One day, Tina was watching the gossip news on TV.

There, plastered on the big screen, were Lewis‘s and Jodie‘s pristine faces.

The man was calm and elegant, while the woman was beautiful and charming.

They looked like a perfect match.

“Mrs. Peterson, why‘re you watching that?”

When the maid saw what Tina was watching, she grabbed the remote control from Tina‘s hand and turned off the TV.

“It‘s all fake news. Don‘t take it to heart, ma’am.”

Smiling wryly, Tina subconsciously touched her belly and murmured, “He openly goes out with his mistress now. They‘re like a real couple now.”

Tina had seen several news segments claiming that the eldest son of the Peterson family had a new girlfriend and was about to divorce his wife.

The servant was worried that the bad news would worsen Tina‘s mood, subsequently affecting the baby in her belly.

She tried to put on a smile and consoled her, “But you are the one and only Mrs. Peterson. Just ignore that woman. Your health should be your priority now.”

Hearing this, Tina smiled bitterly.

“I won‘t be ‘Mrs. Peterson‘ for long.”

She had been completely desolate ever since Lewis broke the news to her. She knew it was impossible to make him change his mind because he was a soulless, heartless psychopath.

He didn‘t love her. He didn‘t even treat her like a normal human being.

In his eyes, she was just a baby machine.

As for the child, Tina didn‘t intend to keep it.

If the child was born into such a broken family, her child was destined to live an unhappy life.

However, Tina had been pondering over this for days on end, and she still couldn‘t make up her mind to abort the baby.

This was her first child, and while she was only a few weeks‘ pregnant, she already loved it very much.

Besides, Lewis would never allow her to have an abortion.

The servant sighed.

“What about the child, ma‘am? You have to be strong for the child.”

“I can raise the child by myself.”

Tina spoke with fierce determination.

Even if she ended up giving birth to the baby, never in her wildest dreams would she leave it to Lewis.

Lewis clearly had no love for her, nor would he for the child.

It was painfully obvious that he only wanted the child for the sake of carrying on the family name.

with an indifferent, unloving father and a stepmother who used to be a home–wrecker, Tina couldn‘t help but shiver at the thought of what kind of life her child would live in such a household Eyes wide with worry, the servant whispered, “Mr. Peterson would never allow it! Besides, how can you raise a child by yourself? Are you going to move back to your parents‘ house?”

Tina smiled faintly. She had thought it over.

“Please call Mr. Peterson and ask him to come back. Tell him that I need to talk to him about the baby.”

When Lewis received the phone call from the maid, he felt reluctant to go back.

However, when he heard that Tina was going to talk about the child, he flew back to Williamland right after work.

Tina knew that Lewis would come back that very same night, so she had been waiting in the living room When Lewis opened the door and entered the house, he saw Tina sitting on the sofa.

The lights were off.

The only thing illuminating the room was the TV screen. Lewis shrugged off his coat and said with displeasure, “It‘s so late. Why haven‘t you gone to bed yet? Don‘t you ever think about the baby in your belly?”

Unfazed, Tina continued to eat the fruit on her plate, watching TV.

“For a psychopath, you really care about your child, Lewis.”

Lewis didn‘t want to waste his breath with this woman.

He sat on the sofa next to Tina, crossed his long legs, and asked straightforwardly, “Why did you ask me to come back?”

Tina turned her head to look at his face—the very same face she had come to fall in love with.

“You proposed a divorce last time you were here. Here‘s the thing. I will divorce you, and I want nothing except full custody of the child.”

Lewis met Tina‘s gaze and said expressionlessly, “Not a chance.”

Lewis was indifferent by nature, but the child in Tina‘s belly was still his.

A big and prominent family in Sunhaven like the Peterson family attached great importance to offspring.

Moreover, it was his first child.

Lewis would never allow his firstborn child to live with anyone else but him.

It was his child. He simply wouldn‘t let others take it away from him. He believed Tina foolishly thought highly of herself.

A woman was just a tool for having children.

The child would carry on his surname, not hers.






CHAPTER 346 – COULDN‘T JUST SIT STILL AND WAIT

What right did she have to take the child away?

“The baby is also mine, Lewis. Don‘t you think you‘re being too selfish? Oh, never mind. You‘ll never understand anyway.”

All of a sudden, Tina got worked up. Her dilated pupils reflected the movement in the TV.

“If the child lives with you, it‘ll be impossible for it to ever be happy. I can only imagine how badly you‘ll treat our child. The child will be ruined, or worse–it‘ll become another soulless machine, just like its father.”

Tina squeezed her eyes shut and shuddered.

If that was the child‘s fate, she‘d rather not bring it into this world.

Lewis reached into his pocket for his lighter and cigarette case.

“Ruined? The Peterson family will provide nothing but the best for the child. That‘s better than the child living with you, a divorced woman.”

Tina was speechless. She knew beforehand that it would be useless to reason with such an unreasonable person. She put the plate of fruit down and stood up to go upstairs.

“Either the child stays with me or no divorce. It‘s as simple as that.”

Lewis grabbed Tina’s wrist. His tone was domineering and unusually sharp.

“The child will stay with the Peterson family. There is no room for discussion. If you don‘t agree to the divorce, I actually have plenty of ways to make you do it.”

“What–what do you want?”

Frightened by the crazed look in his eye, Tina‘s face turned pale.

Noticing that she had gone pale, Lewis turned to the servant and barked, “Take Mrs. Peterson back to her room and ask the doctor to check on her!”

As soon as he finished speaking, he released Tina, turned around, and left the villa.

The servant helped Tina to her room.

The doctor rushed in to examine her body, only to find that she was fine. She just needed to lie down and have some rest.

After the doctor left, the servant brought a bowl of tonic soup for Tina.

Tina drank it up and sank into bed in a daze.

The horrible look in Lewis‘s eyes just now kept resurfacing in her mind.

She closed her eyes and patted her chest to calm her racing heart. It took a long time before she finally fell into a restless sleep.

The following morning, Tina planned to pack up her things and move out.

Since Lewis didn‘t want to leave the child to her, she had to come up with another solution.

Just as she brought her packed luggage to the gate of the villa, she was stopped by two bodyguards “Mrs. Peterson, please stay in the house.

Mr. Peterson said that you can‘t go anywhere before you agree to let the child be raised by the Peterson family.”

The bodyguards directly pushed Tina and her luggage back into the villa.

Tina was so angry that she felt suffocated.

Upon looking around the living room, she found that there were more surveillance cameras installed. She immediately understood what was going on. She pointed at a camera and shouted hysterically, “Lewis, you‘re such an inhuman bastard! How dare you imprison me?”

She couldn‘t believe that Lewis not only sent people to watch over her but also installed surveillance cameras to monitor her every move at any time.

Tina couldn‘t let things go on like this. She needed to talk to Lewis again, but he had never come back again since that night when she told him she wanted to raise the baby alone, nor could she contact him however she tried.

“Can you help me reach Lewis?”

Tina turned to the servants, doctor, and nutritionist in the villa angrily. She felt like a prisoner, and she was in desperate need of help. But everyone ignored her request since they didn‘t dare to go against Lewis‘s orders.

After all, their only job was to make sure that she was alive and the baby was safe.

Their indifference made Tina feel more desperate.

She knew that this was what Lewis meant when he said he had other ways to force her to give in.

This villa was now her prison.

As soon as she delivered the child, he‘d take the child away from her.

And then he would force her to sign the divorce paper and drive her out of the Peterson family.

As the days went by, Tina‘s mental health gradually collapsed. She had to get out of here at all costs. She hated that Lewis dealt with the problem in such a violent way.

Every day, the news kept broadcasting photos of Lewis and that other woman coming in and out of a hotel.

Every time Tina saw these photos, she‘d grit her teeth in hatred.

What the hell did Lewis think of her? A baby machine that he could lock up at home to give birth to his child? Tina‘s affection for Lewis was instantly wiped out and replaced with seething hatred.

She was the daughter of the Jefferson family! Even if their glory days were over, she had never been treated like this. She couldn‘t just sit still and wait for her doom. She had to get out of here, for the sake of her child.

Tina climbed out of bed. Lewis had asked someone to seal the windows with iron wire.

As if that wasn‘t enough, over half a dozen bodyguards were on patrol outside the villa.

Looking at all the men outside, she felt helpless.

She was the weaker party now, and she knew that the Jefferson family could not compete with the Peterson family.

After the stock market turmoil a few years ago, the Jefferson family had slowly plunged into a decline.

Otherwise, Lewis would never have dared to bully her like this.

Lewis was certain that the Jefferson family wouldn‘t want to fight against him––nor would they be able to, so he didn‘t hold back when pushing Tina to the wall.

Tina bit her lip and held her belly, feeling completely and utterly powerless.

With a heavy heart, she headed downstairs to the living room. She was still pregnant.

No matter how hopeless her situation was, she had to cheer up.

The baby needed her.

The news was broadcasting financial news, telling the legendary story of the Porter Group.

It became one of the leading companies in both Meadowview and Sunhaven within only a few years.

Tina pursed her lips.

She remembered that the reason why Lewis had gone back to Sunhaven was because of the war between the Peterson family and the Porter Group.

Under the attack of the Porter Group, the Peterson family‘s stock price had fallen sharply.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 347 – AN AGREEMENT

If there was anyone who could beat Lewis, it had to be Braden Porter, CEO of the Porter Group, who was also known to have another identity as a Peterson—Dominic Peterson.

After mulling over it for a long time, Tina finally decided to cooperate with Dominic in secret.She was still Lewis‘s wife.

Maybe she could make a deal with Dominic.

The Peterson family had made tons of money over the years.

How could their hands be totally clean? Since Lewis was so cruel to her, she decided to respond in kind.

Tina turned off the TV and hurried back to her room, clutching onto the railing for support She was locked up here.

If she wanted to contact Braden, she had to get out first.

Fortunately, Lewis didn‘t take away her IDs.

During dinner, Tina deliberately knocked over all the dishes on the table.

When they heard the shattering of the plates, the bodyguards burst through the door and rushed in.

When they got to the dining room, they found Tina sitting at the table calmly.

She wiped her mouth elegantly and said, “Tell Lewis that I‘ve made up my mind.

I‘ll give up custody of the child, but there are some other things about the divorce that I have to discuss with him face to face.

Tell him to come here himself.

Otherwise, I‘ll do everything in my power to get rid of this child, even if there‘re dozens of bodyguards watching over me.”

When Lewis heard from the bodyguard that Tina was willing to divorce, he rushed back to Williamland from Sunhaven that weekend. It had been a month since the last time they met.

Tina was wearing a tight dress today. Her limbs were still slender, but her belly looked a little more round.

There were dark circles under her eyes, and she looked very haggard.

But Lewis didn‘t give a damn about her; he just cared about the health of the baby in Tina‘s belly.

After all, he had no feelings for the baby‘s mother.

As the eldest Peterson child in his generation, he shouldered the responsibility of carrying on the family name.

Lewis wouldn‘t have even gotten married if it weren‘t for this responsibility.

In his opinion, marriage was nothing but troublesome, and he would lose some of his assets if he divorced his wife—just like what was happening now.

“I’ve brought my lawyer here. If all goes well, we can draw up a divorce agreement now.”

Lewis sat on the sofa leisurely, looking very arrogant.

The lawyer stood behind him, with a thick wad of documents in his hand. It seemed that he had prepared for this long before they came here.

Tina sneered with disdain.

“No problem.”

She glanced at the lawyer and said in a relaxed tone, “I don‘t want any shares in your company. It‘s too troublesome. I just want money. I want a third of your estate—all your cars, antiques, jewelry, and so on should belong to me. Lastly, I want five hundred million in cash.”

Lewis‘s nostrils flared.

“That‘s a bit too much, don‘t you think? You haven‘t contributed a cent to this family, yet you want to rob me blind.”

Truth be told, the money wasn‘t that big a deal to Lewis, but he was currently in the middle of a fierce fight with Porter Group. He didn‘t want to let go of five hundred million for no good reason.

Tina put forward these exorbitant conditions on purpose.

She had taken into account Lewis‘s cold blooded and selfish personality.

The bigger the request she put in, the more convinced Lewis would be that she really was willing to give up the child.

“You‘re the one who asked for a divorce, not me. Won‘t it be worth it to buy your freedom with a little mean, I‘m sure your mistress can‘t wait to see us divorced.”

Tina smiled complacently.

Lewis fell silent, thinking it over.

Tina only requested for money, property, et cetera.

Although it was by no means a trivial amount, he could afford it.

Besides, she didn‘t want company shares, which made things a lot easier.

Lewis sneered with disdain on the inside.

On the surface, however, he wore his usual smile and said simply, “As you wish.”

Lewis studied the woman in front of him. She probably pretended to want the child at first in order to deliberately quarrel with him.

That way, she could demand more in the divorce.

Glancing at the lawyer behind him, Lewis asked dryly, “Did you hear Mrs. Peterson‘s demands? Draw up an agreement now.”

The lawyer quickly did as he was told and showed the divorce agreement to Tina.

Tina read through it carefully twice.

Then, she smiled.

“Looks good. Let‘s sign it.”

Lewis took the document and scanned through it briefly.

Before signing it, he warned Tina again, “Remember to take good care of yourself. If the child doesn‘t survive, I‘ll kick you out of the Peterson family without giving you a penny.”

Caressing her belly, Tina said with a particularly relaxed expression, “Don‘t worry. With so much money at stake, I have to give birth to a healthy baby. I‘m in my twenties. A child would only slow me down. I‘d rather leave the child to you and leave with the money. The money will be enough for me until I find another young handsome man.”

Hearing this, Lewis couldn‘t help but frown slightly.

Without saying anything more, he stood up and left with the lawyer.

Now that she was alone, Tina slumped over the sofa as though her soul left her body.

The adrenaline wore off and she panted slightly, patting her belly gently.

“I‘m sorry, my baby.”

Over the next few days, Tina killed time at home by baking desserts, arranging flowers, painting, reading, and watching TV. It could even be said that she was enjoying herself.

Whenever the doctor checked her, he‘d declare her healthy.






CHAPTER 348 – A GOOD IMPRESSION

Lewis had been monitoring Tina‘s situation through the CCTV cameras.

Seeing her like this, he was completely relieved and removed the bodyguards inside and outside the villa.

Now that Tina had decided to give up custody of the child, there was no need for him to imprison her.

One day, Tina woke up to an especially quiet villa. It turned out that the all bodyguards had left. It seemed that Lewis had finally let down his guard against her.

Tina got out of bed and found a servant.

“Tell Lewis that I‘m going back to Sunhaven to visit Grandma. I heard that she had gotten sick some time ago, but I wasn’t able to go back to visit her.” When the servant informed Lewis about this, the latter didn’t think too much about it. It was true that Remy was seriously ill.

Maybe the news of Tina‘s pregnancy would cheer her up.

With Lewis‘s permission, Tina arrived at Sunhaven by plane that very evening.

Just a few years ago, she used to study in a famous design school in Sunhaven.

However, in a rush to marry Lewis, she left Sunhaven as soon as she graduated and hadn’t been back since.

Ever since Remy fell ill, she had been bedridden at home.

When Tina arrived and announced that she was pregnant, Remy was so ecstatic that even her cheeks turned a little ruddy.

She held Tina‘s hand and smiled happily.

“That‘s wonderful news. You’ve been married to Lewis for so many years. Finally, I‘m going to have a great grandchild!” Tina smiled faintly.

“Lewis and I have talked about it, and we‘ve decided to let you name the child when it‘s born. Grandma, you must do your best to recover so that you can be there for your first great grandchild!” Not wanting to spoil Remy‘s good mood, Tina decided not to mention anything about the divorce.

Remy was so happy that she squeezed Tina’s hand tightly.

Tina kept chatting with Remy until the latter fell asleep from exhaustion.

After Remy‘s breath steadied, Tina pulled out her phone and made a call.

*******

As soon as Dominic got home from work, he received a call from a stranger.

The woman on the other end of the line said that she was Tina Jefferson, Lewis‘s wife.

She wanted to cooperate with Porter Group to defeat the Peterson family.

Dominic didn’t believe that Tina would side with him.

After all, this woman was Lewis‘s wife.

The Peterson family and the Porter Group were in the middle of a fierce fight.

Why would Lewis‘s own wife want to help him at this critical moment? Tina seemed to realize that Dominic didn’t believe her, so she added anxiously, “If you don’t believe me, we can talk face to face. I‘m currently staying with the Peterson family, but I don’t have much time. Lewis may send me back to Williamland any day now. How about we meet tomorrow afternoon at the Sunhaven Resort?” Dominic didn’t answer right away.

Recently, news that Lewis was having an affair with the daughter of the Wayne family had been spread all over the Internet. It made sense that his wife hated him.

Still, it might be a trap.

Therefore, Dominic didn’t make any promises.

“If I have time, I‘ll meet you there.” Then, without waiting for a response, he hung up abruptly.

“Who was that? It sounded like a woman.” When Dominic answered the phone just now, Rachel was right next to him.

She reached up and pinched his cheek playfully. “Tell me. Who was she? How do you know this woman?”

Dominic scooped Rachel in his arms and explained, “It was Lewis‘s wife, Tina Jefferson.”

“Oh,” Rachel responded perfunctorily, fiddling with Dominic‘s collar.

Then, something clicked and her eyes widened in shock.

“Tina?” she gasped.

Seeing her strange reaction, Dominic chuckled.

“What‘s the matter? Do you know her?”

“I‘m not sure, but I knew a Tina Jefferson back in college. She was two years older than me and she also majored in fashion design. Actually she‘s also from Williamland. In my freshman year, we teamed up in a design competition held by the school. She was awesome. I thought she‘d work as a fashion designer after graduating, but later I heard that she got married right after graduation. What a pity.” Rachel had a good impression of Tina, her quiet and reserved friend.

Tina was very talented when it came to fashion design and was very meticulous with details.

“That should be her. Lewis‘s wife is from Williamland. He was eager to expand the family business to Williamland at the time, so he married the daughter of the powerful Jefferson family,” Dominic recalled.

Rachel couldn’t help but ask, “So why‘d she call? How‘s she doing? She‘s from a rich family and she married into another rich family. I doubt the Peterson family would treat her badly.” Dominic wasn’t as optimistic as Rachel.

“Lewis doesn’t give a damn about her. You never heard that Tina was Lewis‘s wife, right? That‘s because Lewis has never shown up with her in public, nor does he ever mention her. Clearly, she isn’t important to Lewis.” Hearing this, Rachel frowned and fell silent.

It turned out that living in a wealthy family didn’t automatically translate to happiness.

*******

Tina wasn’t sure whether Dominic would come or not.

His answer on the phone the previous day was vague and inconclusive.

But this was her only chance at teaming up with him.

So the following day, Tina told Remy that she wanted to go shopping and then left the house without a hitch.

So as to not arouse suspicion, she did go shopping.

Toting several shopping bags, she went to the Sunhaven Resort and walked into the private room she had booked in their restaurant.

Inside, at the table sat a very beautiful woman.

A tall, handsome man with a noble air sat next to her.

Tina had seen Braden Porter‘s photos on TV and in magazines before.

While he looked good in photos, Tina had to admit that he looked even better in reality.

His pronounced facial features gave him an unapproachable, god–like aura.

“I‘m sorry I‘m late. Lewis has a bodyguard watching me, so I had to make up an excuse: shopping.” Tina put down the shopping bags and smiled at the couple apologetically.

After taking her seat, she took a deep breath and said firmly, “Mr. Porter, I promise that this won’t be a waste of your time. I can definitely help you deal with Lewis once and for all.”

Dominic wasn’t in a rush. He took the menu and leafed through it unhurriedly.

“Let‘s not talk business at the table. Let‘s have dinner first.” Tina‘s mouth snapped shut instantly.







CHAPTER 349 – HUGE RISK

Embarrassed, she picked up the glass on the table and took a sip of water to calm herself down.

This man was different from what she had imagined.

Even though he was just sitting there, he had an overwhelming aura about him.

The delicate and beautiful woman next to him, on the other hand, looked very approachable and even a little familiar.

Tina couldn’t help but steal a few more glances at her.

Just then, the woman looked at her, and the two‘s eyes met.

Tilting her head to the side curiously, Rachel asked with a smile, “Don’t you remember me? We studied at the same university.”

Tina put down the glass and shook her head in surprise.

“Mrs. Porter, did you also major in fashion design?” Such a beautiful woman should‘ve been one of the campus belles.

Why didn’t she remember her at all? Rachel chuckled.

“We joined the same design competition, remember? Well, my name at the time was Rachel Daley. Do you remember?” As Tina stared at the smiling face of the woman in front of her, the memory of the innocent young girl gradually surfaced in her mind.

“You‘ve changed!” Tina smiled in pleasant surprise.

What a small world! How could she have forgotten about the Rachel Daley? At the time, Rachel‘s knack for fashion design had impressed her greatly. It was just that Rachel didn’t wear make–up back then.

Now she wore light makeup, but it made all the difference.

Tina had seen clips of Rachel‘s and Braden‘s wedding, but she hadn’t recognized her at all.

It could only be said that a woman living happily in love would really bloom.

And this was definitely true for Rachel.

Tina sighed heavily.

“I never thought we‘d meet again, Rachel. You studied so hard back in the day, all the while balancing studies with a part–time job. Now, you‘re the wife of a big time CEO. Looks like all your hard work paid off!” She smiled bitterly, thinking that life was really unpredictable.”You married into the Peterson family. Your husband is also rich and powerful. Isn’t that good?” Rachel tried to comfort her.

Tina was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

Why did she envy her now?

“I… Well, to put it simply, I married the wrong person. Even if he‘s rich and powerful what does that matter if he‘s cold and heartless?” Tina looked down sadly.

Rachel reached across the table and held Tina‘s hand.

“Tina, why‘d you come to us? Is there anything we can do for you?” Looking at Rachel‘s concerned expression, Tina couldn’t help but burst into tears.

“Lewis is a jerk. I‘m pregnant, but he forced me to divorce him. As if the divorce isn’t enough, he plans to take the baby away once it‘s born.” Rachel was shocked to hear that.

She had heard that Lewis had a new girlfriend in Sunhaven, but she had no idea that he also had a pregnant wife! She glanced at Dominic and then turned to comfort Tina.

She said through gritted teeth, “Lewis has gone too far. You can’t give the child to him!” T

ina shook her head firmly. “Don’t worry I‘ve thought it over and there‘s no way I‘ll let him raise my child. But I don’t have the power to fight him, and the Jefferson family is no longer what it used to be. That being said, I had no choice but to ask you guys for help.” Only then did Dominic put down the menu.

He was not too surprised. He didn’t have many interactions with Lewis before, but he knew for a fact that Lewis was not as nice and gentle as he looked.

In fact, Lewis was proud and conceited.

He had been regarded as the best heir of the younger generation in the Peterson family ever since he was a child. He was sent abroad at the age of five or six, and as a result, he had never experienced the love of a parent.

Maybe it was because of this that he eventually decided to shut himself off.

In Dominic‘s opinion, Lewis was the most unfeeling person in the Peterson family, bordering on psychopathic.

He was even crueler than Amanda and Eric, and his means were more ruthless than that of Victor.

Dominic looked at Tina steadily and asked, “What are you planning to do?” Tina looked at him and pleaded, “I wanted to cooperate with you to defeat Lewis, but you have to promise me that in the end, I‘ll be able to escape the Peterson family with my child.”

Dominic‘s eyes were immediately drawn to Tina‘s slightly bulging belly.

While he believed Tina, he also knew that Lewis was a cunning man.

There was no way he could be sure if this was a trap or not.

Frowning slightly, he figured he should tread lightly.

“If you really want to help me defeat Lewis, then good. But what exactly can you do for me?” Dominic leaned back and spoke in a businesslike manner.

“Lewis has made a lot of money in Williamland over the past few years, but his hands are not so clean. His business is booming because of nasty, under–the–table deals. Unlike Amanda and Eric, Lewis is good at hiding his true self–which only makes him more dangerous.When he encounters tricky problems, he pretends that he doesn’t care about them on the surface, but then he‘ll secretly deal with them by illegal means.” The more Tina revealed, the more worked up she became.

“Do you have any proof?” Dominic looked at her sharply.

Tina paused hesitantly.

Most of what she said was just speculation. She didn’t have any substantial evidence now.

Dominic read her mind.

As a cautious man, Lewis was likely to cover his trail.

If Tina really had evidence, she could‘ve negotiated with him by herself.

Why would she come to the Porter Group for help? “You want my help, but you can offer nothing useful to me. I don’t like to engage in risky business. While I do feel sorry for your miserable marriage, there‘s nothing I can do about it. I think what you need is a good lawyer, not me.” Dominic was a businessman after all.

If he was the kind of person who helped anyone in need, he‘d be running a charity instead of a business.

Tina bit her lip anxiously.

“I don’t have dirt on Lewis now, but I can dig around. Now that Lewis has dropped his guard against me, I‘m sure I can get my hands on some of his dirty secrets. Besides, I‘m still a Mrs. Peterson; if anything happens, I‘ll be the first to know.” Rachel quietly listened to their exchange. It wasn’t appropriate for her to side with Tina.

Dominic wanted to take the Peterson family down for good, and this was something he had been preparing for years.

He just couldn’t afford to make mistakes.

Dominic thought that this cooperation was a huge risk, but perhaps it was a risk was worth taking.

What Tina said made sense.

She could be a spy in the Peterson family and keep an eye on Lewis for him at all times.

Of course, he still had to be careful.

Dominic took out a business card from his suit pocket, wrote down his number on the back, and handed it to Tina.

“This is my other phone number. If you find anything, just call this number. Remember to delete all traces of communication between us. Lewis is very smart. If he catches on, it won’t affect my plan, but he won’t let you off that easily.” Tina took the business card from Dominic and held it tightly, as if she was grasping at a life –saving straw.

Seeing that the negotiation had come to an end, Dominic stood up and took Rachel‘s hand to leave. Before stepping out of the private room, Rachel looked over her shoulder and waved at Tina.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 350 – YOU DISGRACE YOURSELF

“Bye, Tina.”

Tina forced a smile and waved back.

After leaving the private room, Dominic asked softly, “Do you feel bad for her?”

Rachel hesitated for a while.

“Tina not only did well in school, but she‘s also from a rich family. She should‘ve had the perfect life, right? If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes today, I would never have imagined that she was living such a hard life. While her husband bullies her, her family can’t help her. Now, she barely has anyone to turn to.” Looking at the sad look on Rachel‘s face, Dominic pinched her cheek and kissed her hard.

“I thought you were going to say that I‘m ruthless. Tina just didn’t choose the right path in the beginning. Now that she wants to start over again, better times may be ahead.”


*******

Exhausted, Tina returned to the Peterson family home with her shopping bags. Her heart skipped a beat at the sight of Lewis in the living room.

Clenching the bags she was holding, she asked tentatively, “What‘re you doing here?”

If Lewis found out that she had gone to meet Dominic, she was screwed! Lewis sat cross–legged, leaned against the sofa.

After taking a sip of the tea, he explained indifferently, “Grandma‘s condition is getting worse, so I sent her to a private hospital.

Dad practically lives in the office, Mom‘s in prison, and my brother is still in a sanatorium. I can’t allow this house to stay empty, so I moved back.” Tina felt a little relieved.

Just as she opened her mouth to say something, she heard a woman‘s voice coming from the stairs.

Jodie, who was dressed to a tee, came downstairs and cried, “Lewis, this house is huge! Which room should I take? Yours?”

Tina was stunned when she saw Jodie coming down the stairs. She turned around and sneered at Lewis in disgust.

“You bastard. How dare you bring your mistress into the house of the Peterson family? If word gets out, you will humiliate your family name!” Before Lewis could say anything, Jodie spoke up for him. She looked at Tina and smiled.

“Don’t be angry, Miss Jefferson. I was the one who asked Lewis if I could move in. Because his villa is so empty at night, and I was scared to live alone there…” Jodie had fallen head over heels in love with Lewis.

She had thought that Lewis was just toying with her.

After all, he was a married man.

However, she soon found out that she was his only girlfriend, and he didn’t get along with his wife.

Jodie was overjoyed.

Now, she felt more confident than ever that she would soon replace Tina and become the new Mrs. Peterson. She had heard that Tina had come to Sunhaven and was living in the Peterson family‘s house.

Jodie had never seen Tina before, not even in photos.

Lewis had never brought her to important occasions, so there were no photos of her on the Internet or in magazines.

Jodie was then desperate to see what Lewis‘s wife looked like. She figured that Tina was getting old and would go crazy with jealousy after seeing that Lewis‘s new girlfriend was so young and beautiful.

So she proposed to move into the Peterson family‘s house with Lewis.

Lewis really couldn’t care less.

There were many vacant rooms in the Peterson family‘s house anyway.

Besides, if he didn’t agree, Jodie would keep begging him like a spoiled child. So it didn’t take long for him to cave.

Tina knew that Jodie was deliberately trying to provoke her. She averted her gaze and didn’t say anything more.

Now that Lewis was the head of the family, she couldn’t object to his decision.

Jodie looked at Tina and continued to pester her.

“Miss Jefferson, you don’t mind, do you?” Tina smiled calmly.

“You‘re the daughter of the famous Wayne family, but you disgrace yourself by becoming the mistress of a married man. Since you don’t mind it, why should I?” Her voice was as gentle as usual.

Jodie didn’t feel ashamed of her behavior at all.

Seeing that Tina was unfazed, she sneered in disdain.

“Why should I mind living here? I‘ll be the new hostess of this house soon anyway. Miss Jefferson, please pack your things and leave as soon as possible. You‘ll only delay my wedding with Lewis.” Tina knew that Jodie was a shameless woman, but she didn’t think that she‘d be this shameless.

She raised her head and studied Jodie‘s proud expression.

Suddenly, Tina‘s anger dissipated. She only felt disgusted and even a bit sorry for this woman.

Undoubtedly, Jodie‘s behavior was appalling.

How could the daughter of a decent family settle for being a mistress? But at the same time, Tina felt pity for her.

Jodie had fallen in love with a cold–blooded, heartless man. She was destined to be unhappy.

The second she was no longer of use to Lewis, she would be ruthlessly abandoned.

Tina‘s experience was living proof Such a bright and charming woman would soon wither and decay.

Tina couldn’t help but be reminded of herself from a few years ago. She was so crazy about love at that time that she was willing to sacrifice everything she had for Lewis.

The quarrel between the two women gave Lewis a headache.

Annoyed, he warned Tina unhappily, “You‘ve been talking a lot today.”

Tina fell silent immediately.

If she wanted to dig up evidence of Lewis‘s crimes, she had to get as close as possible to him.

However, while she was in Sunhaven, Lewis didn’t stay in the Peterson family‘s house, so she didn’t get a chance to glean anything from him. Now, since Jodie had brought him here, perhaps Tina had a chance now.

So Tina decided to seize this opportunity and pretended to be angry.

Snorting loudly, she ran upstairs in a huff.

Jodie laughed loudly and said to Lewis, “Your wife is really something.” Lewis replied emotionlessly, “Why do you bother to argue with her?”

“I just like seeing her face when she‘s being bullied. It‘s so funny!”

Suddenly, Jodie batted her eyelashes at the man coquettishly.

“I‘m going to live here from now on. How exciting!”

Unamused, Lewis nodded absentmindedly.

From that day on, Lewis and Jodie lived in the Peterson family‘s house.

Tina stayed at home most of the time, but unfortunately, so did Jodie.

The latter didn’t have a job after all. She‘d get up very early every day, blast music on loudspeakers, and sing at the top of her lungs in the living room.

Tina was prone to drowsiness now that she was pregnant.

Being awoken by the ruckus in the living room, she went downstairs gloomily.





CHAPTER 351 – TWO LINES

Of course, Jodie noticed smiled complacently and said, “Do you feel uncomfortable living here, Miss Jefferson? We young people need to stay active. If you feel that I‘m too loud, why don’t you just move out?” Jodie spoke half–heartedly.

If Tina moved out, it would knock some joy out of her. She enjoyed humiliating and bullying Tina at home every day.

If this had taken place in the past, Tina wouldn’t have tolerated such bullshit.

But now, she simply looked at Jodie with an indifferent attitude, She saw Jodie as a clown–a hateful, ridiculous, and pathetic clown.

One day, when Jodie was no longer of use to Lewis, he would show her his true colors. It‘d be too late for Jodie by then.

“It‘s fine by me. There‘s no one else at home, so it‘s nice to bring a little life into this house.” Tina smiled at Jodie, unfazed.

“Well, as long as you don’t mind.” Jodie wanted to see how long Tina would be able to put up with her shenanigans.

Things were getting more and more interesting.

In order to keep Jodie from leaving, Tina talked to her every day while secretly keeping an eye on Lewis. Ever since Jodie had moved into the Peterson family‘s house, Lewis had come home every day to have dinner with her, which meant that now he was spending a lot more time at home. Tina couldn’t help but think about their past, when they still lived in Williamland.

After getting married, Lewis always said that he was very busy and stayed at the office 90% of the time. He only ever came home when he wanted to have sex.

Tina felt it ironic.

This was the first time that she and her husband had lived under the same roof for so long, but it was only because he had brought his mistress home.

What a good actor! If Tina hadn’t already known that he was a heartless man, she really would‘ve thought that Jodie was his true love.

After dinner, Lewis usually went to the study to deal with the rest of his work.

“Please excuse me. I have some work to finish in the study.” Lewis stood up and stroked Jodie‘s hair gently.

Then, he went upstairs with his laptop bag. He didn’t even cast a glance at Tina the whole time.

The old Tina would have felt absolutely crestfallen.

The new Tina however, didn’t even give a damn.

What she did give a damn about was how to get her hands on evidence of Lewis‘s crimes. She noticed that the laptop that Lewis brought back home every day was the same one, and he never let anyone get close to it, not even his assistant.

He always carried it himself.

Not wanting to arouse suspicion, Tina tore her gaze away from the laptop bag in Lewis‘s hand.

There had to be something important in his laptop–something so important that he didn’t let anyone else touch it.

The problem was, how was she going to get it? Noticing that Tina had been staring at Lewis‘s back, Jodie sneered smugly.

“No matter what you do, Lewis will never look at you. He loves me, not you. He even said it in bed last night.” What a silly, naive girl! She had no idea what was coming to her.

Tina was really tempted to tell her that Lewis was a psychopath who loved no one but himself.

However, seeing the triumphant smile on Jodie‘s face, Tina couldn’t help but burst into laughter.

She took a piece of tissue to wipe her mouth and murmured a half–hearted apology, “I‘m sorry.”

The following morning, Tina sneaked out to see Dominic in secret.

Tina, Rachel, and Dominic met up at a cafe.

“I think Lewis is hiding something in his laptop.” Tina went straight to telling Dominic her theory.

“Do you know how to hack a computer? I‘ve been a housewife for so long and don’t know anything about tech. One time, I saw Lewis type in two passwords to unlock his laptop. I wouldn’t dare to try unlocking his laptop without professional help!” Tina said with a crooked smile She had been married to Lewis for several years now.

It took a lot of courage for her to admit to outsiders that she knew nothing about her husband.

“Piece of cake.” After pondering for a while, Dominic said, “I‘ll have someone send you a flash drive in a few days. As long as you‘re able to plug it into his laptop, virus in the flash drive will automatically crack the firewalls and copy all the data in the laptop. But, depending on how much data is in his laptop, it might take a long time, so you have to find the right opportunity to do this.”

“Oh, my God! Thank you.” Tina bobbed her head up and down enthusiastically.

Then, she lowered her head and looked at the delicate peach–shaped cake in front of her quietly.

“How have you been lately? I heard that Jodie moved into the Peterson family‘s house. Didn’t anyone in the Peterson family object?”

Seeing that Tina looked depressed, Rachel was reminded of the gossip on the news this morning.

The paparazzi in Sunhaven had to thank Lewis for all the material he was feeding them.

They even had a column about his affair with Jodie now.

Tina let out a long sigh and scooped up a forkful of cake.

With a lump in her throat, she explained, “There‘s no one living in the Peterson family‘s house now except us. Remy‘s in a private hospital and Patrick practically lives in the office because of everything that has happened. Lewis‘s the actual master of the house now.” Rachel fell silent.

She had no idea how to console Tina.

Perhaps it was because Tina was a mother now that Rachel felt that Tina was a lot stronger than she was at school.

When they were still in school, Rachel had held a good impression of Tina.

The latter was a quiet, soft woman. She didn’t put on any airs as a rich lady at all.

“Be careful. If Lewis finds out that you‘re betraying him, he won’t let you go unpunished.” Worry was written all over Rachel‘s face.

She reached out to pat Tina‘s hand gently. She sympathized with Tina, and she couldn’t help but want to look out for her.

Tina smiled faintly. She would stay cautious and try her best, and then leave the rest to fate.

Two days later, Tina received a flash drive from Dominic.

She kept it hidden and paid close attention to Lewis whenever he was at home, waiting for an opportunity to strike.

*******

It was a cloudy day and dewy raindrops still littered the window pane after the torrential rain in a hotel room somewhere in Europe, Nadia was pacing back and forth inside the bathroom anxiously. She kept looking at the pregnancy test stick on the washstand. Her throat seemed to be blocked by cotton and she could not breathe. She couldn’t have been pregnant.

After she had s*x with Kristian that one time, she took emergency contraception the following day.

But her period hadn’t come yet.

Nadia‘s menstruation was always punctual, so she immediately knew that something was wrong.

At first, she had simply chalked it up to stress.

However, when she ordered a medium rare steak one day, she felt like vomiting at the sight of blood oozing out of the steak.

Suspecting that she was pregnant, she immediately bought a pregnancy test stick and rushed back to the hotel.

The alarm clock on her phone interrupted her train of thoughts.

Five minutes had passed.

Nadia hurried to pick up the pregnancy test stick.

Two lines gradually appeared in the originally colorless grid.

Staring at this terrible mark, Nadia felt as though her soul was leaving her body.






CHAPTER 352 – SHOULDN’T HAVE HAD

In a daze, Nadia squatted beside the bathtub and hugged herself, burying her face in her knees.

Listening to her beating heart, an indescribable fear began to take over her. She didn’t know how long she had squatted there, but her legs and feet started to feel numb.

Then she staggered and stood up with the help of the edge of the bathtub. Her first instinct was to check the Internet for answers.

Sure enough, it said that sometimes pregnancy tests were inaccurate, although it was a small possibility.

Nadia thought that maybe it was a fluke, so she went to the hospital to have herself checked.

The hospital was full of foreigners, which scared Nadia a little.

This was even scarier than the first time she was sent to a hospital after she was injured in a mission.

After coming out of the examination room, she sat on a bench and waited for the results in a trance.

Thirty minutes later, a woman in a lab coat came out to confirm her worst fears: she was in fact pregnant.

All of a sudden, Nadia felt that her whole world was overturned.

“Miss, are you okay?” The doctor asked worriedly when she saw that Nadia was shaking.

“Yes, yes. Thank you.” But Nadia was so shocked that she couldn’t even force a smile.

She sat down on the bench, not even daring to think about what she should do next.

The only thought in her mind at the moment was to abort the baby. She didn’t want to be tied to Kristian. Moreover, she wasn’t ready to be a mother! In fact, she had never even thought about becoming a mother before.

Moreover, Nadia‘s parents had died when she was very young.

How could she become a good mother if she never had one herself? She wandered around the hospital aimlessly before finally deciding to grab something to eat.

However, before she even knew it, she subconsciously considered only food that was suitable for pregnant women, avoiding that which wasn‘t.

When she finally realized what she was doing, she ran her fingers through her hair in distress.

She really wanted to abort the child, but she found that she didn’t have the heart to do it.

A new life was growing inside her body.

She didn’t want to kill it with her own hands.

But if the baby was born, it would be fatherless…

“This is your own fault. You shouldn’t have had sex with him in the first place!” She scolded herself ruthlessly.

What should she do? Lost in thought, she didn’t even notice the man standing behind her.

The young man was Collin Fin, a new member of Shadow Collective.

Quite recently, when he was on his first mission, the enemy captured him and held him hostage in a club. It was Nadia who had rescued him.

He wanted to thank her in person, but Nadia left the day after he was saved.

It seemed that they were destined to meet again.

He was on a mission here, and by sheer coincidence, he ran into Nadia again.

Collin was pleasantly surprised to see Nadia.

When he was about to go up to her to say hello, he remembered that this was the OB–GYN Department.

Was she pregnant? Collin‘s eyebrows shot up in surprise. He quickly ducked his head and deliberately avoided Nadia, wondering who the father of the child was.

To be honest, although Nadia was a beautiful woman, she was one hell of a fighter.

No man in Shadow Collective dared to flirt with Her..

There was only Kristian who managed to stick around Nadia.

So was the child his? Kristian was the one who recruited Collin into Shadow Collective.

Thus, he was steadfastly loyal to Kristian and the two men were close.

He guessed that since Nadia had come to the hospital alone in a foreign country for a pregnancy test, it was very likely that Kristian didn’t know about her pregnancy.

Therefore, Collin promptly called Kristian and told him about this.

Kristian was stunned when he received the phone call.

Afraid that he might‘ve heard it wrong, he clarified in a trembling voice, “Did you say that Nadia‘s pregnant?” Hearing Collin‘s affirmative answer, Kristian was so ecstatic that he nearly pumped his fist in the air.

He was absolutely sure that the baby was his.

He was going to be a father! It took Kristian a long time to calm down.

Now he absolutely had to see Nadia.

She was pregnant with his child, none the less.

He couldn‘t let her live alone in a foreign country.

After getting the details from Collin, he flew to Europe at once.

Thanks to his subordinates‘ due diligence, he soon found out where Nadia was staying.

Nadia had racked her brains all day long but she still hadn‘t come up with a solution.

On the contrary, she only felt more conflicted and frustrated.

While she didn‘t have the heart to abort the child, she couldn‘t let the child be born into an incomplete family.

Nadia was an orphan.

She knew how hard it was to have no family.

She never considered having a child of her own before, but now that she was pregnant, she felt the need for her child to have complete family—which meant having a father.

Just then, there was a sudden knock on the door.

All Nadia could think about was the baby.

In a daze, she went to open the door.

When she saw Kristian standing outside, she was completely stunned.

Kristian had on the biggest grin and he held up a bag of tonics.

“Let me in first.” Before Nadia could come to her senses and shut the door, Kristian had already squeezed past her.

He put the tonics on the table and shrugged off his coat as though he owned the place.

Rubbing his hands vigorously, he whined, “It‘s freezing out! Europe is nowhere near as good as home.

Let‘s go back.

I‘ll book a flight for tomorrow morning.” Nadia was speechless.

Rage and fury pumped through her veins.

“Why the hell are you here? And how‘d you know where I was?” Kristian was the last person Nadia wanted to see right now.

Kristian clicked his tongue and made Nadia sit down on the edge of the bed.

“You can‘t get too emotional.

You‘re pregnant after all.

That‘s why I came, by the way.

It‘s my child, isn‘t it?” Nadia was stunned.

“How did you know I’m pregnant?” She didn‘t even tell Rachel that she was in Europe.

In fact, she deliberately told Rachel that she was going to America to throw Kristian off her trail.

And she only found out that she was pregnant yesterday.

She hadn‘t told a soul, yet Kristian somehow heard about it and found her here.

How was this even possible? Kristian squatted in front of her, held her hand, and said gently but firmly, “I‘ll tell you everything later.

Now answer me this one, were you planning to tell me that you were pregnant?” Nadia pulled her hand out of his and shrugged helplessly.

“Even if I told you, what could you do? It wouldn‘t have solved the problem.

In fact, it‘d only make things worse.” Kristian almost laughed in exasperation.

“So you were planning to solve this all by yourself? Well then, what were you going to do?”

We’re Going Home! Nadia lowered her head, shrinking under his intense gaze.

Smiling gently, Kristian straightened up and sat down next to her.

He stroked her back and murmured, “Haven’t you made up your mind? Take your time.

If you can’t figure it out on your own, you can share the burden with me.

It’ll be easier for two people to solve a problem than one.”

Nadia wondered how he could still be so calm.

She looked at him and voiced her thoughts. “You don’t seem to be bothered at all.”

“That’s because I already know what I have to do,” Kristian answered simply. “Obviously, you haven’t made up your mind. But I know that you’re too soft to abort the baby.”

Nadia glared at him.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 353 – FLAT CHEST

“What do you mean ‘have to do’? Do you want me to have an abortion?”

Kristian looked at her quietly and suddenly broke into a wide grin.

He hadn’t told Nadia that on the way here, he had already decided on the names of the children.

Yes, children.

He hoped that Nadia was carrying twins, even though there were never any twins in his family tree.

“Don’t say that, Nadia. I’ve never considered you or our unborn child a burden. I would never ask you to have an abortion. What I meant was that we can face this together.” Kristian spoke sincerely.

He seemed to want to say something more but stopped on a second thought.

After thinking about it for a while, he eventually decided to say it.

“You like me, right? And I like you.

So why can’t we be together? How would we know that we’re a bad fit if we don’t even try? Besides, we’re having a child together. It wasn’t in our plans, but it was God’s will. Do you really want to kill it?”

Nadia fell silent. She was having all sorts of feelings right now. Could they really be together? She already had enough problems on her place. And now, a baby? Nadia suddenly felt that nothing she did would be the right decision.

Seeing the cogs in her brain turning, Kristian knew that she was hesitating.

“Since you haven’t decided yet, why don’t you come home with me first? Let’s take baby steps. You’re alone in a strange land; how will you take good care of yourself and the baby?”

Nadia was still silent, at a loss as to what to do.

“Nadia, I’m serious. If someday you really feel that you can’t live with me, then I’ll respect your choice and walk out of your life forever. But before that, can we at least give us a try?” Kristian sighed.

How stubborn she was! He had said everything he could, yet he still couldn’t get to her.

Nadia kept silent for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, she nodded slowly.

Seeing this, Kristian was so ecstatic that he leaped up from the bed at once and jumped up and down happily, and then he pulled her up and held her tightly in his arms.

Before she could protest, he kissed her madly. With heart racing, he soon began to pack up her things excitedly.

“Just rest. I’ll take care of everything. We’re going home!”

A Whole New Journey The very next day, Kristian and Nadia flew back to Meadowview.

Now that she was back, Nadia asked Rachel if they could meet up.

The two reserved a table at the Townley Restaurant.

“You’re only been gone a few weeks but I missed you so much!” Rachel threw her arms around Nadia excitedly.

“Promise me you Won’t leave again, okey? You’re pregnant now. Kristian will definitely follow you to the ends of the earth from now on!”

Even after Nadia left, she had kept in touch with Rachel.

Before she flew back to Meadowview, she had told Rachel the news about her pregnancy.

“Stop teasing me, Rachel. I’m scared out of my wits.” Nadia pouted anxiously.

“The baby is all part of God’s plan. Now that it’s here, just love it with all your heart and leave the rest to Kristian. I’m sure he’s really happy about the baby.” Life was unpredictable at times.

Nadia and Kristian had already parted ways, but now, the baby had once again brought them together.

They were just meant to be together! “If there’s anything I can help you with, just tell me. Don’t worry about anything else. I just know that things will work out between you two.” Rachel patted Nadia’s hand, wishing her happiness.

Nadia smiled bitterly.

“I doubt it. I’m sorry, but I can’t help but feel like the world is about to end. I’ve never felt like this before. If only someone could tell me where this road will take me.” Nadia sighed heavily.

The future felt so uncertain and daunting, and it scared her.

Noticing the restless look on Nadia’s face, Rachel held her hand tightly.

“Don’t try to leave again. You’re looking out for another human being now, not just yourself.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve made up my mind and I’ve decided to give me and Kristian a shot. For the sake of the baby,” Nadia patted her tummy gently and smiled.

“Have I ever told you that you are one brave woman?” Rachel smiled.

Nadia rolled her eyes and chuckled.

That day, Nadia moved into Kristian’s house.

“I haven’t changed anything in your room since you left. You can stay there if you like. Also, I’ve hired two nutritionists, both of which have worked in Michelin-starred restaurants before. They’ll be here by tomorrow.” Kristian hugged Nadia from behind, gently placing his hands on her belly.

Pecking her on the cheek, he whispered, “I promise I’ll be a good husband and a fantastic father.” Nadia pursed her lips and looked down at his hands on her belly.

Then she turned to look at him and mumbled, “What if I can’t handle the pressure and chicken out? Will you hate me?”

“Don’t be silly.” Kristian held her tightly, planting several more kisses on her neck and shoulder.

Nadia didn’t say anything more.

Strangely enough, although she had lived in this house before, this time, she felt as if she had embarked on a whole new journey.

But nonetheless, she looked towards the uncertain future with fierce determination.

Caught In the Peterson family home, Tina had secretly been keeping watch on Lewis these days.

Every night, he was always on his laptop in his study.

Tina also noticed that he would routinely take a shower at night, leaving the door to the study unlocked and unguarded.

Generally, his showers lasted about twenty minutes.

Seeing Tina loitering at the door of Lewis’s study one night, Jodie thought that Tina refused to give up on him.

She walked over angrily and pulled Tina to the stairs.

“What’re you doing outside Lewis’s study? You’re nothing but an ugly pregnant woman and Lewis doesn’t like you anymore! Even if you take off all your clothes and stand in front of him naked, he won’t be interested in you!” Jodie spat arrogantly, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Relax. I just happened to pass by the study.” Tina didn’t want to argue with Jodie nor did she want to arouse Lewis’s suspicion.

Glancing at Jodie’s flat chest, she smiled haughtily. “Didn’t Lewis tell you that he likes big boobs?” Jodie subconsciously glanced at her own flat chest.

Only then did she realize that Lewis seldom ever touched her chest in bed.

Thinking of this, her face turned red in both anger and embarrassment.

Tina let out a chuckle and left.

After retreating to her room, Tina texted Dominic to inquire how long it’d take to copy the data on Lewis’s laptop.

Dominic confirmed that as long as there wasn’t too much data in the computer, twenty minutes was ample time.

Even if she unplugged the flash drive before copying everything, the part of the data that had been copied would still be left in the flash drive.

Most importantly, there would be no trace of the hacking left on the computer.

Tina was relieved to hear this.





CHAPTER 354 – SHRILL VOICE

That night, Lewis finished dinner and went to his study like clockwork.

Tina went back to her room and waited.

Soon enough, she heard footsteps outside the door, which meant that Lewis had gone back to his room to take a shower.

When Tina passed by the stairway, she saw Jodie watching TV downstairs.

This was it—this was the opportunity she had been waiting for! Tina cautiously tiptoed into the study.

She went straight to Lewis’s laptop and plugged in the flash drive Dominic gave her.

The screen of the computer blinked for a few seconds.

It seemed that the system had been cracked by the program on the flash drive.

Soon, a progress bar popped up on the screen.

Tina gnawed at her lower lip anxiously.

Every second of waiting was torture.

A few minutes later, she heard Jodie’s voice from outside the study.

“Lewis, she’s inside. I saw her go in!” All the color drained from her face.

She moved fast and yanked the flash drive out of the laptop.

She looked around the study in a panic, but there was no place to hide.

The sound of footsteps approaching made Tina’s heart race.

At her wit’s end, Tina squatted down and pretended to be looking for something in the drawer.

At this moment, the doorknob turned.

The door swung open and Lewis and Jodie strode in.

Seeing Tina stand up in a hurry, Jodie looked at Lewis complacently and waited for his reaction.

Narrowing his insidious eyes, Lewis’s gaze darted between the laptop and Tina.

Cold sweat broke out on Tina’s forehead, but she managed to maintain a calm expression as she secretly slipped the flash drive into her trouser pocket.

Quarrel “I teld you! I saw her sneaking into your study just now and I was sure that she was up to no good.

Miss Jefferson, what the hell are you doing here?” Jodie felt that she had caught Tina red- handed, which delighted her.

Lewis walked towards Tina slowly and then rested his hand on the desk.

“What ware you doing?” he asked coldly.

Jodie quickly cut in smugly, “She’s probably trying to set you up! A few days ago, I saw her sneaking around outside the study.

At first, I thought that she was going to try to seduce you, but when I thought about it further, I realized that she had to be up to something.” Tina’s heart was banging against her chest, but she decided to play along.

“Jodie’s right.

I wanted to dig some dirt on you.” She glanced at Jodie and snorted, “You thought I wanted to seduce Lewis? I’m sorry. I never take back any men I’ve broken up with.” Lewis’s eyes darkened.

“What do you want, Tina?” Tina gritted her teeth and acted like she couldn’t bear it anymore.

She pointed at Jodie and shouted, “You have the nerve to ask me that? Lewis, you’ve crossed the line. This bitch has been flaunting her status as your mistress every day since you brought her here! I used to think that the money was enough, but now, I’ve realized it’s far from enough! I’ve endured so much suffering, so I deserve more!”

Hearing this, Jodie was furious. She rolled up her sleeves and stomped towards Tina.

“What did you just say? Didn’t I tell you to move out a long time ago? You refused to go and now you’re saying you can’t stand it anymore? Please! Lewis hasn’t had feelings for you for so long! Why the fuck are you still living here? And how dare you ask for more?”

“Oh, please, Miss Wayne. You provoked me first. Your family might be noble and wealthy, but they raised such an immoral child! Don’t you think it’s shameful at all to be someone’s mistress? You should feel embarrassed about it instead of flaunting it! You’re practically just begging to be humiliated!” Tina rarely ever swore, but she was an expert when it came to sarcasm.

Although she didn’t raise her voice just now, her words were as sharp as daggers.

“Ah! You fucking bitch! How dare you say that about me!” Jodie was so angry that she cursed at Tina like a sailor.

“Lewis had long wanted to divorce you! The only reason why he didn’t is because you got pregnant! You should even thank him for allowing you to stay here! Plus, he already agreed to give you a lot of money after the divorce! And you have the audacity to ask for more?” Jodie’s shrill screaming were like nails on a chalkboard to Lewis’s ears.

It suddenly occurred to him that her high-pitched voice was similar to that of a bird’s squawk he had heard somewhere before.

“Enough, both of you! Stop fighting!” Seeing that Jodie was about to hit Tina, he stopped her with a warning look.

Tina was pregnant with his child.

He wouldn’t allow anyone to hurt her.

Jodie was frightened by Lewis‘s glare and didn‘t dare to make a scene anymore.

Biting her lower lip, she tugged Lewis‘s shirt and said piteously, “Don‘t get mad at me. Get mad at her. She‘s the one who provoked me first.”

Lewis looked at Jodie quietly. He was well aware that Jodie had been bullying Tina ever since she moved in. It was only normal that Tina couldn‘t stand it anymore.

But Lewis needed the support of the Wayne family.

Even if Jodie was an annoying little bitch, he couldn‘t afford to do anything to her right now.

“I’m not mad at you. Why would you waste your time on such a shallow and stupid woman?” Lewis softened his tone to comfort the aggrieved Jodie.

Jodie instantly cheered up, shooting Tina a smug smile.

Tina forced a smile but said nothing. She knew that this was probably what he really thought of her.

They had been married for so many years but Lewis had never given her the light of day.

Tina used to think that it was because of his pride. It was true that she wasn‘t as excellent as him.

Now, Tina realized that Lewis looked down not just upon her, but everyone.

Indeed, Lewis had never thought highly of his wife.

In his eyes, she was an incompetent and stupid woman who only cared about money.

For the sake of money, she was willing to abandon her own child.

But on second thought, that made things easier for Lewis.

A greedy woman like Tina was simple and easy to control.

At least, she didn‘t pose a threat to him.

Lewis glanced at the drawer that was opened by Tina just now.

Inside lay several pieces of gold jewelry that had been gifted to him.

Lewis sneered and glanced at the laptop on the table.

It looked untouched, so he didn‘t think too much about it “Come with me,”

Lewis said to Tina coldly.

Tina clenched her fists to calm herself down and followed him to the corridor.

“How much more do you want?” Lewis asked abruptly.

He didn‘t even bother to beat around the bush.

“You opened two restaurants in Williamland after we got married, right? I want them both.” Tina answered without missing a beat.

Truth be told, she wasn‘t interested in Lewis‘s restaurants at all. She had never even been to either of them. It was just an excuse she came up with on the fly.

“You‘re insatiably greedy, aren‘t you? Those restaurants have always done well. How come I never knew you ere so obsessed with money before?” Lewis sneered in disdain.

“Fine. I‘ll give you the two restaurants, but from now on, you should behave yourself. I‘ve given you a lot of money. That‘s it. If I find out you tried to go through my things again, I won‘t be as nice.”

Knowing that this was his last and final warning, Tina nodded in satisfaction.

“Thank you, Mr. Peterson. Don‘t worry. I promise I won‘t do it again. And I know that what I‘ve asked for is just a drop in the bucket for you.”

Lewis rolled his eyes and then left with Jodie.

The very next day, Lewis moved out of the Peterson family home with Jodie.

Just as they were leaving the villa, she yelled, “You little bitch! You greedy, fucking slutty bitch! You‘re already getting a divorce yet you still blackmail Lewis for money!”

“Shut up.”

Lewis frowned in disgust. He really couldn‘t take Jodie‘s shrill voice.

Victor had said that he was going to come back home recently, so it wasn‘t decent for Jodie to continue to live here.





CHAPTER 355 – NOT ALLOWED

Moreover, Jodie always quarreled with Tina at home.

Lewis didn‘t want to give Tina another chance to blackmail him again.

Tina stood on the balcony and watched their limo drive away, feeling anxious.

Now that Lewis didn‘t live at home, she would have no chance to get her hands on his laptop.

Tina took out her phone and texted Dominic promptly, asking him if he had any ideas as to what she could do next.

A few days later, Dominic asked Tina to meet him in a coffeee near the Peterson family home.

“Have you seen Jodie recently?” Dominic asked as a thought suddenly occurred to him.

In Dominic‘s eye, the only person who could connect Lewis to Tina was Jodie.

Resting her chin on her palm, Tina sighed heavily.

“Not really. Before they moved out, Lewis warned her not to provoke me. She looked scare of Lewis, so I don‘t know if she will come to me again.”

Dominic nodded and took a sip of his coffee, lost in thought.

Yesterday, Lewis had come to him, saying that he wanted to negotiate and make peace.

But Dominic knew that it wasn‘t in Lewis‘s nature to simply “make peace”.

However, this negotiation might be an opportunity in disguise.

After thinking about it for a while, Dominic said, “You have to get your hands on the data on his laptop. It seems to me that Lewis trusts you somewhat. No one else but you can get close to his laptop. And I think I might have a way for you to do it.”

“What do you mean?” Tina asked with her eyebrows raised.

Dominic then explained his plan in detail, which made Tina felt that perhaps there was hope after all.

Although it had been a while since Jodie had moved out of the Peterson family home with Lewis, her hostility towards Tina never ebbed.

On the contrary, she felt depressed now that she couldn‘t bully Tina anymore. She even went so far as to look for Tina‘s number on Lewis‘s phone.

Whenever she felt irrationally angry, she would text Tina hateful messages to vent her anger.

Looking at the string of abuses on her phone, Tina couldn‘t stand it anymore and called Jodie.

As soon as Jodie saw the caller ID, she immediately was on guard.

“Shouldn‘t you focus on your baby? Why are you calling me?”

Jodie sneered coldly. She wasn‘t afraid of anything now that Lewis was on her side.

In her eyes, Tina was nothing but a bitch who stood in the way of her getting married to Lewis.

Tina snorted impatiently. “Don‘t you have anything better to do? Lewis already moved out with you yet you still kept finding ways to harass me. He can‘t keep you under his control anymore, can he? Since he can‘t discipline you, I have no choice but to turn to a ‘higher power‘. I‘ll send all the texts you sent me to your parents so that they can see how shameless their daughter has become.”

Then, without waiting for a response, Tina hung up the phone.

Furious, Jodie texted Tina more insulting words.

The hostility between the two was only getting more and more intense.

Satisfied, Tina called Lewis.

During this period of time, Dominic had been working hard to take the Peterson family down and Lewis had been busy fighting back.

After a meeting, he saw many missed calls from Tina on his phone. He didn‘t think too much about it until his phone started ringing again.

Annoyed, Lewis answered it impatiently.

From the other end of the line, Tina complained in an aggrieved tone, “Lewis, can you teach your mistress some proper manners? She texts me hateful messages every day,”

Before she could finish her sentence, Lewis hung up impatiently. He was so busy that he had no time to deal with this bullshit.

Being met witħ the busy dial tone, Tina smiled.

Now she had a reason to go to his office. She carefully gathered her things and took a taxi directly to his company.

Mission Accomplished Tina soon Arrived at the Peterson Group’s headquarters.

As soon as she entered the building, she saw a group of men in suits and leather shoes in the lobby.

She saw the side profile of the man standing in the middle.

It was none other than Dominic.

It seemed that he had felt her gaze because he then turned his head.

Seeing that Tina had come, he nodded imperceptibly.

Then he went up to the thirteenth floor with the senior executives of the Porter Group, exchanging pleasantries.

According to his plan with Tina, today was the designated date he would come to the Peterson Group to negotiate with Lewis.

Lewis wouldn’t bring his laptop with him to the meeting.

Usually, he would leave it in his office.

This was the opportunity that Dominic had created for Tina.

While they were busy negotiating, Tina would have access to Lewis’s computer.

After waiting for a little over ten minutes downstairs, Tina figured that the meeting must’ve started, so she rushed to Lewis’s office.

But when she arrived at the door, Lewis’s assistant blocked her way.

“Mrs. Peterson, I’m sorry but Mr. Peterson has told me that no one is allowed to enter his office.

Please follow me to the reception room.

You can wait for him there.” Tina smiled coldly.

“I’m his wife. Why can’t I wait in his office? If even I am not allowed into his office, then why is his mistress?” Being scolded like this, the assistant stuttered falteringly.

“N-no, Mrs. Peterson. I’m… I’m just doing my job.” Truth be told, Lewis had indeed brought his mistress into his office before, which made the assistant feel a bit guilty.

With her arms crossed over her chest, Tina sneered coldly.

“I’ll let you go if you get out of my way. I plan on waiting for him in his office, nowhere else. I have to see him today to tell him to discipline that mistress of his.”

The assistant squeezed his eyes shut for a second and took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Peterson. I have to do what Mr. Peterson says.” Tina slapped away the assistant’s outstretched hand and said, “I didn’t think you’d be so loyal to him. But you should be careful. Remember, I haven’t divorced him yet! And yet you already refuse to take me seriously? Do you know the consequences of offending me?” Tina still held the prestigious title of “Mrs. Peterson”

Now, the assistant couldn’t afford to offend her. Besides, thanks to the way Lewis previously treated her, the assistant didn’t think that Tina was bright nor cunning enough to do anything suspicious inside Lewis’s office.

After hesitating for a few seconds, he finally stepped aside.

Before the assistant left, he asked politely, “Mrs. Peterson, are you thirsty? Would you like some water or juice maybe?” Tina sank into the sofa in Lewis’s office and started flipping through the magazine on the table.

“No, you can go out now. By the way, please turn off the CCTV camera in Lewis’s office. I don’t want a video of me and my husband fighting to be leaked.” After a slight pause, she added, “If his mistress wants to come inside, stop her. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to see blood in here.”

“Oh, um, I see.” The assistant faltered under Tina’s cruel gaze.

A scornful woman in an unhappy marriage was really scary.

He still remembered that the first time they met a few years ago.

Tina was a gentle and elegant woman back then.

After the assistant bowed and closed the door behind him, Tina immediately stood up and walked towards Lewis’s desk.

The laptop was sitting in plain sight.

Tina looked around and found that the red light on the CCTV camera was indeed off.

She couldn’t help but chuckle at how the assistant was such a gullible young man.

Now, she had plenty of time to copy the data on Lewis’s laptop.

She didn’t know how long the meeting would last, but since Dominic had seen her just now, she knew he’d try his best to buy her time.

Tina promptly inserted the flash drive into the laptop.

Eventually, all the content in the computer was downloaded.

The Indictment Tina quickly unplugged the flash drive and shut the laptop.

Just as she tucked the flash drive into her bag, she heard the sound of footsteps and talking from right outside the door.

It was Lewis.

“Send me the meeting notes later.” he was saying to someone.

The moment he opened the door, his eyes landed on Tina.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 356 – SECRETLY OVERJOYED

He was stunned for two seconds, and then frowned unhappily.

“What are you doing here?” As he spoke, his eyes were full of scrutiny and suspicion.

“Finally!! I’ve been waiting for you for so damn long.

You hung up on me, so I had no choice but to come here.

Can you please keep your woman in line? She won’t stop harassing me! If it weren’t for all the money you promised to give me, I would’ve taught her a hard lesson by now!” Tina seemed so angry that she gritted her teeth and wagged her finger at Lewis.

When in reality, she was only acting.

“She’s still young.

Just cut her some slack, will you?” Lewis put down the documents in his hands and glanced around the office.

His devices all had passwords.

Even if Tina wanted to do something, she wouldn’t have succeeded.

Besides, he doubted Tina would try to do anything sinister, like stealing valuable information from him.

“Are you really going to just stand by and watch until she kills my baby?” Tina was very dissatisfied with his dismissive attitude.

Lewis frowned and pressed the spot between his brows.

Women were such troublesome creatures.

“l’ll talk to her tonight.

Satisfied? Now, get out!” he snapped impatiently.

This was exactly what Tina wanted.

She successfully got everything she came for.

“You’d better keep your word.

I don’t want to come here a second time!” Tina cast him a resentful glance, pretending to be annoyed, and then left in a hurry.

Instead of going back to the Peterson family home, Tina went straight to the cafe, where she was to rendezvous with Dominic.

When she arrived, Dominic was already there, waiting for her.

He was sitting at a table and had ordered a cup of decaf latte for her.

“All the information in Lewis’s computer is here.” Tina handed the flash drive to him.

Dominic slipped the small drive into his pocket and nodded in satisfaction.

“Thank you.” After saying that, he stood up to leave.

“If there is really evidence of him doing illegal things in here, I’ll sue him before the month ends.

But be warned: he’ll probably feel suspicious of you after receiving the indictment.

Be careful.” Tina sipped from her cup of coffee and nodded seriously.

Dominic returned to the Porter Group with the flash drive.

After handing the drive to the technical staff to decode the data in it, they soon found something of interest.

Dominic called the senior executives and the lawyers to a meeting that night.

As expected, they found a lot of evidence of Lewis’s crimes.

After getting everything ready, Dominic filed a case against Lewis.

Lewis received the indictment from the court exactly three days later.

“*********, Dominic!” It was the first time that Lewis had lost his cool like this.

He went crazy and smashed everything in his office to vent his anger.

He knew that Dominic would never sue him without any hard evidence.

But both his computer and the company’s safe were password- protected, and only he knew the passwords.

Of course, someone might’ve be able to get their hands on the data in other ways, but how did Dominic’s men get inside his office? Lewis couldn’t figure it out.

In the end, there was only one possibility left: there was a mole in the company.

The Trial With a dangerous look in his eyes, Lewis made a phone call.

“Call all our senior eXecutives here.

Now,’ he hissed into the receiver.

When all the senior executives were present, Lewis asked someone to investigate their bank account records.

He thought that he would definitely find the mole.

Dominic had collected solid evidence against them, which was extremely disadvantageous to Lewis.

He had to come up with a plan.

He refused to lose to Dominic so easily.

At the very least, he had to find the mole who had betrayed him.

But two days later, the investigation turned up fruitless.

None of their senior executives had anything to do with the Porter Group.

Plus, they all knew that it was a sensitive time for both companies, so everyone had been avoiding contact with people from the Porter Group.

Lewis had also checked and double-checked the company’s surveillance footage, but didn’t find anything suspicious.

Lewis pursed his lips, feeling that he had missed something, but he couldn’t figure out what it was.

The in-house nutritionists and servants of the Peterson family had been taking good care of Tina these days.

And her belly was slowly getting bigger and bigger with each day that passed.

The weather was getting hot lately, but she still had a good appetite and had eaten a hearty lunch today.

After finishing her food, Tina went to the garden to relax.

No one knew what was on her mind as she stared into the distance, lost in thought, stroking her belly absentmindedly.

“Mrs. Peterson, have some fruits.” The servant brought Tina a tray full of sliced fruits and set it on the table.

However, Tina was not in the mood to eat.

She had heard that Lewis already received the indictment from Dominic and was discussing with his lawyer how to deal with it.

“Don’t forget to tell me when Lewis comes back.” Tina reminded, leaning into her chair with her eyes closed.

She tried her best not to look nervous and recalled that day step by step, trying to find out if she had left anything that might’ve pointed to her.

The only thing suspicious about her that day was that she had asked Lewis’s assistant to turn off the CCTV camera in his office.

But the Peterson family was on the verge of bankruptcy, and that was all the more reason for Lewis’s assistant to keep his mouth shut.

If word got out that he was the one who had turned off the CCTV in Lewis’s office, he’d definitely have to take the fall.

Now, there was nothing Tina could do but wait for the trial.

A week later, the trial began.

Tina attended the trial as a member of Lewis’s family.

They hadn’t seen each other in a few days, and Lewis looked much more haggard than before.

His five o’clock shadow made him age ten years.

Tina was secretly overjoyed to see him in such a mess.

Suppressing a smug smile, she inadvertently caught a glimpse of Jodie, who was sitting a few rows ahead of her.

She too looked like a mess.

She was crying so hard that she kept wiping her tears and blowing her nose into a tissue.

Lewis wasn’t all that unlucky.

At least in this trial, there was someone who sincerely hoped he could win.

Tina withdrew her sight and subconsciously placed her hand on her rounded belly.

Her fate, as well as the child’s, depended on the outcome of today’s trial.

Soon, the judge came in and announced the beginning of the trial.

Because of all the solid evidence stacked against Lewis, Dominic won without a shadow of a doubt.

Lewis was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment.

Of course, Lewis couldn’t accept such a fate.

He looked calm, but his bloodshot eyes and trembling fingers exposed his panic.

Holding onto hope, he filed an appeal, but the original sentencing was maintained in the second and final trial.

When the final judgment came, Lewis nearly broke down on the spot.

Tina had attended both trials.

It was the first time in her life that she had seen Lewis bowing his head.







CHAPTER 357 – HOW COULD YOU

Twenty years’ imprisonment.

Lewis was already in his 30s, and so he’d be over fifty years old by the time he got out.

His life would be almost over by then.

On the day of the final sentencing, Tina went to see Lewis.

When Lewis was about to be taken away, Tina walked up to him and said calmly, “I’m here to say goodbye. Don’t worry about the baby. I’ll raise him well.”

Lewis’s eyes were devoid of life.

For the first time, he said, “Thank you.”

Tina smiled knowingly. How stupid he was! She leaned closer to him and whispered, “Haven’t you figured out how Braden got his hands on all that evidence?”

Since she would never see Lewis again, Tina decided to tell him the truth. At first, Lewis didn’t understand why Tina would ask him such a question, but it soon dawned on him. His eyes went as wide as saucers and his heart was filled with anger and indignation. He opened his mouth and stared at Tina in disbelief.

“It was you! You were the one who used my computer and stole all my files! That was why you went to my study!”

Tina raised her chin and smiled triumphantly.

“Yes, it was all me. I copied the files from your laptop and gave it all to Dominic. My first attempt was a failure. Jodie caught me before I was able to copy all the files. So I went to your office to finish the job.”

Lewis’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor.

Who was this woman?! Was she really the Tina he knew? lt was said that the more timid a person looked, the more ruthless they would be when cornered. It was true for Tina.

All of a sudden, a cold smile appeared on Lewis’s face and his eyes took on a dangerous light.

“I never thought that you’d be the one to deliver the fatal blow. I should’ve taken you more seriously.”.

It never occurred to him that Tina would have the guts—and the intelligence—to pull off such a stunt.

Lewis had always thought that she was a simple, stupid woman who let others walk all over her.

In his eyes, Tina had always bent over backwards for others.

“Yes, you’ve always looked down upon me, and it ended up being your downfall. Lewis, thanks again for the loads of money. I’ll live life comfortably after our divorce.”

Tina sneered in disdain. She knew that she and her child would never be able to use up the money Lewis left them.

Lewis smiled coldly, staring at Tina, who now seemed to have changed into a completely different person. It was the first time that he realized how much he had underestimated this woman. He was such an idiot! Seeing that Lewis had fallen silent, Tina didn’t want to waste her breath on him any longer.

She turned around and was about to leave when Lewis suddenly shouted at her.

“Stop!”

Tina looked back over her shoulder coldly and asked, “What?”

After recovering from his shock just now, Lewis growled angrily, “Tina! You are my wife and a member of the Peterson family. How could you betray me?”

Tina looked at him as though he had just cracked a joke. She sneered, turned around, and carefully looked into Lewis’s fury-filled eyes. She wanted to remember the way he looked when he discovered that she was the one who brought him down, imprinting the shame and embarrassment on his face in her mind forever.

“Wife? When did you ever treat me as your wife? Or as your family even? Lewis, you are such a selfish and indifferent bastard. Yet you dare to ask why I betrayed you? You betrayed me first!”

“You set me up! Tina, I’ve given you the money you wanted. Why would you go behind me back?” Lewis demanded.

Tina smiled calmly, but her eyes were devoid of warmth.

“Because I hate you,” she said matter-of-factly.

“I hate you for trying to take away my child. I hate you for marrying me just to use me. And when I was no longer of any use to you, you tossed me aside for another woman, whom you brought into our home to humiliate me. Even after finding out I was pregnant with your child, you didn’t change your mind. You even wanted to take my baby away! Lewis, what do you take me for?

Some lifeless doll that’ll roll over at your beck and call? No! I am a human being! I betrayed you because you betrayed me first. I have to protect my child, and in order to do that, you have to be behind bars.”

Lewis glared at Tina murderously, but he found he couldn’t say anything to refute.

The woman standing in front of him with a calm and indifferent expression was completely different from the Tina he knew.

Tina took a deep breath and shrugged.

“Well, it’s all in the past anyway. It’s meaningless to say anything more. You were good at what you did, you know? You shouldn’t have been brought down by me, a lowly housewife. But that’s precisely how you lost. The biggest obstacle to survival is not weakness nor ignorance, but arrogance.”

Lewis felt as though he was struck by lightning and all the color drained from his face.

Arrogance? Lewis had never considered himself arrogant. He had always been praised and envied by all, which led him to believe that he was better than everyone.

At a young age, he had been sent abroad. He had always been surrounded by strangers.

Even at home, the housekeepers and servants were routinely replaced, and Victor never allowed him to get close to any of them.

In addition, Victor always told him that strong men didn’t need feelings.

Having feelings was a fatal weakness.

As a Peterson, he had to be undefeatable.

Thus, Lewis had grown to be indifferent to everything.

Nothing in this world attracted him other than money and power.

But in the end, his own arrogance was the death of him.

Tina watched as Lewis was taken away by the marshals. She watched him walk out of the court room with his shoulders slumped over in defeat.

Suddenly, she remembered the first time she met Lewis. Lewis was standing by the door of her house, looking at her gently. It was love at first sight for her.

Fortunately, she saw things clearly now.

Expressionless, Tina picked up her bag and left the courthouse. It was a sunny day. She breathed in the fresh air and smiled with relief, as if she had been reborn.

When she returned home, Tina filed for a divorce.

As Dominic had promised her, he hired the best lawyer to assist her with the divorce. It didn’t take long before Tina successfully divorced Lewis.

Because she held an overwhelming advantage over him, she ended up getting more property than Lewis had originally promised her.

Additionally, since she hadn’t given birth to their baby yet, the court gave her sole custody of the child.

When everything was finally settled, Tina invited Dominic and Rachel to a fancy restaurant for a celebratory dinner….

“Cheers!” The three clinked glasses merrily.

Because she was pregnant, Tina didn’t have wine and instead was nursing a glass of orange juice.

With a smile, she sighed in relief and said, “Finally, it is over! I won’t have to worry about him finding me out anymore. These days, I had been worried sick! I could’ve died from anxiety!”

Rachel was also happy for her. She raised her glass and clinked it with hers.

“Cheers to your freedom, Tina!” Tina grinned from ear to ear.

Then she turned to Dominic and said sincerely, “Thank you so much for helping me. Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to take Lewis down on my own.”

Dominic nodded and humbly added, “If it weren’t for your help, I wouldn’t have been able to pin Lewis down for his crimes.”

Rachel smiled and reached for Dominic’s hand, squeezing it gently.

“We should be the ones thanking you. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to defeat Lewis so easily.” Tina chuckled.

“This serves him right. If he hadn’t been so ruthless, I wouldn’t have done this to him.”

“Now you’re the biggest winner, aren’t you? The property he left you is more than enough for you and your child to live a happy life, you lucky lady!” Rachel teased Tina playfully.

“Well, actually most of his assets are under investigation now, so there might not be much left afterwards. I can’t count on the money he left me. Moreover, I feel like a career is calling me. Truth be told, I wanted to treat you two to dinner today because I have one more thing I wanted to ask from you…”

Tina looked at Rachel expectantly, waiting for her answer. Rachel couldn’t figure out what she was building up to.

“What is it?”

“I want to go back to the design industry after I give birth to the baby, but I’ve been a housewife for years now, isolated from society.” Tina bit her lip anxiously.

“I haven’t designed a single thing in years. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pick up everything I learnt from college.”

It turned out that her request was no big deal. Without hesitation, Rachel said, “Don’t worry. I’ll help you. I remember your works back then—they were all excellent. I’m sure it won’t be that hard to get you started again.”

Encouraged, Tina breathed a sigh of relief and said sincerely, “Thank you, Rachel.”

Life was so magical.

Tina had never thought that Rachel and she would meet again years after graduation and even become friends.

After the meal, Dominic drove Rachel to the airport. She had been going back and forth between Meadowview and Sunhaven recently.

Recalling what Tina had said to her, Rachel couldn’t help but sigh.

“Stephanie was right. Men are indeed the stumbling block to a woman’s career.”

Dominic, who had pulled to a stop at a red light, looked at her sharply. He brought Rachel’s hand to his mouth and nibbled on a finger.

“Me included?”

With a smile, Rachel raised her hand and patted Dominic’s cheek softly.

“No, my husband is the only exception.”

During this tumultuous period of time, the Peterson family experienced setback after setback.

As soon as Lewis’s illegal acts had been exposed, many other people were put behind bars as the investigation unfolded.

As for the Peterson family’s business, most of Lewis’s companies in Williamland were shut down, which greatly affected the Peterson family’s power. Now, they were no match for the Porter Group.

Even before the trial, Victor had been running all over the country trying to keep the Peterson Group afloat. The stress had aged him ten years overnight, adding wrinkles to his haggard tired face.

When he heard about Lewis’s verdict, he completely broke down. He didn’t even have the strength to try and pull himself together anymore.

Before returning to his home, Victor went to the private hospital where Remy was admitted.







CHAPTER 358 – ULTIMATUM

“You underestimated Dominic. I’ve always found him to be a smart, composed person. When he was little, Amanda, a grown woman, often picked on him. Yet he still managed to get this far on his own.””

While Remy had been confined in the hospital the past few weeks, she still caught word of what was happening outside.

But at her age, she could no longer meddle in these matters anymore. And she didn’t intend to…

Remy sighed sadly.

“I don’t have much time left. When your father was still alive, he used to say that people should pursue virtue after they pursued wealth. You’ve used up all the virtue he had saved for the family, and we’re no longer blessed.”

As she spoke, Victor poured her a glass of water and handed her the medication on the bedside table. He frowned and said, “Mom, stop talking like that.”

Remy sighed and pushed the medication cup away with her wrinkled hand.

“I’ve been taking this same medicine for years and it has done me no good. You can go back. I want to rest now.”.

Victor returned to his home alone, despair looming over him like a storm cloud. The house was empty, aside from the servants.

In the past, Victor usually heard the short-tempered Eric quarreling with his mother at home. But now, the house was eerily quiet and lifeless.

Victor sank into the sofa wearily, burying his face in his palms. He had no way to fix this.

Now Victor was fully aware of just how terrifying and cruel Dominic was. The latter had shown no mercy to his own family.

Dominic had picked off all of Victor’s family one by one—first, his wife, then his youngest son, and then his eldest. Even the Peterson Group, Victor’s pride and joy, had been destroyed. Now he had nothing.

“Sir, Mr. Dominic is at the door.”

A servant came and report to Victor.

Before Victor could say anything, Dominic strode into the living room with his hands in his pockets.

He looked around the house quietly. .

“The house is the same as before, yet it feels different. There used to be too many people in this home and it got too crowded.

Now it’s empty, which is good. It makes the house look bigger.” Dominic walked to the sofa opposite Victor and sat down, sneering coldly. Victor laughed bitterly.

“Are you here to see me at the end of my rope?” Dominic remained unfazed.

“On the contrary, I’m here to offer you a way out. Whether you take it or not will actually depend on you.”

Victor doubted Dominic would be so kind, but he was utterly exhausted and desperate. “Dominic, what more do you want? I don’t want to play any games with you anymore.”

“It’s not up to you,” Dominic answered simply, resting his chin on the back of his hand. “As you know, your family is on the verge of collapse. One push and it’ll all come crumbling down.”

Dominic paused for a few seconds and frowned at Victor. “But if you turn yourself in, admit to the police and the public that you raped and then slandered my mother, and apologize to her in front of her tomb, I will let you and your family go.”

Victor’s expression changed.

If he did this, his reputation would be ruined and irredeemable. Victor had enjoyed a certain level of prestige all these years and it’d undoubtedly be a huge shame for him to apologize to a woman he had never taken seriously.

He had only ever touched Elvira Porter because she was beautiful, nothing more.

Elvira was born in a rich family. When she was in school, many boys had chased after her, but she rejected all of them, including Victor.

However, things changed when the Porter family declined, and she was forced to take on a job as a waitress in a hotel in Sunhaven.

At the time, Victor had already married Amanda, and the Peterson Group reached its peak under his leadership. When they met again under such a circumstance, Victor wanted Elvira to be his mistress. Although she looked harmless enough, she was actually a tough woman and refused his offer without hesitation.

Victor was so angry that he raped her in the very hotel she worked at. Afterwards, he attempted to silence Elvira with money, because the latter was struggling financially. But she refused to accept his money.

Victor was afraid that the scandal would affect his reputation, so he lied to the public and claimed that Elvira had seduced him.

After all, he was rich and powerful, and there were many women who wanted to sleep with him.

It wasn’t until much later that Victor found out that Elvira was pregnant. Elvira probably didn’t abort the child because she was afraid that she might not be able to conceive again in the future, so she retreated to the countryside and gave birth to Dominic there.

Since she was incapable of fighting against the Peterson family and hadn’t stirred up any trouble, Victor ignored her existence altogether.

Unexpectedly, thirty years later, her son rose from the ashes to avenge her.

“It happened thirty years ago! Even if I admit my mistake to the public, it won’t make much of a difference. Your mother is dead,”

Victor said desperately.

Dominic expected such a response, so he said in a cold voice, “Quit making excuses. If you do as I say and turn yourself in, you’ll only be imprisoned for a few years at most, but ultimately, you’ll be able to protect your precious Peterson family. By the time you’re released from jail, you’ll have another chance to start anew. But if you don’t admit what you did, I’ll make sure you live a miserable life. I won’t stop until the Peterson family, which has been around for hundreds of years, is completely destroyed—and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. Like I said, it’s your choice now.”

Victor fell silent for a long time, and suddenly looked much older. The chandelier hanging from the ceiling illuminated his white hairs.

Seeing that he wasn’t going to respond, Dominic stood up and was about to leave.

“It seems that you don’t want to save the Peterson family. That’s fine by me.””

“Wait!” Victor’s voice suddenly sounded from behind Dominic.

Dominic paused and looked over his shoulder indifferently. .

After a long time, Victor sighed and said hoarsely, “I’ll turn myself in.”.

“For the first time, you’ve finally made a wise choice” Dominic said with a sneer.

Victor smiled bitterly and looked up at him. “Dominic, did you plan all this from the very beginning? Was everything—the court cases, the sentencing—was everything just a ploy to force me to turn myself in?”

Raising his eyebrows, Dominic turned around and stood facing Victor.

The light from outside the door illuminated his profile, but his face was against the light, making it difficult for Victor to see his expression clearly.

“In a word, yes. Although all the evidence that you raped my mom has been erased, do you honestly believe you can also erase all the crimes you’ve committed? The truth should be—and will be—revealed. My mother is innocent. It’s time for you to take the fall for your sins. We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

Then, the young man turned around and left.

Victor watched him walk away in silence.

When Dominic was gone, Victor raised his head, stared at the ceiling with his turbid eyes, and suddenly burst into manic laughter.

In the end, he lost.

Dominic had won.

The following day, Victor went to the cemetery to see Elvira.

He had never been there before.

The cemetery was located in a decent area.

Nearby, there was a large plot of land covered in daisies, and the cemetery was surrounded by pine trees.

When Elvira was still alive, she liked flowers very much.

It was not difficult to see why Dominic chosen this spot as her final resting place.

Victor set a bunch of lilies in front of her grave.

Looking at the black and white photograph on the tombstone, he suddenly felt that time had slipped away from him.

In the photo, Elvira’s beautiful and gentle smile was immortalized.

Thinking of what had happened in the past, Victor suddenly found himself unable to look at her photograph.

He lowered his head, wrought with guilt.

Get on your knees.

What my mother needs is your apology.” Victor heard Dominic’s cold voice from behind him.

Feeling humiliated, he squeezed his eyes shut.

He hadn’t felt an ounce of guilt for over twenty years, and now he waso nly here due to Dominic’s ultimatum.

I’m sorry, Elvira. I made a terrible mistake. I, Victor Peterson, hereby apologize to you.” Victor had to kneel down in front of the grave.

Victor had been kneeling for over an hour before Dominic finally allowed him to stand up again.

After leaving the cemetery, Victor went straight to the police department and turned himself in.

He admitted to his crime of rape from thirty years ago.

Dominic had already arranged for the media to report this matter to the public.

Thirty years ago, Victor slandered Elvira, claiming that she had seduced a married man to sleep with her.

Ever since then, the public had thought lowly of her.

Now, her name was finally cleared and her innocence was restored.

Reading the news on the newspaper, Rachel was still not satisfied.

Sighing heavily, she murmured, “It’s been so many years.

People have forgotten all about it.

Victor is really lucky.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 359 – ROLLING DOWN

Victor was already put into prison by the time the paper came out.

Dominic sighed and rested his head on her shoulder.

“Destroying the Peterson family completely will only dirty my hands, which is something my mom wouldn’t want to see.

If she was still alive, she would’ve approved what I am doing now.

Okay, honey.

It’s up to you.

Turning her head to look at him, Rachel pinched his cheek and kissed it.

You can finally take a break now.

Dominic smiled, closed his eyes, and said nothing.

Since he had given his word to Victor, he didn’t do anything to the other members of the Peterson family, which gave them the opportunity to regroup.

Despite this, they had lost most of their power and were deemed irrelevant now.

A few days later, Dominic held a press conference.

He officially announced to the public that he would detach himself from the Peterson family completely and that he would have nothing to do with the Peterson family from now on.

He was no longer Dominic Peterson, but only Braden Porter.

An Unexpected Incident After the press conference, Braden didn’t take Rachel straight home.

Instead, he drove all the way to the cemetery again.

The two went to Elvira’s grave together.

Braden had also brought the cake that his mother was fond of.

“Mom, I’ve finally avenged you and cleared your name.” Braden knelt down and carefully placed the cake in front of the grave.

With a gentle look on his face, he touched her photo on tombstone and murmured, “After this, Rachel and I, we’ll go to Meadowview and we won’t come back too often in the future.

I’m sorry.” Rachel knelt down next to him and held his arm, looking at Elvira’s picture.

“Braden and I are very happy now. The guy who hurt you in the past is now behind bars.” Just then, a cool breeze blew past the cemetery, washing over the two refreshingly.

It was as though this was Elvira’s gentle response.

Right when they got home from the cemetery, Rachel began to pack their things.

Braden put his hand on her suitcase and stopped her gently.

“There’s no hurry. We still have another day before you have to go back to work, right? There’s something very important we have to do first.”

“What is it? Does it have anything to do with the Peterson family?” Rachel looked up at him anxiously.

Braden’s eyes took on a different light.

He pulled Rachel towards him, got close to her ear, and whispered softly, “Nadia and Tina are both expecting babies.

Don’t you want one too?” Hearing this, Rachel blushed, lowered her head, and munmuree.

shyly, “But I want to keep working.” Truth be told, when she found out that Nadia was pregnant, something sparked in her heart.

“I know you want a baby,” Braden said with a smile.

“We can just let nature take its course. Now that your work is stable, there’s no reason we can’t have one. I think our child will be very cute!” The two of them were naked in bed, making love, when the phone suddenly rang.

“Oh, it’s the healthcare worker who takes care of Norma. Braden, I have to take this.” Blushing slightly, Rachel pushed Braden gently.

She had wanted to take Norma to Meadowview, but the latter was used to life in the village and didn’t want to leave, so Rachel hired a healthcare worker to look after Norma.

The voice of the caregiver from the other end of the line was anxious.

“Mrs. Porter, Norma’s condition is deteriorating. She’s afraid that you’d worry about her, so she asked me not to contact you. But I didn’t think that was a good idea, so I called. Can you take her to a hospital in the city some time?”

Hearing about Norma’s situation, Rachel instantly lost her appetite for sex.

She asked Braden to get off of her and quickly got dressed.

“Norma’s health is getting worse. I have to take her to the hospital right away. And about the baby… Let’s talk about it when I come back.” With an apologetic smile, Rachel buttoned her clothes and bent over to kiss Braden on the lips.

“Be careful on the road. I have a meeting in Meadowview tonight. I’m sorry I can’t go with you. I’ll arrange a driver to take you there.” Leaning against the wall, Braden eyed Rachel with lingering lust.

With her coat and bag in tow, Rachel hurried out of the room as she said, “It’s okay. I can go there by myself. Don’t worry. I’ll be back as soon as I get Norma.” After leaving the house, she headed for the countryside.

It was very sultry in the summer in Sunhaven, and the mornings felt like a sauna.

In the afternoons, however, there were often thunderous rainstorms.

As soon as the car reached the mountain road, the wind outside started to howl, indicating the rainstorm to come.

“The weather’s really fickle out here,” the driver looked at the sky outside the window and couldn’t help but complain.

After living in Sunhaven for so many years, Rachel was already used to the fickle weather.

So she just reminded the driver, “Drive carefully.” As soon as she finished speaking, she looked ahead and saw a huge boulder on the cliff in front of her suddenly rolling down the hill—and it was coming straight at them!

The rolling boulder was huge.

If it hit the car, they’d be smashed to pieces! Shocked, the driver couldn’t help but curse, “F*ck!” He turned the steering wheel immediately to dodge the stone and the whole car swerved to the right.

Sitting in the back seat of the car, Rachel was flung towards the window due to the momentum.

Her heart pounded in her chest as she watched the car narrowly avoid the rolling boulder.

However, she didn’t have the time to be relieved.

Right after they dodged the boulder, the car rammed into the guardrail on the roadside, flying off the edge of the cliff—falling right into the ocean! The whole world was spinning as Rachel screamed at the top of her lungs.

Soon, the car hit the surface of the water.

Fortunately, the cliff wasn’t too high, so the impact of the car falling into the water wasn’t strong enough to knock Rachel out.

She had been in this situation before and knew what to do.

Panicking was useless.

She took a deep breath and held it, waiting for the sea water to completely fill the car.

The moment the water pressure inside and outside the car were the same…

She seized the opportunity, kicked the window open , and swam out.

She swam upward, towards the light.

Her surroundings were endlessly blue, but she tried to keep calm and kept kicking and paddling.

When her head was out of the water, she spat out a mouthful of sea water and gasped for air.

Her vision had gone a little blurry thanks to the saltwater in her eyes.

After blinking furiously for a moment, she turned and looked around.

“Sir? Are you there? Where are you?” She had been so focused on surviving that she didn’t notice if the driver was able to escape.

To her despair, nobody answered her.

Her heart sank.

The driver was most likely dead.

The car should have sunk into the depths of the sea by now.

It was impossible for her to dive into the water to save the driver…

Now, she had to save herself! Rachel looked around and found that she was surrounded by steep, slippery rocks.

There wasn’t a place along the cliff where she could get ashore.






CHAPTER 360 – SUFFOCATING FEAR

The sea wind was getting stronger and stronger, stirring up the waves with it.

The sky was also gloomy, and the dark clouds seemed to conquer the world.

A heavy rainstorm was about to come.

Rachel swam to the edge of the reef in desperation.

She tried to climb up the rock, but the rock had been by the sea for countless years and it was covered in slippery seaweed.

No matter how hard she tried to find a solid foot hold, her feet kept slipping and she’d fall into the sea.

She tried again and again, but it was futile.

Her strength was gradually exhausted.

She held the rock breathlessly and didn’t know where to go for a moment.

At this time, the wind was getting stronger, and streaks of lightning lit up the dark clouds.

Thunder roared across the sea , and the waves grew bigger and bigger.

There was no time! Staring at the huge waves rushing towards her, Rachel trembled in fear.

She took a deep breath when the first huge wave rolled in front of her.

Then she squeezed her eyes shut and held her breath.

The wind and waves hit the rocks over and over, accompanied by terrifyingly heavy rain…

By the time the sea gradually calmed down, Rachel was nowhere to be found…

With great difficulty, Rachel peeled her eyes open.

She was still alive! When the storm came, she was swept away by a huge wave.

Fortunately, the wave took her to a nearby reef, where she passed out.

When she tried to get up from the reef, she found that she couldn’t.

Some water rushed into her nose.

She coughed violently and spat out the seawater.

The reef was isolated from the sea, and only a fraction of the road could be seen in the distance.

Rachel climbed to the center of the reef and tried to regroup.

The reef was quite large, so she could temporarily settle here.

But there was no food nor water here.

If no one came to her rescue, she would undoubtedly starve to death, if dehydration didn’t take her life first.

Rachel reached into her pocket and her heart sank.

Her phone was in her bag, and her bag was in the car, and the car was in the bottom of the sea.

There was nothing she could do to seek for help.

Squatting on the reef, she looked to the distance with expectant eyes.

She had no choice but to hope and pray that boats passing by would see her.

On the road by the sea, a huge boulder had rolled down from the mountain and blocked the way.

The obstruction caused a traffic jam on the highway, and the drivers kept honking.

Someone called the road maintenance personnel, but he was told that it would take at least two days to haul the boulder out of the way.

The road that was blocked led to the countryside and was by no means a main road.

Most of the people stuck on the road were simply trying to get back to their hometown.

Seeing that the road was blocked, most of them just turned around to drive back, failing to notice that the guardrail beyond the boulder was broken.

In the evening, the setting sun lit up the horizon, turning the blue ocean an orange hue.

Finally, the road maintenance personnel arrived at the scene.

“Hey, look at this! The guardrail’s broken.” The maintenance man stood beside the guardrail and inspected the damage.

“The marks here are new.

Could a car have fallen into the sea?” “Oh, God. I think so. Call the authorities.” Another maintenance man immediately dialed the police.

After informing the police, he sighed.

“The weather has been terrible these days. I wonder if the police will be able to find the poor souls.” As soon as the police received the call from the road maintenance personnel, they immediately sent personnel to search and rescue.

The dark clouds became more and more gloomy.

The rain, which had stopped momentarily, began to pour once again.

In the well-lit building of the Porter Group in Meadowview, after his meeting, Braden looked out of the window at the fierce storm and took his phone from his assistant.

“Did my wife call?” The assistant shook her head.

“No, Mr. Porter.

You said that if Mrs. Porter called, I should inform you immediately.

But she didn’t.” Braden checked his phone and found that there were no notifications from Rachel.

Something was wrong.

She should’ve made it to the countryside by this time.

Braden tried calling Rachel several times, and then tried calling the driver, but nobody answered.

He trusted the driver, which was why he had ordered him to take Rachel to the countryside.

Frowning, Braden found Norma’s landline number.

“Rachel? She’s not here.” The caregiver who took care of Norma answered the phone.

Braden had an ominous premonition and immediately turned to his assistant.

“Send someone to check the surveillance cameras along the road and the traffic accident records in Sunhaven today!” After a while, the assistant came to Braden with a report.

“At around four o’clock this afternoon, there was a landslide on the highway road near the sea.

There was indeed a car accident—a Car rammed into the guardrail and fell into the sea.”

“I’m going back to Sunhaven now.

Send out our men and the helicopters immediately.” As he gavee the orders, Braden’s heart sank.

He had a bad feeling that something bad might’ve happened to Rachel.

The assistant hesitated.

“Mr. Porter, the Weather in Sunhaven is bad.

The wind is terribly strong and the rain is like hail; I’m afraid a helicopter can’t take off under such circumstances.

Even if they manage to do it, it’ll be very dangerous.” Frowning, Braden came up with another solution.

“Then have someone rent some ships and search the water near Sunhaven.” An accident that happened in this kind of weather was likey fatal.

It was highly probably that both Rachel and the driver had died.

Worse yet, it was unlikely they’d be able to find their bodies.

As the realization sunk in, for the first time in his life, Braden felt a sense of suffocating fear.

He couldn’t lose Rachel! He just couldn’t! Soon, the Coltons learned about the accident from Braden.

The two of them were asleep in bed when they received the news.

Joyce, disheveled and unkempt, immediately came to Sunhaven with Benjamin.

Joyce had been crying non-stop in the car.

“Everything will be fine.

I’ve hired a lot ships to look for Rachel.

Our daughter will come home safely, honey.” However, tears welled up in Benjamin’s eyes as he spoke, and his voice shook slightly.

He couldn’t imagine what would happen to Rachel if she had actually fallen into the sea.

When Joyce and Benjamin arrived at the scene, they happened to witness the car that Rachel was in being hauled out of the water.

“Unfortunately, the driver failed to get out of the car and died.

As for Mrs. Porter, she’s not in the car and we haven’t found her yet.” The rescue personnel reported the situation to Braden, who had also arrived.

“Keep searching.” Frowning, Braden couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.

There was a glimmer of hope that Rachel might still be alive since they hadn’t found her body in the car.










CHAPTER 361 – GIVE ME THE PHONE

“We’re going to search the islands in the area. The waves were huge earlier, so Mrs. Porter might’ve been swept away to a nearby island.” After reporting this to Braden, the rescuers turned around to head to their ship.

“Wait.” Braden called them.

He put on a life-saver and followed the rescue team to the ship.

“I’ll go with you.” Wiping away her tears, Joyce tried to stop him.

“Braden, you’re not thinking straight.

The wind is too strong.

It’s too dangerous for you to go with them.” However, Braden shook his head firmly.

“I’ll bring Rachel back safely.” The waves never ceased.

Instead, they became more and more violent, which was a huge roadblock to the rescue team.

After what felt like an eternity at the sea, the search and rescue team still got nothing.

Braden asked, “How long have we been looking for her?” “Some other boats came here earlier than we did.

They’ve been searching for an hour along the coast, but there’s no sign of her yet,” the rescue team member said through chattering teeth.

It had been raining nonstop and night had fallen.

The temperature continued to drop, and everyone was shivering from the cold.

Braden nodded and said nothing more.

He continued to stand at the bow of the ship with the binoculars.

His Colton shirt was drenched from the rain, clinging to his broad shoulders.

He didn’t hide from the rain.

Instead, he stood with his back straight and a determined look in his eyes.

The rescue personnel on the ship couldn’t hold on any longer.

They even resorted to drinking liquor to warm themselves in the cabin, and one of the crew poured a mug for Braden.

He shouted at Braden, “Mr. Porter, would you like to come in and have a drink? You might freeze to death out here.” “Thank you.” Braden accepted the mug of liquor and downed it in one gulp.

A warm feeling quickly flowed through his body, but he was still filled with worry.

He couldn’t help but ask, “Any news from the other teams?” A rescuer rubbed his hands to keep warm and shook his head.

“Not yet, Mr. Porter.

Do you want to go inside and rest for a bit? I’ll keep an eye out here.” Braden sighed.

He nodded, gave the binoculars to the rescuer, and turned around to walk back to the cabin.

However, as soon as he took a step forward, his vision suddenly blurred…

The next second, he fainted on the deck.

All of a sudden, Braden passed out. Everyone was in a panic and hurried to carry him safely into the cabin.

The rescue personnel immediately set out to check on his condition.

“Mr.Porter may have fainted from stress and fatigue. Let’s go back to shore and take him to the hospital.”

“No!”

A female voice suddenly came from the door of the cabin.

Everyone turned to look in the direction of the voice. One of the employees from the Porter Group recognized the woman and gasped.

“M…Ms. Palmer, what’re you doing here?”

The accident had happened too suddenly, and Kristian was still in Meadowview.

Apart from the staff of the search and rescue team, some of Braden’s trusted employees who were stationed in Sunhaven were also here. They had heard about the accident and immediately came to help.

“I’ve been friends with Braden for years. Now that his wife got into an accident, of course I came to help in any way I could.”

Smiling slightly, Charlene explained herself patiently.

“Going back will delay the rescue. I brought my yacht here. I can take him back to the hospital myself while you guys carry on with the search.”

The rain was getting heavier and heavier, and the sails were whipping violently in the wind. A hint of excitement flashed through Charlene’s eyes as she spoke.

She had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Not long ago, she found out that Norma was in a hospital in the countryside.

It took her little effort to bribe someone from the hospital to secretly change Norma’s medicine, which made her health deteriorate exponentially. She did all this to force Rachel to come to the countryside.

There was one caveat to her plan: the possibility that Braden would come along.

But even God was on her side this time. She could push through with her plan since Braden wasn’t in the car with Rachel. She had also hired someone to stage the ‘accident’.

Charlene had thought that Rachel would die in the car after the rock squashed it, but things didn’t go exactly according to her plan, because the car dodged the boulder and fell into the sea.

After this little setback, she had to carry out another plan. She took advantage of Braden’s distraction and bribed a man from search and rescue team to let her board their ship. She then managed to spike Braden’s drink with the drug that would make him lose part of his memory.

Everyone present didn’t doubt her when she said she would take Braden back.However, one employee from the Porter Group did feel that it wasn’t really appropriate.

“Ms.Palmer, you don’t work in the Porter Group anymore, so l think we should take care of him. There are four other teams searching the area anyway. We can surely go back and send him to the hospital.”

“Whether I still work in the Porter Group or not, Braden and I are still good friends,” Charlene said in a sincere tone.

“We can’t waste more time here. I think Braden passed out from the cold. He’s the backbone of the Porter Group. We have to keep him alive and well. Just let me take him to the hospital-now!”

When Charlene was fired from the Porter Group, nobody knew that she had fallen out with Braden.

Everyone present found that what she said was reasonable, so nobody dared to protest any further.

“Okay then, let’s help Mr. Porter to Ms. Palmer’s yacht.” The employees exchanged glances and finally agreed.

Rachel came back to consciousness to the sound of the ceaseless thunderous claps of the surf against the rocks. She opened her eyes again and looked at the sea.

The rain had eased up completely but the sky was still an ominous gloomy grey. She had no idea of how long she had been there. She was exhausted so she curled up under the shelter of some rocks and slept for some time. She looked in the distance to the horizon and couldn’t spot a single boat or ship passing by.

There was no sign of life apart from the occasional seagull diving into the reef.

Rachel swallowed hard and licked her chapped lips, and her stomach growled ravenously.

Now she was parched and starving.

Fortunately, since it had rained today, some water had collected in a shallow depression in the reef. She lay on the reef and scooped up some water into her cupped hands. She sipped the water to try to quench her thirst.

After sipping some of it, she felt like some life had returned to her body.

As for food, Rachel could only look for seaweed and bird eggs on the rocks, which barely filled her stomach.

When a person was extremely hungry and thirsty, food of any kind felt as precious as gold.

As soon as she finished eating, a downpour of rain ensued once again.

The only thing she could do was curl up under the shelter of rocks to avoid the whipping wind and rain. The night sea breeze was frigid. She took off her wet coat and placed it on the reef. She incessantly rubbed her hands together, desperately trying to keep herself warm.

Rachel could do nothing but wait. She encouraged herself to hang on for a few more days.

There would definitely be a boat coming for her.

After two days of staying by the reef, the weather finally took a turn for the better.

The sun dispelled the dark clouds and stormy haze.

She climbed to the highest point of the reef and stared out at the sea anxiously. She desperately hoped that there would be a boat passing by. She imagined countless times that she would stand at the top of the reef and shout when she saw a boat so that the boatman could see her and come to her rescue.

Unfortunately, there were only seagulls and endless waves to accompany her.

On the third morning, Rachel was woken up by the sound of a yacht. She thought it was an auditory hallucination.

When she rubbed her eyes and looked ahead, she saw a yacht floating quite nearby! She was thrilled and filled with wild excitement!

Rachel climbed to the highest point of the reef, took off her coat, waved it, and shouted at the yacht in the distance, “This way!

Help!”

Without delay, the yacht soon approached her.

“Are you Rachel Colton? We are the rescue team sent by the Colton family.”

The muscular man on the yacht reached out his hand to pull Rachel up onto the yacht.

“Come on. In order to find you, we have searched almost every inch of this sea!”

Immersed in the excitement of being saved, Rachel walked toward the yacht and said gratefully, “Thank you! My mom and dad must be really anxious. Where is my husband? Did he come with you?”

The two people on the yacht looked at each other.

The thinner rescuer said, “Yes, they are all waiting for you on the shore. You come up here first. It will take some time to get you there.”

Rachel frowned.

Seeing their reaction to her question, she could sense something was amiss.

She smiled and said, “I want to inform my parents of my safety first. You also need to report the situation, right? Can you give me the phone? I want to talk to them.”

“Well…”

These knights in shining armor who had come to her rescue actually looked flummoxed and as if they couldn’t find the words to answer her.

Rachel immediately went on the defensive because she was now suspicious.

“Since you claim to be sent by the Colton family, you should inform them as soon as possible that you have found me. Why are you hesitating about making a phone call to them?”
 

Nayagan

Villager
Sep 19, 2023
56
91
900
Even if Dominic forgets Rachel he will not love Charlene. Even before Rachel came to his life he didn't loved Charlene. So nothing changes. Charlene will go mad if he didn't love her this time
But don't know how it will be unfold....

There is public evidence for their marriage right. Let's see
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 362 – HELPLESS

“This isn’t a good place to talk, Miss Colton! Why not get on the yacht first?”

The two men exchanged nervous glances and continued to urge Rachel to come aboard.

Rachel’s suspicion only grew. She narrowed her eyes and instinctively took a step back.

“Throw me a phone first. I want to call my family to tell them that I’m safe now.”

The strong man was obviously about to lose his patience. He said in a booming voice, “Get on the yacht first. I’ll give you a phone after you come on board.”

Rachel gritted her teeth and took another step back. Now she was certain that these two people were not here to rescue her!

Seeing that Rachel had seen through them, those two men just dropped the act.

“Fuck! She knows! Go and capture her!”

The strong man roared agitatedly. The lanky sailor jumped off the yacht and rushed toward Rachel.

Rachel quickly climbed to the top of the reef. She looked over her shoulder only to find the two men at her heels.

Left without a choice, she jumped off the edge of the reef and swam away as fast as she could.

“Boss, she jumped! Oh, God! I’m scared of heights!”

The lanky man stared at Rachel, who was getting away. But the edge of reef was too steep, and the sea seemed so far down below…

The muscled man rushed over and smacked him on the head in exasperation.

“You coward! Why are you just standing here? Jump and catch her!”

“But boss, she’s so far away already. How can I catch up with her?”

The muscled man looked at Rachel, who had already put some distance between her and them.

He gritted his teeth and hissed, “Forget it. We won’t be able to catch up to her now. Go back to the yacht and sail to the other side of the reef. We can definitely stop her from there.”

The thin man nodded in agreement.

The two men hurriedly ran to the yacht and drove in the direction Rachel had escaped just now.

The yacht sped through the waves and made it to the other side of the reef minutes later.

However, there was no sign of Rachel.

“Damn it! Where did she go?”

The lanky man scratched his head in confusion and craned his neck to search for Rachel. The muscled man lost his patience completely at that point and punched him in the gut.

“Look carefully! We might’ve just missed her!”

The two of them sailed around the reef twice more but still didn’t see Rachel anywhere.

“Did she manage to swim away?”

“Weird. How could she swim so fast? Let’s keep looking over there.” The lanky man nodded and drove the yacht farther away.

Still, there was no sign of Rachel.

The lanky man had sharp eyes. He suddenly pointed at something floating in the distance and shouted, “Look over there! The woman was wearing that coat just now!”

The muscled man scratched the stubble on his chin and mused, “Is it possible that she drowned?”

They had searched around the reef carefully, but they didn’t see Rachel. They did find her coat, which was floating far away from the reef. Was it possible that she was too tired to keep on swimming and drowned?

Unbeknownst to the two men, Rachel was clinging to the side of the reef, panting breathlessly.

In fact, she didn’t swim away at all. She was painfully aware that she couldn’t outrun their yacht, so when those men went back to their vessel, she left her coat in the sea, swam back to the reef, and hid in a shallow stone cave. She hoped that they would think she drowned and give up looking for her when they saw her coat floating in the distance.

Rachel hadn’t had a proper meal in several days. It took all her remaining strength to escape just now. She squatted weakly in the stone cave, trembling from the cold and hunger.

Things couldn’t be that simple.

The sudden landslide, the car accident, and now the hit men who tried to kill her…

All of a sudden, it dawned on Rachel.

Her “accident” was no accident at all.

Charlene waited for what felt like an eternity on the shore when the yacht finally came back.

“How’d it go? Jimmy told me you found her. So where is she?”

Charlene looked around the yacht but didn’t see Rachel. Her eyes went wide in fury.

“You didn’t lose her, did you?”

Then lanky man called Jimmy glanced at his companion John and stammered, “We did find her, and we tried to trick her into getting on the yacht… But she somehow figured out that we weren’t from the search and rescue team, so she tried to escape and jumped into the sea. After that, John and I looked for her, circling the area countless times, but we couldn’t find her. We only found her coat floating alone. She…She must’ve drowned. It’s the only possibility.”

Charlene’s eyebrows shot up dubiously.

“Really?” John nodded seriously.

“Rachel should be dead. She jumped off a very high reef and swam for a long time. And I heard there are many white sharks in that area. Even if she didn’t drown from exhaustion, she most likely would’ve been eaten by the sharks.”

Charlene grabbed Rachel’s coat and clutched it tightly in her hands. She felt no sense of relief.

Over the past couple of days, she had secretly sent a lot of people to look for Rachel, trying to get rid of this woman before anyone else found her.

She had already made Braden take the drug that would erase his memory.

If Rachel showed up again, it would disrupt her plan.

“You can’t even catch a girl! You losers! Go back to the reef and check again! Sheisn’t that stupid. I doubt she drowned! Even if she’s really dead, I wanna see her body!”

Because they only found Rachel’s coat and not her body, Charlene wasn’t convinced.

“The sun’s setting. How can we look for her in the dark? It was you who asked us to drown her. You forbade us to use any weaponry, and that was why she got away. If we could’ve used our guns, we would’ve shot her on the spot.”

John was angry. He had never gotten a job wherein the method of killing had to be so specific.

Charlene had ordered them specifically to drown Rachel and then bring back the body.

That way, everyone would believe that her death was an accident and no one would suspect foul play.

That was why she didn’t allow the hit men to use any weapon of any sort, lest they leave any suspicious marks on her body.

“How many times do I have to tell you that you have to make it look like an accident? If there is a gunshot wound on her body, the Colton family will find out that it was murder. You are all idiots!”

Jimmy rubbed his temples and complained, “But it’s getting dark now. We won’t be able to find her even if we tried. There are only reefs in that area, and there’s no food or fresh water there. Even if Rachel is still alive, she won’t last long.”

“Jesus Christ! Forget it. Let’s call it a day.”

Charlene still felt uneasy, but she knew that the chances of surviving after jumping into the sea were really low. Besides, she knew that the Colton family was also searching for Rachel nearby. If her men ran into theirs, things would be more troublesome.

Therefore, Charlene dismissed most of her men, leaving only a small group to continue searching for Rachel near the reef area.

When Braden peeled his eyes open, he saw a plain, white ceiling.

Then he saw that he was hooked onto an IV.

The clear liquid in the infusion bottle slowly but steadily made its way into his body.

He wanted to sit up, but found that he didn’t have the strength.

What’s more, he felt particularly dizzy and tired, as if something was taken away from his body.

Lying weakly in the bed, Braden tried to recall what had happened and why he was in the hospital.

But try as he might, he only felt a splitting headache.

The pain was so extreme that it hurt to even think.

“Is anyone there?” Braden shouted at the door warily.

No one answered him.

He reached for the phone on the bedside table to call someone so as to find out what had happened to him, only to realize that the device in his hand was completely alien to him.

How strange! What surprised Braden even more was the date on the phone.

How ridiculous! How could he have been asleep for two years?

His first reaction was that the date on his phone was wrong Maybe Kristian was just trying to prank him.

He put the phone down and yanked the infusion needle out of his arm, intending to go find someone to talk to.

However, when he looked up at the electronic clock on the wall unintentionally, he was stunned by what he saw.

The date displayed on the electronic clock was indeed two years later.

Braden felt helpless.







CHAPTER 363 – TOO DISTANT

Who was behind this stupid prank?

Did they think he would be deceived so easily?

The TV in the ward was still on.

Braden glanced at it and found that the date was also two years later! His expression darkened.

What the hell was going on?

Had he lost his memory?

How could his mind be in the wrong time?

Just then, a woman’s voice came from the door.

Charlene then came in with a tray of food.

“You’re awake! The doctor said that you might wake up at noon. It seems that I made the right decision, bringing you some breakfast,” Charlene joked casually.

“Cut to the chase. What the hell happened? Is the clock showing the right time?” Braden demanded anxiously.

Charlene giggled lightheartedly.

“What on earth do you mean?

Did you lose your memory just because of a high fever?” When she saw the serious look on Braden’s face, she feigned a stunned expression for a few seconds and suddenly frowned.

She rushed to his side and asked, “Braden? Are you serious? Did you really lose your memory?”

Braden’s face turned cold.

“What happened? How could a fever erase my memories?” Charlene sat on the edge of the bed and looked at him seriously.

“Hold on. I’ll ask a doctor to come and check on you. Kristian has been in Meadowview lately. You had a fever and just passed out, and I was so worried about you.”

“Why is Kristian in Meadowview? For a woman?” Braden spat angrily.

Charlene smiled and sighed.

“You’re suddenly as strict as you were two years ago. Kristian moved to Meadowview for work. The Porter Group has developed rapidly in the past two years and we have even opened up overseas markets. These days, you’ve been focusing on the development in Meadowview.”

“What else happened?” Braden soon recovered from the initial shock and quickly accepted the fact that he had lost two years of his memory.

Now, his priority was to understand what was going on in the present.

Charlene explained everything that had happened in the past two years to Braden in brief words. She even admitted that he had been married.

“Married? Interesting.” Braden’s tone took on a hint of mockery.

“Was it a marriage arranged by my family?”

“Well, something like that.” Charlene smiled and added, “But your wife got into an accident. Her car fell into the sea and she disappeared. You passed out during the search and rescue. I was the one who took you to the hospital. That was when we found out you had a high fever. Maybe… Maybe your memory was affected by the high fever.”

With a worried look on her face, Charlene continued, “I’ve never seen anyone lose their memories from a high fever. It’s kind of like a plot in a movie.”

Braden glanced at her indifferently.

“No wonder you suddenly seem more capable. I thought you and Kristian were pranking me.” Charlene stuck her tongue out at Braden and grumbled, “Who would do such a thing? We’re not kids anymore!” The smile on her face became brighter.

She looked at Braden’s side profile and felt elated. It was so good to see that her Braden was finally back.

“What does my wife look like? How come I don’t have any photos of her on my phone? Is our relationship bad?”

Braden skimmed through his phone and found that it was nearly empty, save for his contacts list.

After a short pause, Charlene said, “You accidentally dropped your phone in the sea that day, so I got you a new one. As for your relationship with your wife, I don‘t know. You seldom talk to us about her.”

Braden put the phone down on the table and frowned slightly. He was curious about his marriage, but unfortunately, he couldn‘t remember his wife at all.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Braden asked in a low voice, “Who is she? How come I don‘t remember anything about her?”

Charlene stiffened slightly.

After a split–second, she took a deep breath and handed a bowl of soup to him.

“Eat something first. I don‘t know the details, but you did mention that you married the adopted daughter of the Daley family because it was your mother‘s last wish. Later, after your identity as the CEO of the Porter Group was exposed, and Rachel found out that her biological parents were the Coltons from Meadowview. Her new social rank was now equal to yours.”

“Rachel Colton? That‘s a nice name.”

A faint smile tugged at Braden‘s lips, which made Charlene unhappy.

“What‘s gotten you so interested in her all of a sudden? You seldom mentioned her in front of us before.”

Charlene scooped up a spoonful of soup and held it in front of Braden‘s lips.

Hearing her tone of voice, Braden raised his eyebrows slightly.

“Oh? Did I dislike her so much?”

Charlene realized that she was a little emotional just now, so she forced a gentle smile.

“I’m no mind reader. How would I know? Anyway, are you going to eat or not? My hands are getting sore.”

“I can feed my own self, thank you.”

Braden took the bowl from Charlene, chugged down two mouthfuls of soup, and then put it on the table.

“I‘m fine now. You don‘t need to stay and take care of me. You can go back and get some rest.”

Even though he had lost two years‘ worth of memory, Braden was still so cold to her.

Charlene felt a sense of loss. Her smile faded.

“We‘ve been friends for years, Braden. You don‘t have to be so formal with me. It sounds too distant.”

“Distant? I don‘t think so. Our relationship has always been like this, hasn‘t it?”

Then he lay down and closed his eyes again, ignoring Charlene. He couldn‘t help but wonder about his mysterious wife. He could tell from the way Charlene explained things that he didn‘t really like his wife.

Braden didn‘t find this surprising. He was by no means a sentimental man, and he had never thought that he‘d get married, let alone love his wife.

However, since his wife was missing, he had to find her.

*******

After staying in the hospital for one more day, Braden went back to the Porter Group. He still had some doubts in his heart and couldn‘t fully believe that two years had passed.

However, he was forced to believe it when he saw just how big the Porter Group had become.

From what he could remember, the Porter Group wasn‘t this developed.

When he went to the company headquarters in Sunhaven and checked the operational status of the company, he was shocked by how far they had developed in the past two years.

“So I can sit back and enjoy the fruits of my own work?” Braden felt ridiculous.

He shut the laptop and still couldn‘t wrap his mind around this change.

Charlene had come to the office with him and briefed him on the situation of the company.

Looking back at these achievements, she was also very proud. She looked at Braden with admiration and said, “This is the fruit of your talent and effort.”

With his chin resting on his hand, Braden raised the corners of his mouth slightly and said, “About my wife, please keep looking for her.”

Charlene was a little unsatisfied to hear Braden mention that woman again. She agreed casually and then quickly changed the subject back to business.

“By the way, remember to get familiar with our business partners in Meadowview today. It‘s very important.”

Braden nodded and lowered his head, focused on his work.

Compared with the wife he couldn‘t remember, he was more concerned about the Porter Group.

Seeing that Braden finally wasn‘t paying much attention to Rachel‘s search and rescue, Charlene was relieved. She had even secretly called back many search and rescue personnel sent by the Porter Group. The current so–called “search and rescue operation “ was nothing but a facade.

After Braden finished getting up to speed with matters regarding the Porter Group, Charlene took him back to the hospital.

Before they arrived at the door of his ward, Braden insisted on going to the doctor‘s office first.

“Don‘t be in such a rush. Go to the ward and then I‘ll call a doctor for you,” Charlene said, clearly flustered “No, thanks. I can do it myself.”

Braden walked straight to the doctor‘s office with a cold expression.

Charlene had a bad feeling about this and hurried to follow him.

In the doctor‘s office, Braden went straight to the point and asked his doctor to discharge him from the hospital. He thought that there was no need for him to stay in the hospital anymore since he was fine.

The old doctor adjusted his glasses before he looked at Charlene, who was standing behind Braden, and said.

“Mr. Porter, it‘s not that I’m not allowing you to leave the hospital. It‘s just that you‘ve lost your memory from that high fever, which is very strange. I think it‘s for the better that you stay here for a few more days, so that we can keep you under observation.”








CHAPTER 364 – UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

Putting her hand on Braden‘s shoulder, Charlene added worriedly, “The doctor‘s right, Braden. Just stay in the hospital for a few more days. I can take anything work–related documents to the hospital for you. It‘s not far from the office anyway. Besides, you can always go back to the office during the day if you‘d like.”

Charlene had already bribed the doctor.

The longer she could keep Braden here, the more advantageous it would be for her.

Braden was a little hesitant. He then pursed his lips and looked at Charlene coldly.

“It sounds like you don‘t want me to go back to the company. Why is that?”

For some inexplicable reason, he felt that something was off about her.

Charlene put on a hurt expression and said seriously, “Braden, I don‘t want you to go back –because I‘m worried about your health. I‘m also concerned about your image. You can‘t expose your memory loss to the public. The more you stay in the office, the bigger the possibility that someone will found out about it. Have you ever thought about how dangerous it would be if your enemies found out about it? Although the Porter Group is very prosperous now, its competitors will leap at any opportunity to bring it down.”

Staring at her for a while, Braden‘s cold expression relaxed somewhat.

“You‘re right. What more can I say?”

Then he stood up and left the doctor‘s office.

Charlene ran after him anxiously.

Braden was acting too willful. He didn‘t listen to her at all which made her feel a little helpless and anxious.

But on second thought, wasn‘t this exactly how he had acted two years ago? He devoted himself to his work and career without any human–like feelings, just like a robot… Everything seemed to have returned to the way they were two years ago, including their relationship Kristian had been in Meadowview and only learned about Braden‘s accident recently.

He tried to call Braden, but he couldn‘t get through, which was confusing.

Finally, he learned from one of Braden‘s subordinates that he had suddenly fainted during the search and rescue operation and had been rushed to the hospital by Charlene.

Kristian smiled in relief when he heard the news. He had no idea that Braden and Charlene had fallen out with each other, nor did he knew the horrible things she had done.

He thought that although the two had some disagreements, their age–old friendship wouldn‘t fade away Charlene followed Braden back to the ward. She handed the file to him and said, “This contains all the project documents over the past two years. You can study them if you like.”

“Thank you.”

Braden took the file and was about to open it when he suddenly raised his head and asked, “Why hasn‘t Kristian come back from Meadowview yet? I need to talk to him.”

Ever since the establishment of the Porter Group, Kristian had been in charge of domestic businesses whereas Charlene headed the oversea businesses.

Naturally, Braden needed Kristian to reorient him with the company‘s local projects.

After a short pause, Charlene put on a smile and said, “If you need him, I can call him now.”

Truth be told, Kristian was her biggest concern right now.

If he spent too much time with Braden, he would definitely find out that Braden had lost his memory.

Braden nodded and proceeded to study the documents in his hands.

However, from the corner of his eye, he noticed that Charlene was still staring at him.

“What‘s wrong? Is there anything else?”

Braden paused and looked up at her irritably.

“Although you‘ve lost your memory, there‘s still something else I have to tell you. A year ago, there was a business deal that went down between the Peterson family and the Higgins family. In a word, Kristian helped the Peterson family. When you found out about it, you were furious and had a huge fight with him. After that, your relationship was severed somewhat. What I‘m saying is you‘d better be careful with him.”

Charlene didn‘t say anything more. She just needed Braden to be on guard against Kristian.

The Peterson family was his worst enemy.

Hearing this, Braden‘s expression darkened. He took what Charlene had said seriously.

Both Charlene and Kristian were his allies as well as friends when he founded the Porter Group. He had trusted them.

But two years had passed and people could‘ve changed.

All in all, he decided to take what she said with a grain of salt.

Instead of exposing how he really felt about this, he said in a low voice, “Call him. We haven‘t seen each other in a long time.”

*******

Toting several bags of tonics and healthy food, Kristian arrived at the hospital in high spirits.

As soon as he entered the room, he found Braden lying in the bed with several documents strewn about him.

“I heard that you just caught a cold in the rain?” Kristian frowned.

“But you‘ve been staying in the hospital for so long. What‘s wrong? Is it not just a cold?”

Braden put away the document in his hand and said, “Thank you for your concern. I‘m fine.I just have a low fever, but the doctor said I should stay here for a few more days.”

He didn‘t change his attitude towards Kristian, but because of what Charlene had said, he remained vigilant and didn‘t tell Kristian that he had lost his memory.

Joyce and Benjamin had been staying in Sunhaven ever since they learned of Rachel’s accident. They devoted all the time and resources possible in search of their beloved daughter.

Joyce couldn’t sleep or eat, knowing that her daughter was still out there missing.

In just three days, the radiant Joyce had grown haggard, aging her several years.

The rescue team still couldn’t find Rachel, so they simply put up tents on the shore and took turns resting.

In the end, Joyce couldn’t take it any longer and was about to get on a ship to search for Rachel herself, but Benjamin stopped her.

“How can you goin that shape? I heard that even Braden fainted on one of the search-and-rescue boats yesterday. He’s still in the hospital.”

Hearing this, Joyce wrung her hands anxiously.

“What a series of unfortunate events! How about I go to the hospital to check on Braden now? I don’t know if anyone’s taking care of him now.”

Benjamin forced a smile and wrapped his coat around Joyce. He too was exhausted after days of nonstop worrying.

“No need. Just wait here for the rescuers’ news. I’ll send my assistant to check on him.”

Benjamin’s assistant headed straight to the hospital upon receiving the order from his boss.

When he was about to enter Braden’s ward, a beautiful woman blocked his way.

“And who are you?” Charlene looked at the strange man coldly. She noticed that he had a gift basket with him.

“Oh, good day, ma’am. I’m Mr. Benjamin Colton’s assistant. Both he and Mrs. Colton are worried about Mr. Porter, so they asked me to come and visit him,” the assistant explained himself politely.

Standing firmly in front of the door of the ward, Charlene smiled but didn’t budge.

“Braden’s fine. He’s resting. You’d better not disturb him. I’ll relay the message for you.”

The assistant didn’t expect that he wouldn’t be allowed to see Braden, but he had no choice but to hand the gift to this woman instead.

“Oh, I see. Thank you.”

After returning, the assistant reported what Charlene had said to Benjamin and Joyce. Joyce patted her chest and breathed a sigh of relief.

“That’s good. If something bad happens to Braden, I don’t know what I’ll say to Rachel when she comes back.”

Yes, she firmly believed that her daughter would come back safe and sound. The sky was clear and the sea was calm. They could see the boats and islands in the distance.

The boats sent by the Coltons had been searching the waters nearby for a long time, but they still found nothing.

Fortunately, they didn’t find Rachel’s body either, which was a good sign.

Benjamin and Joyce still had high hopes for their daughter.

However, the more time that passed, the slimmer the chances of finding Rachel alive…

Both Benjamin and Joyce knew this, so they could not rest. It was almost dusk.

The setting sun reflected on the sea, dying it orange and red.

Clenching her hands, Joyce stared at the sea, her eyes sweeping across the search-and-rescue ships.

Suddenly, she found that something was wrong.

Today’s boats were much fewer than the previous days.

Joyce raised her hand and pushed Benjamin anxiously.

“Why are there fewer boats out today? Are those the Porter Group’s boats?”

Benjamin carefully counted the number of boats on the sea and murmured, “All of our boats are there. It should be the boats from the Porter Group whose number has decreased.”

Joyce snorted in dissatisfaction.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? Has he given up searching for Rachel? Has he lost hope already? I have to call Braden and ask him!”

Before Benjamin could stop Joyce, she had taken out her phone and dialed Braden’s number. However, despite her calling several times, no one came to the phone.

Joyce was even angrier.

“He doesn’t even dare to answer my calls!”
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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CHAPTER 365 – ENTIRE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

She really wanted to rush to the hospital to question Braden, but considering the fact that Rachel still wasn’t found, she had no time to go see Braden.

Seeing that she was so angry, Benjamin was afraid that it would take a toll on her health, so he tried to comfort her.

“Just let it go for now. We have to focus on the search here. We have to find our daughter first. The most important thing right now is getting her back safe and sound.”

The sound of Crashing waves drowned everything else.

The woman curled up in the reef cave opened her eyes to the sight of ships out in the sea. She had no intention to call for help, though her eyes were bright and alert. It had been six days since Rachel was trapped in this place.

In all that time, several ships had passed by and gone.

There was even one instance when a ship had thrown anchor near the cave, The men had alighted and traversed the reef, shouting her name as they went.

“Is anybody here? We are the search and rescue team sent by the Colton family! If you can hear us, please respond or make some noise!”

They bellowed the same words over and over.

But their voices only scared Rachel, so much so that she squeezed deeper into the cave. She never made a sound.

After all, she couldn’t be certain whether these so-called rescuers were friend or foe.

What she did know for sure was that someone wanted to kill her.

Rachel didn’t want to risk running into her enemies, so she thought it would be best to keep silent and hidden.

If things turned out the same as last time, she may not be as lucky as to escape again.

The rescuers had stayed for a few minutes.

When they got no answer, they decided to leave.

“Let’s go. There is no one here. I heard that there is an island just up ahead. Let’s go over there and take a look.”

With a short blare of its horn, the ship lifted its anchor and sailed away.

Rachel watched it all happen from her dark corner in the cave.

For days on end, the same scenario repeated itself, and she would press tight against the cave walls and observe whoever had come. She couldn’t even begin to guess who all those men worked for. She was careful not to make a peep, afraid that the slightest sound might alert them to her presence.

In the end, the ships eventually stopped coming to this area.

Only then did Rachel realize that she didn’t know what to do.

The last time it rained was three days ago, and all the freshwater around her had already dried up under the glaring sun. Her throat was dry as a parchment. She swallowed and tried to soothe it with what little saliva she had left. She was already showing symptoms of dehydration, and could barely stand up without feeling dizzy.

Rachel knew she was slowly dying. Her vision blurred, and a choked sob came out of her mouth. She thought she no longer had tears to shed, but two hot droplets fell from her eyes.

Suddenly, the faces of the important people in her life appeared in her mind. She missed Braden and her parents.

lt was said that one would recall their most treasured memories just before they died.

Rachel’s lips curled into a bitter smile.

At that moment, she could only think of one thing—that she would really perish this time.

After the storm died down, a number of small fishing boasts set out to the sea to get some catch off the waters.

On the beach, people walked around to enjoy the breeze and pick some shells.

And by the reef, a middle-aged woman in a floral shirt hopped off her boat with a basket on her back. She often scavenged for shells near the reef, and when she grew tired, she would climb into the cave to rest in the shade.

Today was different, however.

When she went into the cave, she saw that someone was inside.

The woman was wary at first, but as she approached, she realized that a young woman was lying unconscious among the rocks.

Scared out of her wits, she ran out of the cave screaming.

“Honey! Honey, hurry and come take a look! There’s a woman inside!” she called out to her husband in between gasps for air.

Her husband was a fisherman who was just about her age.

He had been born and raised by the sea, and fished all year round.

As such, he was actually no strangers to situations where a corpse was stumbled upon after a particularly heavy storm.

“She must have been swept away in the rain a few days ago. I’ll go and check on her.”

The fisherman jumped out of his boat and made his way to the cave.

His wife was right at his heels.

The couple crouched over Rachel, and the man held a finger under her nose.

“She’s still breathing. Let’s take her back to the island first and see if she can be saved.”

The woman nodded and threw her basket aside.

Together, they hoisted Rachel on the fisherman’s back.

As they did, the wife couldn’t help but sigh at Rachel’s young and pretty face.

“This girl looks like she’s just the same age as our daughter. I do hope she survives this.”

Swimming in and out of consciousness, Rachel vaguely heard a strange voice.

It sounded like a woman speaking in a local accent.

Rachel tried her best to open her eyes, but she was too weak.

Soon, she passed out again. The next time she woke up, she found a middle-aged woman with tanned, leathery skin standing in front of her. Her cheeks were red from exposure to the sun all year round.

The woman’s eyes instantly lit up and she happily waved to the people around her. “She’s awake! Come quick! She’s awake!”

Soon, a stooping middle-aged man came over. His face was also tanned and red.

“Thank God! I’ll get the doctor.” The middle-aged man wiped his brow in relief and smiled. He looked very kind when he smiled.

Rachel’s eyes darted between the two middle-aged people and was too dazed to say anything.

The window in the room was open, letting in the sea breeze. She could still smell the salt in the air.

“Hello… Er, where am I? And who are you?” Rachel asked warily.

“You’re in a hospital. We’re fishermen. Three days ago, we stumbled upon you in a reef cave, and you were unconscious, so we took you straight to the hospital. You’re one lucky girl. The doctor said that your chances of survival were actually slim, but you made it!” The middle-aged woman smiled at Rachel. Her words were full of joy, as if she was very happy that Rachel managed to survive.

“Oh, my God… Thank you… Thank you so much!” Tears welled up in Rachel’s eyes. She felt so lucky to have been saved.

The middle-aged woman poured a glass of water for her and asked with a curious smile, “Miss, where’d you come from? You didn’t have an ID or phone when we found you, so we didn’t know who to contact.

I got into a car accident. The car fell into the water but I managed to swim to the reef. Speaking of which, ma’am, can I borrow your phone? I need to call my family.” It suddenly occurred to Rachel that she had been hospitalized here for three days. Besides, she had already been lost at sea for almost a week. Braden and her parents must have been worried sick.

Of course. You should call your parents to tell t hem that you are safe. The middle-aged woman handed her phone to Rachel.

Rachel dialed Braden’s number excitedly.

However, no one answered it.

She tried him several more times, but still, no one answered.

Could you have dialed the wrong number, miss?” The middle-aged woman asked kindly when she noticed that no one had answered the phone.

Rachel frowned and shook her head. “This is my husband’s number. I couldn’t have gotten it wrong.

Instantly, she felt that something was off. She had been gone for so long, so Braden should’ve been turning the entire world upside down looking for her. He should’ve kept his line open atall times in case she called. Even though it was an unknown caller, he would have answered it.

“Wait a minute. I’ll try calling my parents instead.”

After calming down, Rachel dialed Benjamin’s number.

"Dad! It’s me, Rachel!" The moment the call connected, a lump formed in Rachel’s throat.

And the second Benjamin heard her familiar voice, he jumped for joy. Joyce, who was right next to him, also heard Rachel’s voice and immediately snatched the phone from him.

Rachel, where are you? How are you? Honey, we were so worried!” Joyce cried and laughed at the same time, her voicetrembling with emotion. She finally felt a sense of relief!

When they found out what hospital Rachel was in, they immediately rushed to see her.

Benjamin couldn’t stop thanking the couple who had saved Rachel and gave them agenerous amount of money as a reward.

Joyce ran into the ward first. Seeing that Rachel was safe and sound, she went straight to the bed and threw her arms around her daughter, sobbing profusely.

What on earth happened? You’ve lost so much weight!” After calming down somewhat, Joyce felt heartbroken to see how sunken Rachel’s cheeks were.

Rachel explained everything to them. “Don’t worry, Mom, Dad. I’m fine now.

Joyce let out a long breath and nodded, hiccupping from her sobs. “Well, as long as you’re safe… As long as you are safe.







CHAPTER 366 – I’M HAPPY

Rachel finally asked what she had bee nmeaning to ask. “Mom, where’s Braden? Why can’t I get in touch with him?

“Well…” Joyce and Benjamin exchanged glances.

Finally, Joyce spoke up, albeit hesitantly.

“You see, Braden fainted during the search and rescue, and now he is in the hospital.” Rachel‘s eyes widened and she clutched Joyce‘s hand worriedly.

“How is he now? Braden‘s always been healthy.

How could he suddenly pass out?” The more she thought about it, the more anxious Rachel became.

She lifted the blanket and was about to get out of bed.

“We have to go back to Sunhaven now.” Benjamin hurried up to stop his daughter.

He shook his head firmly and said, “You‘d better stay in the hospital for a few more days just to be safe.

Anyway, I had already asked my assistant to check on Braden.

He‘s fine.” But Rachel couldn‘t calm down.

“Dad, why didn‘t you visit him yourself? Is he seriously ill?” “Calm down, Rachel.

We were so busy looking for you that we didn‘t spare time to visit him in the hospital.

But I heard that Braden is fine now.” Joyce comforted Rachel in a gentle voice.

Rachel lowered her head, feeling guilty.

This was all happening because of her.

“Before I called you, I tried calling him first.

But I couldn‘t get through to his number.

What do you think is going on?” At first, Rachel didn‘t think too much of it.

But now, the sense of uneasiness in her heart was getting stronger and stronger.

Joyce scratched her head and averted her gaze, feeling a little embarrassed.

“The assistant said he was fine.

So that means he should‘ve woken up by now.” Truth be told, she didn‘t know what was going on with Braden either.

When she heard what Rachel said, she also instinctively felt that something was wrong with Braden.

Ever since Braden was hospitalized, he seemed to stop caring about Rachel‘s disappearance.

He even withdrew his search and rescue ships, which had pissed Joyce off to no end.

Benjamin knew what was on his wife‘s mind, but Rachel‘s well–being was their top priority now, so he also tried to comfort their daughter.

“Your mother‘s right.

Maybe Braden just missed the call.

He‘ll call you back as soon as he sees it.” But Rachel couldn‘t rest easy.

“I have to go see Braden.

If he‘s fine, I‘ll come back and stay in the hospital.” Joyce held her hand tightly.

“You‘re still so weak.

Stay in the hospital and recuperate! I‘ll ask Braden to come here instead.” Seeing that Joyce sounded a little angry, Rachel hesitated and then reluctantly lay back down on the bed.

“Mom, wake me up if Braden comes, okay?” Seeing the anxious look in her daughter‘s eyes, Joyce sighed.

“Of course, honey.

Get some sleep first.” Then Joyce pulled Benjamin out of the ward.

“Honey, you have to find a way to get in touch with Braden. I think something‘s wrong.” Joyce looked gloomy.

She felt that something was off, but she couldn‘t tell exactly what that was.

“Alright.

Don‘t worry too much.

Braden‘s fine.

I‘ll call someone to find out how to get in touch with him.” Benjamin rubbed Joyce‘s back comfortingly and then went out to make some calls.

After a while, he got his hands on the phone number that Braden was using now.

Without hesitation, Joyce called Braden.

“Hello, who‘s this?” The man‘s voice sounded a little cold.

“Braden, this is Mrs. Colton.

We‘ve found Rachel.

Would you like to come and see her?” Joyce went straight to the point and asked Braden to come over.

She thought that Braden would be as ecstatic as they were to find out that Rachel was alive and well.

Unexpectedly, Braden‘s tone was indifferent.

“It‘s good that you‘ve found her.

There‘s something I have to deal with in the company.

I‘m not available to see her for the time being.“

Joyce pursed her lips in utter dissatisfaction.

“What‘s the matter with you Braden? Your wife is back! Aren‘t you happy to hear that?”

Braden paused for a few seconds and then said calmly, “Of course I’m happy.”

Joyce couldn‘t feel any semblance of joy in his tone.

He was totally indifferent! His tone made Joyce fly into a fit of rage.

However, Benjamin tugged on Joyce‘s wrist and said in a low voice, “Something‘s not right. Braden isn‘t like this usually. Could something have happened to him?”

Joyce suppressed her anger and tried to calm down to think straight.

Braden‘s reaction was indeed suspicious.

He didn‘t seem to give a damn about his own wife now.

Joyce‘s eyes flashed in confusion.

She whispered to Benjamin, “I don‘t know what‘s wrong with him, but perhaps his illness had an effect on his personality?”

“Hello? If there‘s anything else you want to say, please say it now.” After waiting for a while, Braden grew a little impatient–and it showed.

He had no feelings for his wife, nor did he have any respect for the Coltons.

He had only talked to them in the first place out of politeness.

How did he get along with them before? What response were his in–laws expecting from him?

After mulling over it for a while, he asked, “Where is she now?” Joyce coughed and said gruffly, “Rachel is in the hospital of a fishing village near Sunhaven.

If you want to come over now, I can send you the location.”

“Okay. Send me the location. I‘ll visit her when I have time. I have a meeting to attend. I‘d better go now.” Then, without even waiting for a response from Joyce, he hung up the phone abruptly.

Joyce and Benjamin looked at each other in shock.

Joyce was furious.

“What the hell is wrong with Braden? He didn‘t even say whether he‘s coming or not!” .

How on earth was she supposed to explain this to Rachel? ! Benjamin pondered over their conversation just now.

“The Braden we know would‘ve dropped everything and rushed here as soon as he heard the news that Rachel was found.

But just now, he said that he‘d only come if he had time.” Benjamin had heard Braden‘s words clearly.







CHAPTER 367 – ON MY BEHALF

Joyce lowered her eyes and fell silent for a few seconds.

Then she looked at Benjamin again and said grimly, “There has to be something wrong with Braden. But Rachel needs to focus on tecovering for now. We‘d better not tell her about it for the time being.” Benjamin nodded in agreement.

Seeing her parents come in, Rachel sat up in bed excitedly.

Worried about Braden‘s health she couldn‘t fall asleep.

“Didn‘t I tell you to get some rest first? Why are you still awake?” Joyce asked helplessly, tucking Rachel under the blanket.

Rachel looked straight into her mother‘s eyes and asked, “Mom, what did Braden say?” The smile on Joyce‘s face instantly became a little weird.

“Braden said he‘d come soon. In the meantime, he has asked us to take good care of you.” Rachel frowned slightly.

“Then let me call him. I want to talk to him. I‘m still ver y worried about his health. And why did he change his phone number all of a sudden?”

Joyce hurriedly joked, “My, my, I‘ve never met anyone who misses her husband as much as you! Braden just told us that there‘s something wrong with the company in Meadowview and he was in between meetings when we called. As for the change of number, his phone fell into the sea when he was searching for you. Anyway, he‘s very busy right now. Let‘s stop pestering him for now, okay?” .

Joyce tried to distract Rachel.

Hearing her mother‘s explanation, Rachel gradually calmed down.

Maybe it was because she missed Braden so much after her near–death experience that she couldn‘t help making blind and disorderly conjectures.

They had only been apart for a week.

What could‘ve possibly gone wrong?

After hanging up the phone, Braden stood up and was about to leave for the meeting.

“Braden, your wife has been found, right?” Charlene asked in a seemingly casual tone.

She had been standing next to Braden when the Coltons called and had clearly overheard what they said.

Braden had gone straight to work at the Porter Group headquarters as soon as he was discharged from the hospital.

He wanted to get his work back on track as soon as possible, but he didn‘t want other people to know that he had lost his memory.

Therefore, Braden had asked Charlene to brief him on the Porter Group‘s affairs over the past two years.

So over the past few days, Charlene had been by Braden‘s side nearly 24 /7.

Naturally, she had grown to become the person that Braden relied on the most.

No one else in the Porter Group knew why she had left the company before, so now that she was back, nobody questioned it either.

After all, Charlene was a senior executive of the company, and she was one of the partners who had founded Porter Group alongside Braden.

Everyone respected her very much.

“Yes. Just now, the Colton couple called and said they found her.” Braden picked up a document from the table and spoke so calmly, it was as though the news was irrelevant to him.

“That‘s wonderful news!” A smile appeared on Charlene‘ face.

It looked like she was very happy for Rachel.

However, the second Braden lowered his head to skim through other documents on the table, the smile on her face faded away.

Her expression darkened and her eyes took on a dangerous light What a lucky bitch! Rachel managed to survive yet again! Charlene was both shocked and angry.

It had rained heavily for two days and two nights after Rachel‘s car accident.

Given such dangerous circumstances, Rachel shouldn‘t have survived alone at sea.

Now that Rachel was back safe and sound, she‘d definitely screw up all of Charlene‘ plans.

Charlene knew that she was in deep trouble now.

She had to do something to stop Rachel and Braden from getting back together.

However, she soon managed to calm down.

Judging from Braden‘s attitude when he answered the phone just now, it was obvious that he didn‘t care much about Rachel now that he had lost all his memories of her.

The man who stood before Charlene now was the Braden from two years ago.

This was the Braden who was devoted to his career and couldn‘t give a damn about romance.

The only thing that tied him to Rachel was their nominal marriage.

As long as Charlene seized any and every opportunity to put obstacles in their path, she knew she could separate them forever.

Braden didn‘t say anything more.

Gathering the documents needed for the meeting, he seemed to be deep in thought.

After a while, he broke the silence.

“After this meeting, you can get off work first. I‘m going to the hospital to see Rachel.” He thought it was only right that he pay his own wife a visit.

After all, the Colton family held a high position in Meadowview.

If he acted too indifferent, it would probably piss them off, which could be a detriment to the future development of the Porter Group in Meadowview.

Smiling gently, Charlene said sweetly, “Okay. Please send my regards to Rachel. You don‘t need to worry about the company. I‘ll inform you if anything happens.”

After a busy afternoon, the meeting finally ended.

Braden was waiting in his office for the driver to arrive.

All of a sudden, Charlene burst into the room and cried, “Braden, don‘t leave just yet.”

“What‘s wrong?” Braden frowned.

“The company‘s security system has been hacked, and all confidential information is at the risk of being disclosed. You‘d better come and see for yourself.” Charlene had ran all the way up, so she was panting and out of breath.

Braden‘s expression changed.

Hacked? How could such a thing happen all of a sudden?

The Braden from two years ago was completely and utterly devoted to the Porter Group.

Nothing seemed to be able to affect his focus on work.

He had zero interest in women and thought that romance was just a distraction from success.

In a word, nothing was more important than the company he had started.

Even though Rachel was his wife, the Porter Group was still much more important than her.

Without the slightest hesitation, he immediately decided to stay.

Braden loosened his tie and looked at Charlene with his dark eyes.

“Call the staff of the network center here.” He put down his coat again and sat back in the chair.

Just then, Andy knocked on the door and poked his head in.

“Mr. Porter, the driver‘s downstairs. Shall we go to the hospital now?” With his eyes fixed on the screen of the computer, Braden didn‘t even bother to look up.

“Go see Rachel on my behalf."
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
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CHAPTER 368 – GOING BACK

If you run into her parents, just tell them that there was an emergency in the company and I couldn‘t leave.” “Oh,” Andy replied falteringly.

He felt that Braden had been acting a little strange these days.

It was almost as though his boss had changed into a completely different person.

Andy scratched his head hesitantly.

He seemed to want to say something but stopped on second thought.

Finally, he had no choice but to follow Braden‘s orders and left.

Charlene also walked out of Braden‘s office with a complacent smile on her face.

Earlier that day, she had hired a hacker to attack the network security system of the Porter Group.

This attack wouldn‘t cause any substantial loss to the company, but it could stall Braden.

At the very least, Rachel wouldn‘t be able to see her husband today.

Ever since Rachel awoke, she had been restless, staring at the door of the ward expectantly.

Joyce tried to ease the atmosphere and joked around with her, but her voice fell on deaf ears.

Rachel was too consumed with waiting for Braden.

“Mom, when‘s Braden coming?” Over the past few hours, Rachel had asked this question many times.

She had felt much better after the rest.

“If Braden‘s too busy to come here, I can go back to see him.” Joyce didn‘t know how to explain the situation.

She and Benjamin had called Braden already, but the latter said that he‘d come only if he had spare time.

There was nothing she could do but try to comfort her anxious daughter.

“Be patient. Braden‘s on his way here as we speak.” Just then, there was a knock on the door and it slowly swung open.

It was Andy who came in.

Rachel’s eyes lit up with joy.

“AndyI Where‘s Braden?” Andy smiled awkwardly and put the flowers and the get–better gift basket he bought on the table.

“Mrs. Porter, Mr. Porter said he had emergency to deal with in the company, so he couldn‘t come here himself.” The expression on Rachel‘s face froze and her eyes darkened.

She asked Andy in confusion, “What‘s wrong? Braden wasn‘t like this before.

Andy, tell me, is there something wrong? What happened to him?” Rachel simply couldn‘t believe it.

She almost died at sea, yet Braden didn‘t seem to give a damn that she was back now.

Even if something important had happened in the company, how come he didn‘t even spare the time to call her? Andy scratched his head falteringly.

“Well, I don‘t know for sure, but… Anyway, Mrs. Porter, are you feeling better?”

Joyce, on the other hand, was absolutely furious.

What the hell was Braden thinking? Rachel had been waiting for him.

Why didn‘t he come to see his wife, who was in the hospital, in person? He had crossed the lineI She then snapped at Andy, “Make it clear right this instantI What‘s wrong with Braden? Why hasn‘t he come himself?” Andy felt a little aggrieved.

Why did he always have to face the brunt of these situations? He grumbled in a low voice, “It‘s not just you. I also get the feeling that there‘s something wrong with Mr. Porter lately. After Mr. Porter fainted on the rescue ship, Charlene sent him to the hospital. And ever since he came back to the company, he seems to have changed into a completely different person. I even feel that… It seems that he has become the Mr. Porter from two or three years ago. He‘s more devoted to his work than ever and is cold to everyone.”

“Wait. Did you just say that Charlene is back?” At the mention of Charlene‘s name, Rachel nearly jumped out of bed in shock.

She knew perfectly well just how much Braden hated Charlene.

She highly doubted that the relationship between the two would ever be repaired.

“Yes. Mr. Porter only trusts her now. He‘s on guard against anyone else.” Andy looked at Rachel helplessly.

When Rachel heard this, she was even more shocked.

Charlene was in love with Braden.

It wasn‘t too out of the ordinary that she rushed him to the hospital when he fainted.

However, Braden had already cut all ties with Charlene.

And the last time they saw Charlene, Braden was clearly disgusted with her and was vigilant against her approach.

Why did he change his attitude toward her all of a sudden?

“Andy, do you know why Braden suddenly trusts only Charlene?” Rachel clenched the blanket in her hand.

Something must have happenedI

Andy was just Braden‘s Assistant who arranged matters that weren‘t work–related.

How could he possibly know what was going on in the company?

“I really have no idea, Mrs. Porter. I wasn‘t there with them. Besides, I‘m just his assistant. I don‘t dare to ask Mr. Porter any questions regarding that.” Flustered, Andy scratched the back of his head.

Unable to sit still any longer, Rachel lifted the blanket and got out of bed.

“Since you don‘t know, I‘ll ask him myself.”

Joyce hurried to stand in front of Rachel. “The doctor didn‘t say that you can leave the hospital yet. Don‘t worry. Why don‘t you try calling Braden first?” Rachel bit her lip anxiously and practically snatched the phone from Joyce‘s hands.

She dialed Braden‘s number and held her breath.

Seconds passed.

The phone kept ringing for what felt like an eternity, but no one answered it.

“He didn‘t even pick up.” Tears welled up in Rachel‘s eyes.

She was growing restless.

Now, she was sure that something terrible had happened to Braden.

Otherwise, he would never have treated her like thisI

Holding back her tears, Rachel gritted her teeth and said firmly, “I‘m going back to Sunhaven now. Dad, Mom, please understand. I have to find out what happened to my husband.” Seeing the fierce determination in her eyes, the Coltons didn‘t have the heart to stop her anymore.

After packing up her things, Benjamin draped a coat over Rachel‘s shoulders and said resolutely, “We‘re coming with you. Braden didn‘t visit you in the hospital. He didn‘t answer our calls. We deserve an explanation!” Braden‘s behavior was indeed too strange.

They couldn‘t let things go on like this.

Together, the family of three headed to Sunhaven.

The Porter Group‘s building stood in the center of the business district, standing so tall it nearly pierced the sky.

It was the dream of countless young people to have the privilege of working in such a prestigious company.

Rachel and her parents walked straight into the Porter Group building.





CHAPTER 369 – YOU DON’T NEED A MAN LIKE THAT


Just as they were about to enter the elevator, a security guard stopped them.

The security guard held an electric baton in his hand and asked warily, “Excuse me, miss, but are you an employee of Porter Group? You can‘t just come in like that.” Rachel looked at the security guard and said matter–of–factly, “I‘m Braden Porter‘s wife.”

This whole encounter felt strange, so she couldn‘t help but ask, “Are you new here? I don‘t remember seeing you before?” Rachel used to work in the Porter Group.

She clearly remembered every one of the security guards and the cleaners.

The security guard squinted at Rachel suspiciously.

“Yes, I‘m new…” He had never seen their CEO‘s wife, but he couldn‘t just take this woman‘s words at face value.

In his eyes, if the boss‘s wife came to the company, there should‘ve been someone high up to receive her.

The security guard stopped Rachel and said firmly, “Mr. Porter is in an important meeting.

No one is allowed to disturb him.” Rachel pursed her lips helplessly.

“I said, I‘m his wife. You can ask the employees here about it. They all know me.”

The security guard insisted on his way. “Then wait in the reception room. After the meeting is finished, I‘ll go and ask Mr. Porter if he wants to see you.” As he spoke, the security guard ushered the three of them into the reception room.

Occasionally, some employees would pass by the glass walls of the reception room.

It wasn‘t until then that Rachel noticed that many junior employees had been replaced, including the cleaners.

This realization made Rachel feel more and more uneasy.

Braden wasn‘t someone who would make such random decisions.

Why would so many grassroots employees be replaced for no reason? Did it indicate that there was a change of power in Porter Group? Joyce and Benjamin were highly respected in Meadowview, and no one dared to ignore them.

But now, they were forced to wait in a reception room for Braden for over two hours.

The amiable smile on Benjamin‘s face gradually faded away as they waited.

However, he didn‘t want to cause a stir, which might make his daughter even unhappier, so he just pulled a long face and kept silent.

Joyce, on the other hand, cleared her throat and tried to ease the atmosphere.

“Braden must be terribly busy. He doesn‘t even have the time to see us!” Rachel pursed her lips and lowered her head, her heart racing in her chest.

She was a little angry.

In the past, no matter how busy Braden was, he wouldn’t have done something so rude.

Another ten minutes passed.

Finally, footsteps came from outside the reception room.

The door swung open and Braden strode in.

Braden walked into the reception room. He was a tall man, and the well–tailored grey suit complemented his figure perfectly.

However, his eyes were devoid of warmth as he surveyed the people in the room.

“Sorry for keeping you waiting. I was in an important meeting just now.” Braden nodded and sat opposite Rachel.

He leaned against the backrest of the chair, looking indifferent and aloof.

Rachel stared at him in astonishment.

She instantly felt that the man in front of her was completely different.

If he didn‘t have the same facial features, figure, and even voice as that of Braden, she would have thought that the man standing in front of her was a total stranger.

“Are you feeling better now?” Clutching the armrest of her chair tightly, Rachel tried desperately to calm herself down.

“Much better. Thank you for your concern.” Braden put on a polite smile, but it only alienated him further.

Feeling uncomfortable under his cold gaze, Rachel ventured, “I heard that you fainted during the search.

What happened? Braden, you seem… different.”

What was that supposed to mean? Braden narrowed his eyes at the woman before him.

But even after studying her face for a long time, he still felt nothing.

Unfortunately, he just didn‘t remember anything about her.

Today, Rachel had come with her parents.

There was no way Braden would let her know that he had lost his memory, let alone her parents.

He wasn‘t sure whether he could trust the Colton family with his secret.

What if they leaked the news about his memory loss? Besides, his marriage with Rachel was just for business.

And Charlene had told Braden that Rachel was obsessed with him.

He, on the other hand, had zero interest in her and had only married her to fulfill his late mother‘s wish.

“I‘m fine. I was just confined to the hospital the past few days and was discharge only yesterday.

I don‘t see anything different about myself.” Braden tone was flat and lifeless, as though he had no interest in prolonging the conversation.

After all, he couldn‘t remember how he got along with Rachel before.

But he had to keep a distance from her so that she wouldn‘t find out that he had lost his memory.

He needed to keep it a secret from her until he was sure that he could trust her.

Rachel didn‘t buy it at all and wanted to question him further.

However, Braden‘s phone started to ring.

Upon glancing at the caller ID, he excused himself.

“Sorry, I have to take this.” He stood up and walked to the French window with his back to Rachel and the Colton couple.

Braden spoke on the phone briefly and then put it down.

He turned around and looked at Rachel again.

“I‘m sorry. I have an overseas video conference to attend.

If you need anything else, you can talk to my assistant.” As soon as he finished speaking, he left without waiting for Rachel‘s response.

His assistant stayed on and asked them politely, “How can I help you today?”

Flabbergasted by Braden‘s cold and indifferent behavior, Rachel felt as though she was on the verge of breaking down.

The Coltons were also stunned and were at a loss as to what to do.

After a while, Braden‘s words finally registered in their minds.

Joyce was furious.

She looked at his assistant with a sneer and said, “Call him back.

We have to talk to him and him alone!” The assistant didn‘t know what to do.

“Mrs. Colton, I am just Mr. Porter‘s assistant He tells me what to do and not the other way around…” Benjamin also looked grim.

He had never been so angry before in his life.

“I had no idea Braden was so arrogantI Does he even take us seriously? How dare he blow us off like that!”

Joyce came from a noble family in Meadowview, whereas Benjamin was a Colton—one of the most powerful families in Meadowview.

No one had ever been this disrespectful to them before.

The way Braden had treated them today really pissed Joyce off.

“Let’s get out of here, RachelI I refuse to let you be bullied. Since Braden refuses to explain himself, then so be it-You don’t need a man like that!”

Joyce took a deep breath and calmed down.Her expression softened and she took Rachel’s hand to leave.

followed Joyce and Benjamin out of the reception room in a daze.

After taking a few steps, she stopped in her tracks and said, “Mom, I don’t think it’s as simple as we saw it was.Braden has never been like this before.Something must’ve happened to him

Under normal circumstances, it was impossible for Braden to change into a completely different person all of a sudden.






CHAPTER 370 – THE PERSON THAT BRADEN TRUSTED THE MOST


Even if there was a huge misunderstanding between them, he wouldn’t have been so indifferent to her. She had noticed that the way Braden looked at her just now was estranged and cold, as if he was looking at a total stranger. lt was as though the love they had cultivated over the past two years had disappeared overnight.

Joyce sighed and looked at Rachel helplessly.

“Do men need a reason to cheat? Rachel, Braden’s attitude proves otherwise!”

Seeing that Rachel was dead serious, Benjamin looked at her and asked, “My dear, do you really trust Braden that much?”

Rachel nodded without missing a beat. She trusted Braden with her life, as he did with her.

“I have to figure out why he is suddenly acting like this. Dad, Mom, you can go back to Meadowview first. I’II take it from here.”

Joyce clutched her daughter’s hand worriedly.

“You haven’t fully recovered yet, and Braden doesn’t seem to care about you. We can’t just leave you alone in Sunhaven!”

“How’s this? We can investigate together. Your mother and I will send someone to investigate everything that happened to

Braden during the past few days after he fainted. If anything comes up, we’ll call you.”

Holding Rachel’s shoulders, Benjamin added, “If you need anything, just tell us. You’re not alone anymore, Rachel.”

Tears welled up in Rachel’s eyes. She threw her arms around her parents tightly. Yes, she had parents now, and she didn’t have to fight against the whole world alone.

After the Coltons left, Rachel didn’t waste any time. She headed towards the meeting room, intending to wait for Braden’s meeting to end. She planned to make it clear to him as soon as possible.

However, before she reached the meeting room, she bumped into Charlene. They hadn’t seen each other in months, and Charlene wore long hair now. Her long curly hair fell over her shoulders, making her look sharp yet mature.She looked like a professional office lady..

Charlene smiled in mock pleasant surprise..

“Miss Colton, long time no seeI I heard from Braden yesterday that you were in hospital. What brings you here?” Rachel smiled faintly.

“Miss Palmer, what a coincidenceI I wanted to ask you something.”

“What is it?” Charlene asked calmly, as if she was willing to help Rachel.

What exactly happened to Braden?” Rachel didn’t know how to trick Charlene into telling her the truth, so she just asked straightforwardly.

”I knew you’d ask about this.”

Charlene’s eyes flashed.

“At the time, Braden thought you were dead and he was devastated. lt was I who stood by his side while he went through difficult times. So Braden and I have reconciled.”

“I’m asking why Braden is so cold to me,” Rachel said through clenched teeth.

She could hardly control her anger.

Charlene burst into laughter, as though she had heard the funniest joke in the world.

“How on earth would I know about your private affairs with Braden? Miss Colton, I am afraid you’ve asked the wrong person”

Rachel fell silent for along time. She didn’t believe a single word that came out of Charlene’s mouth Rachel knew that Braden wouldn’t give up on her so easily.

He wouldn’t have rested until he found her.

Moreover, Braden was not one to reconcile with his enemies. He was so hostile to Charlene previously.

Rachel knew he wouldn’t even allow her to be around him.

Most importantly, he would never write off what Charlene had done so easily.

glanced at the time on her watch and broke into a smile.

“Miss Colton, if you want to talk, we should do this some other time really have to go to that meeting with Braden now. So sorry.”

She bowed her head slightly to show how “sorry” she was.

Then she walked passed Rachel almost arrogantly.

Charlene had expected that Rachel would come looking for Braden.

In fact, she had already prepared for her return.

When Charlene heard from Braden’s assistant that Rachel and the Coltons were waiting for him in the reception room, she reminded Braden in a low voice that he didn’t like dealing with Rachel’s parents before.

“If you feel it’s too troublesome to face them now, I can handle it for you,” she then added.

After a few seconds of silence, Braden nodded and then walked out. Before that, Charlene had mentioned to Braden more than once that Rachel was head over heels in love with him.

Charlene made sure to plant an idea in Braden’s mind that Rachel was nothing but a hopeless romantic who was a disturbance to his work.

After all, Charlene knew Braden very well.

When the two were in high school, countless girls chased after him. He’d politely refuse them initially, but if the girls kept pestering, he’d grow very impatient. He hated hopeless romantics the most.

So the more Rachel tried to get close to Braden, the more he’d repel her.

Charlene guessed that the reason why Braden had a crush on Rachel in the first place was that she had left a good impression on him when they first met.

This time, Rachel wouldn’t be that lucky..

Looking at Charlene’s receding figure, Rachel had to support herself on the wall. She felt a splitting headache and was at a total loss.

Charlene was her enemy, but now, this woman somehow became the person that Braden trusted the most.

It was ridiculous. Besides, Rachel knew what kind of person Charlene was.

After thinking for a while, she decided to keep on waiting for Braden.

Once upon a time, Rachel had believed something that Charlene said, which resulted in a fight between her and Braden.

Learning from her past mistakes, Rachel refused to believe anything Charlene said now. As long as Braden trusted Rachel, it wouldn’t be difficult for them to deal with Charlene together.

But what worried Rachel was whatever Charlene had done to Braden to make him change so dramatically.

Not only him, but the Porter Group also changed drastically.

Employees had been replaced so wantonly..

Braden would never do such a thing.

It seemed like Charlene’s deliberate arrangement to prevent people from noticing Braden’s abrupt change in personality.

What could Charlene be hiding? Braden…

What had happened to him? Rachel’s mind raced as she waited quietly at the door of the meeting room.

No matter what it was, she wanted to hear it from Braden himself.

Evening fell in Sunhaven.

The skies turned purple and blue, slowly covering the city in darkness, and the streetlights lit up one by one.

Rachel had been waiting outside the meeting room for a long time. She stared out the window blankly.

Braden’s strange behavior earlier kept replaying in her mind.

Suddenly, someone called her name from behind.

“Rachel!” Rachel turned around and found Stephanie standing behind her.

“When did you get back to Sunhaven? And why didn’t you tell me you were here?” Stephanie complained, smiling playfully.

She had only heard from her colleagues that Rachel was back, so she came to see her as soon as she got off work. However, the second she saw Rachel’s face, she instantly knew that something was wrong. “What happened? You look pale.”

Rachel forced a smile.

I'm fine, don’t worry. I’m just waiting for Braden.”

Sensing that Rachel didn’t want to talk about it, Stephanie didn’t press her further. The two of them exchanged a few more pleasantries.

Just as Stephanie was about to leave, Rachel suddenly asked, “Has anything big happened in the Porter Group recently?”

With pursed lips, Rachel looked especially grim.

Stephanie squinted slightly as she mulled over Rachel’s question.

Then she broke into a smile.

“Yes, something did happen somewhat recently.”

“What?” Rachel looked at her expectantly, her heart racing.

Perhaps what Stephanie was about to say had something to do with the sudden change in Braden’s character.

“Well, we set up a branch in Meadowview, and it’s been prospering. I also heard that Braden plans to bring the company to the northwest. That’s something big, isn’t it? Perhaps in the near future, the Porter Group’s branches will be all over the country.

You’re so lucky you married such a capable man, Mrs. Porter!” Stephanie joked with a silly grin.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 371 – I CAN TAKE IT

Rachel forced a smile, albeit bitter.

The expectant look in her eyes clouded over..

Even after Stephanie left, Rachel continued to wait for Braden.

While she waited, many new employees passed by and looked at her strangely, wondering who she could be and what her business here was.

Rachel smiled bitterly.

In the past, she never showed off the prestige that came with the title of “Mrs. Porter”.

But now that she was practically erased from Braden’s life and nobody seemed to know that they used to be a loving couple, Rachel felt suffocated.

Still, she refused to leave.

The night went on and her eyelids began to droop, so she leaned against the wall and almost fell asleep.

Just as she was drifting off to sleep, she heard the sound of a door opening.

When Rachel opened her eyes, she found a large group of people walking out of the meeting room with Braden.

Braden saw Rachel standing at the door of the meeting room, so after exchanging a few words with several executives, he walked towards her.

“Why are you still here?” Braden thought he had already made himself clear earlier.

Because he had no memories of Rachel, he saw her advances as pestering and grew a little impatient.

“Do you have time to talk now?” Rachel asked, firmly standing in Braden’s way.

The man glanced at his watch and frowned.

“I have a full schedule tomorrow.! have to go to bed early tonight, but I suppose I can give you half an hour.”

Hearing the coldness in his words, Rachel wished she could slap him on the spot.

Fortunately, she managed to suppress her anger and followed Braden to the office quietly.

It was already midnight, so his office was quiet and empty. He sank into his chair wearily and loosened his tie with his eyes closed.

“What do you want to say? Just say it,” he said with a trace of impatience.

Without beating around the bush, Rachel went straight to the point.

There are only us here now. I’II ask you one more time, Braden. What the hell happened to you? No matter what happened, we can solve it together!”

Braden opened his eyes, which were full of annoyance.

“I already told you that nothing happened. There’s nothing I can do if you don’t believe me.”

Rachel took a deep, shuddery breath. She couldn’t help but raise her voice as she spoke.

“We were a loving couple just last week! But look at how your attitude is towards me now! How the hell can you expect me to believe that nothing happened?”

It never occurred to Rachel that she and Braden would end up like this.

Braden remained unfazed, his face expressionless. He had no idea how he and Rachel used to act around each other. He only knew that Rachel was head over heels in love with him, according to Charlene.

Maybe their so-called loving past was nothing but Rachel’s fantasy. He doubted he was ever loving towards her.

“Miss Colton, I hope you’ll stop overthinking things. We’re still a couple and I’ll fulfill my duty as your husband.”

Braden chose his words with great care and spoke slowly and emotionlessly.

Staring at him quietly, tears started to roll down Rachel’s cheeks. She couldn’t see any emotion in the man’s lifeless eyes.

Braden had become such a stranger that she couldn’t help but feel scared.She cried, “Braden, are we just a couple on paper now?”

Braden frowned.

The woman’s tears only served to make him more impatient.

He stood up, gathered the documents on his desk, and said, “I’ve said what I needed to say. If there’s nothing else, I will leave first. I’m busy lately, so I won’t go home. I’II move to a place near the company.”

From outside the window, clouds gathered and the strong winds howled wildly.

Lightning lit up the skies.

A rainstorm was brewing. Suddenly, thunder roared, and the lightning lit up Rachel’s shocked expression. But Braden didn’t give a damn. He didn’t say anything to comfort her.

Instead, he walked out of the office without another word.

Rachel watched him leave with tearful eyes. She didn’t even try to stop him.

And even if she did, she wouldn’t know what to say to this cold and aloof Braden.

Braden was like a completely different person now. He would never be so impatient with her before.

When she looked into his malicious eyes just now, she found herself unable to even breathe. How could she face her husband, who was now a complete stranger to her? Rachel felt like her whole world was crumbling down.

The Coltons took shelter in a five-star hotel during their stay in Sunhaven.

They texted Rachel, telling her not to worry too much.

Benjamin also mentioned that he had asked someone to investigate what had happened to Braden the past few days.

As Rachel’s parents, they couldn’t just go back to Meadowview without finding out what happened to her husband.

Soon after they checked into the hotel, they received a call from Homer. Homer said that he was calling because he was worried about Rachel.

Joyce knew that they wouldn’t be able to solve Rachel’s problem any time soon, so she asked Homer if Rachel could file for a long-term leave from the company, to which the latter agreed.

As the thunder roared outside the window, it rained cats and dogs.

With every passing minute, Joyce grew more and more worried about her daughter.

Before long, she heard a knock on the door. She opened the door and found Rachel staring blankly into space, drenched to the core.

Joyce was taken aback. She hurriedly pulled Rachel inside the room and asked, “It’s raining so hard outside. Didn’t Braden drive you home?”

Judging from the expression on Rachel’s face, it seemed that the conversation between her and Braden didn’t go so well.

‘It’s okay. You can stay here with us.”

Joyce comforted Rachel softly. Then she looked at Benjamin and ordered, “Go ask the front desk to get Rachel a presidential suite.”

Seeing his daughter in this state, Benjamin also felt terrible. He sighed in his heart.

Before leaving, he reminded his wife, “Stay with her. She needs you. If things go on like this, we’ll go back to Meadowview— without Braden.”

Joyce winked at him. Then she went to the bathroom to fetch Rachel a towel.

As she was drying Rachel’s hair, she asked with concern, “Can you tell me what happened?”

Rachel hadn’t spoken a word ever since she got here. Her eyes seemed to be covered with a thin layer of mist, losing their original vitality. She shook her head bitterly, took the bath towel from Joyce, and started drying herself.

“He still didn’t tell me anything.”

“Your father asked someone to investigate the matter a few hours ago.” Joyce could only try her best to comfort her daughter.

“Mom, just tell me everything you know. Don’t worry. I can take it.”

“We don’t know anything useful yet. Our priority now is to find out what happened to Braden when Charlene took him to the hospital. The Palmer family is powerful here, and they own that hospital. We can’t just send someone there to investigate.”.

Joyce was also puzzled.

Braden had turned into a completely different person overnight, but there were no clues as to how or why.

After drying her hair, Rachel went to the bathroom to change out of her wet clothes.

In desperation, it suddenly occurred to her that there might be someone who had answers.

“Kristian, are you in Meadowview now? Have you noticed if there’s anything wrong with Braden lately?”

It was past midnight now, and Kristian was asleep when Rachel called.

When he answered the phone, he was still foggy and halfasleep. Rachel’s questions only stunned him further.

“Hmm…Braden? Well, yeah. He has been a little strange recently.” Kristian yawned sleepily.

“What happened to him?”

“That’s what I wanted to ask you. I got into an accident some time ago and I wasn’t in Sunhaven the past few days.” Kristian was Braden’s best friend.

Rachel figured that he might know something.

Kristian gradually came up..

“I did sense that there’s something off about Braden lately. His attitude toward me has been very strange. It’s almost as though he’s been on guard against me. But he refuses to tell me why. The most strange thing about him is that he seems to only trust Charlene now.”

Rachel’s expression instantly darkened. She said firmly, “Charlene must have done something to Braden.”

But what on earth Charlene had done to make Braden become like this? Rachel had no idea…






CHAPTER 372 – A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF ASSETS

Given the current tricky situation with Braden, Rachel couldn’t just go back to work. She needed to stay in Sunhaven until she figured out what was going on with him, so she decided to stay in the same hotel as her parents. Joyce and Benjamin stood by her side. Early the following morning, Kristian arrived with breakfast.

“Judging from how upset you sounded last night, I assume you’re probably not in the mood for breakfast, so I got you some good stuff. Come on. I brought sausages, bacon, toast, donuts, sandwiches, and coffee. There must be something you’d want to eat.”

In fact, he had long felt that something was wrong with Braden. After receiving Rachel’s call last night, now more than ever, he was certain that something was amiss. Besides Kristian, Stephanie also came. She was a workaholic, but she actually took that day off to check on Rachel.

“No wonder you were so pale when we met yesterday. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Aren’t we supposed to be friends?”

Two important figures closely related to the Porter Group and its CEO were present. However, Rachel still had no idea what to do next.

“I don’t want to keep you away from work, but I couldn’t do this on my own. Braden’s cold and unapproachable now. He’s completely devoted to his work and the company! I can’t even see him, let alone talk to him properly.”

Stephanie rested her chin on her hand and mused, “Mr. Porter has indeed been very busy since he came back. It’s really hard to find an opportunity to sit down with him.”

A thought suddenly occurred to Kristian. He warned Rachel, “Don’t hover around Braden. He hates that kind of thing the most. When we were still in school, many girls chased after him like this, and it really pissed him off!”

Rachel was at the end of her rope. Exhausted and at wit’s end, she lay in bed with a heavy sigh. She had to come up with a way to get close to Braden. Since it was useless to try to talk to him, perhaps she should adopt a more direct approach.

Suddenly, Rachel got up from the bed. There was fierce determination in her eyes, and she seemed ready to fight again.

“I’m going to see Braden.”

Braden saw the woman standing outside his office. There was an unyielding look in her bright eyes. This upset him a little. He didn’t expect that Rachel would come to him again.

“Miss Colton, what are you doing here? I thought I made myself clear,” Braden looked at Rachel coldly.

“We still need to talk, Braden. Has there been any misunderstanding between us?” Rachel tried to speak in a soft, gentle voice. But as she looked into the pair of cold eyes in front of her, she couldn’t help but feel torn-up inside.

Braden became more annoyed. Rachel would become detrimental to his work if she continued to pester him like this. Indeed, Charlene had told him before that Rachel was a clingy woman. At first, he didn’t take her seriously. But now he realized that what Charlene said was right.

“Miss Colton, there’s nothing I have to say to you. Don’t waste my time. If you come back here and make trouble out of nothing one more time, don’t blame me for being rude,” Braden’s expression darkened.

This time, he didn’t even invite Rachel to talk in his office. Just then, Charlene heard the commotion and came out of his office. She asked with a gentle smile, “What happened? Why are you so worked up?”

Lately, she had been playing the role of Braden’s competent assistant who devoted herself to work. She was not in a hurry to develop a deeper relationship with Braden. The most important thing right now was to make sure he trusted her.

Seeing the unfriendly look on Braden’s face, Charlene realized what was going on. She turned to look at Rachel and smiled apologetically, “Miss Colton, please forgive Mr. Porter. He’s very busy and doesn’t even have time to sleep—hence the bad temper.”

Rachel’s face turned purple from anger. Of course, she could tell that Charlene was only stirring up trouble. Compared to Charlene, who seemed to be considerate, Rachel looked like an unreasonable shrew who kept pestering Braden. The winner was obvious.

Without saying anything more, Braden turned around to leave. Charlene looked at Rachel with a smug smile. Then she also turned around and followed Braden. Just then, Rachel’s cold voice sounded from behind them.

“Braden, I need to talk to you for the last time. If you don’t agree, then let’s get a divorce. Anyway, a marriage without trust is meaningless.”

The last shred of hope in Rachel’s heart disappeared.

Charlene kept making things difficult for her.

Rachel knew that it would be impossible to curry Braden’s favor by playing the role of an affectionate wife. So, Rachel was going to deal with this matter in the way that Braden liked most: in a businesslike, professional manner.

Her firm words seemed to finally get to Braden. His tall, burly figure suddenly stiffened.

Currently, the Porter Group is growing stronger and stronger.

Divorce would be an unwise move at this time.

If the divorce goes through, Rachel would receive a significant portion of his assets as alimony.

Braden turned around and looked at Rachel in undisguised surprise.

There was finally a trace of emotion in his usually cold eyes. He had never considered divorcing Rachel.

And according to Charlene, Rachel was completely obsessed with him.







CHAPTER 373 – FIERCELY DETERMINED


Wouldn’t it be out of character for her to ask for a divorce then? With one hand in his pocket, Braden narrowed his eyes at Rachel and finally asked, “What do you want?”

Rachel’s expression darkened.

“I’ve told you countless times. All I want is to be able to talk to you, Mr. Porter. Since you are so busy every single day, I don’t know when you’ll be available to talk. I don’t mind making an appointment to fit your schedule, but I have one request: we need to have enough time to talk.”

Rachel glanced at Charlene, who was standing near Braden, and added sarcastically, “If you leave in the middle of our conversation because of some ’emergency’ again, I’ll divorce you on the spot.”

What a cold tone! Braden couldn’t help but look Rachel up and down a few more times. It seemed that he had never looked at her this seriously before.

The woman in front of him had a pair of fiercely determined eyes. She wasn’t that tall, nor was she stunning at first sight, but she was still pretty.

And she had this magical charm that once you set eyes on her, it would be hard to take your eyes off her.

An indescribable emotion suddenly emerged at the bottom of Braden’s heart.

Why did this woman insist on having a talk with him? Did they really love each other deeply before? If that was the case, how could he have just forgotten her completely? Something seemed to spark within Braden’s heart, but the complex emotion died down as soon as it came.

He couldn’t even understand why he had such a strange feeling for Rachel. He thought for a while and then said, “I’ll ask my assistant to keep my whole morning open tomorrow.”

Rachel nodded.

“Okay.”

After saying that, she turned around and left without hesitation.

The following morning, Rachel, Benjamin, and Joyce all came to Porter Group.

Initially, Rachel didn’t want her parents to come with her, but Benjamin and Joyce were worried that Rachel would be bullied if she went to see Braden alone, so they insisted on coming together with her.

The three sat opposite Braden in a negotiating manner.

Rachel spoke up first, her tone unhurried.

“You said that you would fulfill your duty as a husband, but you only care about work. You even moved to the hotel near the company. You turn a blind eye to me and even refuse to talk with me. You completely ignore me as your wife. Is this what you mean by ‘duty’?”

Braden answered calmly, “I’ve always put work first. For me, love is—”

Before he could finish his sentence, Rachel interrupted him.

“Don’t talk nonsense with me,” Rachel pulled a long face and said firmly. “Don’t tell me that work is more important. Before this, even if you were extremely busy, you would always spare time for me. But now, you’ve been so cold to me. You’re practically begging me to divorce you, aren’t you? Braden, let me tell you this: if I divorce you, I promise I won’t be merciful. Don’t forget that I have the support of the Colton family now. My parents are no weaker than you. They will support whatever decision I make. We didn’t sign any prenup before we got married, and I will use all means to get as much property from you as possible if we get divorced. When that happens, do you think you’ll still be able to strengthen the Porter Group smoothly as planned?”

Rachel had a fierce, almost aggressive air about her as she spoke. It surprised Braden enough that he unconsciously squared his shoulders.

Joyce didn’t expect her daughter to straight-up ask for a divorce. But it wasn’t an entirely bad idea, considering how indifferent Braden was to her.

At his current state, the man didn’t deserve Rachel at all.

“This time, it’s all your fault,” Joyce commented.

“You’ve been ignoring your wife all this time. She has a perfectly healthy husband, but she is forced to live the life of a widow. Let me make things clear for you, Braden. If you and my daughter get a divorce, the Porter Group will be regarded as an enemy of the Colton family. The decision is yours. I suggest you think about it very carefully.”

“Rachel,” Benjamin interjected in a quiet but serious tone, “if you really want a divorce, I’ll call our family lawyer over. He can be here by tomorrow.”

Braden lowered his eyes.

With Benjamin’s words, he could tell that the couple were willing to support Rachel’s pursuit of a divorce. It was no mere threat.

However, the Colton family was a formidable force in Meadowview.

If he went up against them in any way, it would damage the interests of his company.

Despite the potential losses, he also had to answer to the tens of thousands of employees under the Porter Group. He might be able to shoulder most of the burden, but he couldn’t risk endangering the livelihood of his people.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 374 – ALWAYS A SMOOTH TALKER

“What do you want me to do?” Braden asked, his voice sounding deeper than usual.

Rachel took out a folder and tossed it on the table in front of him.

“This contract stipulates all the marital obligations you need to carry out as a husband. This is the least you can do for me. We are getting divorced otherwise.”

She had a cold and distant expression as she leaned back on the sofa and stared at Braden.

Joyce sighed to herself in relief. Her daughter had looked so distraught these past few days as she pined for her absent husband.

Joyce had suspected that Rachel might never give up on Braden to her own detriment. She was glad to see her daughter holding her own during this confrontation.

The Colton family had more properties than they could care for.

If Rachel somehow ended up divorcing Braden, she could just take over the family business. She was smart and talented and could definitely live a better life.

The more Joyce thought about it, the more convinced she was that a divorce would be the best course of action.

Braden wordlessly picked up the documents and leafed through the pages.

According to the contract, he needed to spend the night at home for at least five days a week and had to stay at least one day for the weekend.

On holidays, he had to make time to accompany Rachel to whatever event she was hosting or attending. He would also have to come home and tend to her whenever she was sick or injured.

There were many more similar instances cited on the paper, but none of them were excessive.

“Mr. Porter, I’m assuming that you already know what to do. The terms I’ve laid down are nothing more than the barest duties a husband must attend to. If you can’t even accomplish these, then there is no need to continue this marriage,” Rachel spoke slowly.

Her voice rang out clearly in the room, and her calm tone only served to make her more intimidating. Braden rubbed the paper between his thumb and forefinger as he considered his options.

Then he looked up and met Rachel’s eyes.

“Your requirements are well within reason. All right, let us proceed with this contract.”

Rachel raised her chin and smiled.

“Good. Then we will follow the terms as stipulated.”

She stood up and added, “By the way, I expect you to come home tonight.”

Rachel and her parents then walked out of the Porter Group building and got into their car.

Joyce peered at her daughter for a while before saying, “My dear, what if Braden refused to agree to your terms? Were you really going to divorce him?”

A playful smile danced on Rachel’s lips.

She turned to her mother and said firmly, “I have never considered divorcing him, not even for a second.”

“Mom, I haven’t even figured out what’s wrong with Braden yet. I can’t let our marriage end just like that. If we get divorced, Charlene will have gotten exactly what she wanted. I have to figure out what on earth is going on first. Since Braden doesn’t want to tell me the truth, I’ll have to find it out myself.” As she spoke, Rachel’s voice was soft but firm.


“I’m only worried that you’ll get hurt, Rachel. Braden’s attitude toward you is very clear now. He just wants you to be his wife on paper,” Joyce sighed heavily. Rachel lowered her head, trying to hide the sadness in her eyes.

“Mom, I know where you’re coming from. It’s true. Braden doesn’t love me anymore. And I don’t know why. But given the circumstances, no matter how hard I try to get close to him, it just doesn’t work. I have to be cold and negotiate with him directly, showing him the advantages and disadvantages of being with me. Maybe that way, Braden will pay more attention to our relationship. As long as I can spend more time with him, I am confident that I can bring the previous Braden back.”

Joyce knew she wouldn’t be able to change her daughter’s mind. Since Rachel was her precious daughter, she could only support whatever Rachel wanted to do. Finally, she snorted and said seriously, “If Braden makes you know you’re the best!”

Tears welled up in Rachel’s eyes again. She couldn’t help but throw herself into her mother’s arms, acting like a spoiled child. Joyce held her tightly and said helplessly, “You were always a smooth talker when you needed something from your mother.” Benjamin burst into laughter.

“Well, you can’t blame her. You know what? Rachel’s temper is just like yours when you were young. She got her stubbornness from you!”

That night, Rachel didn’t go back to the hotel with Joyce and Benjamin. Instead, she moved back to the villa she and Braden had lived in before. This villa was quite close to the Porter Group headquarters.

Not long after she stepped foot inside the house, she heard the sound of an engine coming from the gate of the villa. When Rachel turned around, she saw a handsome but indifferent man standing at the door. Rachel immediately stiffened. Braden was still as good-looking as before, but his cold attitude toward her was extremely off-putting. He was now the most familiar stranger to Rachel.

She closed her eyes for a few seconds to gather her bearings and then looked around the almost empty living room. Her voice was a little sad. “Braden, I got into an accident only two weeks ago, but it seems you’ve been in such a hurry to clear out all my stuff. Any trace of my life in this villa has disappeared, and even our photos are gone…”







CHAPTER 375 – FACE A FORMIDABLE ENEMY


Braden looked around the house and found that it was indeed bare. “I haven’t been back to Sunhaven for a long time. Charlene was the one who sent people to clean the place up.” He seemed to be explaining himself.

Rachel walked to the sofa and sat down. Stroking the spotless sofa, she sneered in disdain, “Don’t you think that Charlene has interfered too much? Isn’t she just an employee of your company? Why is she responsible for your private affairs now?”

Truth be told, even Braden felt that Charlene had crossed the line. A matter like arranging people to clean Braden’s house was supposed to be his personal assistant’s job. With Charlene’s status, she shouldn’t have been in charge of such trivial things.

After a long silence, Braden replied perfunctorily, “I didn’t take it too seriously. I just recovered from a serious illness. I thought she did it because she was worried about me.” He knew that Charlene had feelings for him. It seemed reasonable for her to help him with these trifles.

Rachel felt a little stuffy in her chest, but she knew that she couldn’t lose her temper now. She took a deep breath and suppressed her anger.

Braden went upstairs as soon as he finished talking, followed by a sulky Rachel. This was just the beginning. She couldn’t admit defeat so easily! Instead of entering the master bedroom, Braden had planned to stay in the guest room. As he walked, he asked casually, “What are our sleeping arrangements? Shall I take the guest room?”

Rachel couldn’t help but snigger. When she looked at Braden, a sly smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “We are a couple. Of course, we sleep in the same bed.”

Braden’s whole body tensed up instantly. Seeing this, the smile on Rachel’s face became even brighter. She tilted her head to look at him in a somewhat innocent-like manner, to which Braden tightened his jaw and pursed his thin lips.

“What’s the matter? You look flustered. Braden, you were never like this in bed before,” Rachel continued to banter with him. Braden himself once admitted that he was wild in bed. So why was he so shy now? Rachel found it oddly amusing.

Upon hearing her, Braden’s steps became unsteady subconsciously. Was she telling him the truth? In his memory, he had never slept with a woman. Moreover, Rachel was nothing but a stranger to him now. How on earth could she know what he was like in bed? Seeing the hesitant and uncertain look on Braden’s face, Rachel suddenly wanted to keep on teasing him. She pulled his suit jacket and led him into the master bedroom.

“Why don’t you come inside and look around? After all, we used to sleep here together,” Rachel said, trying to entice him. Braden clung to the doorknob subconsciously. Having no reason to refuse her, he walked into the room slowly, as if he was about to face a formidable enemy. Looking at how cautious he looked, Rachel was amused. She covered her mouth and said gently, “Well, get settled. I’ll take a shower first…”

The sound of running water from the bathroom brought Braden back to his senses. For some reason, he felt nervous. However, he shook his head and chastised himself. Rachel was just a woman. What could she do to him?

After stepping out of the shower, Rachel saw that Braden hadn’t left. He was sitting quietly on the sofa, reading a magazine. He had taken off his suit jacket and carefully laid it on the sofa. The top two buttons of his Colton shirt were unbuttoned, exposing his sharp collarbone and pectoral muscles. He looked extremely sexy.

Wiping her wet hair, Rachel sat on the edge of the bed and asked, “Aren’t you going to take a shower before going to bed?”

Braden looked up at the woman in front of him. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down, and his voice was a little hoarse for reasons he couldn’t explain. He had flipped through the magazine in his hand twice or thrice now, but nothing seemed to register in his mind. He couldn’t seem to concentrate at all.

Braden braced himself, stood up, and then walked to the bathroom. He was at a complete loss as to what to do, which was a rare feeling for him. Just now, Rachel was standing in front of him half-naked, as though she was deliberately trying to seduce him. And it worked. His mind went blank, and he stayed in the bathroom for a long time before coming out. He walked out wrapped in a bathrobe.

The bedroom was now dimly lit, with only a bedside table lamp illuminating the room in a warm orange glow. The quilt bulged slightly in the middle. Rachel slept on her stomach, taking up most of the bed. Braden walked over, lifted a corner of the quilt, and quietly lay down, careful not to wake the woman up. He turned his back to Rachel, took a deep breath, and then closed his eyes.

Rachel quietly peeled her eyes open. Seeing how stiff and tense Braden’s back was, she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In the past, Braden had always been demanding sexually, but now, he was like a nervous husband on his wedding night. She really couldn’t figure out what made him like this.

“Braden…” Thinking of the past, Rachel stretched out her hand subconsciously. However, just as her fingertips brushed against his bathrobe, Braden sat up from the bed abruptly. Narrowing his eyes at her, Braden asked warily, “What are you doing?”

He had retreated to the edge of the bed. It seemed that he would fall down at any time. In a daze, Rachel’s eyes landed on his reddened earlobes.

Wrapped in the quilt, Rachel reached out her hand to turn on the light and then sat down to look at Braden. Smiling brightly, he asked, “Why are you so scared? I will not hurt you or anything.”

His cheerful and euphemistic voice made Braden’s ears turn even redder. Braden did not raise his head and refused to look at the woman next to him. Clutching the quilt tightly, she felt a little depressed, never having felt so powerless before.

“Did you want to tell me something?” Rachel asked with curiosity, tilting her head to the side.

With a tense look on his face, Braden finally raised his eyes to look at Rachel, though hesitant. He said, “You… Please don’t… I…” Seeing that he couldn’t even finish the sentence, Rachel was amused. He shook his head helplessly, turned off the light, and lay down with his back to Braden.

Then he said quietly, “Okay, I promise I won’t bother you again. You have work tomorrow. Goodnight.”

Thereafter, Rachel didn’t say anything else. Braden breathed a sigh of relief. In the dark, he looked at the silent outline of Rachel. Too many doubts went through his mind. What kind of person was she? And how did they used to interact? To Braden’s frustration, he still couldn’t remember anything. His head was filled with a thousand questions, but he couldn’t just wake up Rachel and ask her without her knowing about his memory loss. In the end, he had no choice but to return to lying on the edge of the bed, wrapped up, and close his eyes.

The early fall rainstorms were over, and winter crept in silently. Braden woke up to the sound of the loud winds beating against the window. When he got up to close the window, he was attracted by the delicious scent of breakfast and unconsciously looked to the other side of the empty bed. Only then did he realize that Rachel was not in the room. After a quick wash, he ran downstairs.

It was a windy day, but there were no signs of rain. The sun was still shining outside. With an apron on, Rachel poured two cups of milk onto the table and then went back to the kitchen to prepare the food. Braden mindlessly followed her into the kitchen.

Rachel was making sandwiches for breakfast. When she heard footsteps behind her, she turned around and smiled, “Good morning, sun! Go wash your hands. Breakfast is almost ready.”

Braden was stunned for a few seconds.

By some inexplicable reason, he felt that this scene looked so familiar, like experiencing déjà vu. He thought long and hard. Rachel’s busy figure gradually overlapped with his mother’s in his memories. Elvira used to make him breakfast before he went home. The smell of delicious food early in the morning, the blurred face of the woman, and the familiar sound of cooking. This scene was very familiar to him, but Braden couldn’t remember her. His memory was too fuzzy, and every time he tried to clear it up, he felt a dull ache in his head.

Noticing his distraction, Rachel waved her hand in front of him and asked, “Braden? What do you have in mind? Let’s go. It’s time for breakfast.” Braden’s eyes gradually cleared. He nodded slightly and followed her to the dining room. There were sandwiches, bacon, eggs, and milk on the table, a delicious spread for breakfast. “Here you go,” Rachel said with a smile as she handed him a glass of milk. Braden accepted the glass with both hands and said awkwardly, “Oh, thank you.”

Rachel gestured to the food on the table and insisted, “Try it. I hope my culinary skills haven’t worsened while I was outside.”

Braden nodded. He slowly took a sandwich and hesitantly took a bite. The food Rachel cooked was nothing special, but it tasted good. The meaty chicken and crispy lettuce blended perfectly. There was no extra seasoning, but it was still a tasty and refreshing sandwich. Braden’s heart felt warm as he ate. “It’s delicious,” he praised from the bottom of his heart. He hadn’t eaten such a home-cooked meal in a long time. This made him feel that the word “home” was not so far from him for the first time.

The smile in Rachel’s eyes didn’t fade. After finishing what was left of her milk, she winked at Braden and said lightly, “As usual, I cook and you wash the dishes.” Braden obediently nodded. He didn’t think it was an unreasonable request. In fact, it felt as if he had done this task many times. But he had no idea when he did it and why he agreed to do it in the first place.

Despite the blank spaces in his mind, Braden really enjoyed the familiar feeling of having a good breakfast.

Suddenly, his phone started ringing. It was Charlene calling. “Braden, why aren’t you in the office yet? Did something happen?” Her voice was full of concern.

“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Carry on with the job,” Braden replied, taking a sip of milk. He gave her brief orders and then hung up. It was the first time he had set aside his work for something else.

Instead of rushing to the company, he finished breakfast with Rachel unhurriedly and even washed the dishes afterwards.

Charlene gritted her teeth and put the phone away. She couldn’t hide her jealousy and anger any longer. “Braden had just moved back in with Rachel, spent one night, and today he was late to work.” Charlene took a deep breath and proceeded to walk to the office as if nothing had happened.






CHAPTER 376 – A KNACK FOR BLOWING HOT AIR

But deep down, she knew things were getting out of control. Previously, Charlene was secretly elated when she saw that Rachel was still bothering Braden. She knew that Rachel’s insistence would only drive Braden further away. The more Rachel tried to communicate with Braden, the more evident his dislike for her became.

Everything was going smoothly until Rachel proposed divorce to Braden. When Charlene heard her saying this, she was ecstatic. She couldn’t believe that she was listening and hadn’t even done anything to separate them yet, but Rachel took the initiative to leave Braden! But when Charlene regained her senses, she immediately realized that what Rachel wanted was not so simple. Rachel didn’t really want a divorce; she just wanted to threaten Braden with that!

During Rachel’s negotiation with Braden, Charlene secretly stood outside the door and heard everything clearly. Rachel threatened Braden with the power of the Colton family and the potential alimony in case of divorce. As if that were not enough, she asked him to fulfill his husband duties. This move caught Charlene off guard. It was reasonable for Rachel to ask him to do his duty as her spouse since they were legally married. As an outsider, Charlene had no reason to interfere.

Seeing that Braden was going to live with Rachel again, Charlene became anxious, but she didn’t know how to stop it. If things continued like this, all that she had worked for would be in vain. At that time, Braden married Rachel, lived with her, and gradually fell in love with her. Of course, the same thing could happen once again.

After talking to Braden on the phone, Charlene became even more unsettled. Braden had always put the company first. He had only stayed with Rachel one night, and yet he had already begun to change! No matter how much she racked her brains, Charlene couldn’t think of a good way to create a gap between Braden and Rachel.

She had learned from her previous mistakes that if she interfered too much, Braden would see right through her intentions.

Now that things had gotten to this point, she couldn’t do anything but remind herself to be patient and not act hastily.

After living with Braden for a few days, Rachel discovered that he seemed to have forgotten the way they used to be. But she decided not to think too much about it. Whether Braden intentionally hid something or there was an inside story, she was willing to continue this act with him until the matter was cleared up.

After spending more time with him, Rachel figured out the rules for getting along with this new Braden. She realized that this Braden didn’t like it when she got too close to him. Just keeping a certain distance might hold his interest.

Until now, Rachel was on leave from Grant'd, so she asked if she could work remotely. Her boss agreed, and she immediately received a bunch of homework. She was too busy, upset Braden, the design task was urgent. Because Rachel had an accident and was out for weeks, her work had been delayed. To go back to normal, she had to lock herself in her room every day, burying herself in work until late hours at night.

When Braden got home from work, he didn’t see Rachel in the living room, but he didn’t think too much about it. He just carried his briefcase into the study to continue working. However, when he went through the bedroom, he heard a noise inside. He opened the door a crack and peered inside. He saw through the crack that Rachel was working. He couldn’t help but stop and look at her for a moment before gently closing the door.

For the next few days, although they lived under the same roof, Braden didn’t see much of Rachel. Immediately after breakfast, he went to the bedroom to work until bedtime. Braden gradually discovered that the real Rachel was nothing like what Charlene had said. She was not a clingy woman in love. Rachel was ambitious and dedicated to her work.

After returning to his study, Braden turned on his computer and searched for Rachel Colton on the internet. He had secretly investigated her background and saw that Rachel’s talents and abilities were outstanding. She had also worked at the Porter Group and later at Grant'd Studio as Homer’s Design Assistant.

Rachel threw herself into her work for days on end.

Braden slowly got used to coming home every night. He soon relaxed even when he slept in the same bed as Rachel.

One day, Braden impulsively bought two strawberry croissants when he saw them on display through the window of the dessert shop.

On the way home, he wondered how Rachel would feel seeing such beautiful desserts. Nevertheless, when Braden got home, Rachel was nowhere to be found. She wasn’t in the bedroom, living room, or anywhere in the house. He waited for her until late at night, but she did not return.

The next morning, she still wasn’t in the house. For some reason, Braden felt a little bad. He seemed to have gotten used to the quiet company of this woman.

“Without her, I felt as if I had lost something very important,” he murmured.

Braden pulled out his phone and immediately called Rachel. On the other hand, Rachel was quite surprised that he took the initiative to call her.

“Where are you?” he blurted out as soon as she responded. However, he soon realized how harsh that sounded.

He cleared his throat and added in a much softer tone, “I didn’t see you at home, so I am wondering if you’re…”

Rachel was having breakfast at the time. She quietly took a sip of her milk before replying, “I was about to tell you. I returned to Meadowview.”

“What are you doing at Meadowview?” Braden asked, obviously unhappy. Rachel laughed, “I work here, so it shouldn’t surprise you. I have been working remotely in recent days, but it’s far from convenient. If I stay in Sunhaven, my career will eventually suffer.”

Braden opened his mouth to express his complaint but found he didn’t know the right words to say. After hesitating for a couple of seconds, he decided not to say anything. Still, a menacing frown appeared on his face, and his fingers clenched around his phone. “Good,” he whispered before hanging up and brooding by the window.

From that day on, Braden dedicated most of his time to work. He told himself repeatedly that it was good that Rachel had gone. He could finally focus on his business, just as it should have always been. Still, each time he came home at night and found no one to welcome him, a wave of loneliness washed over him. He often went to bed feeling empty and upset.

It was a cold and rainy day in Sunhaven. Fall was coming to an end. The electric fireplace crackled in the living room, obscuring half of Braden’s face as he sat down at the dining table. He felt as if he was slowly drowning in the desolation that filled his heart, just like the storm that raged outside.

He looked at the flower resting on the mantelpiece, the fireplace, the lace tablecloth that covered the table, and the photos hanging on the wall. These were tiny, inconspicuous details that were easy to ignore, but they especially caught Braden’s attention. Rachel had only lived here for several days, but she had left traces of her everywhere.

Now that she was gone, he slept alone and ate alone.

Braden discovered that he was no longer accustomed to loneliness. He heaved a sad sigh. Even the breakfast served before him was bland and unappetizing. Fed up with the strange emotions and indescribable things that tormented him, Braden decided to return to the hotel near the company.

He only returned to the villa once a week, and every time, he looked forward to seeing Rachel cooking at home, waiting for him. She greeted him with her bright smile and then instructed him to wash his hands before telling him that dinner was ready. It was nothing special, really, but his expectations never came true. To say that he was disappointed would be an understatement, but he hoped to rekindle things the following week.

Deep down, Braden knew he had changed. He could barely concentrate on work. He missed Rachel terribly, although he still wasn’t fully aware of how much it affected every other aspect of his life. He had even begun to pay attention to the goings-on in the fashion industry. Despite this, he never had contact with her again.

One day, Kristian called him to inform him that something was wrong with the project he was in charge of at one of their branches in Meadowview. Kristian suggested that Braden handle it himself.

But Charlene was determined to stop him, she said, “I heard from Kristian that it’s not a big deal. The project manager simply asked for a leave of absence in the middle of operations. I think sending an experienced project manager to take over should be enough to solve the problem. Moreover, Kristian’s already at Meadowview. You don’t have to go there yourself. It’s also quite a long and tedious journey. It would be a hassle to go back and forth between Sunhaven and Meadowview. Just let them handle it.”

She remained calm throughout the conversation, but she made sure to make each point at her disposal.

“Our projects have been going very well here, so there’s nothing to worry about. Besides, I haven’t been to our branch in Meadowview in a long time, so this would be a good opportunity to inspect the work there.” It was clear that Braden had already made a decision.

He told himself that it wasn’t like he had a personal agenda; he was only going to Meadowview for work. That was it. He certainly couldn’t go there just to see Rachel.

The private plane of the Porter Group landed in Meadowview in the late afternoon. As soon as he got off the plane, Braden headed straight for his villa.

To his dismay, he arrived to find that Rachel wasn’t there either. He immediately called Andy.

“My wife does not reside in our villa in Meadowview?”

Andy was speechless for a moment. “Mr. Porter, I’m afraid I have no idea. Perhaps Mrs. Porter lives with her parents.”

Braden hung up without another word and called Rachel. It sounded like she was about to sleep.

“What’s happening?” she asked with a loud yawn.

“Where are you staying?”

“With my parents, of course,” Rachel replied.

Braden snorted in dissatisfaction. “Didn’t you say that we are a couple and that we should live together? You must come to the villa and stay with me.”

After the call ended, Rachel had to press her face against the pillow so as not to laugh too much. She realized that Braden had developed a knack for blowing hot air when she had to say something embarrassing.

A while later, Joyce saw her daughter descend the stairs with a big smile and then looked at the suitcase in her hand.

“You have packed since the first day. Are you finally leaving now?” Joyce asked.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
CHAPTER 377 – ONLY OPTION

“Things are going better than I initially thought,” Rachel replied. “I still don’t know what happened to Braden, but things seem to be getting better.”

“He made the right decisions,” Joyce said kindly as she stretched out her hand and pinched Rachel’s cheek. “It’s getting late, and I’m afraid it will not be safe for you to take a taxi alone. How about I ask the family driver to take you there?” Rachel didn’t even try to refuse. “It’s okay.”

Joyce waved goodbye to her daughter and reminded her to take care. Just before she got into the car, Rachel turned towards her mother and said in a somber tone, “Mom, can you do me a favor?”

Just like that, Rachel returned to Braden’s villa in Meadowview. Since she now lived with him, they naturally spent more time at home. He seldom went to work on weekends, and only Rachel was staying with him. She couldn’t help but remember the time when they had just gotten married. The only difference was that Braden now seemed more introverted and reserved than he had been in the past.

Rachel studied the man sitting across from her on the balcony, reading. He seemed lost in thought, and she felt like she had been transported back two years ago. Braden never went back to Sunhaven, not even for a quick visit. Needless to say, Charlene was at her limit. She hadn’t seen him in over a week. She had always been close to Braden until recently, so she could keep an eye on him. Now that he was in the same city as Rachel, she was panicking fast.

On the second weekend, Charlene flew to Meadowview under the guise of inspecting the progress of her company’s ongoing project. Deliberately, she brought some documents with her and took them to Braden’s villa. He was visibly surprised when he opened the gate.

“What are you doing here?” Braden asked. Charlene already had an answer prepared for this question. She showed him the stack of papers. “I’m here to bring you these files we need for the meeting on Monday. It’s urgent, so you better take care of them immediately.”

“It’s okay,” Braden said nonchalantly while taking the folders from her.

Charlene gave a small smile and asked, “Aren’t you going to invite me in?” Her heart ached at his dismissive attitude, but she did her best not to show it. It wouldn’t be polite to turn her down at this point. Braden sighed and said, “Come in, please.” Charlene walked in without a second’s hesitation.

After all, her real purpose for coming was to see how things were going between Braden and Rachel.

As soon as she entered, she saw Rachel lying on the sofa in pajamas, chewing on an apple while watching television. She looked again at the sound of the door and asked, “Do we have company? Are we expecting someone today?” Rachel was about to respond, but her eyes fastened on Charlene.

With a bright smile, Rachel inclined her head to the side and asked, “What brings you here, Miss Palmer? Don’t you take a break even on weekends?”

“I came to transmit some documents important to Braden,” the other woman answered calmly. “I thought it would be nice to make a visit while I was here.” Rachel raised her eyebrows and gave her another slight smile. Then she went back to eating her apple and continued watching television. She had no interest in talking to Charlene more than necessary.

Braden walked towards the stairs, heading to his study to continue his work. He passed the sofa on his way and noticed Rachel leaning closer and closer to the TV.

He gently hit her head with a folder. “Don’t get so close to the television. You’re going to hurt your eyes.”

Rachel rubbed the spot on the top of her head and looked at him fixedly. “Yes, yes, I know!” he grumbled.

It was an innocent and ordinary exchange, but Charlene found it incredibly alarming. “I didn’t know these two had gotten along so well in such a short time. How did things change so fast? Although Braden and Rachel were not as close and sweet as before, they still looked like a real couple now. Charlene knew she would be finished if she couldn’t separate them.

Braden was obviously in love with Rachel. Again, if this continued, all efforts of Charlene would be in vain. She was lost.

After Braden disappeared upstairs, Charlene muttered an excuse and fled the villa. She was in a thunderous mood on her way back. She couldn’t think of any other way to get Braden away from Rachel.

Clearly inciting any form of discord between them was not a permanent solution. As long as Rachel was alive, Charlene would never have the opportunity to be with Braden. Her only option now was to kill the woman.

Charlene needed to get rid of Rachel once and for all. She gritted her teeth at the thought, her nostrils dilated. She knew time was running out. She needed to act while she still had Braden’s confidence.

Most areas became hot and dry in late fall, making it easy to have natural fires here and there. Charlene was sitting in her car when several fire trucks passed by, speeding alongside her vehicle. The driver informed her that there was a large forest park fire.

Charlene’s eyes suddenly lit up as something clicked in her head. She remembered the unexpected fire that had broken out when Braden and Rachel were still at her apartment in Sunhaven last year. She wasn’t there at the time, but she had heard from company employees that it was a big incident.

“I heard on the news that the fire is still spreading rapidly,” said the driver, shaking his head in remorse.

“It is a fire of the most horrible kind, I say… the kind that burns its victims until they are unrecognizable. Wouldn’t that be the most ideal way to get rid of a body?” Charlene stared as the fire trucks disappeared in the distance, an idea slowly gestating in the back of her mind.

It wasn’t that hard to intentionally start a fire. Furthermore, this type of crime had an unbelievably high success rate in destroying entire towns, and the clues to the cause of the fire were often buried in the ashes. The key was to find a good opportunity to strike.

Halloween was just around the corner. Meadowview was a very open city that welcomed foreign students and workers from all over the world. Although Halloween was not part of the local tradition, people still enjoyed dressing up and having fun.

The festive atmosphere was already taking over the streets as partygoers came out of their houses with colorful and interesting outfits. Rachel found the sight quite amusing and was very lively all the way home.

Although it was hot during the day, the nights were relatively cold. For so many years, she had lived alone and experienced the changing seasons by herself. But things had changed. Now, she had Braden waiting for her at home. Pretty soon, he was there as soon as she walked into town. He had just arrived and hadn’t even taken off his suit jacket. He seemed as distant as ever.

Undeterred by his cold demeanor, Rachel reached over and took his hand. Braden quickly stiffened, and his cheeks turned a light red color.

“What’s happening?” he asked.

“It’s the season of Halloween. We’ve been cooped up at home doing nothing this whole time. Why don’t we go to the amusement park and try the haunted house? Will you go with me?” She gave him a dazzling smile, her tone sweet as honey.

Braden cleared his throat and looked away.

“What a childish idea. Only children go to amusement parks.”

“But you should spend time with me during the holidays. It’s your duty as a husband, and it’s stipulated in the contract. So please, Braden, won’t you just be a kid for one day?” Rachel looked at him with puppy dog eyes.

“It’s okay. But I’ll only do it this time. This won’t happen again,” he sighed audibly and acted as if they were forcing him to do something he didn’t want to.

But deep down, he was looking forward to going out with Rachel. He had discovered that he never felt bored when they were together, and he was willing to indulge her whims, even if it meant doing childish and embarrassing things.




CHAPTER 378 – THE PERFECT MOMENT

Charlene had planned to invite Braden to a small gathering on Halloween.

After all, she was alone in Meadowview without family or friends to hang out with. Braden was the only person she knew here. And because of that, she was a bit disappointed when she showed up at his villa and she discovered that Braden would be going to the haunted house with Rachel on Halloween.

It took a moment for her to regain her composure. When she finally calmed down, her thoughts began to race.

This could be the opportunity she had been waiting for. The haunted house was a closed space with a labyrinthine configuration and a usually eerie atmosphere.

The staff would definitely be preparing to disguise themselves, hiding their identities completely. Moreover, the haunted house was dark and noisy, the perfect setting for an unfortunate accident.

The only problem was that Braden would be there too. He was destined to get hurt in the fire as well. First, Charlene needed to find a way to separate the couple.

Once Rachel was left alone, only then could she fully execute her plans. But Charlene had to be there too.

“On the one hand, I needed an alibi to clear any suspicion that might arise in the future. On the other hand, I have to make sure that nothing bad succeeds Braden,” she thought.

“Oh well, you know what they say. How about… the more, better, right?” Charlene chimed in cheerfully.

“I was planning to throw a party for our employees on Halloween, of all modes. Why don’t we hang out together and have fun?”

Braden didn’t think it was a great thing, so he readily agreed.

“Sure, I have no objection.”

But he immediately turned to Rachel and asked, “What do you think?” Rachel glanced at Charlene before smiling.

“Of course. The more, the better, in fact,” she answered politely.

When the day came, Braden and Rachel went to the largest amusement park in Meadowview and headed towards the famous haunted house attraction. Most of the people were dressed as monsters and witches, merrily roaming through the streets, reveling in the festivities.

Before leaving the villa, Rachel had prepared some bags of sweets for the children who might ask for candy. Indeed, they encountered children in the amusement park. Rachel happily handed them the bags of treats and praised their costumes.

As she straightened up, she noticed Charlene looking at her with slight disdain. “Miss Palmer, didn’t you say you would organize a party for your employees here? Where are they? How come we’re all alone here, just the three of us?” Rachel became alert.

Except for Braden and Charlene, no one else from the Porter Group had joined them.

Charlene had lied, of course.

“I didn’t want to involve your staff initially as they could hinder your plans,” she awkwardly laughed and looked away. “Okay, they’ll be here a little later. I haven’t been to this place before.”

“As your boss, I thought it would be better for me to check the security policies of the establishment in advance.”

“Some of them are very shy, you see.”

“I wanted to talk to the haunted house management and see if they could tone down the scares.” “They could damage my equipment and cause an accident,” she clapped her hands, and he smiled at them.

“And right now, I’ll go find the manager. You and Braden don’t have to wait for me. Go ahead, have fun.”

Rachel didn’t need to be told twice. She turned to Braden and said, “Let’s hurry up and go indoors. There will be too many people if we entertain ourselves much more.”

Braden looked around curiously, astonished. “I’ve never been to a place like this before,” he said. Hearing what she said, he nodded at Rachel and took her hand. They entered the haunted house together.

Charlene watched them enter. Once they were completely out of sight, she discarded her mask of politeness, and her face twisted with utter hatred. Long before arriving at the park, Charlene had already made the necessary arrangements.

She had sent someone to the haunted house to hide and wait for the perfect moment. Their task was to separate Braden and Rachel, leave the woman alone, lock her in one of the rooms, and set fire to the attraction, trapping her inside.

Considering Braden’s current sentiments towards his wife, Charlene was convinced that he would never run into the fire to save Rachel. Even if he did, Charlene’s henchman would be there to stop him.

The night grew darker, and soon the moon appeared in the sky. Less than ten minutes later, Charlene received a message from the thug on salary. “Miss Palmer, I have successfully isolated the woman. What should we do next?”

Charlene responded immediately. “Light the fire, right now.” As soon as she sent the message, thick black smoke rose from the direction of the haunted house.

A few seconds later, the entire attraction was on fire. The once fun and pleasurable park was now filled with the acrid smell of smoke and burned wood. The screams of panic replaced the laughter that had been ringing just moments ago as people fled the scene.








CHAPTER 379 – I WILL MAKE YOU PAY

The manager in charge of the haunted house acted quickly. He called the fire department and the police, and then proceeded to evacuate the staff and the customers who were still inside. The poor people covered their faces as they ran out of the haunted house.

One woman saw Charlene standing by the entrance, apparently stunned.

“Don’t just stand there!” the woman yelled. “Run! The fire will be everywhere in a moment!” Charlene grabbed the frantic woman and asked, “What happened? What’s going on in there?”

The woman was furious and snapped, “Don’t touch me!”

“My friend is inside!” Charlene impatiently responded, “Tell me what’s going on inside.”

To her credit, the woman seemed a bit embarrassed after hearing this. “I really don’t know. I was running for my life, so why should I care about someone else? But as I was leaving, I heard that a woman was trapped in a room and the man who came with her hurried to look for her.”

Charlene was stunned and speechless. He grabbed the woman’s hand and demanded, “And then? Where is that man now? Is he okay?” The woman threw Charlene’s hand away and fled, cursing.

For a moment, Charlene was rooted to the ground, his eyes clouded with panic and confusion. He never expected Braden to risk his life to save Rachel in such a situation.

“Damn it! What just happened!” Charlene took out her phone and quickly called the man she had hired. As soon as the call connected, she let out a litany of curses. “Didn’t I tell you?! You should have separated those two! Can’t you even do something that simple?” The man’s voice trembled slightly.

“We followed your instructions, Ms. Palmer, we really did! But the halls of this attraction are dark and narrow. As soon as the fire broke out, everyone ran for the exit. You can’t blame us for losing that man in the middle of all the chaos.”

Charlene anxiously walked through the entrance of the haunted house. She told herself to calm down and consider her options. After a moment, she asked, “Which direction did he go? Go and find him.” The man’s breath caught in his throat. “Ms. Palmer, that’s impossible. There is no way for us to find someone in a raging fire. We are not firefighters, and we have no idea where the knight has gone.”

“Shit!” Charlene screamed in frustration. She took her hand to her forehead, not knowing what else to do. She looked back at the flames that rose higher and higher towards the heavens, embodying the swift surge of her despair.

Braden could be burned to death in the fire she had instigated. Unable to bear the thought, Charlene took off her coat and put it over her head before rushing into the burning establishment. She couldn’t let anything happen to Braden! A steady stream of people kept fleeing the scene. When they saw a woman running in the opposite direction, they naturally looked at her with dropped jaws as if she had lost her mind.

Fortunately, Charlene had become familiar with the haunted house structure beforehand. As long as she made no errors, she could get Braden out unscathed.

Charlene squinted into the dark smoke and waves. It was as if she had entered a huge oven. She couldn’t even tell if her tears were from the heat or smoke.

Soon, Charlene was gasping for air while frantically looking around. “Braden! Where are you? Can you hear me?” Her voice was getting hoarse by the second, but she still couldn’t locate him. Suddenly, she saw a figure speeding across the sea of fire out of nowhere. The woman’s long hair was tied up in a bun, and her slender silhouette glided nimbly through the accessories on fire. It was Rachel.

Charlene watched her run into a side room. Remembering the plans, she recognized that the room was a small cubicle used by the staff. It had only one barred window high up on the wall. The only way in and out was through the door.

“If Rachel got trapped inside, she would probably die in the fire.” Charlene followed stealthily in Rachel’s footsteps, careful not to alert her. Once Rachel was firmly inside the small room, Charlene hurriedly closed the door, slammed it, and bolted it from the outside.

Hearing the noise behind her, Rachel turned right around, just in time to see Charlene’s face. She ran and banged against the door, yelling, “Charlene! What do you think you’re doing?! Let me out!” But it was in vain.

Charlene had no intention of opening the gate. She let out a sinister laugh and sneered at Rachel from the other side. “Shut up! Just stand there like a good girl and quietly await your death!”

Rachel banged desperately on the door, pleading, “Charlene, open up!”

She tried the doorknob, but it wouldn’t budge. She realized she was trapped. Through the small glass window in the gate, she could see Charlene smiling maliciously from the other side, saying, “You deserve this.”

Behind Charlene, a sea of fire raged. Even the roof was ablaze and on the verge of collapsing. However, Charlene seemed oblivious to the danger, continuing to laugh with joy, his eyes filled with absolute hatred. Rachel had never witnessed such a terrifying spectacle.

“You’re the one behind all of this, aren’t you?” Rachel demanded.

“Do you realize the crime you’ve committed? And why should you worry when no one else will find out?” Charlene scoffed, reveling in his sadistic delight. The thought of Rachel turning to ashes in that place delighted him immensely.

Rachel kept banging on the door, her throat parched and dry. She coughed violently, having inhaled too much smoke.

Charlene momentarily stopped laughing to relish in his rival’s suffering.

“Finally, I get rid of you this time.”

Rachel realized that Charlene would never let her escape. This was her opportunity to kill Rachel once and for all.

Clutching her throat, Rachel struggled to speak. “Charlene,” she managed to say with a strained voice, “once I get out of here, I will make you pay!”

Charlene swayed from side to side, eagerly awaiting Rachel’s demise. She couldn’t recall the last time she felt so animated. “Oh, I’m afraid that day will never come,” she taunted, as the heat intensified around them. Charlene had no desire to spend any more time with Rachel. The fire was becoming critical, and she still needed to find Braden.

Glancing at Rachel one last time, she sneered, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure to take good care of Braden.” With that, she turned on his heel, ready to leave.
 

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