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Emily James leaves for a new place, hoping to get away from all who know about her once-existing family. With a new resolution to work hard and give a better future to her little sister, she becomes devoted and keeps a profile to avoid troubles in her life. There is only one person who dreaded her the most. She wishes she had never run into him until he shows up as the owner of the club she works. Sebastian Miller Fernandez finds his newest employee clumsy, but he knows she has a backbone and can hold her ground no matter how hard the situation he makes for her. His growing interest in her is something he never expected to happen, not after all the things she did with him two years ago on the night of his film's success party in LA, where he planned to propose to his beloved woman for marriage. Millie is afraid of her boss and wants to stay away from him, but he has no intention of letting her go. Before she figures out what she has done to offend someone so powerful as Bash, her grandfather appears in her life to threaten her again and make her sign a marriage contract with the Miller family to keep her from opening her mouth and close all the doors for her to reach her real family.
Four years ago,
"Advocate Winchester, I was just on my way to the post office."
On my way to the subway, my phone vibrated in my bag. Stopping at the side of a busy street in São Paulo, I turned to the side of an alley and picked up the call from my lawyer.
She gasped, not believing what I told her, "You got all the certificates? That's great! The next hearing is next week. Your presence here is very much needed, Emily, even if it is your friend's parents taking her custody. Do you want me to book a ticket for you?"
"I still need grandpa's signature, ma'am. Mom's share would save my sister. You know that." My eyes welled up the more I thought about it. Bringing the cell close to my mouth, I started walking while I tried hard to keep my voice even. "He knows I am here, but he didn't allow me in his home or even let his butler tell me where they admitted dad this time. I know dad isn't in a good state."
My father raised me alone. He was always there for me whenever I needed him. For my happiness, he could give me the whole world. But I couldn't be there. I lost my right to be with my father when I chose to leave my home with my three-year-old sister.
I saw the bus leaving that I wanted to catch for the post office.
If I had taken off running, I wouldn't have missed that, yet I stood there in my place as it triggered the memory of that day when the authority of children and family development took my sister from my home.
I could never explain how much it hurt to see the child I had to raise taken away from me.
There was a time I did wrong to her too. My grandparents brought her home when she was not even two, a fruit of one of my parents' extra-marital affairs. The everyday quarrel between my parents made me hate her so much that I tried not to walk past her room.
Everything changed that day when I eventually accepted her and prayed to God to make things right between our parents so we could be a happy family. That wish soon took mom from us. . .and dad. We had to admit him to the mental health hospital.
Mrs. Winchester sneered. "I wish I could take some legal action against that man, but that would delay the process."
My grandpa wasn't someone one should cross.
I wouldn't have known how he was until he went to dad's home and asked for Cheryl. To send her back from wherever he found her.
"And I don't want my sister to suffer more," I said in a deadpan tone. "I will keep you updated if I get anything we could use to win the case. I might be late, but I will come back soon. Please help my friend's parents to get her custody. That is what I want."
"We will win this case, Emily. But you have to give me your word. No matter what happens, you will not remove the locket I gave you." My eyes traveled down from the silk stole around my neck, and I noticed the locket of my chain through my floral shirt. "Keep your phone close to you. Call that number on your speed dial immediately if you feel like you're in danger, alright?"
If only you knew why I had to visit my psychiatrist once a month during his lunch break. Yet, I promised my lawyer, "I'll, ma'am."
Even the doctor's assistant had to force a smile on her face to hide her irritation whenever she saw me stepping into the clinic. One day the doc would feel the same when he would finally open his eyes and start seeing me as a burden. Of course, he would. Just because he was mom's friend doesn't change the fact that I had been using him since he extended his helping hand to me. He helped me so many times with my mental health, but I couldn't pay him. How could I pay him when I had to save money for the court?
I had to wait for another fifteen minutes for the right bus that would drop me near the post office on the way.
The envelope in my bag would decide my sister's destiny. It didn't matter to the court that I had dropped my career as a professional swimmer and worked three different places in a day to earn more so I could provide for that girl. Even the one million dollars I saved for her wasn't enough, as money wasn't everything. To them, I was incapable. I wasn't responsible enough to raise a baby.
Then for whom would I want to live? A reason I needed to keep this life and go on. Like the bustle of people, I took in my surroundings. Tired eyes even looked lively as if they knew their reasons. Most of them were returning from their workplace with groceries in their hands. . .like they had someone waiting at home, a family for whom they would cook delicious items for dinner.
It was another Friday night, after all. A person wouldn't want to waste that time hanging out with drunk strangers in a bar.
From a distance, I caught a familiar model of the Cadillac XTS coming towards the stoppage where I had been standing for the last couple of minutes. My grandpa usually traveled in that same black car. Could it be him? My mood brightened up instantly when I remembered I still had those papers with me where I wanted his signature to get my mother's share that she had in dad's company.
It was shameless of me to demand her assets, but I needed that money desperately to get my sister back in my life.
Please let it be him. Please, Lord. Please let it be my grandpa.
I started walking toward the car, keeping my eyes on the windshield. I would chase that car if I saw my grandpa in the back seat.
The car suddenly slowed down with a jerk as it halted with a screeching sound at a distance, making my heart rate spike up in dreading anticipation. I moved closer to get a better view of the passengers inside, at least as I had seen all of my grandpa's drivers in his mansion in this city, but it killed all my hopes effortlessly when I didn't see any familiar faces in the driver's seat of that car.
Maybe he is grandpa's new driver! You know how he changes every worker in his mansion frequently.
After reasoning with myself, I walked by the side of one of the streets of São Paulo and stopped only four feet away from that Cadillac XTS. Though I couldn't see who was sitting in the back seat clearly from that distance, I felt in my skin that he was watching me. And that look I got from the bulky person in the passenger seat was enough to have my heart jump in my throat.
Yet I didn't step back and check the time on my wristwatch instead. Raising my chin, I put an annoyed scowl on my face and pushed past the travelers or passengers from my way while I pretended to see the vehicles behind that damn car in the middle of the road.
Let's have a look, okay?
To make sure it wasn't grandpa in the backseat, I thought about walking past the car, and I did it holding my breath. The light in my eyes dimmed again when I saw a suited man in his late twenties on that seat, and my face fell in dismay before I could stop myself.
Well. . .we understand you have been struggling with your life to make things right, but why are you so hell-bent on ruining others' day? Do you think only you have problems and others don't? You can't sulk in disappointment in front of a stranger like that!
My subconscious mind sneers at me, making me jerk my chin up and see the car to my side. Though that tinted black glass didn't let me notice that man's expression in the backseat clearly, the jaded burn on my face made it quite obvious I pissed him off for good.
I muttered a quick apology before walking past that car, hoping he wouldn't take it that I had cursed him or something like that.
I left the stoppage far behind me, but I couldn't bring myself to turn around and go back because that car was still there.
The driver was outside, checking the tires and the engine, maybe because their car broke down, and then I saw the bus stand become crowded suddenly as the suited man finally stepped out of the car with that scary-looking tall bodybuilder guy in the passenger seat.
A frown married on my face when people took out their phones and began taking shots of that platinum blonde-haired man.
"OMG! Guys! Look who we have here!"
"Bash! Oh, lord. Is that him?"
"Argh! I can't believe my luck. May I take a picture with you?"
"Can we have your autograph, please? I am so glad to meet you, sir."
"I am a great fan of yours, Bash."
Some starry-eyed Portuguese beauties even came forward with a pen and pad in their hand, but that man's eyes were not on them but me. And he didn't look pleased to see me at all, yet he ran his gaze boringly on me from head to toe, which was downright creepy.
Gulping hard, I looked away from him and hoped my bus would come a little earlier.
I dared not to pray that to God because he considered me his favorite child, who he loved to trouble for entertainment. Once, I prayed to that sweet man in heaven for a peaceful family, and he took my agitated parents away from my life. I asked him to bless my boyfriend and me to be good parents to Cheryl, and he made me a single parent. I begged him to take my pain away from my heart, and he pushed me to face the hardships a single parent faces in those legal battles to take their child home. Still, I didn't take the hint and again prayed to him for that man to be my grandpa in that damn car, and look how that cold-faced celeb was coming toward me.
My knees began to shake in dread. The strap of my bag turned wet from the sweat on my hands. I held my breath, and my desperate eyes looked for a cab, but they were full of passengers, and even if they didn't have one, they wouldn't stop for me. I caught sight of a bus coming which wouldn't pass by the street close to the post office, yet I decided to take it to avoid that possible danger.
Waving my hand, I made that bus halt and took the stairs quickly, intending to take my seat close to a group of passengers on both sides. Though the bus wasn't full of travelers, I found only one vacant seat available, so I took that and thought about taking a lift afterward. I thought I would get away from that man, but my heart dropped in my stomach when he took the bus with that stud.
I fixed my gaze on the striped bag in my lap, not wanting him to see me, but I heard footsteps, and he stood just by my seat.
My throat went dry in fear.
I moved closer to my seatmate in the window seat, even though I knew that lady wouldn't do much help because she was asleep with her headphones on. The messy-haired group before and behind me were uniformed. . .who could not be the students from the private business school nearby because of the heated discussion about who was best at roasting their spitting and sleeping beauty lab teachers for being annoyingly stingy about giving two extra marks and charging money, then and now, for already broken test tubes!
But why do they sound oblivious to the presence of this celebrity here?
Fluttering my eyelashes, I picked at this man standing by my seat and hiccuped to see him in a black face mask with dark glasses.
I looked away and forced myself to act indifferent even when my eyes showed me a red flag.
His car broke down, so he had to take that bus. Anyone in his place would have done the same too.
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