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Cara Bloom and Liam Johnson used to be college sweethearts until Liam's father offered to pay for her mother's treatment with the condition that she will end things with his son because he is to be married to the daughter of his business tycoon friend. She signed a contract of secrecy and took up his offer. Her mother is transferred to one of the best hospitals, meaning she had to leave for Boston. It was for her good especially after she ended things with Liam over a text and cut off all ties with him. After battling cancer for many years, her mother eventually goes home to rest for good. Her mother's best friend, Mrs Johnson sends her a mail saying the least she could do for her best friend’s daughter is make sure she's okay and that's why she has secured her accommodation and a job in Dublin. Cara Bloom doesn't think twice, she immediately takes the offer. After all, she wanted to leave and forget the sad memories that Boston held, and last she checked, Liam was already married with a child so his father had nothing to worry about. Besides, it's been 6 years since she left Ireland, he may not even remember her because she had changed her last name to her mother's name right before her passing, and she has so much changed since she left. She used to be skinny and was on red bangs but she had dyed her bob burnt orange, and had added weight to her hips, laps and bum. Liam agrees to help a certain person his mother kept disturbing him about by giving her a job and accommodation. He doesn't want to know whoever she is so long as he pleases his mother so she can get off his back on getting a mother figure for his daughter since he lost his wife 2 years ago. He appends his signature on the document for the accommodation and job offer drafted up by his assistant. Three weeks after offering the woman a job and accommodation, he comes home to find that the occupant has moved into the vacant house on his property. Instead of one of his many apartments in the outskirt of town which is closer to his company . He is furious with his assistant Veronica and goes to confront her as to why she mixed up the apartment, only to find out she followed his mother's instructions. Not long after, his new tenant drives in alongside a moving truck. He walks over to her car to stop her from offloading the rest of her things. Not only was he not expecting a young lady, but he also wasn't expecting to see Cara Rufus, the girl who shattered his heart into pieces over a text and disappeared from the face of the earth. He suddenly felt the need for revenge especially after seeing there was no sign of wedding bands on her finger. He would lead her on and break her heart just like she did.
Chapter 1 Cara
The sound of the train leaving the train station dispelled the thick afternoon silence at a distance. At a nearby park, the laughs and excitement of children playing happily and chasing butterflies and their mothers shouting at them not to stray too far filled the air. It was that time of the year when dead and rusty leaves laid on the streets of Dublin waiting to be cleaned up leaving beautiful orange, red and yellow flower trails everywhere. It was that time when the satisfying crunch of the autumn leaves beneath one's sole made one feel slightly euphoric. It was that time when the air was covered up in mist.
"Cara? It's been so long! What, six years?” Mrs Chloe, my former neighbour says fondling my cheeks affectionately like she always did when I was younger, as if she didn't realize yet that I was now a full-grown adult. It had always been a habit of hers ever since I was a child.
"Yes, Ma'am." I reply.
"Come hug me". She motions spreading her arms and I go in for a hug.
Her familiar powdery perfume scent fills my nostrils and I lean in a bit more as memories also filter in.
"You and your mum just disappeared without any goodbyes. My husband said the last time he saw you, you spoke about taking your mum for treatment." She says releasing me from her embrace.
"Yes, it was an emergency trip. So sorry I couldn't notify you."
"It's all good my dear. How are things going? Your mother, did she accompany you?"
"She passed on three months ago." I choked out
"Oh, my precious child. May she rest in eternal peace. She'd fought cancer for far too long. She's in a better place now, a place of peace." She says giving me another quick sympathy-filled hug.
"Yes, she is," I reply attempting to stifle the tears that always threatened to escape anytime I talked about mother.
“Did you repurchase your home?”
“No, Ma'am. I'm merely checking to see if anything has changed.”
“Child, take your time. Here is my business card. Please feel free to contact my husband and I if you require anything at all.” She motions for me to collect the card.
"Thank you very much, Ma'am." I put the white, gold-rimmed rectangular business card into my purse as she walks to her black Toyota Venza and drives off.
I look at the structure that was once my home. The structure where my mother and I had lived for many years. Every happy memory I experienced was in this home, right here in Dublin. I had numerous firsts, including my first word, my first step, my first pet, my first love, my first car, and my first effort at baking.
Oh, to think that I had a life plan when I first started college—Finish law school at age twenty, earn a Master's degree in international relations at age twenty-two, and land a job with a prominent company here in Dublin right after finishing my masters. Finally, get married to Liam hopefully at the age of twenty-four. Our relationship began in high school. He was my first and only love.
We had a cliche first meeting. He had protected me from my callous bullies in high school.
My bullies which consisted of my former close friend--Cindy, her obnoxious sweaty boyfriend and her bratty crew were hitting me as usual at the back of the school cafeteria. I had told Cindy to get a life when she was on her daily business of taunting me .I lay on the floor as her boyfriend hit me continuously on the stomach with his beige Timberland boots as I curled into myself to reduce the impact. It didn’t even hurt anymore because I was already so used to it. I could now only wait till when they were done so that I could return back to my class.
The sounds of Cindy’s boyfriend’s heavy breathing as he hit me coupled with the sound of his boot connecting to my abdomen filled the air.
‘I wonder what I’ll eat for dinner today. Mom said she’ll be coming home late today’ I think amidst all the beating.
I wait for the next hit but it doesn’t come. I look up to check whether he is done so that I can go back to my class. Instead I see him being tackled to the ground by someone else and the girls are screaming. It was Liam who came to my rescue on that day. He was shouting profanities at the boy and yelling at him for being such a wimp for hitting a girl. He had later gone to report to a teacher. Liam was a model student so the authorities took the case up and suspended all the perpetrators while I was vindicated.
After that, Liam and I gradually hit it off and later ended up dating.
Right there on that swing, Liam and I had discussed our entire future plans— House with the typical white picket fence, three lovely children, comfortable job with a six-figure salary and every other thing our Utopian world could offer. Life must have thought us two foolish teenagers because my mother became unwell a month before my graduation and after series of tiring tests, she was later diagnosed of colon cancer. From that point, my entire world started to fall apart. My Utopian world had become a Dystopian one. Graduation finally arrived, I tried so much to be happy finishing as the best-graduating student but knowing my mum was too ill to attend broke me. Liam’s mum had to stand in for her.
The following week after, I realized it had become worse and that I had been kept in the dark the entire time so I could concentrate on my exams. We didn't have a lot of money but we were doing quite alright until mother had cancer and we needed to pay for her treatment. There was no one to ask for help. She didn't have any siblings or parents who could assist with some of the bills.
Her medications and treatment cost every last dime we had, even our savings, but it wasn't enough. Although Liam's mother did what she could to help, we still needed money—lots of it.
I sometimes broke down crying in the hospital bathroom floor to let out all my pent-up sorrows and frustrations before later going to my sick mother's bedside to act the role of the strong daughter I knew she'd need to pull through.
I was heading to the public park one early morning. I needed a break. A respite from everything—the continual nurses' pity-mongering, the loud beeping of the scary-looking machines attached to mother, the pungent disinfectant scent, the smell of sickness, pain and death that surrounded me, threatening to smother every bit saneness I had left.
I wanted to talk to someone, particularly Liam but he was far away in business school. I refrained from talking to him because I didn't want him to become anxious or stressed out while he was supposed to be studying.
I had almost gotten to the park when I noticed a black-tinted Prado jeep. I was scared because I had read novels where they trail their victim with tinted cars, double cross the individual and shove them into the car.
Why would anyone want to kidnap me? The only thing my mother had to her name was the home we lived in. As I began to hasten my pace, the car also started moving a little bit faster than it initially was. It was until I heard a familiar voice, Liam's father that I dismissed my fears and stopped.
He greeted me and motioned for me to board the vehicle. I entered without thinking twice. At first, I thought my mum was dead or something bad had happened to Liam so I got in without any hesitation. I waited nervously to hear whatever he had to say like an accused in court waiting for the Judge's verdict.
His chauffeur pulled up to a stop, and he handed me a brown package. The jeep still had traces of nylon on the seat indicating that it was brand-new. I wondered where he got the money to buy such an expensive car because they were not rich enough to afford it.
"Good day, sir. What's inside that envelope? I queried.
“See for yourself,”
I popped the packet open and started reading the content. By the time I was through, I couldn't contain my tears anymore.
"Child, it's for the best. Ultimately, everyone gets what they desire. It benefits both parties. You get the best care for your mother, and I get to merge my business with the illustrious ACE."
"You know, if it hasn't gotten that bad, we can help her recover with the aid of conventional medical care, and if she is terminal, we can help her live a little longer." he said.
"But I love Liam," I said weeping uncontrollably.
He laughed obnoxiously and looked at me as if I had said something crazy like 'I was the one who tilted the Leaning Tower of Pisa'.
"More than you love your mum?" He retorted.
"We both know you love her more. Now take this and wipe your tears child." He said handing me a beige-coloured polka dot handkerchief that smelled so heavily of expensive perfume from his pocket. I blow hard into it.
"You are still very young. You can always love another. In addition, he attends business school while you are in Dublin. He'll get to know some new people. The fact that the Aces' family is ready to pay for your mother's medical care should make you delighted. If you remain with Liam, our shared decision that our children should marry one another will not be possible. You cannot reveal our little secret to him or anyone else after signing. That's all I ask, just break up with him through a text or something," he stated.
At that moment, I hated the man sitting beside me for suggesting such a hard-to-refuse offer at the expense of my love. I hated him for belittling our love. I hated myself for even considering the offer. I hated that somewhere deep inside I was happy that even if my relationship with Liam would forever perish, my mother would at least live. I hated myself for being helpless in this kind of situation.
"Why couldn't you man up to Liam and tell him yourself?" I responded.
"Child, I won't sit here and have you insult me. We both know he loves you too much to agree to the offer hence my reason for approaching you. Now are you interested or not? I don't have time." he snarled.
"Yes, I am. The pen please?" I replied shakily. I knew I would forever regret this moment but it was the only opportunity to help my mother even if it meant losing Liam to another woman.
Returning to Dublin didn't bring about the closure I had hoped for. Instead, it triggered unpleasant memories. Memories best left buried.
Mrs Johnson, mom's best friend and Liam's mum had contacted me via email two months ago and said she had found me a place to live and a job in Dublin. I wasn't certain if she did it out of compassion or because her husband had finally informed her of his dreadful deed and she was attempting to make amends. Whichever, I didn't care. I needed it. I needed to live on and let the past be past.
I was unable to continue my education because of my mother's illness. I couldn't live like a typical young adult throughout those years since I had to bury my bones in hard work to cater for her. I had absolutely no experience. Since I wasn't particularly old yet, I believed there could still be a lot that the world has in store for me, and I eagerly anticipate it.
Chapter 2 Cara
I have no idea why Mrs Johnson, Liam’s mum is treating me so nicely. Although she has always been kind, but all her offers seemed just too good to be true. A place to stay, employment, and a first-class flight back to Dublin. I needed to see her to thank her for her thoughtfulness before my truck comes the following morning.
My heart begins to beat rapidly as soon as my Uber stops in front of their home. What if Liam was inside? or his dad? I still can't see him the same way I used to, even though he paid for my mother's care right up until the moment she passed away. I hold zero regards for him. I was just a helpless teenager in love.
"It is not too late to hop on the plane back to Boston." I think. I inhale deeply before ringing the bell.
As I wait for the door to be opened, my eyes wander to the patio at the upper floor. Once upon a time, Liam and I once used to look at the stars there through his father's old telescope huddled up in
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