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Edna did the craziest thing when she agreed to marry her high school bully, the guy who hated the very sight of her. Not like she had a choice, she needed the money to take care of her family back home. It was a simple plan. Survive her abusive husband every day, do everything her father-in-law asked of her, and keep his company at the peak. Everything wasn't half as bad as she anticipated it to be... Not until the very man she had been avoiding started to show up at the company. Malik, her husband's elder brother, the boy she had a huge crush on in high school. He was someone who made her think the silliest of things and gave her butterflies in her belly. Unfortunately, that hadn't changed even though she was now married to his younger brother. But how was she supposed to fight these sinful thoughts when they were now working together?
Edna squints at the pregnancy test strip in her hand and fans it in the air.
Maybe if she does it hard enough, the second line is going to appear and she is going to finally be pregnant.
She doesn't want to go out of the bathroom and have to tell Keith that she is not pregnant, not that he cared at all, but she doesn't want to break her father-in-law's heart again, she wants to make him a grandfather.
"Fuck. " She gives up and throws the strip into the bin and walks back to the sink.
She looks down at the empty bowl and turns on the faucet. She watches the water groan down the drain, she seems to be in deep thoughts.
With a long sigh, she washes her hands and turns off the tap. She would like to wash her face too, but she just sat through half an hour of making up her face.
She walks back to her luxurious bedroom and big up her Fendi bag from the bed and walks out of the room. She walks down the stairs to meet Keith in the living room.
He is wearing faded jeans and a boring gray tee-shirt. His brown hair looks messy and he has a cigarette in his hand and he is concentrating on the television.
Her shoes are making loud slapping sounds against the floor and so is her humming as she pretends to be happy as she leaves home, but he doesn't bother to turn to look at her.
"Hey, babe. " She says in a loud voice as she heads towards the door. " Are you coming in today?"
"Nope. " He nonchalantly answers.
As usual. He has spent his days watching TV, drinking, and smoking like a chimney. She was expecting the same answer when she asked that question.
" I am going to be late tonight. I have a few meetings to attend. " She adds.
"Yep. " That doesn't sound like an answer, but that's what he says to her.
She stops and turns to look at him, the doorknob in her hand, and her first foot is almost outside.
"I um, took the test again. It came out negative. " She says.
"Oh. " Quite short, just to say that he doesn't give a fuck. It hurts her, but she is kind of used to it now.
"Bye now. "
She steps out of the house and shuts the door.
Dimore, her driver, and bodyguard step out of the car and helps her with her bag.
"Hello, boss. " He smiles at her.
"Hello, Dimore. How are you doing?" She asks.
"Good boss, you?"
She takes a quick minute to run a mental evaluation to know if she is really okay, but she finds out that she is not. No, she is not okay, but she doesn't want to bother her bodyguard with that.
" I'm good, Dimore, it wasn't that bad of a night. " She forces a smile.
She smiles too as they get to her Lexus and he opens the door for her and she gets in. He drops her bag beside her before turning around and getting into the driver's seat. It takes a few minutes and then they are on the way to the office.
In the car, they pass many vehicles and many places. Edna looks out of the window with her dreamy eyes ogling at every fancy thing she sees.
There are a lot of things that she said that she would enjoy, a lot of places she said she would visit, but she hasn't been able to do that since she married Keith.
The money is there for her to use, but where is the time? She has to work all the time while her husband stays back at the house doing nothing.
Whatever happened to the handsome guy would rather read all night at home than go to parties so that he could score the highest in tests, and won't have to endure the shame of being beaten by a girl, who happened to be her.
"Here we are, boss. " Dimore announces as he pulls up in the office building.
"Thank you. " She exhales.
He steps out of the car and helps her down. He then grabs her bag and begins to walk her to the building.
He holds the door for her and walks protectively towards her side as the workers stop whatever they are doing to wish her a good morning.
With her signature smile on, she waves and wishes them back a good day, and walks towards the elevator.
She catches the sight of some of them whispering to each other and she knows that they are admiring her, and that makes her smile even more.
Nothing encourages her more than seeing other people look up to her as a model, but sometimes, she feels like she is not enough for herself.
The elevator door shuts and she lets out a breath of relief. It's always like that, day in and out, pretending to be this perfect woman that she knows that she is not.
"Okay, you are good. " Dimore laughs and touches her shoulder.
She nods and rearranges her hair. She is very grateful for Dimore because even though he is her bodyguard, he is her friend and has been encouraging when the need arises.
" Ready to meet Mister Jackson?" He asks her.
"I am never ready, I just have to jump right into it, like every other time. " She shrugs.
He nods and the elevator door opens. Kim, the secretary to Mister Jackson stands up and nods in greeting.
She takes Edna's bag from Dimore and leads Edna straight into the office.
Edna feels her throat go dry and itchy and she feels like she is running out of breath. She wants to sit down and request for a glass of water before she walks in and speaks to her father-in-law, but she knows that he doesn't have the time or patience to wait for her.
" He is waiting. " Kim tells her as she walks into the office.
Just before she steps in, she catches sight of Dimore, the serious look on his face, and his hands clasped in front of him. He gives her a small nod just before she heads in.
There he is, the pioneer of the Jackson empire, the father to her husband and brother-in-law, the richest man in the country.
He has aged a lot and his hair is more silver than black and so is his beard. His built body seems to have not aged a lot. His glasses are sitting on the bridge of his nose lowly and he clears his throat as she walks toward him.
" Good morning, Mister Jackson. " She says. A rather formal way to address a relative.
"Dad will do just fine. " He waves his hand as he corrects her. He has been saying that for five years and she still hasn't learned.
"Have a seat, Edna. " He tells her and she sits.
She crosses her legs and watches him as he continues to read through the files carefully. They must be very important because his large frame is bent over and he is peering carefully and tracing each letter of each word with his black pen.
It takes like ten minutes for him to get done and when he is, he looks up to her and for the first time, he smiles at her.
" How is my daughter-in-law doing on this fine day?" He asks.
"Mostly good. " She casually answers. " Hope father-in-law had a good night's rest. "
"He did. " Mister Jackson nods. " He is just still wanting a good woman to warm his bed. "
Edna laughs a little. It's painful inwardly, but she has to laugh at his jokes. It seems that the only thing he thinks women can do well - warm beds and take orders like slaves.
" Are you ready for the press conference?" He asks her.
"Yes. " She answers.
"Good. Remember the deal, keep your head up and answer the questions well. The fate of our company depends on you. " He reminds her.
"I won't let you down sir. " She assures him.
He clears his throat again and shuts the file in front of him. She watches his fingers graze the dark blue cover of the file and thinks if this is a good time to tell it to him.
" I took a test this morning. " She looks at him. " It came out negative. "
She expects him to be disappointed, maybe tell her that this is just the one thing that she hasn't been doing well, but he just nods before she even finishes speaking.
Keith did the same thing this morning. Like he knew what she would say before she said it like he knew that she can't be pregnant and they have accepted the fact.
"There is always another opportunity to try again. ``His calmness takes her by surprise.
"Yes. " She overcomes the surprise. " I will keep trying. I won't let you down. "
"You aren't letting me down, my dear child. I just want a son to carry on my family's name. "
She nods, feeling her throat getting even more dryer. He is being very specific and she knows that when Mister Jackson gives orders, they are to be followed religiously.
He is specifically asking for a son because a daughter is going to be married off and will become another man's property, but a son will stay forever.
That's why he made Keith marry her even though he hated her in high school. She was industrious and very hard working, just the right kind of woman.
Now she wishes she can make Mister Jackson happy by giving him a grandchild - a grandson, to be specific, but it's so hard for her to get pregnant.
"I am going to make an appointment with my doctor. " She tells him. " I am going to double my effort, I have to get pregnant before the end of the year. "
"That's right. " He agrees. " That will make my heart a blessed one. "
"Yes. " She knots her fingers around each other and nods. She is always this nervous and worshiping when it comes to her father-in-law.
She has one more thing to ask him and she is hoping that he takes it well because she is going to fucking die if he doesn't.
"There is this one more thing I need. " She croaks. " It's not much and I just hope that it's okay with you. "
"Alright, let's hear it. " He says without looking at her.
" It has been three months since I spoke to my family. I am wondering if it's okay for me to call them. " She requests.
Her heart races as she waits for him to answer. She is hoping that he says yes, she wants him to say yes badly.
"But you are so busy, Edna. " He moans. " You have these meetings and these places to be like, you don't have time for that. "
"Yes, that's true, but I was just hoping for five minutes, please. " She begs. Her eyes are stinging now and her voice cracky. She knows that she might end up bursting into tears.
" Well, your brother's treatment is getting more expensive and your parents' allowance has been leaving a huge hole in my pocket. " He laments. " This is really too much. "
"Sir, I know it is. " She pushes further. "But please... I am pleading. "
He is silent for a while, looking at her with a cold stare.
"Fine. " He gives him. " Nothing over five minutes. "
"Thank you. " She lets out a sigh of relief. She feels like her head has been held under water for five whole minutes and this is the first time that she is breathing in five minutes. She is so happy that he said yes.
"You may go. " He waves her away.
"Thank you. "
She stands up and begins to rush out of the office and she is practically running.
She doesn't see the door open or see the man get in. She practically runs into his hands and trips as she falls to the ground.
He catches her midway and that's when she looks up for the first time. Her breath stops as she sees his face. Malik Jackson.
It seems that the whole world has come to a stop and it's just her and Malik. He is holding her waist firmly, saving her from the embarrassing fall.
His beautiful face has a small smile on it and his left hand is in his pocket, he doesn't need two hands to save her - he is strong like that.
She adjusts as soon as her senses come back to her and she adjusts her skirt and pushes her bangs away from her eyes.
"Hi, Edna." He waves. He doesn't have to, she is right in front of him.
"Malik. Hi. Thank you. " That's one awkward sentence for her and she turns around and disappears through the door.
She takes her bag from Kim and walks to the elevator. Dimore is right behind her, but she hardly acknowledges his presence.
She presses the elevator buttons and impatiently waits for it to start to move. When it starts to move, she keeps tapping her feet on the ground and uncomfortably moves her weight from on
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