That year, Francis was barely ten. His mother, Linda, heavy with child, had just returned home from a prenatal checkup.
Julia bribed the butler and managed to enter the house.
The wife and mistress engaged in a heated argument the moment they saw each other.
Julia stood at the top of the staircase and admonished Linda, “You’re truly shameless. Do you really think bearing a child for Charlie is enough for you to take my place?”
“I don’t need to force you out of the family. The fact that Charlie chooses to be with me is all that matters,” the heavily pregnant Linda said, a hint of smugness dancing in her eyes.
What could possibly wound Julia more than snatching her man away?
Linda reveled in the sight of the Hanks family’s once high and mighty daughter crumbling under the insult delivered by a commoner such as herself. At this moment, she realized that titles didn’t matter at all.
Julia trembled, the rage boiling within her evident in her quivering gaze.
“Linda, to think I once considered you a good friend. Had I known this would happen, I would never have defended you against those insults. I would have allowed those ruffians to ravage you. Then you wouldn’t dare to act all high and mighty in front of me,” Julia spat. Her eyes then darkened as her tone turned frigid. “Do you think you can be a part of the Hadley family just like this? I could take your illegitimate child back to the Hadley family and separate you from your child. Don’t worry. I will take good care of your son and make sure he grows up just fine!”
Her words made Linda’s heart skip a beat, for Linda knew that Julia was taunting her.
How could Julia, who loathed her so, possibly treat her child well?
In a panic, Linda grasped Julia’s shirt and yelled like a mad woman, “I will never hand my son over to you! You will not separate us!”
“What do you think you’re doing? Let me go!” Julia shouted.
Standing by the staircase, the young Francis observed the two quarreling women.
Suddenly, a piercing scream echoed through the house, and Linda tumbled down the stairs, blood seeping from her body.
Although she was rushed to the hospital, her unborn child couldn’t be saved.
Having suffered the physical trauma, Linda would never be able to conceive again.
This tragedy had been a constant source of pain for Linda, and she was willing to endure the
condemnation rather than let Julia enjoy her life.
Francis stayed silent for a while. A cold gust of wind stirred him from his thoughts. Bending slightly, he lifted his mother into his arms. “It’s late. You should rest.”
Christina heard the sound, opened her eyes, and saw Linda with tears clinging to her lashes.
“Ms. Macall, are you not feeling well?” Christina asked with concern.
“Mom wants to rest. Let’s not disturb her,” Francis said, tucking the blanket around Linda before leading Christina away.
Francis drove along the city streets.
Patches of silvery moonlight filtered through the branches, casting a melancholic glow on his handsome face. His androgynous features, strikingly cold yet enticingly soft, had been a boon to his acting career.
The recent film release was met with rave reviews, and as if by magic, his net worth had multiplied overnight.
In a soft voice, Christina said, “Perhaps it’s best if you don’t see me off. Why don’t you head back early and catch up on some rest?”
“Concerned about me, are you?” Francis‘ lips curled into a faint smile.
Christina huffed, avoiding his gaze, and crossed her arms over her chest. “You’re reading too much into it.”
Is it necessary for our casual conversation to be laced with such ambiguous tension?
Francis was charmed by the sight of her flustered state, especially when her face flushed a delicate rosy hue, like a ripe little apple.
Suddenly, the car came to an abrupt stop.
Christina lurched forward, nearly colliding with the windshield.
She was about to voice her irritation when she caught sight of Francis‘ handsome features turning deathly pale as an agonized frown creased his forehead.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“My heart hurts,” Francis said, grimacing in pain.
“Really? A few harsh words, and you’re clutching at your chest? Can you be any more delicate?” Christina teased, not realizing the gravity of the situation.
Why do both the son and mother like to feign illness?
Francis clutched at his chest, cold sweat breaking out on his forehead. “There’s a bottle of medicine in the glove compartment. Get it for me,” he muttered in pain.
Christina finally noticed the alarming pallor of his face and the purplish hue on his lips. Only then did she realize that he wasn’t just being dramatic.
She quickly opened the glove compartment to look for his medicine, and there was indeed a bottle of metoprolol,
It was a medication used for treating heart conditions.
Christina opened the bottle, to which Francis immediately popped a few pills into his mouth.
“Drink some water,” Christina said, offering her thermos flask.
-It took some time before Francis finally returned to his normal self.
“Did I frighten you?” he asked. His pallor complexion was now replaced by a melancholic look.
Christina was truly startled. Who could have guessed that the enigmatic and charismatic Francis suffered from a heart condition?
She had seen him perform demanding stunts in films. Wouldn’t that affect his healthy
“How did you come to have a heart condition?” Christina asked.
Francis turned to regard her and spoke with an air of resigned acceptance. “When I was young, I trained. alongside Nathaniel. Once, during a physical training session, I was pushed and I fell, injuring my heart. I’ve had this condition ever since.”
After all, for some time, he had also been trained to become the heir of Hadley Corporation.
Christina was stumped by this revelation.
She wouldn’t have believed that Francis had a heart condition if she hadn’t just witnessed his attack firsthand.
She felt a pang of guilt for having misunderstood him earlier.
Gently ruffling her hair, Francis reassured her tenderly, “Don’t worry. I’m not about to drop dead.”
Christina wavered. The sincere look in his eyes had moved her.
She averted her gaze and swatted away his hand. “If you don’t take care of your own health, who will?”
Francis‘ lips curled into a smile. “You will. Ever since spending that night with you in the pit, my heart condition has been acting up more frequently.”
“Don’t blame me on this. I’m not covering your medical expenses,” Christina retorted, her voice faltering slightly.
Francis chuckled. The sight of her never failed to lighten his mood.
Shaking off his thoughts, he started the car and drove away.
It was already midnight when Christina returned to Scenic Garden Manor.
Nathaniel had yet to return, likely entangled in work affairs.
After a soothing bath, Christina nestled into the welcoming embrace of her bed and drifted off to sleep.
Morning light streamed through the window. Christina awoke to find herself nestled against a comforting warmth.
She shifted slightly, and a rush of warm breath caressed her ear.
Christina opened her eyes and took in the sight of the man’s flawless handsome visage. She couldn’t help. but be stirred by the enticing sight as a flurry of emotions flooded her heart.
Turning over, she cuddled deeper into his arms. “When did you get back?”
Nathaniel gently stroked her hair, his voice a soothing baritone. “When you fell asleep.
His work had been demanding of late, often keeping him out until midnight.
Christina traced a finger gently over the dark circles under his eyes. “You’ve been staying up too late recently. I’m off today, so why don’t we sleep in a bit more?”
As she finished, she buried her head deeper in his chest, hugging him tightly as though afraid he would get up to work again.