His domineering command, tinged with reluctance, rang in Christina’s ears.
Her heart skipped a beat, though she could not put a finger on the sensation.
Either as a consequence of exhaustion or from the prolonged kiss, she passed out without even realizing
When she next awoke, she found herself lying in her bed.
The housekeeper knocked gently and entered with breakfast. “Are you awake, Mrs. Hadley? Mr. Hadley left after sending you home yesterday. He also made a special call this morning to instruct us to prepare breakfast for you.”
Christina massaged her temples. She rose, washed up, got dressed, then left the house.
As soon as she arrived at the office, Rayne asked if something had happened the night before.
Nathaniel had called her very late. From his tone, she deduced that Christina had not arrived home.
Christina did not tell Rayne about the fright she had the night before. Instead, she gave an evasive answer. “I want to start working on Mrs. Singer’s gown, so I won’t be taking on any new customers.”
Christina got to work as soon as she entered the tailor room. She drew, cut, and sewed. Though each step looked simple, all of them amounted to an extraordinarily complicated project.
Madison dropped by close to noon.
She knew that Nathaniel had moved Christina’s studio to their building. Though she found it a thorn in her eye, there was nothing she could do to stop it.
Madison sauntered into the tailor room. The sight of Christina reminded her of the slap she had endured. at Scenic Garden Manor the other day. Her check throbbed at the memory.
She entered, placed a set of car keys on the desk, and pulled a face in disdain. “Not bad for getting a nice car from Nathaniel so quickly.”
Her tone sounded as if she was the wife appraising the mistress.
Christina did not deign to look up. Her sharp eyes remained unperturbed. “What about you? What did you get?”
Madison’s expression shifted slightly. It had been four years, yet nothing came of her and Nathaniel. Even without Christina’s interference, she would still be his assistant with no prospect of being anything more.
However, she was not going to back down. “I have gotten plenty. Would you like to hear about some of them?”
Christina fell silent. A layer of frost glazed over her glittering eyes.
Madison knew her words had succeeded in aggravating the other woman, so she pressed on, “You think yourself so great for bearing Nathaniel two children, do you? I have borne him a child, too.”
Christina’s eyes widened slightly. She had considered many possibilities, but Nathaniel having an illegitimate child had never been one of them.
Just like that, her wound, newly healed, was cut open again. A fresh torrent of hurt poured anew.
Madison was filled with glee at the sight of the other’s disappointment. “My kid is a little younger than yours-almost three this year. Come for the birthday party, will you?”
Christina was sickened by those words. The mistress wants the wife to attend her kid’s party? What a joke.
Madison’s expression grew even more smug. “Take as much as you can before the divorce. Don’t wait too long, or you might find yourself empty-handed.” After her speech, she smiled derisively.
Christina picked up the car keys. Her gaze was as cold as ice. “How sure are you that we will end in divorce? If Nathaniel really liked you, he would have separated from me, and in two years, the court would have granted us a divorce without me having to sign a thing. Besides, he hasn’t mentioned a divorce since I came back. It looks like you were only a plaything to him once upon a time.”
“Don’t get cocky. Which one of us getting the last laugh remains to be seen.”
Madison glared, baring her teeth, but she did not dare do anything to Christina out in the open. At last, she stormed out of there in a huff.
Christina looked down and found a bent needle in her hand. The tip had pierced her fingertip, drawing large droplets of bright red blood.
They even have a child together. What was Nathaniel’s ingratiating act about then? Does he want both of us?
Returning to Scenic Garden Manor after work, Christina was greeted by the squeals of delight from the living room as soon as she crossed the threshold.
“Are you ready? We’re taking off!”
“Slow down, Daddy! Slow down!”
With Camila on his shoulders, Nathaniel held her by the arms and jogged about the vast living room. They appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely.
Lucas was envious. “Are you done, Daddy? It’s my turn now! I want to ride the airplane!”
Daddy’s shoulders are so strong. It would be fun to sit on them. I want a ride, too!
Nathaniel took Camila for several spins, then plopped her down onto the couch. “Held on, Camila. It’s Lucas turn now.”
Before he finished his sentence, Lucas had already jumped up onto Nathaniel’s muscular back. He wrapped his little hands tightly around his father’s strong neck. “Let’s go, Daddy! Take off!”
His stubby httle legs swung excitedly as he urged, his voice shrill with delight.
“All right, we’re taking off!”
Lifting Lucas, Nathaniel began running. He was fast but stable, always ensuring the safety of the children when they played.
“Haha, how fun! Faster, Daddy! Faster!”
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Christina watched the children play, and the heartwarming scene pricked her heart.
The children had never known their father, so they never knew what it was like to have one. However, things have changed; they have now established a relationship with him. If I were to force them apart at this juncture, their psychological trauma would be catastrophic,
Christina felt her heart race and sear with white-hot pain. It caused tears to well up in her eyes.
Camila dashed over when she caught sight of her mother. “You’re home, Mommy! Join us, would you?”
“That’s enough for today. You should be having your meals and baths, then doing your homework!” Christina said, beaming as she caressed her head.
The children were so obedient that they heeded her instructions at once and followed her meekly to their bedroom for their bath.
Holding on to Nathaniel’s thigh, Lucas gazed up, his cheeks ruddy. “Could you bathe me, Daddy?”
He usually had to wait while his mother bathed his sister before his turn.
“No problem. Let’s go!” Nathaniel took him by the hand and headed toward the bedroom.
Christina was seized by an impulse to stop them. She did not wish Nathaniel to be around the children, as it would be easier to leave if it ever came to that.
Gazing at the departing figures of both father and son, the words that had risen to her lips fell away, unuttered.
After their baths, the children implored Nathaniel to tell them a bedtime story.
It was late at night when it ended. Lucas tugged at Christina’s sleeve. “I want Daddy to put me to sleep. Mommy, but look at the time! Can Daddy stay tonight?”
“That’s right, Mommy. Our teacher told us that it’s dangerous to drive at night. Let Daddy stay, please?”