Mrs. Lark sneered. “You want a divorce? Okay, I’ll get out of your way, but only if you know how to settle those properties—if you’re thinking about leaving my daughter anything less than she’s due, you can kiss your divorce goodbye! I know your reputation for underhanded trickeries, Alejandro, but I’m not intimidated by you at all! We Larks are not some doormats for you to walk all over!”Even when she was apparently fighting for her daughter’s share, it was really just for the family—none of it was for Melanie’s benefits. Once this realization set in, Melanie could not brook any more of her mother’s squalls. “Leave, Mom! Leave us be right now! This is none of your business!”Mrs. Lark stomped toward the door, the racket of furiously clicking heels trailing her. Shortly after she left, she had the temerity to text Melanie, ‘Alejandro still doesn’t know this is your big brother’s doing, does he? If you snitch, I’ll kill you.’Melanie deleted the message the instant she finished it.
Melanie waited until Alejandro put his pen down before signing her name with equal resolute. She ended it with a print of her thumb, asking, “So, when do we begin the legal procedures?”Alejandro didn’t answer her. Instead, he stormed out of the house and slammed the door.Melanie’s knees buckled and she crashed onto the couch, her strength leaving her body. Tears broke out from the corner of her eyes and traced an invisible path down her face, its salty liquid stinging the painful heat that had yet left her cheek. A while later she rose to her feet and went into the bathroom.She stared at her reflection in the mirror and suddenly felt a thick, awful lump furling in her chest. Mrs. Lark had put in more force than she expected, causing her cheek to swell even more than she had imagined. When Alejandro looked at her just now—she must have been a hideous sight to him, wasn’t she? He had never liked her, but after all of this, after Tiffany… He must hate her even more, did he not?The
“Where are you?”Alejandro asked to the beep of a terminated call.Instead of putting down his phone, he simply stayed in his posture, his mind churning unfathomable thoughts.A while later, he finally put his phone down before gingerly placing Melissa back onto her bed. Perhaps something was wrong with the way he lowered her—either way, the feel of his movement was too dissimilar with Melanie’s that Melissa woke up before screaming for her mommy again.Alejandro had lost his patience. Exasperated, he decided to let the child bawl and shriek to her heart’s content until Jett, who heard her from outside, knocked on the door. “Mr. Smith? Would you like me to help?”Alejandro sat on the edge of the bed, defeated. “Yes, just coax her to sleep. I’m done.”Jett pushed open the door. He adroitly brought Melissa up in his arms before gently rocking her. “Hush, hush. It’s alright, don’t you cry… Mommy will be back very soon.”Melissa would not listen. She knew her mother was not around.
Alejandro frowned. “What—why? Why would the West family have beef with the Larks?”Because Melanie pushed Tiffany? But if Jackson knew that, then should his target not be Melanie—or hell, Alejandro himself? Why would he take out his anger on the Larks?The man on the other side of the phone was just as clueless. “I have no idea. Thought it was kinda weird myself.”After the call ended, Alejandro paused for a minute before calling Arianne. It would be impossible for him to ask Jackson directly; he was sure the latter would hang up his call as soon as the man’s brain recognized Alejandro’s voice.As soon as she picked up, Alejandro went straight to the chase. “Why is West Industries flipping the Larks off?”Instead of answering him immediately, Arianne rejoined with a question of her own. “What? Can’t bear to see someone taking on your in-laws? Itching to hit back, aren’t you? Here’s a piece of advice: don’t. Stay out of it.”Alejandro fell silent for a beat before stating, “Melani
While Jett was still scrambling for the right response, Melanie shut the door in his face.He knew what his boss was like, so Jett eschewed returning to the Smith Estate right away and opted to call Alejandro instead. Hearing about Melanie’s rejection, Alejandro immediately supplied, “Tell her it’s because Millie has fallen ill—as in, super-seriously-ill. I know for sh*t she doesn’t have it in her to turn away from that. Then tell her that if she’s not coming back, I’m not taking the kid to the hospital.”That was a bit too much for a lie, was it not? At the very least, it made Jett hesitate, but not enough to make him object. Shortly after the call, he knocked on Melanie’s door again.She opened it with a face written with helplessness. “Jett, I’ve made myself very clear. I’m not going back. Unless this is regarding the divorce’s official procedures, I don’t have any reason to see Alejandro again.”Jett steeled himself. “Uh, you see… Actually, Little Miss… she’s, uh, sick. And Mr.
It was nothing like she expected.Alejandro sat by his bedside as he looked over at Melissa playing atop of the rug, wearing his softest expression. Toys were scattered everywhere in no discernible order.Melanie suspected she was looking at the calm before the storm. She stepped forward, picked up the toys, and put them away. “Millie, don’t scatter your toys like that.”Melissa froze when Melanie’s voice was within earshot. Then, she hurled herself into her mother’s arms, overjoyed, her glistening doe-eyes overflowing with glimmering tears. “Mommy!”Melanie carried the young girl in her arms, her heart aching. But when her eyes linked with Alejandro’s penetrant own, she willed every emotion leaking out of her to diffuse. She summoned the nanny to take Melissa away, though it took Melanie quite some time to mollify the child before she agreed to waiting for her mother downstairs.Melanie waited until there were just the two of them in the room before asking, “What do you want? Can
Over the course of the next few days, Alejandro was nowhere to be seen while Melanie was confined to her own house. She had no choice but to accompany her daughter.Moreover, more bodyguards had been hired at the Smiths’ just to keep an eye on her. Melanie did not even have to think to know that Alejandro would be going against the Larks. Moreover, with the assistance of Jackson, the Larks were not going to be able to escape the incoming calamity.However, what Melanie had not expected was for someone among the Larks to have actually remembered a “pawn” like her. Mrs. Lark’s voice was angry as she scolded her. “Melanie Lark, how could you live such a cowardly life! Alejandro is now working with the Wests to go against us Larks. Furthermore, he’s even announced so openly that the Larks have laid a hand on his woman, yet Jackson is still able to accept that, even going so far as to collaborate with him. Don’t you feel anything at all? Huh? How are you still able to watch from the sid
Compared to Mrs. Lark’s words, which were as sharp as a blade, Mr. Lark’s method was much more coercive, but it was still meant to drive Melanie into a corner. Despite it being a mess that the Larks had concocted, they were all still forcing Melanie to clean up after them in the end. After a long time had passed, Melanie picked up her phone and dialled Alejandro’s number. She had made her decision to treat it as her final repayment to the Larks for raising her. From then onwards, she would cut off all ties with them and never return to that family ever again.When the phone call was connected, Melanie asked in a hoarse voice, “Where are you? Could you please come home for a while? I… wish to speak with you for a moment.”Alejandro seemed to be occupied with something at that moment and was distracted. “What’s the matter? Just tell me over the phone.”Melanie insisted as she said, “I can’t tell you over the phone. When will you be back?”After a few seconds, Alejandro finally sa