Twenty Three - The Choice

"Master Vincent, sir. Are you sure about this?" Our butler asked me one more time.

I've been planning to surprise those son of a bitches whom I've heard have started working in the white house. Apparently, Lord Samira hired them. My dad gave me the same expression as well. 

"These are dangerous times, Vincent. All they know was your dead. You can't just walk inside the white house and greet the president," he started walking around the place.

"I know your concerns people but I can't just stay here and wait for the judgement day." All this hiding is making me crazy. Knowing full well that they are there in the open trying to do the same thing to another council member.

"This is a serious moment, son. For once in your life listen to me. Alexander has already concluded your death and when he finds out that you're not. Do you expect him to be glad that you're still walking this earth? Alive?" This time my dad's tone had accelerated. It's out of his character and I know he is now very serious.

I was about to express another protest but the most evil of them all stepped inside my father's office. The hair at back of my neck stood up the moment my mom dropped her gaze. I can pursuade my father with my whim and caprices, but the woman in front of me who is visibly unimpressed will not even consider hearing it.

"You can't discipline your own son, Martin?" 

Dad instantly stood in defense glancing at Mr. Smith for support. He cleared his throat and fixed his tie. A man feared by a lot of people is scared of his wife. How romantic. Note my growing sarcasm.

"He is insisting to go and see his friends!" Dad even pointed a finger at me to strengthen his point.

"You know the gravity of our situation, Vincent Clement Alderige, and you want to go outside for a get together? I didn't know stupidity runs in our bloodline until I heard your reason for going out." And she said that with complete contempt together with her sharp eyebrow.

That might have been said in the calmest way possible but it sure as hell pissed me off. The only reason I want to see those soldiers was to check on their tasks. I lost access with a lot of things ever since my supposed death and Catherine has been in a tight rope these days.

"You don't understand, mother. There's something I need to do," I brushed my hands through my hair in frustration. I will never win an argument against her but I need to try.

"Need to do or need to see? I already said it once and I'm saying it again, severe your ties with Catherine, or I will. I don't care if you have this deep rooted feelings for her. She will never be a part of this family. Not even as an affiliate nor a friend. Am I understood?" 

I quickly looked at my dad but he is already looking at me. There was this finality in his eyes that what my mother said needs to be followed or things will start to be messy. She's not only famous for her abundance of patience but also for making things done in her own way.

"She's going to go down with her family, mother!" It was the only concern I can express.

"And that is precisely where she belongs. Nathan offered her a lifeline and she declined. She made her choice."

"How could you say that to the person who helped me escape the bombing in Brazil?" This time my voice was low but clear. 

My blood pressure plummeted when my mother stood in the most elegant way and looked at me dead in the eyes. It was full of emotion. This is the first you could actually see an actual emotion in the eyes of Thalia Alderige.

"How could you defend the same woman who belongs to the family who put you in that situation in the first place? She could bleed in front of me and it won't make me feel any remorse." 

"Thalia, you made your point. Vincent will not leave this house," Dad held my mom's arms to ease her rage.

"You're so selfish." I muttered.

It was fast but it stung. Mom turned around quickly that I didn't notice her hand flew towards my left cheek. I could feel my jaw tightened. Mom took a step closer.

"That is a warning. Cross the line again and I will make sure Catherine will die right in front of your own eyes."

                             ***

London, UK

Samira Manor

The car haulted in front of the century old mansion. Few personnel approached the vehicle and assisted the woman it carried. She was in full glory like always. The most precious stone of the Pride, the lifeline of the Drax and the poison to Samira.

"Catherine?"

Renard's sister was the first to notice her entourage. From the moment she was married to Renard, Catherine's relationship with his sister was never the best. Lady Alessa was completely against their union until this day.

"What brought you to this side of the world?" Alessa did not even bother hiding her disappointment.

"I'm here to see my husband." Catherine replied.

"You knew full well that he will return to New York after he finish his business here. I heard about the bankruptcy so I am quite sure you are here for something else."

It was a cover up for the Drax family. There's been a series of hostile attacks towards their family making their sales and profit crashed. They cannot fully disclose the real backstory so they posted a possible bankruptcy in the business sector. Their entire assets was pushed down harder when the news exploded about the Pride Incorporated's withdrewal of investment.

Alessa swallowed her fury as Renard strode down the stairs opening his arms for Catherine. Alessa left the two lovebirds.

She was glad to see her husband but she did not come here to see him. It's for something else. To convince his father in law to be in their side when the voting will be done on friday, two days from now. Samira is the only house that can withstand the Clement, Astor and Hawthorne houses. Samira can rally the other members to stand with him but this situation is different. They are interconnected with the Drax family who is dragging them down with their sinking ship. Without them, the Drax family will sink.

"It's the best surprise this week," Renard hugged her tightly. "I've missed you so much."

It's the only consolation to Catherine's involvement to this network, they genuinely love each other. Love may be one of the strongest ties in the world, this time, it's not. Their love won't keep the Drax family in power.

"I'm so tired," Catherine dragged her husband inside. "Is your dad here?"

"Oh, no. Father went to town for a meeting."

"With whom?" Catherine's curiosity spiked. Her heartbeat doubled.

"I'm not completely sure but I think he's meeting Uncle Viktor. You do know him, don't you? He lives in New York."

She does completely know Lord Viktor Samira and she knows why he is here. Even though her anxiety is swallowing her whole, she managed to nod. She placed her head on his chest avoiding Renard to read her worried expression.

"I'm sure father will be thrilled to know that you're here."

Catharine doubt that. Steven Samira will detect her desperation. The devil has learned how to bend the knee.

"I'm sure he will be."

The confidence that she was quite sure she can stir Steven to support them vanished to the air. They may be wise but Viktor knew every move they will make. This is a desperate time for the Drax empire. If they cannot hold into power then they will never hold it again. But if they push through this entitlement, their enemies will have to use their hands. They are already in their full defense. Without any solid attack, their walls are already stumbling. 

"What about dinner with uncle Viktor tonight? Isn't it wonderful my love?"

It felt like someone stabbed Catherine in the throat. She could not find the courage to respond to that but she was thankful she delivered a smile. A smile so strange that if Renard was not drowning with emotions of his wife being beside him, he would notice the growing terror in her eyes. 

Like so many things she trained, this is the one thing she needs to maintain. Faking her entire feelings to survive tonight. For she may be good in lies, Viktor is not an easy foe. Lying is also his specialty.

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