It had been a month since Grace moved out and nothing had been the same. The house felt cold and empty the moment she left and I desperately wanted to beg her to come back almost immediately. However, I knew she wouldn't set foot in this house again until I got my shit together.
The first week without her was unbearable. I couldn't do anything right or think straight. It was as if she had taken my heart and my brain with her when she left. I missed seeing her face before I fall asleep and when I wake up in the morning. I thought I was lonely before she came into my life, but now, not having her here with me brought that loneliness to a whole new level.
The second week got slightly better only because I started to figure things out and rearranged my priorities. It meant that I was getting closer to seeing Grace again and that alone pushed me forward. The hole in my heart that had slowly gotten smaller was now bigger and my heart hollower due to her absence.
Third week, Nate and I flew to Shanghai to finally put an end to this revenge once-and-for-all. Without Grace, even revenge had lost its appeal. Even my hatred for my great uncle seemed to lessened in its intensity. It didn't help that when we met him, he was sick—he seemed to have gotten the same illness as my grandfather. Talk about karma, I guess I didn't even have to lift a finger.
I would have let it all go had it not been for his stubbornness and impertinence. Even on his death bed, he continued to be a contemptible man—illness didn't seem to make him any nicer or more remorseful.
"What are you doing here?" He had asked when I showed up at his house while he was slowly dying on his bed. "Don't think for a minute that I'll ever give the company back." He managed to croak out with the limited energy he had left.
"I don't want your damn company!" I gritted out as my hands clenched into fists.
"Same thing your mother claimed." He laughed sarcastically while choking a couple times.
"And she didn't!" I raised my voice as what little self control I had dissipated while I grabbed his collar and violently pulled him off the bed. "She never did you fucking bastard! And you killed her."
He kept laughing like a crazy dying cat choking on a hairball. His son, who had been standing by his bed, instantly clutched my arm and pleaded. "Please Artemis, have mercy. My father's dying and only has a month or so left to live. I beg you, please let him die in peace."
I released the sick gauntly man and jerked my arms away from the other. "You know what, I would have let this go had he shown repentance." I laughed bitterly. "Old man, did you know that I have enough shares to take over your company in a snap of my finger?"
My great uncle's cough-laughs died in his throat as his stricken face glared at me. "You're b-bluffing."
"You'll find out soon enough. You don't think I'm dumb enough to come here unprepared did you." I said with satisfaction. "However, I'm done wasting my time playing games with you. I'm going to sell the shares at a low price to your competitors and then you can have fun trying to buy them back."
And with that, I walked out feeling lighter than I ever have in my life as he struggled to get a word out while he retched like a dying animal. "You...y-you...y-you...How c-could a p-playboy l-like you a-achieve..." I was gone and didn't hear the rest.
Now, the final week of the month and I was having a hard time facing Grace. I didn't know if I did enough for her to accept me and return to me. I knew I still had a lot to work on when it came to relationships and what she wanted and expected of me. However, I didn't think I could wait any longer to see her again, to hold her again.
Currently, I stood in front of my mother's tombstone asking for guidance. I had brought her white roses—not that I knew what her favorite flowers were, I only remembered her wearing a lot of white while I was growing up.
God, I don't even remember what she looked like.
A tear fell from my cheek as I made a mental promise to bring Grace here next time to visit my mom.
I had done a lot of self-reflecting during the past month but I was not confident if it was enough. I stood with my hand on my mother's engraved name as I asked her for advice on how to approach Grace when I see her again.
As if my mother had heard me, my phone rang. I took it out and saw an unknown number. I usually ignore numbers I didn't recognize since most people would usually call Nate or my secretary—very few would actually have my private number.
However, something made me pick it up.
"Are you sure you're gonna be okay?" Pru asked slightly worried.
"Yes." I answered, exasperated. "I'm really going to be fine. Go already before Andy complains about your unpunctuality." I remarked as I pushed her toward the door.
She twisted her body around as she walked backwards and said. "Call me if you need anything."
I didn't answer and closed the door in her face. I was grateful that she had been including me in all the activities with Andy and Erin. She was watching my every move like I was suicidal. I knew she was worried about me but I was getting sick of the attention. For once, I just wanted some alone time to relax and let my mind wander.
I wondered what Artemis had been doing—if he had thought about me at all. I thought about him all the time and I saw him everywhere—even when I closed my eyes. I miss him. God, how I miss him.
I was proud of myself for not reaching out to him for the past month. I had been patient with giving him space in order to figure things out. There were many times where I stared at my phone while my fingers itched to send him a text.
A knock on the door brought me out of my thoughts. For a second, I thought it was Pru who had forgotten something and had came back to get it.
"What did you forget this time?" I asked as I opened the door.
It wasn't Pru at the door, it was Artemis. My eyes went wide at the wonderful surprise as my heart leapt while fluttered wildly. "Artemis! What are you doing here?" I asked breathlessly as I let him in and closed the door behind me.
Wait. His countenance seemed odd like he was not happy to see me. "What's wrong?" I asked as he turned around to face me. "Wait. You're not Artemis." My realization came out as a whisper while fear gripped my body.
"No. I'm not." Theo answered with an angry glint in his eyes. He immediately reached out and seized my throat with one hand as he pushed me back against the wall by the door. "Artemis took my woman away from me so I'm here to return the favor."
I struggled as he tightened his fingers around my neck while my hands fought against his unsuccessfully. "But he helped you with your family's financial situation." I managed to say between gasps while telling myself to stay calm, to think rationally.
He snickered. "He's filthy rich. That didn't even put a dent in his pocket." He was almost a foot taller than me and my limbs weren’t long enough to do any damage while he held me at arm’s length.
"But he still helped you. Shouldn't that count for something?" I tried to stall since my strength was no match for him. Fear continued to dominate while I fought to stay rational.
"Samantha was the first woman I've ever loved. She made me feel important and wanted and I would do anything for her." He stated as if that was reason enough to even kill for her.
According to Artemis, she was a manipulative person. I doubt she loved him, she was probably just using him. I didn't want to say any of these out loud since I didn't want to make him any angrier.
Seeing my silence, he got closer and said. "And I'm going to..." Before he could finish, my leg came up hard and kicked him right in his crown jewels. He doubled over instantly and I opened the door and ran out of there as fast as I could.
I didn't bother waiting for the elevator and went straight for the stairs while my heart drummed uncontrollably against my ribcage. I ran out of the apartment and into the crowded cafe nearby. I was hoping he wouldn't be stupid enough to try and hurt me in public.
I stopped at the front counter and bent over as I tried to catch my breath. After my breathing stabilized somewhat, I asked the person working behind the counter if I could borrow her phone. Without thinking, I dialed Artemis’s number.
Each time it rang, I silently prayed that he would pick up.
Ring. Please pick up.
Ring. Please pick up.
Ring. Please pick up.
Ring. Please pick up.
Ring. Please pick up. Please, Artemis, pick up the dang phone.
Ring. My heart sunk to the bottom of the ocean and I almost gave up until I heard him.
“Artemis!” I said his name with urgency and released a big sigh of relief as I crumbled tiredly to the floor—my adrenaline depleted.
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