How could I still feel downcast when the little angel is around? I sat her on my lap and gave her a hug. “Summer, shall we spend each new year with Grandpa Charlie and his family?”
“Yes! I’ll get lots and lots of presents!” Giggling, she clapped her hands happily. Her crescent-shaped eyes looked very adorable.
“Little miss greedy!” I pinched her nose gently and then joked with Ashton, “I wonder who she takes after.”
Macy was a strong iron lady who owned a bar and bought her own house. She was also very outstanding in managing her finance, but she wasn’t an avaricious woman. That woman knew how to control her income and expenditures in order to have a more comfortable life.
As for Jared, he’s highly unlikely to be a money-grubber. The Crest family once monopolized the entire daily essentials industry. It definitely wasn’t exaggerating to say that they regarded money as manure. Besides her facial features, there wasn’t an area that Summer takes after him.
Ashton chuckled while turning to look at us.
I observed how gentle and loving he was as he stroked Summer’s head. An image flashed up in my head while I visualized Ashton holding our baby affectionately. The more I thought about having a test-tube baby as Sally had mentioned, my desire for it grew even stronger.
When we arrived in K City that evening, we had dinner with Cameron and Zachary to make up for the New Year’s Eve celebration.
Summer had already fallen asleep on Ashton’s shoulders when we finally got home. After tucking her into bed, we went back to our room to wash up and retire for the night.
It had been quite an exhausting day. Yet, I still spent some time researching on my computer about in vitro fertilization when Ashton was taking a shower.
“What are you reading?”
I was so focused that I did not hear Ashton’s footsteps approaching. His voice startled me.
Immediately, I switched off the computer and pretended as if nothing happened. “Nothing, really. Are you done?”
I was not sure if he saw my screen. One of the research journals that I read says that the success rate for women in an ideal health condition to become pregnant via in vitro fertilization is up to sixty percent. That’s the average result achieved by a healthy adult woman. Unfortunately, I’m not able to contribute to that statistics.
“Hmm,” Ashton gave me a quick reply. Subsequently, he placed a glass of warm water on the table as well as some pills that he had put inside a bottle cap.
Sally was very concerned about us. On the second day of the new year, she took me to see a doctor, who concluded that I was weak. I was told that it would take a while for me to be in the pink of health, and the only shortcut was to consume some prescribed pills daily. With that, the chances of me getting pregnant again before reaching thirty years old would be higher. Since then, I had been taking the medication, and it was about a week now.
I swallowed the pills as usual and drank some water. Then, Ashton carried me to bed.
The week after the new year was a public holiday. Since we had a day off, we planned some visitations for Summer.
First, we went to the Stovall residence, where Summer received a big present from Louis. She was on cloud nine and brought so much joy to everyone at home.
Emma looked rather matured as she donned a new look and had her hair tied up. I caught a few sweet interactions between her and John when she was standing next to him. I doubt they got married just because they found each other compatible. John caught me observing him in secret like a paparazzi and rolled his eyes at me.
At the same time, Summer was spoiled rotten by the Stovalls in J City. After opening her present, she made Louis play snowball fights with her. The strong and tough man obliged as she already had him wrapped around her little finger.
In love, never say never chapter 1097
We sat around the sofa, in a circle. Looking out the French windows, we could see how gleeful Louis was, having some good fun with Summer. He was just like a playful big kid.
Moments later, as everybody quietened down in the living room, John blurted, “Have you heard? Armond’s out.”
Upon hearing the news, my heart sank. I was very surprised, and at the same time, confused because it was a different ending to what I had in mind.
When Ashton’s lawyer was analyzing the case, he stated very clearly that Armond was charged for multiple crimes, namely intentional assault, illegal possession of firearms, and inflicting cruelty against national Class 1 protected wildlife species. He should have been jailed for at least fifteen years. Why was he released?
I huffed as I felt a cold chill running down my spine the moment I recalled the dreadful incidents at the villa.
Just then, Ashton’s big hand patted mine to console me. I lifted my head to look at him. I could read from the message through his gaze. Stay calm. I took a deep breath and tried to hold myself together. Then, I plastered a smile on my face so that he would not get too worried about me.
Seeing that we did not react to him, John continued to share his thoughts solemnly, “He got away when he was on parole for medical treatment. I’ve inquired about this and found out that it was the Venrians who did it. They don’t care about their own safety and will only work for money. It’s so bold of Mr. Murphy to use a million to sacrifice a few lives in exchange for Armond’s freedom. No whistleblower and nothing leaked beforehand. Right after the prison break episode, the police ambushed at the Murphy Residence, only to find out that the Murphys have absconded with the money and went abroad.”
“Does it mean Armond will never ever return?”
I was panic-stricken. As soon as I popped the question, I could feel Ashton tightened his grip on my hand. However, I hid my emotions and tried to maintain a calm composure. “I was just curious. Can’t the law punish him?” I attempted to cover up eloquently.
“You’re too naive, Letty.” Raising one hand, John mocked, “The law is also a set of systems. Hence, in that system, the winner rules. Although it looks like we have the upper hand, the dirty games played inside the prison are not as simple as we think. The prisoner can choose to write his own survival story in this system. As long as he can find a loophole within the law, he’s able to start afresh, somewhere, somehow.”
His analysis had helped me to understand some life concepts. There was nothing much that money could not do in this world. Armond had probably thought of his escape plan the moment I exposed his involvement in organ trafficking. He must have foreseen his downfall one day and had a backup plan prepared in advance.
When someone turns evil, the extent of horror and ugliness the person can demonstrate through his thoughts, speech, and deeds is beyond our imagination. I learned this the hard way from Jared.
Understanding the reality is one thing; being able to calm my anxious heart is another. Like a vine, fear creeps all over me and invades every cell in my body.
Suddenly, Ashton placed my hands in his palm and started rubbing them to give me warmth. Frowning, I looked him in the eyes.
“I’m here with you,” Ashton asserted.
His voice was low yet soothing. Those clear eyes of his were resolute, and they comforted my apprehensive heart.
Ashton had saved me once from Armond. He could definitely save me again and protect me from harm.
Although the devil is prowling, Ashton is the light unto my path. As long as I follow him, I shall not fear.
That assuring thought made me feel better. A faint smile settled upon my face as I locked eyes with Ashton and was met with his unswerving gaze.
In love, never say never chapter 1098
Seeing that, Emma teased us, “You guys are so sweet together.”
Ashton and I laughed at the same time as if we had planned it.
“Tsk… tsk… tsk…” John shook his head. “Only the two of you would do something like that. Your public display of affection is not welcomed here. But I won’t stop you, so please go get a room!”
Emma gave him a tight slap on the arm, upon hearing his passing remark. John groaned in pain. With a scowling face, he commented, “Mind your manners, woman! Are you trying to kill your husband?”
John had a reputation that preceded him. Anyone who saw his long face would tremble in fear or bow reverently to him, regardless of who it was. Yet Emma was different. She faced him head-on as if she had gotten permanent immunization against his vehemence. Impatiently, she rolled her eyes and confronted him boldly, “Who allowed you say such derisive things?”
John’s expression became sullen after being refuted by Emma. Wanting to regain some dignity, he stood up abruptly and glared at her, intending to intimidate her. “Trust me. I’ll kick you out of the house if you dare to point one more finger at me.”
Those two had an agreement when they got married. They vowed to give each other freedom and not to meddle in the spouse’s private affairs. Thus, I always thought they were a match made in heaven. Faced with their sudden argument, I felt rather overwhelmed and did not know how to respond to it. I wondered if they were really upset with each other.
Even so, Emma ignored him completely. She scoffed at him and then pulled me upstairs, “How ridiculous! Letty, come with me. I have a gift for Summer, but I forgot to bring it down.”
My hands were tied, so I could only follow her upstairs. John roared a few times, asking for her to stay. However, she proceeded upstairs without even turning her head, as if his scolding were music to her ears. I was quite impressed.
Emma then brought me to their room. I waited on the sofa while she went ahead into her bedroom. Moments later, she returned with a vintage sandalwood box in her hands.
“Open it and take a look.” She passed me the box.
As I opened the box, I saw a shiny anklet lying on a sponge bed.
“Your brother told me that Summer has gone through a lot of hardships even at a young age. I felt so troubled and wanted to gift this to her. This anklet is said to protect a child from harm and shoo away bad luck. Legend has it that kids who wear one before the age of nine will be kept in safe hands for a lifetime.”
“You’re so thoughtful, Emma.” Holding the anklet, I was deeply moved.
My first impression of Emma was open-minded, sharp-tongued, and placid. She’d often say things that cause everyone’s jaw to drop. Thus, I expected her to stay the same and do things as she pleased after marrying John. Now, I felt like she fit the role of John’s wife very well.
When we were in the living room just now, I had noticed that Emma sincerely liked John a lot. It was practically written all over her face. I suspect John felt the same way about her too, just that he hadn’t realized it yet.
“As long as you like it.” Feeling smug, Emma patted my shoulders.
Summer fell asleep when we were heading home. Cradling her in my arms, I looked out of the window and sank into deep thoughts. My mind was in complete disarray. “Distraught over the news about Armond?” Ashton leaned over, took his coat off, and draped it over my shoulders. He even fixed the corners.
Tugging at his jacket, I lowered my head and hugged Summer tightly. Sighing, I replied, “It’s not entirely because of him. I feel that I didn’t take good care of Summer, causing her to suffer so much.”
In love, never say never chapter 1099
If Macy was still around, Summer would have lived as an ordinary girl, even though she would grow up in a single-parent family. Conversely, since the day she started living with me, she had gone through so much, including undergoing a bone marrow transplant and a kidney transplant at such a young age. She almost lost her life.
I had done so little for Summer. Even the idea of wearing this anklet was Emma’s idea. I had not even prayed for her in the last five years she was with me, and to call myself her “mother” was just irony.
Will Macy forgive me?
After a moment of silence, Ashton looked me in the eyes and stated confidently, “You’ve given her a home.”
I did not respond to that but merely stared at the anklet Summer was wearing.
We would officially return to work in two days’ time. Hence, Ashton and I decided to spend the next day resting at home.
Yet, he still woke me up early in the morning.
“What is it? Didn’t you say we aren’t going anywhere today but to rest at home?” I propped myself up and rubbed my bleary eyes.
“Something urgent came up. Do get ready to leave in half an hour.” Ashton got off the bed to get changed.
“Huh? What happened?” Yawning, I was very reluctant to crawl out of the comfortable sheets.
The winter season was the best time for sleeping in. When we were in J City, I had to wake up super early to either accompany Charlie for meditation or go for a morning jog with Sally. As a result, I worked out a lot and have been looking forward to slumbering when we got back to K City.
I did not get any response from him, so I peeped through one eye.
He was putting on a necktie in front of the full-length mirror, fitting it snuggly into the collar point. Each of his movements was very pleasing to the eye.
What a treat! The eye candy woke me up instantly. However, his next line had me wishing I was still asleep.
“Professor Zidd came back last night, so he has some time for us today.”
The name was no stranger to me.
When I was surfing the net for in vitro fertilization a few nights ago, I stumbled upon a headline: Professor Zidd, the father of IVF in Chanaea. It was a thousand-word article. Even without clicking on the link to open it, one could tell how much of an expert Professor Zidd is.
So, Ashton did see what was on my screen, but he pretended otherwise and made these arrangements secretly.
I was quite touched that he took notice of everything I said or did and paid attention to even the slightest detail. Then again, I had to admit that I was clueless about the next steps.
I wouldn’t reject the idea of in vitro fertilization, but I would feel helpless at the thought of trying when the result was already pretty clear. The world’s average pregnancy rate for in vitro fertilization was less than sixty percent. My body had always been weak, and my uterus had been severely damaged. In addition, I had had two miscarriages. These factors further reduced my chance of getting pregnant by half. Thus, I was unsure if I should fight for the remaining thirty percent chance of success.
Even if the process was a success, there would not be a guarantee that another miscarriage wouldn’t happen, considering my current health condition.
Once we walked into the first step of the process, there was no turning back. I had fallen into despair twice. Hence, I could not even bring myself to imagine having to go through the torment of losing my flesh and blood for the third time.
My heart still throbbed in pain when I thought about how my firstborn struggled to survive inside my body and suffocated in his last agony.
That was why I hid it from Ashton when I was researching for the information.
I spaced out on the bed and seemingly returned to the dreadful moment when I had a miscarriage. Depressing air lingered around me as the heart-rending tragedy flashed up in my mind again.
In love, never say never chapter 1100
Suddenly, a familiar warmth on my wrist brought me back to reality. I regained my senses and was met with Ashton’s tender and affectionate gaze.
He was down on one knee by my bedside, with one hand holding my phone. His deep eyes stared at me intensely.
“I know you’re worried about the success rate and that all our effort might be in vain. I know you’re also afraid that some bad people would appear again, wanting to harm you and our child. However, Letty, don’t give in to fear. Think about how I rescued you in the nick of time and also think about Aunt Sally’s advice. I’m here with you; we’re all here for you. God won’t let you go through it again. We won’t fail this time. Try it once more, for my sake, okay?”
I studied his expression, but I could not tell if Ashton wanted a kid so badly. Anyhow, I was somewhat convinced by him.
God won’t do this to do for the third time. Everyone deserves a chance to be a mother. There should be a limit to the number of times fate can toy with me.
After contemplating, I changed my clothes and asked Mrs. Eriksen to take care of Summer while Ashton and I headed to Kingston Hospital in K City.
Ashton drove, instead of the chauffeur. Sitting on the passenger seat, the thirty-minute journey felt like a century-long.
At the hospital, I finally saw Professor Zidd, whose picture I had only seen in an article. He had a high hairline, a white lab coat on, and reeked of disinfectant, but the man was very amiable.
Professor Zidd casually asked us a few questions and then requested Ashton and me to go for a body check-up.
Ashton had to get his sperms and semen tested, whereas I had to undergo all of the important gynecological tests. Besides the basics, I had to go for routine blood analysis, diagnostic curettage, basic endocrine hormone determination test, and an anti-sperm antibody test. Ashton spent a large sum of money and took me to complete all the required examinations at the nearby private hospitals within the shortest time. Then, we returned to Kingston Hospital with the medical reports.
Professor Zidd studied my medical records for some time and then removed his glasses. With a serious expression, he asked, “Mrs. Fuller?”
“Yes.” I clasped Ashton’s hand tightly. My palms started sweating while waiting for Professor Zidd to go through my records. I had to hold onto something for support and fight back the tears in my eyes.
“Your situation is rather complicated because you’ve had two miscarriages caused by accidents during the fetal period. The fetus in your womb struggled for too long and consequently affected your uterus adversely. For now, let’s not discuss whether we can successfully stimulate your ovulation. Currently, the reports show that your womb is temporarily unable to provide an ideal environment for the survival of an embryo.”
Although I had expected it, I could not help but gulp to suppress my urge to bawl my eyes out. “In that case, Professor Zidd, did you mean that I don’t stand a chance to get pregnant even via in vitro fertilization?”
I mumbled through the second half of the question and ended up sobbing. I had no idea how I managed to get them all off my chest.
I could sense a desperate desire in me, longing to be a mother. Previously, I was told that my chance of getting pregnant was slim, but there was still a small probability it could happen, and it did! This time, I was being declared definitive infertile with a zero chance of having my own baby. I was beyond grief, and my heart died on the spot. Hope is a kind of faith, invisible and intangible, yet, it can motivate a person to continue living.
Subconsciously, my fingers dug into Ashton’s palm. It seemed that I could only use this way to draw some strength from him in order to maintain my composure.
A deafening buzzing sound rang in my ears just then. Right before the moment I was going to collapse, Professor Zidd’s hoarse voice said gently, “No, that’s not true. There’s no absolute answer to the question asked.”