The phone call from Emery was supposed to be a sign of hope, but I felt like I had fallen so far down an abyss of self-doubt to the extent that I was unable to muster any energy for the rest of the day.
I did not expect Ashton to show himself, but at eight in the evening, he and a bodyguard walked in with dinner. I sat sluggishly on the couch and stared whilst they made preparations.
There was no expression on Ashton’s face. He walked over to me and helped me to the dining table. Like every expecting father, he held his wife and took small and measured steps.
We sat across from each other at the table. Ashton looked as if he was busier than before; he spent the entire meal replying to messages. I tried to engage him in conversation but did not manage to find an opening to.
After a half hour, the messages finally stopped coming in.
I set aside my cutlery and was about to speak when brash and insolent footsteps came from the door.
“Wow, Ashton. Are you sure that this dead slump is the home of the president of Fuller Corporation?” Holden did not seem very different from the last time we met. He was still the same delinquent clad in an expensive suit. Somehow, he had managed to make the suit look cheap.
Holden paused in the middle of the living room and took a look around. He caught my eye and went on spewing insults without a pause. “For someone who doesn’t know you, they’d think that what you’ve constructed here is some sort of a private prison. I already feel like I’m in jail just by being here thirty seconds. Scarlett, this has got to be your idea, isn’t it? You wanted to meet me, didn’t you?”
Well, I stand corrected. I’m not the only one unafraid of death. He was another one brazen enough to flirt with Ashton’s wife in front of him. It was difficult to find another scoundrel as despicable as Holden.
I felt angry at how he spoke to me but noticed out of the corner of my eye that Ashton seemed to have expected him. He chewed placidly as he watched the scene.
Holden exhausted all of his theatrics. He pulled out the chair next to me and held his forehead in hand in a pretense of sorrow. “To be honest, I can sense how much you are missing me. However, I’ve been really busy recently to come to you. You wouldn’t blame me, would you?”
I was rather embarrassed. “Can we help you, Mr. Taylor?” I asked pointedly.
Holden had just taken over the Taylor family. He would have been busy culling out those who stood against him; thus, he must want something for him to be here instead of busy doing that.
Holden wasn’t happy when I refused to play along. He pulled a face and resumed his infuriating behavior. “How dreadfully boring. If this is how you plan on receiving your guests, don’t bother inviting me over again.”
I had no way of dealing with his tricks. I glanced at Ashton for help.
Ashton was calm the entire time. After his last bite of dinner, he turned his dark eyes up at me and spoke calmly. “You wanted to look for someone in M Country, didn’t you? Holden’s men have gone on your behalf. You can relax now.”
“You?” I said incredulously, skeptical of Holden’s abilities to do what needed to be done.
“What’s wrong? You can’t accept this arrangement?” Holden said smugly. “Don’t you know that the Taylors control the flow of information in K City? If my men couldn’t locate your fellow, you can consider him dead.”
“How could you say something like that?” I demanded hotly, though I was delighted to hear that his family had access to that much information. However, I still wasn’t convinced. “Besides me, Marcus had not communicated with anyone else. How sure are you that he wouldn’t avoid your men?”
Marcus was at M Country, the home turf of GW Group. He was already at the edge of the lion’s jaws. It was no doubt that he would be extremely careful if he wanted to stay alive to rescue Camelia and their child. This was possibly why he wouldn’t even make any contact with his employees.
In love, never say never chapter 1162
Holden smirked as he retrieved a dictaphone from his vest pocket. He pressed play and placed it on the table. “Marcus, get in touch with me as soon as you can. We need to discuss something.” It was my own voice.
Dear God, even I don’t remember saying these words! ”The Taylor family has a lot of connections in the underworld,” Ashton explained with uncharacteristic patience. “Once they got a hold of your phone and analyzed the data, it wasn’t difficult to imitate your voice.”
“This was imitated by AI?” I asked in amazement, my eyes as wide as saucers. I had heard a lot regarding the advancement of AI within the industry recently, so it occurred to me that this may be one of its applications.
Holden smiled smugly as he placed the dictaphone back in his pocket. “Those machines work, no doubt. But the end result is too stiff and inorganic. My new girlfriend is the queen of mimicry. She can literally imitate any style of anybody you can think of. Especially those in bed… hehe. It’s a new experience every night.”
“Mr. Taylor, your tastes are… rather exotic,” I said uncomfortably. The extent of his lust has left me speechless.
But if this was what it took to gain Marcus’s trust, albeit falsely, it would still be a big help. At this comforting thought, I breathed a reluctant sigh of relief.
Though Holden was Ashton’s man, he wouldn’t use the imitated voice to harm Marcus as the interests of the Taylor family were at stake. Like it or not, he was the best candidate for this mission.
Ashton did not fail to notice the change in my expression. I looked up and met his weary eyes. “Now would you believe me?” he asked before I could say anything.
I turned towards Holden. He was a wily fox who only cared about the interests of his family. He must want something in return for his help.
Ashton must have dealt with him beforehand. Probably even agreed to his unreasonable demands. I turned away and looked at Ashton in earnest. “If you are willing to help Marcus, why did you mention having to compete with GW Group and drive the share price down?”
White Corporation was in shambles. Foreign investment took the opportunity to encourage the shareholders to sell their shares for scraps.
When Fuller Corporation joined the fray, nobody felt secure.
Otherwise, Emery wouldn’t have promised me so heartily to look into it.
Ashton took a deep breath and sat up straight. His dark eyes suddenly flashed with a glint of danger. “So according to you, the way for me to repay Marcus was to pay for his company which is currently in a mess at a high price, at a loss to Fuller Corporation. Is that it?”
His gaze was so fierce it looked as though it would pierce right through me.
I frowned with discomfort at being stared at like that.
Even a company larger than White Corporation had things that they want hidden. The fact that Leonard Yondel had embezzled was not even considered out of the ordinary for someone like Ashton.
It felt like he had already decided that I did not know my boundaries in handling Marcus’s case. He had intentionally exposed these to see the limits of which I would disregard him, my husband, by helping Marcus.
After Rebecca, I was more familiar than anybody with Ashton’s possessive nature. I sighed heavily. “I have never thought that there was anything wrong with the situation. Marcus had already thought of a solution. If he hadn’t disappeared, it wouldn’t have turned into the mess it is today.”
After a brief pause, I reached out and touched Ashton’s hand. “Think of how you take pains to protect and advance the interests of Fuller Corporation. The only thing that Marcus’s parents left for him is White Corporation. I hope that we can help him salvage his family business. It’s not about compelling you to buy his entire company to save it, or to have any foreign company acquire it. Do you think we can do that?”
In love, never say never chapter 1163
It was rare for us to be this open and honest with one another.
When we are on the same page talking things through calmly, fate once again gave us the opportunity to deepen our love for one another. Even God had hinted at us to hold hands and walk through life. What else couldn’t we accomplish together?
I clutched his hand tightly and rubbed it in anticipation of his response.
We sat in silence like that for close to a minute. “I’ve told you the answer to this question before. Why else do you think he’s here?”
Ashton jerked his chin towards Holden.
I breathed a sigh of relief at that. The old adage of taking a step back had never been more applicable than it did now.
Men had to be coaxed. As long as a woman was willing to put aside her ego, everything would naturally fall into place.
“But, business isn’t for the fun of it,” Ashton suddenly interjected. “Even if you had a letter of authorization from Marcus, it’s not the same as replacing him. Ultimately, this is the White family business. His prolonged disappearance had caused his staff to worry. If it gets to the point of his company being acquired, then it’ll be the only way out for White Corporation. What I am doing now is just bringing that eventuality forward.”
Ashton spoke with the conviction that Marcus would not return.
I felt uncomfortable. “Do you mean to say that you would buy White Corporation and return it to Marcus when the time comes?”
As soon as I had said that, Ashton scowled. He withdrew his hand from my touch. “Currently, White Corporation has some competition amongst the industry. I could compel the shareholders to begin the acquisition of the project. If I delayed any longer to ensure that all competitors have given up, I may not be able to lobby for any more changes. Upon acquisition, the shares will be diluted. It is an unavoidable outcome; the only consolation of which would be that White Corporation would not fall into the hands of foreign companies.”
Aside from me and Ashton, the shareholders of Fuller Corporation comprised Joe and several elderly executives who had reached the age of retirement. They only appeared during festivities or corporate events and they virtually did not care about how the company was run. But when it came to money matters, the swiftness of their response was astonishing.
Upon completion of the international acquisition of Eisen Corporation which involved the transfer of tens of billions, the shareholders who planned on having an uneventful retirement may not approve of another massive risk of acquiring White Corporation within such a short time frame.
What Ashton meant was that Marcus would forever be a shareholder in his company, but the company may not belong to his family forever. The decision to return the company to Marcus was no longer within Ashton’s control. It all depends on whether Marcus had the ability to match the price that was paid. I retracted my hand, not quite knowing what to say.
Ashton did all he could, so I couldn’t nitpick. The fate of Marcus and White Corporation could only be unveiled one step at a time. All we could do right now was to be optimistic about Holden’s success in tracking down Marcus.
The atmosphere was dense with an impasse. Ashton’s phone suddenly rang. We could see that it was a call from Joseph. Ashton glanced at it and went out to the balcony to answer the call.
I watched his back, suddenly filled with a sense of foreboding. Instinctively, I rubbed my belly and felt calmer.
The men who had treated me the best in my life were Marcus and Ashton. For them to be experiencing difficulties at this critical time, I believe that God would not deny them the due success, for all the kindness that they had done for me.
I heaved a slow sigh of relief. Suddenly, I felt Holden nudging my arm with his elbow; I had forgotten that he was still here. “Scarlett, would you like to go into a business with me?” he asked, with a brisk businesslike expression on his face.
In love, never say never chapter 1164
Business with Holden?
My first instinct was Holden bringing over some call girls into the office and basically destroying my innocence.
Instantly, I was on high alert. “What business could we even do together?”
“Don’t say that.” Holden tapped his chest lightly with a fist where he had just placed the dictaphone. “I may be helping Ashton find someone as of right now, but if you have anything to tell Marcus in private, I can ask my subordinates to pass on the message. I can even ensure an instant reply. How does that sound?”
While the person mimicking me was technically a real human being, there was no way they could copy all my mannerisms and my way of speaking. Marcus was smart enough that he would definitely realize after just a few sentences. If Holden really could get me to talk to Marcus directly, things would go much more smoothly.
Still, I kept in mind that there was no such thing as a free lunch. “What do you want in return?”
Holden’s glad eyes suddenly creased into smiling crescent moons. “I just want some of your help. You’re the general manager of White Corporation after all. A nod from you is all I need.”
I knew from experience that a smile like that from Holden simply meant there was much more to his words. My frown deepened and I asked in suspicion, “Are you sure it is just some help?”
Holden smiled and sat down next to me. He turned to face me with an almost sensual attitude. “To be honest, it will sound a little complicated. The White Corporation tried to take over the phone industry a few years ago and got approval from the communication base station. Since things are quite strictly guarded over there, I was hoping that the White Corporation’s workers could take some of my own technicians over so they can learn a thing or two.”
I looked at him in shock. That wasn’t just ‘some help’. He was clearly trying to worm through a loophole in the system. I hadn’t even taken my bar exam yet, but Holden was being so obvious that even a rookie in law could tell what he was planning.
After a moment of surprise, I shook my head. “That’s impossible. Don’t even think about it. Ask for something else.”
Holden’s expression immediately darkened at my answer. His pale, slender fingers toyed with the glass on the table. Almost nonchalantly, he said, “I guess it’s a no-go then. Business should always be a win-win situation, you see. If you can’t give me what I need, then I suppose we should call it off. Just take it that I have never said anything.”
I knew very well he was trying to trick me using reverse psychology. Despite that, I was still worried for Marcus while being annoyed that Holden practically had me exactly where he wanted. My brows were almost knotted together in my anger.
Ashton came back from the balcony with his phone in hand. He frowned slightly at the sight of my angry expression but quickly rearranged his features into his usual calm mask. He said, “That’s business. There’s no such thing as doing someone a favor. You worked hard to get where you are today too. We can’t change anything between just the two of us. Something happened at the company and I need to make a stop at the hospital. Don’t wait up for me.”
After that, he put his phone into his pocket and picked his jacket up from the living room before walking toward the door.
He stopped right before walking out and looked back. “If you want to actually get your benefits, then come with me.”
That was directed at Holden. He scoffed before following Ashton out. Before he left, he even whispered a reminder to think about our possible exchange.
In love, never say never chapter 1165
I glared at him to reinstate my stand.
The month passed by quickly. As I waited for news of Marcus, my bar exam was approaching as well. I also had to rush and get a last prenatal check-up before Professor Zidd left the country.
Ashton was so busy, he only ever showed up every few days. Despite that, he still managed to come back on time on the day of my check-up so he could fetch me to my appointment on time.
Professor Zidd looked through the report and smiled. “Congratulations! Your pregnancy is in a stable condition. In fact, I have more good news. The ultrasound shows that you’re pregnant with twins this time!”
“Really?” Both Ashton and I exclaimed. In my joy and surprise, I felt tears starting to well up in my eyes.
The last month or so of me being stuck at home and having to study for the law exam was wearing me down to the bone. The news of me being pregnant with twins was like a beam of light shining into my life. Could this be God’s way of repaying me? My last two children still managed to find their way back to me after all.
“Did you hear that, Ashton? We are going to have twins! Our babies came back to us!” I pressed Ashton’s hand tightly. My nose felt prickly and it felt like a flood of emotions were crashing against the back of my eyelids. Finally, I ended up collapsing against Ashton’s chest with tears pouring out of my eyes.
Things still hadn’t hit me by the time Ashton brought me to the car. The whole time, I felt like I was in a dream. My legs were trembling and I felt like I was walking on air.
I turned to look at Ashton in a bit of a daze. “I’m not dreaming, am I? Do we really have twins?”
Ashton smiled and brushed my hair behind my ear. His slightly rough hands caressed my cheeks softly. “No, you’re not dreaming. Professor Zidd just told us that we’re having twins. Our kids aren’t angry at us and they’re even willing to be our kids again. I must say, they’re a bit too playful for coming back at the same time. They probably don’t know your condition. I’m actually a bit worried if you’ll be alright.”
I shook my head as I laughed. “That’s nothing. As long as I can give birth to both of them, I don’t care…”
I hadn’t even finished speaking when Ashton suddenly slapped a hand over my mouth. His expression became extremely serious. “Don’t jinx it. I won’t let that happen.”
We had been giving each other the cold shoulder for the past few days, but that was all gone the moment I saw the worry on his face. I smiled coquettishly and replied, “I’m just kidding. I won’t say it again, alright?”
I lowered my head to look at my belly, which was already starting to show signs of my pregnancy. The stress from all my studying had dissipated all of a sudden.
I pressed my lips together and started thinking.
Now that I thought about it, I didn’t really care much about all the back pain or sleepless nights or even the morning sickness that pregnancy gave me.
The most important thing was that I owed the two babies in my belly a lot. Inwardly, I swore that I would never make the same mistakes again.
“Ashton,” I called and turned to meet his gaze. “Get rid of the bodyguards. I promise that I won’t leave the country again, and I also won’t do anything rash anymore. I’ll stay right here and take care of our kids. Can you trust me?”
I smiled brightly, displaying my sincerity.
Ashton’s tightly knotted brow finally relaxed and he wrapped his arm around me, pulling me into his embrace. “Of course, I trust you. Who else would I trust? You’re the light of my life. Even if it’s a wrong decision, I wouldn’t change my mind for the world.” As usual, Ashton kept his promise. He got rid of all the bodyguards the very next day. Mrs. Eriksen and the other maids and housekeepers all went back to their regular jobs, giving the villa a breath of life once again.