“It’s nice to see you guys. Do make yourself at home,” Simone said, gesturing at us to take a seat.
Although she did not look a lot older than Ashton and me, her voice sounded frazzled.
Ashton was clearly taken aback by her voice as well. He stood right in front of them without moving an inch. The air grew tense with every passing moment.
Nicolas buried himself in his newspapers, not bothering to look up. Simone sat slightly apart, and the two seemed not to have much interaction.
I guessed Simone was probably the more expressive one between the two. I shook off Ashton’s hand, trying to snap him back to reality. When he finally looked at me, I pulled him toward the seats.
Now that everyone was seated, we were anticipating the patriarch to speak.
Silence ensued for about two to three minutes before Nicolas showed his face behind the newspapers. His cold glance swept across Ashton before finally stopping at me.
“Scarlett Stovall. You’re certainly a brave one. I still remember how you lectured me at the hotel,” he stated without betraying the slightest hint of emotion. His tone and demeanor made me feel as if he was interrogating a criminal.
Is he raking up old grievances?
I pursed my lips and smiled. “Birds of the same feather flock together. This is why I got together with your son. I need to live up to my title as his wife. You and Simone must be honored to have a son like Ashton.”
Nicolas scoffed without replying, allowing Simone an opportunity to interject and speak instead. “Mom and Dad,” she corrected how I addressed them.
I was stunned for a while but quickly repeated after her, “Dad, Mom.”
Although we had our differences, some things still had to be done for cordiality’s sake. Civility was the basis of negotiation.
“That’s right,” Nicolas spoke again, giving me a curt nod. His brown eyes darted toward Ashton, waiting for him to address him in the same manner.
Calling someone “Dad” or “Mom” might be an easy task for many, but not for Ashton, especially after so many years of neglect.
Ashton had already put aside his pride and trauma for the sake of obtaining the antidote. I could not bring myself to ask him to make any further compromises.
Noticing the dissatisfaction budding on his face, I quickly patted him on the back and spoke on his behalf. “Ashton caught a cold after he fell asleep beside the kids’ bed while he was reading them bedtime stories. He’s having a sore throat, so I hope both of you don’t mind me doing it in his stead. Dad, Mom, I hope you guys can be understanding towards this matter.”
Ashton cleared his throat right after I finished talking.
“Dad, Mom,” he said, his hoarse voice sounding across the room. It did sound as if he was really sick.
I turned to look at him, but his provocative gaze was fixated on Nicolas, waiting for his reaction.
Ultimately, Ashton still could not bear to let me deal with them on my own. He still backed down.
I could not imagine how his heart felt, after having to call the people who caused him so much hurt and pain his parents.
Before either of them could speak, a series of footsteps echoed down the staircase. A familiar female voice followed. “Ashton, Scarlett! Let me have a look at the kids,” Tiffany exclaimed.
Her voice and her hasty footsteps relayed the joy she felt upon seeing us. A man wearing a champagne-colored suit came into our line of sight after her. Underneath his neatly combed hair was a fine and chiseled face, accentuating his debonair outfit that would otherwise be bourgeois.
I trailed my gaze to him. He must be Nathaniel, Tiffany’s second elder brother.
Tiffany dashed toward the children, but Ashton blocked her way. “The kids are still the same. There’s not a need to see them.”