I beckoned to the maid waiting to come over to clear the glasses of water, and gestured to Audrey, instructing, “Bring her to Mr. Gregory’s room.”
Excitedly, Audrey hopped over and took the maid’s hand, demurely allowing herself to be led upstairs to Gregory’s room.
I watched their departing figures until they had fully vanished upstairs, then turned back to gaze soberly at John. He looked a lot warmer and kinder than Ashton, but something about him raised my suspicions.
I vainly probed my memory in an attempt to uncover just what inspired my current feelings of uneasiness. In the face of John’s apparent sincerity, however, I found myself defenseless.
John and Ashton each maintained their respective versions of the truth. However, the identity Marcus had bestowed on me back then was clearly Carlette. My mind was in a whirlwind, uncertain of who I could trust.
“Don’t you trust me?” John persisted. His voice penetrated the fog of emotions in my head as if he could see right through my suspicion.
I felt strangely relieved that I no longer had to keep up my facade of confidence. I raised my head and met his eyes, saying gravely, “I’m sorry. I don’t think I have the capability to make a decision now.”
I shifted my gaze to the manila envelope on the table, then reached out to touch its smooth surface. I laughed awkwardly, then confessed, “To tell the truth, I’ve seen this DNA report more than three times already this month. It has outlined a different result every time. If even science can be as unreliable as all that, I really don’t know who I can trust.”
John was silent for a moment. He looked down, his nails digging into the flesh of his thighs. In a low voice, he muttered, “You’re blaming me.”
John’s words pierced my heart like a knife.
I had decided to trust Ashton’s claim that I wasn’t Scarlett, largely because I could not bear to face the fact that my family had utterly abandoned Scarlett for six whole years.
One could blame it on either mishap or mistake, but didn’t that mean that our familial ties couldn’t even endure a hurdle like that?
Having lost my memory, I felt as if I was spending every waking moment on thin ice, not knowing whether my next step would be fatal. On the bright side, if one could call it that, any loss would mean absolutely nothing to me. Without any ties whatsoever, I was completely at liberty to do anything, or go anywhere I pleased.
Whether I was Scarlett or Carlette, I had been reborn. I no longer had any earthly attachments, nor was I under any obligation to forgive anyone.
I thus replied mildly, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to deal with this at the moment.”
John appeared devastated. Looking into his dark, troubled eyes, I added, “If I’m really Gregory and Audrey’s mother, however, I hope you will leave her with me. I’m thankful to you for having looked after her for so long, but raising her is my responsibility, after all. I don’t want to trouble you any further.”
“Trouble?” John blanched. He gave me a long, hard look, then said tersely, “I won’t leave either Audrey or you here. Now that I’m here, I’m taking you along with me.”
Are all of Scarlett’s friends and family that domineering? I thought in despair.
I shrugged, then shook my head helplessly at John. “I’m sorry, but I can’t go with you.”
“You can’t go with me? Then, who did you intend to go with? Were you planning on staying here with Ashton instead, that pathetic excuse of a man?” John demanded, his voice trembling with agitation.
Without waiting for my reply, John turned towards the stairs and bellowed, “Audrey, get down here now!”
When Audrey heard John’s roar of rage, she raced out of the room and stood uncertainly at the top of the stairs. She was clutching a photo of Gregory tightly in one hand. In a meek voice, she ventured, “Uncle John, did you call me?”
Without saying a word, John bolted up the stairs two steps at a time. He swept Audrey up in his arms, then stormed downstairs. When they passed by me, John seized my arm and hauled me out together with them. “Follow me!” he commanded brusquely.
I hurried along with him. At the door, however, we almost collided headlong with an incoming Ashton.
The eyes of the two men met. I could almost feel the air crackling between them, charged with tension as it was. My hair stood on end.
Joseph followed behind Ashton, panting heavily. Both of them looked as if they had hurried over immediately after receiving the news.