“Right, and all the jewelry that you gave me is all in the box inside the closet.”
She took out the box and then opened it for Conrad to see.
“Everything you gave me during the past three years is here. Esme wouldn’t wear anything that someone else had worn before, so ask Silas to sell it. Or give it to the household’s servants. Either way, do with them as you will.”
She said a lot, arranging everything well.
Conrad was feeling stuffy. He took out a cigarette, but when he remembered that she didn’t like him smoking, he put it back into the box and put the box away.
“Are you saying you want to erase every single trace of you here?”
Fia let out a cynical smile. “Why not?”
He never wanted her in the first place. He wanted her gone.
Conrad then said, “Your mother isn’t doing well. If she knew we’re divorcing, she would…”
“That’s why I hope you can keep this a secret for now. Don’t tell her anything,” Fia said tearfully. “And my cousin and her family… I hope you can control them and stop them from saying anything to my mom.”
Conrod tightened his grip on the box in his pocket.
“I’m busy every day and it’s impossible for me to keep tabs on them every second of the day. Now that your mother is sick, they’ll eventually ask to visit her.”
Fia’s brows locked together and asked worryingly, “What… can I do?
“With the condition she’s in, the one person that she can’t let go of is me. If she finds out that I’m divorced, she won’t be able to take it!” She screamed out as she could feel her mind crumbling.
Conrad stepped forward and pulled her into his arms.
“We’re not divorcing.”
Fia was stunned in his arms and then slowly raised her head to look at him, hope lighting up in her eyes.
“What did you say?”
Conrad suppressed the befuddling emotions he was feeling inside and said, “We’ll talk about it once your mother’s condition has stabilized. Don’t worry about the cost of the treatment either. You’re my wife and I’m simply carrying out my duty.”
It would be lying to say that she wasn’t touched. All of Fia’s sorrow that she held the entire time burst out at this moment as she wailed in his arms, her hands clutching at him.
Conrad felt much better when he heard her cry.
He knew that she had been holding back most of her tears. She was never that strong.
When he remembered that even a stranger like Doctor Evans had seen her weakness, he could not accept that he would have to treat her like an outsider.
After he calmed down, Conrad led her downstairs to have some supper.
He helped her with the meal. “You didn’t have much during dinner, so eat some more right now. Don’t push yourself. You still have to take care of your mom tomorrow morning.”
“I’m your husband. If you encounter something like this again, let me know as soon as you can.”
Fia stopped for a moment and then said, “I did call you, but Esme picked up.”
Conrad loosened his necktie. He could hear the discontent in her tone. “Sorry. I was helping her with the medicine so I couldn’t answer the call.”
When she imagined that moment in her head, she could feel her heart bleed.
“If we don’t divorce now, what will you tell her?”
Conrad paused and then said, “I’ll discuss this with Esme. She’ll understand.”
After supper, the two of them climbed the stairs back to the second floor. Fia prepared fresh clothes for him as usual.
Meanwhile, Conrad had gone to his studies to settle some work-related issues.
She looked at the luggage at the side. They were all clothes that she had worn when she married into the family. She did not take anything with her that Conrad had bought for her.
While they were going to stall the divorce for now, she didn’t take them out of the luggage and put them back.
“You’re still awake?” Conrad asked when he was back in the bedroom. Fia was sitting by the bed with a blank expression on her face, and her hair was still wet from her shower. She didn’t even bother to dry it.
He walked over to the bathroom and grabbed a towel. He dried her hair using the towel before blowing it dry with a hairdryer.
Fia was like a wooden puppet the entire time. In the past, she felt that she had never been so fortunate, especially to have a perfect husband that would do something like that.
But now, all she could feel was grief.
He was willing to treat her that well even when he did not love her. When he could be together with his childhood friend, how good would that be? Fia wagered that he would pay any price to get her anything she wanted.
“What are you thinking about?”
“I’m thinking about you being so kind and considerate. Once you’re finally together with your childhood friend, you would love her even more, wouldn’t you?”
Conrad turned off the hairdryer and then said, “Your hair’s dry. Sleep soon. I’m going to take a shower.”
He changed the subject. He didn’t know why but he didn’t want to answer the question.
Fia didn’t pursue the subject like a jealous wife would, since she had to hide the fact that she had been in love with him for years.
Conrad could feel that she was emotionally very drained. He patted her and said, “I have a meeting early in the morning tomorrow. I’ll have Silas accompany you to the hospital so that you can take care of your mother.”
“It’s fine. If Silas comes along, my mom might think something’s wrong. I’ll be fine alone.”
“Alright. I’ll pick you up from the hospital after work.”
Early next morning, Conrad had just left when Beryl Starling arrived.
When Fia saw her, she could feel the chill in her spine. It was the same kind of feeling a student would have when she saw her teacher or parents.
“You’re so early today, Beryl.”
“What? Can’t I come into my own son’s home?”
When Beryl saw Fia, her expression soured. She had liked Esme from the very beginning. Fia, a country girl, made her lose face in her own social circle.
Especially when she found out that Fia was infertile. She was getting even more irritated because of it!
“That’s not what I meant, it’s just…”
“He has an early meeting in the office today.”
“I see. Well, I suppose I can tell you this directly. Discuss with him when he’s back.”
Fia sat up straight and nodded. “Don’t worry. I’ll relay it to him.”
She thought that her mother-in-law was going to tell her about attending someone’s banquet and wanted her and Conrad to present a gift.
“I’ve consulted with a famous medical expert in gynecology. You can consider artificial insemination with your condition.
“When Conrad is back, let him know about this. You can go and see the doctor tomorrow. I’ve even booked an appointment already.” With that, Beryl handed her an appointment card.
Fia took it as her hand trembled, her mind overwhelmed with a complicated feeling.
Besides the fact that Conrad would never be up for it, even if he was willing, she couldn’t have a child at such a time. Her focus had to be on her mother. She had to take good care of her.
“Can we wait for another two years? I’m not that old, so…”
“What do you mean wait? Do you know how serious it is to not be able to have a child? You’ve married into the family for three years and you have had nothing to show for it! Do you know how shameful it is when I’m compared to the other madams? This is all because of you!”
Beryl then pushed at Fia’s forehead with her finger and said, “We, the Maxwells, are the jewels of Gryphon City. Our prestige is pristine… At least until you came along! Now, I have to avoid having tea with others because I would always end up being part of the conversation! They should really learn to zip their mouths!”
Fia lowered her head as she held the appointment card tightly.
She couldn’t say a word. She had been in the same circumstance too many times in the past three years. She would always come here when Conrad was already at the company. She loved him and knew that he treated his parents with respect. She never told him about it.
She was worried that he would be angry at her because of his mother.
“It’s time for your medicine, madam,” Mrs. Taylor came over with a bowl of medicinal concoction and cut Beryl off.
“You should really teach her more about this, Mrs. Taylor! She doesn’t dare to do anything when the lights are switched off! She can’t even bear a child! What is she good for!”
Mrs. Taylor furrowed her brows and said, “Mr. Conrad said that Mrs. Taylor doesn’t have to do anything. She simply needs to maintain her own happiness.”