“I’m not that busy.”
“True. Even if he’s busy he can still delegate his work to his subordinates.” Fia pulled out her hand from Conrad’s and then walked over to Echo’s bedside and held hers instead. “Mom, there’s something that he wants to tell you.”
“What is it?” Echo asked Conrad with a smile.
He furrowed his eyebrows. He didn’t think that Fia would be so indifferent about it.
Could it be that their three years of marriage were really a mistake, just like she had said?
Because she didn’t love him, that was why she wanted to divorce him to find her one true love?
“What is it, Conrad? I’m listening,” Echo said as she looked at him softly.
“Today is our third wedding anniversary. I want to have dinner with you too,” Conrad blurted out.
Fia looked at him in shock.
“That’s fine. But I can’t leave the hospital like this, can I? Fia, can you ask Doctor Evans about it?”
“We don’t need to leave the hospital. We’ll eat here, in your ward.” She glanced at Conrad. “I wonder if you can eat anything inside a ward, Mr. Maxwell. The scent of disinfectant is quite heavy here.“
She knew very clearly that he hated the smell of hospital disinfectant. There was this one time when he was admitted to the hospital because of a high fever. When she was taking care of him and feeding him some food, he threw up because of the smell of the disinfectant.
“Of course, I can. Having dinner together as a family is a happy occasion, isn’t it? It’s appetizing no matter where I am,” Conrad said calmly.
Fia felt that he was being so pretentious. However, she couldn’t understand why he would leave Esme behind and play an act here together with her in front of her mother.
Echo nodded happily and patted Fia’s hand.
“Then order takeaway from a good restaurant nearby. Get him something that he likes.”
Fia wasn’t very willing and so she said, “He can ask Mrs. Taylor to cook something and then have Silas pick it up and deliver it to us.”
“Fia, I’m hungry now though. So… hurry and get something, would you?”
“Fine.” But before Fia left, she said to Conrad, “Please take good care of my mom. Don’t simply let anyone approach her.”
“Sure.” Conrad nodded.
After Fia left, Echo immediately stopped her smile and struggled to sit up.
Conrad helped her up and then put a pillow behind her back. He asked, “Is there something you want to tell me after sending Fia away?”
“Esme is back, isn’t she?”
Echo sighed and said, “At the very beginning, my mother and your grandfather forced you two to be together, didn’t they?”
The hand that Conrad kept in his pocket clenched tightly. “Yes.”
“Do you have any hatred about this?”
Conrad looked at Echo and couldn’t say a thing.
“You do, don’t you? But you never unleashed any of that hate on Fia, and as her mother, I am grateful.”
Echo coughed as she continued. “But Conrad… You’re innocent… You feel mistreated… But so is Fia. She, too, is innocent in this.
“When you were together with Esme, you took her in as your younger sister. How bad can a girl that you see as a younger sister be?”
Conrad looked away. “She’s a kind woman.”
She was so kind that, despite him asking for a divorce and wanting her understanding in that, there was no anger, no blaming from her. She didn’t even yell at him.
She was so kind that he felt bad for her. He kept on thinking about what these three years of marriage had given her.
He was a very reserved man. Many women wanted to get close to him before and even after his marriage.
However, he had never accepted any of their advances. Even when he got married to Fia, they had only invited close family members to the wedding dinner.
He got drunk during the wedding dinner because Esme had run off to another country to avoid their marriage. That night, when he was in the bedroom, he had thought Fia to be Esme.
There was a lot of anger in him that he directed toward her that night. He bruised her.
However, after his first time, even when he didn’t love Fia as a person, he fell in love with the taste of her flesh.
She lost her innocence that night. She had become his wife when she was just a girl mere moments before.
The thought had been weighing on him for a long time. If they separated one day and this little girl met some other man, what could he do if the other man disliked her for having been married to someone else before?
What if that man treated her badly?
He even considered that if Esme never came back and he never saw her again, he would consider his first love, his childhood friend, dead and buried six feet under.
Treating this little wife of his well wouldn’t be that bad.
She wouldn’t make him angry and wouldn’t cause any trouble. She was like a gentle little angel.
“When Fia came to visit me last night, I could tell that she was very unhappy. I didn’t expose her, but did you know this, Conrad? I know her very well because I’m her mother. She…”
“Long time no see, Aunt Echo.” Esme suddenly appeared with a smile and a fruit basket in her hand.
When Echo saw Esme, she frowned and didn’t even want to finish her sentence anymore.
If Conrad was still in love with Esme, there was no need for her to tell him of Fia’s love for him.
If a man didn’t love you, there was no point no matter how much love you had for him.
You couldn’t make him stay even if you sacrificed your life.
The pain… The humiliation… She had experienced all of it when she was pregnant with Fia. She couldn’t let her daughter walk the same path she did.
“Conrad, my hand hurts.”
Esme finished her sentence while Conrad took the fruit basket from her hand and put it on the table.
He turned to look at Echo and he felt ashamed for standing right in front of her.
He was no fool. After what Echo said, he knew that she had guessed everything perfectly.
“You’re back, Esme,” Echo said coolly.
“Yes. I noticed that everyone had changed a lot after going overseas for three years.” Esme approached Conrad and held his arm.
Echo raised an eyebrow but said nothing as she gave Conrad a look.
Conrad wanted to pull his arm away, but Esme came even closer to him even more.
“Conrad, I’m feeling a bit faint.”
“I’ve checked. The doctor said I have anemia.” With that, Esme was going to collapse right in front of him.
Conrad held her and helped her to a nearby chair and sat her down.
“Sit here. I’ll call the doctor to come over and check.”
Esme looked very uncomfortable as she nodded while massaging her forehead.
As soon as Conrad left, Esme immediately stopped her act and smiled at Echo.
“Do you think that he’ll leave Fia?”
Echo suppressed her rising temper and said, “You abandoned him three years ago and left the country. Do you think that your relationship with him can still go back to what it was three years ago after coming back?”
“Of course, I can. You saw it just now, didn’t you? Conrad cared so much about me.
“Let me tell you something that I’m very happy with. Yesterday, he was the one that picked me up. After that, we shared a meal together. He treated me very well.
“He even asked Fia for a divorce as soon as he got home. He did this all for me.” Esme let out an arrogant chuckle.