Ethan gracefully slid into the back seat of his car,
“Drive to the company.” He instructed.
His expression a mixture of sourness and sadness.
The vivid image he had just witnessed played like a relentless movie in his mind, unleashing a torrent of complex emotions within him. Hazel, the woman who had once been his wife, was now remarried and had children. He couldn’t help but emit a deep sigh, briefly shutting his eyes.
The road stretched before him, eerily free of other vehicles, with only pedestrians ambling by. Hazel had transformed in ways that were hard for him to fathom. She exuded an air of maturity, her appearance radiating a newfound sense of adulthood. Gone was the fragile young girl he had known; in her place stood a woman who had undergone a profound growth and change..
Her alluring scent, reminiscent of Eucalyptus, seemed to linger tantalizingly in his senses. Her once–short hair had now grown considerably, flowing down her back in cascades. Her face had rounded out, adopting a fuller and more mature shape, while her lips had taken on a plump and inviting quality. As she had conversed with him, he had found himself unconsciously registering her features.
“What the hell, Ethan?” he groaned audibly, grappling with the complexity of his thoughts. “Is there an issue, boss?” Axel, seated in the front, inquired, as the car came to a halt. “No,” Ethan replied curtly, though the reality was quite the opposite. He was thinking of his ex–wife!
“Drive,” he ordered firmly.
Ethan attempted to redirect his focus for the remainder of the car ride, but his mind. persistently circled back to Hazel. The man standing beside her, he deduced, must be her
Ethan reclined in his seat, thoughts swirling like a tempest in his mind. He couldn’t help but recall the enchanting faces of Hazel’s beautiful children, a soft chuckle escaping his lips as he reminisced about Daisy’s adorable pout and Liam’s fiery temper. The little boy had exhibited a fiery temper, even growling at him, an Alpha!.
He was a tiny warrior, fiercely protective of his sister and mother. In some peculiar way, that boy reminded him of his own younger self, and it tugged at his heart.
“Perhaps, if Hazel hadn’t left, those kids would be mine,” he mused momentarily, a wistful expression crossing his face. However, he swiftly leaned forward, dismissing such thoughts from his mind. He was remarried. So was Hazel. He sternly reminded himself of these facts.
Hazel had undergone a significant transformation, but so had Ethan. He was no longer the same man he used to be, and he was certain she must have noticed it. The taint of a man who had been involved in unsavory dealings had marked him–his aura, his scent, even the look in his eyes had all changed..
Nevertheless, the memory of that little boy walking up to him, growling and yelling, brought a genuine smile to Ethan’s face. The tiny cupcake clutching his leg and attempting to raise it was so small compared to his imposing frame that he could barely see her without making an effort to bend down. Yet, upon noticing her, an inexplicable urge had surged
within him to lower himself to her eye level and comfort her–until her protective brother charged in, displaying his macho bravado. The little girl bore a striking resemblance to her mother.
If she were his daughter, Ethan mused, he would have such endearing beings waiting for him at home, tugging at him with their innocence. Maybe, if he had such a family, he wouldn’t have become deeply entangled in the dark world he now inhabited. The little girl. possessed the kind of eyes that could render anyone a willing minion, catering to her every whim and desire. If she were his, she would have him wrapped around her little finger, Ethan thought with a sad smile.
They looked so happy together; he couldn’t help but recall the heartwarming image of the children bursting into giggles. Even the initially grumpy little man who had growled at him just moments ago had softened at the sight of his mom. It expanded the abyss of emptiness he had long kept hidden within.
Ethan had turned around one last time, stealing a final glimpse of Hazel’s radiant smile as she gazed down at her children. She looked truly lovely with that smile, and an air of melancholy settled over him. Perhaps, he contemplated, it was for the best that they remained apart. His world was far too tainted and shadowed for her and those innocent cubs./
“Axel, find out where that woman lives, where she works, and gather any other pertinent details,” he instructed in a low, measured tone.
“Okay, boss,” came the prompt reply.
“And,” he added with a note of secrecy, “don’t breathe a word of this encounter to the Luna. Understood?”
“You met someone?” Axel asked, feigning ignorance.
Ethan sighed with a hint of satisfaction.
Ethan let out a frustrated sigh as his phone vibrated, interrupting his train of thought. He reluctantly answered, his tone curt.
“Bella,” he acknowledged.
“Are you back?” she inquired.
“Yes,” he replied shortly.
“Are you on your way home?” Her voice carried a hopeful tone. Ethan’s demanding schedule often kept him at the office, tending to matters that Bella remained blissfully unaware of.
“Not yet, but I’ll be heading home today.”
“Good. My exhibition begins in a few hours, and you can…” Bella’s words trailed off into the background for Ethan. She was perpetually hosting one event after another, relishing her role as the wife of one of the city’s most influential figures. Material wealth and social status appeared to be her primary concern, it was all she cared about leaving Ethan feeling drained. His mind wandered away from the conversation, back to the image of the little girl who had squatted down by his leg, her innocent puppy–dog eyes gazing up at him. Her chubby cheeks were undeniably endearing.
“Ethan. Ethan! Are you listening?” Bella’s voice snapped him back to the present.
“Yes, I’ll try to make it,” he replied, ending the call. Ethan couldn’t help but wonder if Bella had always been so shallow, with her singular focus on wealth. It was a stark contrast to the genuine warmth he had once known in Hazel, a warmth he now sorely missed. Memories
of Hazel’s pure and radiant smile, along with her infectious laughter, briefly flitted through his mind. He had to forcefully pull himself back from thoughts of his ex–wife.
Returning to his work, Ethan’s trusted assistant, Axel, presented another matter.
“The Cleveland Hospital organizers have requested a date that doesn’t conflict with your schedule for their gala. Would the twenty–third of this month work for you?” Axel asked, his gaze fixed on his laptop screen.
“That’s next week. What’s on my schedule for that week?”
“Primarily, you have meetings related to the ongoing takeovers. It’s not overly hectic,” Axel replied, consulting Ethan’s calendar. “However, it’s also the day of Mrs. Bella’s art exhibition.”
The Roberts family had played a pivotal role in establishing the largest hospital in the country, specializing in various surgical procedures. Ethan had diversified his interests beyond the business world, engaging in charitable endeavors that included overseeing projects and sponsoring surgeries at the Cleveland Hospital, which currently ranked as the nation’s foremost medical facility.
Ethan couldn’t help but let out an exasperated sigh at the mention of yet another one of Bella’s exhibition.
“The date works. Bella can manage her little parties without my presence,” he stated firmly. Yet, buried deep within, a curiosity nagged at him. What were Hazel’s children named? Why had she returned to the country? A part of him yearned to see her once more, to engage in conversation, and perhaps catch a glimpse of her children’s adorable faces.
“What’s the name of the specialist?” Chloe inquired, her curiosity piqued. They had settled into their new house, with only a few shopping trips left to complete their transition.
They sat together on the sofa, indulging in a late–night snack, while Daisy and Liam, exhausted from the day’s excitement, lay fast asleep. They had sought refuge in Hazel’s room, as their own still required significant work. Their new apartment, situated on the third floor, boasted two bedrooms and a spacious balcony. The kids had spent hours exploring their new home, utterly enchanted, as Noah had anticipated.
“Dr. Gomez. I have a note right here, along with Daisy’s complete medical history. I just need to meet him and seek his opinion on this case, to determine if the surgery can be scheduled earlier or not. Although Daisy seems healthier and better now, it remains unpredictable,” Hazel explained.
“It’s like walking on thin ice. You can’t predict when it might crack,” Chloe added with a sigh.
Hazel nodded in agreement, her mind preoccupied with thoughts. Chloe noticed her friend’s distraction and voiced her concern.
“Are you okay?” Chloe inquired.
“Hmm?” Hazel responded, her thoughts momentarily elsewhere.
“I know you were shaken by the near–loss of the kids, but you’ve been on edge all day–ever since I picked you guys up from the airport. It’s like you have a lot on your mind. Is something bothering you?” Chloe asked with genuine concern.
Hazel hesitated, unsure of how to explain her encounter with her ex–husband, Ethan. She had felt a distinct sense of threat to her children, sensing that Ethan had changed significantly. The look in his eyes, the possessiveness that emanated from his cold gaze when he looked at Daisy, it was disconcerting. She didn’t want to burden Chloe with this
She shook her head and offered a vague explanation. “It’s nothing. I’m just feeling scattered and overwhelmed. I’m really tired,” she admitted.
Internally, Hazel was frightened. If Ethan somehow discovered that the children were his, he might not let them go. Her thoughts drifted to Martha and the manipulations she had with the pregnant tests that day, with it she had denied Ethan’s connection to her kids. But for how long could she maintain this facade? He must have felt some connection, especially with Liam.
Hazel took a deep breath, mentally committing to avoiding Ethan Roberts and anything associated with him.
Changing the subject, Chloe brought up Hazel’s baby. “So, Dr. Gomez is quite the expert, right?”
Hazel nodded, grateful for the change in topic. “Yes, the doctor back home said he used to be his lecturer years ago, although he must be close to retirement now.”
Chloe expressed her hope that Dr. Gomez wasn’t retiring anytime soon. Hazel agreed, realizing that Daisy’s well–being hinged on this expert’s assistance. If Dr. Gomez were unavailable, finding another specialist in a foreign country would be a daunting and costly endeavor, and she didn’t have much money to spare.
“I just hope everything turns out well,” Hazel sighed, her thoughts returning to her desire to avoid any further encounters with Ethan.
Chloe, taking a sip of her soda, inquired further about Dr. Gomez’s whereabouts and the hospital he worked at.
“How do we find Dr. Gomez? Which hospital does he work at?”
Hazel shared the information she had gathered. “Cleveland Hospital. From my research, it’s currently one of the best in the country.”
Unbeknownst to her, Hazel was unwittingly stepping into Ethan’s territory.