Story: The Maid and the Millionaire

The Maid and the Millionaire

    Chapter One

    The Winterland Corporation
    Jason's POV
    "What the fuck do you mean by about half a million dollars has been stolen!?" I yelled at my financial director after he came in to make my already bad morning worse
    "I... I don't know sir," Rudy replied. "It says in the record that you withdrew the money and--"
    "I never withdrew any fucking money, Rudy," I said trying to calm my voice down. Maybe it's all a big mistake. "Rudy, check your records again, or I might have to fire you," I threatened
    The poor guy looked like he would rather die than do the checking again.  But he nodded and said, "Yes Sir. Excuse me." He walked out and closed the door
    I slumped into my black leather executive chair and ran a hand across my face. This morning, I had woken up to a lover that was demanding more, in terms of relationship. I had just paid her for her service and was almost forced to drag her out of my hotel suite. I didn't usually have sex the evening before work day, but I was under pressure
    First my poor mother-- poor as an expression not as the lack of money-- was still breathing down my neck to get married, which wasn't something I would have liked to do in the next twenty years. I am a ladies man, and I didn't need a hinder to my pleasure in the form of 'Holy matrimony'
    Second, my house keeper, the one in charge of my mansion and my five year old daughter handed me her resignation, saying that she was old and needed to be with her grandkids. Bullshit! The only reason I was kind to her was because of Marisa, my daughter who took Lucy as her mother
    Marisa is like an illegitimate child, she was the daughter of a lover of mine whom I was going steady with for about three months until she told me she was pregnant. I was elated, we could get married. But she told me she didn't want a marriage, a baby or me. She stayed long enough to give birth, and then she was gone
    It was now Marisa and me, always have been, always will be
    So I had to look for a new competent housekeeper. And to add to my problems, the thief who stole from me
    Heather's POV
    "Guess who's made five thousand dollars last night," I announced as soon as I got into my workplace that morning, making my colleagues look up at me
    "Err...Betty Bones?" Kiara said
    I sat at my work station. "No, dumb. It's Heather Graham," I announced again, pointing to myself
    John sighed and shook his head. "Heather, look. This agency was created to reduce crime rate. What you are doing is bringing opposite results."
    I rolled my eyes, already tired of their lectures
    "Who cares? I am just using my skills to earn a living, duh!"
    Kiara nodded. "I understand you honey." She adjusted her glasses and grinned, "So who was your target this time, hmm?"
    "The Winterland Corporation," I replied
    "Shut up!" she exclaimed. "You mean the Winterland Corporation?"
    "That's what I said girl." I inhaled. "But John is right. I should stop all these... stuff," I waved my hand about to demonstrate stuff, "And settle down. As much as I love this Agency, I'm gonna sign in my resignation letter at noon."
    John smiled, "That would be a brave move."
    "So what other job are you gonna take up?" he asked
    "Well....I'm thinking babysitting. Since I have half a million in my account, and I love kids, I think that's the job for me."
    Hmm... who's thinking what I'm thinking???
    ❤👰The Maid and The Millionaire❤👨

    Chapter Two

    Jason House
    Jason's POV
    I decided to return from work early that day. If I'd stayed another hour longer, I might have ended up doing something stupid with the way things were going in the company.
    I needed to see my daughter, Marisa. She's the only one who could calm me down
    I dropped my suitcase on the living room table and loosened my tie as I climbed the stairs
    "Mari baby. Daddy's home," I called out
    "I know, daddy. Just come to my room," she yelled back
    I chuckled as I went on through the corridor that led to the bedrooms and paused at her door, my eyes widened in shock
    There sat Marisa in a pile of papers, crayons, scissors and books. Her room was a mess
    "Baby girl, why is your room a mess?" I asked as I treaded carefully past the litter to squat by her
    "Jane left," she said as she scissored furiously at a cardboard without even looking up at me. Jane was the first nanny. "Kris left. And now, Lucy is gone. And why wouldn't they, when my own mother left me!!"
    I could see that she was trying hard not to cry. She had been through a lot for a five year old
    "Baby girl..."
    "And my daddy doesn't even have time for me these days. Isn't that pathetic?" she stared at the cardboard as if she was talking to it. I felt guilty. Its true that these last weeks I've buried myself in work. I'm beginning to regret that action
    "Marisa, you know daddy has to work to give you a comfortable life," I said. Even though I was born a millionaire, I still liked to work hard, make the wealth my own
    But she didn't reply. I sighed
    "Tell you what? I'm not going to work again today, hmm?" she looked at me, trying to see what other bribery I was about to use on her. And I've used plenty
    "So, we'll tidy up your room," I began by putting away the colour pencils and crayons, "then you'll have a shower. And you can supervise lunch today. Or better yet, we can order Chinese."
    "Yay!" she exclaimed and helped me to put away the stuff
    We took a great deal of time, but we finished. I had just ordered for Chinese when Marisa tugged at my trousers
    "Daddy, why should I take a bath?" she asked with that pretty blue doll eyes she got from me
    "Well, I was supposed to be a surprise, but since you're so curious..."
    "Tell, daddy! Tell daddy!! Tell, tell, tell!!!" she sang jumping around me
    "Well, I got a new nanny."
    "Another one?" her countenance fell. "How do you know she won't up and leave?"
    I squatted to her level
    "Nina said this one will work until we're ready to terminate her employment." Nina is my secretary. "And Nina also said she's nice, you'll like her."
    "O...ka....y," she drawed out, still sounding unsure. Then she smiled. "Race you to the bathroom!"
    Laughing, we both ran to her room to run a bath
    I'd just finished picking out a dress when the door bell rang
    Heather's POV
    Am I sure this is the right house? I asked myself for like the thousandth time, while my eyes took in the grand mansion before me
    No, it wasn't a mansion, it's palace standard
    Once again, I checked the address I received, dragged my box up the front porch and rang the door bell
    Minutes later, I heard the click of the lock, and I did a double intake of breaths
    I thought that the Mr. Winterland was possibly a man in his late forties to mid fifties. But this man standing before me in a light blue checkered shirt rolled at the sleeves to reveal well toned muscular arms was no old man. His shirt had splashes of water, which made me wonder what he was doing
    And his face, oh gosh. With a sand coloured hair and blue eyes, let's just say he's the perfect example of a Greek god
    And I, like all mortals, was smitten
    So, what do you think?

    Chapter Three

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    He, being about five inches taller than me, stared down at me with blue eyes and a raised eyebrow. Obviously, he was waiting for me to end my dumbness and introduce myself
    "Uh..heil.." I cleared my throat to start again. "Hi, I'm Heather Graham, the nanny," I said with my hand outstretched for a handshake
    A moment passed before he made a move, and once his long and finely trimmed fingers were wrapped around mine, I jolted from the electricity that coursed through us and a small gasp escaped my lips. I looked into his eyes. There was a smile tugging at the corner of his lip. He probably knew the reaction he had on most women. Heather, be an exception
    "Jason Winterland," he replied.."I was expecting someone older. "
    "I do my job well," I quickly defended
    "Let's go in," he ignored my blatant outburst, and I followed him inside with cheeks red as a tomato from embarrassment
    "You also know that your workload includes housekeeping from time to time?"
    "Yes," I answered, my attention really taken by the sheer beauty of the house. The inside was as beautiful as the outside, with delicate furnishings all over
    "Good. Leave your bags in the sitting room, we'll get it later," he said, walking away briskly. His tone sounded cold and hard. Whatever, I'm here for the kid, not some arrogant jerk she has for a father
    "The kitchen leads through here. A Cook comes in thrice a week; Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to be precise. Apart from that anything you might need'll be in the refrigerator."
    I nodded, but he couldn't see me since he was in front, so I said, "Yes."
    "Took you long enough to answer," he muttered under his breath
    I ignored him
    "I'll have to cut short our tour. Marisa would show you around later. Speaking of which... Marisa, come on down and meet someone," he called softly, and I noticed his tone changed when talking to his daughter
    Oh, hostile to strangers, loving to daughter? What haven't I seen!?
    "Coming daddy."
    A while later, the sound of little feet hurriedly descending the staircase made me look up
    Down came a little girl with features just like her father, except for the black hair. Surely from the mother. And where was the mother?
    "Hi, I'm Marisa. You must be the new nanny."

    Chapter Four

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    "Yes, I am," I said with a smile and squatted to her level. "And I'm sure you're Marisa."
    "Duh! I just said that like a second ago," she said rolling her eyes
    I swallowed. She did say that when she introduced herself. I guess I'm just dumb
    "Daddy is she this dumb?" Marisa asked voicing my thoughts
    I risked a glance up to Jason's face to see him staring at me, and a mockery glint was in his eyes
    "I think so, Marisa."
    "So why'd you get her?"
    "Well, I hoped you could teach her not to be dumb and to act like the smart lady you are," he replied
    I lowered my eyes to the ground and bit on my lower lip. Great, so on my first day at work I'm gonna be embarrassed by attacking father and daughter. I think not
    "Yeah, your father is right, Marisa." I said, looking up at her.
    "He is?"
    "I am?"
    They both said simultaneously, as if they couldn't believe I could agree to being stupid. Yep, I guess they couldn't because their eyes were widened
    "Yeah. That's why I came. Say, Marisa. How 'bout this? You could accept me as your nanny, hmm? And you could also teach me things I don't know, like how not to be dumb for example."
    The reason I said that was because when I applied for the job from Nina, who was my high school friend, she told me that the girl had a habit of being difficult to new nannies because she didn't like the idea of being looked after by anyone but her mother, a mother she didn't know. Nina also said that most women, apart from the previous one, didn't last a day on the job because they couldn't stand her smartmouth.
    "Hmm," Marisa said with raised eyebrows as if she was contemplating taking me in or out
    I think she chose in because she said, "Let's go."
    With a victory smile to Jason, I picked my bags and followed Marisa up the stairs
    "Now look here, missy," she began. "I am a very difficult child to mind because I'm very demanding. There's the dinning room for family, and those for guests. So if you know you can't put up with me," she continued after interrupting herself, "get your baggies and out of here. That's the left wing, with the family bedrooms. The right wing is for guests, and that's where you'll stay until I decide if you're good enough. Got it?"
    "Yep. Oh, and I'm Heather, not Missy."
    "You should have told me at the introduction." she spat out, and after dropping me at the door of my room, spun on her heels and ran to the east wing
    "That went well," I breathed to myself. When I opened the beautiful decorated door to my room, I gasped at its magnificence and fell face down on the bed, revelling in its softness and purposely blocking the smartmouthed little girl and her devastatingly handsome father out of my mind for a minute or two
    Jason's POV
    Sexy as sin
    That was my first thought about the woman that stood outside my door
    Not that she wore something revealing, but the modest yellow shirt tucked into blue flare slacks were enough to make me stare. And the way she smiled when she gave me that show of victory....
    Okay Jason, you really should stop fantasising about your daughter's yet to be nanny
    I focused on the paperwork on the desk in my study. I needed to double check the financial records Rudy presented to me, just to be sure that the inevitable was true
    The realisation that indeed, half a million was stolen from me was supposed to shock me, but it didn't.Because my mind kept returning to the blond woman
    At Lunch
    The Chinese we ordered was delivered, so I was glad for the excuse to leave my study
    With Marisa's help, we set the table for three
    While in the kitchen, I asked her,
    "So, how'd you like the new nanny?"
    "Hmm... she's okay I guess," she replied as she climbed on the counter to bring down chopsticks
    "Just OK?" I prompted
    She sighed and spread out her hands so I could carry her down
    "I like her already. I just don't wanna be too trusty."
    I smiled at her. "You think she won't last."
    Marisa nodded
    I smiled. "I think so too. She's too young to be a nanny."
    "But she's sooo pretty," she drawed, looking at me
    "What?" I asked
    "Daddy hangs out with pretty girls a lot," she said again. And I understood where she was going to
    "Marisa...." I shot her a warning glance. She giggled and said, "I'm just saying, daddy."
    My phone rang. It was from Jude, my brother
    "Hey bro."
    "Don't go all casual on me," he warned, "I'm the older twin."
    "What's the point of being twins when one gets to be older?" I asked
    "Ask mom, not me. So how are you holding up?"
    I told him all that happened today, from the stolen money to the new nanny
    "At least your day went well," Jude said
    "I really need you at the office, its an emergency." From the tone of his voice, I knew it was. We both managed Winterland Corporation side by side, but we took care of different aspects.
    "Okay, but I promised Marisa I'd stay home."
    "Just tell her Uncle Jude had to steal daddy away. She'll understand."
    Heather's POV
    Sitting down to lunch with Marisa was fun, although she tried to be mean at times. I brought up stories about Chinese people, their disgusting delicacies, and their funny language. And when I tried mimicking the language, she laughed
    Soon we were speaking Chinese, and I successfully made her forget that Jason wasn't eating with us
    Which was a good thing for me, because I was inventing excuses not to GI down to lunch to avoid meeting with him. He made me think dirty thoughts😷
    "Look and what I can do with chopsticks," Marisa announced. She put the sticks in her nostrils and made them move left and right
    "Whoa, that's neat!" I exclaimed. "And look what I can do with noodles," I took a string of noodle and placed it on my nose in such a way it looked like I put it through my nose
    "Wow," she yelled. "Can I try that?"
    "The spice will hurt your nose," I replied
    We'd finished lunch and dinner, and Jason still wasn't home. I made her brush her teeth and take a bath. Aftre that, I decided to read Marisa a story, and she fell asleep, insisting I lay beside her

    Chapter Five

    Jason House
    Jason's POV
    I returned home later than I expected, and I'm sure Marisa would be mad at me. Some father I am
    I climbed up the stairs and headed towards the wing that contained family rooms, Marisa's door was closed
    I opened it gently, making the light from the corridor glow in. I edged closer to the bed, intending to kiss Marisa good night. But what I saw made me halt
    The nanny-- what's her name again?-- laid beside her, with her hand wrapped around her. I was surprised; Marisa never got along with nannies on their first day. The light from the corridor spilled on her, casting a soft glow on her pale skin. The duvet they must have wrapped around themselves was pushed down to her waist, exposing a pale pink nightie. One that revealed too many curves. And I found myself staring. Staring long enough for her to stir and wake up. She gasped when she saw me
    "I didn't realize you were home," she whispered and gently removed her hand from Marisa, who mumbled something and resumed sleeping
    "I just got here," I replied
    "Well she insisted I sleep beside her. I didn't finish the story of the ant and the grasshopper I was reciting. But she slept off," Heather said and stole a glance to Marisa, and back to me. She got up from the bed, and leaned down to cover the blanket on Marisa. I think she found out that my gaze was drawn to her not so covered body, because she suddenly folded her arms around herself and began fidgeting
    I laughed to myself, and bent to place a soft kiss on Marisa's forehead
    We stood in the corridor outside Marisa's room, and Heather was telling me about how their day went
    "I think Marisa is really sweet, just trying to prove tougher than circumstances. She really missed you at lunch and dinner."
    "I know, something important came up at the office. I couldn't reschedule," I replied, and leaned on the wall
    She regarded me with a tilted head. "Are you always this absent from your daughter's life?" she asked. "Marisa didn't say much, but she showed a lot."
    I know that I haven't been around with Marisa lately, but who was she to come in to my house and tell me how to treat my daughter?
    "You know there are some opinions you shouldn't voice out," I said, aware of my mood changing. Matters such as these tended to remind me of Ariana, Marisa's mother. And those were memories I'd rather leave locked away
    But she surprised me by not being nosy. "I know, I just tend to talk too much," she waved an arm about, the other clutching her nightdress for dear life. "Me and my big mouth."
    I smirked. "Would it help to know that I'm thinking of kissing that big mouth right now?"
    Heather's POV
    I don't know why, but issues concerning this man's life intrigued me. And my curiosity was sparked by his reaction when ever I mentioned anything that had to do with Marisa
    I didn't mean to sound nosy, so I had to cover up by making that comment about big mouth. Hey, I didn't know he had a dirty mind
    I stared at him, and my mouth parted slowly of it's own accord. Truth is I was anticipating kissing this handsome man before me
    And then his lips met mine, and we were kissing roughly and quickly, like we couldn't get enough of each other. I released my death grip on my nightwear to wrap my arm around his neck, pulling him closer to deepen the kiss. He did, and he held my waist, pushing me back towards what I think is his room, and kissing me all the way. I kissed him back, and I knew that I have never wanted any other man the way I wanted Jason at this moment
    I didn't know when I fell to the bed, all I wanted to do was to get rid of his clothes which suddenly seemed too much on him
    He left my mouth and showered kisses on my neck and collar bone
    And then he stopped and got off me, just when I was getting turned on
    "Go, Heather," he said
    For a second I didn't understand him. And then it all made stupid sense: He was rejecting me
    I got up, and straightened my nightwear, and I walked out of his room without a backward glance, feeling hurt inside

    Chapter Six

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    Stupid, stupid, stupid girl!
    I really couldn't believe that I had lost control in that few seconds just because Jason kissed me!
    And he had the nerve to reject me!
    But it was better that way. What if I'd actually slept with him, and then he'd kicked me out? That would've been so bad for my self-respect
    I pumped up my pillow, laid on my bed and pulled the blanket over me. Still I couldn't sleep
    I decided to bring out my phone and log in to a news website
    There was nothing trending. I kept scrolling down, until I paused at a certain headline:
    I gulped. I had already forgotten about that. And beside, there could be more than one Winterland, right? I mean, Jason couldn't be the one I've stolen from
    I read further:
    CEOs of The Winterland Corporation, Jude and Jason Winterland expressed shock at the discovery of the stolen money...
    That was enough to tell me that somehow I've managed to get a job working for the one whom I've stolen from!
    Isn't karma a bitch?
    With trembling hands I continued scrolling:
    ... Jason Winterland, CEO of Winterland Corporation says: 'The security of the company is as tight as the mother-child bond, but it amazed me that the thief could slip through our defenses and catch us unaware... We're looking into security videos, but I promise that once we catch whoever it is, I won't be considerate.'
    I slowly dropped the phone on the drawer chest and curled myself into a ball. I was hardly caught in a crime. But I've never lived under the same roof of victims. I'll have to get out of here ASAP
    "Marisa... rise and shine," I said as I tapped her lightly
    "Go away," she mumbled in her sleep and turned, "don't want a nanny. Want my mommy."
    I sighed. She was really having it bad without her mother
    I tried again. "Marisa, come on. You got to--"
    "I said get lost! I want my mommy!" she yelled and sat up with force. I was taken aback by her reaction, but I softened when I saw tears glistening on her cheeks
    She stared at me for a moment , as if trying to understand why I had to be there. Then she wiped her eyes
    "Hi, Heather," she whimpered
    I smiled. "Nightmare?"
    She nodded
    "Want to talk about it?"
    She shook her head
    "Okay, let's go take a shower."
    She jumped into my arm and I carried her to the bathroom
    After bathing her, while I dressed her, Marisa asked, "Heather, please don't leave me like the others."
    I halted, and resumed combing her hair without answering
    "Heather promise," she pleaded
    I swallowed. I could not promise such because the situation I found myself in was too delicate
    Instead I said, "I'm not going anywhere for now. Come on, let's have breakfast."
    As Marisa and I descended the stairs, I saw that Jason was already seated at the table. He looked up at me, but I averted my gaze
    "Good morning daddy," Marisa said and went to seat on Jason's lap
    "Morning baby girl. Slept well?"
    "Um. . yeah," she replied and got down from him, finding her seat
    Again, Jason tried to catch my eyes, but I refused to meet his gaze
    "Daddy you didn't say hi to Heather," Marisa observed
    Jason chuckled. "I was about to. Hi Heather," he said
    "Good morning," I replied and sat
    "Daddy, you didn't ask about her night. You taught me manners but you aren't showing them," Marisa said again
    God, why did she have to talk too much?
    "Sorry baby girl. Heather, how was your night?"
    I inhaled. It would have been fine if you didn't kiss me, or if I didn't read that article. But I didn't say that
    "It was okay."
    I was sitting at his left, and Marisa at his right. But we didn't say anything more. I skillfully avoid coming in contact with him when I reached to take the milk or sugar or jam. Unfortunately my hand brushed his when I reached for coffee. I quickly pulled away. I didn't know Marisa was watching our awkwardness
    "Daddy, Heather, is something wrong?" she asked, her eyes moving between Jason and I
    "Not at all," we said at the same time. I even added a fake grin. Marisa didn't look convinced. Her gaze still passed between Jason and I
    Okay, this was really uncomfortable
    I pushed my plate away and stood up
    "Excuse me, I'll check on something upstairs," I said and walked away, aware of Jason's eyes on my back

    Chapter Seven

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    As soon as I got into my bedroom, I paced a little,thinking up the perfect reason to give Jason and Marisa on why I couldn't continue the job. Maybe I could say that I had a sick family to attend to, or I had to complete my schooling. Anything!
    Movement behind me made me turn around to see Jason standing in my doorway, his hands folded and a frown on his face
    "What was that about?" he asked
    I decided to play the ignorant. "What was what about?" I replied
    He scoffed and walked into the room while saying, "The act at the table just now. What is wrong with you?"
    "Wrong with me?" I repeated, with my eyebrows furrowed in genuine confusion
    "Stop playing dumb with me
    " No, honestly I don't get you. What is wrong with me?"
    "Heather we're both adults. Just because I kissed you last night doesn't mean you should act like some virgin teenager," he explained
    "Virgin what?!" I exclaimed. "Wait a minute, you think this is all about you?" I shot back in anger. Was his ego that big to think that I was avoiding him just because of some stupid kiss that went too far?
    Well, the kiss wasn't stupid but still..
    "Listen Mr. Winterland, I might be here from a job. That doesn't mean I don't have my own problems, okay? So if you think I'm nervous because we kissed, something that shouldn't've happened, and you rejected me, you're wrong. You are not my first, and you certainly won't be my last!"
    I scoffed, brushed past him and walked to the kitchen
    Winterland Corporation
    Jason's POV
    "Sir, you have a meeting scheduled in ten minutes," Nina, my secretary informed, breaking into my thought
    "What meeting?" I asked looking up at her. She wore a confused expression at my question. Obviously it's a meeting I'm supposed to remembere, but I've been distracted since that kiss with Heather the night before, and the brushoff she gave me earlier. I don't even know why I kissed her in the first place, I was acting on a strong urge. Lord knows I've never wanted any other woman in my life, or my bed, the way I wanted Heather. And yet it didn't seem right to have slept with her, despite the fact that she was willing. It had taken all my self-control to pull away, but was I too hard or--
    "Sir!" Nina called again
    Damn, was she saying sth?
    "I've been calling you twice now. You don't look so good, is something wrong?"
    "No," I replied, breaking my knuckles
    She didn't seem convinced, "If you want I can inform Mr. Winterland that you wouldn't be able to attend the board meeting, and he could fill in for you."
    "That won't be necessary," I stood up and picked my jacket from behind my chair
    Nina hesitated before asking, "How's the new nanny doing?"
    "Nina..." I breathed in, "There is nothing wrong, and the new nanny is okay. Happy?"
    She shook her head, but she gathered my papers and followed me to the board room
    "And Mr. Winterland, we need your say on the matter."
    Silence as I stared through the window
    "Mr. Winterland?"
    I was tapping my pen on the table, leaning on the chair's back with a hand under my chin, being there in the room but not hearing anything that was said
    Jude nudged me, and I jerked
    "Hmm?" I asked him
    "Meeting..." he whispered, moving his eyes to the executives that were seated around the oval table
    "What was asked?" I whispered to Jude
    "Bro, seriously? We've been here for half an hour. And you don't know what had been said?" Jude whispered. I shrugged
    "Uh... we were talking about the theft, right?" I asked and chuckled. The room remained quiet. I cleared my throat and looked at the faces of each six board executive, one a woman. What a bullshit!
    "So uh... why don't we take a break?" I suggested with a wide grin
    "Dude! What happened in there?" Jude questioned when we were seated in my office
    "I was distracted," I replied tiredly and rubbed my eyes. I didn't get enough sleep last night
    "Distracted by what? A pretty bird flying by? Jason, the only thing I know that distracts you, apart from Marisa, is women."
    I rolled my eyes at this
    "And speaking of her, I'll drop by your place today. I want to see my angelic niece."
    We were both 26, Jude and I. But despite being the elder by three minutes, he was so unserious minded when he wanted to be
    I took a last look at my schedule, and rang from Nina
    "Postpone the meeting with The Jacksons, okay. I don't feel so good and I'll be going home."
    "Alright, is there anything you'd like me to tell them?"
    "Make anything up. Jude, come on." I walked out the door first and so I didn't see the look Jude and Nina exchanged
    We got to the house and Jude went ahead while I packed some papers into my briefcase
    Heather's POV
    Marisa and I were trying out a new recipe for lunch because we were both bored of order ins. And what a mess we've made of the kitchen. But it didn't matter. No matter how I tried not to be attached to the girl, she was too sweet and innocent to resist, and she was strong, surviving through her mother's disappearance like that. She still didn't tell me anything about her childhood but she kept mentioning comments that relayed
    Our faces were covered in flour and we smelled like tomatoes and spices. We were actually trying to prepare lesangya, but none of us knew how. It was fun getting ourselves dirty
    "Are you sure daddy won't be home soon?" I asked for the fifth time
    "Nah Heather, I've told you. He returns late,' she replied
    " Okay then, who can toss the egg?" I wore oven gloves to remove the bigger pan from the fire, and handed Marisa a smaller pan which wasn't hot. She also wore an apron and stood on a stool
    "On three, we toss the egg," I said. "One.... two...."
    The sound of the door bell took us by surprise, and in an effort to hurriedly catch the egg I slipped and fell down
    "Are you OK ?"
    "Yeah, Marisa. Get the door, I'll clean up."
    I had just taken off my apron and managed to remove pieces of onions and tomatoes from my hair when I heard Marisa scream
    Instantly I hurried to the parlor, and paused when I saw her jump into the arms of Jason
    At least he looked like Jason

    Chapter Eight

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    His features were exactly like Jason's: blue eyes, a straight nose, tanned skin, double chin and a killer smile which he directed at me
    "Well hello there," he said and dropped Marisa down
    "Hi," I said simply
    "Jason didn't tell me he had a new-- ooff!" he exclaimed and held his stomach where Marisa had just punched him to cut off his statement. I laughed at them
    "That's my new nanny!" Marisa whispered harshly, her eyebrow knitted together in childish fury
    "Oh, I'll try to ask questions next time," he said, still bending to hold his stomach
    Still laughing, I walked over and helped him stand
    "Yeah, and I should have introduced my self. I'm Heather."
    "Jude, Jason's twin." After a pause, he whispered to me, "I'm the older one."
    "Yeah, but I still love daddy more. I'm sure Heather does too," Marisa said and gave me a side glance
    "I..., wait. I'm not..." I stammered and ended up clearing my throat for seconds until the door opened and Jason walked in. Instantly, my eyes landed on him
    "Daddy," Marisa called and hugged him. He stooped down to hug and talk with her, and they were giggling excitedly. My heart yearned. I was brought up in the rough side of life, orphaned at five and had had to fend for myself since then. I didn't know the meaning of family, but seeing these three.... I knew it's something I'd like to have
    I'd give anything to have a family
    "Heather?" Jason called again, and I realized that while I was staring at them and indulging in fantasies, he had called my name three times
    He scoffed and walked past me to the sofa where he sat beside his suitcase and loosened his tie
    I didn't miss the amused looks that Jude and Marisa exchanged
    "I had made lunch. Well, Marisa and I did. We were trying lasagna but it ended up a disaster," I said
    "That would explain the vegetables and spices all over both of you," Jason said and roved his eyes over me
    I felt my cheeks heating, and I could see him smile a bit at the effect he had on me
    "Hey, there's a kid in the house!" Jude interrupted clapping his hands
    "I'll go see about lasagna," I said
    "I'll accompany you since I'm a wiz in culinary stuff," Jude said. I gave him an appreciative smile
    At the kitchen, Jude exclaimed at how messy it was
    "Can't you cook?"
    "I can, but not lasagna."
    "So why did you try it?" he asked as he mixed the flour , eggs, tomato paste into a big mixing bowl
    "Marisa and I got bored," was all I said as I leaned against the counter watching him
    A few minutes later after he had put the mixture into the oven, and I had tidied up the kitchen a bit, he asked, "So you are the new nanny."
    "New as of yesterday."
    "And you get along with my brother?"
    I eyed him suspiciously. Where was he getting at?
    "We barely know each other," I replied cautiously
    He laughed. "True, but I want to say that Jason can be a jackass most times. That's because he still can't get over Adriana's disappearance."
    "Marisa's mom. But if he hadn't told you about it, it means he's not ready yet. Just give him a chance."
    "A chance for what?"
    He grinned. "I see the way you look at each other. The sparks are flying, don't you think?"
    "No, I don't know what you are talki--"
    He interrupted me with a laugh. "Mom's gonna love you."
    Jude had gone immediately after lunch, and Jason had retired to his study since then till now, dusk
    Marisa and I had the rest of the day to ourselves, and we spent it rearranging her wardrobe, and drawing pictures on cardboard
    She had told me a little about her life of nannies passing through, and how she wanted her mom. And again, had told me how much she liked me and why I shouldn't leave
    "I'll lock myself up in my room and cry until I'm in a deep, deep, deep sleep where no one would be able to wake me up," she had said. I understood what she meant
    I had been thinking a lot about what Jude said, and it made little sense. Yes, I was attracted to him, but there was nothing more
    Or was there?
    I shook my head as I made my way to Jason's study to give him a cup of tea and cookies for a late night snack. He didn't join us for dinner, and I felt he was avoiding me
    Ha ha ha
    But I needed to tell him of my decision to quit. I had to, I couldn't stay a moment here when I was falling in love with Marisa, and falling a little bit for him. I had to go before it was too late to do so, before I was caught
    I knocked
    He pulled open the door. He was still in his work clothes minus the tie, and jacket
    "Hi, I thought you'd like a little something for dinner. And I wanted to talk to you."
    He walked in and left me to follow
    I didn't shut the door in a bid to balance the tray I carried
    He leaned at the edge of the table
    "What is it?"
    "You haven't given Marisa a good night kiss," I said
    Dumb Heather, that wasn't what I intended to say
    "And.... are you being nosy again?" he asked with a raised eyebrow. Then he smirked. "Remember what happened the last time you were being nosy?"
    Oh, I do remember. I had ended up being rejected. But that was what my sensible part recalled, my dumb part relieved the kiss
    And when he drew me so that I was standing in between his legs, and when his head lowered, I didn't do anything
    When he kissed me, I tried to protest, but I was kissing him back
    Seems he already knew he was my weakness
    He held me by the waist, and I his neck, and we stood in that position like the lovers we weren't
    Marisa tossed in bed for a while, unable to sleep. She'd gotten used to sleeping with Heather beside her, so when Heather took long to return from giving Jason dinner, she crept out of bed and walked to the study
    Light filtered out through the small opening in the door, and she peeped in to see them locked in a kiss
    She smiled widely: so daddy likes Heather, and Heather likes daddy, and she liked both
    She nodded and tiptoed back to the corridor, then walked to the study again, singing this time so that they'd be alert of her presence
    We pulled away when we heard Marisa's voice coming from the corridor
    "We have to stop," I whispered breathlessly
    "Relax, she's probably heading for the kitchen," Jason said casually
    We leaned in to continue when we heard a knock on the door
    "Daddy it's Marisa," Marisa said
    I walked away from Jason and pulled on my nightie, while he straightened his shirt and said, "Come in honey. The door is opened," he added and looked at me
    We were wondering if she noticed the opened door
    Marisa came in and expressed surprise at seeing me there
    "Heather, I've been waiting for you."
    "I..ah... I was arranging the tray?" I said, more like asked
    "Okay, I'll just get a 'KISS' from daddy," she smiled, "and we can go to bed."
    Jason lifted her and pecked her forehead
    "Good night princess."
    "Good night daddy," she said and took my hand to lead me out
    I took a glance back to Jason who was looking at me
    "Sweet dreams," he said and winked
    I smiled, but berated myself for falling for his potent charms

    Chapter Nine

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    I'm so stupid, I thought as I dressed my bed for Marisa and I to lie on. I had gone to tell him that I couldn't work there anymore, but I got distracted
    What was it about him that made me loose focus?
    Must be the killer smile, or the velvety voice, or the mesmerizing blue eyes, or his ability to kiss perfectly with those sculptured lips of his
    Either way, tomorrow I wasn't going to be distracted!
    My determined thoughts must have affected the way I laid the bed, because Marisa said, "Heather, take out the anger on my dad, not on an innocent pillow," she was folding her hands with a cheeky grin as she waggled her eyebrows at me
    "Huh?" I asked as I patted the pillow as if I was saying sorry to it
    "Well... you sure took long in giving daddy breakfast. I wonder why."
    "Ah Marisa," I said and pulled back the duvet, "Sometimes I think you are smarter than your age!"
    "I am smart, but even a dummy can know this."
    "Know what?"
    "Ah Heather... you like playing dumb!" she said and slapped her forehead in frustration. I laughed, recalling that first day we met and our awkward introduction
    "Okay Marisa, now you've pissed me off! I'm gonna catch you..."
    We giggled as we ran around the bed and the room, and finally she jumped on the bed and I jumped on beside her and scooped her in my arms, placing a soft kiss on her hair
    "Good night, Marisa."
    "Uh... Heather?"
    "Do you like daddy?"
    I kissed her forehead again and said, "Good night, Marisa."
    Jason's POV
    Damn, that woman had given me a hard on, I thought as I let cold water run on my skin. If she wasn't sleeping with Marisa, I might've gone to her room and finished what we started
    No, I wouldn't have. I somehow I respected her too much to act that way
    And I also didn't want a reoccurrence of Adriana. That scheming bitch that unfortunately happened to be the mother of my beautiful daughter
    Adriana had taken advantage of my love and riches to trick, dupe and hurt me
    She made away with a lot of money
    And since then, I'd decided not to be deceived by women, no matter what
    But I was tempted to make an exception with Heather.
    No, all women are the same
    Whatever magnetic force she used to draw me close to her, I'm gonna repulse it
    I had to get some sleep
    Tomorrow I had lot of meetings to attend. Meetings that were rescheduled because Heather had been on my mind
    What a distraction
    Winterland Corporation
    "And we've decided that since this is a second occurrence, then we'll vote you down from CEO."
    "You can't do that!" I said and hit my fist on the table. "This is my.. Jude and my family's company. I won't let you do that."
    "Mr Winter land..." Mrs Stanford began
    "Which one?" Jude and I chorused at the same time. We were both Mr Winterland and we were both pissed with the way this meeting was going downhill
    Mrs Stanford cleared her throat. "Mr Jason. There is no need to go all violence over--"
    "Violence?" Jude interrupted
    "Okay then, people. If this is about the money, I'm close to catching the thieve, and once we do, we'll get all the money," I said and turned to Jude, who nodded
    I stood up, packed my books and hit them on the table surface
    "This meeting is adjourned."
    Jasons House
    Still couldn't believe it
    He left for work early today, and I had no chance of talking to him
    If something was indeed trying to keep me here longer until I was caught, then such thing should better find another bozo, because I'm out of here soon

    Chapter Ten

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    It was almost a week since I'd become Marisa's nanny, and it had been fun through out. Marisa is such a sweet little girl that I felt guilty that upon all the promises she'd made me make, I would still disappoint her and break them all . I had to leave. Every second longer I stayed, I risked being caught. And if I got caught, then it wouldn't matter if I stayed or not because Marisa would hate me
    And Jason...
    He was scarce at home these days, always went to work early and returned late. On one or two occasions, I had been up when he got home, and we had a late night dinner together. We joked, laughed together. I found out little things about him, like how a hard worker he was
    "Unlike most business men, I don't allow my being born into a wealthy family make me a lazy person. I like to be responsible for my earn," he'd said
    "Hmm, that wasn't the vibe I got about you," I'd said
    He'd laughed and asked, "And what kind of vibe did I give off?"
    "Let's see, billionaire playboy, proud and cocky, and likes to have his own way. Especially with women."
    He'd shrugged sadly and said, "Not all women."
    I'd immediately knew he was talking about Adriana, but I didn't ask. After all, Jude said Jason'll tell me when he was ready, and I don't know why I suddenly wanted him to confide in me
    I'd taken Marisa out to the neighbour's house, where she played doll with the girl whose name was Julia. I was going to pick her later in the day after I'd finished making lunch--not lasagna this time around----and tidied up the house
    The doorbell rang
    I opened it to see a middle aged woman who looked exactly like Jason: sandy coloured hair that she'd styled in a bob, blue eyes, a slender figure and expensive accessories
    I knew she was his mother
    "Hi, good day ma'am," I greeted and gestured her to come in
    "Thank you." she pauses and stared at me from the toes up
    "Who are you?"
    "Oh, I'm Marisa's nanny. Heather."
    "Ah, Jason didn't tell me he'd hired a new nanny, Jude did. Sometimes I just don't under stand him," she sighed and sat on the sofa, placing a matching handbag beside her
    "Can I get you anything?"
    "Something cold and liquidy, please."
    I got her a glass of juice and cookies
    "Mmm... I love this cooky. Where did you get it?"
    "Actually it was Marisa and I who made it," I said
    She looked up at me as if she couldn't believe what I'd said
    "Is my son home?" she asked
    I shook my head
    "Good, because I need to talk to you. That's why I came. Sit beside me."
    I swallowed and sat beside her with a thumping heart. Was it the money she wanted to talk about?
    "Heather, Jude has told me all about you. And Marisa too," she began. I waited for her to continue. "Jude... he is popular with the ladies if you know what I mean. Until the incident with Adriana. Did he tell you?"
    "Well, Adriana and him, they thought they were in love, but I saw that they were not. They did things together, and I was surprised see him serious with one girl. But I wasn't in support of them because I saw plainly that she was a gold digger. Jason wouldn't listen. Soon he got her pregnant, and he was so happy, planning wedding and all that. But Adriana said she didn't want the baby. We'd pleaded with her, and when she saw that we wanted the child, she blackmailed Jason into giving her 30 million dollars, or she'd abort."
    I gasped. What a terrible thing to do!
    "She'd stayed long enough to give birth, and she took off as soon as her account was credited. Only for us to find out later that she'd already stolen $42 billion." She paused and took a sio of the juice. So that was the story. I felt for Jason and his daughter. But why did she tell me this, something I'm sure was kept a secret among them?
    "I appreciate you telling me all this, but why?"
    She smiled. "I just have s hunch that my son likes you. He certainly doesn't get distracted in a meeting ordinarily."
    "I thi---"
    "And if he does, give him a chance. He might act like a bossy bloke, but deep down he's broken. Marisa is too. They need you."
    I stared at her speechlessly
    "And beside, I like you too," she added with a wink and proceeded to the door. "I'll visit you again for update... and I believe I'll see it. Good bye. And don't tell him I came."
    She got into her car and drove off
    I shut the door, and spent the day thinking about what she said
    The shrill noise of the land phone broke into my thoughts, scaring me. I pulled myself together and picked the receiver, placed it on my ear and said, "Winterland Residence. Hello?"
    A female voice giggled at the other end. "Heather it's me, Nina."
    "Nina! Wow, how're you?"
    "I'm OK. Since you got the job I became past tense," she said
    I laughed , "Sorry girl. Been busy."
    "With the boss, right?"
    "Goodness, Nina. No," I defended
    She giggled. "Then why did he ask me to make a reservation at Purple Orchid for two?"
    "Purple Orchid restaurant? Gosh that expensive place? Maybe it's for him and Marisa, or him and Jude, or him and a mistress,or him and----"
    "Shut up, girl. I don't know anybody else with the name Heather Graham. Do you?"
    Heather Graham, Heather Graham... now why does that name sound familiar?
    I gasped
    Holy shit, that's my name!

    Chapter Eleven

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    "He--hello?" I stuttered into the phone to Nina, still unbelieving the news I got
    "Yes....?" She drawled, and I could imagine her grinning
    "Are you trying to pull a fast one on me, because it won't work," I warned
    She laughed. "Heather, I don't know what is going on between you two--"
    "Nothing is going on between us!" I interjected, but she continued undisturbed,
    "--why he wants to go out with you, or what he has in mind, but I'll tell you to be careful. That man's the cause of many a woman's heartbreak," she advised in a serious tone
    I nodded, then realised that she couldn't see me, and said, "I know."
    She didn't even have to tell me that. I knew already that Mr Winterland was dangerous for me, and not just because I stole his money, but because he made it so easy for me to fall for him
    And he didn't even have to put an effort. Gosh, I'm weak and pathetic!i
    Nina's bright tone on the other end cut off my thoughts
    "So..., hurry up and go get ready. He's coming to pick you. Wear something nice!"
    "Nina I don't---"
    "Ta--ta, I'm the secretary here. I've done my job delivering the message. So...bye!''
    She hung up
    Damn, what do I do? I couldn't go with him, it'll be so intimate. Wait, maybe Marisa is coming, that'll be better
    Another call came in through the land phone which I was still holding
    " Winterland Residence, hello?"
    Someone chuckled at the other end
    "Hi, did you get my message?" he asked
    I swallowed. "Yes, I did," I replied not knowing what else to say
    "Alright then. I'll pick you up by.. eight?" He sounded like he was asking for my opinion
    "Yeah, eight. I'll just get Marisa and---"
    "Speaking of Marisa, my mom will be coming around to pick her soon. So get her ready. And wear something nice."
    He hung up

    Chapter Twelve

    Jasin House
    Heather's POV
    He hung up
    I was about to fling away the phone receiver in frustration, but I remembered that, whenever I threw objects out of anger and frustration, I ended up with a broken mess to clean up, one more missing item and no money to replace it.
    That is until I got the halt a million dollars
    I placed the receiver down and told myself not to think about that. At least not today
    I picked up my coat from the back of the chair, the house keys and walked to the neighbour's house to pick Marisa up
    "So you're really going out with daddy?" Marisa asked for like the tenth time since I explained to her that she will be staying with Mrs Winterland today
    "Yes, he wants to discuss something," I said. What, don't blame me 'cause even I don't know why he's taking me out
    "Yay!" She screamed and began jumping. I had to steady her so that I'll pack her hair in pigtails and zip up her pullover
    "I don't like pigtails, it makes me look childish," she complained and pulled at them.
    "But aren't you a child?"
    "No, I'm a girl!"
    A car's horn sounded, and she ran off. I shook my head and followed
    "Grama!" She yelled
    Mrs Winterland, whose name is Ruth, squatted to hug Marisa. She wore a different outfit from the one she wore earlier. Hmm, rich people
    "And how's my favorite granddaughter doing?"
    "Super! Daddy's going out with Heather!"
    I groaned inwardly
    "So I've heard," Ruth said, standing up to give me a victory smile
    "Told you I'll be here for updates, and look! It wasn't even up to a day."
    "No, it's not that---"
    "Ah--ah--ah. There's no need," she smiled. "Come Marisa, let's go so Heather can get ready."
    They drove off
    With a sigh, I went inside to get dressed
    I chose a black knee length dress which had red and yellow floral patterns at the hem, and was flare at the waist with box pleating. I paired it with black heels, not too high. I used pins to pack my hair up, and I was ready

    Chapter Thirteen

    Jason House
    Jason's POV
    I think I'm in trouble
    Yep, big one because ever since Heather came into mine and my daughter's life, I've had no control over my emotions, feelings or reactions around her. She was in my head, my thoughts, my mind
    I spent all day fantasising---and you don't need to know what I fantasized about--- especially as I've not seen her as often as I'd wanted this week
    I missed her
    And so I came up with the idea of dinner together. I don't know, maybe we could get to know each other better
    I waited when the light showed red, and I was so deep in thought that I didn't notice when it showed green until a driver behind me honked loudly
    "Get off the road, dumbass!" he yelled
    "Sorry mate, I was trying to block citizens from seeing your assy face!" I yelled back and drove off
    I was hurrying to the house, I don't know how serious Heather took me. I put in my spare key to open the door
    "Heather?" I called as I climbed the stairs
    "Up here, getting ready," she called back
    "alright, I'll just freshen up. Wait downstairs for me."
    I got to my room and took off the suit I wore and changed into a black turtle neck in a brown jacket and dark jeans
    I was checking my phone to see if Nina had gotten us a reservation. She had
    I'd almost gotten to the last stair when I saw Heather dressed in a simple but lovely black dress that showed off her curves in the right places and her shapely legs. I've had many a dreams that featured those shapely legs wrapped around my torso
    And then she turned away from the window to me with a dazzling but nervous smile, and I thought no one was, is, or could be more beautiful
    "Hi," she said
    I smiled. "You ready?"
    She nodded and preceded me to the car
    Throughout out the drive to the restaurant, we'd barely made conversation, and that happened when I told her about the reason I'd been stuck at work, which was trying to track down the thief
    "Whoever it was is pretty smart," I said
    She just nodded and focused her eyes ahead
    Maybe she's not into business and find subjects related to it a bore
    We got to Purple Orchid
    At the door, I turned to her and smiled at the way she bit her lips and twisted her hands, fingers and purse
    "A little," she admitted. "It would help if I knew why we're here though."
    I chuckled. "For fun, no big deal. Come on." I held open my palm, and she put her smaller one in mine
    We walked into the cool atmosphere of the restaurant filled with decorations and lights, and tables in an arranged order. I looked at Heather, and she at me, and we smiled
    A waiter came towards us
    "Good evening, Mr Winterland, ma'am. You have a reservation. Please come with me."
    He led us to a more private setting. I pulled the chair for Heather, and got seated opposite
    "It's lovely!" she exclaimed, glancing all over. "I've never been to a place as beautiful as this."
    I smiled. I don't know why, but it gave me a warm feeling knowing that I made her smile. I'd be doing this more often
    "I'm glad I brought you."
    The waiter came back for out orders. I ordered mine, and when it was her turn, she said she'll have what I'm having
    Halfway into our meal, I saw that she was picking at her food
    "Aren't you eating?" I asked
    "Wh-----oh . I am." she resumed eating. I studied her. She seemed disturbed
    "Heather, is something wrong? You don't like the meal?"
    "No, no. It's just that..." she cleared her throat. "So, about the missing money at the office. What would you do if you catch the thief?" she asked, trying to make her tone light and casual
    "I don't know yet," I replied, dropping my fork. "All were interested in is getting the money back. The thief might serve jail time." I shrugged to show that I didn't have a final decision on/ the matter
    "Oh," she said
    "So, let's forget that, it's not why we came. Tell me about you. Your friends, jobs, family, likes and dislikes---"
    "Lasagna and peanut," she cut in and made a face. "I like lasagna, and dislike peanut. Sometimes I wonder who cultivated the crop. Ugh!"
    "You don't like peanu:?"
    "Nope, it's something like... broccoli," she ended in a whisper and we ended up laughing
    And just like that, we flowed, joked, discussed certain issues and even flirted a little. She was perfect, and I'd gotten to know more about her this evening than in all the days she'd been with us
    The evening was perfect, until a shadow hovered above Heather, and a primed female voice said, "Well well, Jason. I didn't bank on seeing you again."
    I looked up, and my brows furrowed in anger and despise

    Chapter Fourteen

    Purple Orchid
    Heather's POV
    All was going well
    I was scared at first to go out to dinner with Jason because I thought that he was planning to get information out of me about the theft. But I found out that he didn't even suspect me, not to talk of knowing I'm the perp. So I loosened up and we flowed
    I told him about my background, and me about his, although he was careful not to mention Adriana or anything related to their history together. It was as if he thought that by burying the memories or pretending it never happened, then it would go away.
    I thought nothing could go wrong, but it  just did
    "What are you doing here?" Jason asked in a hard tone
    I twisted around to see the woman who was the cause of Jason's heartbreak. She was slender, the way most rich women were,  and petite-framed with her black hair cropped short. She wore a red short straight cut dress, and her breasts were pushed up. And her brown eyes were aimed at Jason with a flirtatious smile on her lips
    She giggled. "Jason, is that the hello I get after five years?"
    I frowned. Was this woman crazy? I felt like dealing her with a superman punch so that she would fly off to space and leave us in peace
    "What are you doing here, Adriana?" Jason repeated
    "Aw come on, Jason. This is a public setting. It's not like you own the place," she rolled her eyes. "And beside," she placed a hand on the table and leaned toward till she was nose to nose with Jason, "I missed you."
    Okay, I've had enough
    "Excuse me, we're having dinner here," I said waving my fingers
    She turned to me, as if noticing me for the first time
    "Who are you? Baby is this another of your lovers?" She asked looked between us
    Jason leaned back in his chair with an an amused expression on his face
    " I'm Marisa's nanny, the fifth to be precise after you dumped her for....whatever it is you dumped her for."

    Chapter Fifteen

    Purple Orchid
    Heather's POV
    She laughed a loud and dirty laugh, and I thanked goodness that we were in a private area, so there weren't much spectators. Gosh, this lady is annoying. What did Jason see in her?
    "Oh, so he told you everything, hu? I shouldn't be surprised since they say honesty is a good tool for getting into someone's panties."
    Now I was red with embarrassment and anger. I shot up to my feet. "Who do you think you are?"
    "I was about asking you the same question."
    I ignored her and continued, "You have no right to insult me, okay? You don't even know me."
    "Do I need to? I know that you're a cheap whore after his money!"
    I wanted to slap her artificial face. But I controlled myself and smiled gently. "You mean like you were?"
    I watched as the colour drained from her face, and as Jason looked surprised at me. He didn't know that Ruth told me every thing
    Jason stood up and said, "Adriana that's enough OK?"
    "Jason!" She cried in tears that were as fake as her eyelashes ( don't blame me for noticing the eyelashes). "Are you choosing me over this... this..."
    "Heather," I supplied to help her complete her statement
    "This Heather!" She cried, and I almost laughed aloud at her stupidity
    "Adriana, I am not choosing anyone over anyone, OK?"
    "But were together!" She said
    "Were," Jason repeated
    "Bu....bu...but we have a child!"
    Seriously, was she crazy to bring Marisa into this, someone she didn't even know?
    Where the hell is that superman punch, it could come in handy right about now
    "We had. She's not yours anymore. Adriana, you stole from me."
    I flinched
    "You blackmailed me. And you left. What more do you want? I'm over you!"
    " you are not. I'll be back!" She wiped at the mascara that formed dark trails of tears on her face. "And you will regret!" She stormed off on high heels
    I exhaled. "Phew, that went well."
    "I'm sorry you had to see that," Jason said, still frowning

    Chapter Eighteen

    Winterland Corporation
    I got into the building without event, and I skillfully made my way to the auditor's office, with a tablet in my hand. I still wore my black outfit, but I didn't know that the colour of my hair was showing. I was in a hurry to get this over and done with
    I used my gloved fingers to tap rapidly away on the keyboard
    Input password..
    Transfer.... deposit amount..
    I have to be quick, because I'm sure that the security around the office would be tighter now
    I took a moment to inspect the building, and sure enough, there was a security camera installed at every corner, hidden in such a way that the unsuspecting wouldn't notice. But I've done this before, and I knew the drill
    I positioned myself on a stool, and reached up, and disconnected all the wires that led to the watch house
    I got down and continued the transfer
    Transfer from anonymous source into the Winterland account successful!
    I breathed a sigh of relief and slumped back into the chair
    And I immediately jerked up when I heard laughter above me, or was it behind??
    Jason's POV
    I stirred in bed a little, and since I was partly awake, I recalled the events of earlier. The love making
    Gosh, that woman was special. I'd be a fool to deny it. And not just in bed, though that's one of it, but in all aspects. Her talk, sense of humor, ability to handle situation, care for Marisa, and all of her
    I love her
    It only began to dawn on me that I was in love with Heather. Argh...I can't believe this. After I'd promised that after Adriana, I wouldn't love again.
    But I guess life always have a different idea
    I'll have to tell her, not exactly telling her, but to talk to her. See if we could take this relationship, for that's what it had become, forward
    With a deep breath, I reached out and touched her side of the bed
    It was empty
    Empty and Cold
    She was gone
    Heather's POV
    I quickly turned around to face the sound of the laugh, and there stood Adriana in a similar outfit to mine
    How come I didn't see her?
    "Well Heather," she began, walking around me. "So this is your secret, huh?"
    She laughed again
    "What are you doing here?" I demanded angrily
    "I'd 've  asked you same, but I already know what you are doing. So I'll tell you mine. I'm spying on you."
    "Yeah. I knew you were suspicious from the first time I saw you, and that was days before you worked with Marisa. So seeing you as Marisa's nanny was shocking. So I decided to follow your every move. Guess I was right."
    "How dare you?" I spat. "You don't know anything!"
    "Oh I know plenty. That you stole from Winterland. Just like me. That you've fallen in love with Jason. A little like me. That you want to return the money. Unlike me." she laughed again. "But too bad sugar, if I didn't get the happy ending with Jason, neither will you."
    She took out a disk, and her phone, and a video recorder and began twirling both in her hand with a malicious smile
    I knew what they were: recordings of me invading the system
    "Give that back,'' I said
    " Make me, " she taunted
    I charged at her blindly, and she dodged by climbing on a table top.
    "I think you are a little sore from the sex," she mocked. "Give up already."
    "No, I will not end up like you!"
    I jumped on her, and we began dragging the video recorder between us for minutes, ignoring the mess we made of the office. I was skillful, but I was tired
    She pushed me down, and jumped to the windowsill
    "I can't wait to give this to Jason, it'll help him a lot, don't you think?" she laughed again, and did a back fleet, and was gone
    I sighed, got off the floor and tried to clean up the mess

    Chapter Seventeen

    Heather's POV
    The kiss was soft, gentle and probing, as if he was trying to tell me something. I closed my eyes as I revelled in the softness of his lips, the sweetness of his mouth and tongue stroking mine
    We kissed for minutes, and then he pulled away slowly
    I was disappointed, until he said, "I'm suggesting we take this home. What do you think?" his smile was sweet and inviting, I couldn't resist
    "Okay, that'll be great," I said with a smile on my own
    We got up, he paid the bills, and we headed to the car with him holding my hands. He let go, and we entered the car
    None of us said a word. I guess we were anticipating what was gonna happen at home. But I was thinking of what will happen after what was going to happen at home
    We got home. He parked the car in the garage @nd held out his hand to me. I took it, and we walked to the door. Still holding my hands, he unlocked the door, and we got in. And once he was sure the door was firmly closed, he pulled me to himself and continued the kiss
    He kissed me as if he couldn't get more of me, rough and quick. It didn't take much effort for me to match his pace, because I knew that I wanted this too
    I kissed him back
    His mouth left mine, and he trailed wet kisses down, while fondling with my clothes. I guess the dress was standing in the way
    "Upstairs," I said
    "Good idea, your room or mine?"
    "Yours," I replied, because I didn't want a situation that I would have to send him away after everything, which was inevitable. In fact, this wasn't supposed to happen, but I couldn't deny my wants
    He kissed me again, and I began to wonder if we were actually going up. But he was moving, and I wrapped my legs around his torso to make it easier for movement
    We got to the room and had a fast one. Maybe because we have been denying our selves and attraction too long
    But we had another round, slow and sentimental, and I had reason to believe that this was making love
    That night I laid in Jason's arms, listening to his breathing as he slept
    I was thinking
    It would be a lie if I said it wasn't, because somehow, against my will and without knowing it, I've managed to fall helplessly in love with Jason. And that was not good, considering what I've done. If we were going to take this relationship to the next level, which I doubted because I wasn't sure of Jason's feeling for me, then I had to set things right
    I'm going to return the money
    Since I took it (stole it is too strong), I haven't used it. I was actually planning to save it for when I retire or something. Thank goodness the money was intact
    After a last look at his handsome sleeping face, I crept out of bed to my room to get dressed

    Chapter Nineteen

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    I got back to the house that night, still thinking about what to do. Adriana was just bluffing. There was no way she was gonna tell Jason, because Jason didn't even want to see her, talk less of listening to her or believing her
    At least I hoped so
    I just couldn't tell him and risk being....rejected or worse
    I got into the room where he was sitting at a desk with a table lamp overhead and some papers on the table. He was wearing an unbuttoned shirt and boxer shorts. He looked up when I came in
    "You're awake," I said with a smile
    He nodded. "As you are," he said
    I closed the door and sat on the bed. He got up from the desk and sat beside me
    "I thought you left. That you regretted what happened last night," he began
    "No, Jason. I didn't," I said, running a hand along his jaw that was rough with stubble from the previous evening. "I was checking something out."
    "What were you checking out?" he asked, leaning into my touch
    "Something vital."
    "Something vital like....?" his eyes were now on me
    I gulped
    Why all these questions all of a sudden?
    "Well...." I searched for the right words to use. I could say I got word from my sister, but he knew I was orphaned. Or that I was in my room. But he must have checked for me when he awoke
    I breathed in deeply to calm my nerves
    "Heather," he said slowly. "Is there something you want to tell me? Something I should know?"
    Did he already know? Probably not. Maybe he thought I had some problems
    I shook my head with much force than needed. "No, Jason. Nothing."
    And then his eyes turned cold as he looked directly into mine
    "So you don't trust me," he stated
    "Trust you? What do you mean, I trust you."
    "Heather you are aware that for me that wasn't just a one night stand. I wanted to take this further."
    I'm getting confused. I was glad for a second when he said it wasn't just a one night stand for him, because it wasn't for me either. But what did he mean by wanted to?
    "Jason last night was special to me too," I said, trying to read into his blue eyes. I saw nothing that gave a clue to what he was feeling
    "Heather trust is the key thing to building a relationship," he said. "But if you don't trust me enough to tell me, then there is no point in trying."
    "Jason stop saying all these, I don't understand!' I exclaimed, tears were threatening to fall
    He took a deep breath and swiped a hand over his face
    " Heather you stole from me." He paused and waited, as if he wanted me to deny it
    But I didn't
    Adriana had done it already
    I bowed my head, and raised it up again, "Jason I---"
    "God Heather you did!" he yelled and got off the bed. "I was hoping, just hoping it wasn't true. I gave you a chance to tell me. And you didn't!"
    "I was scared!" I cried. "I didn't know when I took the money that you were the owner of WCorp."
    "And when you did? You still didn't tell me. Even though you lived with us. What did you think, that I would have you arrested?"
    "That's what you said in the article. I'm sorry Jason." I hurried to him and placed my hands on his cheeks. "But I've returned the money, I have."
    "It's too late," he said, pulling my hands away from his face and dropping it to my side. Then he walked towards the door
    "Jason place don't go, I love you!" I blurted out
    He paused in reaching for the door's handle
    For a moment all was quiet. I waited, hoped that those words would right everything
    But still with his back to me, he said again, in a cold and unemotional tone, "It's too late. Pack your things and get out in the morning." and he was gone, slamming the door behind him
    I stared at the door, unable to move, or do anything. Then I slumped to the floor and cried my eyes out
    Jason's POV
    I laid my head facedown on the desk in my study
    I still couldn't believe it
    Even when Adriana had sent the photos and video with some stupid heading, 'A Girl Like Me, and You Think There's Such A Thing As The Perfect Woman!?', I still couldn't believe it. And then I had gone allover the house in search for Heather, but she was nowhere to be found
    It was then I knew that it was somehow true. But I waited, thinking that she had a good explanation, and that she would trust me enough to tell me. But she didn't. She took me for a fool. Returning the money wasn't just enough
    I sighed again. Maybe I was too harsh. Maybe I shouldn't have sent her away.
    But I wouldn't be able to see her every day without thinking of the betrayal
    I'll find a new, older nanny for Marisa, and I'll explain to her why Heather wouldn't be there anymore
    She had to go

    Chapter Twenty

    Jason House
    Heather's POV
    With much difficulty, I picked myself off the floor and dragged myself to my room. Painstakingly, I began to pack my stuff. My clothes from the wardrobe, my shoes from the closet, and every other accessories I'd left all over the house. I stuffed them into my box, wiping the tears that refused to stop falling at intervals
    What a fool I was
    If I had a second chance, I would pour everything out to Jason from the beginning. I would trust him. But as he said, it was too late
    And I told him I loved him. Wasn't that enough? Obviously it wasn't, because I'll be on my way out tomorrow
    I hit the box repeatedly with my fists to let of the sorrow. But it was no use
    I knew that I'll carry such regret with me forever
    I rolled my box to the doorpost, and I returned to the bed, unable to sleep, spending the whole night crying
    Morning came, and I knew it did before it even arrived
    I hadn't slept last night
    I pulled myself up from the bed, and dragged my self to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror. My eyes were red and puffy. My runny nose was pink, and my face was wrinkled
    I sniffed and splashed water from the tap to my face repeatedly. I took extra care with my routine this morning. Maybe I was hoping that with every delay, Jason would come close to forgiving me
    Not in this life
    I ran a hot shower, and after dressing in a green cashmere top and a purple trouser, I packed up my toiletries. Only mine, no stealing this time around
    I pulled my stuff to the sitting room. The wall clock read 06: 23AM
    I hurriedly took out a pen and a sheet of paper from my scrap book, the one Marisa and I designed together with lists of all the crazy things we did together
    I quickly wrote something on it, and folded it, and walked to Jason's room
    I knocked and waited
    No response
    I knocked again for three times before deciding to check his study
    He opened at the first knock, gave me a one second look and walked back to his seat
    I could see that his beautiful sandy hair was roughed, as if he'd run his hands through it numerous times. His blue eyes, from what I could see, looked tired
    He looked like he'd stayed in this study all night
    "I came to give you this. It's for Marisa," I began and dropped the paper on the table
    He threw it a glance and turned away
    "Please let her have it. And I also came to say I'm leaving."
    Without looking up, he pushed a piece of paper towards me
    "That's your payment. For three months."
    "I only stayed less than a month."
    "Just take it."
    "I won't."
    "Come on Heather, don't be stubborn!"
    "No Jason. I'm not stubborn, you are," I said calmly. "You are too stubborn to listen to me. Fine, I'm guilty. But do you care to know why?"
    "I'm not having this discussion," he said and turned away again
    "Neither am I. But I'm not taking the money. I don't deserve it." With a deep sigh, I said, "Goodbye."
    I walked to the door, and risked a last look at him. He didn't even move
    With a sad nod, I walked out and closed the door behind me
    I picked up my box and outside, I flagged a taxi. I mentioned my address, and as he drove, I stared at the house, the home and family I'd come to love as my own, until it was out of sight
    Jason's POV
    She's gone.
    Just as I told her to
    I ran my hand across my face and hair, and bowed my head.
    It was for the best, but I feel like that was the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life
    I stood up and walked to my room. I'll have to live with it. It was for the best, I kept repeating that to my self as I showered and dressed for work
    Winterland Corporation
    I watched as the board members beamed with smiles as I relayed the good news of the returned money
    "So, what of the perp?" Mr. Coulson asked
    "I've taken care of that. The important thing is that we've gotten the money back."
    They all nodded
    "Okay, spit it out," Jude said after he had pulled me into his office
    "Spit what out?"
    "Look, I know you too well to know that something's up. You aren't exactly excited about the return of the money, and you look so down. Tell me."
    "'re now going detective on me?" Nothing is wrong. "
    "Is it Heather?" he insisted
    "Jude, it's nothing."
    He gave me a long look
    "Do you want me to go all older-brother on you?"
    I chuckled and shook my head. "Please don't, I'm fine. Just tired."
    "But if something's up, you tell me."
    I nodded, and patted his shoulder. "I will. And I mean it. For now, I don't want to talk. I have to go pick up Marisa from mom's place."

    Chapter Twenty One

    Ruth House
    Jason's POV
    I pulled up in front of Ruth's(my mom) mansion after work that afternoon to pick up Marisa. I honked before coming out of the car
    The door flung open and Marisa ran out towards me
    "Daddy!" she screamed
    "Baby girl," I said and knelt on one knee to reach her height with my hands outstretched. She gave me a tight hug
    "I missed you, daddy!" she said with a toothy grin
    "Aw come on, it was only one night. And you had fun with grama."
    She nodded. "I did," she said and ran to the car
    I walked to the house where mom was standing in the door way
    "Hi mom," I said and kissed her cheeks
    "Jason, you don't look so good," she observed after the greeting
    "I'm just tired."
    "Ah yes. The discovered money. Jude told me it was returned."
    "It was," I concurred
    "And all is settled?"
    We watched as Marisa peeked into the tinted window of the car as if she was looking for something
    "Where's Heather, dad?" she called
    "Good question," Ruth added with a raised eyebrow
    I inhaled deeply. "She's gone."
    Ruth frowned. "Jason....?"
    "I didn't do anything, mom. We just had a small issue."
    "Just a small one and she left? I don't believe you Jason. What went wrong??"
    "Quit it mom. Nothing. And stop sounding like we were together or something!" I shot out, tired of all their meddling questions
    I scoffed and walked away. A little distance to my car, she called, "You're making this difficult for yourself. And for Marisa."
    "I'll explain to her. Bye."
    Later as we drove back home, I noticed that Marisa was constantly glancing at me with a questioning look. I knew what she wanted to ask, but I decided to wait till we got home
    "So how was the sleep over?"
    "Fun. Grama got me a whole tub of chocolate! I ate till she had to carry me to my room." She giggled. "But I missed Heather."
    I was silent
    As soon as I opened the door, Marisa dashed upstairs with laughs
    I hoisted her backpack and my suitcase, while I mentally rehearsed how I'll explain to Marisa, what I would say
    She ran back down with a confused look
    "Daddy where's Heather? I haven't seen her in her room, or the kitchen."
    I dropped the bags down and squatted
    "Come here honey," I said, patting my lap. She came down
    "Look Marisa... Heather... she's gone."
    "What do mean 'gone'?" she asked with a shaky voice
    I swallowed. "She uh...she had to take care of something."
    "Something like what? Heather told me she had no family. Tell me daddy, she left."
    I bowed my head, and when I looked up, she was already crying
    "She left. After she promised not to go... she left!"
    "Marisa it's not that---"
    "I knew it. I hate her! I hate them all!" And she ran back up the stairs to her room and shut the door
    I took a deep breath. I knew what Heather did was wrong, but I also knew that the bond between her and Marisa was strong. No matter what or how I felt with what she did, I couldn't let her memory of Heather be tarnished
    I'll have to explain all to her. With a sigh, I headed up the stairs
    But when I knocked the door, Marisa refused to listen to me
    "Go away," she said

    Chapter Twenty Two

    Jason House
    Jason's POV

    "Marisa honey, please don't let it be this way. Marisa..." I knocked again repeatedly
    It broke my heart to hear the sounds of her sobs behind the door
    "Marisa I'm sorry, just let me explain," I tried again
    "No daddy, go. I don't want to see you. You just keep bringing in people that will leave me once I'm attached to them! You don't want me to be happy that's why you sent Heather away!"
    I sighed, "Okay, I'm leaving now. But if you are ready to listen to me, I'll be in my study."
    I waited a minute, but she didn't seem to be about answering anytime soon, so I went downstairs to make dinner, and I retired to my study, leaving dinner for both of us on the table
    I don't know how long I'd sat down there, but a soft knock on the door made me look up from the paperwork I was studying
    Marisa peeked her head in the slight opening in the doorway
    "Um...can I come in, daddy?" she asked
    "Come on baby. You don't need to ask," I responded and got up to open the door wider for her. She came in with a tray containing our dinners
    "I saw that you didn't eat, so I figured you'd be hungry."
    I smiled and set the plates on the rug carpeted floor. Sometimes I always forget that Marisa was just five years old. She tends to act maturely, especially when sad, moody or angry
    And she was all of those this evening
    We sat crossleged on the floor and began to eat. Well, I picked at my food
    "Daddy," she began when she was halfway through her food. "You said you were going to tell me why Heather left."
    I nodded. "Yeah. It was her fault, although she didn't want to but she had to because if she didn't---"
    "Daddy stop beating about the flower fields!" she interrupted me with a strict face
    Now that's the Marisa I know
    I chuckled. "Yes ma'am." I made a mock bow. Then I became serious. "Remember the missing money in daddy's and uncle Jude's company?"
    "Yeah, what about it?"
    "Heather did."
    Marisa paused for minutes, and I waited for her to move
    "She stole the money," Marisa repeated
    I nodded
    "And she came to live here afterwards."
    "No, yes. But she didn't know that I was the one whom she stole from," I explained
    "And she said she's sorry?"
    "Yes, but---"
    "But what, daddy!?" she exclaimed and ran behind me to wrap her hands around my neck. "Heather is sorry. And grama said she returned the money. And you said she didn't know. So what's left but to forgive her?" she giggled happily
    "Marisa you don't understand," I sighed. I picked the paper from my pocket and gave it to Marisa. "Heather wanted you to have it."
    She snatched it from me and read it to herself. I don't know what was written in that paper, but she folded it to her chest, sqealed in delight, and ran off to her room with a quick "Good night, daddy!" thrown at me
    I shook my head and packed the plates to the kitchen. I leaned on the counter
    At least Marisa was no longer difficult because she understood now why Heather had to go. I think
    I was wrong
    Marisa became very difficult from the next day
    Her favorite lyrics became 'Daddy bring Heather back' in some childish nursery rhyme that annoyed the hell out of me
    And worse, she had the full support of Mom and Jude, who offered to serve as soloists in the senseless solos of Marisa's crazy song

    Chapter Twenty Three

    Jason House
    A Month Later
    Jason's POV
    It was a sunny afternoon. I was cooped up in my study, the way I normally was for a month now. That had been my routine: wake up early, go to work, and return late at night to spend it in my study. Sometimes I had breakfast with Marisa, but not always because she rarely talked about anything but Heather
    I didn't want any reminder of her, lord knows, but yet I saw her everywhere. In the kitchen. At the dining. Her scent seemed to linger allover the house, that flora scent that always made me go crazy
    And worse, I see her in my head
    Damn, I'm even seeing her now
    I slapped my forehead and laid my head on the desk
    Why couldn't she just go away?
    A single knock sounded on the door, and it opened and my mom came in
    I groaned, knowing that she'd come to preach one of her sermons on why I should bring Heather back
    "Don't you dare try that attitude with me, Jason Thomas Winterland!" she said in a no nonsense tone
    Marisa skipped in too and giggled, "Oops, busted."
    I smiled at her and scoffed at my mom. "So, two's here. Where is the last of 'The Winterland Trinity'?" I asked in a mockery tone making air quotes. I was referring to Jude
    "Oh, he'll be here soon," mom said with a nod
    I gaped. I was joking about Jude coming, but seriously? Okay, now I'm busted
    They angled further in the room, and with each step they took, their faces took on a more serious note
    "It's enough, Jason," Ruth said
    "What is?" I asked feigning ignorance, I knew exactly what she meant
    "All these," Ruth replied waving her arm about, "This mournful life you've subjected yourself to."
    "I'm not mourning, you're exaggerating."
    She continued as if I didn't say anything. "You hardly eat, you hardly spend time with Marisa, you hardly sleep, all you do is work! Can't you see you are suffering because of your actions?"
    "I'm not suffering!"
    "You are, daddy," Marisa intoned and giggled. It seems like this was a game to her. Or maybe she enjoyed seeing my discomfiture?
    I sighed. "Okay mom. Where are you getting at?" I asked, already tired of her preamble
    She smiled as if she was waiting for this moment
    "Jason, all these started since you sent Heather away."
    "It's not---"
    "Ah ah ah, let me finish," she cut in with a raised index finger. I nodded
    "Sure she did something wrong. But that was before she knew you. And have you ever tried asking her why, even after she knew you were the Winterland, she didn't tell you, but decided to return it complete and untouched?"
    I shook my head like a child, I had never thought of that because I was blinded by the fact that she didn't trust me.
    "No, after Adriana showed the video to me, I lost it," said I
    She frowned at the mention of Adriana. "Adriana??? What does she have to do with all these?"
    I explained to her how we encountered her at the restaurant, and what followed, as well as the threat she made. And as I told my mom, I also began to understand. I did exactly what Adriana wanted me to do. I pitched Heather on an equal pedestal with Adriana, when in truth both women were nothing alike
    Adriana stole from me while we were together. And even blackmailed me with our child, one she didn't even want
    But Heather stole when she didn't even know me. And when she did, she tried all she could to escape at first. It's now I understood why all those times she always tried to come up with excuses to leave--though she never completed those excuses because we always ended up kissing. I smiled at the memory
    Heather's a special person
    "Mom I'm the biggest ass on earth," I exclaimed midway into the story, wiping my face to open my eyes
    "I won't lie to you son, you are," she concurred and nodded her head
    "What's an ass?" Marisa asked. "And who's Adriana?"
    Again, I took time to explain Adriana to Marisa
    At the end, she frowned and said, "I don't want Adriana for my mommy again. She's mean to Heather and daddy."
    "Yeah," I breathed. "She is."
    "And you know whom I want for my mommy?" she asked with a side grin
    I laughed and took my keys from the desk
    "Wait," Ruth called, and motioned to Marisa, who came forward and handed me a paper. From it's colours, I recognized it as the one Heather asked me to give Marisa
    "Daddy, Heather asked me to give you this when you aren't mad at her anymore."
    "But she said it was for you."
    "Ugh daddy, just take it and read already," Marisa groaned and pushed the paper into my palm
    I unfolded it. It read;
    📜Marisa honey, I just wanna apologize for not keeping my promises by leaving you, although I knew it would eventually happen. Because of something I did. Your dad'll tell you if he thinks it's necessary. But remember that if it were up to me, I'd have stayed with you forever because I've come to love you as if you were mine
    P.S.: You'll give this letter to daddy when he isn't so angry at me
    I can't put in words how sorry I am, that's because I don't have the time. But I want you to know that I didn't mean to hurt you by stealing from you, or by not trusting you
    But I did all that because I was scared. Not because you'll arrest me or something... but because I love you
    You might not believe me, I didn't even believe me myself. But it's true. I can't stop it
    I was scared that if I told you, you would reject me outrightly. I didn't want that. I was ready to stay with you, even if you don't feel the same way. Because now, my greatest joy comes from being with you and Marisa
    I'm sorry again for all I've done. I hope that one day you'll forgive me. That'll be enough for me.📜
    I couldn't resist the nostalgic feeling that came over me as I read that letter.
    With a smile, mom said, "You know what to do."
    "You don't have to tell me twice!"
    I dashed off to the main door, and when I pulled it open, Jude was about knocking. He looked puzzled at my haste
    "Okay... what?"
    "Gotta go bro." I got into my car, and drove away
    Jude turned to Ruth and Marisa where they stood below the stairs
    "What did I miss?" he asked
    Heather's POV
    I sat miserably at my work desk with a sandwich in front of me. But I had no appetite for the meal
    After Jason had sent me away, I had returned to the apartment I shared with Kate. I was all tears. I stayed indoors and cried for almost two weeks. Not eating. Not sleeping. Just regretting and crying
    For what I've lost
    How I wished I could turn back time
    Kate was caring, John was judgemental at first, but he also stood by me. And Nina was also supportive, telling me how much she hated Adriana
    She also told me that Jason was as miserable as I was, if not worse, though he tried to hide it. And she didn't know how Marisa was faring. But she kept assuring me that somehow, Jason also loved me
    I wished it was true, but that was impossible
    I then realized that I was running out of money. I had to return to work
    And till now, I just can't get over it. I was given my old position back, but I wasn't as productive as I used to be, and so the manager returned me to base one
    "Snap out of it, it's not the end of life," he said
    "Hey Heather," Kate said. "You have to eat that sandwich. You didn't have breakfast."
    I shook my head. "Not hungry."
    "Come on."
    I still shook my head
    "So stubborn," she muttered
    I remembered that that was the same thing Jason said to me when I refused to accept the pay
    I sniffed as a tear left my eye. I could still hear his voice calling my name
    And the voice again
    "Heather!" Kate yelled and hit me. Then pointed behind me
    I frowned at her for interrupting my memories and making the voice vanish
    "Kate you made me loose the voice!" I said
    "Nope." she pointed behind me
    What kind of sick joke is she playing?
    "Heather." the voice came a third time
    "It's so real," I whispered to Kate
    "Dummy, it is real!" she exclaimed and turned my head around
    And my heart skipped a beat when I saw Jason standing a few feet away from me
    He is real alright

    Chapter Twenty Four

    Heather Workplace
    Heather's POV
    I hurriedly stood up from my seat and straightened my dress. My hair was bushy because I always used my hand to pull at it, and I wore no makeup to hide my reddish, puffy eyes
    I looked a mess
    Well what does it matter if I looked good or not, when he might not even be here because of me. That thought hurt, and it made me angry, so I snapped, "What do you want?"
    He gave me a dazzling smile that, despite the signs of tiredness on his face, made him look more handsome. How I missed that smile
    He covered the distance between us and took my hands in his, rubbing the back of my hand with his thumb
    "You," he replied simply
    I was puzzled by this, and I think it shown on my face.
    "Heather I'm so sorry for being such an idiot, an ass, a simpleton. I'm so sorry for not listening to you, or giving you a chance to explain your self. I'm so sorry for sending you away. Could you forgive me?" he said with pleading eyes
    I bit on my lower lip
    "Did you... did you see my letter?"
    He nodded
    "Then you should know that I'm the one who should be asking for forgiveness for how I wronged you and Marisa."
    "Heather you didn't wrong Marisa and I, you are the best thing that could have ever happened to us." he said, trailing a finger around my face. "I was stupid not to see it earlier."
    I couldn't help but ask, "Really?"
    "Really. And I want you back. We all do. Not as a nanny anymore."
    So now I'm confused. "Then as what?"
    "As my wife." He brought out a red velvet box, and went on one knee, still looking at me
    Wait, did he just say 'wife'?
    He opened the box and there sat the most beautiful diamond ring I've ever seen
    "I love you Heather, and I want you to become my wife." he smiled and whispered, "please say yes."
    I was speechless for a moment. Even in my wildest dreams, I never expected it
    But it was happening
    I held out my hand to him, and he slipped the ring on. Just perfect
    "Yes," I said when he got up. "Yes, yes, Jason!"
    I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him tight as tears of joy flowed down
    "I love you," I said
    "I love you too," he replied and unwrapped my arms. "I want to kiss you. I miss doing it." he said with a boyish grin
    "Then what are you waiting for?'' I said with a smile of my own
    " Nothing," he said, cupped my jaw in both hands and kissed me. I clasped my arms behind his neck and kissed him back
    The sound of claps made us pull away, and we looked back to see the entire staff of the office behind us, including my manager who gave me a thumbs up
    I had totally forgotten that we were in the office!
    "Not a good proposal venue?" Jason asked as if reading my thought
    I laughed and leaned into him. "Totally agree with you," I said
    "C'mon, mom and Marisa are dying to hear the out come of the reconciliation," he suggested
    "Oh, matchmaking Ruth," I said
    To the staff, Jason said, "Don't worry guys, you'll all get an invite to the wedding!"
    They cheered and clapped as Jason took my hand and we ran to the car happily
    I didn't even pack my stuff from the office, they were scattered on my desk
    But then I turned to the man sitting beside me. He smiled at me, and gave my hand a loving squeeze


    Heather's POV
    Jason and I had the most amazing wedding I could ever dream off, with Marisa as our cute little bride
    I didn't have my parents with me, so my manager walked me down the aisle
    At the alter, we kept staring at each other without even paying attention to the proceedings that was being read by the priest
    "I love you," Jason mouthed to me
    "I love you too," I mouthed back with a smile
    The priest paused and sent suspicious glances between us, and I could hear the church giggling at the little drama
    ".....and now by the power vested in me as a called and ordained priest, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
    "Finally," Jason said as he leaned towards me. I eyed him, his lips, him, his lips again, and when we had enough slow motion, he crashed his lips on mine, and we each used our hand to cover Marisa's eyes
    "What's the big deal? I have already seen you kissing before," she muttered
    But we both heard it, and Jason said, ""
    I threw my bouquet backwards, and Kate caught it. But she lost balance and fell into the arms of a tall handsome guy, and for minutes they stared at each other
    Lucky her
    Jude and Ruth welcomed me into their extended family, and I wouldn't refused it for anything
    Months Later
    I sat on a couch in the sitting room while watching a soap opera, and rubbing my palm in circles on my bulging stomach
    Yep, you can guess what I am
    "Mommy...daddy's trying to bribe me again so that I won't say that---" she began mumbling, and I guessed Jason had his hand over her mouth
    "Don't listen to her, baby. I'm not doing anything!" Jason called back
    I smiled
    Marisa had been calling me mom. In fact, during our reception, she'd gave a lovely poem, and while I praised her after it, she'd asked if she could call me mom. I was touched, and I accepted immediately
    And now, I'm expecting my baby!
    "Mommy!" Marisa screamed again
    They were betting on the gender of the baby. Jason said boy, Marisa said girl. And everyday since I announced my pregnancy, they've been arguing, and Marisa always seemed to be ahead
    I laughed. "Quit it you two."
    They both came down to the sitting room
    "I'm sorry, we disturbed you?" Jason asked softly
    "Yeah, you di---"
    "Not you," he said, "I meant my baby," and with that he kissed my belly. Any argument I might have had died on my lips as I blushed
    "Stop, Marisa's here," I whispered when he leaned towards my lips
    "Nope, not here. I'm invisible," she exclaimed while focusing on the TV. But I could see her eyes looking sideways at us
    Still Jason and I kissed, and I was so glad that finally I have a family to call my own
    Some evenings later as we sat in front of the TV, a news story came up:
    📰Adriana Miguel Arrested for Stealing Half a Billion Dollars from The Jeffersons Limited📰
    I stared at Jason, and he at me. Then I leaned into him and he kissed my forehead. Marisa snuggled in my other arm as we changed the channel
    The End

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