Oscar tilted Amelia‘s chin up, forcing her to face him. When he saw her reddened eyes, he anxiously asked, “What‘s wrong? Why are you crying?”
Amelia shook her head frantically and said, “My tear glands seem to have gotten more active lately, it is perhaps because of this pregnancy. I find myself tearing up at every little thing. Mr. Clinton, you won‘t mock your wife for being a crybaby, will you?”
Oscar‘s heart melted at Amelia‘s undue concern. The more he came to know Amelia, the more enchanting he found her to be. She‘d completely shed the frigid, temptress–like appearance of yore. All Oscar held before him now was a vulnerable young woman wanting only to be loved.
He took Amelia into his arms. Oscar found himself floundering in the depths of his affection for her. Struggling to regain control of himself, Oscar gruffly said, “Don‘t be silly. You‘re good at coming up with nonsense.”
Leaning her head against his chest, Amelia‘s lips curled up into a smile. With a look of immense contentment on her face, Amelia said softly, “How I wish time would stop right now.”
Oscar heard only a vague mumble. He looked down at her fondly, asking, “What did you just say?”
Amelia shook her head, snuggling further against him. She then asked thoughtfully, “How‘s Ms. Yard doing?”.
“She hasn‘t awoken,” Oscar replied.
Amelia bit her lip. Reluctant to ruin the magic of that moment, she decided not to pursue this unsavory matter. Let me bury my head in the sand a while longer, Amelia thought wistfully.
Destiny, however, was not on their side. Just then, Amelia and Oscar‘s phones rang simultaneously. They glanced at each other. At last, Amelia said ruefully, “Mr. Clinton, it looks like we are not meant to have sweet moments together.”
Oscar whipped out his phone. Elizabeth‘s name flashed on his screen. Beside him, Amelia was receiving a call from Tiffany.
She inhaled deeply, then answered the call. Tiffany instantly launched into an
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interrogation, and demanded, “Babe, where are you now? Are you all right?”
“Tiff, I‘m fine. I was talking to Oscar. I‘ll head downstairs once I‘m done,” Amelia replied patiently.
Tiffany let out an audible sigh of relief.
“That old woman isn‘t making things difficult for you on purpose, is she?” Tiffany fumed.
“It‘s just Oscar and me now,” Amelia informed her.
Tiffany wasn‘t too pleased with Oscar, but ultimately she wanted Amelia to have a blissful marriage. Oscar was the only one who Amelia loved, and they were about to have a child together. For all these reasons, Tiffany still hoped for Amelia and Oscar‘s relationship to flourish.
Marriage, after all, was a sacred union.
Tiffany was a novelist and naturally had her own views of love and marriage. She hadn‘t been in many relationships, but she knew she should not be a catalyst in encouraging Amelia to break the marriage vows. Most important, Tiffany was reluctant to see Amelia end up in a divorce, and that superseded her personal views and dissatisfaction toward Oscar. Being a single mother was like walking an unbeaten path and not every woman could handle the challenges that came along. It was a terribly lonely journey, which included shouldering the responsibility of raising a child alone while living with the bitterness of a failed marriage.
“Have a good talk with Oscar then. Don‘t throw tantrums at him,” Tiffany gently chided in a motherly tone.
Amelia‘s heart grew warm at her friend‘s concern. However, she merely ribbed
Tiffany, “Didn‘t you say that you‘d come to fetch me the moment it reached the half hour mark?”
“If Oscar were stupid enough to ask you to watch how he flirts with Cassie, I‘d immediately come and get you with no questions asked. There‘s no way I‘m going to let you feel like a third party when you are with your own husband, Babe.”
The tremendous indignation that Tiffany felt for her moved Amelia. I‘ll never be able to find a friend who cares for me this much! Amelia thought gratefully.
Tiffany continued on the other end of the line, unaware of the wave of gratitude washing over Amelia. “Have a good chat with Oscar then. I won‘t bother you two.”
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“All right.” Amelia hung up the phone, then turned towards Oscar who had just ended his call as well.
“Was that Mrs. Yard?” Amelia inquired. Without waiting for Oscar‘s reply, however, Amelia guessed that it must have been Elizabeth or Cassie on the other end of the line.
Oscar‘s smile had vanished, and his gaze turned icy.
Apprehensively, Amelia asked, “What‘s wrong?”
“Cassie‘s awake,” Oscar replied shortly.
Amelia laughed, masking the sadness in her eyes. She clenched her fists, then slowly relaxed them. “If Ms. Yard is awake, then you don‘t have to worry anymore, Mr. Clinton. Go on back quickly. If Ms. Yard doesn‘t see you, she‘ll start to overthink things. She just had a miscarriage, and I‘ve heard from more experienced elderly that women who have been through that are as weak as those who‘ve just given birth. If she isn‘t well taken care of, she may get ill again.”
Oscar gazed intently at Amelia. The look of vulnerability in her eyes was quickly replaced by a determined strength that shone through. Oscar had been married to Amelia for five years, yet the magnitude of her resilience still astounded him. How could his heart not ache for her?
At the moment, Oscar could not promise that he‘d be with Amelia till her dying day. However, she longer occupied a small place in Oscar‘s heart. Not only did Amelia make his heart sutter, but he‘d also yearned many times to draw her into his
embrace and keep her sheltered from all obstacles.
Other than that affair with Cassie, Oscar had never gotten involved with any other women. He thus had no proper frame of reference to decide whether the affection that Amelia stirred within him was love or something else. Caring for Amelia came from pure instinct.
It was a more violent urge than anything that Oscar had ever felt for Cassie.
“You‘re pushing me to another woman? Aren‘t you jealous?” Oscar teased.
Amelia swallowed her emotions and smiled brightly at Oscar. “Ms. Yard met you earlier than I did, and I was always a substitute anyway. I don‘t think I have the right to be jealous.”
Oscar‘s eyes darkened with the tumult of his emotions.
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He reached reach for Amelia and pinched her cheeks hard. His grip left a faint red mark on her face.
Stunned, Amelia held her face in disbelief. She turned to Oscar with a look of bewilderment.
A faint smile appeared on Oscar‘s lips. He found Amelia‘s baffled look simply irresistible.
“Do you know why I pinched you?” Oscar demanded.
Amelia shook her head while looking at him like an idiot. She hadn‘t quite recovered from the shock of his sudden action.
“I‘m your husband. You‘re allowed to be as jealous as you want,” Oscar reproved.
Amelia looked even more confused.
She knew what Oscar was saying, but she couldn‘t fully wrap her mind around it. In truth, Amelia tried hard to not misinterpreted what he meant by saying that.
Oscar caressed Amelia‘s face, then gave out a low laugh. “You silly woman,” he said warmly.
Amelia remained frozen.
“You silly woman,” Oscar repeated. “Don‘t pretend to be so generous in the future. I‘ll actually prefer it if you show your softer side a little more,” Oscar said meaningfully.
Amelia could sense the change in Oscar, but she was afraid that it was merely a whim. She could not permit herself to be entirely committed, fearful of taking the plunge only to discover that there was nothing beneath to catch her. Who knows if Oscar would turn around and declare that Cassie is still the one he loves? It would be impossible for me to come out of it then, Amelia thought.
“It‘s late. Go back home with Tiffany first and have a good rest,” Oscar said tenderly. “I’ll make a trip home tomorrow. Stop overthinking.”
To Amelia‘s dismay, her heart began thumping wildly.
She nodded eagerly, then said, “I‘ll get Molly to prepare something delicious. You must come back for dinner then.”
Oscar agreed, asserting, “I‘ll definitely be back. I haven‘t eaten with you in a while,
and I miss that.”
“If you come home, I‘ll personally cook a few dishes for you.” Amelia offered.
Their easy banter carried on all the way to the elevator. After Oscar sent Amelia off with a smile and a wave, he turned and ascended the stairs.
By the time Oscar pushed open the door of the hospital room, the smile on his face had faded entirely. The look in his eyes was cold and distant.
Cassie had been lying on the bed when Oscar entered. Her face showed signs of agitation, but the oxygen mask over her mouth restrained her from speaking. Cassie attempted to yank it off, but that hand was connected to an IV drip. The furious swinging of the IV drip caused by Cassie‘s sudden movement alerted Elizabeth, who was sitting beside the bed.
“Cassie, calm down! Oscar is here now. Be good,” Elizabeth said soothingly.
She turned a pleading gaze towards Oscar, crying, “Oscar! Do come over. Cassie‘s been waiting for you.”
Oscar hesitated, then slowly crossed the room.
As he looked at Cassie‘s pitiable state, Oscar‘s fierce expression gradually softened. “Cassie,” he called softly.
Cassie got all excited.
Oscar clasped her hand and continued in a soft tone. “Be good, Cassie. I‘m here now. Don‘t get agitated. If you keep getting all excited, I‘m going to leave.”
Cassie blinked a few times. However, the expression on her face was discernibly calmer.
Oscar then continued in the same tone as before, “Cassie, I know that you have lots of things to say. Don‘t worry. There‘ll still be lots of time for us to talk them when you‘ve recovered.”
Cassie raised her other hand and pointed to the oxygen mask on her face. Oscar understood immediately but refused her request. “You can‘t take off the oxygen mask. The doctor said that you have a slight oxygen deficiency, and you‘ll need that to keep your strength up. I know what you want to say. But I‘m not angry anymore, so don‘t worry yourself too much about it. I‘ll admit that I was infuriated when I first heard that you wanted to hurt Amelia‘s baby, but I‘ve simmered down quite a bit
since. So please focus on getting better for now. Let‘s wait until after you‘ve recovered before we talk about things.”
Cassie‘s eyelashes fluttered vigorously.
Oscar lightly rubbed her hand and intoned, “Don‘t think too much. I meant it when I said I wasn‘t angry. Take care of yourself, or I‘ll really get angry then. You wouldn‘t want me to be mad at you, would you?”
Cassie blinked again.
It seemed like Oscar could perceive Cassie‘s inner thoughts merely by observing her expression. He answered after each blink as if he was corresponding directly with her expression.
“Be good. Don‘t worry too much about things. I‘m here now. I‘ll take good care of you,” Oscar reassured her.
Cassie finally relaxed.
Oscar tucked her in. “All right, go on and sleep. I‘ll be right here.”
Cassie had been determined to stay awake, but her body was too frail to withstand the exhaustion that was creeping up on her. In fact, the emotional upheaval she had undergone earlier was a big taboo for women who had just suffered a miscarriage.
Perhaps it was simply the security of having Oscar by her side that gave Cassie the peace of mind that she fell asleep quickly.
Elizabeth gazed at her once–vivacious daughter, now lying pale and sickly on the hospital bed. She felt greatly sad and troubled.
Solemnly, Elizabeth met Oscar‘s gaze and said, “Oz, come out with me for a while.”
Oscar did so.
Once they were outside the room, Elizabeth turned to face him. “Oz, I‘m very thankful that you didn‘t treat Cassie too badly just now. She‘s very weak at the moment, and women who suffer miscarriages tend to develop pessimistic feelings. If you had been aloof, you could have triggered an adverse reaction in her. I can‘t express my gratitude enough to you for not kicking her while she was down.”
Oscar leaned against the wall, a stony expression on his face.
“Mrs. Yard, I‘ve said before that even if Cassie and I weren‘t together as a couple, I‘d still treat her like a sister. I‘d once thought that I was in love with her, so I‘ll always have a soft spot for Cassie. But we haven‘t seen each other for five years, after all. That‘s a lot of time. Everything and everyone has changed since. It‘s impossible for me to summon the same feelings that I‘ve had for her before, so…”
Elizabeth was weary from everything that had happened. When she heard Oscar‘s explanation, she felt somewhat placated.