ONE— The Bitter Truth
It was undeniably cold outside. I pulled on the sleeves of my overcoat to get some warmness. It was too foggy outside for anyone to see anything and yet we had our highschool. One can meet with an accident buy no, he had our lectures. I rolled my eyes, braiding my long chestnut hair. They all said I looked like my father. Same hazel eyes, same chestnut hair, a mole on my chin. They all said, I was like my father— Richard Burton.
But I wasn't. I was nothing like my father.
He's rich, I'm not.
He's a criminal, I'm not.
He's a businessman and I— I'm not.
I was indeed a Burton but I wasn't like them. I never was.
I had always been under the covers. I never knew my family business had dark secrets. I never knew the money we're so proud of was the black money. It's hard to digest money that's not yours. It's hard to smile when you know someone was tortured for the money I am using to shop and eat.
I didn't knew any of this until two years back. It was almost like someone had pulled the ground from me. When I confronted my father regarding the same, he dismissed me. He dismissed me. For him, I should be happy, I had everything people desired for, but I wasn't happy. How can I be? So I left the house, which of course rose so many arguments but I didn't wanted to feed on the money that came from someone's pain and life.
My school was at a good fifteen minutes distance away from the apartment, I had rented. I was early when I reached the class and I took my seat at the end corner before stuffing earphones in my ears and ducked my head down as sleep started to grace me.
I was on a night shift for two continuous nights in row because of which I couldn't help with the sleep that kept hitting me with force. I was almost asleep with soft music playing in the background which helped me to fall sleep fast but before I could have been accepted by the darkness, I felt someone hitting my leg with their own. Groaning, I rose my face little enough to look at the abuser.
My hazel eyes met the dark gaze that looked at me their intense gaze. My lips pursed in a scowl as I glared at Victor Harris— son of my father's biggest competitor and rival, Stewart Harris. My eyes raked at his frame; his dark brown hair— one could mistake for black, fell on his forehead lazily and his lips were lightly curled up. One could easily mistake it for a smile. And as if it wasn't cold enough to freeze any living being here, he was only dressed up in a soft sweatshirt and dark jeans. He was attractive, one couldn't deny that. But we didn't like each other. Basically, he didn't like me because I was the his father's biggest rival's daughter.
"What?" I asked, removing the earphone from my left ear.
"And here I was happy that you dropped out of the school." He spoke, his rough voice mocking me and I almost rolled my eyes. The nerve of him, cracking lame jokes, early in the morning.
"Really? Sad for you then, I'm here for another year." He tsked in response, shaking his head dramatically.
Rolling my eyes, I stuffed the earphones back in my ears before ducking my face down again. I couldn't keep my eyes open for a longer time as sleep was practically haunting me. He was silent for the next few minutes which were enough for me to help fall asleep again. I was almost there— in the deep slumber when I felt it again. His finger, poking my stomach and I clenched my eyes, trying to ignore him but being the Harris he was, he kept poking me until I rose my face and shot him a deadly glare. His face morphed a look that was equivalent to that of triumph.
"Pen." He demanded, placing his right leg over his left one and I looked at him incredulously. He spoiled my sleep for a pen. He rose his brow when I didn't hand him the pen, he asked me for.
"Have you lost your hearing powers too, Burton? I'm worried. Shall I call your father now?" My jaw locked at the mention of my father. He doesn't know. I kept chanting in my head. He doesn't know I don't live with my father anymore. He doesn't know. It's not his fault that he doesn't now.
"Do I look like a stationary shop to you?"
"No. But I can look at the stationaries in your bag. A pen, please?" I narrowed my eyes, gripping the bag before I pulled out a pen and slammed it on his book and he pressed his lips to keep himself from laughing. He was amused. He was freaking amused.
"Now, if you poke me again, I'll break that finger of yours." I threatened him and he c****d his face to the side, rasing a brow at me as he leaned a little closer. He doesn't intimidates me. I chanted in my head.
"I don't think my father would appreciate that."
"Oh, but I think my father definitely would appreciate it." His eyes narrowed dangerously but spoke nothing and I too ducked my face down and this time he didn't poke me.
"I missed you, Ser."
William my brother spoke as I placed the freshly baked cupcakes on the tray. I smiled sadly at him as I removed one from them and handed it out for him to taste. He took a bite before he shoved the whole cupcake in one go and I shoved his shoulder, laughing at him.
"God! I missed your baking skills."
"I guess, I'll take that you liked them, yeah?"
"Can I have one more?" He asked instead and I rolled my eyes.
"Will you pay for it?" I asked and he jutted his lower lip out in answer and I smiled at him cheekily.
"I never said I was not."
It was quiet for a while as I cleaned the counter and turned the sign of the bakery OPEN before I started working on the orders I received for the cakes I had to deliver by eight in the night.
"Don't you miss us? I know all your independence bullshit but don't you miss us— your family? Don't you ever wish to return back. There's so much..... hardship here, Ser—"
I laughed at his question, turning away from him as tears brimmed my eyes and I blinked them back. I couldn't let him see that I was weak. This question always broke me. I felt lonely. Even helpless at times but I was happy at least. I was free. I didn't felt like someome owes me. I was my own person now.
"Doesn't Father miss me, William?" My question took him off guard. I never talk about him. And when I asked him about father for the first time in the two years, he didn't knew what to say. And this was certainly the question he wasn't expecting me to ask.
"Of— of course, he does. He talks about you everyday. He misses you so much that—"
"Stop lying to me, William." I cut him in middle, softly, not able to hear the lies anymore. "We both know he doesn't miss me. He misses no one but the money he spends." I jested and he sighed, shaking his head as he held my left palm and my heart curled painfully inside.
"I miss you, Ser. Is that not enough for you to return back?" His voice was tight. After all, he was the man of this family. Father would have his head for crying out loud and leting his emotional side out. He was training him to be an assassin. And an assassin doesn't have a heart.
"I miss you more, William. Will that make you leave everything for me, either?" My voice cracked up and his grip on my hand loosened and I laughed at the irony, shaking my head. He couldn't. He won't.
"We both can't. It's— it's never enough, William. Love is never enough."
Before he could've reacted, his phone started to ring and he looked at me apologetically and I shook my head. It was okay.
"It's okay, William. We'll meet tomorrow, yeah?"
"Of course. Take care yeah, little sis?"
"Oh, hush! You!" He laughed and so did I as he left the bakery, leaving me all alone with my pastries and cakes.
Baking relieves me. It helps me overcome my loneliness and pain. It reminds me of my happy and naive days. My grandfather had always been a good cook; he taught me the art of baking. He left me very soon but his art of baking stayed with me even after he left. This is the only talent I had inherited from him. William had inherited his fighting skills. His twenty five year old frame can fight a dozen of people and his shooting skills was also remarkable.
Nobody knows I don't live with my family anymore. After all, this information would harm the prestige of Burton's. And I could never dare to ruin the reputation my father holds. They would kill me. Literally. Hence, in every family and business function I had to accompany them; the only demand my father put in front of my own.
I was brought back from my train of thoughts when someone knocked on the counter and I jumped in surprise, blinking twice before turning to face my customer with the very polite and fake smile that I often saved for the world.
"Welcome to Happy Donuts, what can I—"
My smile soon turned down sour and my eyes widened in fear. In front of me stood Victor Harris; he was stunned, I knew but his face gave away nothing. Impassive as ever he stood, gazing at me, studying me. Father will have my head for this! If he gets to know that Victor Harris saw me working in the bakery, I'll be done for.
His lips curled up maliciously as he leaned closer, his fingers gripping the counter in his vice grip and I gulped when he rose his brow in pure amusement as he c****d his head to one side, passing chills down me. Will he rat this to his father? Will his father use this is against Father? Will I lose my independence yet again?
"Harris." I returned him with the same hostility he regarded me with. Though the malice in his eyes shun brightly as he smiled almost like he got his hand on some lottery.
"A Burton working in a bakery? Quite interesting, no?" My blood boiled when he wiggled his brow, chuckling darkly.
"A Burton earning her livelihood. Impressive, no, Harris?" I retorted back with a sweet smile as I grabbed a parcel and nodded my head towards the muffins and cakes. His eyes blazed with anger and his fingers curled in an angry fist. He looked scary. The dangerous aura surrounded him and yet he didn't scare me. I had lived a life in Mafia. Nothing can scare me now.
"What shall I pack now, sir? Maybe some cupcakes for your bitter tongue, yeah?" His lips curled in a snarl as he leaned a little closer, his eyes narrowing in slits as he opened his mouth to say or maybe to threaten.
"Listen here, Burton—"
"Don't worry they taste fine. Father just affirmed this only a few minutes ago." I lied. I could never let him have an upper hand on me in this. He can't know my secret.
He slammed a bill on my counter and I sweetly denied, pushing the money towards him, matching the intensity and ferocity of his gaze. If he had the blood of Mafia, I was one too. I was more than that. He snatched the parcel from the counter, leaving the bill in return before he turned away, leaving me alone with my thumping heart.
Once, I made sure he was out of my sight, I quickly shuffled through my bag, picking my phone out as I dialled the number that was by heart to me.
"William, we have a problem."