Chapter 1 Framed

1200 Words
"Aah!" Hearing a shriek of agony, guests turned around in unison and quickened their steps toward the source of the sound. At the top of the second-floor staircase stood a woman with her lustrous golden curls cascading down her shoulders. She was clad in a wine-red evening gown that accentuated her voluptuous figure and slender waist, exuding her sensuality and allure. Her blue eyes were wide with shock as they fixated on Kaitlyn Hall, who was tumbling down the stairs. Ashley Watson looked at her hands, bewildered. She hadn't even reached out, yet Kaitlyn had fallen right before her eyes. Kaitlyn Hall, the fiancée of the Watson family's eldest son and the apple of the eye of Ashley's husband, now lay motionless. Today was the Watson family's grand banquet, and it was bustling with guests who were stunned by the scene before them. "What's happening here?" "What's going on? How did she fall?" Through the pain, Kaitlyn managed to look up toward Ashley at the top of the stairs. A triumphant smile flickered across her face before she passed out again. Instantly, all eyes turned to Ashley, who stood at the staircase in a trance. "Ashley pushed her down!" "No, it wasn't me," Ashley retorted, her face ashen, and she kept shaking her head. She tried to explain it wasn't her... She hadn't done anything! "Make way!" A deep, authoritative voice commanded from behind, prompting the crowd to swiftly step aside. A man in a sleek black suit, exuding an air of distinguished elegance, made his way forward. It was Gabriel Watson, Ashley's husband. His features were sharp and distinct, and a storm of anger brewed in his amber eyes. "Gab..." A flicker of joy crossed Ashley's heart as she began descending the stairs. However, she was too rushed to notice his frosty demeanor. Gabriel's gaze on the descending woman was sharp as a blade. "Ashley Garcia!" he called out with anger. Ashley stopped and stared at him. "Did you push her?" he questioned. "No, I didn't!" Ashley paused for a moment and added, "It wasn't me, Gab." "Not you?" Gabriel stepped forward, standing right before Ashley. "Still lying, huh?" His grip tightened on her chin, causing her great pain. "Only you and she were on the staircase just now. Are you telling me she jumped down herself?" Suddenly, Kaitlyn cried out, clutching her belly, "Ow! My belly hurts so much." Gabriel released Ashley, turned around, and scooped Kaitlyn into his arms. "Gabriel, it hurts. My belly hurts so much!" she whined. Gabriel lifted his eyes toward Ashley and spoke in a calm yet piercing tone, "What a vicious woman you are!" "Kaitlyn, are you alright?" At that moment, Maria Watson, Gabriel's grandmother, rushed over. "What happened here?" "Blood!" someone screamed all of a sudden. "She's bleeding!" A pool of blood formed beneath Kaitlyn, gradually expanding. "Gabriel!" Kaitlyn's voice was faint, but she burrowed into Gabriel's embrace, her hands wrapping around his neck, looking vulnerable. "My baby..." "It's okay." Gabriel reached out to caress her cheek and comforted her, "I'll take you to the hospital now." With that, Gabriel lifted Kaitlyn into his arms. Maria glanced at Ashley, her brows furrowed as she shook her head. "Ashley, you... This was stupid!" "Maria..." Ashley tried to explain, "I didn't do it. Please trust me." Maria stared into Ashley's face for a few seconds and then averted her gaze. With a sigh, she turned away. Ashley returned to her room, though she wasn't even sure how she managed to. Her entire mind was haunted by Gabriel's icy gaze. She didn't sleep but lay on the couch, intending to wait for Gabriel's return to clear the air. As time ticked away and it came to midnight, Ashley became sleepy, but Gabriel still hadn't returned. Just before dawn, there was finally some noise downstairs. "Gabriel!" Ashley sprang up from the couch, rushing out the door, halting at the top of the stairs. "Grandma, I want a divorce!" Gabriel's voice was laced with coldness and resolution. "Come back here!" Maria grabbed Gabriel and growled, "What nonsense are you spouting? I promised Ashley's grandmother I'd take good care of her. You want a divorce just after getting married? She's barely twenty. Do you want to ruin her life?" "Me, ruin her life? Are you kidding?" Gabriel scoffed, his eyes narrowing with a glint of sharpness. "Grandma, Kaitlyn lost her baby! Her and Steven's baby! Steven is still lying unconscious in the hospital, and that was his tie to us. Meanwhile, Ashley is perfectly fine! And you are saying I'm trying to ruin her life?" "I..." "Considering your friendship with her grandmother and our two families going way back, you took Ashley in after the Garcia family's incident. If it hadn't been for your direct involvement in arranging our marriage, I would never have married her." Gabriel seemed to harbor no expectations for their marriage. At that moment, he vented all his disappointment. "If she could make you happy, I would accept that! But now, I won't have her as my wife any longer!" Ashley collapsed to the ground, her hands desperately covering her mouth to stifle her cries. "No! Don't divorce her." Thinking of the great-grandchild they had just lost, Maria bit her lip and said, "How about this? I'll send her abroad. You won't see her, alright?" After a long silence, Gabriel compromised. "As you wish. I'm going to sleep now." Ashley immediately got up and ran back to her room. The moment she softly closed the door, she slumped to the floor with her body pressing against it. "Gabriel," Ashley murmured, "do you hate me that much? In your heart, am I just a horrible woman who knows only how to harm others?" As she leaned her head against the door, she heard Gabriel closing his room door, and she burst into muffled sobs. "Ashley, are you awake?" Wiping her tears, Ashley heard Maria knocking on the door again. "Ashley?" "Yeah, I'm awake." Ashley dried her tears, got up from the floor, and tidied her hair. She then opened the door and forced a smile. "Morning, Maria." Maria observed her swollen eyes, knowing she must have been crying all night. Considering what had happened the night before, Maria found herself momentarily at a loss for words. "You once mentioned you wanted to study abroad, didn't you? I'll arrange it as soon as possible," said Maria. Ashley looked down, tears welling up again. "Ashley," Maria said with reluctance, "you should reflect on yourself. Sometimes, you are really too willful. How could you even be jealous of Kaitlyn? She's Steven's fiancée!" Ashley opened her mouth, her words choking. "Maria, I..." "Pack your things." Maria stood up and glanced at Ashley. "Make the best of your time abroad. Once you're done with your studies, I'll send someone to bring you back." After finishing her words, Maria left. Ashley instantly stood to see Maria off. "Take care, Maria." She stood at the door, motionless and in a daze as if she had lost her soul. Suddenly, a strong wave of nausea surged up, and she felt like vomiting. "Ugh..." Ashley covered her mouth and rushed into the bathroom.
Free reading for new users
Scan code to download app
  • author-avatar
  • chap_listContents
  • likeADD