And right then I had said I do to the man I loathed the most with every part of me.
I know you must wonder how I landed myself in this mess.
Let me take you back to a week ago when it all began.
My name is Persephone Williams. I am twenty-four years old, and I am the mum to the world's most gorgeous eight-year-old boy, my son, Manuèl Williams.
Yeah, I had given him my last name because his father was a dickhead.
I had Manuèl when I was sixteen. I would say it was one of the biggest mistakes and likewise the greatest blessing of my life. Manuèl's existence was a blessing and also a curse on my life.
I had a traumatic childhood because of the family I had no hand in choosing when I had come into this world.
My mother was known in our small town as the cheap man w***e. She would sleep with anything that could afford her bills, even if they were the worst criminals and that was how she had met my father, Finn Sanders, a notorious burglar in our small town.
That was all I knew about him. I had never met that man in my life. All I knew was his name and a picture given to me by my mother's best friend, Alma. Even with all this, I was never ashamed of her. She was, after all, my mother.
Living with a materialistic mother had been a nightmare.
I would watch how different men came in and out of her room, some of whom would also try to take advantage of me and when I refused, they would beat me up.
My mother was not the best at taking care of me, but one thing she was good at was making sure her miscreants did not abuse me.
Mother had always known she was not the most beautiful and was quite insecure about this, which was why she constantly did everything in her power to keep her man, well, apart from letting them have their way with me.
And whenever they left her because she refused to tolerate them touching me, mother would cuss at me, and tell me how bad luck I was to her. She would go clubbing, come back home drunk, and cuss at me yet again, leaving me to fend for myself. Such an attitude of hers taught me how to be independent. I had started taking care of myself at a tender age. I had to because of how my mother's mood towards me would switch at the tiniest mistake from me.
It got worse when I hit puberty and my body changed.
Even though my clothes were usually tattered, whenever I went somewhere people would stare at me until I left because my beauty was quite unconventional.
People who knew my mother and I had begun to whisper that she could not possibly be my mother because of how much more beautiful I was, but some who had known my father thought I looked like him.
The strangest part of all this was how my mother had seemed to be jealous of me, her own daughter's beauty.
Mother hated me because of how I was complimented by all genders.
Why couldn't it be her?
Where had I gotten my beauty from? Mother always asked those questions whenever she was drunk.
She never missed a chance to tell me about how useless my father was and how I was the greatest mistake she had made. At first, her words got to me as if I were being stabbed by a sharp blade, but later on, I felt sorry for her, as I knew it only frustrated her with how her life had turned out to be.
This wasn't the life she had planned out for herself. If she had not met my father, maybe she would be living in Beverly Hills as she yearned for and also be with her ideal man.
I watched my mother for years and I vowed never to be like her and was sure that I could never make the same mistakes that she had.
Well, I was wrong as I had made the same mistake by getting knocked up by my first love, my pastor's son, who had later denied our relationship and claimed that I seduced him to have my way with him because I was already with a child for a fellow I knew nothing about, and I had needed whom to blame. And just like that, my child was denied by his father even before he came to this world.
Men, vile beings who will use you and dispose of you as they like.
I vowed never to allow any man to take advantage of me after how our town humiliated and shamed me.
It was a small town, and news like my pregnancy didn't take up to an hour to spread around like wildfire.
They labeled me as her mother's daughter and called me a w***e, a gold digger.
I thought I could endure it all, but our pastor made it impossible for my mother and me to remain in that town.
Likewise, I couldn't handle the heat that was coming from my pastor, the church members, and our town, so I begged my mother and cried to her that we should pack up and leave. It was the only way I could survive it. Mother saw my pain and sold off the little things she had and moved us out of town to New York City. This was the very first time she did anything for me without thinking about herself.
When we arrived in New York, it didn't take my mother a month before she met Mr. Williams, the owner of the building which we had rented downtown.
He had fallen in love with her and wedded her in that same month.
Mr. Williams also went ahead and adopted me as his child even, with my pregnancy, and promised to be my son's grandfather. He had been the father I never had.
Everything was perfect. I had a home and a father figure. I saw my mother smile more brightly, she was at peace. But that fateful night, everything went astray. As they say, good things never last for those who need them the most. I lost the one person who loved me genuinely.
Mr. Williams had gotten into an accident on his way to the hospital to pay a visit to me after I had given birth to Manuèl and, from that day on, my mother's hatred for me had increased immensely.
Soon after his burial, my mother found out that she was pregnant with Jake and Jana, my half-siblings, and she had made it her goal to taunt me with it.
She blamed me for depriving them of their father's love. She said I was jealous because I didn't grow up with my father, so I wanted the same for my siblings. She called my child cursed but she forgot it was because of that same Mr. Williams' death, which she had blamed for, enabled her to inherit all his properties and also live better than how she had been living in that small town.
Mother, being my mother, squandered and lost everything to gambling, as she was also an addict.
I had taken up the duty as a mother for my son Manuel and also my siblings. I had to grow up yet again and be the responsible one for the family.
That was the way I could atone for causing the death of Mr. Williams.
“Manuèl, get Jana and Jake. You are almost late for school, and you haven't had breakfast yet!” I yelled while preparing toast for the kids.
“Good morning mum”, Manuèl kissed me on the cheek as he greeted me.
He took his seat at the table and began eating his breakfast.
“Manu, where are the twins?”, I asked him.
“Ugh, mum. They should come down soon”, he grumbled.
Manuèl was older than the twins by a year and some months. I had explained to him he had to take care of them as the oldest, but he didn't seem to like it. I can't blame him. Jake and Jana weren't making his job easy for him. Both of them were as stubborn as the woman who gave birth to them.
“Good morning, Aunty Peps”, the twins greeted me as they took their seats.
I acknowledged their greetings and put their plates on the table and poured out two glasses of juice for both of them. The day wouldn't have started if the twins hadn't had their glass of orange juice.
The sound of the horn from my best friend's car, Ophelia, blasted through the house as she kept on honking for the kids to hurry, so they could be on their way to school.
“Aunty Ophelia is here, you guys have to be fast!” I said as I fixed their lunch packs.
Manuèl was the first one to finish. He stood up from his seat and collected his lunchpack from my hands and hurried outside. Soon after, the twins were done with their breakfast, and they ran outside without taking their lunch packs from me. I had to chase after them and give them their lunch packs.
“Hey girl”, Ophelia hailed me and waved at me as I stood on the pavement watching them.
I waved back at her and waited until she drove off.
“Hmm”, I sighed softly and walked back into the apartment.
I began clearing off the plates on the table and putting the kitchen in order, as it was almost time for me to clock in at my job.
“Is there no alcohol in this house?” Mother yelled out as she opened up the fridge.
I ignored the tantrums she was throwing at me and focused on washing up the plates in the sink.
But this woman wouldn't let me be. She moved closer to me and gripped my hand, halting my plate washing.
“I am talking to you,” She sneered.
I rolled my eyes at her and shook my head. They were kids in this house and this woman believed I would oblige her into keeping liquor in the fridge? She should know better by now.
“Mother, if you are thirsty, there is juice in the fridge. Drink that, but I will not allow you to bring your alcoholic beverages into this house”, I hissed at her.
She won't get the privilege of seeing me angry. I was done washing the dishes, and I wiped the water off my hands. I walked down to the table and picked up my keys and bag. I told her where her food was and walked out of there, straight to my truck.
I got into my truck and shut the door. I inhaled deeply and exhaled, counting numbers in my head, as that was my way of calming myself down.
Once I was calm, I started the truck and drove down to my place of work.
I work at Will and Son's department store as the chief supervisor.
It had taken years of hard work to get to where I was at my place of employment. I was the youngest to be appointed as the chief supervisor of the department store, and it brought me a lot of hate and envy from my co-workers, but I had earned my position and I didn't allow their snide remarks to get to me. I was more focused on my future and that of my son.
I arrived at my place of work thirty minutes later and parked my truck properly before I got down and headed straight to my office.
“Good morning, Miss Peps”, The workers greeted me as I walked in.
I noticed how they looked at me, and I thought maybe I had dirt on me from how they were staring. I smiled at them and lifted my head.
“Today was going to be a great day”, I assured myself and began humming my favorite song.
As I approached my office door, I saw some hefty-looking men standing by the door. It seemed like they were waiting for me.
“Who are you?” I asked as I arrived at my door.
I gestured my hand at them to move out of the way so I could open my office, but they refused and insisted on blocking my path.
“Why are you doing this? If you have anything to say to me, please let's do it in my office, which is why you have to kindly move out of my way,” I said most politely, and the person who was in charge signaled to them to leave.
They moved aside, and I unlocked my door and asked them to come in, which they did.
The one who seemed to be their boss sat down, while the rest stood by his side, guarding him.
Hmm, what could be going on? I thought to myself.
“Good morning. How may I be of help?” I asked, and he began to laugh at me.
“How may you be of help? She asked how she could help me”, he laughed and pointed his hand at me, his men also cracking up with him.
What was so funny? Why were they laughing? Am I hosting a comedy show? I looked confused at their reaction to my question.
“Your mother owes my boss, and I am here to collect it from you,” he revealed, giving me a death glare.
“What? I don't understand. What do you mean?” He didn't allow me to finish my questions before he threw a document on my table and asked me to go through it. I gave him a side eye as I picked up the document and opened it to see what he meant, and I was shocked by what I read.
My mother had used my son as collateral for a loan at the casino she gambled.
Her signature and my son's picture were glaring in my face. I skimmed through the document and also recognized my signature. What was going on? How did she get me to sign this document without me going through it?
How did this happen? We were in the 21st century, for crying out loud. Who uses a human as collateral? And who accepts said human as collateral?
I stood up from my seat and yelled at him. He must be a fool, a madman.
Did he think I would believe such a lie?
I had better call the police, I considered and picked up my phone to make the call, but he grabbed my hand and threw the phone away.
His men flicked the upper part of their shirts up to show me what was underneath.
It was a gun. They were showing me guns? Was it not illegal? I hung my mouth open in shock.
He stood up from his seat and told me if I was wise, I would better start looking for how to pay off my debts because the next time he saw me, he wouldn't be this friendly with me.
Once he was done talking, he and his men walked out of my office.
I caught the look in his eyes just before he left and recognized that it had not been a threat but a warning, one I was sure he would heed.