Third Person's POV
Isabella looks at her three children. Charlie, Laurens, and Elaine. She can not believe they grew up so fast. Paul sits at the head of the table. Today all of their children are here for Thanksgiving. Isabella looks at Charlie. He is a lot like his father, very responsible and a hard worker. He has studied and is now running Trading International. Her heart goes out to her son. He and Lea were always together through school, and all thought one day they would get married, but Lea left to study overseas and fell in love with someone else. She married and is living in Italy. Charlie never dates and works all the time. She prays that someday he will find the right woman.
"Mom, what are you looking so worried about?" Laurens asks he is the clown of the family. He is carefree, but like her, he loves cooking, and he took over Charlie's Place and is doing a great job. Laurens did not fell in love yet, and he says he is still enjoying his life too much to fall in love right now. Laurens also studied, but he loves the restaurant business like Elaine as well. He also looks a lot like Paul, but his hair is a bit darker, and his carefree attitude makes him a target for all the young wealthy socialites looking for a rich husband.
"I am okay, just worried about the three of you. When will I have grandchildren one day?" Charlie looks up, and he frowns. Her son is always serious. He does not answer his mother.
Elaine sighs and says, "Mom, one day, when we are ready, you will have a bunch of grandchildren. Daddy, tell mommy to stop bothering us with this issue." Elaine is running Harmonies, she is one of the best chefs Isabella knows off, and since she was small, she would spend hours in the kitchen with her mother.
"I got some work to do. Thanks for dinner mother, I will go to the office and don't worry, and mom, I will go home early. You can call me at eight. I will be at my house." Charlie gets up before anyone can say something.
Paul gets up and walks out with his son, they like to discuss business, and although Paul handed the company over to his son, he still likes to go to the office ever so often to help out with huge deals. Under Charlie, the business grew bigger, mainly because Charlie worked most of the time. Paul looks at his son, a handsome young man, but Charlie is not happy he can see it, his son does not trust women, after Lea, who he trusted for years, left him for another man, and Charlie has become weary of women.
"How is the new secretary working out?" Paul asks.
"She is okay, I guess. She is hard-working, and sometimes I kind of like her Australian accent." Charlie smiles, but his eyes stay cold. He thinks she is refreshing, but he is not looking at her as a woman, only as a worker. Charlie loves his parents and doesn't want them to worry about him or his private life. He does not tell his dad why he appointed Valerie Green. He found out she is the daughter of Sandy Moore, who married Green in Australia. He is planning on letting her pay for her mother's sins. He knows his mother had made peace with Sandy and that they have been friends for a long time now, but he has not forgiven her, and he plans on making her pay through her daughter. He does give the petite little blond a lot of trouble in the office, but she irritates him with her fake smile and the "Yes Sir." She never talks back, although he can see her eyes shooting daggers at him sometimes. He does all of it on purpose. He wants to make her life a living hell, well, at least at the office.
Isabella, Elaine, and Laurens are still sitting around the table, "Mom, you need to talk to Charlie. He is not treating Valerie Green right, she is my friend, and she hates Charlie's guts. He is giving her all kinds of hell at the office. If I knew he was going to treat her that way, I would have talked her into working at Harmonies instead." Isabella looks up at Elaine. She did not know her son was mistreating her friend's daughter.
"Yeah, she has to go into the office today and work, he does pay her a lot and even overtime, but the way he treats her is very unfair." Isabella sighs. She knows why Charlie is doing this.
"I will talk to him, but I think it is best if you ask Valerie to come work at Harmonies. You know Charlie, he has a grudge against women. Since Lea left him and Sandy, Valerie's mother was not always my friend. I think Charlie may still hold a grudge against her."
Elaine sighs and says, "Mom doesn't know Valerie. She will not quit. She will not let Charlie gets his way. She is stubborn, and although she hates his guts, she is also no pushover."
Charlie walks into the office. He told Valerie Green that she must be here at two. He needs a few documents typed, and he knows it can wait until after the holidays, but he wants to see if she will do it. He walks to his office in long strides. He does not know just how sexy he looks to women. He is not interested in them and what they think. He is well built and tall like his father, and many women will throw them at his feet, but he is not interested.
"Good afternoon Mr. Stevens," Valerie says, not looking up from her computer screen. She is already typing.
"Good afternoon," Charlie mumbles and walks into his office, and closes the door. Valerie is done with all the contracts already. She came in early to finish it before he arrived. She was finishing off the last one, and then she would leave. She will not let Charlie be mean to her today. It is the holidays, and she is not his slave. She finishes the last contract, takes it out of the printer, and knocks on his door.
"Enter." She hears the deep voice. She knows she hates women, but he is always extra mean to her! She goes in and places the contracts in front of him.
"It is all done, sir. If that is all, I will leave." Charlie frowns. This woman came in early to finish because she did not want to be near him. He looks up at the little petite blond. Lea and her husband will be at the New Year's ball, and he knows he can not face them alone.
"Miss Green, I want to ask you something. Of course, I will pay you for it."
Valerie looks at him suspiciously. "What do you want from me, Mr. Stevens?" She asks.
Charlie's eyes narrow as he says. "I want you to marry me, it will only be in the name, and the marriage comes to an end after two years. I will pay you two million dollars for every year we are married and give you a bonus for playing my wife."
Valerie looks at Charlie as if he has gone mad and turns around to walk out, "No, thank you, Charles Stevens. I will rather die of hunger to marry you!"
Charlie smiles and says, "What do you want from me. Anything if you help me out, the only reason I asked you is that I know you will never fall in love with me and vice versa." Valerie turns around with a smile playing on her face.
"The only way I will marry you, Charles Stevens, is if you forgive my mother and treat me like a human being, oh and yes, the money, I will take that as well." Valerie wants the money to start her own business in Australia as far away from this man as possible, and what is two years? Her mom and dad are rich, but not that rich, and her brother is a lawyer like her dad. So she wants to start a Hotel in Australia. Like aunt, Isabella becomes a business tycoon so that people like this man here in front of her can stop looking down on her. Charlie looks up with a smile on his face. His eyes are cold. He knew money would do the trick. Most women can never say no to money.
Isabella and Paul were surprised when Charlie got engaged to Valerie, but happy and relieved at last he was over Lea, and they like Valerie she is a lovely shy person, and she is always humble, her mother taught her well. Today is their wedding day, and Isabella and Paul are sitting next to Sandy. Clark will walk Valerie down the aisle. Little did Isabella and Sandy know that their children were only doing it for the show. Lea is also in the crowd sitting next to her husband. She is not very happy. She looks at the handsome Charlie standing at the altar and thinks. "I made the "biggest mistake of my life, leaving Charlie." Charlie has seen her in the crowd, and his heart is hardened. He promised himself never to trust any woman again. He thinks back to the day Lea left him.
He was happily looking forward to the holiday because Lea would return and spend the holiday together. However, he has missed her and is waiting for her at the airport. He looks up and sees Lea dressed in a fancy dress and looking more European than American walking down into the waiting area. He frowns. He is not sure he likes the new look. Lea used to be a plain girl that would wear jeans and a top. This woman is walking to him in a sophisticated dress with high heels and too much makeup. He has not seen Lea for a year. Lea looks up at Charlie, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, waiting for her. She frowns. She has changed a lot, and she likes her men to wear suits in public. She still called Charlie every night, but she has met someone else, an Italian Model. He always looks well dressed and is a ladies' man. He is modern, doesn't open doors for her, and lets her pay for half of everything they do together. Lea likes modern ways much more. Charlie is too old-fashioned. He will always open the car door for her and pay the bills where ever they go. He irritates her with his old-fashioned ways. She walks to Charlie and air kiss his cheeks as the French do. Charlie frowns because Lea does not hug or run to him like she used to do. She did not even kiss him.
"Hello, Charles." She says and looks at Charlie with a fake smile.
"Hello, Lea. Okay, so tell me about this new Lea, you have changed." Charlie is always straightforward.
Lea looks at him and says, "Yes, I have. I am just not sure we should still be together, we live in separate worlds, my studies as a designer are almost finished, and I have decided to stay in Europe, there is more work there. I also found someone new. I am seeing someone else, Charles, I am sorry, but we are over." Charlie looks at her in surprise, then his face goes blank, and his eyes go cold. He will not show her just how much she hurt him right now. She does not even call him Charlie anymore. It is now Charles.
He puts on a sarcastic smile and says, "Good luck with the future then, Lea." Charlie turns around and walks away.
"Charles, wait!" Lea shouts. He turns around and looks at her.
"What about me and all my suitcases and stuff." She asks.
He smiles, shakes his head, and says, "Since you are now such "n independent woman, figure it out yourself." He is mad and hurt and walks away to his car and drives off.
* End of flashback
Charlie and Valerie's story together starts today. Valerie's and Charlie's wedding day. This is their story.