In an abandoned building on the outskirts of Lamont City, the crackling sound of the fire was loud.
In the middle of the dirty building, the flames lit up the face of the injured wheelchair-bound man protecting the girl in his arms. His white shirt was dyed red yet he stoically comforted the whimpering girl as she cried out.
“Alex, it hurts! She… The bad woman hit me! Alex… Ow…”This 18-year-old girl turned out to be like a child.
Alexander Clarkson spoke gently to Cecilia Chilton despite his shocking wounds, whispering comforts to her the way a parent would coax a small child.
“Shh, it’s okay, Ceci. Don’t be scared. I’m here, look at me.”
“Tsk, what a touching scene. What a lucky fool you are.” A mocking voice interrupted the duo.
A pretty young woman entered the room and then crossed her arms as she shook her head.
“It’s too bad… You were too stupid and came back to steal my rightful place as the Chilton family’s eldest daughter. Not only that but you even tried to take Edmund away from me.”
The poisonous words coming out of the young woman’s mouth were severely at odds with her gentle appearance.
Madelyn Chilton stared haughtily at Alexander Clarkson and Cecilia Chilton then chuckled, “Also, you don’t need to worry about your brother and sister, they’ll join you real soon.”
She paused before she continued in her sweet voice, “Ah I almost forgot, this cripple accompanies you too.”
The moment the slur left her mouth, it was like a switch flipped. The previously incoherent and weak young girl that was mumbling to herself suddenly sprang up.
Cecilia rushed at Madelyn with her hands outstretched, just like a cat with its claws out.
A loud bang echoed in the humid night.
Cecilia screamed as a brutal force pulled her away and a pained groan filled her ears as a heavy weight slammed her to the ground.
Cecilia stared in horror as dark red blood warmed her hands.
Cecelia shot Madelyn a murderous glare, “I’ll kill you!”
“Are you normal now, little fool? Don’t fret, the fun is just starting.”
Madelyn winked at her bodyguard, the man who opened fire.
The scary-looking man immediately walked over and dragged the injured man off the ground. The rough movements sent pain through every nerve in Alexander’s battered body and he couldn’t help but groan out loud.
“STOP! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM HIM?! LET HIM GO!”
“Really, is this how you should speak to me? Little fool, you should be grateful that you’ve regained some clarity in your final moments.”
Then Madelyn said coldly, “Cripple his hand.”
Cecilia crawled over and wanted to pull Alexander away from the ugly bodyguard. However, the loud click of a gun safety going off made her freeze.
She pleaded hoarsely, “Madelyn, please just let him go! I’ll do anything. Just don’t hurt him.”
“Anything? Too bad, this is what I like. The more he suffers, the more I get to enjoy that ugly expression of yours.”
Before Cecilia could beg, Madelyn shot her bodyguard a look.
A loud cry filled Cecelia’s ears.
Combined with the rapid loss of blood, the intense pain made the young man faint.
Madelyn scoffed at the sight.
“How pathetic. But then again, it makes you two a well-matched pair.”
“Miss,” The bodyguard finally spoke up. “We should go, this building will collapse soon.”
Madelyn grimaced in dissatisfaction. “Ugh, I haven’t even had my fun yet.”
Sneering one last time, she then turned and snapped out, “Let’s go.”
The bodyguard tossed the unconscious young man to the ground and left with his mistress.
Cecilia hurried over to Alexander and scooped him into her arms.
“Alex! Wake up! Please…”
Alexander groaned and after much struggle, opened his unfocused eyes.”
“Ceci, I… I’m sorry…”
“No, Alex. You can’t leave me! You promised you’ll be by my side!”
Warm tears dripped onto the handsome young man’s face.
Alexander tried to lift his uninjured hand to comfort the sobbing girl but he couldn’t muster up the strength.
Cecilia saw and grabbed his hand then held it against her wet cheeks.
“Ceci…” He whispered, his eyes full of regret and affection. “So… sorry…”
In the end, he wasn’t strong enough to protect them both.
“No, Alex. You won’t die. We’re getting married, remember? We’ll get married and have children, as many as you want.”
Cecilia babbled on as she felt Alexander slowly slipping away.
“Pocket... For you…”
The man’s pained whisper stopped her words momentarily. She put her hand inside his pocket and drew out a gold heart-shaped locket. With trembling fingers, she opened it.
A pair of smiling faces stared back at her and fresh tears filled her eyes.
That was the day she saw Alexander smile.
The day she felt that anything was possible.
Alexander had initially refused to take the picture. Only after she cajoled, whined, and ultimately threatened him did he agree to be in the picture.
Cecilia sobbed and hugged the man tightly as the man’s eyes dimmed and the broad chest under her hands stopped rising.
“I love you too,” Cecilia whispered and squeezed the locket tight.
The word engraved on the locket seared her palm as she closed her eyes and waited for death.
The young girl woke up screaming.
She sat up abruptly, her hands fisted on the bed sheets.
"Where am I?"