Amy Leah POV
"Where to, Miss?" the cab driver asked me upon sitting in the driver's seat. He had just finished putting my luggage in the trunk.
I was in front of the airport going to our mansion about two hours drive by car. I just arrived from London where I stayed for five years and this is the first time that I was going home.
Don Miguel de la Frontera, the chairman of de la Frontera Group had passed away from illness. I was going to pay him my last respect.
"To Corinthian, please. Thank you!" I told him in between my sighs.
The Corinthian Estate was an enormous, luxurious, and comfortable residential lifestyle experience at the heart of the huge city of New York. Where the Dons and the Doñas resided, mansions from one neighborhood to another. The place was admired and envied by most people outside of the tall brick fence and two-door wide iron gate but for me... this place was nothing but my casa of bleak memories.
I was exhausted from the trip. Surely, an eight-hour stay on the plane wasn't so much leisure, especially when your mind was flooded with expectations and possibilities from people you had never seen in a long time. Yeah! Since the plane took off, my mind is occupied with WHAT IFS!
What if my evil stepmother would take all the earnings of my dad's billion-dollar conglomerate by herself?
What if the wolves and jackals in the company would kick us out of our properties like starving dogs?
My dad was a ruthless business tycoon when he was still alive therefore counting his enemies from the tip of my fingers isn't that hard enough to do. I should say, more than ten wasn't even a large number.
Adding to his wickedness was the venomous snake in the flesh. The reason why I left my happy-and-contented life when I was eighteen. Divina Montenegro de la Frontera, second wife of Don Miguel de la Frontera, brunette and in her late 40s. A socialite, a gold digger.
Yes! Amy Leah de la Frontera, that's my name, 23, a fashion design graduate! The only child of my father, the ruthless billionaire. The owner of the biggest import-export business conglomerates in the country.
I rest my getting drowsy eyes as my head gently hit the edge of the backseat. I wanted to forget some of my cruel past, those that left deep bruises in my heart and reminisce only the joyful ones. Yes! That's what I wanted to do while my vision was shut.
A two-hour short trip to our mansion could be long enough!
Like fresh air in the morning, my nostrils tickled as my imagination inhaled an early sunrise away from the crowded city, away from the polluted air but near the field where some fresh fruit trees were being harvested. Their luscious scents assaulted my nose making my stomach grumble. My curiosity hit me while my eyes were still shut. I let the flashback lead the way...
...to my innocent past.
...to the first time that I met him.
I was 15 then. It was early autumn. My dad brought me to our hacienda in Hudson Valley where our business is rooted. Five hundred hectares of land for apple trees, I couldn't even count how many trees they were. Five hundred hectares for pears, and another five hundred hectares for sweet and tart cherries. We also had a thousand hectares of land for vegetables, crops, and other fruits. And another one thousand hectares for poultry animals and racehorses. All in all, we'd got five thousand hectares of land in upstate New York but the remaining lands were homes for our workers. My dad built them houses for free in exchange for their hard work and loyalty.
But that's not the only land that we had in Hudson Valley. We had our private resort, the Playa Azul just 30 minutes away from the hacienda. And here was where the family usually stayed.
My feet which were covered with expensive brands of sneakers stomped the mud where I stood as my kind of silent protest to my father for bringing me here. I was also wearing a pink T-shirt tucked inside my blue jeans shorts with a pink ribbon belt.
As my dad heard my simple grumble, he just glanced over his shoulder and continued speaking to the man wearing a baseball cap. He had also a small towel around his neck and based on his looks, he had been working for hours. But it was just eight in the morning I thought as I glanced at my watch.
I took a deep sigh first before I cleared my throat calling my father's attention. Not just once but twice. But to no avail.
"Daddy, I wanna go home!" I grumbled as I stomped my shoes again. My lips pouted, my hands were over my chest, and my glares were as sharp as the small sickle the man was holding.
"Don't disturb me here, Amy Leah. If you want you can look around but be very careful with the fruits on the trees. Our workers are harvesting now!" my father in his strong dominant voice, answered.
"But dad, I am not that familiar with this place. What if I get lost? Just bring me back to Playa Azul, please!" I urged making his brows furrow as he turned to face me. Like no one would like to back down, my father and I were in a death stare.
Surely, I'd gotten his blood of dominance. And he couldn't argue with that.
"Fine! I will call Samuel to bring you back there!" he uttered while dismissing the worker he was speaking with earlier and taking his phone from his chest pocket. He was calling his assistant in the Hacienda. "I need you to bring Amy Leah back to the resort safe and sound!" that's all it took, just a little of his stern tone and everyone was in a hurry to do the task for him.
"Thanks, daddy. Who's the person you're talking with earlier and what did you talk about?" my nosiness hit me as we both went to the jeep and hopped in.
"You see? That's the reason I brought you here. So, you know what kind of business we have!" his squinted sight caught my vision as I buckled up and stared at him. A big imaginary question mark was written on my furrowed brow asking him what did he mean?
"Dad, don't tell me you're still in that plan of making me your~"
"Yes, I am, Amy Leah. I have no choice!" he cut me off with his stern voice, I was almost startled into my seat. "If only you had a sibling then I would give all of these to him or her when I'm gone. But I only have you and your mom!"
"Stepmom, daddy! My mom died when I was six remember?" I corrected. A sting of pain poked my heart upon recalling how my mom left us. She succumbed to her illness. I hated cancer to the core.
A sigh of frustration left his lips when he heard my answers. He knew well that my stepmom and I didn't go along.
I slowly opened my eyes as the train of thought was cut for a little while. I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw the seriousness of the cab driver while looking ahead. I couldn't help but politely ask.
"Excuse me, where are we?"
"We're passing by the bridge, Miss. We still have around an hour and twenty minutes before we can arrive at our destination!" he gently replied giving me some relief. "If you like, I can play a song for you. I mean from the cd of course. So you can rest well!" he also added.
"Yes, please. Do you have the song by John Michael Montgomery? I Love the Way You Love Me!" I asked and saw him smilingly nod in the rearview mirror. "Thanks!" I whispered before I closed my eyes.
As I continued to reminisce about the past, the melody of the song playing on the dash stereo brought a soft rhythm to my murky thoughts passing every note and message of the lyrics to my broken heart. I could only whisper one name.
My father drove the jeep each wheel passing through bumpy mud. I held the roof handle tight while we continued our conversation. "Daddy, I don't have any interest in business like this. I wanna be a fashion designer someday!" my strong defense came as a surprise as my dad accidentally hit someone in front. My hair which I tied into a ponytail flew freely due to the strong impact when my dad abruptly hit the brakes. "Dad, be careful!" I screamed in fear.
Did he pass out? The boy who was carrying a big basket of apples, did he faint?
"Por dios por santo
for goodness sake
!" my father yelled out as he got out of the car. I followed at once. "Why did you just cross? Didn't you see our jeep coming?" he was furious at the boy wincing in pain while holding his right leg.
"Daddy, he's hurt. Let's bring him to the hospital!" I cried out as I knelt in front of him. "Are you all right? We're sorry. We didn't see you pass by!" I uttered with concern.
But he didn't seem to worry about his leg. He was more concerned about the apples that were thrown in the mud. His cute innocent face was actually scared.
"We'll bring you to the hospital but next time be careful. Look at these!" my dad pointed at the dirty fruits scattered on the ground. "We can't export them. If you want, you can bring them home and give the others to your neighbors. Such a nuisance!"
"Dad! He's hurt!" I roared. I didn't like what I was hearing from my own father. Belittling the boy whom he just hit. How could he even say that? Even him, he glanced swiftly at my dad feeling sorry for what happened.
That's when Samuel came getting off our white car. My father waved at him. "Sir?!" Samuel asked while glancing at the boy.
"Bring him to the hospital. But first, bring Amy Leah to the resort!" he ordered.
"Dad, he needs to go to the hospital first!" I retorted while holding the boy's arm.
"Don't disobey me, Amy Leah! This wouldn't happen if you didn't insist on going home!" my father snorted.
"No more buts, Amy Leah de la Frontera!" again I was cut off and he also mentioned my whole name. That meant no more objections to his decision.
Samuel gently helped the boy get into our car while I immediately sat in the backseat beside him. "Let's fasten your belt, Desmond. Are you hurt badly?" Samuel asked, concerned and anxious.
"You know him? Is your name Desmond?" I hastily questioned. My hand touched his arm and he flinched a bit. "Are you also hurt here?" I was more worried at that moment than earlier.
"I'm not that hurt, Uncle Samuel. I was just startled!" he uttered while wincing then glanced at me. "Thank you, señorita. But I'm all right. It's just a little scratch!" his smile was captivating I couldn't help but fix my eyes on him...with my mouth slightly open.
"It's a good thing, you aren't hurt badly, Des. Señorita, we'll bring you to the resort first!" Samuel's voice brought me back to the present.
"No! Let's bring him to the hospital first!" when I shifted my vision to the boy sitting beside me, I saw a slight smile at the corner of his lips.
"Señorita, Señor Miguel might ~"
"Don't worry about my dad, Samuel. Des~ Desmond, right?!" I asked first assuring I got his name correctly though I knew I was correct. When he smiled and unintentionally flickered his eyes, I almost gasped. D*mn, he's not cute. He's gorgeous. Those bluish eyes and thin lips, I could gaze at them the entire day...I didn't care!
"Yes, señorita. My name is Desmond!" his voice...how old was he? I bet older than me. But for how many years? His skinny body frame didn’t seem to suit his manly voice.
"Right! Uhm! His safety is more important. My father accidentally hit him, Samuel. Let's bring him to the hospital first!"
The scene at the hospital shut my vision as the flashback ended there.