(Best birthday gift ever)
Jennifer was left in an extremely awkward position. Sporting a counterfeit smile, she hoped that the awkwardness that bathed the moment would be transient, before she walked away utterly embarrassed.
While, Emily and Jacob stood in the doorway. They remained silent, but the moment their eyes met, they knew that they were still deeply attached to each other.
"Mommy! Who is it?" A child's brisk voice broke the silence. It was Beryl, she clung to her mother and looked outside the door. "Uncle Jacob! Are you here to see me?" Beryl jumped with excitement.
Jacob stared at her with loving eyes, before he bent down and picked her up in his arms, "Yeah! Did you miss uncle Jacob?"
"Yes!" Beryl leaned her head against his chest and answered in an infantile voice.
Emily's heart melted at the sight of such an endearing scene. "Beryl," she called out gently.
Beryl turned around to face her mother with a pair of innocent, twinkling eyes and said, "Mommy?"
Emily was hesitant and doubtful. She weighed the pros and cons in her mind incessantly, but still couldn't decide whether to tell Beryl the truth about her father or not. Finally, she decided to take a leap of faith, "Beryl, he is... He is your real father."
Stunned, Jacob felt like he just got hit by a lightning. The sparks in his brain, desperately tried to connect the dots and instead just caused a short circuit. 'She admitted it!
I am Beryl's biological father! She admitted it!'
Beryl, however, didn't seem as shocked as Emily had expected. Instead, she casually laughed and brushed it off, "I already knew that he is my dad. Didn't you know that, mommy? Ha-ha, mommy you've been such a fool."
Emily had a strange feeling in her gut, but she couldn't put a finger on it. She wanted to keep the secret to herself, but Beryl was sensitive enough to detect her sadness. A small, charming smile broke out of Emily's lips, and she squeezed Beryl's cheeks playfully, "Young lady, you should never talk to your dearest mommy like that."
Jacob held Emily's hand, and almost immediately she could feel the heat rising in her cheeks, but she didn't draw her hand back. "It's Beryl's birthday today," said Jacob.
His words took Emily by surprise. A lot had happened over the past few days, and while Emily was busy dealing with her chaotic life, she completely forgot that it was her daughter's birthday.
Emily apologized, feeling disappointed at her own incompetency.
"It is okay mommy." However, instead of getting angry at Emily, Beryl comforted her. She reached out her tiny hands and touched her mother's face. "You've already given me the best gift in the world!" she said.
"What would that be?"
"A dad!" Beryl let her face flood with a smile and she gave both Emily and Jacob kisses. "Right, Daddy?"
When the word "Daddy" came out from Beryl's mouth, Jacob's heart melted, as if he had never been so happy in his life.
"Yes," he said, smiling with a full set of teeth.
Emily felt conflicted. Beryl needed a father figure in her life and Emily did not have the heart to take that away from her. After all, they were related by blood.
"Mommy? Yeah?" Jacob could not help himself teasing her.
There was nothing wrong with "mommy". But it was supposed to be a heart-warming word for couples that had been living together.
Emily was overwhelmed with a feeling of uneasiness, but she did not voice her discomfort.
"Bring them in." Jacob released her hand, and asked the maidservant to bring some boxes in.
Emily looked at him with astonishment and asked, "What are you doing? Are you moving somewhere?"
"These are the gifts for Beryl." Jacob gave her a tender smile and gazed at her with his soulful eyes, "Well, do you want me to move in and live with you and my daughter?"
"I did not mean it..."
"Ha-ha, that's exactly what I thought!"
Emily wished she could take her words back, 'What am I doing? Shooting myself in the foot?'
Surprisingly, Beryl wasn't too happy to see the gifts. She asked, "Daddy, are these for me?"
Jacob was patient with Beryl, "Yes, don't you want to open them?"
Beryl shook her head in refusal, "No daddy, I do not want gifts."
"What do you want then? Go ahead, tell me." Jacob looked at Beryl affectionately, his eyes overflowing with love for her. He would have given her anything she had asked for. The stars, the moon, anything.
"I wanna go to the beach with mommy and daddy! I've heard that the ocean is blue and the sand is golden, but I've never seen it with my own eyes," said Beryl, under her breath. She sounded sad and disheartened.
Seeing the disappointment on his daughter's face, Jacob quickly added, "Sure, we can go to the beach."
"No, you can not." Emily was against the proposal, "Beryl can not be exposed to the sun, the ultraviolet radiation is harmful to her body."
"Please mommy, I will be careful," Beryl looked at her mother ruefully and continued, "I have never been to the beach..."
"I will take care of our baby girl. She has spent most of her life indoors. She needs to see the outside world. She will be okay, trust me?"
They both stared at Emily with much expectation. Emily did not have the heart to disappoint them, but she could not just say yes either.
Disappointment took over Beryl's face. Jacob picked Beryl up in his arms and whispered something in her ears. Before long, the smile on her face reappeared.
Emily wondered what he had said to Beryl. As she was trying to bring up her question, Jacob put down Beryl and carried Emily on his shoulder.
Emily was shocked, "What are you doing! Put me down! Not in front of our child!"
"Nope, I am not here, I cannot see anything..." Beryl said to her mother, as she covered her eyes with her hands.
Meanwhile, Ina had returned from the market just then, only to find Emily on the shoulders of a stranger. Appalled, she tried to stop the man, but Beryl clung to her arms tightly and would not let her go.
"Aunt Ina, he is my dad!"
"Dad?" Ina was shocked, as she did not expect Beryl's biological father to be that man. Should she stop them?
"Daddy would never hurt mommy!" Beryl patted her chest and said decisively.
Ina wasn't so easily convinced, but before she could do anything, Jacob carried Emily into the room and locked the door behind him.
Jacob laid Emily down gently on the bed. This man's strong body towered over Emily, and she felt apprehensive. She moved backwards subconsciously.
Jacob burst out laughing, "Did I scare you yesterday?"
"No..." Emily did not realize what he was talking about after she had answered him. Her face burned, "Stop talking nonsense, you know what, we should really talk about this outside..."
"Are you sure?" Jacob had made his mind to talk to her seriously, so he stopped making fun of her and moved close to kiss her on the lips.
However, Emily turned her head subconsciously, and the kiss fell on her cheek. She tried her best to keep a calm exterior, "Aren't we going to talk about this?"
"Well, you needed some convincing, so..." This time, Jacob kissed her right on the lips, and acted like, 'If you do not agree, I will just keep kissing you.'
Jacob placed his hands behind her head, and pulled her face close to kiss her. His tongue invaded her mouth and plundered every single bit of sweetness inside.
Emily was the lover that he had been dreaming of.
Poisonous, toxic and addictive.