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(A change of heart(1)

Standing at the window on the second floor of the villa, Mond watched Cherry and Jackson below as the two leaned against the car, and stared up at the glittering stars filling the night sky. The beautiful scene of the perfect love they shared felt like an unattainable fantasy, one he would never have.

Mond stretched out his arm and slowly pulled the curtain back down into place, and then went and sat glumly on the bed. He had seen her smiling and laughing easily, which was a rarity, and he realized only Jackson could put her at ease, and feel happy enough to evoke those responses.

The next morning Mond saw Cherry and Joe sitting at the dining room table eating breakfast when he went downstairs.

When Jean came out of the kitchen carrying a bowl of porridge, she placed it in front of Joe and looked up as Mond was descending the stairs.

"Good morning, Mond," Jean said smiling at him, "Come join us for breakfast." Cherry turned in her seat and looked at Mond greeting him softly, "Good morning Mond."

Mond sat in his usual seat at the table.

Joe piped up greeting him politely, "Good morning Uncle Mond."

"Good morning Joe," replied Mond doing his best to sound light and cheerful. He didn't want to scowl at Joe. Mond didn't actually dislike the boy, who was cute and lovely after all.

"Joe, eat your breakfast and Aunt Jean will drive you to school after," said Cherry as she leaned in closer to Joe.

"Okay Mommy," replied Joe smiling.

Out of the blue, Mond offered, "I will drive him to school that way your sister can stay with you."

It was a little surprising to hear Mond volunteer, as far as Cherry knew, Mond didn't run errands, which made her wonder why he wanted to drive Joe to school?

Jean heard Mond's offer too, as she came out of the kitchen. She took her apron off and sat down at the dining table before she asked, "That sounds good! Joe, would you mind if Uncle Mond drove you to school on his way to work? Then, I can stay home with your Mommy."

"Alright, Aunt Jean. You will take good care of my Mommy, right?" Joe asked happily. He didn't really care who took him to school, but, since Mond was going to bring him, maybe Joe could talk to him on the way.

"Of course I will! Since you are such a sweet boy, I will do what you ask and take good care of your Mommy. Don't worry," replied Jean with a smile. She liked Joe's personality, actually, she cared about him so much. Jean enjoyed his company even, it didn't matter what they did, whether they were just sitting or talking about things.

After breakfast, Jean and Cherry saw Mond and Joe off, waving goodbye from the front door as the two drove away. It wasn't until the car was outta sight that Jean said, "It's a little nippy out here, let's go back into the house."

As Cherry and Jean walked into the living room, Cherry asked, "Jean, is there a study on the second floor?"

"Why, yes, there is. I haven't been in it. Usually, the study is only for Mond, but, you can go up if you want to do some reading," replied Jean. After thinking for some seconds, she realized Cherry must not have been to the second floor since she came to say there.

"Well, I'll go up and have a look at his study," said Cherry nodding. She didn't know if what she was looking for would be there, but it was possible she would have to look in his bedroom if she couldn't find it in his study.

"Cherry, just make yourself at home in the villa, you can do whatever you want. Although Sally and I weren't allowed in the study, you are an exception to the rule. So, you can go read in there if you like, I don't think Mond will be upset with you," replied Jean.

"Wait! Jean, have you lived here the whole time you've been back in the city?" A thought struck Cherry suddenly and she thought to ask.

"Yeah, Mond didn't let me to leave the villa at first though. He had someone get me anything I needed. He wanted to stage my public appearance. Do you remember the party you met me at?" Jean shared.

Cherry nodded and thought about the memorable party. How could she possibly forget? It was her first time seeing or talking to her sister in those five years, and also when she learned Mond's real identity.

"Since the ZM Group was as much of a mystery as Mond at the time, he wanted to arrange for me to appear in public for the same time as his debut, the party that night was the perfect way to surprise you and Jackson," once Jean started talking, she shared everything with Cherry. Jean saw no reason to keep any of it from her little sister, no matter what happened, because everything had changed, and the deception had to come to an end. Although she didn't know what Sally was planning, she knew Mond had changed his mind about seeking revenge, too, and of course, Stephen had already left them. She often wondered why Mond had changed his mind.

Perhaps Stephen's leave influenced him, and perhaps his hatred thawed as his feelings for Cherry gradually grew.

Cherry started to understand it now. Everything they had experienced was becoming clearer, as was Mond's every move.

Forcing a smile, Jean suddenly took Cherry's hand telling her, "Well now, let's forget all that unpleasantness. You go upstairs to the study now, and I'll go water the flowers out in the yard."

"Okay Jean, please, don't rush on my account," replied Cherry nodding her head.

After seeing Jean walking out to the gardens with the lawn hose, Cherry went upstairs.

Standing in the hall of the second floor, Cherry looked from room to room, not knowing which was the study. She walked to the door on the left at one end of the hallway, standing in front of the door for a long time, before deciding to open the door and walk in.

Cherry looked around the room decorated in dark grays, from the curtains, to quilts, and the wallpaper. She was sure this was Mond's room.

Cherry walked over to the bedside as she looked around, noting the room was very clean. There was nothing out of place; the layout was precise and his clothes were orderly.

Cherry examined the pillow on the bed, carefully, and found a hair. She picked it up gingerly, and looked at it thinking, 'Mond, I don't know if my guess is right, so, I will investigate your identity myself.'



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