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(Making amends)

Leila paused, then decided to sound less threatening. "I would definitely be displeased if you complained about me in front of Mr. Lu. We're co-workers so I don't think there's a need for you to do that. Besides, it's better to keep a harmonious working relationship, don't you think so?"

David nodded. "Yes, I agree with some of the things you said. And you're right, we are colleagues. But… I am not comfortable knowing someone wants to take something that belongs to another.
I just can't bear that thought." Then he dared Leila, "Why, have I done something wrong?"

He sneered, then warned, "Leila, do you really think I am stupid? That I don't know who has been spreading those nasty rumors in the office? Here is some unsolicited advice: You better know your place in this company. Otherwise, you're not getting off the hook if I find out you do it again."

She straightened her shoulders and put on a desperate look. "What nonsense are you talking about? I am not the one spreading rumors that Mr. Lu is having an affair with me. And I have no idea who did this. Besides, why would I spread such gossip when it is my reputation that is being ruined?"

Leila stared at David, frowning when he burst into laughter.

In between laughter, David declared, "You have not been to work for several days. And I don't recall telling you what rumor is being spread around. So, how come you seem to know about this?"

Leila stammered, "I…I…" as she realized she had given herself away.

Thinking quickly, she gave an explanation. "Look David, you got it wrong. It was Liz who mentioned it to me just before she left. And I feel just as helpless about it. You do know Mrs. Lu is my benefactor so I would never do anything to betray or hurt her. If she finds out about this, I am certain we will no longer be friends."

David raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

With a grim smile, he continued, "If you really aren't responsible for spreading the rumor, why are you worried about me saying anything to Mr. Lu?"

The fury on Leila's face pleased David. He said, "Leila, you do know that fire cannot be wrapped up in paper, right? If you really care about Mrs. Lu then you know the right thing to do is to stay away from Mr. Lu, who is not your husband."

He continued to mock Leila. "And let's suppose you do become Mrs. Lu someday, the fact remains that you were first a mistress."

Leila sputtered in anger. "You!" But she could say nothing more.

As David drove off, her flushed face turned pale as she pondered his words.

She suddenly became agitated. Her plans to become closer to Charles were already paying off with tremendous effort on her part. But she knew the moment David said something he was not supposed to tell Charles, all her efforts would be in vain.

She sat slumped in a chair, wondering for a long time. "What should I do?" she groaned.

Meanwhile, Charles sat in his car for several minutes thinking instead of going inside the house. His conversation earlier with David made him realize that Autumn had reason to be mad each time they would quarrel because of Leila.

Not only that, his reactions during such confrontations made matters worse.

He lit a cigarette and took a drag out of it. When he walked in, he saw Autumn preparing noodles in the kitchen. Charles moved towards his wife and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. "Wow, that smells delicious," he said appreciatively.

Autumn turned around and said, "You're home early today."

Her lips broke into a smile as she looked at her husband, and then asked, "Have you had dinner yet?"

She became a bit embarrassed because it was already eight o'clock and she still didn't have dinner.

Charles had concerns of his own as he looked at the time. "Why are you having dinner so late?"

Autumn quietly admitted, "I wasn't very hungry."

Then thinking her husband would be famished, she asked, "Would you like some noodles?"

Charles smiled then nodded. "That would be great!"

He suddenly missed Autumn's cooking, which he had not tasted in a long time.

Autumn was just as delighted to be sharing a meal with her husband, because they had not eaten together in a long time. She moved quickly to prepare a bowl of noodles with vegetables, and also cooked eggs for him. Then she apologized, "Charles, I know you are picky about food, but it's too late to cook something else. I promise to prepare something better next time."

He put an arm around her shoulders and assured his wife. "I like noodles just fine, Autumn. Stop worrying."

After a long day at work, the noodles with green vegetables and the omelette looked very appetizing to Charles.

Autumn giggled while he was eating. She teased, "Why are you eating so fast? No one is going to take the food away from you."

She then pushed her bowl of noodles towards Charles and remarked, "I'm not hungry so you can have my share."

Charles groaned in satisfaction. "But I'm so full already. Go on. Eat your noodles.

And after you finish, we can take a walk."
When they were newly married, Charles would take Autumn for a walk everyday.

But as he became busier with work, the walks stopped. And it had been a long time since they done it.

Autumn stared at her husband. She noticed he was quite gentle and very considerate today and she was not used to it. "You're behaving differently today, Charles. What's wrong with you?

Has anything happened?" she inquired. "What are you thinking about?" Charles asked, amused by her words.

Charles then remained quiet as Autumn fired her questions. Then he stroked her hair affectionately and replied, "I realize I've taken you for granted the last several weeks because I'm always so occupied with business. But don't worry, Autumn, I promise it won't happen again. It's time to take good care of my wife."

He also remembered that Wendy and Yvonne would no longer be causing Autumn any more trouble, so it would be less stress for his wife. He sighed contentedly knowing their lives would be more peaceful.

Autumn absorbed all that was happening. Then she reached out to touch Charles' hand.

Looking at her husband, she quietly said, "Charles, I'm also guilty of something. And I want to apologize."

Autumn knew she shouldn't have been suspicious and ill-tempered.

"So many things have happened recently and we've been under so much pressure. Hopefully, it is over. Oh Charles, it's like my life is suddenly filled with sunshine. And it feels very good," Autumn gushed.

Smiling broadly, she reached for both his hands and held them tightly.

Seeing how happy his wife was, Charles declared, "I want to take you to visit and pay respects to my parents before we go abroad."

Since getting married, the couple have not been to the cemetery to visit his parents. Charles decided it was time to introduce Autumn to his mother and father. "My parents must be looking forward to meeting their daughter-in-law," he said.

Autumn was pleased and said, "Okay. We will go when you're free."

With the Giant Promise Company's press conference scheduled on Sunday, Charles decided to visit his parents on Saturday. They went early in the morning and bought chrysanthemums before heading to the cemetery.

It was located in the countryside, surrounded by a picturesque scenery. It took them nearly half-an-hour to climb the mountain where the tombs were situated. They finally reached their destination with both gasping for air due to the uphill trek.

Charles was very concerned about Autumn.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

Autumn touched his arm in assurance. "Don't worry, I am fine."

Satisfied that she was okay, Charles casually cleaned the surroundings, picking at the weeds surrounding his parents' tombs. Then Autumn laid the flowers they brought. He spoke, "Dad, Mom, I want you to meet my wife. Her name is Autumn Zhao. Isn't she beautiful?"

Autumn smiled at his words and then teased him, "Charles, have you heard the old saying that every peddler praises his own needle?"

He looked at her, baffled. "What? Why are you saying that?"

Charless went on, "I'm just stating a fact.

You are beautiful." He paused to think, 'If my parents were still alive today. I'm sure they would be very happy that I married not only a beautiful woman but one who is also very respectable.'

Charles'' words made Autumn think of her own father, Bowen. If he were still alive, he would be just as happy that his daughter married a brilliant man.

Autumn kneeled in front of the tomb then gently brushed away the dust covering the gravestone. Softly, she said, "Mom, Dad, don't worry. You can rest in peace because I will take good care of Charles for you."

Charles felt a pang of sadness at Autumn's words, but echoed it just the same. "Yes, Dad, Mom… Autumn will take care of me. You can rest in peace now. I assure you I have a happy life with her now."

Then he lightened up. "Perhaps when we come to visit you next year, we will be introducing your grandson."

Autumn glared at him jokingly, "And what makes you so sure we will have a son, but not a daughter?"

Charles replied, "I just have this feeling it will be a boy."

"But I want a daughter," Autumn pretended to whine.

Charles pondered this for a moment.
"Well, we could have twins. That way,we will have a son and a daughter. What do you think?"


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