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(The verdict)

Leila played one last card. "Ah, Mr. Lu? Will you be attending the dinner party tonight?" she asked.

The dinner was in honor of an important client. During similar occasions in the past, Charles always had her accompany him. And she was hoping he would do the same this time around. Every chance to be with Charles was precious for her.
She was surprised when Charles, after considering briefly, said no. Frowning, he told Leila, "Ask David to go with you. I have something else to attend to this evening."

Crestfallen, Leila said, "Okay."

She would have complied with whatever Charles decided. She thought, 'It's foolish to insist on Charles attending tonight.

He's already suspected I started the rumor about our inappropriate relationship.' As she turned to leave, she decided, 'I need to stay under the radar in the meantime. Otherwise, I may lose my job.'

Walking out of Charles' office, Leila was now livid. But she remained calm not wanting to show her distress. Anger was useless. If her co-workers saw she was infuriated, they would only make fun of her. And the worst was the possibility of losing her job all because of her desire for the boss.

Charles left the office early and gave notice he was not returning for the day.

He went to Autumn's office to pick up his wife. Since they had yet to visit Autumn's family after getting back from their honeymoon, the couple agreed to visit and join the Zhao family for dinner.

"Grandma!" Autumn greeted Emily excitedly when they arrived.

Abby, meanwhile, pulled Charles aside and whispered, "How are things going with your secretary?"

Charles quickly assured her. "Please don't worry, Aunt Abby. I have no feelings for her, and I will never betray Autumn," he promised. Abby looked him in the eye, saw that he meant every word and remarked, "You better not."

She didn't trust Charles and wanted to hear his sentiments about the matter. "I'm telling you, if you do anything to hurt Autumn, I will show you no mercy," she warned, her tone deadly serious.

"I know," Charles replied.

He was aware Autumn's family, including Abby, was just protective of his wife and did not mind the distrust.

Autumn spied the two huddled in a corner and went up to them. "What are you two talking about?"

She looked from Charles to Abby. "Why so sneaky, hmm?"

It was Abby who answered. "It's nothing. We're just catching up."

There was absolutely no need for Autumn to know about Leila's attempts to seduce Charles, Abby thought.

"We were only discussing Cindy's education," Charles explained to his wife with a smile.

"Oh, yes. Where is Cindy?" Autumn asked, looking around.

"I don't see her around," she frowned slightly.

Abby patted Autumn's arm. "Cindy is with her grandparents."

She added, "They missed her so we asked her to visit them at home and spend time there." Abby turned to look at the dining table and announced, "Dinner is ready."

Every time Autumn visited the Zhao family there was always a feast laid out for her. Amy had always been grateful that her son left them a pretty granddaughter. Autumn's presence made it easier to deal with the grief of losing her son Bowen. She enjoyed cooking for Autumn.

During dinner, Arthur talked about Wendy. The topic, of course, upset Autumn, whose face turned a bit dark.

Lowering her head, Autumn thought, 'Why is my grandfather talking about Wendy? I'm married now and starting a new life with Charles. And I've been quite busy lately, yes, but I wish he didn't bring Wendy up.'

Autumn did not miss Wendy at all, considering all that she did to her daughter. 'What she did to me does not deserve respect,' she thought.

"We are having dinner. Why did you have to bring up that bitch and spoil our appetite!" Amy snapped at Arthur.

She had seen the change in Autumn's face prompting her to admonish Arthur. "It's okay, Grandma," Autumn assured Abby. Then forcing a smile, she looked at her grandfather.

"What happened to her?" she inquired.

"The verdict was handed down," he said, looking at Autumn to see her reaction. His granddaughter was so shocked that she dropped her chopsticks on the floor.

Concerned, Charles picked them up and asked his wife, "Are you all right?" Abby set another pair of chopsticks on Autumn's plate.

She took a deep breath before replying, "I'm fine, Charles."

Autumn shook her head slightly and turned to Arthur. "What was the verdict?"

Arthur had no intention of telling Autumn what would become of Wendy. The woman was responsible for his son's death, and everyone in the family hated her. But…

Wendy was still Autumn's biological mother. And there was this fear that she might still fantasize about her mother, or a mother's love, so he decided it would be better to let her know the court's decision.

And whatever Autumn decided to do after, he would respect her decision.

"Wendy committed a serious crime. And she has been sentenced to death," he said.

"I guess… she will be executed soon," Arthur added.

He looked at his granddaughter with concern. She appeared calm, but he was certain that she was controlling her emotions.

Autumn finally had the courage to speak.

"What about…"

"Yvonne?" Arthur supplied.

Autumn nodded slowly.

"Well, she was named an accomplice, and was given a two-year prison sentence," Arthur said.

He now felt terrible after breaking the news. "Autumn, I have to tell the truth.

Wendy was responsible for your father's death. With Aron's help, we managed to add aggravating circumstances. There was no way I was letting her get away with killing Bowen," Arthur said bitterly.

He looked Autumn in the eye, watching her face. "If you hate me for doing that, it's okay. I understand and accept that.

But I do not regret, nor will I apologize for what I did," he said.

With a pained smile, Autumn reached out to Arthur. "Grandpa, what are you talking about? How can I ever blame you?" she said gently.

It was Arthur who was now in disbelief. "You don't blame me?"

He looked at Autumn and saw how serious she was.

"So, do you want to see her? If you wish to say goodbye, I can…"

Autumn interrupted her grandfather, "No, I have nothing to say to her."

She paused, carefully choosing her words. "She deserves to be punished for the terrible things she did. No, I don't want to see her."

Sighing, Autumn added, "I hope that in her last days, she can reflect about her life and the things she's done that destroyed people's lives."

But Autumn knew her mother well. Reflection was not in her nature. Instead, she would likely be complaining about her daughter's seeming unconcern and Aron's calling the police. 'She may even grumble about how Simon's death caused her to suffer a lot. It's nearly impossible for her to blame herself for her tragic fate,' Autumn thought.

That was why she felt it was useless to see her mother, even for the last time.

Autumn thought, 'The most I can and will do, after her execution, is to give her a proper funeral. So there is no need for me to see her in prison.'

Arthur held his granddaughter's hand. "If you really think this is what's best, I respect that. But just in case you change your mind before the execution, tell me so I can make arrangements," he offered.

Personally, he did not want mother and daughter to meet, too.

Autumn nodded.

Learning about the verdict changed Autumn's mood. Although she tried to dismiss her bad spirits, it was impossible for her to stop thinking about the verdict. After she and Charles left the Zhao family, Charles inquired, "Why don't you want to see her?"

Inside the car, Autumn sat still, not hearing her husband's question. Her thoughts were running in different directions. When she snapped back to the present, she realized Charles was asking about Wendy. She turned to a more comfortable position before replying, "I don't think there's a need to see her."

She stared out the window, eyes sad, before continuing, "I can tell you what she'll say in my sleep. First, she will ask me to save her from prison. Next, she'll blame me or Aron or someone else for her fate. She definitely feels she was unfairly treated. But not once will she consider her behavior. So, if I go see her, I am only looking for trouble. And I do not like to be shouted at while there."

Truth was, had it been any other person but Wendy in prison, Autumn would not think twice about visiting. But because it was her mother, she would not.

Another realization for Autumn was, she actually felt relieved that Wendy would be executed as retribution for her crime.


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