16 Years, One Month Later
King’s Mansion, 7:30 AM
~ Author ~
After taking a last glance at herself in mirror, Eva headed towards Everly’s room. Opening room’s door wide ajar, Eva saw her ten years daughter still drooling on her pillow.
Such a lazy girl!
“Everly! Wake up!”, She said before opening her cupboard and taking out Everly’s school uniform.
“Uhmmm… Mom”, she groaned rolling around bedsheet and snuggling herself more in them. Eva sighed.
“Everly, come on get up dear. I have to prepare breakfast yet. Then your Lunch boxes. The least you can do is wake up and get ready.”, Eva scolded removing blanket off her small frame.
“Mom, I am not feeling well today. My stomach aches”, Everly mumbled, a fake
pained expression forming on her face.
“I saw your school diary yesterday. You have maths test today, don’t you? Stop making these useless excuses and get up!”, Eva said sternly. Huffing and puffing Everly threw away blanket and got off bed. Glaring at her mom, she snatched towel that was in her mom’s hand and stomped in bathroom.
“Hitler!”, She muttered before slamming door shut.
This brat!
After making her bed, Eva came downstairs and headed towards kitchen. Martha and Knox helped her in making breakfast. As she was keeping everything on dining table, Aaron and Asher entered slightly panting, all drenched in sweat.
“Morning, Little Warrior”
“Morning mom”
“Morning boys. Oops, morning my boy and my oldie”, she smiled mischievously as Aaron shot her a glare. Asher chuckled at his mom’s teasing.
“What did you said?”, Aaron sneered, raising his both brows.
“What? My oldie?”, Eva snickered trying not to laugh and annoy her already annoyed husband more.
“You too aren’t young anymore, oldie!”, Aaron bit back with smirk, mischief drained down from Eva’s face replacing with anger.
“Asher, don’t I look young?”, She pouted at her son.
“Of course mom! You always look young. Even my friends sometimes ask me if you are my
younger sister”, he buttered his mother perfectly causing Aaron to let out a scoff of disbelief.
“You don’t have friends! Except Samuel. Who of course will never say this!”, Aaron snapped. Asher coughed, not knowing how to deny his father’s accusation.
“Shut up, Aaron! I believe my son”
“Oh, of course you will believe him.”, Aaron spoke sarcastically.
“Ughh, fine. Mom, dad stop flighting. You both look young. C’mon dad, lets go”, Asher said grabbing his father’s wrist dragging him upstairs who showed his tongue to Eva before following his son.
Eva rolled her eyes. After cleaning the plates with tissues, she placed plates for five seats.
Soon Samuel came and made himself comfortable on chair.
“What is today for breakfast, Aunt Eva?”, He asked rubbing his hands together as his eyes danced eyeing dining table.
“For once have breakfast in your own house!”, Asher flicked back of his head before sitting down on the nearby chair.

“Oww! You know how mom is.”, He said as Eva ruffled his hair and served him omlette and bread with a glass of juice.
“Eva, serve for me too please!”, Adam said as he hurriedly sat down.
“Dad? What are you doing here?”
“Your mom was again planning to make me eat her burnt breakfast. Before she could do that, I escaped!”, He said causing both the boys and Eva to laugh out loudly.
“Gosh! Eva, why don’t we adopt this father son duo”, Aaron chuckled as he came downstairs in his crisp business suit. His looks same as ever, able to make any woman’s knees weak. Dark brown hair, sweeped and gelled back as ever. Body, more muscular and athletic than before.
“Oh shut your mouth, Aaron! You have a wife who could cook perfectly well. What do you know the struggles of having someone who doesn’t even know how to boil water. You know what she did yesterday, she called me when I was in meeting and asked, ‘Adam, how do we know that water is boiled? Small bubbles or big bubbles?’ like seriously!”, The living room echoed with sudden fits of laughter.
“What is so funny?”, Everly asked as she walked down with her pink backpack and stood beside her father, who then immediately carried her in his arms, and showered her face with ksses. Everly giggled in his embrace. Loving the feeling of being pampered by her father.
“Nothing, Tiny Warrior. Your Adam uncle was telling us his sad stories”, he said as he carried her downstairs, and kssed her forehead before settling her down on chair.
Eva served everyone breakfast, before sitting and having her own. Once breakfast was finished, Aaron and Eva went to office after dropping Everly at her school on their way. Adam dropped boys at their school and then drove towards his own office.
Samuel and Asher entered school gates. Samuel immediately enjoying the attention he was receiving from girls, while Asher paid no heed and walked up towards his locker.
Both the boys were popular, but in different ways. Samuel Davis, because of his bad boy looks and same actions. While Asher because of his bad boy looks but calm persona. Every student wondered how their friendship was still strong when they were poles opposites. Samuel never left chance to flirt with any girl, whereas Asher was always at distance from them. Both resembled their dads in every way. Just the difference was, Asher wasn’t nervous around girls. His cocky and arrogant behaviour was what attracted them more to him. But he being him, wanted to focus on studies and be worthy to handle King&Co. Leaving him no option but to stay away from girls which can be nothing but pure distraction.
“Hey kiddos!”, Emerald said ruffling their heads, making both of them groan in annoyance.
“For god’s sake, Emy! You are just 9 to 10 months older than us. Stop behaving like our elder sister!”, Asher said passing a hand through his hair, trying to get them back to how they were before.
“So? Nine to ten months aren’t enough to call me your elder sister?”, She said in mocking tone.
“Okay, sister we have class now. See you at lunch”, Samuel said before grabbing Asher’s wrist and dragging him towards their first class.
Once they entered, whole class fell in silence. After realising it wasn’t teacher, the class resumed to their loud noises. Asher as always sat down on first row, while Samuel went to back. Not liking the idea of sitting beside his best friend, then resisting himself from sleeping. Calculus never interested him.
After their first class, Asher had chemistry while Samuel had English.
“Hey”, Selena, his lab partner softly greeted him. Expecting atleast a hi back, she rolled her eyes when got nothing but mere nod.
Well, what did you expect from Mr. Don’t-talk-to-me-I-am-out-of-your-league. She thought in dismay.
“Hi”, Samuel greeted Layla, his only crush who never paid any attention to him. He hated this!
In response receiving nothing but an eye roll.
Rude! He thought clenching his jaw.
Fckboy! She thought avoiding his presence as he was seated right behind her.
Chemistry ended with Asher doing everything swiftly. His actions as smooth as any high class sports car. While Selena was having hard time to keep up with his speed. Huffing in irritation as she missed some readings!
While on the other side, English ended with Samuel doing his best to get attention from Layla while she kept ignoring him like plague.
After two more lectures, the trio met at their usual table in cafeteria.
“Ryder asked me for date!”, Emerald gushed grinning wide, awakening the protective brother mode in her both brothers.
“What?”, Both snarled causing her to gulp her own saliva.
“Don’t tell mom and dad please. You know how protective they is”, she pleaded while both boys ignored her.
“Call aunt Liza now!”, Asher said but Samuel was already dialling Liza’s number.
“Gosh!”, Emerald snatched phone from his grip and switched off device. “What is wrong with you guys!?”
“What is wrong with you, Emy! You know uncle Noah strictly made this rule. You and Everly won’t date until you are eighteen! And everyone approved on this, you too!”, Asher glared at his cousin sister, her then puffing out a breath in frustration.
“Fck this rule! You two are allowed but not us!? Sexist much!”
“It’s not about being girl or boy. Its about care and concern. They care for you and Everly”, Samuel said munching on sandwich which he stole from Asher’s tiffin.
“I will talk with dad. And I will make him accept this date. He will allow me”, she said determinedly.
“Uncle Noah will never allow you”, Asher said after snatching his sandwich from Samuel who in response pouted sadly.
“He will.”, She said passing her tiffin to Samuel who accepted happily and stuck out his tongue at Asher.
“Umm, Asher?”, A gentle voice broke the arena of bickering that surrounded table.
“Yeah?”, He looked up to see his lab partner standing rather nervously beside him.
“I kinda missed some readings. Can I get you journal please?”, She asked biting her lips, trying to cover up her abnormal breathing.
“Hmmm, yeah sure”, he said pulling out journal from his backpack before handing it to her. Then turning back to focus on the ongoing conversation of his cousins.
Feeling defeated, Selena turned and walked out. Again she failed to get his attention. She sighed, shooking her head over her stupidity.
Stop it Selena, before it gets too late!

Evening, 6:00 PM
“What a boring day!”, Aaron exclaimed throwing himself on bed.
“Indeed”, Eva nodded, before lazily laying beside her husband who immediately turned and pulled her closer.
“It’s been week that we had sex!”, He murmured nuzzling himself in her neck.
Embarrassed, Eva slapped his back. “Gosh Aaron! Stop being so blunt!”, She snapped trying to cover her flushed face.
“Let’s postpone this dinner thing. I want to eat you instead”, he said trailing a tail of wet ksses along her jaw and throat.
“Dad!”, A knock interrupted them.
“Yes, Asher?”, Aaron replied still unfazed, continuing his assault on his wife’s neck who blushed furiously realising that their son is just outside their room.
“I need some help.”
Aaron groaned in annoyance before getting up and fixing his wife’s hair, who swatted his hands away and ran in bathroom. Aaron chuckled shooking his head.
“Let’s go, champ!”, He said after opening door. Asher smiled and clasped his father’s hand, pulling him inside his room.
“I sorted out some problems. And these are some which are really difficult to solve. Help me please”, he said forwarding his notebook listed with different calculus problems.
Aaron nodded and sat down on bed. Asher sat beside him and examined his father’s actions. Trying to understand everything that his father said. Then nodding in reply.
Eva entered Everly’s room only to find her sketching. Tip toeing silently to see what her adorable girl was drawing, her eyes widened in surprise when she saw Everly trying to imitate a sketch of one of Eva’s shoe design. Though the drawing was messy with improper strokes of pencil, still it was beautiful for Eva’s eyes. After all, her daughter was trying to be like her.
“Oh mom!”, Everly quickly hided her drawing book and faced her mother with full blown smile.
“Hey, sweetheart! How was your test?”, Eva questioned while sitting beside her.
“Fine”, she replied dejectedly.
“You won’t fail, right?”
Everly quickly denied shooking her head. Eva smiled in relief.
“Good. But study hard next time”, she said before kissing her girl’s forehead. “Get ready now. Everyone will be coming soon”, she said and Everly nodded.
Coming downstairs, Eva started her preparation for tonight’s dinner. Few moments later, Asher entered and smiled at his mom’s before helping her in cooking.
He loves to cook. Specially with his mom. Not getting enough time due to school stuff and other things, cooking is the only option for mother and son to have some quality time together.
“How was today, honey?”
“Good, mom. Tomorrow we have physics test. I am nervous”, he muttered while washing some veggies that his mother gave him.
“I am slightly weak in physics and maths. Formulas, theories, I just find them complicated!”, He spoke little aggressively.
“Ask your dad for help then. Your dad was scholar”, she chuckled at last part.
“I feel ashamed. What will he think of me?”, He whispered to himself, but his words caught Eva’s attention. She frowned.
“He is your father, Asher. We are your parents. We won’t be ashamed of you. You and Everly are part of us. You know dear, me and your father didn’t had that normal childhood. We were burdened under many worries and responsibilities. What we want is for our children to never experience that. No one is perfect. Everyone have their own share of weaknesses. I was not a scholar but see where I am today. You don’t need grades to be successful. What you need is talent and hardwork. And I know that my son has every ounce of it. After all you are Asher Aaron King.”, She smiled, Asher sighed and reciprocated her smile with a nod.

After dinner was done, she ushered her son to get ready and tell his father to come down soon. Nodding, Asher rushed upstairs.
“Sissy!”, Liza’s high pitched squeal turned Eva on her place. She opened her arms and Liza left no time to pull her in embrace. Soon Chloe too joined and the trio had their bone crushing hug.
“Mumma, where is Everly?”, Emerald asked Eva.
“Go get her down. She must be in her room”, Eva said and Emerald headed upstairs.
As Eva had said, she raised Emerald by her own and asked Liza to concentrate on her career. Once Liza secured herself a position in Diva’s, she married Noah and then took Emerald with her. Though Eva raised her till she was five, she never tried to take Liza’s place as a mother. And that’s the reason, Emerald still calls her mumma. She respects her mother Eva alot.
“Hi”, Adam and Noah greeted each other. Soon Aaron joined and everybody gathered in living room.
Samuel went upstairs to bring Asher down. The kids when got down, joined their parents and tried to be the part of their conversation.
“So, Emerald, how’s your school going?”, Aaron asked.
“Great, papa”, she smiled.
“Did you talked with Uncle Noah?”, Samuel whispered in Emerald’s ear. She shook her head in response.
“About what?”, Everly asked in hushed voice.
“She was asked on a date!”, Samuel whispered and Emerald slapped him on arm. He winced.
“Emerald was asked on a date!”, Everly squealed loudly grabbing everyone’s attention. Asher tried to quite her down, but it was too late. Emerald gave Samuel a stink eye, to which he shamefully ducked his head down. Guilt clearly visible on his face.
“What?”, Noah stiffened and Liza gulped. Knowing how protective Noah is for his daughter. “If I remember, we had some rule about dating and relationships”
“Dad, he is nice guy.”, Emerald put forth her point unconfidently.
“Rule is rule, Emy! And just one more year, why so impatient?”, Aaron asked raising his eyebrows. Emerald squirmed under two pairs of intimidating eyes.
“I am sorry”, she said softly.
“Look Princess, focus on your studies. Get admission in one of the best college and then you are free to date. I am not wrong, am I?”, Noah said trying to make his daughter understand.
“Yeah, dad I understand. I am sorry.”, Emerald smiled, but was dejected from inside. Noah nodded and elders went back to continue their previous conversation.
“I am sorry”, Samuel whispered, Emerald shrugged casually.
“Anyways, he was not very good looking”, she joked, her cousins chuckled.
“I hope I’m not disturbing you guys?”, Everyone stiffened except Eva who smiled and jumped in Liam’s arms. Further asking him and his wife to come and join them.
Asher warily looked at his father, then gulping after noticing the furious look that Aaron’s face had. Aaron stood up and walked out.
“Where is Aaron?”, Eva asked not finding her husband anywhere around.
“Dad went towards the kitchen, mom”, Everly answered when no one spoke.
“I guess, I shouldn’t have come”, Liam said apologetically, Eva immediately shook her head in deny.
“Please don’t say that. Amanda, please have a seat. I will get you guys a glass of water”, the couple nodded and sat down.
“I feel unwelcomed here”, Amanda whispered to her husband.

“I know. But she is my best friend, darling. Just few minutes and we will leave”, he said to his wife, who nodded in understanding.
“Aaron, what are you doing here?”, Eva said as she took out water bottle from refrigerator and stared filling glasses.
“I won’t come out until he is gone!”, Aaron replied stubbornly.
“Aaron! Stop being a kid and come out”, she warned glaring at him.
“What the hell is he doing in our house, Eva!”, Aaron gritted.
“For god’s sake, Aaron! He is married now, has two kids. You can’t just keep holding the past!”, She said sternly.
“Mom is right, dad.”, Asher joined their conversation.
“Don’t you try to teach me!”, Aaron said furiously pointing his finger at Asher who gasped in disbelief.
“Dad, I am sorry I didn’t mean it in that way. God!”, He whispered to himself on the last word.
“Let it be, son. Your father thinks he is the best”, Eva said before storming out of kitchen with tray of glasses.
“We will leave now”, Liam said once he drank water.
“Why so soon?”
“We have flight within two hours. I just came to see you. Let’s go, Amanda?”, Amanda stood up and gave light hug to Eva.
“I am so sorry”, Eva apologized over her family’s poor hospitality.
“It’s fine”, Amanda smiled and the couple then left.
“So where were we?”, Aaron came back and sat down on his previous position like nothing happened. Eva scowled.

After dinner,
“Here!”, Handing her husband a pillow and mattress, she pushed him on couch.
“Eva, that’s not fair!”, He said standing up.
“Oh, and the way you behaved infront of Liam and Amanda was fair!?”
“Are we seriously fighting over that?”
“Yes we are!”
“You are unbelievable!”
“So are you!”
“I will sleep in my son’s room!”, He yelled before stomping out of bedroom, slamming door shut behind him.
“Hey champ!”, Aaron chirped over enthusiastically earning a frown from his son who was studying for his tomorrow’s physics test.
“Mom kicked you out”, It was more of a statement than question.
“No she didn’t! I kicked myself out!”, Aaron replied throwing himself on bed.
“That makes no sense”, Asher said still continuing his scribbling on pages.
“I know. Let me just sleep here tonight. I will try to tame her tomorrow. Bad night, sweet nightmares, my son”, he mumbled tiredly and soon dozed off in deep slumber.
“Same to you, dad”, Asher replied before concentrating on his books.
After two hours, there was a soft knock on door. “Is he asleep?”, Eva asked peeking inside bedroom.
“Yeah mom. You couldn’t sleep?”, He asked knowing how his mother need someone beside her to fall asleep.
“Yeah. I tried to go in Everly’s room but she pushed me out saying that now I am old enough to sleep alone!”, She whined causing her son to let out a chuckle.
“You should sleep now. It’s close to midnight”, Eva said rubbing her son’s arm.
“I am fine mom”
“Shall I bring you milk?”
“Coffee will be fine.”
“No coffee! It’s bad for health”
“Seriously mom!?”
“Yes. While studying, you should always drink milk. Wait, I will bring you hot chocolate”, knowing how stubborn his mom is, he nodded defeatedly. Eva grinned and rushed out of room to prepare hot chocolate for her son.
After fifteen minutes his mom was back with hot chocolate in her hand.
“You sleep here with dad, I will go and study in Everly’s room”
“She won’t let you in. Do one thing, go to your father’s study”, Eva suggested keeping glass of hot chocolate on table.
“No. Dad hates it when someone misplaces his things. I will be fine in Everly’s room.”, He said picking up his books and hot chocolate.
“Bad night, sweet nightmares, mom”, he went out after kissing his mom’s forehead.
“Yes, bro?”
“Can I come in?”
“You can”
Asher was surprised seeing his little sister studying at this time of night. “What are you studying?”
“Maths. Today’s test was really difficult. I don’t want to make mom sad due to my marks. So I am gonna ace my upcoming test!”, She smiled in hope and determination, Asher ruffled her hair lovingly before settling down on her pink study table.
“Can I drink this?”, She said eyeing the yummy glass of hot chocolate.
“We will share it.”, He said and she nodded in excitement. Drinking half of it, she left remaining half for her brother and went back towards bed to continue her studies.
After another one hour, Asher stood up and tidied study table. Coming downstairs, he kept the empty glass in sink and came back. Picking up Everly’s books, he kept them on bedside table and tucked her into bed. Sliding beside her, he got under covers and turned off night lamp. “Bad night, sweet Nightmares, Tiny Warrior”, he whispered before k!ssing her forehead. In response, Everly cuddled in her brother’s arms.
The weird greeting which started off with hatred, turned into loving gesture and continued as a ritual.

Story by Skwookie

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