There were just five words, but they were typed over and over, up to the bottom of the screen.

I love him so much.

I love him so much.

I love him so much.

His eyes closed, and it was like time rewinding, and he imagined the two of them, seated apart, and while he had distracted himself with calls so that he would not have an excuse to look at her or talk to her—-

She had already known what he had planned.

She had already known that he intended to hurt her.

She had already known, and still she had typed this.

I love him so much.

Luca stared sightlessly at the screen, and the words broke him.

Dio.

What a fool he had been.

Chapter Thirteen

“A letter for you today.” Leaning against the doorway, Luca dangled the letter from his fingers, and his lips curved in a brief smile as he saw his daughter’s face glow with excitement. Climbing quickly out of her bed, Eula nearly tripped on her way to him and Luca immediately crouched down to help her keep her balance.

“Slow down. This letter isn’t going anywhere.”

“But I’m excited,” she explained as she took the letter from his hands. As always, it was sealed and addressed to Eula. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her to his bedroom, which had felt too empty since his wife had left.

“I’m going to sleep in your room again, Papa?”

“You don’t want to?”

“You’re scared again?”

This time, he simply didn’t feel like lying, and he heard himself say, “No. Just…sad.”

When he settled Eula down on the bed, she quickly embraced him and stroked his head like he was her pet. “It’s okay, Papa.”

Ah.

Kissing her forehead, he settled next to her and after pulling the covers up to their waists, he gestured towards the letter. “Shall we read it?”

Nodding eagerly, Eula tore open the envelope carefully and unfolded the letter. Clearing her throat, she read the note haltingly, her brows furrowed in concentration.

Once upon a time,

A princess went on an adventure

To share new stories every day

With her little girl.

He listened quietly to yet another new story, and again he was impressed at the clever way in which Vivi had ensured Eula would not pine in her absence. As far as his daughter was concerned, she still believed that Vivi would come back one day and the only reason she was gone was because of the stories she wanted Eula to enjoy.

Ironically, it was Luca, the adult, who was pining, and seeing the vast empty space beside him that his little girl couldn’t quite fill only made everything worse. It had been more than a month since he had last seen her.

Thirty-seven days of not hearing her voice, of not knowing where she was, what she was doing, or who she was with. All her letters and messages had been coursed through their lawyers, and every time he had asked to speak with her, Vivi’s legal counsel had only a poker-faced reply.

My client’s stand on the issue remains unchanged.

“Papa, what is this word?”

Looking down, he saw what she was pointing at and spelled it out.

“Thank you.” Clearing her throat, Eula continued with the last paragraph of the story.

And so the mystery is solved.

Now it is time for the princess

To go to bed.

For tomorrow a new adventure awaits,

And she is excited

To share it with her little girl,

Who she will always love.

This little girl has the princess’ heart,

And if she has need of the princess,

She only has to call,

And the princess will be back the moment she opens her eyes.

“The End,” Eula finished.

He tipped her chin up. “Happy?”

She nodded with a yawn. “It was a great story.”

When he switched the lights off, his little girl snuggled closer to him and said sleepily, “Good night, Papa.”

He kissed her hair. “Good night, principesa.”

“I love you, Papa.”

“Love you, too.”

“I also love Vivi.”

His throat closed, and his hand, which had been stroking her hair, stilled. A few moments later, he whispered bleakly in the dark, “I love her, too.”

But no one heard him. Eula was already asleep, and the woman his words were meant for was gone. He had pushed her away.

Luca stared up at the ceiling.

I love you, Vivi.

If he wanted to, he knew he could hire investigators to find out where she was, and it wouldn’t even take either much of his time or money. But he didn’t. Every time Luca had an urge to see her or hear her voice, he would also inevitably remember the last time he had seen her—-

He would remember the way she had looked at him, crying in silence, like her pain had stolen her ability to speak.

And when she finally had—-

Never let me see you again.

Those words had hurt, but remembering how she looked, he knew that it had hurt her more to speak them.

Luca closed his eyes, and still the memories were inescapable. He remembered the last words she had typed on her phone—-


Tags: Marian Tee Romance
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