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   Chapter 43 Forty Three

Mr. Beautiful (Billionaire #2) By Margarette Grey Characters: 11812

Updated: 2020-07-12 14:01


AUDREY

Gabriel's painter friend excused herself first and left me alone with him, and I didn't want to stay at the restaurant so he invited me for a walk.

The Stark sport estate has been just purely astonishing. I guessed even if I tire my feet for a day of walking, I wouldn't be able to finish. I've always thought my father had wealth unimaginable, but clearly, there were always people who were above others.

Gabriel let me walk ahead of him for a new more minute while he was behind me. I was still gathering myself, compiling the questions in my head. We were strolling by the round of the track and field stadium, and there's no one else around but us. Everyone was resting in their rooms for the games tomorrow.

I lifted my arms in the air and took a deep breath and turned around to face him while walking in back steps, and Gabriel matching my pace.

"I honestly don't know what to say, Gabriel, " I admitted. "I don't know what to ask. I don't know how to open up." I shook my head. "I tried to give it a thought alone, but nothing was happening."

"I know it's hard. Come." He reached out a hand to me, and without hesitation, I held on to his hand and walked next to him. "What exactly are you thinking about when you found out it was me?"

"That you're actually Liam?"

He nodded simply.

"I can't believe it." I crossed my arms. "It's beyond my comprehension."

"What exactly can't you believe, Audrey? I think I've sent you some hints, but you didn't seem to want to believe what's already in front of your eyes. It starts like that, Audrey. Belief."

I looked up his gorgeous face, his chiseled jaw, and he was still 'Gabriel' to me. Well, he is Gabriel. I just couldn't look at him as the guy I first met in the train before, and that teenage boy Samuel introduced to me to run away.

"How should I put it?" I said. "Looking at you like this doesn't really help. I can't see Liam. You look like him, but it's like you are a completely different person. You're Gabriel."

He smirked. "I would very surprise if you think he's still me. I am Gabriel, Audrey, because that's what I want the people to think and see." He shifted his gaze at my side. "This is who I am now, and don't confuse yourself. You just have to accept the fact that we were both tangled up in the web of our pasts."

I set my eyes back in the field. The wind was skin-shuddering, but its iciness didn't help to ease the tension between us.

"Are we going to talk about this now?"

He chuckled. "What else do you think we're doing? But thank you for not taking long to reach out to me. You're learning."

"You hated waiting." I smiled back at him—finally for the first time since that night. It's been almost a week since I tried to distance myself.

"What happened to you?" And finally, I asked.

"Now we're really talking." He flashed out a pleasant grin. "As what you can see, I survived. Audrey, everyone in our town thinks I was dead, but I got away."

"How? I saw you being taken by my father's men. What did they do to you?"

"I was tortured, whipped, stabbed…" The frown in his brows deepened. "I didn't know how I survived, Audrey. The last thing I remembered was being thrown away in the lake, and I woke up in a hospital two days later and Dad's—I mean, Elazar Stark's assistant was there next to me. They found me. I thought I was going to die."

Elazar. Of course. Liam mentioned this name before. How could I be so blind and so deaf of the things happening around me? I was easily fooled by my own intuition.

I clenched my fist and gritted my teeth in unison. I was apparently ashamed of my 0wn father, as he was the root of all our miseries. I wondered if he even had a soul left in his body. How could a person be so evil—let alone my own flesh and blood?

"I'm sorry about what happened. I should have been stronger, but I wasn't. I was a coward." I apologized from the bottom of my heart.

"You were young. We were."

I nodded. "And then? What happened next?"

"I looked for you, but you were gone. I thought you abandoned me, " he confessed.

"I did, " I admitted. "I did abandon you. I'm sorry again for that."

He let out a half-smile. "How are you feeling now?"

"Better now. It's enlightening." I smiled.

"Because we're communicating. How easy it is, right?" His eyes gleamed. "For the next few months, the Starks found me, I was lost, and there I met Coulson. He was once an introvert kid, doesn't speak to anyone, and sitting almost his entire life in the wheelchair. As a child, he was very weak, and we found and helped each other, we've become… brothers. He started walking again and he's the reason why I am who I am now."

"That explains your very close relationship. But what do you mean, he started walking again?"

"He had a knee failure from bone cancer, but he's all better now. He's very healthy and somehow drove him to get surgery. He trusted me. I trust him. That's how it works. But don't tell him I told you." He winked at me.

"Don't worry." I genuinely grinned. "And you are brothers. That's why."

"Yes." He exhaled in relief. "The Starks saved me, Audrey, and gave me a purpose, but deep within, I was still angry with what your family did to me—well, I still am—to your father." A muscle in his jaw rippled. "Your father killed my parents, Audrey. I'll make him pay for what he did."

The normal reaction of a child hearing those things referring to one's own father would be general. It would rage and disappointment towards the person who wanted to harm her family, but that wasn't the case for me.

"I want Edward Hopkins to be stopped, Gabriel, " I said. "For everything that he has done for us."

Gabriel suddenly stopped and gazed at me in surprise. "You're not against it?" he asked softly.

I shook my head. "You're not a bad person, Gabriel. I know you won't do what he did to you s

o I trust you. He neglected me and my mother, but he's still my father. However…" I paused, slightly hesitating "I want to learn more about myself."

We continued the stroll. "What do you mean?"

"He told me I wasn't his daughter, " I confessed. "At first, I thought he only told me that because I was a bad daughter who ran away from home and he didn't want me anymore but calling my mother a…"

"A what, Audrey?"

"Whore, " I whispered. "It's something I can't ever accept. Him, insulting the only person the one who accepted him wholly and raised his children from another woman as her own. My father had two wives first before Mom, but Samuel and Anton are from the same mother. His second wife."

"And you thought maybe you're not his biological daughter?"

I nodded. "Somehow, but I don't know. Maybe I was only being delusional, wanting to run away from him."

"What if that's the case?" he asked.

"It'd be easier to move on—to finally let him go and fight back." I shrugged. "He has taken everything from me."

Gabriel nodded and looked at the space as if in deep thoughts, then spoke again, "What if I tell you that it was the case? I mean, the real case. Will you help me?"

"Help you with what?"

"Audrey… There's something else you need to know. Something that you might don't want." We stopped in the middle of our stroll again and he took both my hands and kissed each hand alternately.

"What is it?"

"I've had your background checked ever since the day we met again. During your interview, I already know who you are."

I snorted. "Why am I not surprised?"

"But I'm not keeping secrets from you anymore, " he promised. "But you should know now." He cupped the back of my neck, his thumb brushing my cheek. "I'm looking after Samuel's death, but my investigator and lawyer is still on it, and in a matter of time, they'll be able to find out who murdered him. And yes, you may be right. You're probably not your father's daughter, Audrey."

I blinked, unable to speak for a moment. "Why? What did you find out? But wait." I shut my eyes. "I'm asking because I'm curious, but it doesn't mean I want you doing a CI about me."

He chuckled richly. "That's why I'm telling you. Anyway, um…" he paused. "You're maybe not a Hopkins and so as Samuel."

"What? Why?"

"My investigator was only looking after Sam's case, but he also found out that he appears to be your real brother—from the same parents, and it's not Edward Hopkins."

I scowled, and my legs and abruptly felt icy. "What? What do you mean?"

"I only had a suspicion before that you might not be Edward's daughter."

"Why would you suspect that?"

"Audrey, I saw your birth records, and Edward's name is not listed as the father. It was left blank."

I nodded. Yes, but I always thought it's just a matter of registry error. He even managed to dig it up to that point? Oh, Gabriel.

"And how he treated you—selling his daughter and marrying her off to some old man, " he went on. "No real father would do that to his own daughter."

"I couldn't believe it myself either, " I agreed to him to his last statement.

"So I sent someone to the hospital who took Samuel's body to do some DNA test with your sample, and the results came a two days ago. You and Samuel were definitely siblings by blood because the DNA matched, so I stopped my speculation. I was convinced you're Edward's daughter."

"But?" I breathed. My heartbeat quickening in each word he's saying.

"But accompanied to the DNA test, my investigator sent me the authentic documents of Samuel from the registry, and a name Michele Andolini was listed as his father, and do you know who his mother was?"

"What? I think his mother's name was Maria."

"No. It was Georgina Rossi, Audrey. Your mother's name."

I caught my mouth in pure shock and my eyes grew wide along with it.

"Samuel was your brother, Audrey, " Gabriel said. "He's your real brother. It means you both are not a Hopkins."

"Oh my God." I felt a tear rushed on my cheek, and the building tension in my chest finally exploded. "But Dad, he loved Samuel. He loved him more than me. He mourned for him when he—"

I stopped. I was then reminded that he did not attend the funeral. It couldn't be. What the hell was happening?

Gabriel's arms instantly hovered around me, soothing me with every stroke he made at my back. I buried my face on his chest and finally cried so hard.

"I'm sorry, " he said lowly. "I'm sorry for getting angry at you for the last eight years—the woman who's a victim herself. The woman I love."

I momentarily stopped at the word he uttered. Slowly, I looked up at his impossibly beautiful face and his eyes had never looked so affectionate as it was now.

"What?" I breathed.

His lips curled in amusement. "What?"

"You said—" I cut off my sentence, completely understanding now that Gabriel wasn't the person to talk about his feelings—but rather showing it.

I glided my arms around his waist, squeezing him against me so hard, that I realized how much I really missed him. Those days without his touch has been torture.

I love you too…

"Finally, " he stated.

"Hmm?"

"Finally, you found me again. You remember your first."

Did I? I chuckled. Yes, I did. I think I understand him now. He was the first who held me, the first lips I ever kissed, and the first man I ever trusted.

"Yes…" You're Gabriel—the boy I first admired.

"We'll get through this together, Audrey. You and I, " he whispered. "We still have a lot to figure out, but we will do it together."

I nodded. "I trust you, and I accept your proposition." I searched for his eyes. "I want the painting now, Gabriel. I'll do it, " I declared. "But we're not done talking."

He laughed. "Of course. Stay with me tonight, if you want, " he offered.

I hugged him again. "I will stay with you tonight."

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