Chapter 10 - Secret Scion

Carter held back his anger as he spat out, "Dylan has already been crippled, and the Stewards are experiencing millions in losses from our business. Is this not enough to make up for Erick's faults? Why do you insist on being this vicious? Why won't you leave us a way out?"

Radley said nothing, only smiling in an ingratiating manner.  

Carter was also at his wit's end. The Leonards were powerful. The Stewards were simply no match. It was not as if he had no connections, but no one had the nerve to offer aid having been deterred by the Leonards.  

He could not tide the matter over, and there was no avoiding it. What was Carter supposed to do now?  

Carter took a deep breath before helplessly replying after a long while, "The Stewards cannot lose Erick. Why don't we negotiate new terms, Radley? We'll do anything if you let him go."  

"Oh, really?" Radley narrowed his eyes. "How about this for starters? Every Steward woman above the age of eighteen will come with me and become maids at the Leonard household. They must obey our every word until the five years is up. The Stewards cannot intervene even if they're worked like slaves. They will regain their status as kin to the Stewards once five years have passed. I will let Erick go if you agree to these terms."  

Radley spouted these words to insult the Stewards before the crowd. If every young Steward woman ended up as maids to the Leonards, how could the family still have the resolution to remain in Rollinsford?  

Everyone present could not help but laugh at Radley's words.  

Someone was chuckling as they jeered, "Just accept the terms, Carter. It's just becoming a maidservant. Nothing serious. Master Radley will return them in five years. Haha."  

Freya Sullivan could not help but frown. Radley was being a bit of a bully.  

Carter spluttered with anger as the group of men roared with laughter. "No! Don't even think about it, Radley Leonard!"  

Carter was furious, and all the young Steward women were watching Radley with great disgust, cursing him as the vile scumbag he was. Yet, not one of them dared to stand up and say a word.  

That was when Livia's temper began to flare. She squeezed through the crowd and yelled, "You're a bastard and a scum, Radley! Leave us, or I'm calling Ash so he can come teach you a lesson!"  

"Ash? You mean Asher?" Radley was still concerned about being unable to locate Asher. It would be a great help to him if Livia were to summon him here.

"Of course it's Asher. Who else could it be but him?" Livia answered with her chest held high. "Ash is no ordinary man. You would leave now if you were a smart man. Don't make a fool of yourself."

"What kind of man is he if he's no ordinary man?" Radley guffawed. "You're actually trying to scare me with a loser, Livia? That's funny."  

Some Stewards were sharing looks of dismay hearing Livia's words. She could not have found anyone else? Was bringing Asher up not self-flagellation?  

"Julian, have you ever met Noelle's husband, Asher?" Freya asked in a low whisper.

Julian nodded. "I've met him twice. There isn't anything particularly notable about him."

Freya likewise inclined her head in agreement. "I don't know him but I've heard much about him. He married into the Stewards' ranks two years ago and stayed their good-for-nothing tagalong. The incident made Noelle, the heaven's favored, the joke of Rollinsford. I just don't understand why Livia would bring Asher up."

Not only was Freya and Julian ridiculing her, the Leonard youngsters were also in hysterics.

"Have you fallen for your useless in-law, Livia?" A Leonard girl sneered. She was Radley's cousin, Mikaela Leonard.  

"There's a high possibility that Livia has fallen for Noelle's husband. This is Rollinsford's greatest scoop. Haha."  

Livia also had no idea what came over her as a fierce blush overtook her face. She attempted to deny the claims, but as a result, the shade of red only grew darker. Even Noelle was flushed scarlet.  

Carter was outraged. "Shut your mouth, Livia. Stop mentioning that trash!"  

Radley interjected, "How about this, Carter? Have Livia and Noelle become maidservants to the Leonards, and we'll just let this matter with Erick slide. What are your thoughts?"  

He said all this to provoke Livia into calling Asher.  

Carter gave Livia a once-over before answering, "You can have Noelle, but Livia is absolutely off limits."  

"Grandpa…" Noelle couldn't believe her ears.  

Carter harrumphed. "Don't call me grandpa. You were no longer worthy of being a Steward from the moment you married Asher."  

Realization finally dawned on her, leaving her disheartened and disillusioned. She no longer thought fondly of the Stewards. "If I'm so unworthy of being a Steward, why do you keep controlling my life?"  

This was Noelle's first time in her twenty-five years of life that she was going against Carter. She would not have ever made such rude remarks toward her grandfather if she were not so dispirited by him.

Carter's face gradually darkened.  

Noelle went on, "You forced me to marry Radley two years ago. You said that it was for my own good when in reality it was for the benefit of the family. You were thinking that this union between the two families would provide the Stewards a pillar of support, am I right? Erick's racing incident has nothing to do with me, and yet you keep pressuring me to sacrifice myself for his sake over and over again."

"I was a fool, Grandpa. If I had known how insignificant I was to you, I would've left this family alongside Asher rather than divorce him. I'll leave since you've never once regarded me as your granddaughter!"  

Noelle's eyes were red as tears rolled down her cheeks.  

It was only now that she was experiencing what it was like for Asher to have been expelled from the family. If time could be rewound, she would rather lose her identity as a lady of the Steward household than lose the man that had stayed by her side for two years.  

She felt great remorse.  

"Wretch!" Carter slapped her across her face and jabbed a finger at her, angrily hollering, "You have the blood of the Stewards running through your veins. Your life was given to you by the Stewards. It's not your place to choose! If you still insist on taking Steward women, Radley, take Noelle!"

The sight of Carter being so heartless had her despondent.  

Radley shook his head. "I said only if Livia also becomes a servant to the Leonards."  

"You can forget about it, Radley!" Livia glared daggers at Radley as she wiped Noelle's tears away. "Don't cry, Elle. I'll call up Asher now and have him save us!"

"Do you really think that wimp can save you? When he said those words, he was just looking for a way out of it. Are you so naive that you think he has the ability to protect you? How foolish can you be?! I made myself clear that day that Asher will never interact with the Stewards again. And now you're asking him for help? Why don't you just spit in my face while you're at it!"  

"Are you saying you want Elle and me to become servants to the Leonards, Grandpa?" Livia asked.  

Carter threatened sullenly, "You'll end up just like Noelle if you call Asher. You'll have nothing more to do with us whether you live or die!"  

Despite Carter making threats against Livia, the latter still chose to dial Asher's number. It did not take long for his voice to come through the receiver. "Is something the matter, Lily?"

"Save me, Ash. Radley is forcing Noelle and me to be his family's maid servants," Livia explained as she sobbed. "I'd rather die than have them take me away."  

Asher gave his answer after remaining silent for a few seconds. "I'll be there in ten minutes."

Livia rejoined Noelle after she put her phone away. "Ash will be here to save us, Elle. We don't have to be afraid anymore."

Noelle did not respond. Even the Stewards could not keep them safe. What was Asher supposed to do?  

Radley lit a cigarette in an unhurried manner then shared a look with Freya and Julian. "Well, shall we wait for ten minutes? I'd like to see if the piece of trash Asher is as great as Livia claims him to be."  

Mikaela laughed. "Asher is probably lying to Livia. I don't think he's going to show up unless he's suicidal."  

Radley did not say a word to that. He only continued to smile wryly.  

The moment Asher received the call from Livia, he immediately hailed a cab to the Steward's residence.  

Asher closed his eyes and meditated along the way. It was not hard to save Livia. He was just worried his identity would be revealed.  

He, however, could not ignore the matter. Fuck it. He would just leave Rollinsford after his secret comes to light.  

Asher took in the sight of the lively spectacle as the cab pulled up outside the mansion.  

Having married into the Steward household meant that Asher would typically follow Noelle around to meet the sons and daughters of Rollinsford with elevated statuses. Radley had indeed met a few of the individuals that Radley had brought along with him.  

Freya of the Sullivans?

Julian of the Hoffmans?  

Asher's brows creased. He had not expected them to be here. Would the four great households not be assembled here if the Yaegers also showed up?