Chapter 4 - Secret Scion

Noelle was taken aback. She had not expected Radley to show up so soon and offer them no time to prepare at all.  

Carter was likewise taken by panic. He fixed Noelle an angry stare and hurried out of the study.

The Steward household's backyard was now a bustling hub.  

Radley Leonard's countenance was grim, and his slitted eyes were fueled by anger. Just one look would keep the Stewards silent.  

Behind him were seven to eight towering, burly men. Anyone who knew Radley would be made aware that they were combat experts that he had picked out to be his bodyguards.

Radley, however, seldom went about with them by his side. For him to have brought so many of his men with him was a rare sight even for Erick Steward. He had assumed that Radley was here for him and wanted to run away out of the sheer horror.  

"I want Asher Craig before me in half an hour. Otherwise, the Stewards will bear my wrath!"

Erick felt only relief when he heard that Radley was here for Asher.  

"There's no need for all this, Mr. Leonard," Carter hurried over and said with an apologetic smile. "I've heard all about it. I would've had that scoundrel tied up and delivered to your doorstep even if you hadn't come by. He's all yours."

Radley seemed to soften with Carter showing up. "If that's the case, just hand Asher over to me, Mr. Steward."  

"I'll be honest with you. Asher isn't here. I'll contact him and have him over as soon as possible. In the meantime, why don't you wait in the living room and take a short break." Carter shot Noelle a look. "Noelle, escort Mr. Leonard to the main room."

"This way please, Mr. Leonard," Noelle muttered tersely.  

Noelle set down a cup of tea before Radley when they got to the main room.

Radley flashed her a cold grin. "If you had married me back then, would Carter still order you around this way? It's a pity you only get one chance at it. Once you miss it, you miss it for good."

"There's no need to mention the past," Noelle spoke curtly.  

Noelle's indifference displeased him. The Stewards were already in great danger. What right did she have to act so arrogantly?  

Carter then walked in. "I've sent someone to locate Asher. I'll have him within half an hour for you. But what are you going to do with him, Mr. Leonard?"  

Radley did not answer immediately but glanced at Noelle. He smiled when he noticed that she was also looking at him with worry. "Will the Stewards intervene if I take his hands?"

Noelle shivered in fear when she learned that Radley intended to sever Asher's hands. In any case, this matter had blown out of proportion because of her. Being in Asher's shoes helped her see that he was only trying to protect his wife. It was understandable.  

That was why Noelle did not want to see Asher injured.  

"Of course not," Carter answered decisively. "I have long wanted him gone from my family. That waste-of-space isn't worthy of Noelle. And now, here he is brandishing his fist at you, Mr. Leonard. The Stewards want nothing to do with him. It has nothing to do with us whether he lives or dies."

"And you share this sentiment as well?" Radley gave Noelle a look. 

Noelle frowned, and just as she was about to speak up, Carter coughed. "Think it through before you speak, Noelle."  

The woman was too frightened to speak under Carter's piercing gaze.  

Carter, of course, noticed the situation. He simply chuckled. "She likely shares my sentiments since she isn't saying anything. Have some tea, Mr. Leonard."  

Noelle prayed to herself, praying that Asher would not be so foolish as to come here. That would be the only way he could conceivably extricate himself from his fate.  

Twenty minutes later, Erick hurried in. "Asher is here, Grandpa."

Noelle's delicate frame trembled. She hurriedly looked in the direction of the door as a slender man walked in. He was none other than Asher.  

She wanted to walk over to speak with him, but he seemed to not want to give her the time of day. Noelle could not help but bite her lip as a feeling she could not quite describe surfaced in her heart.  

Asher's undivided attention used to be on her whenever she was present no matter the time nor place.

Yet, he would not look her way. Had the slap earlier broken his heart?  

Noelle subconsciously bit her lip when she thought it through.  

Carter went straight to the point the moment Asher walked in. "You've got guts, Asher. You're even fighting against Mr. Leonard now? You've plucked up some courage, huh?!"

Asher stared apathetically at Radley. "If he can beat me up as he pleases, why can't I fight back?"  

If he had not fought back at that time, would he not have been slapped in vain?  

The younger family members of the Stewards gritted their teeth when they heard his nonsensical words. Was this bastard actually stupid or was he faking it? He was a useless in-law. How could he possibly compare to the Leonard's heir?  

Erick was tempted to run up to Asher to beat him up. He pointed his way, spluttering in anger, "He's the Leonard's heir. Who do you think you are?! If we, the Stewards, haven't been covering for you for the past two years, you'd be nothing! If you're that eager to die, stay the fuck away from us. Stop dragging us into your bullshit!" 

The Leonard's heir?

A mere descendant of the Leonards could be considered an heir?  

It was obvious that Asher did not take Radley seriously. He just could not wrap his head around the fact that Noelle would slap him for Radley. He had set aside his identity and dignity for two years, but reality had given him a vicious slap to the face.

"How do you want to solve this?" Asher looked toward Radley.  

"You'll find out once you come with me." He gestured for his bodyguards when he finished saying so and the said men approached Asher.  

"Hold it," Carter suddenly interjected.  

Radley raised a brow and squinted, "Do you intend to stop me from taking him, Master Steward?"  

The only reason Radley was respectfully referring to Carter as Master Steward was because he had no intention to rend the Stewards from limb to limb for the time being. It was only a matter of time before the Leonards eradicate the Stewards. It just seemed unreasonable to destroy them for a single car accident.  

That was why the Leonards had not made a move. This was to clear up the air between all parties. The Stewards may be a third-rate family, but they did hold some influence in Rollinsford.  

If not for this, Radley would have turned against Carter a long time ago.

"Of course not. But some things have to be said."  

Carter got to his feet as he spoke, his eyes sweeping through the crowd before landing on Asher. "As the head of the Stewards, Asher Craig and Noelle Steward will hereby terminate their marital relationship. They'll not be allowed to contact each other from this moment forward. Asher will also not be welcomed in the Steward home!"  


The statement stirred the crowd in the main room. The youngsters of the Steward household could not help but whisper to one another with some even reaching Asher's ears.

"Grandpa is finally driving that piece of trash away. We've supported him for two years and here he is causing trouble."  

"That's right. Everything he owns, from the food he eats to the things that he uses, belong to us, the Stewards. He mustn't be allowed to stay after doing what he did."

"He's nothing without our protection. He can't even match up to a dog."  

The words were harsh but Asher disregarded them. All he wanted to hear was Noelle's thoughts on the matter. "Are you the one who wants a divorce?"  

There was a wave of sorrow in Asher's deep-set eyes. Noelle suddenly found herself so afraid she could not look her husband in the eye. Her slender fingers were clenched tightly together, and a layer of sweat oozed from her palms.  

She had assumed that she did not care for Asher at all, that getting a divorce would not matter, but the truth was that her heart ached. She was afraid she would lose this man at that exact moment.  

It was only now that Noelle realized her silent companion of two years had long since nestled himself into her heart.  

"You're free to reject the annulment of your marriage, Noelle. But that would mean that Asher will remain a part of the Stewards. In that case, I would have to look to the Stewards for an explanation," Radley threatened with narrowed eyes.  

This woman had disgraced him two years ago, and now two years later, he would watch as the husband-and-wife duo become each other's enemy, falling out due to an imminent disaster. What a show.  

Carter spoke in haste, "Are you retarded, Noelle? Say something!"  

Noelle roughly pinched her thigh and mustered her calmest tone of voice possible. "Asher… Let us go our separate ways."

Carter could not help but let out a sigh of relief. It was a good thing that Noelle was not being stubborn. If she insisted on not getting a divorce, it would be tantamount to adding fuel to the fire, which would only aggravate Radley further. The Stewards would be implicated as a result.  

"You heard her, Asher. Noelle has decided to divorce you. You can forget about pestering her ever again." Carter then looked back at Radley with a chuckle. "You can take him away, Mr. Leonard. It has nothing to do with us whether he lives or dies."  

"You knew it would come to this. You shouldn't have broken it off back then!" Radley glanced at Noelle. "Take him away."