Chapter 1 - Resent, Reject, Regret

Chapter 1 That Child Has to Go

“Mrs. McKinney? Congratulations! You’re one month along!” The doctor’s excitement only made Deirdre McKinnon’s face pale. It was as though something had drained every drop of blood from her body. “Are you, uh, sure?” she asked gingerly. “I’m certain what I had was just gastric pain. I don’t think a pregnancy would be even possible. Can you just… check again?” “Mrs. McKinney, have you had sex in the past month?” “Y-Yes?” “Did you use protection? Did you take the morning-after pill?” Deirdre thought about all those times Brendan had ravaged her and shook her head. “There we go,” the doctor concluded with a smile, as though he could not understand her incredulity. “You had unprotected sex and didn’t take the morning-after pill. Of course the probability of getting pregnant would be high. Why would you think it’s impossible?” Deirdre had no counter-argument. She clenched her hand around her chest, hesitated, and asked tentatively, “C-Can you… amend that report for me, doctor? Make it state that I’m not pregnant. Please, just do this one favor for me. I’ll pay you! I’ll pay you handsomely for your trouble, I—” The doctor frowned. “I’m gonna have to stop you right there, ma’am. Our establishment does not break the law, and what you’re asking me to do is a crime. Now, if you’ll excuse me… Next!” Deirdre’s fingers were pressed against the report as she slipped out of the hospital, staggering and unsure what to do. The streets outside were as busy and bustling as she had left them, and yet something was holding her back from crossing them and returning home. She was terrified. What if Brendan found out? Tolerating Deirdre’s existence alone had exhausted his patience—he would terminate her pregnancy in a heartbeat. Deirdre traced a circle gingerly on her abdomen with a trembling finger. She looked down, eyes staring. She really wanted to keep the child. However, as her mind furiously searched for a plan, the man in question called her before any ideas could take form. Deirdre balked a little, but she ultimately answered the phone. The voice that reverberated from the other side was a low, baritone grumble. “Done? Get back here. Now.” Brendan’s patience was notoriously minimal. She was only allowed to leave his sight for an unforgiving 30-minute window. The journey back home was a nerve-wracking one, and by the time Deirdre arrived at the manor’s living room, Brendan was on his way down from the second floor. He had just left the house’s restricted

area. Brendan Brighthall was wearing silky pajamas today, and his undone collar exposed his chiseled chest in all its magnificence. He’d had time to groom his hair into a slicked-back hairdo, and his facial features were unforgettably and arrestingly handsome. It was his physical perfection—a kind of beauty that could only be found in one out of a million men—that had captured Deirdre’s heart six years ago. She had been bewitched into becoming his unloved, long-suffering wife for two years. A cigarette rested between Brendan’s fingers, and a thick stench wafted about him and invaded Deirdre’s nose. It reminded her sharply that she was now pregnant, so she instinctively held her breath. Then, she heard him ask, “What did the report say?” Deirdre held her breath even harder so that not even a sigh would escape. She hoped against hope that she could fool him. “I-It’s all good! Yep. No p-problem at all.” “Then explain your vomiting spree back in the family mansion.” “Gastric problems!” Deirdre pressed her lips, determined to avoid his black, unfathomable eyes. “I-Irregular eating schedule, you know? It’s, uh, something I’m used to having…” The air thickened around them, and the silence was grotesque. The man seemed to have cast his eyes on her, as his gaze was burning her from above the stairs. Deirdre bit her lip and clenched her hands in a panic. Just as she thought her jig was up, Brendan walked past her and headed to the couch. “Lunch. I’m hungry.” Deirdre was stunned. Relief dawned upon her in small but tangible doses, and she dashed into the kitchen. She had always been good at cooking. Her meals contributed a lot to the scarce peace that existed between the two of them outside of their monthly gatherings at the family mansion. Brendan adored her cooking enough that he sometimes came here just to help himself to it. Still, the biggest reason he ever showed up here was because he wanted to see… her. The meal was ready in half an hour. It was a modest course, and Deirdre filled Brendan’s bowl with chicken broth and took a seat by his side. She then ate in silence. She had not always been this graceful and elegant. Brendan had hammered all that upper- class decorum into her throughout the years so that she would now emulate some sort of composure. At least her eating habits were no longer jarring to observers. There were still some things Deirdre could not replicate. She could never, for example, exude as much elegance and class as Brendan. No one could possibly get bored of watching him eat. She got to her feet, ready to wash the dishes as soon as the meal was over. As she reached out for the dishes he had used, Brendan suddenly spoke

up. “I talked to Steven. You’re going out with him later.” Steven Young? That was Brendan’s personal assistant. Deirdre froze mid-action. “Where are we going?” she asked hastily. “Do they want me to visit the family mansion today? Or is this about her old friend… Um, if it’s nothing urgent, can we postpone the visit until tomorrow? I just had a check-up, so I was hoping I could—” “You’re going to the hospital.” He did not even look up from the table as cruel words fell out of his lips. “I really thought you’d play ball and take your pills, Deirdre. That child has to go.”

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