I sit in my office as the CEO of my restaurant group, Charlie's Place, named after my five-year-old son Charlie. I can not believe it is over six years since the awful night of my life. I think back on the life I led before that night, and even that was not a happy life. I have been miserable most of my life until that night changed my life and me forever. I am so glad now I have my son, he is the love of my life, and I am no longer part of the Johnson family.
It all started when I was born. I was not planned. My mother and father were happy with their Crown Prince, my brother James. I was a girl, and I think the only reason I was not aborted was because of my Grandmother, who was very religious and still the head of the Johnson family at that time. My childhood was not a happy one. My mother and father basically ignored my existence, and I started hanging out more with the staff in our family restaurants' kitchen. I was ten when I started cooking with the staff, and our head chef Pierre taught me to make all kinds of foods from around the world. I enjoyed it. I never had friends as my brother, and I was homeschooled. So every day after I was done with schooling, I would go to the restaurant as it was the only place I felt at home. I got chubby when I was around ten, and my mother hated even seeing me. To my father, I just never existed. I did not really care as I used not to have any parental love anyway. I did have my Grandmother though, she adored me, and I always cooked for her. When she passed away, I was devastated, but she left me her fortune to get the day I turned 20. I guess she had a feeling I would need it.
At the age of sixteen, my brother got his first car, a Porsche, and became friends with Paul Stevens. They were known as Houston's playboys, where both the Stevens family group and Johnson family group's head offices were. It was also our home town or rather a city. I never really talked to them as we lived our own lives in the house. My mum had her woman club stuff, my dad, the business and golf, my brother fast cars and beautiful girls, and the kitchen at home and the restaurant. When I turned sixteen, I got a small Mazda from my parents. They said it was a girl's car, and little girls do not drive fast fancy cars. I did not care. I had a car, and it took me where I wanted to be. My brother and his friends were at university. I went to culinary school and was one of my teacher's best pupils as I could already cook any dish. I finished before the rest of the students as I was much more advanced than they were. I learned from the best, Pierre. I was still overweight, and tasting my own cooking did not help much.
When I was nineteen, fresh from culinary school and excited about starting a career as a chef, I went to my father. I asked him if I could be a chef in one of his restaurants. I was even willing to begin at the bottom, but he chased me out and said Paul Steven's father contacted him. Paul and I will be married soon. I was stunned. I did not even know him well, and I disliked him anyway as he was just like my brother, a playboy. I stood up to my parents for the first time in my life and said I refused to marry him. My father said if I marry him, he will give me one of the restaurants to run. Still, of course, it was a lie to trick me into marrying the handsome playboy, so in the end, I was married. It was just a small family gathering as Paul was embarrassed by his ugly fat new wife. I knew the only reason for this marriage was for the Stevens group and Johnson group to merge, and they started a new chain of restaurants called Harmonies. James and Paul ran harmonies.
I was nothing in Paul's eyes, and he just went on as he did before our so-called "marriage." I was to stay in the house all day, and he never wanted me to go out because he was afraid the world would see Paul Stevens's wife. One night he came home drunk as a skunk and got in my bed. I was thrilled as I had fallen in love with him. I accepted him. I even enjoyed it, and when he asked if he should stop, I told him I wanted it as bad as he wanted it. I knew he would regret it in the morning, but I just wanted to have Paul and forget how much he despises me for one night. After our lovemaking, I felt ashamed of how I just gave myself to him, I was weak, and I cried myself to sleep, knowing Paul would reject me again the following day. Paul woke me in the middle of the night. I was a virgin, and I got up hurting and with a lawyer downstairs with divorce papers. Paul ordered the maids to pack my bags, and he ordered me to sign the documents and leave. I only had time to read the last line. "No child born out of the short marriage will be acknowledged as an heir to the Stevens fortune." He gave me a bank card and a pin and said, "There is enough money for you to live on for the next ten years." I took the card but never used it in my life. As a matter of fact, I framed it to remind me why I need to keep going and need to do my best in life.
I drove to my parents' home, but as soon as they heard I would get a divorce, they told me to go as I was too useless to keep my husband. I phoned my brother to hear if I could stay with him the night, but he never answered my calls. I was alone in my car. I decided I might as well start driving. I turned 20 the previous month and had the money my grandmother left me. I drove into the night and decided I would take a road trip. In the end, I stayed in LA. I took my grandmother's money and started my own little restaurant, but after three months, I realized I was pregnant, but through my pregnancy, I ran my restaurant, and I cooked. I had chefs helping me, and when my son was born, they ran the restaurant for me and kept our standers high. I got back to work as soon as possible, and with the help of my new family, we built up the restaurant, and they helped me lose weight and taught me how to take care of myself. In no time, the tiny restaurant turned into one of LA's top places to go, and we had to go bigger and bigger. We only took reservations and were booked for months ahead. My restaurant's first name was Issy's Place, but after my son was born, I renamed it Charlie's Place because I swore even though his father never wanted him, he will have a place in this world!
Charlie's place went from strength to strength, and soon we opened in other cities as well. We had strict rules and the best chefs in the world. I first opened a new branch in New York. But now, six years later, I am the CEO of the best restaurant in the States, and I even outranked Harmonies for the first time. I was proud, and I thought, 'Well, it is time.' I am going to go to Houston and open it there. I have researched Houston and know what kind of food the people there like, then I reinvent the recipes until I find them perfect and of the highest quality. In every city we open, my team and I are from the best the world can offer. That is what makes my restaurants so unique and why we have bookings for months. We also serve food from around the world for those who want to try new things. We are always open to new ideas as well, and my staff has a say in everything. I do not run it like my father used to run his business like a dictator, and I know my brother and Paul have learned from my father and my ex-father-in-law. Pierre always complained that he wanted to try something new, but my father told him to stick to what he knows works. I was in Harmonies, and their menu has not changed much since I was a child, and that is why I outranked them this year. I smile as I read some of the reviews I get from my restaurants. All were good, and one of the most demanding food critics even wrote. "I could find nothing wrong at all, the food is of the finest in the world, and the atmosphere is classy yet cozy, the staff is well trained, and the desserts are to die for. I will come back again and again. What a wonderful experience."
My face turns cold as I look at the same critic calling Harmonies. "Outdated although still classy, the food is good, but like the restaurant outdated, they might want to think of revamping," I laugh coldly. I want to see them all suffer as I did that night when I was all alone in the world, and no one had a place for me in their heart. I have taken back my maiden name, and Charlie's surname is also Johnson. I refused to put his father's name on the birth certificate and just said: "I do not know who the father was." My team and I worked hard on the restaurant in Houston, and I wanted it perfect. It was built, and everything was ready to open, but we have not put the name on the building yet. I want to be there with the grand opening, I know people in Houston are speculating about the building that went up so fast there, and it is very close to Harmonies. So my top team and I and Charlie are leaving tonight for Houston. No one really knows anything about the CEO and owners of Charlie's Place as I keep a low profile, but I will reveal the new restaurant myself in Houston. It is time for me to show the world that the little fat 20-year-old girl from six years back has turned into a Power Queen overnight.
I smile coldly, and my eyes are as cold as ice as I get up from my chair and walk out of my office to go to the awaiting car downstairs. I have already bought a house in Houston. I have places everywhere. I have restaurants. Charlie never leaves my side. He goes where I go and has a teacher who teaches him at home and travel with us, but I have decided to settle in Houston, and Charlie will go to a school there. I do not want him to be a lonely child like I was. We drive to my house, and I collect Charlie as my butler brings Charlie out with our suitcases. I shall have to do a final inspection of the restaurant in Houston before we open. Houston is and always will be my main goal. My revenge is going to be as sweet as the desserts I make. We drove to the airport, and the private jet was waiting for us. Yes, in just six years, I have become one of the wealthiest people in the State, and I plan to overtake my family and my ex-in-laws. I am Isabella Johnson, and six years back, you made the worst enemy you can imagine. When I needed someone so bad, I had no one, and I will make you all feel what that feels like. I hug Charlie tied, and my eyes warm up as I look down on my son's face that looks more and more like his dad every day.
Well, Huston, here I come. I look out the window and smile coldly again. Revenge is a dish best served cold!