THE STANFIELD HEIR SERIES #4
WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS MATURE SCENES
"Maybe that's it," I said, finally removing his hands. "Kung hindi mo kayang tanggapin iyang nararamdaman mo, then maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe we shouldn’t be..."
"Dammit, Serena!” Galit ang mga mata niyang nakatitig sa akin. “Hindi iyan ang ibig kong sabihin!"
"Do you think this is easy for me? Draco, mahirap din para sa’kin na sumugal sa isang bagay na alam kong umpisa pa lang wala na akong laban.”
He ran a wild hand through his hair. I stared at him as he stayed like that for a moment.
"When you asked me to stay, I honestly believed that you needed me to live. But one mistake and you’re always ready to throw me out of this house and out of your life,” I reminded him shakily. “I don’t want that, Draco. I don’t want to spend my days here wondering when will you change your mind and kick me out again.”
He was quietly staring down the floor. Mayamaya’y dahan-dahang umangat ang mga mata niya sa akin. Seryoso at may halong sakit.
"If I told you about my past, would you still feel that way for me?” His voice shook with an intensity as if it was wrenched out deep from his soul. “If you knew what I am, how disgusting I am, how spineless I am beneath my anger, you will turn your back on me like everyone else did."
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"YOU'RE KIDDING, kuya."
I stared at my brother, incensed. There was no way he can be serious about this. This is just too... preposterous!
"Sit down, Serena," Duke bid me with his patronizing voice as he sat behind his desk. But I don't want to be patronized in this. The hell I will!
Hindi ako umupo. I stayed my ground, angry. I can't believe Kuya Duke was telling me this. I love him but he can't do this to me!
"You can't be serious!" I said, thinking him mad. Had he lost his mind? He must be. I mean, how can he offer me to manage a farm? A farm for God's sake! I don't have any dream running our empire and then this?
Duke inclined his head to give me a neutral, unsmiling look. "I wish I can joke about this but you already know I don't have a sense of humor, Serena. I am serious."
I've always known my brothers and their ruthless streaks when it comes to business. But I never dreamt that Duke would give me that same look he gives to his employees.
Damn! That's a serious face alright.
I sat down unenthusiastically. I didn't know this talk would turn out to be like this. I know he loves me but this is an act of... cruelness.
"But, kuya, you know I don't want the farm. I don't want to work in any of our family business. You know how I feel about that."
"Yes, I do. But you don't have a say into this, Serena. This family needs you. I need you," he said with great emphasis that tugged inside me. And I know he knows it. "Just do this for us."
My head is throbbing. And I am so this close to saying yes. But if I take this, I know there will be no turning back. Mawawalan ng saysay ang matagal ko ng gustong mangyari. I will live under the shadow of my family's influence and I can't ever escape.
I sighed in resignation. I know what I want and I can't let my weakness decide.
"No," I said stubbornly. "I'm sorry, kuya. But I really can't."
"You're so stubborn, Serena."
Very stubborn. But that's what you get from growing up with these kind of brothers. Domineering and full of superiority complex.
"Bakit hindi mo na lang ibigay kay Kuya Blue?" I suggested instead. "He's got a lot of time. Let him manage the farm."
"I already gave him the hotel chains and the shipping business. He also have his toy business to run. Zeke's busy and the bank is already a handful of work for Sage."
So it means he only have me.
"Then you do it."
Tinitigan lang niya ako. I know that's an obtuse proposition, even to suggest it, but I can't let my head take hold of the other solution to his problem.
I heard him sigh heavily. "Okay, fine," he said. "Let's make a deal."
Kinuha niya ang tablet niya sa tabi at may kung ano siyang tiningnan. Later, he was showing me a kind of map.
I frowned at him. It was the family farm.
"See this land here?" he asked, pointing a small circle of red land on the tablet. "We already own this land—almost all of it. But this." He leaned back comfortably to his chair after tapping onto the red mark.
"DeVilla owns it. He run a ranch there."
A name suddenly popped into my head. One of my closest childhood friend, Sorcha DeVilla.
She used to be my playmate whenever I spend my summer there. But after what happened many years ago, when we left to Canada, I lost contact with her. Hindi ko na alam kung ano nangyari sa kanya. Does she still live there?
"Four years ago, Mr. Argos DeVilla talked to Dad." My attention snapped back to my brother's voice. "He wants to sell the ranch to us. The contract was drawn up and everything was ready. Pero nagkasakit si Argos. It was cancer. Stage four. Sa States siya dinala ng pamilya niya para doon magpagaling, but he never made it home."
"Now, his son manages the ranch by himself, and by the looks of it, ayaw niyang ibenta ang lupa sa atin."
Son? May kapatid si Sorcha?
I mentally shook my head and focused on the main issue here. "Then let it go. We don't need that small piece of land. If you want a land, you can buy it easily somewhere."
He looked at me as if I just said something wrong. "DeVilla's land and his ranch is quite an asset for us, Serena. If we have his property, we can expand."
I rolled my eyes at him. "Kuya, you barely have time to manage our other business, tapos gusto mo pang dagdagan?"
"That is business, Serena. We innovate. We amplify. We grow."
Oh. My. God. "You sound just like dad."
"Thank you," he smiled and suddenly stood from his chair. "Pero hindi iyon ang problema ko."
"Problema?" I watched him walking around his desk with a worried expression on his face. Surely, that small piece of land is not that big of a problem, right?
But that's not what his face was telling me. The DeVilla land is important to Duke.
Tumayo siya sa harap ko habang nakasandal sa gilid ng mesa niya. I want to think that I can talk my way out of this, but it was hard. Nakikita kong kailangan ni kuya ang lupang ito at kailangan niya ng tulong ko.
But why can't he just talk to the owner instead? That would be easier. I don't even understand why I have to manage the farm when he wants was that land.
"DeVilla's son was giving the land to Lionel."
"Linoel? You mean the man with illegal business? Why would he do that?" Tanga yata ang kapatid ni Sorcha.
"Personal reasons." Duke shrugged.
How personal? Well, personal or not, selling Lionel the land is a stupid decision. I'm sure this DeVilla knows that.
"So what's the deal in this?" I asked. I still don't see the connection.
"So here's my deal," Duke held my attention. He stood in his full height before me with his arms folded in front of him. All business-like, I see.
"Let's hear it. I'm all ears."
"If you convince Draco DeVilla to change his mind and give me his land instead, then I will give you what you want. You will be a freelance designer, just as you wish."
Now that sounds like a promise. "What about the farm?" I asked for measures. Of course, I don't want to get the wrong impression. I want this clear as crystal.
"I will find someone who will manage the farm."
He smiled. "Just as long as you can convince him."
"Okay. Iyon lang pala," I smiled triumphantly, ignoring the uneasy flutter of my heart because of his smile. It's like he knows something that I don't.
I flipped my hair over my shoulder and stood up to leave. But I know I can't let my guard down on this one. I know my brother. Because as much as he wants the land, I know he also want something out of this. And I can feel that he's after me.
Well, I will give him the land, but he can't make me the owner of it. I have my own name and I will make my own destiny.
By next week, Duke will have the land. That's my promise.
So, I'll see you soon, Draco DeVilla.