As she was about to open the door to her apartment, she realised something. Had she not locked the door? She pushed the already open door and led the way. She went straight to the kitchen, ignorant of the fact that the house had been arranged. In the kitchen sat her mother at the kitchen table, dressed in a simple black gown with a hat, drinking tea comfortably. Daniella stopped dead in her tracks and was shocked. Her mum simply smiled at her. “Daniella! You told me the house was a mess but I see no mess,” Michael called out from the sitting room. “I see you have a guest”, Maria said and coincidentally Michael walked into the kitchen. Surprise evidently displayed itself on Maria’s face. “Oh! It is you Michael. You both are never up to any good. I do understand though, the need to seek solace. I too have a house no one knows about,” Maria said with a smile and the amazed duo could not but smile as well. “So I am exactly like my mother,” Daniella teased as she pushed Michael to a seat and took one close to her mum. Maria noticed the radiant mood and worried about what she was about to tell her. She silently prayed that Michael would help her through all these. Daniella’s mind pondered on something else. She had heard once that one does not have to be your biological parent to love you and serve as your parent. She was preparing herself to talk out things with her father.
Suddenly, Maria looked warmly at her daughter. “Ella, I need you home with me please,” she said politely. “Before you say no, I would like to let you know that it is for a very important reason. There are things pending due to your absence. Please my sweet daughter, return home with me,” she pleaded. Daniella looked at her mum closely and realised the calm look she was displaying was fallacious. She turned to Michael and decoded that he knew whatever was up and had hidden it from her. He must have a reason she concluded. She turned back to her mum. “I planned to return in the next two days but if it is important I will leave with you right away,” she said with a smile. What could have happened? Daniella thought as she left them to get dressed. Since her mum looked so simple, she opted for such a look as well. She had a couple of Estiamo worthy clothes for emergency situations as such. She chose a black silk gown, she naturally liked black anyway. While she went about getting dressed, Michael and Maria worried about what she would do when she found out the big news.
“Michael I am going to need your help. Please my son promise to help her heal and prevent her from falling into everlasting depression. You know she has always been a daddy’s girl. I do not know how to tell her”, Maria said covering her face with her hands. Michael knew he was Daniella’s friend and vice versa. His isolation trip would have to be cut short. He had to be by ‘Mrs. Dickinson’s’ side through this rough time. She would do same for him if it was the other way round, he hoped. Hell would let loose once she found out and Maria, who was another mum to him, was already weak enough. George’s death affected everyone that knew him and he feared the impact it would have on Daniella. Michael excused himself and left the house without Daniella’s knowledge. He went straight home to transform to Michael Saint Morgan in terms of style. He chose a lazy looking suit with a crisp white shirt accompanied with S.M. Cuff links and nice shoes. His house happened not to be far off and drove back in his car. He got there in time to catch the ladies exiting the house. Daniella was shocked when she saw him get out of his sleek car. “Now that is a real Saint Morgan,” she teased. Maria was glad that her daughter had some humour reserved and hoped she would not fall out when she found out everything. All Michael did was smile but had a similar prayer going through his mind. Casually, Daniella moved to Michael’s ride leaving her mum to hers. Her mum did not mind but waved them instead.
Daniella was dying to know what this urgent matter was and why Michael had chosen to return with her when his isolation period was just beginning. “Patience”, she mumbled. She had to be patient, something she never was. The conversation between Michael and herself was very scanty. Michael felt the tension but did not spill and he was glad she was not pestering him with questions. It secretly amused him that she was trying out the virtue, patience. It would be nice if she became a lot more patient. He could not laugh out so he resolved to smile. He was glad she had drifted away. If not he would have had to explain to the hot headed beauty the reason for the smile.
Daniella in her world was glad that her estate was finally in sight. She could get home soon and all this would end already. They finally arrived and parked their cars in front of the Estiamo palace. They got out of the cars and made their way to the mansion. They were greeted by staff but she felt something foul was wrong with the overall mood. Oh! What was it? They were all glad that she was home and she appreciated being missed.
In the sitting room sat the family’s attorney, who had insisted on reading the Will the moment Daniella got back. On sighting him she knew all could not be well. The three took their seats with Robin standing behind Maria. Maria was not sure this was the best way for Daniella to find out, but what was the best way? The attorney brought out an envelope, took out George’s Will and began, “this is the will of Late George Estiamo…” “Stop there please!” Daniella commanded. “What will? Who is late?” She asked. “Your father”, the Attorney replied. She could not believe anything that was just uttered. “Whose father? Because mine is not and cannot be dead! He is just pulling my legs for being away for so long. Dad come down please! This joke is too far this time”, she yelled. The staff all felt so low for the princess. “Michael tell them! Tell them my dad is joking”, she demanded. Michael got up and caged her in a hug. It was not a joke she realised, her father might actually be dead. Tears flowed. She slowly went down to the floor and Michael went with her. Maria cried, not for the death of her husband but because finally her baby girl shed tears. Daniella wept in Michael’s arms for the rest of the day. Even when the will was eventually read, she wept. His heart ached, her tears moved him within. She never cried and now her tears have given him a second bath for the day.
As expected, Daniella had everything but surprisingly, Michael was made a member of the board of directors as well as Maria. Sufficient money was allocated to Maria and a fixed monthly allowance. All that passed by Daniella’s ears. All she remembered was the last encounter she had with her father. As the scenes replayed, she wept harder. Maria saw the attorney out, dismissed the staff and joined them on the floor. Maria moved Daniella’s head from Michael’s shoulders and placed it on her thighs. “Cry my daughter. We are all here for you”, she said with soft tears dropping from her pretty eyes. She rubbed her daughter’s back. The sight caused Michael pain. His eyes moistened but he would not and could not break down. He had to be strong for them, for the two women crying by his side. They were there a long time before Michael and crying princess slept off leaving Maria. She placed a pillow underneath their heads and ordered for blankets which she used to cover them both. She got up, sat on the chair and watched her children. Finally drifting off in the early hours of the morning.
They were not disturbed the next morning. Robin had ordered that the room should not be entered into by anyone. Maria eventually woke up first and continued watching over the children. It appeared that Daniella had woken up, cried some more and slept. She was like a child again and Maria’s heart moved with love. They would be fine. Maria always believed good things are not always far. She got up and opened curtains to let light into the room. She stood by the window watching the staff work on the garden. She was not going to wake the children up. She knew they had always loved each other even though they never accepted it. Maria knew Michael would not leave Daniella’s side. She wiped the tears that had stubbornly found their way down. She noticed how the light blessed the sleeping duo’s features. She found the strength to smile. She found a camera among the things on a side stool and took a picture of them. She would show them when they eventually admitted their love, she thought. Until then, it was her secret.
Talking of secrets, did she not have one to sort out? Coincidentally, the duo rolled and bumped into each other. Maria held back her laugh as she watched them wake up gradually. Daniella held her head immediately and Michael reached out, ‘Good morning pumpkin’. He figured all the crying gave her a headache. She became conscious of her surroundings and fell into Michael’s arm. ‘Good morning Michael. I had a terrible dream. Tell me dad is upstairs laughing at me right now,’ Daniella murmured. Michael knew it would be hard for her. He kissed her forehead slightly, aware that he had not brushed or freshened up in anyway. ‘Dad is upstairs in heaven and he is smiling down at you,’ Michael consoled. He felt tears run down her face and felt her wipe them away. Maria moved to them and helped Daniella up. ‘Good morning daughter, good morning son,’ Maria greeted and they replied, ‘Good morning mum’. “Now we all need to freshen up and baby girl you need your strength back”, Maria said in her warm motherly tone. Well Michael was practically family and so best believe he had a room in the Estiamo palace. Everyone went to their respective rooms to freshen up with maids to help them. They all met at the dining table, all in black, all without a proper appetite but all tried in silence to eat. The day went in silence with Daniella mostly in the arms of Michael and Maria observing the garden.
to be continued…