Chapter 1. The Next Heir
He sighed, stepping out of the prison walls and finally setting his eyes on the light of day.
The warden beside him, brought out a bundle of keys and inserted it into the man’s cuffs. He unlocked it with a twist and click, and the cuffs fell off the man’s hands.
The man ruffled his deep brown hair with a sigh of contempt, his brown eyes regaining a hopeful luster. His beards were roughly shaved and one could easily spot some scars on his jaws and cheek.
Dropping his hand, he looked down at the brown overall he had been mandated to wear for years while he endured the hardship of being locked behind bars. He was so excited, he felt the urge to rip the embarrassing fabric off and walk away in nudity.
“Mr. Antonio Smith,” a man clad in a black cooperate wear, approached the now-free prisoner and the warden. He stopped at an arm’s length away, smiling warmly, “Good to see you in good shape.”
The brown haired man — Antonio Smith — smiled back at the man, extending his right hand for a handshake, “I wouldn’t be here without you. It’s all thanks to your hard work, Wade.”
Wade shook Antonio’s hand, then withdrew his hand to adjust his tie. He cleared his throat, “It’s Barrister Wade, sir.”
Antonio simply chuckled, “Position isn’t everything, son. Trust me.”
Wade nodded, “Um... The car is waiting for you outside.”
Antonio exhaled, “Good. Let’s go.”
They didn’t exchange any word with the warden before trotting away from the building, that was fenced with electric barbwires and a steel gate. The gate slid apart and they finally left the premises.
But they had to come to a halt as a bunch of reporters and journalists rushed towards them, holding mics and cameras.
“Mr. Smith! Mr. Smith!”
“Is it true that you were released on probation?”
“How have you been handling the company while serving your sentence?”
They asked multiple questions at once while flicking their mics towards Antonio.
Three hefty men in black suits hopped down from one of the two jeeps parked ahead, pressed through the crowd and stood defensively before Antonio, trying to ward the reporters away. However, Antonio told them to stop. A question had piqued his interest.
He stepped forward and grabbed a mic, “Good day, everyone. What a beautiful day it is, isn’t it? Sigh... It’s been ages since I saw daylight like this...” he began on a light mood, cajoling the reporters to pay attention and the noise ceased.
He sighed, “I’ll just go straight to the point. As you all know, I was incarcerated for an economical offense, and guilty or not, I have definitely dragged my reputation through the mud. I don’t think I can ever sit on my chair in my company’s office and do things like I used to...”
He paused, staring intently at a specific camera, “Starting today, with immediate effect, I am stepping down from my position as the director of the America Queen’s group. Someone else will take my place.”
He dropped the mic and signalled for the bodyguards to take him to his jeep. The hefty guards easily paved way through the crowd of reporters and escorted him to the first jeep.
The reporters kept asking overlapping questions as they ran behind him, but he turned deaf ears. He got into the jeep and soon, both jeeps drove out of sight.
The reporters fell silent, staring at the distance in bedazzlement. They had so many questions, likewise the general public that had watched the live broadcast.
If Antonio Smith was stepping down as the director of such a big company, it was imperative that someone else took his place with immediate effect.
This left everyone with the question: Who’s the next heir?
The Smith Manor...
The brass black gate slid open automatically and two jeeps drove in at a steady pace.
Antonio was seated at the back seat of the first jeep. He had his elbow rested on the door frame, his jaw rested on his fist as he stared out the window. His brown eyes moved around their socket, taking in the scenery of the grand compound.
Not only was the compound ridiculously wide, it was beautiful. Words could hardly describe the delicate features and structures that were engraved into the compound. From the water fountain at the front of the mansion, to the interlocked ground, to the neatly trimmed gardens and the family statue that was purely made of gold.
It would make one wonder just how wealthy Antonio Smith was, and why someone of his status couldn’t do something to avoid going to prison.
The jeeps took a turn round the water fountain and came to a stop before the mansion. The size of the building alone could make one stutter.
Antonio alighted the jeep, now clad in a designers shirt, black trousers and glistering black shoes. He took a moment to take in the grandeur of the mansion’s exterior before approaching the door.
But before he could count three steps, the door creaked open and some individuals came out.
They were two couples. William Smith and his wife, and also Louis Smith and his wife. Both men were Antonio’s sons, and not only in name alone. They also had quite the resemblance — the brown hair, eyes and jawline. One could easily mistake the brothers for twins, and if one didn’t look closely, they could call Antonio their elder brother.
William’s wife, Jane Smith, was over 5ft tall, with blonde hair and blue eyes. While Louis’ wife, Rhea Smith, was also of the same height, but had black hair and black eyes.
Each couple held hands in smiles.
Antonio was startled at first, but ended up smiling. They were his only family after all, only his daughter wasn’t here.
“Father, I’m so happy to see you again,” William bowed curtly. They weren’t royalty but that was how they behaved in the family. The men weren’t huggers, so a bow was respectful enough.
“Hehe...” Antonio chuckled.
“Things haven’t been the same without you,” Louis also bowed.
Antonio’s mind whirled at this sentence and he remembered something. Still retaining his smile, he clicked his tongue, “Well, that’s why I’m here. Things are about to change.”
William and Louis locked eyes instantly. The two of them had one thought in mind, ‘He’s finally going to choose the next heir!’
It wasn’t too obvious, but there was a bit of tension between the brothers as they looked eye-to-eye. Only one heir would be picked, and neither of them were ready to back down from being chosen. The same competition had also spiralled down to their wives, so one could say the couples weren’t really in good terms.
Antonio just scoffed at their childishness and walked into the mansion.
“Come on, what’s for dinner? I’m starving,” he said as he went further into the mansion.
In less than an hour, the dining table had been set and everyone had taken their seat around the table. The table cloth was laced with gold and the chairs had cushioned backs.
If not for the cluttering cutleries, the entire dining room would have been too serene, as no one spoke a word. They all kept at their food, various thoughts running through their heads.
William and Louis were busy thinking about who would be selected as the new director of the company. Well, they already had faith that they would be the one and not the brother, causing each of them to fantasize about what they’d do as the new director; the kind of money they would earn and spend. They couldn’t wait.
As for the wives, the ladies kept stealing jealous glances at each other. It was a non-verbal means of saying — “My husband is the next heir, not yours!”
At that moment, a set of footsteps permeated the unfriendly ambience, cajoling everyone to turn their heads at the person that had walked into the room.
It was a lady in a sleeveless black gown that stopped above her knees, showcasing her fair gleaming thighs. Her hair was long and blonde, her blue-green irises sharp and focused. Even without her posing, it felt as though she was someone of high prestige, and very beautiful at that.
She was non other than Isabella Smith, Antonio’s only daughter.
Her brothers were at a loss for words. It had been a while she had come home.
“W-What is she doing here?” Louis muttered under his breath.
Antonio stood up with a warm smile and walked towards her, his arms wide open, “Come here...”
Isabella giggled and ran into her father’s arms and they hugged passionately.
“Ugh...” Rhea rolled her eyes.
They disengaged and Isabella took a seat beside her father. Her presence brought life to the dinner table, as she recounted what she had been going through for a while, the ups and downs of living in another state. They laughed in merry. Well, it was mostly between Isabella and Antonio, as the others were either puzzled or jealous.
After a while of chatting casually, Antonio took a sip from his glass of wine and cleared his throat, “I know you all must be wondering, but I was the one that called Bella here...”
Isabella flashed a smile at her brothers and Sisters-in-law.
“I mean, it wouldn’t be a family dinner if the whole family isn’t here,” Antonio added on a light mood.
“Yeah, yeah,” William nodded.
“Anyway, I won’t drag this out. It’s about the next heir as the director of the company...”
As he said this, everyone dropped their cutleries and listened with rapt attention.
Antonio sighed, “I’ll be handing over the company to... Isabella.”
“Eh?” Isabella was completely astonished.
Silence enveloped the room instantly as no one said anything. They kept exchanging glances in utter disbelief. They couldn’t believe their ears.
Unable to hold it in any longer, William blurted, “What?!”
“Just as I said,” Antonio shrugged and continued his meal.
“But... But, why? What about us? We are the men of the house, your own sons!” Louis half-yelled.
“That doesn’t change anything. I’ve thought it through already and Isabella is the perfect one to take my place,” Antonio replied curtly.
“D-Dad... Are you being serious?” Isabella didn’t even know what to say.
He smiled at her, “Of course. You just have to say yes.”
More murmurs spawned from the rest, complaining about the old man’s decision.
Isabella comported herself, and cut in before things got out of hand, “I accept!”
Silence once again ruled the room, her brothers and their wives looking at her with stern gazes.
Isabella exhaled, “I accept and I’m ready to resume work as soon as possible.”
“Wonderful, I can’t wait to convey this at the Shareholder’s meeting,” Antonio rubbed her shoulder happily.
Isabella nodded with a wry chuckle. Though the news came as a shock, it was a responsibility she had to carry out whether she liked it or not, and it was also a chance to prove to her brothers that she wasn’t just some weakling they could look down upon.
The rest of the dinner went on in silence and everyone went to bed. Isabella was the only one left. She wasn’t comfortable with the kind of looks coming from everyone. She could tell they were very displeased with her being chosen as the heir to the company.
She wasn’t welcome here and she wouldn’t force it.
Isabella bid her father goodnight before leaving the mansion that evening.
Unexpected Love with an Officer Description
Isabel, the heiress of a famous conglomerate, is caught in a hurricane while paragliding and accidentally lands at the border. She is found by the officer Ryan and hidden to guard, two people from different worlds thus start a romantic love story....
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