"Brooklyn Alston! What were you thinking, drugging me?"
A furious voice boomed as Brooklyn's eyes fluttered open, her throat instantly seized by a powerful grip.
She found herself staring into a man's bloodshot eyes, his face dark and menacing.
Her cheeks reddened as her breath hitched in her throat.
"I... I didn't," she stammered, but Mateo Bagetto's rage was undeterred.
"Who else but you would dare?"
His contempt was obvious, his words laced with biting sarcasm.
Brooklyn's face paled, but she quickly regained her composure. "Drugging you? Many people could have done that, not just me."
His grip tightened at her words, his face growing even darker.
Just as she felt her consciousness slipping, an opportune knock on the door interrupted them.
"Sir, Ms. Bella Alston is here," announced the butler, Wylder Acorn.
Mateo's expression shifted at the name.
He released Brooklyn abruptly, his face twisted in disgust. "Stay away from me. You disgust me."
Freed from his hold, Brooklyn sucked in a much-needed breath.
She flashed a triumphant smile. "You may find me disgusting, but you still have no choice but to marry me, aren't you?"
Her words were met with the harsh sound of the door slamming shut.
With Mateo out of sight, Brooklyn's smile faded.
It was only their second day as husband and wife, and already she was subjected to his violent outbursts.
She knew this was just the beginning of a challenging journey.
Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she scoffed at her own predicament.
She then covered the red mark on her neck with a silk scarf and headed downstairs, ready to face what awaited her in the living room.
Bella Alston was standing in front of Mateo, holding a box in her arms with tears in her eyes.
"Mateo, these are all things that you gave me before. I've always treasured them."
"Now that you are married, it seems inappropriate for me to keep these things. However, I don't want to throw them away, so I can only give them back to the owner."
At this moment, Mateo was just standing opposite her. When he saw her handing him the box, he couldn't help but frown.
Bella lowered her head and lifted her hand to wipe away her tears.
"Mateo, you don't have to explain anything to me. Maybe we weren't the right one for each other."
"Let's just be friends from now on."
"Huh? What kind of friend? Boyfriend and girlfriend?"
Brooklyn's voice sounded upstairs all of a sudden, interrupting the conversation.
When Bella looked up, she saw Brooklyn leaning against the railing upstairs while looking at them with great interest.
Brooklyn's facial features were delicate, and her smile was stunning. The red top she was wearing now made her look indescribably gorgeous.
Bella still remembered that when Brooklyn left Meridiania, she had very short hair and was dressed sloppily like a man.
She had never thought that Brooklyn would look so stunning when she wore a dress.
After three years, Brooklyn had changed her style completely.
"Brooklyn, don't get mad at us. I will keep a distance from Mateo."
"This... this is the last time I come to see him."
When Bella spoke, she glanced at Mateo gingerly, only to see that Mateo's gaze was fixed on Brooklyn and he didn't look away even after a long time.
Brooklyn, on the other side, just smiled faintly and threw a side eye at Bella.
"Well, if you really want to keep a distance from him, why would you come to return him the things? You're just trying to use these old things to arouse his previous affection for you, aren't you?"
Bella was stunned for a moment after hearing Brooklyn's comment. Then, a hint of panic flashed across her eyes.
She looked over at Mateo anxiously, but Mateo's eyes were just glued to Brooklyn as if he couldn't hear them and paid no mind to what they were talking about.
"Brooklyn, you knew that's not what I mean, but you still said that. If that's the case, I'll be straightforward, too."
"Since you forcibly broke up Mateo and me, then I hope you can treat him well in the future. Don't treat him like before."
In fact, Brooklyn's reputation in Meridiania before she went abroad wasn't good. Rumor had it that her private life was a mess. She was sent abroad by her grandpa, Logan Alston, in a fit of anger because she was pregnant with someone else's child.
At that time, the diagnosis report of her examination in the hospital was leaked out, and it created a heated discussion on the Internet.
And the reason why she was mocked was that she didn't know who the baby in her belly belonged to.
Bella's words successfully made Mateo's expression change.
No man liked his wife to be a sl*t.
Hence, Mateo's eyes turned icy in an instant.
"Where's the baby in your belly?" The man's voice sounded afterward.
Brooklyn was stunned for a second. Her body turned a little stiff, but soon she calmed down. There was even a faint smile on her lips.
"What's wrong? You want to be a father already?"
Upon hearing that, Bella, who was standing next to Mateo, had a trace of panic in her eyes. The expression on her face looked as if she was defending Mateo.
"Brooklyn... how could you... how could you still be so confident?"
Yet, Brooklyn's face was calm the whole time. She just glanced at Bella faintly and said softly,
"Of course I can be confident in front of you."
Bella understood the hidden meaning behind Brooklyn's words, so her expression changed slightly. After that, she looked at Mateo pitifully.
"Mateo, I just want to leave this place now. Can you send me back?"
Mateo cast a sharp glance at Brooklyn. Without saying anything, he took Bella's hand and was about to leave.
However, the security guards at the door reached out to stop them.
Mateo's face darkened when he saw the guards stopping him and he said coldly,
The security guards at the door were from the Alston family. Although Mateo was aggressive, the guards did not dare to withdraw their hands without Brooklyn's order.
At this time, Brooklyn walked over with a smile and stopped beside Bella. Seeing that Bella's hand was held by Mateo, Brooklyn spoke with a meaningful smile,
"Bella, can you tell me what are you trying to do now?"
"Are you seducing your cousin's husband?"
"If you want to stay with Mateo, I won't object."
Bella was always more sensitive. Therefore, when she noticed Brooklyn's teasing and contemptuous expression, she immediately broke free from Mateo's hold.
Mateo's face became darker instantly.
After a while, Brooklyn spoke with a smile, "Don't forget that we still have to go back to your grandparents' house for the tea ceremony in the afternoon."
"Come back early."
As soon as she finished speaking, the security guards at the door withdrew their hands.
Not far away, a group of security guards were heading toward Mateo. They were Mateo's men.
As soon as they saw that Mateo was stopped, they hurried over.
Later, when Mateo drove Bella back, he did not speak along the way.
Bella sat quietly in the passenger seat while taking careful glances at Mateo. Then, she said in a soft voice,
"Mateo, did I... do something wrong?"
Upon hearing Bella's words, Mateo gazed at her, his voice gentle but firm.
"Bella, I've told you not to meddle with her. I don't want you to get hurt."
He paused before adding, "My marriage to her is temporary. Once I uncover the truth, I'll divorce her and we can be together."
Bella listened to his words, tears silently streaming down her face.
She nodded in understanding once he finished speaking.
After dropping Bella off at her apartment, Mateo quickly dialed a number.
"I'll be at my grandparents' house tonight. Find a way to distract the guards in the basement. I need to get inside."
His voice was icy, his gaze steely.
Once he finished his call, he drove off towards Elmwood Chateau...