The Billionaire's WifeBy: Holly Rayner
I spent a lot of time thinking about not meeting with Cecile. I also spent a lot of time thinking about telling Holly that she had called. Ultimately, I did neither. Holly knew something was weighing heavy on my mind. She wasn’t going to buy that it was all about work for much longer. She was very trusting, but she wasn’t stupid.
I did meet with Cecile on the condition that it was in a public place and only if she brought Mark. He was who this was about. Fear of being told I couldn’t see him again was what kept me from telling my wife what I was doing. I wouldn’t risk upsetting Holly for any less than that. Cecile and I arranged to meet at the zoo outside of the city. I couldn’t really afford to spend the time away from the office, but losing Mark had truly been the worst thing that had ever happened to me. It almost destroyed me. I wasn’t going to turn down a gift like this; the chance to get re-acquainted with the boy I had thought was my son.
I nervously walked up towards the front gates of the zoo, and I saw them waiting there…Cecile and Mark. They hadn’t seen me yet, so that gave me an opportunity to observe them both. Cecile was still as beautiful as ever. She had taken my breath away the first time I saw her. She had long, silky dark hair and huge dark blue eyes. She knew she was beautiful, and she knew the effect her beauty had on people. She also knew how to use that to get what she wanted. It used to work for me, but it wouldn’t any longer. I knew all of her games and I wasn’t interested in playing them any longer. I didn’t miss her at all, and unless it had to do with Mark, I rarely thought of her anymore. I was overwhelmed by my love for Holly. I felt her all the way to my soul. That was a place I’d not gone with Cecile. Our love was always more on the surface, running only skin deep, like Cecile’s beauty.
The little boy standing next to her, however, was a different story. He had a spray of freckles across his perfect little nose and an unruly mop of dark hair that hung down over his eyes. I didn’t have to see them now to know they were the color of the ocean. He’d gotten his mother’s eyes and he was as beautiful as she was. I remember when he was tiny, that any place we ever took him, people would stop and tell us what a beautiful baby he was. I’d always been so proud, because at that time I believed I’d had something to do with creating him.
He caught my eye and held it for a moment as I was jogging across the wide parking lot. I saw him tug on his mother’s hand and point at me. I wondered how he knew it was me. I saw Cecile look up and smile and wave and when I reached them, she threw her arms around my shoulders and embraced me like we were old friends and she had never done the things that she had to destroy our marriage and take away my son.
“Thank you so much for coming, Aiden,” she said. I nudged her back off of me and looked down at Mark.
“Hello there,” I said to him.
He looked at me with giant eyes with no recognition in them. He looked so different from the last time I saw him that, had I passed him on the street, I wouldn’t have known it was him. That broke my heart. Cecile tried to push him out from behind her and said, “Mark, talk to him.”
“It’s okay; he hasn’t seen me in a really long time. Let’s let him ease into it.”
I paid their admission and Mark ran in excitedly ahead of us. I caught up to him and said, “Which animals are you excited about seeing?”
“I like the giraffes,” he said.
“Cool! Giraffes are my favorite too!” I told him.
“Can we feed them?” he asked.
“I don’t know, let’s go find out.” I picked him up and swung him up on my shoulders and he squealed with delight. I could literally feel my heart speeding up in my chest at the sound of it. I almost forgot Cecile was there.
“You two look really good together.” Hearing her say that made me angry. She was the sole reason that we weren’t together. I wasn’t going to let her ruin this time for me though. I didn’t know when or if I’d ever be able to see him again. I still needed to talk to Holly about it and I was well aware now of how fickle Cecile could be. I ignored her and concentrated on Mark.
We fed the giraffes long shoots of leaves the zookeepers gave us and Cecile insisted that he and I pose for a photo in front of them. We went to see the sea lion exhibit next and by that time Mark had warmed up to me. He was holding my hand and talking excitedly about everything he saw around him. I loved how inquisitive he was. He asked questions that made perfect sense, and I could see the wheels turning in his head when I answered them.