Lika was Henry Kingsley's PA & best friend. He messed up & vowed to get her back. ROMANCE
|Chris Kingsley let out a throaty guffaw upon reading the online tabloid about his famous little brother and his personal assistant. Lika rolled her eyes, pouting as the man clearly enjoyed seeing her picture being snapped while being absolutely looking horrendously hangover.|
"I knew it. I felt it in my bones that they're so going to publish Henry's picture with me as the browless background," Lika complained, pointing at one of the pictures in the article, "Look at that. Even me at the time was giving the photographer the stink eye because I knew they were going to really do that. They can't even spell my last name correctly."
"Denail," read Morgan, the eldest of the Kingsley brothers. The tall, buff man with buzzed haircut chuckled along his brother as he muttered the word De nail to himself.
"I'm glad I amuse you. I feel your tremendous sympathy," Lika chirped, shaking her head, yet couldn't contain her own amused smile. Chris wrapped an arm around Lika's shoulders, laughing still. She nudged him. "Can you two at least help me here with these sushi arrangement before the birthday wife comes home?" she asked as she used a tong to move the sushi individually from the take out box to the platter.
"Ooh ya, my lovely wife," Chris mumbled as he looked at his watch, "Henry's going to be here with her and the kids in fifteen minutes. Where's our parents?" he wondered, looking at Morgan.
"They're still picking up the birthday cake with Kate."
"Should've let me arranged this birthday, Chris," commented Lika, seeing just how last minute everything was.
Chris shook his head at Lika, the woman that had been considered a member within the entire Kingsley family for over eight years. "No no, our little brother have worked you out so much already. This is your week off, you shouldn't be doing any planning."
"I'd be happy to, you know. Besides, at this rate the birthday wife is going to arrive sooner than the birthday cake itself."
"You know, being in the military has given me much wisdom and experience to know that anything can be a makeshift birthday cake," Morgan offered as he stole a salmon maki and ate it whole, "What about we just pile these sushi together and put a candle on them?"
"You can't be serious," commented Chris with a roll of his eyes. "Romance is dead if we do my wife a sushi cake birthday."
Lika pursed her lips, imagining the said sushi cake birthday before commenting decidedly, "It's not a bad idea. I mean, I wouldn't be feeling bad if someone made me a sushi cake birthday."
Morgan clicked his fingers and pointed at Lika with agreement. "Exactly. If anything it is a good backup plan for if the real birthday cake don't get here in time."
As the three fumbled with the sushi arrangement, David and Mel Kingsley, Henry's parents, came in carrying a three level birthday cake decorated with white and blue flowers icing. The size of the cake almost drown Henry's petite figured mother. Being a gentleman, just as the default of all Kingsley boys, Morgan took the cake from his mom and gave her a kiss on the cheek before Chris came to her in the same fashion. When the older lady's baby blue eyes that matched Henry's landed on Lika, she beamed and hugged her son's best friend and assistant.
"Oh my days," Mel exclaimed, embracing Lika tightly. Lika chuckled, returning her hugs with as much fervor. "Eliska, you are more beautiful than ever!" she cupped her face lightly, looking at her with motherly love in her eyes, "How are you, sweetie? I missed you so much."
"Thanks Mel. I'm really good. You made it sound like you haven't seen me in a year," she chuckled, "Didn't we meet just three months ago?"
"Three months is too long, honey," Mel said fondly. Henry's mom only had sons; hence she adored all of her daughter in laws, and since Lika was also close to the family, Mel seemed to adore her just as well.
"Do you miss me too?" asked David, his arms opened wide for her as Lika turned to give Henry's father a hug.
"Of course I do, David," she said, tightening her hug at his middle and grinned at both Henry's parents, "How's the knee?" she said to David.
Mr. Kingsley did a tap dance, making his wife and Lika laugh. "I am perfect!" he sang, showing Lika how well his knee was now since the last time he accidentally injured himself. David turned his steel blue eyes to his wife's face, looking at her with love that had been tested through time, "Now if only a certain lady would grace me with this dance..."
Mel had a blush on her aged yet beautiful face as she took her husband's arms. She giggled, and David winked at Lika, excusing themselves as he swayed his wife in tune to the music.
Lika chuckled at seeing the two old couple flirted at each other and began dancing away as the Nat King Cole music started in the background.
"Katherine!" Lika exclaimed, hugging Morgan's now teenage daughter. Kate grinned at Lika and returned the hug, but they didn't quite had the time to chat as the unknowing birthday girl showed up. Lika and the rest of the Kingsleys who were already inside the house were suddenly bustling around the cake, awaiting her arrival in the common living room. Chris had turned off the music for a while and grabbed his guitar, ready to serenade his wife with a birthday song that would be sang by everyone.
Chris' wife and Henry's arrival needed no announcement as the familiar sounds of Henry's 8 and 10 year-old nephews filled the house. Chris' wife, Mary-Anne, was a gorgeous brunette who was now six months pregnant with their third child.
Her response to the surprise party being thrown for her at what she thought was her parents in law's barbecue party was chaotic. So chaotic that even Chris worries that his wife might gave birth right then in David & Mel's living room. When the chaos and surprised laughter dialed down a bit, Lika came and hugged Mary-Anne, the two giggling happily when they see each other.
"You traitor," Mary-Anne joked playfully, "I thought you said you were still in New Zealand finishing up some business!"
"Surprise surprise," Lika sang.
The Kingsley's resident was full with laughter and merriment, just as per usual. Henry was at the kitchen, teaching his nephews on how to grill burger patty properly, while Chris and his wife was chatting excitedly with David and Mel about the baby they were expecting.
Morgan Kingsley was alone at the sushi stand. His joyfulness had been diminished for the past year since his wife left. The military man, Lika noted, spent more time brooding alone when he thought no one was looking. He sent his quiet teenage daughter a subtle worried look once in a while. Katherine, his 15 year-old and only daughter, was isolating herself by the edge of the pool, her gaze glued to her phone for a while now.
Chris and Katherine used to be happier.
Lika was 22 years old, fresh out of college when she first met Morgan's wife, Jean. Jean was having trouble managing her household with Morgan being deployed overseas in the military at the time while Jean battled with depression. Little Kate, 8 years old at the time, was lonely, but she was ever so lively. Such a funny girl, reminisced Lika. Through a friend who introduced her to David and Mel Kingsley, Lika agreed to help their daughter in law looking after Kate whenever Jean was at work.
Lika and Kate quickly became best friends for more than a year, even after Morgan came back to UK and decided to take administrative job in the Royal Navy so he could spend more time with his daughter and ailing wife. Things seemed to get better ever since Morgan came home. Jean was happier. Kate was able to get all the attention she craved from both her mum and dad.
At one point in time, Lika, still being very close to the Kingsleys, was organizing Kate's birthday party and got introduced to Henry, the rising movie star. Till this very moment, Lika wasn't sure exactly the thought process behind Henry's decision to offer her a position as his personal assistant, though she gave the job a try and did it. She got really good at it, even. Now, Lika couldn't even comprehend doing anything else but being by Henry's side and work together with him.
Seven years, mused Lika.
She looked at the blond girl that was now blossoming into a beautiful young woman and wondered how her life came to this. How her mother, Jean, even had the heart to leave her daughter and husband. Lika wasn't judging Jean. She knew Morgan's wife well. Jean was a kind soul. She was gentle. She was faithful. If anything, Jean leaving might be due to her chronic depression. Maybe things got too much to handle for her. Maybe she left for the sake of her family.
"We're both broken people," Lika remembered Morgan mentioning it once when she found out that Jean was leaving him and her daughter to go to France, "Two broken people do not fix each other," was all the explanation Morgan gave away. Since then, she and the rest of the Kingsleys remained quiet about the issue and instead did everything they could to support the eldest Kingsley brother and his daughter.
Lika went to the pool area and sat down next to Kate. Kate looked up from her phone and gave Lika an sweet smile. Up close, looking at Kate felt more and more like she was staring back at Jean. She was almost the copy of her mother: gorgeous blonde hair, icy blue eyes, fair skin and an angelic smile.
"Your grandparents are pulling out all the strawberry cheesecake ice cream," Lika started, "Your favorite."
"Yeah. When I was like eight," Katherine replied with a grin, "I am more into roasted chicken salad now."
Lika raised a perfectly drawn brow–the bare minimum make up she couldn't live without. "From ice cream to salad?" Kate grinned cheekily seeing Lika's bewildered expression. Lika widened her eyes dramatically, "Who are you and what have you done to the real Katherine?"
Kate laughed at that. "I'm just trying to watch my figure, you know."
"Wow. I guess it runs in the Kingsley family. Good genes and the instinct to watch those good genes. I bet your dad is starting to be busy scaring off boys trying to get at ya."
Kate blushed and playfully nudged Lika on her side, making her laugh lightly. "I'm just trying to be more responsible with little things, Lika."
A fond smile etched across Lika's facial expression as she gazed at the teenager. "You really are growing into such a fine young woman," she said with gentleness in her own eyes as her mind replayed the happy times when Lika babysat little version of Kate. "I'm very proud of you," she told her almost maternally.
Lika caught the slight fell in Kate's expression despite her polite 'thanks'. A sadness that didn't belong in such a young face. Wanting to cheer her up, Lika stood on her feet and offered her hand to Kate. "Let's join the boys in the kitchen. We can whip up some salad if ice cream no longer floats your boat."
Kate looked up at Lika, then glanced back at her grandpa who were standing by the kitchen counter with her younger cousins and their dad, Chris. Kate sighed and gave Lika an apologetic look. "I'm sorry. I think I'll stay here. You can go if you want, I'll be fine."
Lika pouted and went back to sit by the pool next to Kate. "Nah. Too much testosterone in there anyway," quipped Lika, making Kate laugh.
"You don't seem to enjoy this family gathering," Lika observed honestly, "In fact, Katherine, you look miserable here. It astounds me that you keep coming here on every occasions," Lika pointed out with genuine sympathy in her voice. Lika and the rest of the family would definitely preferred Kate to be among them, but above all, Lika knew no one wanted Kate to be miserable or feeling even slightly pressured to always join the family gatherings. After all, she was a teenager now, and teenagers have their own lives. "You know if you don't want to be here your dad will understand, right?"
Kate nodded meekly, "My dad never pushed," she confirmed.
"It's okay to be somewhere else. You're a teenager now. It's fine to go out with your friends, watching movies or something."
Unbeknownst to the ladies, Morgan Kingsley had leaned his weight by the doorsill overlooking the pool and listened in to their conversation.
Kate chuckled softly at Lika's suggestion. "I did have to decline a classmate's birthday party invitation to get here," she said with a shrug.
"What? Why? You should've been there. Being with your friends must be way more fun than being here with us dinosaurs."
Kate laughed, but her smile was fading as quickly as it came.
"I'm just coming in hope that maybe..." Kate trailed, seeming having trouble voicing her thoughts. Lika gave her an encouraging look. "Maybe, just in case, my mother show up here. I mean mum and aunt Mary-Anne were practically besties. So. Who knows," she said nonchalantly, but the pool in her icy blue eyes were there, "But I guess not today."
Lika's heart shrunk at seeing the melancholy in Kate's eyes. "I'm sorry, Katie," she said quietly, her dark eyes sympathetic.
Kate shrugged again. "It's not your fault. It's probably mine."
Lika frowned deeply at that. "Whatever do you mean, Kate? Nothing's your fault."
Kate couldn't seem to hide her emotion by the minute. Kate tried to hold it in; but being with Lika, seeing the understanding in her eyes... Kate's walls crumbled.
"You've been gone so long, Lika. You don't know," she said with a cracked voice, making Lika's heart dropped to her stomach at the hurt Katie voiced these words. "My dyslexia got worse sometime after you took off with uncle Henry. I had trouble with study. I had trouble making friends as well back then. I...I caused a lot of trouble for mum and dad. I fought other girls at school. Mum would snap at me, then dad would snap at mum..."
Katherine's shoulders shook with an overwhelming amount of sadness and shame. Lika sat stupefied, her heart constricted at what she heard.
Morgan was stunned in his place the moment he heard the crack in his daughter's voice as she poured her heart out to her childhood nanny. The military man was dumbfounded at the twisted way in which Kate perceived things in her young eyes.
"...Well... I'm..." Kate wiped the tear that fell on her cheek, forcing a painful smile at Lika, "I'm trying to be more responsible. Maybe then if mum comes and sees that I have changed, then she will come back to us."
"Kate." Lika placed her arm on Kate's shoulders, eyes looking sternly to her baby blue eyes. "You listen to me really carefully. Your mum leaving was not your fault. Never. It can't be your fault."
"Then why is she leaving? What other explanation?" Kate wept, and Lika couldn't seem to hold her own tears at Kate's pain, "Last year my mum barely wanted to look at me. And I get it if she wants to leave. But I wish she didn't leave my dad hanging. There was no word whether they are getting a divorce or not. Now that I think about it it's better if they do, just so I know I can stop waiting for my mum to come home."
Lika pulled the girl into a tight hug, her own tears leaking as Kate's shoulders shook with her sobs.
"But I missed her so bad, Lika," sobbed Kate, deep longing was in her voice. "I want my mum–"
Lika held Kate for a long time, rocking her as she comforted the brokenhearted teen.
"I promise you, Katherine. You mother leaving is never, not an ounce, being your fault," said a rough male voice.
Both Lika and Kate turned back to see Morgan walking towards them. His eyes downcast, shamed even, for letting his daughter thought that way for so long. Kate got out of Lika's embrace, standing up to see her dad.
"Then tell me what happened exactly," Kate demanded with determination in her eyes, "Why did mum leave to France? Why can't I see her and why won't she see me?"
Lika turned her eyes to Morgan.
"I can't tell you that. I promise it's for your own good, Kate," her dad said with gentle yet sad eyes. The protectiveness heavy in Morgan's eyes when he looked at his daughter–the same protectiveness that all Kingsley men had in their eyes that was also in Henry's.
Lika spoke up. "Sometimes keeping secret from the ones you're trying to protect does more harm than good, Morgan."
Morgan shook his head at Lika, his eyes warning her, almost cold even, as if telling her to stay out of it.
"Your daughter is not a little child anymore," Lika added matter-of-factly, her hands balled into fists as she stood up for Kate, "Tell her the truth. Whatever it is, because I am 100% sure that Jean leaving was not Kate's doing."
There was hope in Kate's tearful eyes. "Please dad. Tell me. What's going on?" she demanded, her face streaked with tears.
Morgan clenched his jaw. The way he stared at Lika made Lika wanted to cower. But Lika pushed forward–damn the consequences.
"Kate deserves to know the truth. Tell her, Morgan."
Morgan lifted his index finger, pointing angrily at Lika's face, "You stay out of this–"
"–Dad!" admonished Kate, her voice raised as she stared at her dad in disbelief at how rude he behaved towards Lika.
"–Can't you see you're hurting your own daughter?" Lika's voice rose in tension, ignoring Morgan's warning and the slight hurt at seeing the usually gentle Morgan to talk her down in a rather cold way.
Kate butted in. "She's right. You shouldn't keep this from me. I have a right to know. She is not just your wife, she is my mother!"
Morgan clutched at his dark hair in ever growing frustration. His eyes were both angered and helpless as he glanced back at forth between his daughter and Lika. "Please don't make me," he gritted his teeth, his voice strained.
"Tell her!" Lika pushed.
"Tell me, dad!" Kate supplied, matching her demanding tone to Lika's.
By this time the whole family had heard the commotion raging by the pool. Mel had ushered the pregnant Mary-Anne and the little kids away, leaving Mr. Kingsley senior, Chris and Henry watching the scene with tension on their expressions.
Kate's mind swirled with all the worst scenarios at seeing her father's tortured visage as he denied her the truth about her mum. Her voice was broken, and her tears fell in a stream.
"Is... Is my mother died?" she asked in despair, feeling like the whole world was going to crash on her.
"No. No," Morgan was crying too now. He could no longer keep his promise to his wife. "Your mother is an addict!" shouted Morgan as another tear escaped his eye. His face red with emotions. "Your mum is an addict," he repeated quietly, covering his face with a hand as he suffered the embarrassing meltdown in front of his whole family.
There was a collective shocked silence in the area as the truth began to spill from Morgan's lips. "Unbeknownst to you all, Jean's depression has turned for the worse. I can't help her because I... I was dealing with PTSD," Lika clamped her mouth, her eyes rimmed with red at the shocking truth. "I could barely cope. I couldn't help her, so I enabled her. I thought we got it under control. Jean lost it when I tried to stop curbing her need to get high. Your mother was borderline on being abusive to you," Morgan said as he looked deeply into Kate's eyes. "That's why I had to jump in and snap at your mum. That's why mum had to leave. But Kate... Baby, it had nothing to do with you. You have always been a good kid. That's the truth. If there is anyone to blame, it would be me because as a man and as a father, I failed my family."
No one dared to move a muscle, except for Kate. Katherine placed her delicate hands on her dad's shoulder. "Dad, I'm sorry. I didn't know."
Morgan embraced his daughter tightly in his arms.
"Since when?" Lika suddenly asked, her expression wary as a foul feeling churned her stomach.
Morgan sighed, having nothing left to hide from his daughter, or his family. "Eight years. More or less."
The revelation felt like a kick to her stomach. It meant Lika had left Kate alone, and as the one closest to Jean 7 years ago, Lika had failed to see the signs. If only she knew, she wouldn't have taken off with Henry. She wouldn't have left little Kate alone to her misery at such a young age.
"I want to see mum. Let's go dad," begged Kate.
"It's not a pretty sight," muttered Morgan with a broken look in his eyes.
"I don't care," Kate sobbed. "Let's go to France right now."
Morgan shook his head. "Mum is not in France," he admitted, "She's in rehab in Florida."
Henry, who was stupefied and saddened just like the other Kingsleys suddenly knew what he had to do. He pulled his phone out from his pocket and send a contact detail to Morgan's phone. Said phone beeped in notification.
"That's the pilot's number. Take the jet," Henry nodded at Morgan encouragingly, his handsome face tender, especially when he looked at his teenage niece.
Kate ran to him and threw her arms around Henry, giving him a tight hug. "Thank you so much, uncle Henry. You don't know how much I miss mum."
Henry chuckled through his still shocked state at the news. "You go get her, sweetheart."
With that Kate left him to take her dad's hand and practically dragged him out of the house. Not two seconds away, Kate ran back towards the pool area and shocked Lika with a bone crushing hug. "Thank you, Eliska. I love you."
Lika stared at the smiling face of Kate and felt undeserving. An imposter. By the time Kate left again, Lika could no longer hold the bile that had risen to her throat. Henry stared at her dumbfounded for a brief moment before running across to grab the nearest trash can and had Lika puked into it.
David and Chris both broke out of their stupor and cringed at the display of stress that had manifested in Lika. Unfortunately, it always came in the form of puking. Always.
Both David and Chris shared a look when they saw the way Henry cared for the small woman. How the youngest brother pulled her hair back as she threw up. How he ran inside and offered her some tissue and a glass of water. How he pulled her into an embrace as he comforted her. The men left Henry and Lika alone by the pool.
Still needing time to process the hard truth that was revealed ever so violently just now by Morgan, David joked aside. "Let's make a bet," smiled the Kingsley senior in mischief to his son Chris, "Your little brother and his best friend will somehow end up being together someday."
Chris offered a smile at his dad's attempt to light up the mood, "They both are so oblivious to it though. Do you want to see if the others would agree with us?"
David clapped the back of his son fondly as they made their way towards the living room, where Mel and Mary-Anne both had anxiety filled in their demanding eyes, needed to be let in on the situation.
[Author's Note: I just want to give some kind of picture how vital Lika's presence in the Kingsley family was. I hope you guys get that. After this, I will try to move on with the plot to where all the angst began. Please vote, give kudos and like if you enjoy the chapter, and also reviews! I need feedback so much. Thank you again for reading my first attempt at Original Fiction. I swear I have a different, slightly foreign yet interesting (I hope) plot coming up until that fateful fluffy romance thing. Please be patient, after all, this book will be quite a build and a burn until we get to see Henry and Lika to realizing their love for each other.]