I have completely forgotten about the timeline. So, we are in January. About mid to late January and Mary is about 15 weeks pregnant. The twentieth chapter, things are getting dramatic here and not everyone entirely makes it. Might take a hiatus with this one, we'll see. Just want to finish it ASAP.
It's like a volcano, melting everything and destroying everything in its path. Magma, ashes and darkness being left behind.
It starts off online, then news channels take the story on and then women are calling in to give their own sides to the story, then a formal investigation is being erupted and everyone holds their breaths as the special case division of the police arrives at the firm, collecting and removing any source of evidence. Especially from Henry's former office which is now Francis's.
"We'll need to question you all," the head detective tells the named partners and Bash. His eyes land on Kenna stepping through the lift, looking around in confusion. "And her."
She hurries over to the group, taking her place beside Bash. "What's going on? I just came to collect the rest of my things and I was double-checked at the gates downstairs for the first time ever."
Francis sighs. "Multiple rape charges have been made against Henry," he explains with a sigh. "As most of the women worked here... You can piece the rest of the pieces together."
Kenna swallows hard, turning to Bash. "How did this happen?"
"Someone leaked the evidence," he says quietly.
You did, she realises. She glares at him. Did he do this to make her stay? She'll have to stay now but-
"Did any of you have relations with Henry Valois?" The detective asks the women.
Mary scoffs. "I'm his pregnant daughter-in-law. So, no."
"I'm his soon to be ex-wife. We've been separated for a decade," Catherine adds, rolling her eyes hard.
Kenna pales. "We had a brief relationship that ended a few months ago. I'm not willing to say anything beyond that because this isn't my business anymore."
She makes to leave but the detective stops her with, "An anonymous tip was sent to the precinct. It contained videotapes of you and Monsieur Valois. Then someone recalled you phoning the police to remove him from your residence multiple times over the years."
She turns to face him in surprise, mentally cursing Bash. "I don't want to charge him. I'm sure all those other women will be jumping at the chance to give you all you need to arrest him but I've moved on. I'm moving on and I will get on that flight this night and leave."
She walks away, Catherine sighing heavily as she also leaves for her office, yelling at a police officer rummaging through her handbag.
Bash shares a glance with Francis. What has he done?
Kenna turns and sees Jeanne heading up to her. "Hi."
"I just want to thank you for everything you've done," Jeanne says. "I spoke to Antoine's parents, they made moves to have him sectioned and he'll get better for our children's sakes."
Kenna smiles in relief. "I'm happy to hear that," she says, squeezing Jeanne's shoulder. "I'm so sorry about everything again-"
"Don't be," Jeanne cuts her off. "It wasn't your fault." She looks around. "Looks like a storm's exploded."
Kenna nods sadly. "There's nothing we can do. Henry had it coming for a long time," she replies. "I'll walk you out. I'm done here."
She lifts her box, her handbag going over her shoulder as she and Jeanne walk out of the office, passing everyone who smiles at her sadly and wishes her well. She thanks them politely, chuckling when Jeanne states how popular she is.
She meets Bash's eyes as the doors to the lift close and she gives him a small smile which he returns with a wave.
He's wearing one of the suits she got him.
And it brings out his blue eyes that she loves so much.
"Are you okay?" Jeanne asks when they start moving down.
Kenna smiles. "I will be," she says with a soft sigh as she looks forward.
"This is crazy," Francis breathes out. They're hiding out in Catherine's office, the police still roaming around.
"I didn't think it will be this bad-"
"Are you joking?" Catherine cuts Bash off. "You've lit a damn match and it's falling back on us heavily! The one thing we didn't want to happen!"
Mary sighs, running her fingers through her hair before resting them on her bump. "Has anyone contacted Henry?"
"Hell, no," Catherine tells her. "We don't want to be involved. They might arrest us! I have children, you're pregnant, we can't go to prison for something we didn't do. If we're meant to go down, Francis and Bash can take the fall."
"Well, you're brothers. You never did anything without the other," Catherine replies nonchalantly.
Bash rolls his eyes. "None of us are going to jail. Not even for being accomplices or anything. We know the law, we know our rights and we know what we did or didn't do. This is on Henry." He sighs. "Now, we'll make an announcement, do what we have to do, rent out spaces and hope this doesn't reflect back on the firm because Henry's gone and he's facing this alone."
"Okay," Francis breathes out, nodding. "What do we do about the police outside?"
"I might as well give them all we have on Henry," Catherine mutters, retrieving the box she pretended was sanitary stuff for female employees. "That will give them a bone to chew on and leave us alone."
"Smart," Mary says, nodding. "Ready?"
Everyone nods, leaving the room with Catherine handing the head detective the box of hers.
"I was going to use it for reasons to divorce Henry but I guess all of these will prove fruitful in your investigation," she tells him with a wide smile. "Oh and this is ten years in the making so... Enjoy them."
The detective is taken back but accepts the box gratefully. "We'll take statements from you at the station-"
"You can do them here," Francis cuts him off. "We'll comply and we will do all we can to aid in this situation. We want this to be dealt with quickly and quietly, we are no longer associated with my father nor are aware of his predicaments."
"Separate statements," Detective Blanche tells them before his eyes land on Mary first. "Your office, Madame?"
Mary smiles tightly. "Right this way," she says, gesturing for him to go first as he hands the box over to a police officer and her eyes meet the others warily.
Francis looks around at all the confused employees. "Everyone in the library downstairs in ten minutes," he tells them. "We have an announcement to make. Receptionists and personal assistants may remain as you are."
"As you all know, Henry is wanted for questioning following the fact that multiple women have stated that he engaged in certain situations with them," Catherine starts, eyeing everyone. "If you have been propositioned by Henry in any way, this is a safe space to come forward and talk to the police to help with their investigation. You will not be reprimanded, fired or even forced to do anything. At Stuart, Valois & Medici, we work tirelessly to care for all of our employees."
A woman looks down, she's one of the second-year associates and Catherine takes notice before the woman steps forward, Penelope on her side in seconds. Three other women step forward and Catherine sighs with Francis and Bash.
"I see, if you'd like to follow me," Catherine tells them tightly as she ushers them out kindly.
"We want you to all know that we do not support our father's actions," Bash continues on, sharing a nod with Francis. "We apologise for all the distress this may have or will cause you and feel free to use the company-paid-for therapists at your disposal."
"We will do everything we can to support the police and we want all of you to do all you can to remain working hard so the fallout doesn't come to us. This is still a prestige law firm, we must show everyone, especially our clients, that we do not condone such behaviour and that we will continue to provide the luxury, five-star treatment to them. Do not be afraid when clients start to break ties with us, we will get through this and they will return. If you lose a client, either tell Sebastian or one of the named partners in me, Mary or Catherine and we will try and salvage our connections to the client for you."
The man, who had passed a comment under his breath at Henry's speech, clears his throat. "How many of us paralegals are going to lose our jobs?"
"We will question every one of you and let you know whether you're let go or staying," Francis replies. "By 'we', I mean me and I have got detailed reports from your former team leader to help with my decisions."
"Do comments about former staff members affect your choices about who leaves?"
Francis blinks, sharing a glance with Bash. "We care about your work ethos, not your disgruntled back-handed comments. I will hold the meetings later on in the day and put up a list in which order you'll see me on the staff notice board. It's in the communal kitchen as a reminder."
"Everyone, back to work. Try and make the polices' time here as swift and comfortable as possible. It will not be for long if we comply with their requests," Francis tells them. "Good day."
He and Bash head upstairs as everyone disperses, muttering about their current issues.
"Francis?" Mary calls him, gesturing to Blanche. "Your turn."
Francis takes a deep intake of breath before releasing it and following Blanche in the direction of his office to which he was pointed to by Mary. Closing the door behind him, Francis gestures for the detective to take a seat.
"Did you know your father was being blackmailed?"
Francis shakes his head. "No, I didn't. We don't talk much - I didn't even know they got burgled until my mother said so. He briefly mentioned a burglary afterwards at the family home and that some stuff was taken of no significance."
"Your siblings were there, weren't you worried?"
Francis smiles wryly. "They have guard dogs, security men and state of the art security system," he explains. "I did not have to worry about them. I called to make sure everyone was alright when I was let in on what happened. They were shaken up but perfectly fine. They weren't hurt."
Blanche nods. "What a blessing."
"Your father's relationship with your mother, would you say they are close?"
Francis scoffs. "My father had affairs when they were still together. They formally separated ten years ago when I was still in university and by then, they were living separate lives in separate rooms. Since then, my mother's committed herself to her job and her children and my father commits himself to women he has no intention of treating well. He'll lead one on and cheat on her, it was an ongoing thing for him but I never knew he..." He swallows hard, feeling the rage inside him of how someone related to him could treat another person. Francis would die before he ever hurt Mary. "He hurt them... They would ignore it, go along with their day or leave and we'd be so confused. At first, we thought it was because they got other job offers, my father is known for his endless contacts but now, it's nothing to do with professional aspects at all."
"I have no doubt that you and the rest had any idea of this but you see my dilemma when multiple women from this firm come forward. Past and present employees," Blanche informs him. "Including no other than your brother's new bride."
Francis sighs heavily. "Kenna and my father were complicated. You'll be best into the ins and outs of their relationship by talking to her but we'd rather you didn't. She's moving on and it is what she needs right now."
"And she's not even going to work on her newfound marriage?"
Francis chuckles wryly. "They're perfectly fine with being long-distant spouses."
"I see. I will ask him more about this."
"As you should."
"Is that all?"
"I'll have more questions in due time."
Francis nods. "I will answer them as best as I can."
"I'll show you out."
By seven in the evening, Francis treats himself to a little bit of cognac and offers it to everyone else but Mary. Catherine eagerly grabs her glass as Bash takes it cautiously, sinking down onto the sofa with a heavy sigh.
"Do you think they'll press matters?" Mary asks, biting her bottom lip nervously.
"They probably have too much to deal with regarding finding where Henry is," Catherine states. "Now that we've got women coming forward here. I don't think we'll be bothered for a good while yet unless for further questions to corroborate everything we've given them."
Mary yawns and looks over at Francis. "I'm going to head home," she tells him, standing and kissing him. "Don't be too long, I'll have dinner ready."
Francis nods and presses a kiss on her forehead. "Yeah, I'll be home soon."
"Bye, guys," Mary mumbles to Catherine and Bash as she opens the door.
"Night," Bash replies.
"Goodnight, Mary," Catherine says before yawning herself. "It's only seven, how are we so tired?"
Bash scoffs. "Speak for yourself. Mary's pregnant and well, we have to tidy up all the stuff the police turned over."
"I'll watch," Catherine says, eyeing him to dare her as she kicks her heels off for good measure.
"Fine," Bash mutters before downing his glass and heading into his office to start there as Francis starts rearranging the ornaments in his own office he and his mother are currently in.
Catherine eyes her son warily, licking her bottom lip and tasting the drink. "You are a good man, you know? I know being raised with me for a mother and Henry for a father isn't the most wonderful of things but you're still decent at least."
Francis looks up with her with a chuckle. "Thanks, Mother."
"Now my baby's going to be a father himself," Catherine coos, her eyes stinging with tears. "I still can't believe it."
Francis blushes, taking a seat beside her and bringing her in for a hug. "You better believe it," he tells her. "Baby's going to need their Meme."
"Oh! You've given them a nickname for me already," she cries out. "So French. What about Italian?"
"Nonna has 'Nonna'," Francis reminds her. "Either way my child will love their grandmother." He sighs. "I'm scared, to be honest."
"Francis," his mother starts, cupping his cheek as she slips her feet back into her heels. "You have nothing to be scared of. You and your siblings are the best parts of your father and me and you will do better for your own child. you won't make the mistakes we did on you. You'll be a great father."
"Thanks, Mum," he says as she stands.
Catherine gives him a warm smile and before she can speak, Bash bursts into the room. "What is it?"
"Dad's on the roof."
"What?" Francis asks as they hurry up the stairs, Catherine taking the lift.
When they exit the door to the roof, they see one of the security guards, Montgomery trying to coax a drunk Henry down from the edge. Normally, the security men would come up here for a quick smoke or breather.
"Dad, what are you doing?!" Francis calls out to him, making the man turn in surprise. "Get down from there. Now."
Catherine pushes the door open and her heart leaps when she sees Henry on the ledge, a bottle of Vodka in his hand. "Henry, what are you do-"
"Stay back," he cuts her off and the three pause with Montgomery freezing too. "Don't come any closer."
"What is this?" Bash asks shakily. "Dad, j-just come away from the edge, we can fix this."
Henry scoffs, shaking his head. "It's too late. It's over. I'm done. We're all done."
"What?" Catherine breathes out tearfully.
"Do you think they will stop with me?" Henry asks them. "They will target you next! None of us is safe."
Catherine's eyes widen. "You did this on purpose. You knew you'd be exposed so you..."
"How do we stop it?" Bash asks.
"You lit the match," Henry tells him. "It's down to you."
Bash pales and swallows hard. "I can't. Those women, Kenna, deserve justice!"
"Then, you'll all be trialled for your involvement in the great big Stuart, Valois & Medici Scandal," he laughs, dropping his bottle and watching it fall all the way down and crash onto the ground. "And what a shame, I won't be there to witness it."
"Dad?" Francis calls out softly. "We can still change things. It doesn't have to be this way! We can stop it, together. Because we're a family."
Henry glares at him. "You stopped being my family when you wanted to take the damn firm I built. You've always had it easy, I had to fight for my father's acceptance but you both... I decided to be easy on you, different from my father who never cared. Do you know what he said when Sebastian came along? He said he'll ruin my life just as my brother and I did his. He was right, the damn bastard."
"Dad..." Francis breathes out shakily. "He was wrong. We just... We just had to change things, we didn't mean-"
"And I told him, that things would be different. That I loved my children, they were my pride and joy, they won't ruin me," Henry continues on numbly. "You will never understand..."
"How much I love you," Henry whispers.
"We love you too," Bash replies desperately. "And we can get you help and put this all behind-"
"Henry, no!" Catherine screams but it's too late.
They hurry to the edge and flinch when he hits the ground, emitting screams from down below. Francis stares, wide-eyed in disbelief as Bash backs away to throw up and Catherine sobs.
"Dad," Francis whispers.
"I thought you were coming home, you took ages-" Mary stops herself. "Francis?"
Francis turns to her, shaking his head. "He's gone."
Mary frowns, coming up to him as she wraps her cardigan tighter around her frame. "Who's gone?"
"My dad," he croaks out. "He killed himself, Mary."
Mary's eyes widen and she launches herself onto him, bringing him in for a hug. "I'm so sorry," she whispers. "Francis, how?"
Francis hugs her tightly in his arms, burying his face into her neck. "He... was at the top of the building of the firm and... he fell purposefully after we tried to stop him."
"We didn't want it to be this way," he breathes out. "We just... I don't know, God..."
Mary lets go of him, pulling him to the dining table. "Eat something."
"I don't think I can," Francis says, covering his face. "I keep replaying it in my head... Is it how you did when Eddie...?"
Mary rubs his shoulder, resting her forehead against his cheek. "The nightmares won't be a walk in the park," she says softly, making him chuckle wryly before he starts sobbing. "I'm so sorry."
"He was still my dad..."
"But he hurt a lot of people."
"I don't know if this is a good thing or not. The trial will still go on, no less because..." Francis sighs heavily. "He screwed us all over and it's a matter of time before the police come sniffing our way again. For now, we just have to make sure everything is above board and nothing goes wrong otherwise we'll have the law enforcement shutting things down. At least no one has to go through seeing him as they give evidence."
Mary strokes his cheek. "Silver linings," she mutters, turning his face for a kiss. "Let's eat. Then we'll go to bed and you can sleep it off. Tomorrow, we'll figure everything out."
"Yeah," Francis whispers.
Bash feels numb as he enters his apartment building. He feels worn out, tired, sick, tired, angry, tired, scared... He runs his fingers through his hair and gives the doorman a wry smile before heading towards the lifts. He just has to get upstairs, grab a bottle of something strong and sleep.
He pauses when his phone starts to ring and his heart leaps when it's Kenna calling so he quickly answers. "Hey."
"So, I'm not on a plane," she starts off with. "I'm actually doing something very scary right now."
Bash becomes alarmed. "What? What are you doing?"
"Telling a guy my feelings."
He laughs in relief. "Yeah?"
"Mhm," she hums. "There's a guy. A really good and kind guy who has green eyes and a heart of gold and I've been thinking about him for a while and I realised that I can't get on a plane and leave him behind because I think we could have something special as he told me we could."
Bash nods. "We could."
"So, w-why don't you turn around and tell me more?"
Bash turns and sees her, his eyes widening as she waits outside the apartment building with a big smile and her phone on her ear. "Hi."
"Hi," she whispers, tears sliding down her cheeks. "I got two suitcases in my cab and well, I need a big strong man to help me with them."
He laughs, keeping her on the line as he starts to walk towards her. "Oh, yeah?"
"Mhm," she hums again, her eyes going over to the doorman already helping to bring her stuff inside. "Oh, looks like someone got there first. Might as well carry me over the threshold."
"There are a lot of people-"
"I'm your wife," she sings. "Might as well treat me like one in public."
Bash almost forgets that his father is dead and when he remembers, after seeing her happy face as he walks to her, he has to let her know. He can't keep this from her, but at least she won't run away when things get tough. She'll stay with him.
"Kenna, you need to know something-"
For the second time that night, the universe hates him. He watches as Kenna's eyes widen as they both look at the red blood staining her coat and she falls to the ground as her assailant gets away, everyone coming to rush to her aid.
For a minute, Bash stands there in disbelief.
At the sixtieth second, his brain turns back on and he can't lose someone else as he starts running to the increasing crowd around his-
"Sir, you need to-"
"That's my wife!" He cries out, sinking to his knees beside her as someone applies pressure to her stab wound. "Hey, I'm here. Kenna, I'm here."
"I'm here," he whispers, shaking his head a little as he tries to swallow his tears. "My d-dad's dead. Kenna, I-I can't lose you too."
She cups his cheek as they hear the sirens and she looks him dead on. "You're not going to-to lose me," she struggles to get out. "I love you."
"I love you too," he says shakily, his tears falling onto her coat as he squeezes her hand. "Don't leave me..." But she's already slipped into unconsciousness.