Lionel walked into the library and picked up his favorite paperback. He was
immersed in the words of his favorite dictator when a small anthology hit
him on the head. Suddenly, it was raining hardbound books. Lionel jumped
out of harm's way and looked up at the red-eyed woman throwing books off
"Chloe, what in heaven's name are you doing?" he asked calmly, knowing he
could not push the young woman in any way.
"I-" she sniffled, "am getting every evidence of your son out of my sight!"
Lionel watched as she stormed out of the library balcony and headed out the
door. "Chloe, wait!" She did not listen to him. When she vanished out the
door, Lionel cursed and ran out of the library, dropping his books with the
rest of his son's 'discarded' favorites. He rushed towards the stairs
leading to the second floor, hoping that he would catch a glimpse of his
daughter-in-law. Before he even made it that far, he encountered a
waterfall of elegant suits and expensive casuals.
"He thinks just because I'm not pretty, he can do whatever the hell he
wants!" came the whine from the second floor. "Well he can't!" Then her
voice became a whisper. "Can he, Lionel?"
"Of course not, Chloe." He jumped back right in time. An Italian leather
shoe bounced right in front of him. His daughter-in-law held one of Lex's
immaculate white silk suits aloft. His son would have a heart attack if it
even touched the floor. "Okay, Chloe, put the suit down and we'll talk
"Why should I?" she demanded.
Lionel choked on his own breath when she swung the suit over the railings.
She did not let go. Instead, she gripped the vest tightly in her fist and
he cringed at the image of the rumple that might not be removed by steam.
"Because I am your father-in-law and I told you to."
Her eyes flashed with anger and with the briefest daring grin, she let go.
Lionel watched in horror as the suit fluttered like a dove between the
second floor and the first. He tried to catch it in vain. To his horror,
the white silk did not even fall on top of the other suits. Instead, it lay
like a defeated warrior on the shiny floor.
"All right. I realize that I gave a bad reason," he began. "But Chloe, you
can't keep throwing out Lex's stuff like this."
Chloe burst into sobs. "Because this is your house and he's your son and
I'm just nobody." The sobs grew louder, and Lionel realized with terror
that he had been effectively misunderstood. "Fine! I'm leaving!" She
slammed into the bedroom she shared with Lex.
Lionel's hands fisted in his hair and he gave a quick tug before running up
the stairs and knocking on the heavy door. "Chloe, open up! I implied no
such thing. I want you to stay right here. This castle is more yours than
The groaning sound that came from the door indicated that she registered
his frantic claim. Soon, it opened and revealed his disheveled daughter-in-
law rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand and her nose red from
crying. "Really?" The thick golden eyelashes, moist with tears, were
Lionel smiled. "You want me to sign over the castle to you now?"
Chloe thought for a while. "Well I could use it. But no," she decided. "You
can leave it to me in your will." She pulled him inside the room and
proceeded to tug a suitcase off the bed. It landed on the floor with a
"I thought you weren't going to leave anymore."
"I'm not." She tried picking up the heavy suitcase. Chloe looked at him
from beneath her bangs. "These are Lex's. Care to help me throw it down the
"Chloe, don't," Lionel responded tiredly.
Her eyes sparked and narrowed. "Well if you won't, I'll carry it myself."
She struggled with the suitcase.
Lionel took a deep breath and sighed. "Fine." With one hand, he hefted the
suitcase and pulled it with him. Chloe followed closely behind him and
cheered him on when he kicked it down the stairs.
When he turned around and arched his eyebrow at her, Chloe threw her arms
around his neck and embraced him tightly. "I really like you, Lionel!"
"Good," he murmured. Lionel led her back to her bedroom and suggested, "Why
don't you go and have a nap? I'll make sure that when Lex comes home, he
hauls all his stuff out of here so you won't have to see him again."
Instead of the grateful hug that he expected, Lionel was silenced by the
trembling of Chloe's lips, the choked sob that she released, and the tears
that rose to her eyes. Chloe swiftly whirled away from Lionel and once more
ran to her room.
Lex arrived that night exhausted from working at the plant. He could not
wait to take Chloe in his arms and kiss her until he forgot all the
problems that existed outside their home. When he entered the room, he saw
the butler look away from him.
The reason lay in a heap on the floor. Lex frowned at the sight of his
clothes and shoes dumped like garbage. He climbed up the stairs, carefully
walking around his clothes that had spilled from the suitcase at the
He saw his father sprawled in an armchair in his study. "Dad."
"So it happened again?"
"You need to consider getting help."
"It's normal, dad."
Lionel sighed again. "What did you do this time?"
Lex shook his head. "I assume that it's because my secretary answered her
call, and I was unavailable all day."
Lionel nodded. "Well go. Fix it so I can get some rest and the maids can
pick up your clothes."
"Thanks dad." Lex turned to leave before he remembered something. "Hey was
that my white suit on the floor beside the Chinese vase?"
The bed dipped when he sat on the side, causing his sleeping wife to roll
towards him. She woke up slowly and smiled when she saw him. "Hey."
"Hey honey," he replied, giving her a brief kiss on the cheek.
Lex panicked when her eyes suddenly filled with tears. "If you want to
leave me because I'm crazy and not pretty, you can. I even packed your bags
"I saw that," he answered. "Why would you think I want someone else when I
could have the best wife in the whole world?"
Chloe sat up in bed and blew her nose on the immaculate handkerchief that
he handed her. "Because I'm cranky and moody and I think I just kicked you
"I think I expected it when Gina told me you called eight times while I was
in a meeting."
"Am I a harpy?"
She broke into a wide smile and sank into his embrace. Lex could feel the
slight protrusion of her belly pressing against his stomach and wondered if
his father was right about those medications.
[I]Nah.[/I] he thought. [I]I'm ready. Let the hormones roll on.[/I]