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 the balcony.

"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 about it."

"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 mine anyway."

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 killing him.

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 thump.

"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 stairs?"

"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 bottom.

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?"

Lionel shrugged.


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 for you."

"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 out."

"I think I expected it when Gina told me you called eight times while I was in a meeting."

"Am I a harpy?"

"You're beautiful."

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]