Kathleen entered a restaurant and ordered herself a plate of vegan pasta.
After her meal, she soon left to visit Benjamin who was admitted to the nearby hospital.
Kathleen couldn’t help her rising concern as she observed the unconscious form of Benjamin through the window of his hospital room.
“My brother’s condition has been stable since early this morning,” Gemma uttered from behind Kathleen.
Kathleen turned to face Gemma, who was dressed in her nurse’s uniform and balancing a tray between her hands.
“When will your brother be regaining consciousness?” queried Kathleen cautiously.
Gemma’s expression darkened as she replied, “The doctor says that it’s still too early to tell.”
“Why not try consulting the opinions of other specialists?”
“It’s all right, Kathleen. There’s still time,” Gemma comforted. “By the way, how was your experience volunteering?”
“It was such an eye-opener! I learned so much from it,” Kathleen enthused.
Gemma smirked. “I watched your speech just now during my break. You were pretty amazing out there.”
“By the way, why the sudden interest in individuals with autism?”
“Well, my foster brother is autistic,” said Gemma grimly.
Now that is new.
“My foster parents come from pretty wealthy backgrounds. They adopted me as I had seemed pliant and obedient. Their hopes were that I would comply with their wishes to look after their son once they were gone. Their plan was for both of us to marry by offering me their inheritance as an incentive. They then threatened to disown me if I were to refuse,” said Gemma drily.
Kathleen was stunned speechless.
“I overheard all this when I was in high school. If I were to go against them, they swore never to pay for my tuition fees and daily expenses. Gaining admission into a university would have been a lost cause.”
“Consider yourself lucky, Kathleen. Truly. I’ve gone through the worst of it all, and things barely faze me these days,” advised Kathleen with a wry smile.
Kathleen gripped Gemma’s hands anxiously. “What happened after? How did you make it out?”
“Thankfully, my brother was already a policeman back then. He located me and sponsored me all the way till graduation.” Gemma smiled fondly.
Feelings of sympathy welled up within Kathleen, her eyes prickling with unshed tears over Gemma’s predicament.
“Don’t worry, Kathleen. My brother will be fine,” Gemma reassured.
Kathleen pursed her lips.
Gemma was right.
She was indeed very fortunate.
The Macari family had always treated her with respect and kindness.
Gemma excused herself after noticing the time. “Duty calls. I will catch you later, Kathleen.”
“See you around!” Kathleen added with a nod.
With a final parting glance at Benjamin’s room, Kathleen departed from the hospital.
One day after the hospital visitation, Kathleen met up with Federick to finalize the terms of their contract.
“I’m so sorry, Frederick! A-About yesterday…” stammered Kathleen.
“Don’t fret about it. I completely understand.” Frederick offered a gracious smile while handing over the contract.
Kathleen’s eyes widened as she perused the terms. “You’re willing to pay this much for my script?”
“Of course! You still haven’t seen how much maestros earn from their work. Yours is good enough for a greenhorn starting out, though.”
“One hundred and fifty thousand has already far exceeded my expectations.” Kathleen beamed with satisfaction.
“Would you be able to complete your work within three months?”
Kathleen nodded enthusiastically while signing the contract. “I promise.”
“Our rules stipulate that one-third of the sum will be first transferred to you. It should be reflected in your bank account shortly,” explained Federick.
“Allow me to treat you to lunch as a celebration of my achievement.” Kathleen twinkled.
“I am afraid we’d have to rain check. I still need to get some work done.” Federick chuckled apologetically.
“It’s all right, Federick. Whenever you’re free. I will be taking my leave then.”
“Sure. Take care.”
“You too. Goodbye!” Kathleen departed with a faint smile plastered on her lips.
Frederick noted that Kathleen’s smile was indeed as warm and therapeutic as basking in the spring sunlight after a harsh winter.
Upon leaving the publishing firm, Kathleen was consumed by the thought of the advance money.
She was getting paid for the first time in her life.
It wasn’t much, but it was a significant milestone in her life worth commemorating.
She could barely suppress her glee from the mere thought.
That’s right, I can choose a present for Old Mrs. Macari! But Old Mrs. Macari has everything she needs. Even so, a present won’t hurt. It’s merely a means of expressing care and appreciation.
Kathleen soon received slightly less than fifty thousand in her bank account after tax reductions.
Despite that, she was elated.
She was veritably glowing with joy as she entered the department store.
After selecting several items, Kathleen decided to call Maria.
The saccharine innocence of Kathleen’s voice instantly dispelled any lingering negativity. “Maria…”
Maria almost let slip a “Darling!” before righting herself swiftly.
“Mrs. Macari,” she answered warmly.
“Could you inform Grandma that I’d be dropping by for dinner later tonight?”
“Of course, dear. Old Mrs. Macari would be pleased to hear of it. I’ll be sure to have your favorite dishes prepared.” It was no secret that Kathleen was a favorite of Maria.
It was probably only Samuel who could resist Kathleen’s infectious charm.
“I absolutely can’t wait!” chirped Kathleen before hanging up.
Kathleen deemed it unnecessary to dampen the mood of others with the argument brewing between her and Samuel.
Suddenly recalling that she had almost forgotten to purchase gifts for Calvin and Wynnie, Kathleen turned on her heels and backtracked toward the department store once more.
Regardless of the fact that there was only twenty thousand left of her advance, Kathleen had not an ounce of regret as she hailed a taxi and headed toward the Macari residence with her hands full.
All members of the Macari family were present as Kathleen entered the house.
Embarrassingly enough, even Samuel.
Kathleen conjured up her winning smile as she addressed the elders seated before her. “Grandma, Dad, Mom.”
Diana was delighted to see her.
Kathleen’s honeyed smile caught the hearts of Diana as well as Wynnie and Calvin.
Samuel was the only one who went by unacknowledged, much to his displeasure.
Nonetheless, Samuel did feel that the entire room seemed to brighten up with her brilliant smile.
“You seem to be in high spirits, dear girl. Do share with us why,” crooned Diana affectionately.
Kathleen brought forth her gifts. “Oh, it’s nothing major. I’ve just brought all of you presents with the money I earned from my advance. I got you a pair of reading glasses since yours seemed a bit dated, Grandma.”
Diana was pleasantly surprised and asked, “You bought this with your money?”
“That is right,” Kathleen preened. “Here is a Montblanc pen for you, Dad. I remembered yours recently broke. I hope this arrived just in time.”
“Thank you.” Calvin was moved by Kathleen’s dedication. It felt as if he had a daughter that had finally grown up.
“Last but not least, here is your silk scarf, Mom. I hope you like it.”
Wynnie was a huge fan and fervent collector of scarfs belonging to this particular brand.
This design that Kathleen managed to snag was a new release of the season.
Wynnie was overjoyed. “I’d surely love it as long as it is from you.”