If Only Hadn't Happened In Sweden

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man at the end of his life persuaded his resentful sister to help free him from a case he faced in Sweden

Submitted: April 05, 2016

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Submitted: April 05, 2016

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“Happy sixth wedding anniversary, Liz…”

Martin was holding a home-made tart when Liz got home.

“You forgot, as usual,” added Martin, after he gave Liz a kiss on the cheek.

Liz seemed to have lost her words, partly because she indeed forgot, and partly because she was deeply moved by what Martin did with all the sense of his understandings towards her.

A telephone suddenly rang from the kitchen.

“Quickly blow up the candle before I pick up the phone,” said Martin.

Liz blew the candles. Martin kissed her again, handed the tart, and ran towards the kitchen.

“Liz, it’s for you,” called Martin afterwards.

“Who is it?” replied Liz, before she put down the tart and joined Martin in the kitchen.

“Mr. Snow,” said Martin. “He said he’s the new secretary from Bloomingdale.”

“I thought they’d stopped buying our products,” said Liz.

“Maybe they changed their mind,” said Martin, being optimist.

Liz threw a questioning look before she took the phone from Martin.

“Hi, there, Lizbeth,” said the voice over the phone.

Liz felt as if a bucket of cold water was poured onto her head when she heard Edward’s voice. She quickly turned to Martin.

“Honey, I just remember. I forgot to close the cowshed. Could you please check it for me?” said Liz to Martin. She turned to the phone after Martin had gone. “How did you get my number?”

“It took a while to find it after you changed your last name,” said Edward. “Does your husband know you have a brother?”

“He doesn’t need to know you called me,” said Liz in a cold voice.

“Good,” said Edward. “Because I don’t want him to get involved.”

“To get involved in what?” asked Liz.

“In something I need you to do for me.”

“What makes you think I would do that something for you?”

“Three months overdue house mortgage?”

“How did you know?” asked Liz, quickly.

“I happened to hack into your bank account and company profile,” said Edward. “I know you need money, Lizbeth.”

“I do need money but I don’t need it from you. Don’t ever call here again,” said Liz angrily, before she hung up the phone.

“What did Mr. Snow say?” asked Martin, who just walked into the house and joined her.

“He just wanted to ask some advice regarding some legal issues,” said Liz, knowing perfectly well that the lie always worked.

The phone rang again.

“Hello,” said Liz, picking up the phone. “Yes, Mr. Snow, you can send it to my email. Is there anything I can help you?”

“Did you just lie to your husband?” asked Edward in disbelief.

“You can also send the hardcopy,” said Liz.

“I wonder what he would think if he gets a call from me after this,” said Edward.

“Of course we can meet,” said Liz, trying to suppress her anger. “I’m free this afternoon.”

“Thank you, Lizbeth. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” said Edward, before he hung up the phone.

“Where’s the meeting?” said Martin the moment Liz hung up the phone. “I’ll take you there.”

“He’ll come here. He’s in Cardiff by chance,” said Liz.

“I think I should take a bath. I smell like cow poop,” said Martin, before he left to the bathroom.

In ten minutes, Liz was already looking at herself on the mirror, wearing an old blouse and skirt.

“I should’ve bought you new ones,” said Martin, as he looked at Liz on the mirror.

“It’s just a client,” said Liz. “Besides, these still look good.”

“But you have to look really good in front of the clients so that they would use your service,” said Martin.

“You need new suits also,” said Liz, touching a small part of Martin’s suit that already got torn.

“I’m the farm guy. I don’t need one,” said Martin. “But you’re my woman with a bachelor in law.” He added after he kissed Liz. “I promise we’ll go to the boutique shop with or without a deal from this client.”

“We have more important things to spend the money for, honey,” said Liz.

“Of course we do and you are one of them,” said Martin. He added as they heard a door bell. “That must be Mr. Snow.”

Liz sighed before she followed Martin towards the front door.

===

A white haired tall man was standing in front of Martin as he opened the front door. Edward surely had changed a lot. If it were not for the voice and gesture, Liz would not be able to recognize her own brother at all.

“Good morning,” said Edward. “You must be Mr. Reiner.”

“Mr. Snow?” said Martin, looking puzzled.

“Actually, I’m not Mr. Snow. But he advised me to come here because I asked his help to find me someone who can act as an attorney for me,” said Edward. “My name is Edward.”

Liz took Martin to the kitchen, where they still could see Edward standing on the front door.

“This guy is a fraud,” said Liz in a low voice. “He has an expensive watch, yet he’s wearing an old sweater and jeans. Somehow he’s in disguise.”

“Yeah, you’re right. How did I miss it?” said Martin, amazed.

“What?” said Liz, when Martin looked at Edward and seemed to think.

“Maybe he has a reason to be in disguise,” said Martin.

“Whatever his reason is, we’re not dealing with him,” said Liz angrily.

“Come on, Liz. It’s been months you’ve got no single client. Besides, what we gain from our cow husbandry is also not much help,” said Martin. “You will make the call, but first, let’s listen to what this guy has to say.”

Liz sighed and finally nodded. They then returned back to the front door.

“Please come in,” said Martin to Edward.

“Thank you,” said Edward.

“Sorry about that,” said Martin. “It just seems strange you’re wearing that watch. But we decided to listen to you anyway.”

“I knew there was something I missed,” said Edward, taking off his watch and thrust it into his pocket.

“We still can spot it from the hands and fingers,” said Liz. “They look soft and freshly manicured.”

“Your wife has sharp eyes, Mr. Reiner,” said Edward.

“Just cut the crap. What do you want?” asked Liz impatiently.

Martin looked taken aback when he heard Liz said that.

“Like I said before, I need your wife, Lizbeth, to be my secret independent attorney which my team will not know of,” said Edward to Martin.

“Why would you need an attorney?” asked Liz.

“Because I’m dealing with a case where I can no longer trust mine,” said Edward. “I’m willing to pay $4000 for the down payment and $16000 after the job is finished.”

“And what will my wife need to do for you?” asked Martin.

“I can’t speak the details of the case but to be brief, Lizbeth will be spending three days with me and my team in Sweden,” said Edward. “I already booked a room for you in case you want to come along, but you will not be seen talking to each other by anyone except by me during her stay there. For your communication, I’m providing a private cellphone with secured lines. You can call Lizbeth anytime and anywhere you want. You’ll fly in different flight but at the same time.”

“Sounds like a safe and tempting offer,” said Martin. He added when Liz did not respond. “You know we need the money, Liz.”

Liz looked at Martin then sighed.

“Okay, I’ll do it,” said Liz.

Edward turned to Liz.

“Tomorrow, you will apply for the position in my company under a false name, Palmer. Your first name will not change to avoid suspicion. I will make your way through it until the final interview which will be done by me and my colleague. The interview is only a formality, so no need to worry or feel nervous,” said Edward. He added when Liz did not respond. “And during that interview, we will act is if we have never met before.”

“That will not be a problem at all,” said Liz in a cold voice.

Martin looked at Liz and Edward in turns.

“Can I have your name card?” asked Martin afterwards.

Liz so much hoped that Edward would tell Martin that he had forgotten to bring his name card.

“Edward Smith?” said Martin with a questioning look. “You know, my wife’s maiden name was also Smith.”

“So do the rest Smiths in that Yellow Pages,” said Edward, before he added. “I think that’s all. See you tomorrow at the final interview, Lizbeth.”

===

Norah Sparrow, a woman in her thirties who sat on a couch in a luxury office threw a tired look at Edward, a friend and colleague of hers who was standing in the middle of the room and holding a golf stick.

“Seriously, Edward. I still don’t get it,” said Norah.

“Get what?” asked Edward, preparing to shoot the ball towards a hole next to him.

“You, insisting to have another attorney,” said Norah.

“The more the better,” said Edward.

“You know, I do appreciate that you’ve learnt from your mistake to not get laid with Sweden women in Sweden anymore but you, hiring another attorney, has actually made me think that you’re getting bored with Caitlyn.” Norah added when Edward turned to look at her. “Of course I know about you and her, Edward. I found her panties the other day under your desk. It also didn’t surprise me when you told me that you had decided to bring her along to Sweden as your attorney other than me.”

“Why would I get bored with Caitlyn?” said Edward, shrugging. “She has Kim Kardashian’s boobs and ass.”

“Because you know we don’t need another attorney to tag along,” said Norah.

“Come on, Norah,” said Edward. “You heard what the doctor said. What would you do if you were me?”

“Still, I think it’s not wise to bring her to Sweden considering the case you’re now facing there,” argued Norah.

“Not wise to bring Caitlyn or the new attorney?” asked Edward.

“Both,” replied Norah.

“I need women to release the stress caused by the case and the health issue,” said Edward.

“No offence, Edward, but I think you can do wiser than that,” said Norah.

“Such as?”

“Giving a visit to your sister,” said Norah.

“What do you think about the new attorney?” asked Edward, clearly trying to change the subject.

“Edward, did you listen to what I just said?” said Norah.

“I’m not deaf, Norah,” said Edward, rolling his eyes.

“I’m just a friend trying to give some advice to a friend,” said Norah.

“Yeah, I think I might give her a visit someday,” said Edward stubbornly, before he added. “So? What do you think of her?”

“Lizbeth Palmer?” said Norah. “Well, let’s see… Intellectually of physically?”

“Whichever suits you,” said Edward.

“Intellectually, you know she’s not my type. Physically, I know she’s not your type,” said Norah.

“That’s harsh. She’s not that ugly,” said Edward.

“I didn’t say she’s ugly. I’m saying…”

“I need to go somewhere else,” said Edward, looking at his watch.

“Where are you going?” asked Norah quickly.

“You know,” said Edward, giving a meaningful smile at Norah before he left the room.

===

“I’m going to miss you, Honey.”

Liz and Martin had just got out from a taxi cab which carried them from home to the airport the following day.

“Have a safe flight, okay,” said Martin, as he took out Liz’s luggage from the baggage. “I guess I’ll see you at the hotel. Literally just see you since we won’t be allowed to be seen talking to each other.”

Liz smiled before he kissed Martin. She then left to meet Edward at the agreed café, where there were already two other women waiting with him.

“Hello, Lizbeth,” said Edward, getting up from his seat the moment he saw Liz.

“You’ve met me,” said Norah, the one who interviewed Liz yesterday. “This is Caitlyn. Just like you, she’s also Mr. Smith’s attorney.”

Caitlyn looked at Liz from head to toe as they shook hands and Liz knew just why. If Norah had the beauty of a woman Caitlyn had the shapes. On the other hand, Liz had none of the two.

“That’s our flight,” said Norah, as they heard an announcement.

It was the first time that Liz actually travelled abroad by plane. She felt a jolt of happiness when she got the window view seat.

“Let me help you, Lizbeth,” said Edward, when Liz seemed to have difficulties fastening her seat belt.

“Thank you,” said Liz reluctantly when Caitlyn, who sat next to Edward, threw a sharp look at her.

Edward tried to start a conversation when Caitlyn had gone to the lavatory.

“Is it the first time you travelled by plane?” asked Edward.

Liz did not respond.

“Are you nervous?” asked Edward again.

“Just cut the crap. What do you want?” said Liz, throwing an annoyed look at Edward.

“I just want to start a conversation,” said Edward.

“Don’t,” said Liz, without looking at Edward.

“I’m sorry, Lizbeth,” said Edward.

Again, Liz did not respond.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise to get you out of that house,” said Edward.

“Just so you know,” said Liz, turning to Edward with a hatred look. “I’m doing this for Martin.”

“I know and I really value you sacrificing your feelings…”

“You know nothing about my feelings,” cut Liz. “So don’t act like you know it.”

“I’m sorry, Lizbeth…”

“You’ve said it three times. Now can you just stop trying to talk to me?” said Liz.

Edward sighed, just before Caitlyn returned back to her seat.

===

“Morning, Honey. How was your sleep?”

Liz heard Martin’s voice over the private cellphone as she was sitting comfortably on hotel lobby couch in Sweden the following day.

“Not good. You were not there next to me,” said Liz, spoiled. “By the way, where are you?”

“I’m at your three o’clock,” said Martin.

Liz smiled as she glanced at Martin, just before Edward sat next to her.

“I think I should hung up now. I’ll call you when convenient, okay,” said Martin, hanging up.

“Lizbeth,” said Edward, grabbing Liz on the arm when Liz stood up.

“Take your hands off of me,” said Liz as she glanced around worriedly. She then felt relieved when Martin was not in the lobby anymore. “If Martin sees this…”

“Forgive me and I’ll let you go,” said Edward, standing up.

“I forgive you. Now let me go,” said Liz, with a challenging look.

“Edward, is everything okay?” asked Norah who just joined them.

Norah threw a questioning look at Edward who was still holding Liz’s arm.

“Everything’s fine,” said Edward.

Norah looked at Edward and Liz in turns before she spoke.

“We need to decide something for your trial this afternoon,” said Norah.

“Come sit next to me, Lizbeth,” said Edward, pulling Liz to sit next to him.

Caitlyn, who just joined them, threw a jealous look at Liz.

“You’re only allowed…” Norah stopped for a while when Edward put his hand on Liz’s shoulder and Liz quickly moved Edward’s hand from her shoulder “…to bring two attorneys during the trial. One is me of course, and the other one will be…”

“Lizbeth,” said Edward quickly.

“I think Caitlyn is a better option,” said Norah. “She’s more prepared with your rape allegation case…”

“Rape allegations case?” said Liz surprised, unaware by the fact that she just said it out loud.

“Since she has been closely following it from the beginning,” continued Norah.

“There will only be a reading from the prosecutor and from you in the court,” said Edward. “Besides, I’ll brief Lizbeth myself.”

Caitlyn, who was sitting in front of Liz, threw a sharp look at her.

“Fine then,” said the Norah. “Lizbeth will come along.”

“Is there any item to discuss with me?” asked Edward. “I have something to discuss with Lizbeth before the press conference.”

“Just don’t be late,” said Norah. “The press conference is in an hour.”

“Fine then,” said Edward, standing up from his seat and added to Liz. “Come on, Lizbeth.”

Liz tried not to let herself be bothered when Norah and Caitlyn eyed her walked out of the lobby.

“Rape allegations here in Sweden?” said Liz the moment they were already out of ear shot. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

Clearly, Liz had failed to hide her worries towards the case that Edward currently dealt with.

“Which one do you prefer for a candle light dinner date? Red roses or white roses?” asked Edward.

“Sweden has strong rape law, in case you didn’t notice,” said Liz.

“I didn’t know if having sex while the woman was sleeping would be considered as rape,” said Edward, before he added. “Red wine or white wine?”

Edward sighed when Liz threw a disbelief look at him.

“Look, Lizbeth, the woman wasn’t sleeping and the only witness was the alleged rapist which is me,” said Edward. He then glanced around carefully before he added. “I’m suspecting Norah or Caitlyn, had set this up for me. Norah has a close relationship with the owner’s daughter of WorldTech, which is Telecom’s biggest rivalry, and Caitlyn joined TeleCom a couple of days before she then eagerly proposed herself to arrange the trip here to Sweden and communicate with the person in charge which turned out to be the prosecutor. That’s why I asked you to be my secret independent attorney.”

“Why on earth are you doing this?” asked Liz in a desperate voice.

“Seriously, Lizbeth, do you really need me to tell you why you’re now the only living person I can trust?” asked Edward.

“I was meaning to say, why are you sleeping around with a woman you barely even know?”

“I like women,” said Edward, shrugging, before he added. “Now give me your phone.”

“What? Why?” asked Liz quickly.

“I need to talk to Martin,” said Edward.

“About the rape allegation case you’re facing?” accused Liz.

“Of course not,” said Edward quickly.

“Then why do you want to talk to my husband?” asked Liz suspicious.

“I just want to talk to my brother in law. Is that a crime now?” said Edward cynical.

“No,” said Liz firmly.

“Good, now give me your phone,” said Edward.

“I mean, no, I’m not giving you my phone and I’m not letting you talk to him,” said Liz.

Liz stepped back when Edward moved a step closer.

“Come on, Lizbeth. We can do this the easier way,” said Edward.

“No!” said Liz, making her way when Edward was about to take over the phone.

Liz knew too well that Edward would not stop until he got what he wanted. They once fought over a baseball when they were still kids. It was a relief to Liz when, the next moment, she saw a woman’s rest room not far from where they were standing. Liz quickly ran towards it and got in.

“Are you being out of your mind?” said Liz, when Edward followed her into the rest room.

“Just give me the phone, Lizbeth, before anyone comes in,” said Edward.

“I think I’ll wait until someone comes in,” said Liz.

“Fine. You asked for it,” said Edward, before he grabbed Liz from her back, trying to take over the phone Liz was holding firmly on her chest with both hands.

Liz tripped over. Next thing she knew, she already lied on the floor with Edward on top of her, trying to reach over the phone which she was holding behind her back waist.

“Get off me!” cried Liz, just before Caitlyn walked into the rest room.

Edward and Liz turned to Caitlyn.

“Get out and don’t let anyone come in,” said Edward. “Any words about this and you’ll return to Australia first thing in the morning.”

Caitlyn threw a horrified look before she did as told.

“Ha!” said Edward, as he finally took over the phone.

Edward quickly stood up, got into the farthest toilet, and got out before Liz could reach it.

“Here’s your phone,” said Edward, before he walked out of the restroom.

Caitlyn came into the restroom afterwards.

“Are you okay, Liz?” asked Caitlyn worried.

“Shit! He tore my skirt,” said Liz.

“I know he made me not to talk this to anyone, but you can talk to me about this,” said Caitlyn.

By the look from the face, Liz knew that Caitlyn had seen her as the victim of an attempted rape.

“I think I’ll just go to my room and get change,” said Liz, awkwardly. She quickly added when Caitlyn seemed to follow her. “And I am fine, really, I am.”

Liz then went to his room. She quickly called Martin as soon as she closed the door.

“What did Edward say to you?” asked Liz, the moment she heard Martin’s voice over the phone.

“He just asked me about roses and wine you prefer for a candle light dinner,” said Martin.

“Honey, this isn’t like what you think,” said Liz, sounded worried. “He asked me that first but…”

“I think there’s nothing wrong with Edward asking you out for a dinner, Liz,” said Martin.

“He told you that?” asked Liz, surprised.

“Why else does he ask me such things for?” said Martin.

“And you’re okay with it?” said Liz, even sound more surprised.

“I think he just want to show his gratitude for your understanding of getting involved in his secret mission,” said Martin, just before Liz heard a door knock.

“Someone just knocked on my door. I’ll call you when convenient, okay,” said Liz, before she hung up the phone.

Caitlyn was already standing in front of her when Liz opened the door.

“Norah asked me to give you this,” said Caitlyn, as she handed a pile of documents to Liz. “She just wanted to make sure that you’re ready before going to the court.”

“Thanks,” said Liz, before she quickly added. “Do you know where Edward is now?”

“I think I saw him in the lobby couple of minutes ago,” said Caitlyn. She added when Liz was about to leave. “Are you sure you’re okay? I’m also new here, I mean, I’ve been an employee of Telecom since two months ago so you know we’re on the same boat.”

“You mean, he also tried to rape you?” asked Liz, clearly misunderstanding the terms Caitlyn was using.

“No,” said Caitlyn quickly. “We just had consensual sex not long after I joined TeleCom.”

Liz looked at Caitlyn, with dropped jaws.

“I know I should be ashamed of myself,” said Caitlyn, seemed embarrassed, before she suddenly added. “You said you were looking for Edward. He just got into that meeting room.”

Caitlyn made a gesture towards Liz’s back.

“Thanks,” said Liz, before she left.

As Liz walked into the room, without further ado, she spoke out loud. “I’m not having a date with you, Edward!”

The next second turned out to be the most embarrassing moment for Liz. No less than ten people were in the meeting room, with cameras. All at once, Liz received dozens of camera shots.

“Caitlyn, get her out of here,” said Norah immediately to Caitlyn, who apparently had followed Liz into the meeting room.

“Fuck! What did I just do?” said Liz, after Caitlyn took her into her room.

“I think you just did something brave,” said Caitlyn.

===

“Congratulations, Lizbeth, you just add another episode of Edward’s case since your face will be all over Sweden newspaper tomorrow.”

Norah and Edward joined Liz and Caitlyn in Liz’s room half an hour later.

“Relax, girls,” said Edward. “I think Sweden needs to see the nature beauty of Australian women.” Edward continued when no one seemed to take it as a joke. “Come on, Lizbeth. Let’s have lunch outside.”

“No,” said Liz immediately.

“We only have an hour before going to the court and I still have to brief you,” said Edward, before he turned to Norah. “We’ll meet you at the court. Don’t wait for us in the hotel.”

“Why not here?” asked Liz suspicious, when took her hand.

“I want McDonald for lunch,” said Edward.

In the end, Liz had no choice but followed Edward. They went by a rental car with Edward as the driver.

“I thought we’re going to McDonald,” said Liz, when their car stopped in front of a boutique shop.

“You’re going to need a decent dress for the date tonight, Lizbeth. Come on,” said Edward.

“Seriously, you’re having a date with me?” said Liz, throwing a mocking face at Edward.

“Can’t a brother have a date with his sister?” replied Edward.

“I think you’re planning something,” said Liz.

Liz knew she was right when Edward stopped in the middle of choosing some dresses.

“You wish for my forgiveness,” continued Liz.

“Come on, Lizbeth,” said Edward, in a pleading voice. “With the rape case now, couldn’t you just accept my effort here?”

“You know,” said Liz afterwards. “Caitlyn seemed to think I had been a victim of an attempted rape by our own boss.”

“Surprise me,” said Edward, giggling.

“She’s actually the first person who felt compassionate towards me after Martin,” said Liz in a sad voice.

Edward turned to Liz.

“Did father still beat you, after I left?” asked Edward, who apparently had been looking at Liz for a while.

“It was worse after I turned seventeen,” said Liz, after a long pause. “He started raping me and there wasn’t a night he wasn’t doing it.”

Edward looked as if a bucket of cold water had been poured onto his head.

“I made my way out of him by getting pregnant with a drug addict after high school graduation, which turned out to be my next living hell until the day he left my six months old son died of heat stroke in a car…”

“Lizbeth…” said Edward.

“Don’t,” said Liz, when Edward was about to hug her.

“Please, Lizbeth,” said Edward. “Don’t torture me with this.”

Eventually, Liz did not resist when Edward pulled her to his embrace.

“I thought I’d stopped crying years ago,” said Liz, after she was able to pull herself together. She then added. “After he was put to jail and we got divorced, I continued my life as best as I could. I worked three separate jobs making my way to graduate from law school in a community college, where I then met Martin. He was taking a major in entrepreneurial management.”

“Does Martin know what you had horribly gone through?” asked Edward.

“Yes,” said Liz, as a tear ran down her face.

“Martin is a good man,” said Edward, as he wiped a tear on Liz’s face.

“And a positivist,” said Liz. “He even thinks it is okay with you asking me out for a dinner.”

“Of course he does, now that he knows I’m your… boss,” said Edward.

“Is there something you’re not telling me?” asked Liz, looking carefully at Edward.

“No,” replied Edward.

“You know, sooner or later I’ll find out what it is,” said Liz.

Edward forced a smile before he looked at his watch.

“Holy fuck, we’re going to be late,” said Edward. “I hope there will be no traffic.”

They arrived in front of the Sweden court parking lot fifteen minutes later. Liz’s jaws dropped when she saw a bunch of reporters already waited for them in front of the Sweden court building.

“You’ll be Pitt and I’ll be Jolie. How does that sound to you?” said Edward.

Liz did not realize she just smiled at Edward.

The reporters started to shoot the cameras towards them the moment they stepped out of the car. Edward pulled Liz into his embrace as the cameramen were getting closer to them.

“Aw!!”

A reporter aimed his camera a bit too close, causing Liz’s forehead to get inevitable bump.

“Fuck off,” said Edward, as he pushed the cameraman backwards.

Liz felt a bit light-hearted when she heard Edward said that.

They spent an hour, listening to the prosecutor and another hour listening to Norah, which acted as Edward’s defense attorney at that time.

Meanwhile, Eilen Ahlstorm, the woman who pressed the allegation towards Edward, sat next to her attorney and threw glances towards Edward and Liz from time to time.

“Twelve years in prison unless you can prove she wasn’t sleeping,” said Liz, as they were now heading back to the hotel. Norah went back to hotel in separate car.

“It was already a sentence,” said Edward, coughing. “Norah might propose a compensation.”

“And make you bankrupt,” said Liz. She added when Edward did not seem to stop coughing and had to stop the car. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay,” said Edward, trying to breathe, before he added. “Seven pm. Is that okay with you?”

“What?” said Liz, unaware when Edward changed the topic.

“The date,” replied Edward. “I’ll pick you up at your room at seven pm.”

“Yeah, that’s okay,” said Liz.

As promised, Edward picked her up at her room at 7 pm.

“I booked a penthouse. It has a private lift so no one will know if we want to sneak someone.”

Liz threw a disgusted look at Edward.

“Don’t tell me you plan to get laid with Caitlyn after our date,” said Liz. She added as she saw the look on Edward’s face. “Yeah, Edward. I happen to find out about you and Caitlyn.”

“How did you know? Did Norah tell you?” asked Edward, seemed surprised.

“Caitlyn told me herself,” said Liz. “And miraculously, she just told me.”

“You’re ready, Liz?” asked Edward, turning to Liz, as they arrived in front of the penthouse door.

“Whatever,” said Liz, as she rolled her eyes.

“Happy belated sixth wedding anniversary, Lizbeth,” said Edward, opening the door for Liz.

Liz could barely believe what she was seeing. There, standing with a butterfly tie was Martin, with a bucket of white roses and red wine next to a table with candle light dinner.

“I’ll be in the next room. Enjoy your evening, both of you,” said Edward, before he left.

“You know, he really meant it, asking for your forgiveness,” said Martin, as they started eating their dinner. He added when Liz looked at him. “I knew he’s your brother.”

“How did you know? When did you know?” asked Liz in surprise.

“I had my suspicions,” said Martin. “And it’s not that difficult to collect the puzzles then make a conclusion. You once said you hated being called Lizbeth because you’re disappointing brother called you that. At our first meeting with him, without hesitation, he called you Lizbeth instead of Mrs. Reiner. Edward has the same last name as yours before you got married. The way you looked at him the first time you saw him wasn’t actually only a suspicion, but also anger and disappointment.”

“You made a conclusion just based on that?” asked Liz in amazement.

“No. It was when he called me using your phone and offered the surprise candle light dinner date,” Martin added as he saw the look on Liz’s face. “A boss with rape allegation case wouldn’t arrange a wedding anniversary candle light dinner for his female employee, Liz, but a brother who longed for forgiveness from his sister certainly would.”

“How did you know he was facing such case?” asked Liz curious.

“Your face and his is all over the tabloids, Liz,” said Martin, giggling.

“Oh yeah, that…” said Liz, feeling embarrassed.

Liz glanced nervously towards the door where Edward was inside as Martin touched her thighs.

“I already told him something like this might happen,” said Martin, throwing a meaning full smile at Liz.

Fifteen minutes later, Liz and Martin were already on the fluffy carpet, sweating and gasping for breath.

“What’s wrong, Liz?” asked Martin, as he saw the look on Liz’s face.

“If only it had not happened in Sweden…” said Liz, sounded sad.

“I’m sure you’ll find a way to help him, Liz,” said Martin, stroking Liz’s hair.

Liz’s eyes suddenly got widened. She then turned to Martin.

“Ed suspected that Norah or Caitlyn had set this up with Eilen. What if, Eilen communicated to one of them during that time? Not only will we be able to prove that she was lying, but also it could lead us to the traitor. We should tell Edward about this,” said Liz, as she stood up.

“Liz, wait…” said Martin in a worried voice as he took out his cellphone, but Liz already ran towards next door.

“Where’s Edward?” asked Liz puzzled, when finding that the room was emptly.

“Bathroom?” said Martin, just after his cellphone beeped.

Liz could barely believe what she saw as she opened the bathroom door. Edward was lying on the floor with white, foamy liquid came out of his mouth.

“Edward!” cried Liz, taking Ed’s head on her lap.

“I’m sorry, Lizbeth,” said Edward. “This is better than being put in Sweden jail.”

“Edward, why did you do this?” said Martin.

“I’ve transferred all I have into your account. You deserve a much better life,” said Edward. “Will you forgive me, Lizbeth, so that I can die in peace?”

“You’re not going to die. We’ll take you to hospital right away,” said Martin.

“It’s too late, Martin,” said Edward, when Martin was about to lift him. “Take care of Lizbeth for me, okay?”

“Liz, I’m so sorry,” said Martin, when Edward finally closed his eyes. “If I knew he would do this, I would’ve rejected his offer in the first place. He only said he’d prepared a surprise for you after our date…”

Liz pulled Ed’s head into her embrace.

“I forgive you, Edward. I already did when we were in that boutique shop,” said Liz, sobbing.

“Really?” said Edward, sitting bolt upright and looked at Liz.

Liz looked puzzled.

“The trick almost failed though if I hadn’t thought fast to use the tooth paste to make it look like a suicide due to self-poisoning,” said Edward. “I didn’t expect Martin would give the signal faster than I thought.”

Martin finally spoke as he saw the look on Liz’s face.

“Edward, I think the dead part was far too much,” said Martin.

“Liz, wait!” called Edward, when Liz ran towards the front door.

Edward succeeded to grab Liz on the arm when they arrived in front of Liz’s room.

“How could you do that to me?” cried Liz, just before Caitlyn, who stayed next room, showed up in front of her door.

“Come on, Lizbeth, that was only a joke,” said Edward, scoffing.

“That was really mean!” said Liz angrily, hitting Edward on his chest.

“Liz, are you okay?” asked Caitlyn worried.

Caitlyn worried look turned into anger, when she looked at Liz’s messy hair, partially erased lipstick on her lips, and the zipper on the back of her dress that was not fully zipped.

“You bastard!” shouted Caitlyn, slapping Edward on his face. She then threw a hatred look before she left.

“Feel better?” said Edward, the moment Caitlyn had gone out of sight.

“Yes,” said Liz, trying hard to keep a straight face.

“We should go inside,” said Edward. “No offence, Lizbeth, but the last thing I want in Sweden is to be seen with someone who looked like a prostitute…”

“I think she really meant it,” said Liz, giggling as both of them got into the room. “Even I felt I could feel it when I heard her slapped you…”

Edward looked at Liz as he sat on the bed and took of his shoes and belt.

“Thank you, Liz,” said Edward, before he laid on the bed.

“You don’t need to thank me. You actually paid for my room,” said Liz.

“I mean, thank you for your forgiveness,” said Edward.

Liz took a seat next to Edward. She threw a longing look at her brother then stroke his hair.

“What’s this?” said Liz, as she noticed a scar on Edward’s forehead, near the hair line.

“A gift from father for returning back home,” said Edward.

“You returned back home? When?” asked Liz, surprised.

“A week after I left,” said Edward. “But it seemed that the fear of getting another scar was a lot bigger than the promise I made to get you out of there.”

“Thank you for trying to save me,” said Liz, before she kissed Edward on his forehead. She then lied next to Edward.

“So,” said Edward afterwards. “You and Martin, no kids?”

“I had hysterectomy a week before we got married,” said Liz. “That’s how Martin gave up his building materials’ store to pay for my surgery. After that we started a cow husbandry. We sell dairy products. Sometimes some clients use my service as an attorney or legal advisor.” Liz added as she turned to Edward. “You and Norah, just friends?”

“Yeah, we’re just friends,” said Edward, placing one of his hand at the back of his head and looking at the ceiling.

“Come on, not even once?” teased Liz.

Edward was about to reply when Liz’s cellphone rang.

“Hi, Honey,” said Martin over the phone.

“Martin, I’m so sorry, I totally forgot you’re still in the penthouse,” said Liz as she sat bolt upright.

“That’s okay. I’m just wondering if you already finished burying your brother in the hotel’s back yard,” said Martin.

Liz laughed.

“He’s not dead, isn’t he?” continued Martin. “Because I can’t hear his voice.”

“He’s not,” said Liz, as she glanced at Edward who had fallen asleep. “At least not now.”

“You both okay now?” asked Martin.

“Yeah, I guess we are,” said Liz, before she quickly added. “I forgot to tell Edward about what we talked earlier. I’ll call you back when convenient, okay?”

“Okay, I love you, Liz,” said Martin, before he hung up the phone.

“Edward, wake up. There’s something I want to tell you,” said Liz, as she shook Edwards’s body.

“What’s up?” said Edward, rubbing his eyes as he got up, just before they heard a door knock.

“Edward!” shouted Norah over the door.

“How the hell did she know you’re here?” asked Liz quickly.

“How the hell I know?” replied Edward, shrugging.

“Caitlyn must’ve told Norah,” said Liz.

Liz knew she was right when she heard Caitlyn’s voice over the door.

“Liz, it’s okay,” said Caitlyn. “I’ve just told Norah everything. We’re here to help you.”

“Now what? Any ideas?” asked Liz.

“If I tell them you’re my sister, Norah will think I’m suspecting her,” said Edward. “And that can’t happen.”

“Let’s just open the door,” said Liz.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” said Edward.

“There’s nothing they can do as long as I don’t press any charges towards you,” said Liz.

Edward sighed nervously before he opened door, with Liz peering from behind his back.

“What have gotten you in your dirty pervert mind, Edward?” said Norah, as she walked into the room and made a gesture for Caitlyn to close the door.

“I promise this won’t happen again,” said Edward, pretending to look guilty.

“It surely won’t,” said Norah, before she turned to Liz. “Now Liz, I know this must be a very difficult situation for you but could you please not file any allegations at least until this is all finished? Please don’t get me wrong. I just want all of us to return home as planned.”

“Okay,” said Liz, trying to look depressed.

“I promise this will be the last time he did such things to you,” continued Norah. “We’ll make sure that Edward will not go any nearer as far as his hands can touch you.”

Norah really meant what she said. She locked Edward in his room and made Liz sleep with Caitlyn that night. It was even impossible for Liz to exchange secret notes to Edward since Norah and Caitlyn had always been by her side since last night. It was when Martin called during breakfast the following morning that Liz had an idea.

“Hi, honey,” said Martin over the phone.

“Hi, Mom,” replied Liz, glancing worriedly at Norah and Caitlyn whilst hoping that Edward would notice the signal.

“Mom?” said Martin, puzzled. “Are you in trouble, Liz?”

“Yeah, I am,” said Liz. “Where are you now?”

“I’m at your two o’clock,” said Martin.

“How’s my brother doing? I wonder if I can speak to him right now,” said Liz, feeling relieved as she could now see Martin. “Can you help me with that?”

“Sure,” said Martin. “He’ll meet you at the men’s toilet. I’ll give you a missed call, okay?” said Martin.

“Okay then. Bye,” said Liz, as she hang up the phone.

Five minutes later, Martin walked towards Edward and spilled water onto his suit.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you,” said Martin, as he quickly inserted a note into Edward’s pocket.

“I need to go to the rest room,” said Edward afterwards.

“Liz, Caitlyn, there’s something I need to tell you about Edward,” said Norah, after Edward had left. “Recently Edward had been having an unusual habit towards women. I myself believe that this case he’s facing now is the implication of it.” Norah turned to Liz. “It was not a surprise to me when he started to make advances towards you. It just never occurred to me that he would make improper approaches that lead to rape. Not only because I never knew any woman ever rejected him,” Caitlyn seemed uncomfortable when Norah glanced at her. “But also I had always believed he was not a rapist.” Norah sighed before she added. “Had Caitlyn reported me earlier about what happened in the restroom yesterday we wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be saying these things to both of you.”

“Why did he suddenly have this kind of unusual habit?” asked Liz.

“For me, the reason is acceptable,” said Norah.

Liz was about to reply when Martin gave her missed call.

“I need to go to the restroom,” said Liz afterwards.

“Caitlyn will assist you,” said Norah.

“I think that won’t be necessary. It’s not like he’s waiting for me there,” said Liz.

“Now that you mentioned it I think she has to,” said Norah.

Liz threw a worried look at Martin, who responded it well as they arrived in front of the woman’s restroom.

“Miss, I think you dropped something,” said Martin to Caitlyn.

Liz quickly got into the men’s toilet when Caitlyn did not see her, where Edward had been waiting for her.

“You said that you had suspected Norah or Caitlyn to have set this up for you,” said Liz, after she closed the restroom door. “What if, Eilen communicated to one of them during that time? Not only can it lead us to the real traitor, but also it can prove us that you were right about one of them.”

“I’ve checked Norah’s and Caitlyn’s phones, secretly,” replied Edward. “I even checked their Facebook, Path, Instagram, anything, but found nothing. The only thing I haven’t checked yet is Eilen’s cellphone.”

Liz’s eyes got widened.

“Now that you mentioned it, I have a plan,” said Liz.

“What’s your plan?”

“Make me your defense attorney for the trial, replacing Norah,” said Liz.

“And?”

“And I will make Eilen confess,” said Liz.

“She won’t confess,” said Edward. “Unless we drugged her before the trial…”

“Edward,” cut Liz. “I’m not in the mood of joking right now.”

“Neither am I,” said Edward. “How can you make her confess?”

“I need you to trust me,” said Liz firmly. “I can do this.”

“Okay then. Norah surely won’t be happy if I tell this,” said Edward finally.

Martin was still trying to have a conversation with Caitlyn when Liz got out of the restroom, which in her relief, was not noticed by Caitlyn.

“That man was unyielding,” said Caitlyn, rolling her eyes after Martin had gone. “His hitting lines was very lame.”

Liz forced a smile before they returned back to the restaurant, where Norah had been waiting.

“Norah,” called Edward, as he joined them five minutes later. “I want Lizbeth to be my defense attorney for the trial.”

Norah quickly turned to Edward.

“No, Edward,” said Norah firmly. “Though I do understand that you may not be thinking straight right now due to…” Norah glanced carefully at Caitlyn and Liz. “…your current condition.”

“This has nothing to do with it,” said Edward.

“I’m not having this conversation, Edward…”

“Lizbeth is actually my sister,” said Edward impatiently. “She’s also an attorney.”

There was a long pause.

“Then the rumor was indeed true,” said Norah. “That you’re suspecting someone in TeleCom to have set this up for you.”

“Norah, I …”

“Are you suspecting me?” cut Norah. “I can’t believe this, Edward. We started TeleCom since we were in college. I’ve stood by you through your ups and downs.”

“I suspected Caitlyn also,” said Edward. "She eagerly arranged a trip here in Sweden two months ago."

“You suspected me too?” said Caitlyn, throwing a disgusted look at Edward.

Liz made a face palm when Edward seemed to have lost his words.

“I’m leaving, Edward. I’m not defending you in your trial,” said Norah before she left, followed by Caitlyn.

===

It was the first time for Liz to be a defense attorney for a rape allegation case. All this time, her clients were mostly women, who had been using her service as prosecutor for domestic violence. She sighed nervously when the court called Eilen as a witness for Edward, just like she requested. Edward smiled encouragingly and patted her on the back before she stood up and walked towards Eilen, who had taken a seat on a chair next to the judge.

“Ms. Ahlstorm, can you describe your relationship with my client, Mr. Edward Smith?”

“He was a speaker in a seminar I was organizing here in Sweden two months ago,” replied Eilen. “Since we were low on budget, I offered him to stay in my apartment guest’s room during his stay at that time and he agreed.”

“Can you describe what happened the night of the alleged rape?”

“After the seminar we went back to my apartment. He made advances and we had sex once. After that I put on my underwear and night dress, and we went to sleep. When I woke up the following day, I was no longer wearing my underwear. I also found a specimen on my bed sheet which had been proved belonged to him,” said Eilen, as she pointed at Edward.

“Ms. Ahlstorm, can I borrow your phone?” asked Liz.

“What for?” asked Eilen, looked surprised.

“I just want to check whether you made any communication to anybody during the time of the alleged rape,” replied Liz.

“Go ahead and check. You’ll find nothing,” said Eilen, handing her phone to Liz.

“My client told me that after you both had what he stated as consensual sex, he thought he heard your phone rang,” said Liz.

“There has never been any call during that time,” said Eilen, scoffing.

“Are you sure? Have you checked it?” asked Liz, pretending to look puzzled. “Because I’m holding your phone right now.”

“You’re bluffing,” said Eilen impatiently. “I would’ve known if there had been any call from anybody.”

“So, you would’ve known if there had been any call from anybody during the time of the alleged rape?”

“Yes, of course,” said Eilen impatiently.

“How would you know if you were sleeping at that time?” Liz turned to the juries when Eilen seemed to have lost her words. “No further questions, Your Honor.”

“Your Honor,” said the prosecutor, standing up on his feet. “The defense attorney of Mr. Edward Smith just created a falsified fact to lure my client into making a mistaken confession.”

“It was an opinion, Your Honor, because I was using the sentence ‘my client thought’,” said Liz. “It was beyond my power if Ms. Ahlstorm had mistaken it as fact.”

Liz threw a triumph smile when the judge announced that the objection from the prosecutor was overruled. An hour later she ran happily towards Edward who had been waiting for her outside the trial court room.

“I think we can buy champagne on our way back to hotel to celebrate your freedom!” said Liz, before they hugged each other.

“I’m proud of you, Lizbeth,” said Edward, as he let her go.

They then walked towards the court corridor.

“Norah told me and Caitlyn about your recent unusual habit towards women,” said Liz. “You know, before you told them I was your sister.”

Edward did not respond. Liz threw a suspicious look at him.

“How many female employees you have currently?” asked Liz.

“Twenty three,” replied Edward.

“How many have you slept with?” asked Liz.

“Twenty two,” said Edward.

“So, it’s only Norah left,” said Liz.

“She didn’t count. She’s the co-founder of Telecom. Besides, she’s a lesbian,” said Edward.

“What?” said Liz, totally surprised by the fact.

“Remember when I told you that Norah has a close relationship with the daughter of WorldTech owner?” said Edward. “She’s Norah’s girlfriend.” Edward sighed before he added. “You know, I shouldn’t have suspected her.”

“Too bad. Eventually Eilen Ahlstorm was only doing it for sensation,” said Liz. She added when Edward still looked sad. “So, the last female employee, when do you plan to get laid with her?”

“Depends,” said Edwards.

“Depends on what?” asked Liz curious.

Edward turned to Liz.

“Depends on whether you agree or not with incest because I’m looking at her right now,” said Edward, giggling.

“You’re sick,” said Liz, in a mocked face.

“I truly am,” said Edward.

“Why have you been doing this, Edward? Getting laid with women since recently?” asked Liz.

“I’ve been sick, Lizbeth,” said Edward.

“I’m not in the mood of joking, Edward,” said Liz.

Edward stopped. He then turned to Liz and sighed.

“Lizbeth, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” said Edward. “Actually, I… I’ve prepared a one week trip for you and Martin to Maldives.”

“I’ve always wanted to go there,” said Liz in amazement.

“I know. Martin told me,” said Edward. “You and Martin will fly there tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you, Edward,” said Liz, as she hugged Edward tightly.

Liz let go of Edward when she saw Norah.

“Congratulation, Liz,” said Norah, before she turned to Edward.

“Norah, I’m so sorry,” said Edward quickly.

“That’s okay, Edward,” said Norah. “I just thought it wouldn’t be fair for Liz if I got mad just because you suspected me.”

“Where’s Caitlyn?” asked Liz.

“She’s already gone back to Australia. I guess she’s too embarrassed and angry to see you,” said Norah, before she added. “So, where do we celebrate?”

===

“I guess I’ll see you next week.”

Liz, Martin, and Edward were already at the airport. Edward smiled, before he kissed Liz on her forehead. He then hugged Liz and Martin.

“Safe flight, both of you,” said Edward, as he let Martin go.

“What’s wrong, Liz?” asked Martin, after Edward had gone.

“Why do I get the feeling that I won’t be seeing him anymore?” said Liz, who was still looking at the spot where she last saw Edward.

Liz’s cellphone suddenly rang.

“Liz, this is Norah,” said the voice over the phone. “I forgot to tell you. Could you please send Edward’s case by email before you take off? I prefer to have the case officially closed by today.”

“No problem,” said Liz, before she opened her laptop. “I’ll sent it right away.”

“Thanks,” said Norah.

Liz looked puzzled when saw an email from Edward with an attachment. Curious, she opened the attachment.

“Uhm… Liz,” said Norah, who apparently was still on the line. “Not that it’s my business, but I really think it’s not wise that you decided to have a holiday with your husband whilst Edward is having a surgery this afternoon.”

“Surgery? What surgery?” asked Liz surprised.

“He didn’t tell you?” said Liz, sounded as surprised. “Lung cancer. Stadium four. The surgery itself only has ten percent of success…”

Liz dropped her cellphone. Martin quickly took it and continued talking to Norah. In an hour, they already arrived in a hospital, where Edward would have his surgery.

“Liz?” said Edward in surprise, when he saw Liz and Martin came. He already wore a surgery robe and sat on a bed in the hospital room.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Edward?” asked Liz.

“I’m just having a surgery, Lizbeth,” said Edward. “It’s not like I’m going to die.”

“Then why did you transfer such amount of money to my bank account? Why did Norah tell Martin that you already handed over your share of company to her?” asked Liz.

Edward seemed to have lost his words.

“You know you’re going to die,” said Liz. “That’s why you didn’t reply me when we were at the airport.”

Edward got out of the bed and pulled Liz into his embrace.

“This is the best I can do for you and Martin, Lizbeth,” said Edward. "With the money you'll have a much better life."

“No,” said Liz, angrily. “This is the worst thing you’ve ever done to me. Dying in front of me and not telling me.”

“I’m sorry, Lizbeth,” said Edward. “I just can’t let you see me dying. I’m your brother and I’m supposed to take care of you.”

“Mr. Smith?” called a nurse, who just came into the room. “We’re going to take you to the operation room in a minute.”

“Martin will take care of you, Liz,” said Edward.

“No, both of you will,” said Liz stubbornly. “You will live after the surgery.”

“I have to go, Liz…” said Edward.

“I’ll see you after the surgery, Edward,” said Liz. “And don’t you fucking dare say goodbye to me.”

“I love you, Lizbeth,” said Edward, before he left with the nurse.

The following day, Liz stood next to a coffin in a church, where Edward corpse lied peacefully inside in white suits. Martin stood next to Liz, giving an encouraging pat whenever Liz wiped a tear on her face. Norah stood next to Martin, sobbing on a shoulder of a young woman.

“I love you too, Edward,” said Liz in the end, before the coffin lid was closed.

===

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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