A beautiful, young woman strode down the hall. She held a determined look in her eyes. She stopped in front of two beautifully carved mahogany doors. She was about to swing them open when she was stopped by a man decked out in a black suit. She glared at him coldly. He cleared his throat and looked away in obvious embarrassment, but still refused her entrance.
"I'm sorry, Miss Thompson, but the boss is in an extremely important meeting."
The woman replied back in a soft, but firm voice, "more important than his daughter?" She glanced down lovingly at her bulging stomach, "than his grandchild?"
There was an awkward silence.
Both the guard and she knew that it was a given fact that her father's business came before his family. He proved it more than enough times, that was for sure. The guard was placed in a difficult situation. If he let her in, he would be in big trouble, and if he didn't… The guard looked at her. She looked so fragile. Standing there. Clutching her stomach protectively.
"It's ok, Winston, let her in. I'll take responsibility of the matter."
The guard and the woman turned around.
An old man with kind blue eyes was standing there.
Winston still looked indecisive.
The old man's eyes tightened, "The boss has let her down again and again. This is one time I won't let that happen."
Winston nodded and stepped aside.
The woman's eyes softened and she gave a hint of a smile, "Thank you, Lawrence."
Lawrence smiled back.
The woman took a deep breath and pushed both of the doors wide open.
She glanced around at the men sitting around the table, and her father sitting at the head.
"Annabelle!" Her father looked at her in surprise. "What are you doing here? Missing me already? He laughed and said to the men around him in a joking manner, "My daughter, she always somehow manages to wrestle some time out of my busy schedule for us to spend some time together."
The men around him chuckled, obviously thinking him to be the best father in the world.
"I need to talk to you."
"Not now honey, I'm in a meeting."
Honey? She rolled her eyes; her father was always putting on the pretense that they actually had a loving father-daughter relationship.
He kept smiling, but his eyes grew cold and angry. There was a pause. Finally, one of the men clapped him on the back.
"It's fine, Walter. We can wait. Talk with your daughter."
The man who spoke up gave Annabelle a warm smile, nodding his head at her.
"I understand completely. I've got two daughters of my own."
Annabelle mustered up a grateful smile in response. She grew wistful. He must be a good father, she thought to herself. Her own father glanced at the men around him, and smiled apologetically.
"Please excuse me and my daughter for a moment."
The men filed out of the room.
"What do you want? You just interrupted a very important meeting." He could hardly keep his temper in check. It threatened to boil over any minute.
"I'm going to marry Darren, no matter what you say."
Her father glowered at her. A frightening expression on his face.
"Let's not discuss this right now."
"Then when? When should we discuss this? You never have the time!" she herself was beginning to grow frustrated, her icy exterior turning into a red hot anger, "I have been waiting on you for years. I can't keep waiting for you. Not anymore."
Her father frowned, "What do you mean waiting on me for years? You only told me about the marriage proposal a couple of days ago, a marriage proposal that you accepted without consulting me about it first."
Annabelle threw her hands up in frustration, "Try a couple of weeks ago! And oh, I'm sorry! You're absolutely right. As Darren got down on his knees and proposed, I should've said, 'Darren, I would love to marry you, but I don't have a brain of my own. I have to call my father and ask if it's okay first even though it's my life and my future!'"
Annabelle slammed her palms down on the desk in front of her father.
"Secondly, I'm not just talking about Darren. I'm talking about me. I have waited for you ever since I can remember. Since childhood, you've promised to come to recitals, birthdays, trips, graduations… Take a lucky guess at who did not show up."
Her father remained silent.
"You didn't show up to any of those events," Annabelle continued lividly, "not one, and I guess you won't be able to make it to my wedding either."
She spun around, walking briskly out of the room. She stopped for a minute outside the doors, catching her breath. She waited for a moment, hoping that her father would come rushing out, full of repentance. Telling her that he was sorry and asking her not to leave.
The doors remained shut.
She scoffed. What was she waiting for? He wouldn't come. She continued walking down the hallway, grabbing her already packed bags and jerking open the front door.
Lawrence chased after her, "Annie, wait! Don't go," he stared frantically at her, "please, stay."
She paused for a second.
Lawrence took advantage of the hesitation, "Look, it's pouring cats and dogs outside, at least wait until tomorrow morning."
Annie stared out at the pouring rain, and without even casting a glance in his direction, she replied, "I'm sorry, Lawrence. But I can't stay in this house any longer, you of all people know why."
"But where will you go?"
"I'm afraid I can't tell you, Lawrence. I can't risk my father finding me and making the rest of my life and the life of my child miserable."
Lawrence nodded gravely, "I understand, but at least tell me what you are going to name your child."
Annie finally looked at him, tears forming in her eyes, "Essie, Short for Esmeralda." Then she stepped through the doorway and disappeared into the rain.