George Arison stared at Lily, his face unfathomable. "I have what you want," he said as he recalled how Lily bravely accepted a deal from him just a day after Lilian Facci's death.
The memory of their meeting was still so clear in his mind that he could even remember the sinister smile on Lily's face when he told her he needed her help to deal with Sofia. George Arison sought Lily for her help to find a way to divorce Sofia without being too obvious that he was the one who was trying to end the marriage.
George was Sofia's betrothed since they were children. However, fate had different plans for them. When George went to college, he met a girl named Paulina and immediately fell in love with her.
When George approached Paulina with the intention of getting to know her better, she avoided him like a plague because of his status. She wasn't comfortable being around people like George who was treated like royalty in college because he had the looks and money. She didn't think that someone like George would simply approach someone of her status without having any ulterior motive.
Paulina lacked confidence in herself as she came from a humble background and her family was poor. Her mother was sick and couldn't work outside and the heavy financial burden fell on Paulina's shoulders.
Paulina had to take on two part-time jobs just to make ends meet. She worked as a clerk in a small company on her free days in college and a cashier in a retail shop during the weekends. Most of the money she earned went to paying for her tuition fees and to pay for her mother's medical expenses.
Because Paulina was avoiding him in college, George sought to find another way to get close to her. That was when George came to know about Paulina's part-time work as a clerk in a small company.
An idea sprouted in his mind and George went to ask his father for permission to do some work outside the family's business, starting at the entry-level worker in a small company to gain valuable industry experience. He reasoned that he wanted to step out of his comfort zone. George interest to learn made his father happy and he agreed without asking too many questions.
So George 'coincidentally' entered the same company as Paulina of course and he ardently pursued her at work. Perhaps it was George's persistence and sincerity, Paulina was eventually won over by him and she agreed to be with him. George was overcome with happiness as Paulina was his first love.
However, this happiness did not last for long as Sofia came back, having completed her studies abroad in the US.
When his father found out about Paulina, he pressured George to put an end to things with her. His father told him that someone like Paulina would add nothing into his life. Happiness? That was not worth anything to his father. His father also reminded him that he was engaged to Sofia and now that they were both mature adults, they need to start on building a relationship with each other.
George tried to fight for Paulina but his father threatened him with Paulina's life if he remained stubborn and refused to end things with her. Left with no choice, George broke up with Paulina. While he was still mending his broken heart, he entered into a relationship with Sofia. After all, It was his father's wish that he gets along with his betrothed.
But as time went by, George still hadn't gotten over Paulina. Whenever he got drunk, he often mistook Sofia for Paulina and would call out her name in his sleep. This earned an ire from Sofia. Her insecurities and love for George eventually made her do something that she never thought she was capable of doing.
One day, George heard a devastating news, that Paulina and her mother were gruesomely murdered in their own home. George instinctively knew that it had to be Sofia's doing. In his heart he knew that Sofia felt threatened by Paulina's existence but he didn't think that Sofia would go to the extent of eliminating Paulina.
Sofia also had ties in the underworld. So it wasn't difficult for her to order someone to be killed on her behalf. George blamed himself for the death of Paulina and her mother. He shouldn't have fallen for her, he shouldn't have approached her. And this guilt something that George would never forget.
But did he do something about it then? No he didn't. His father's company was unstable and their ties in the underworld was weak. Sofia was someone that he could not afford to offend at that time. So he made a deliberate plan; a deliberate web of lies and schemes to avenge his beloved. First, he had to marry Sofia.
At the same time, Lily's memories took her back to the time she agreed to make a deal with George Arison. In return for helping George find a way to divorce Sofia, George would give her a very important piece of information that she wanted. It was a deal that Lily couldn't refuse. Moreover, what George was asking from Lily was so simple. He only wanted to divorce Sofia and pave a way for Jack. Wasn't that too easy for someone like Lily?
George even gave her the ammunition to bring Sofia down, which are photos of Sofia being intimate with her driver. He wanted his wife ruined but he didn't use his own hands to do it, not if he didn't want to arouse suspicions that he was divorcing Sofia right after becoming the leader of their combined mafia forces. He wanted a clean exit and Lily could give him that.
For Lily's plans to work, she needed to manipulate the Arison family and her engagement to Liam was her ticket in. Sofia only had one son, Liam and he was deeply spoiled by her. Naturally, all she ever wanted for her son was the best and Lily seemed like the perfect woman for her son.
As the last member of the Facci family, Lily would inherit everything from Lilian Facci; the company and all her assets which amounted to a huge fortune. As a result, many socialite families with unmarried sons expressed their interest in this heiress. But since the Arison and Facci families had ties that goes way back, Sofia confidently proposed to Lilian Facci who was sick and dying, that Liam and Lily should wed.
Lilian Facci didn't agree to it right away but checked with Lily to make sure that she was agreeable to it. Of course, Lily would agree, she already had plans to sink her claws in Liam even before Sofia approached Lilian Facci to propose that Liam and Lily should wed.
Following her profiteering tendencies, she did her research on the Arisons and found out that they owned the A.R Mall and Boutique, with branches in the Far East. As she had intentions of breaking into the market in the Far East, she immediately thought of taking advantage of their engagement to acquire A.R Mall and Boutique which could help her achieve her goal.
After Lily cancelled her engagement with Liam, she forced him to hand over the ownership and management of A.R Mall and Boutique, and the control of its three branches in Asia - Hong Kong, China and Singapore. Of course, when Liam consulted George about this matter, George didn't hesitate to sign the acquisition documents to hand over the A.R Mall and Boutique to Lily.
Lily capitalised on George's willingness to give her anything she needed in exchange for her help and of course whatever she needed for her plan. Then she waited… waited for Sofia to urged Liam to follow her to Hong Kong. Waited for Sofia to try and save her son. Waited for them to make a move against her.
All she practically did was to wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. And Lily only needed to strike once.
"You are a cruel man," Lily uttered as she accepted the envelope from his hand.
"And yet, I am still afraid of you," he immediately retorted, looking out of the car. "Don't you want to know what is going to happen to Sofia?" he asked.
"Not interested," Lily answered. "But I have to tell you that Jack is still weak. He is not yet ready to manage a conglomerate. He is smart but he lacks the guts. You need to train him well."
"I know. I still have time. I can teach him. Or maybe I could send him to you and you could take him under your wings and..."
"I am married," Lily interrupted. What was George thinking? Did he think that she would not be able to see through his true intentions? Did he think that Jack stood a chance to be with her just because Liam didn't?
Her words immediately made George turn his head towards her. "To whom?"
"To the person that I had asked you to look for," Lily said. Initially she had asked George to investigate what happened to her seven years ago, starting with finding out the identity of the man she had slept with. After all, she couldn't deny the possibility that the one who had drugged her that night could also be the same man she slept with. When the culprit who drugged her was found, she then realized that it was not the same man as the one she slept with.
With a look of surprise on George's face, he sincerely exclaimed, "Well… congratulations!" Then he let out a laugh, his eyes turning into crescents. "I'm sure Lilian would be proud and happy to see that you've finally settled down."
"Hmmm…" Lily nodded as her fingers tightened their grip on the envelope.
"Still, I am very impressed with what you did."
"If you really want to thank me, you can give me a billion USD," Lily said bluntly. "My plans are flawless… you should already know that."
"As expected of you… But a billion is a lot. How about some properties abroad?" George let out another hearty laugh. Now that Sofia was in his hands and Liam would soon be ousted from his position as the CEO, his heart felt lighter. Naturally, he would not be so stingy towards the person who helped him avenge Paulina. "Flawless is the right word to describe what you did. Now everyone in London will only be more fearful of you."
Lily did not say anything, she just turned her gaze out of the car. This entire time as they were talking, the car was stationary, parked in front of the restaurant.
"I just wonder." George started. "Why did you not wait for them to strike you first? Your move was completely unexpected to everyone. To be honest, it was as if a storm suddenly arrived, leaving chaos in its wake. Even I didn't even know that you plan was already in motion. Is this what you have learned from Lilian?"
"Machiavelli." Lily's answer caused George to raise an eyebrow. Then, she slowly turned her head to look at him, her lips curled into a fake smile. "The Prince by Machiavelli. 'The Romans, foreseeing troubles, dealt with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them come to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only put off to the advantage of others'," she quoted.
"You should have your son read the book," Lily added when she saw George rendered speechless from her words. "It was worth it. I'm sure he will learn a tactic or two in scheming."