From the time they were married, Derek was committed to Chloe. But she fell ill right away and spent the entire day in bed. She was gone when he returned after a brief incident that caused him to leave her side.

“Dad! No! I love him! He’s the love of my life! I can’t believe you’d be so shallow as to forbid me from dating a man just because his family doesn’t have money,” Chloe wailed in her room at her parents’ house.

It was not unusual for her father, Mr. Rawlings, to host his business colleague Mr. Cassini’s family for dinner. But shortly after they took a seat, her father explained the true purpose of the gathering.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash


“Chloe, Mr. Cassini, and I have decided that you and Derek are going to get married,” Mr. Rawlings said, clapping his hands.

“It makes the most sense. We’ll finally be a family!”

The table erupted in jovial conversation and applause as Mr. Cassini joined in the cheers.

Chloe was the only one who appeared to be taken off guard. Confused, she replied, “I have a boyfriend.”

Silence fell across the dining room. “No, she doesn’t. It’s a silly fling that I told her she needs to nip in the bud,” Mr. Rawlings assured the guests, and everyone nodded at him.

Derek was ecstatic and confident that she was changing.

She was not being spoken to. “DAD! No! I’m not marrying a man I don’t even know!” She screamed before bolting.

She was found by Mr. Rawlings crying and screaming in her room about her love for her former classmate David. She had a crush on him in high school, but because he belonged to the bad boys, he never even glanced at her until a few months ago. When Chloe took her car in for a checkup, and he was the technician, they reconnected when they were both 20 years old.

Despite knowing Derek for her entire life, she had no feelings for him. They acted nearly like distant cousins who hardly spoke at gatherings with family. Her elder by three years was Derek. She never mentioned Derek or gave him the treatment of a man, so Mr. Rawling’s theory made no sense.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Mr. Rawlings tried to appease her. “Chloe, I will not have you settling down with that useless mechanic. He doesn’t even go to college. He saw your expensive car and thought he could have a rich girlfriend. You have a bright future ahead of you, and Derek loves you dearly. He told me so. That’s why I arranged everything.”

“What? So, you plan my life without my input? That’s not fair, Dad! I don’t want to marry Derek! I know he likes me, but I don’t know him. He’s always been your business partner’s son. He’s nothing to me,” she sobbed through her words.

“That doesn’t matter. You will get to know him after you marry him. It’s the best match for you, dear,” her father insisted.

“NO! We’re not in the 1900s when a father could decide and arrange a marriage. I won’t marry, and that’s it!”. Chloe got out of bed, rubbed her eyes, and gave her father a determined look as she stood up.

“Fine,” Mr. Rawlings nodded. “Then, you have to leave my house immediately. I’m cutting you off. I won’t pay for your college. I won’t give you another dime. If you want to make your own choices, go ahead. But I won’t ever contribute to the life of that gold-digging loser you’re dating.”

“DAD! NO!” Chloe yelled in alarm. His young girl, she was. “I’m doing well in school. I love it there. I can’t…”

She stumbled, envisioning a future without her father’s help. Chloe still resided at home even though she was legally an adult. Before graduation from college, she had no intention of getting a job. Even then, she believed she could rely on her father’s help. Never once had he used money against her.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Chloe first assured him that she could survive without him, unwilling to let him know all the thoughts going through her head. Even though she quickly came home after leaving. She genuinely didn’t know how to live a life of struggle because she loved her school too much.

A few months after that conversation, she and Derek got hitched. Their mothers planned all of it. She was unenthusiastic at the wedding, but her new husband was all smiles and tender kisses. He was thrilled.

“Chloe, I know this is not how you pictured your wedding, and I may not be the man you originally wanted. But I promise to care and love you until the day I die. I will do anything for you,” she nodded in agreement when he spoke to her privately.

She believed her life was coming to an end. David had to go because she was now Derek’s wife and no longer needed him.

Since Chloe was just 15, Derek developed a crush on her and chose to wait till they were older before proposing to her. Sadly, she didn’t even glance at him. Years later, when he admitted his emotions for her, Mr. Rawlings was overjoyed. He proposed an arranged marriage, and Derek was powerless to reject it.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

He was aware that Chloe was, at the time, dating someone. He knew she would initially despise him, but Derek was determined to marry the woman he loved, no matter what.

“She can barely move! Someone took her!!” Derek yelled.

He was confident that she would develop a lasting affection for him. He would give her all the love, adoration, care, and attention she deserved. He began by paying back Mr. Rawlings and Mr. Cassini for helping him get a lovely home, but that was just the beginning.

Derek helped her get her degree, and he wholeheartedly agreed when she initially expressed a desire for no children. “I can wait forever for kids. Or not have them at all, if that’s what you would prefer,” he reassured her honestly.

“Thank you, Derek,” she retorted with a smile. After her father’s announcement, she offered him the first sincere smile he had ever received. Derek was delighted and confident that she was changing her mind. He will soon win her heart.

However, Chloe became ill soon after she graduated from college. She was losing weight and had trouble moving. Nobody was more worried than Derek as she struggled to get out of bed. They took her to the doctors, who ordered some tests but couldn’t come up with a diagnosis.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Derek had no notion that CFS existed; it was chronic fatigue syndrome. Chloe shared the same confusion. “So, I’m tired?” She asked haltingly. Derek gently snatched her hand. “Doc, it has to be something else.”

“Mrs. Cassini, this is a very serious and real condition. And unfortunately, there’s no real cure or set treatment. I’m going to consult with some colleagues, and we’ll take it from there,” the doctor told them seriously.

Derek assured her he would be by her side and followed that assurance. Every day he worked from home, converting their spacious bedroom into a portion of an office. He recruited a cook and a nurse who could follow the doctor’s orders in addition to the maid they already had.

Their home had everything brought, and he barely left her side to use the restroom. Only then did he realize she was sound asleep?

After receiving various therapies for a few months, Chloe still did not exhibit any indications of recovery. All day she spent in bed. Some might suspect this is a fabrication, but Derek could see that she had bags under her eyes and was losing muscle tone despite following a healthy diet and doing light workouts with the nurse. Watching those was agonizing. All of the family members were concerned since his wife was in pain.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

The new treatment Derek had discussed with European doctors was the subject of an email Derek sent to the doctor on a Saturday. There was nobody else in the residence. Saturdays were not nurse visits days. Their maid had an urgent situation involving their child, and their cook requested a weekend absence.

That was okay. Derek could easily observe his wife, and they would later treat themselves to a good pizza.

When a text message from his phone arrived, he was engrossed in his computer. Derek scowled as he read, “There’s a fire in your garage.” That was absurd. They had a cutting-edge alarm system, and there was silence.

But he had to protect his wife and their house, so he went to the window and observed the guards standing by their gate go toward the garage. He ran to Chloe’s bedside, whispering, “Jesus, it’s real.

He was certain he could check things out while she slept and return before she realized he had left.

He asked the guards, trying to open the garage door, “What’s going on?”

Although smoke was coming from within, the garage door opener was broken. Additionally silent were the alarms. There was an issue. He dialed 911 and asked them to dispatch cops as well.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

While the police conducted a perimeter search of the house’s surroundings, the firefighters arrived and were able to access the garage.

“Mr. Cassini, a pile of clothes was on fire inside. There’s a bit of damage to one of your cars, but nothing major. It could’ve been dangerous,” the firefighter explained.

“I don’t understand. My alarm system is brand new and expensive. Why didn’t it go off?” Inconsolable, Derek questioned them. He was advised to investigate to find out what was going on by the firefighters and the police.

We ought to also review your security cameras. This seems a little suspicious, but I wouldn’t call it arson. One law enforcement officer asked, “Did you leave those clothes in the garage?”

“Well, no. But the garage is so close to the laundry room. Our maid might’ve left it accidentally. She had to leave yesterday unexpectedly because her son got sick. I don’t know,” Derek rubbed his brow and said. “I’ll give you guys permission to check anything. Please, I need to find some answers. I have a sick up there, and this can’t happen again. It’s my job to protect her.”

For thirty minutes, Derek was not with Chloe. It was the longest he had gone without since her illness, so he hurried back to their bedroom, only to stop at the door as though an impassable barrier had been placed in his path. But nothing was there.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

No one was in their bed, and the room was a mess. He yelled “CHLOE! CHLOE!” so loudly that his lungs were on fire as he sprinted towards their bathroom, closets, guest rooms, playrooms, the basement, and kitchen.

“God, I don’t know how long it’s been.”

“Officers! My wife is gone! She can barely move! Someone took her!!” Once outside, Derek screamed. The police were understandably perplexed, but his gate guards supported his statements.

Before checking the cameras, the officers realized all the footage from the previous hour was tainted. When Derek contacted the security firm, they informed him that the only plausible theory was that someone intentionally tampered with the system.

The police used that information to begin looking for Derek’s wife as a missing person. He was close to having a breakdown, though. Chloe was incapable and frail. He cried out in front of his gate guards, thinking that these criminals would hurt her and that he had failed to protect her as promised.

The police searched for several months without success. It appeared to be an impasse. Derek anticipated a call from the kidnappers demanding a ransom. However, they never did.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

He sobbed daily since he had no idea if Chloe was safe or still alive. Although he hoped and prayed, it felt hopeless. So much time had passed already. What did the burglars want, if not money, in exchange for her?

To conduct the search, his father and father-in-law discussed employing private investigators and were actively hunting for the best. The days without his wife, though, were darker and darker.

He hurriedly got out of bed after seeing a message on his phone’s screen. When he discovered the number was the same as the one that had written about the garage fire a few months prior, his vision became foggy.

Jesus, how could I miss that number? Inquiring, Derek struck his forehead. He was so engrossed in everything that the entire situation was lost in his attention. He did, however, recall it now.

But this message wouldn’t make his life miserable. In actuality, it was his one opportunity to win Chloe back, and what was most startling was that the text contained simply the word “David.”

He knew what had occurred and wanted to slap himself for not immediately putting everything together. Only David had any interest in his wife. Because Chloe claimed they split amicably, so he believed the man would get past their differences.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

But Derek was mistaken. She was gone with David. The message’s only positive aspect was that it most likely indicated that she was still alive and that the sender wanted him to find her. Only Chloe herself, he could only hope, could have written it.

From a cottage in a remote forest on the outskirts of town, Chloe softly muttered, “Derek,” softly. As her frail arms slowly rose, he cocked his body to take her up.

“It’s OK. Everything will be alright. You’re safe. With me,” he said, pulling her close to his chest. Chloe started crying sparingly but did her best to hold him securely.

Derek didn’t, of course, travel to the cabin by himself. He had first to locate it. He informed the police about David as a result and phoned them. His license plate number was found when they searched through archives. Finally, they located his cabin close to the woods after searching through city CCTV footage and contacting his former employer about his movements.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

When they arrived, David wasn’t there, but Chloe was on the bed, and Derek was just concerned about ensuring she was okay, so he took her away. He calmly told the authorities, “I don’t care what happens to him,” and then drove his wife home.

The nurse and the maid aided her preparation for the day. To his surprise, Chloe could now lean against the headboard and appear well enough to speak. “It’s OK. He reassured her, “You may rest now.

“No, Derek. I have to talk about this now,” she said, grabbing his arm more forcefully than ever.

He gulped, “All right,” unsure whether he was prepared for a response. Had they anticipated this?

After observing his thoughts, she began, “I didn’t plan this with him,” after observing his thoughts. “I had no notion he desired my return. But I have to say; at first, I was… happy. I believed that I still loved him. I believed that being with him would make me feel better.

Derek was only able to nod.

“But I wasn’t. I only got worse. I don’t know if you noticed that he grabbed your watches. He didn’t have much time, but he grabbed what he could before carrying me away,” Chloe said.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“I did notice.”

“He sold them, and that’s what we’ve been living off all this time,” she explained. “God, I don’t know how long it’s been.”

He said gently, “Months.” His gaze was on her, but he could not meet her eyes.

“God, Derek. I’m so sorry,” she choked up.

He asked, “What happened?” He spoke in a naturally curious manner.

“He wanted money. That’s all he wanted from me. All along,” she said painfully. “My father was right about him.”

“How do you know?”

“He told me. Directly. That I was only good for my money. I was so stupid. I realized that he treated me like garbage even back then. I couldn’t believe I was so blind,” Chloe said. “Oh, can you help me lay down?”

Derek grabbed her and placed her head on the soft pillows, responding, “Yes, of course.” He snugly encircled her with the comforter.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“I was a stupid girl. I quickly realized that my love for him was not love. It wasn’t the companionship, support, and carefulness you showed me love could be. I missed you, and I know now that I love you,” Chloe revealed, and Derek closed his eyes.

“You don’t have to say that,” he breathed.

“I love you, Derek. You’re my husband. I’ve been an awful wife, and I’m sick. You deserve so much better than me, but I wanted you to know that I love you,” she insisted, trying to rise from bed.

“No, no, no. Stay down there. You’re tired,” shaking his head, he observed a few wayward tears had flown.

She asked, “Can you forgive me?” her eyes wet and sad.

“Are you kidding?” Derek began, his voice trembling. “I forced you to marry me. You have to forgive me.”

she wondered, “Do you love me, too?” Her despair turned into a hesitant smile when he turned to face her.

He said, “I love you, Chloe.” Nothing had ever been spoken that was more accurate. She exerted all of her efforts when he knelt to kiss her.

Though technically they had already kissed, this was the first kiss of pure love.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

David unintentionally left his cell phone unattended one day, and Chloe took it, she later disclosed. She swiftly typed his name into the discussion thread where the paragraph about the garage fire was posted. She lacked the energy for anything else and didn’t want him to know.

Naturally, David was located and taken into custody. Because Mr. Rawlings and Mr. Cassini Sr. wanted him to rot in prison, they made sure the strongest prosecutor was working on his case.

However, David and Chloe were fixated on one another. Chloe was surprisingly improving. Although it wasn’t a cure, the doctor discovered an alternative treatment that was doing well for the patient. She was able to stand and walk by the end of that year. As the years passed, Chloe significantly improved, and they began their family as if it had always been intended.

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