Book cover of “To Have Henry“ by Zephyr

To Have Henry

  • Genre: Romance
  • Age: 18+
  • Status: Completed
  • Language: English
  • Author: Zephyr
"So, you went off and conquered the world, didn't you?" Althea asked, the spite still evident in her voice. "I simply demanded from life what I wanted, and it gave me my place in the world." At first glance, Kendra is doing great in both her personal life and business. But once you dig deeper, you can see a broken relationship with her mother, no... 

Chapter 1

Kendra Sterling still wasn’t sure why she had said yes.

With that word ‘yes,’ she was now in the process of effortlessly transporting herself back to the scene of her reckless traumatic past when she had an amazing present that most could only dream about or hope for.

She relaxed in her seat, gazing deeply at the cerulean blue clouds, wallowing in her uncertainty. The day was clear and beautiful, just like how it had been when her life fell apart and went up in flames.

“Are you interested in the magazine?” The man beside her asked unnecessarily. Kendra smiled to herself. When the hostess had wheeled a magazine cart, the man had quickly snatched up one, then he had spent the last ten minutes thumbing through pages of designer dresses, hair products, makeup, sylphlike models, hues, and prints, evidently uninterested in the intricacies surrounding the world of female glamour, but feigning curiosity just so he could talk to her. While it wasn’t a classic guy move, it was impressive, and so he deserved a little bit of attention.

She turned her intense olive eyes on him.

“Yes, I am, thank you.”

She collected the magazine, watching as his fingers deliberately brushed hers.

She flipped through the magazine idly, uninterested in pages filled with superficial allure and beauty but pretending that she was because his eyes burned into her. As she turned another page, an event she had just finished planning days ago was featured. Kendra smiled, recalling her inflated sense of ego when she had gotten her first magazine feature years ago.

“You know, I think KAS Patterns are overrated,” The man beside her said.

“Hmm, really?”

“Yeah. There are lots of other event-planning companies that do a better job but don’t get the same recognition because their CEO isn’t connected to top celebrities. All they really do is throw around colors.”

“Is that so?” Kendra asked, still smiling.

“Yes. Smaller businesses need to be given much bigger opportunities or else they would not be capable of thriving.” He looked at her skeptically. “Or don’t you agree?”

“Yes, of course I do.”

“Well, that Kendra Annette Stirling must know the right celebs to bang if she keeps getting all those contracts.”

“It’s Sterling,” Kendra corrected. “Bear in mind that I hardly let strangers call me Annette.”

The color drained from the man’s face.

“You’re…you are Kendra Sterling?”

Kendra smiled. “The one and only.”

“I’m...so sorry. Truly.”

At interviews, magazine covers, red carpet events, and in the face of the public eye, Kendra was usually smothered in heavy makeup, shiny jewels, and designer clothes. Now, fresh-faced and dewy, it was easy to see why the man wouldn’t recognize her.

“That’s okay,” she said, giving him a reassuring grin. “What’s your name?”

“Mason,” he said, quivering.

“Nice name. I’ll give you some free advice, Mason. Only stick to topics you truly understand so you don’t end up projecting the wrong stereotypes on the wrong people. Not every woman sleeps around just for success. I sure as hell didn’t. I built KAS Patterns all by myself. It was hard and gritty, and there were days when I wanted to give up. Every business has to pay the price. I was once a struggling business owner before I attained any prominence. So your harsh judgment is quite myopic.”

“I’m truly sorry, I—”

Kendra slowly adjusted her seat and looked back at the clouds. Now, they looked fragile and breakable.

“As I said, it’s fine.”

She didn’t stop looking out at the clouds, and he, who was engulfed in deep embarrassment, didn’t have the guts to say anything more. The silence screamed out loud.

As the plane landed in San Francisco, she silently handed the magazine to him and walked out with a sweet smile on her face hoping she had left him with his guilt intact. As she walked away, Mason took in her lithe figure, tiny waist, and full breasts and nearly cursed his rotten luck out loud.

What a loss.

***

“So, you’re there now?” Gregory asked her over the phone.

“Yeah, just checking into my hotel.”

“Well, I’m glad you are not staying in the family house,” he said

Kendra shook her head. “Never again. I could never again stay there.”

“You know you don’t have to do this, right? You can still call the whole thing off and come back to Florida. The girls and I miss you.”

“I miss all of you, too.”

“You don’t owe them any favors, Kendra. None at all. You shouldn’t be there.”

“I know. I just…” She faltered, “I just wanted to see them again. To see if they have changed since…well, you know.”

“Humans don’t change, sweetheart,” Gregory said, “They only become bigger assholes.”

Kendra laughed. “I wish you and the girls were here.”

“I wish you had stayed.”

“It’s just a couple of days, darling,” she reassured him, “I’ll be back to you in the blink of an eye.”

“Can’t wait.”

“Now, let me tell you about this asshole I met on the plane…”

She reenacted the story with animation, punchy lines, and mannerisms. Gregory found it all funny, and they both laughed heartily, exchanging subtle wisdom and people in general.

When the call was over, she stared at the diamond rock on her finger. The symbol that she would soon become a Mrs. to one of the best men in the world. Gregory was more than just her future husband. He was now her life’s constant. The most indelible proof that no matter how grotesquely ugly life had gotten, no matter how brutal and dark, it could always be dazzlingly beautiful again.

Kendra fondly recalled the day they met. She had left her base in Miami to go to Jacksonville and plan an event for Moonlight Papers, one of the most prominent print publications in Florida, which was welcoming a new set of investors from the Arab world.

There had been a mixup in her hotel reservation as the company had not been expecting her until the next day. Kendra had been upset at the disorganization, and in the middle of the crisis, that was how she met Gregory Summers — the editor-in-chief of Moonlight Papers and one of Florida’s most prominent journalists.

Summers had kickstarted his career as a journalist with an internship at CNN, covering wars, insurgencies, terrorism, and critical political issues in far-flung and war-torn areas around the world. His work as an intern had been outstanding and impressive, and afterward, the prominent news company absorbed him into their fold. He had worked with CNN, the journalism giant, for ten years before using his relevant hands-on experience to commence Moonlight Papers. Over the years, Gregory had successfully molded it into the preeminent leading newspaper in Florida, covering news in all political, economic, entertainment, lifestyle, business, arts, culture, and sports stratospheres.

Kendra knew that it had not been love at first sight for her the day she met Gregory. At that time, she believed she was just coming into her own. She had just become economically and emotionally secure after years of a turbulent existence marred by an insensitive mother, a venomously jealous aunt, unrequited love, a dead father, and the consistent traumatizing pain of never truly fitting in. Most people who have to go through the isolating and lonely experience of never truly fitting into the vastness of the outside world usually find comfort within the confines of family. For Kendra, this was far from the case.

She had fled from the suffocating turbulence. She had fought, built, and struggled to become who she was and where she finally wanted to be. Independent, free, business-oriented, and a doting mother to two amazing girls. For her, the universe was finally being kind to her. She was in a good space, and a man was the last thing on her mind.

Gregory had, however, been smitten the minute he’d met her. Being the editor-in-chief, it would have been easy for him to designate the task of setting things right to another employee, yet he graciously went out of his way to book a suite for her even though Moonlight already had another hotel reservation made by them for the next day. Gregory apologized profusely for the inconvenience and took her overnight suitcase to the suite himself.

Afterward, he invited her for lunch, paying for her expensive meal with his card. Kendra had been amused by how frank he was in his flirtations toward her. She was impressed at how he wore his heart on his sleeve, as opposed to most men who cultivated a cool, calm indifference when they were interested in a woman.

The event had been a raving success due to her meticulousness and Gregory’s unwavering hovering just to ensure a smooth triumph. When it was time to go back to her base in Miami, he pleaded with her to stay for a few days and hang out in Jacksonville. Kendra agreed, and they toured the city together, savoring nature’s enthralling beauty in state parks, checking out historical contexts in Cummer Museum and art gardens, and fine dining in exclusive restaurants.

Eventually, she went back to Miami, and they kept in touch via phone calls. Gregory was consistent and intentional. He called every day, he sent her gifts, and he came down to Miami on weekends just to build a bond with her daughters and her grandparents. They were all taken in by him, leaving Kendra with no choice but to say yes to a relationship when he finally asked. He told her that he loved her, and he hoped his love would be strong enough to heal her past heartaches. Kendra knew he was amazing, and she had hit the jackpot with him. She loved him, and she loved how much he loved her family.

She just wasn’t in love with him.

And now she knew that the disparity between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you” was enormously huge. Almost of Atlantic Ocean proportions. She didn’t feel butterflies when she saw him, her body didn’t quiver with raw wanting whenever he touched her, and what she felt for him didn’t reach the depths of her soul or fill the eternal void within her. It was a love simply born out of appreciation. She knew this, and yet she didn’t leave him because she believed that what he felt was strong enough to see their relationship through. She also told herself to be realistic. Gregory was the closest she could get to a fairytale, and perhaps it was time to stop thinking about love as something that was all butterflies and flowers. That utopian pipe dream only existed in books and movies. In the real world, love was effort, consistency, intentionality, patience, and kindness. All of which were hard to find in today’s superficial populace, but all of which Gregory gave her with ease.

And on the day she had walked into the sky-high hotel room on their two-year anniversary and witnessed an unforgettable stunning romantic scene with scented candles, lovely music, petals, and above all, the 28-carat diamond ring encased in a bed of velvet, she had agreed to spend the rest of her life with him. Her daughters had screamed in delight at the news, her grandparents had teared up, and Kendra had been left there alone, struggling to feel some level of contentment amidst so much beauty.

***

Dorothea was mixing a salad in the marble-floored granite-topped monochrome kitchen, large enough to easily accommodate twenty people. The kitchen had gorgeous views of the garden and orchard, where for ages, the Smith family had grown their own vegetables and fruits. As she made the salad cream, she couldn’t help but wonder how she had gotten so lucky to marry an ultra-successful Alpha male like Henry Sullivan.

Oh, he had made it crystal clear that it was strictly a business affair, but she knew that in time, she could have him wrapped around her dainty little fingers. Dorothea smiled in happiness, swaying her gorgeous plastic surgery-induced curves in delight as she nearly mixed the salad to a pulp. She had always admired Henry. He was a man’s man, forever oozing masculinity and authority in waves. Any woman would fall easily for his charms, but he had chosen her. Maybe not in a romantic sense, but he had chosen her. And she had an absolute conviction that she could keep him trapped forever in the confines of marriage.

She had texted her plastic surgeon the minute she woke up. It was going to be time for another boob job and maybe a liposuction before the wedding. She had a series of spa visits and five different facial and body treatments. For a 43-year-old woman, Dorothea was naturally blessed with enviable good looks. She had long abandoned nature, though, preferring to plunge herself into the world of botox treatments, fillers, and plastic surgeries to keep looking as though she was in her twenties. Since she was getting married to one of the most eligible bachelors in the country, she needed to maintain and keep up with all modern beauty treatments now more than ever before. She always had to make sure that she constantly triumphed over the whores who would be desperately hovering over him like hungry hyenas.

Getting married again was going to be the adventure of a lifetime.

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