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Chapter 1 Nothing to Regret

     The heat of his body pressed against her and the warmth from his breath tickled her ear.
     "Are you scared?" he asked.
     His hot breath lingered near her ear, making her shiver and scared to speak. Dolores Flores sensed that the man was holding himself back, his deep voice thick with desire. "It's still not too late to change your mind."
     Dolores clenched her fists and shook her head nervously. "No, I want this."
     She was in the prime of her life. And yet...
     The man leaned forward and his lips brushed the side of her neck. "Good."
     *****
     Her night was long and excruciating.
     When the man finally got up and went to the bathroom in the latter half of the night, Dolores dragged her exhausted body out of bed. She struggled into her clothes and walked out of the room without a second glance.
     The middle-aged woman who introduced Dolores to the business sat on a sofa in the hotel lobby. Seeing Dolores exiting the elevator, the woman stood and handed Dolores a black plastic bag.
     "Here's your payment."
     Without more than a second's hesitation, Dolores snatched the bag out of the woman's hand. Giving a curt nod in thanks, Dolores hurried out of the hotel, having forgotten the pain she felt in the lower half of her body. She only wanted to reach the hospital as fast as possible.
     The sky was just beginning to show the first rays of light, and the hospital hallway was quiet. Two stretchers were sitting outside of the operating room. Since the two hadn't the money upfront for the operation, the bodies on the stretchers were still waiting outside, needing a miracle.
     Dolores's heart ached as she approached the two of them.
     She choked on the lump in her throat as she spoke. "I have the money. Please save my mom and brother..." she pleaded, handing the money in the bag to the doctor.
     The doctor took a glance at it and asked a nurse to count the sum. Only after he was certain all the money was there did he ask the nurses to wheel her mother in for her operation.
     Seeing them leaving her brother in the hallway, Dolores grabbed the doctor's arms and pleaded to him. "What about my brother? Please save him..."
     The doctor sighed. "I'm sorry; it's already too late to save him..."
     Too late? The news made her cry out. The intense pain in her chest felt like someone had taken a searing hot blade, stabbed her in the chest, and twisted it mercilessly. Her knees buckled, and she collapsed on the ground, the world around her fading to black.
     Eight years ago, when Dolores was ten, her father cheated and abandoned his wife and daughter. He sent them to a foreign strange country, not even caring that his wife was pregnant with their second child.
     Dolores' younger brother was born soon afterward and he was diagnosed with autism when he was three. They'd been living paycheck to paycheck during that time and her brother's condition made their life harder, though Dolores loved her brother too much to care. She and her mother worked odd jobs to make ends meet, and then a car accident had taken everything Dolores loved in an instant, leaving her alone in an unfriendly foreign country and without a single penny to her name. She was forced to go against everything she was taught and sell herself. And yet, she was still unable to save her brother.
     Not everyone who suffered such immense pain would become hysteric. For some, the pain would only make them feel uncomfortable and perhaps make it difficult to breathe. For others, it might only make them feel the sky looked gloomy, yet they only had to accept the reality with a smile to feel better, because they still had a mother who was alive and needed them.
     After treatment, Dolores' mother gradually recovered. However, upon discovering the death of her son, she had gone crazy. It was Dolores who hugged her and cried.
     "Mom, I'm still here, please live for me."
     During the one month in the hospital, Dolores' mom, Jessica, often stared into space at the edge of her bed. Dolores knew she missed her son. If it wasn't for Dolores, Jessica might have already followed Dolores' brother to the afterworld.
     Since Dolores had to take care of her mother, she was expelled from school, but Dolores was just glad that her mother was getting better, even if it was slow.
     *****
     Dolores carried a bag of food as she walked into the hospital. She reached the ward and was about to open the door when she heard a voice from inside—a voice she was familiar with. Although it had been eight years, she still remembered watching her father forcing her mother to sign the divorce papers. After sending them here, he had never once visited them. So why was he suddenly visiting his ex-wife in the hospital?
     "Jessica, you and the mistress of the Nelson family were like sisters back then. You even promised to let your child marry hers when they grew up. It was you who made the promise, so logically it should be your daughter who marries her son—"
     "What do you mean? Randolph, you're not talking about Matthew Nelson, are you?" Jessica asked, cutting the man off.
     Jessica, having lost a significant amount of weight and strength from staying in the hospital, struggled to get up. She wanted nothing more than to hit the man, paying no mind to her wound Had he lost his mind? First, he dumped her and her daughter in a terrible place, never paying them anymore mind, and now he was insisting her marry off her daughter to the son of a woman she hadn't seen in years?
     "The eldest son of the Nelson family is your best friend's son. He was raised well and you know their family status. Marrying the two would only lead to a happy life..." The man's voice lowered as he spoke.
     Dolores had seen pictures of Matthew in the news and knew he had a dignifying and charming look. However, he had recently been bitten by a venomous snake while on a business trip abroad and was paralyzed. Because of his condition, he could no longer take care of himself, let alone live alone. The woman who married him would become a widow with a husband who was not yet dead. Her life would be over.
     Dolores pushed the door open, her forgotten bag of food still in her hand. "I'll do it," she said, her appearance startling the two before her. "I'm okay with marrying him, on one condition."
     Randolph turned to the door and looked at his daughter whom he hadn't seen for eight years. He stared at her for several seconds.
     When he sent her away, she was still a ten-year-old kid. Now, she was all grown up. She had pale skin and she was extremely underweight. Her face seemed small, like she was being pulled into herself. She seemed as if her body hadn't been able to fully develop. She was nowhere near as loving as his younger daughter who was at home.
     The sympathy he felt lessened. After all, she was not that good-looking; it wasn't too bad to let her marry a cripple who couldn't have sex. Having thought of this, his guilt vanished and he believed he'd done nothing wrong.
     "Alright then out with it."
     "I want to return home with Mom. Give her back everything that belongs to us and I'll agree to marry Matthew."
     Dolores clenched her fists and focused on her breathing to calm down. Although she hadn't been in her home country for quite a couple of years, the Nelson family of City B had been quite a topic since she was young. The family was huge and possessed wealth worth hundreds of billions. The son of the family, therefore, was naturally well desired.
     Dolores didn't think such a good thing would fall into her lap; Even though he was paralyzed and wouldn't be able to perform the duties a husband should, this was the best thing that had happened to her family. It was a chance for her to not only return home, but she could also help her mother gain back the fortune that was part of Jessica's dowry.
     "Lola..." Jessica started, using her daughter's nickname.
     Jessica wanted to advise her that marriage was no joke and to reconsider. Dolores had suffered plenty by Jessica's side and Jessica couldn't let her daughter suffer life through a ruined marriage too.
     Sensing what Jessica wanted to say, Randolph worried that Dolores would be persuaded by Jessica and refuse to marry Matthew, and quickly spoke up. "Sure, as long as you agree, I'll let you go home."
     "And about mom's dowry?" Dolores asked in an icy voice, staring at the man who was technically her father.
     There were indeed many dowries from Jessica when they were first married. It was no small amount and Randolph was reluctant to give them back.
     "Dad," Dolores started, "I suppose my younger sister looks gorgeous. She deserves a better man than Matthew. If she's married to a man with flaws, her life is going to be ruined. Not to mention you've divorced Mom. You should return the money she gave to the Flores family."
     Randolph was guilty and he didn't dare meet her eyes. She'd been abroad for years. How did she know the son of the Nelson family was disabled? He couldn't know that Dolores was taking a guess and didn't know about the snake bite.
     Realizing the man she was going to marry was an abnormal one, Randolph gritted his teeth and said, "I'll give it to you once you marry him."
     His younger daughter was as precious and loving as a flower. He could never let her marry a man that wouldn't be able to provide her a normal life. No matter how noble he was, he did not differ from a bum if he couldn't fulfill his duty as a husband. Thinking of his younger daughter, Randolph no longer felt as uncomfortable as before, yet his disgust toward Dolores rose when she insisted on taking money from him.
     Randolph threw her a sharp glance and said, "Your mom didn't teach you well. You don't have any manners!"
     Dolores wanted to ask him what it was like to be completely free of responsibility as her father. He had abandoned her and didn't care about her at all. Yet, she couldn't say that as her bargaining chip was too weak, and she stood to lose it if she provoked him.
     "Get ready. We'll head back tomorrow," Randolph said, leaving the ward with a wave in his sleeve.


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