My Dreamy Old Husband Chapter 221
Sophia was chauffeured over to the mysterious Fletcher Residence.
The Fletcher Family was huge; even though the family had split into several branch families, Stanley’s branch was one of the most important ones.
In reality, Sophia was feeling rather excited. There was a good chance that she would get to lay eyes on many notable people at Bayside City’s military compound such as Old Master Fletcher, who was Fletcher’s patriarch.
Old Master Fletcher was one of the nation’s founding fathers, and his name was known across the nation. He had many children throughout his life as well. Back in the nation’s early days, the country had lost many of its population to war; when the nation called for families to procreate, the man sired four sons and three daughters.
All of his children were courageous and adept on the battlefield. Rumors claimed that they were important and renowned people in the military, but their identities were kept a secret.
Old Master Fletcher was one of those people that even children knew. Over a hundred shows and movies were made about his life, so Sophia had already gotten used to the Old Master Fletcher that was portrayed on screen. It would be great if she could see the actual person in the flesh!
She just didn’t know whether he was still healthy enough for visits.
Sophia had studied all about Old Master Fletcher’s deeds every day in history class back in high school. He had a major hand in shaping the country as it was today, and he was also one of the ten generals in the nation. He was a loyal and heroic man, and his achievements were part of the nation’s high school history syllabus.
They were only allowed to enter the military compound if they had a permit, so Stanley sent someone beforehand to receive them. The car entered the compound, driving for a while more before reaching Stanley’s home.
The Fletcher Residence was located in a special area of the compound; the entire family lived here, having their own swathe of homes. Stanley’s own house was a bungalow, and they proceeded to park their car in Stanley’s garage.
Sophia took Nathan’s hand in her own and entered the Fletcher Residence with a thermal container in another hand.
Stanley’s house wasn’t luxurious in an extravagant manner; it still maintained a style that was in vogue a few decades ago. The house oozed a homey feeling that also felt like it was from years past, and photo frames hung on the yellowing walls. There were pictures of the Fletchers as well as a family portrait.
Sophia gazed at the family portrait, but she couldn’t spot Michael anywhere. However, both Joel and Stanley were in the picture.
When she entered Stanley’s room, Sophia saw him lying half-dead on the bed.
Stanley groaned weakly when he saw Sophia stepping in.
Hale and Gemma stood at the door while Sophia and Nathan planted themselves by Stanley’s bedside to talk to him. Stanley was hurt as he said, “I went to your house every day while you were sick and brought food for you. I even gamed with you and tutored you in math. But now that I’m injured, you didn’t even come to visit me once. Look—even Nate is glaring at me! I’m the patient here!”
As Stanley’s childhood friend, Sean was here too; they had been friends since they were still in diapers. Sean had come over to see Stanley since he didn’t have anything else to do, and he covered his mouth to hide his chuckle when he heard that.
Sophia grumpily opened the container and poured Stanley a bowl of chicken soup before handing it to him. “Here, I made some chicken soup. Eat it while it’s still warm.”
Stanley was beyond touched as he said, “So you do have a heart, Sophia.”
He picked up the bowl and began to blissfully down its contents. The chicken soup was absolutely delicious; all that simmering brought out the full flavor of the free-range chickens, and Sophia had added plenty of other nourishing ingredients as well. The soup was flavorful and the bits of chicken in it were tender. Stanley soon finished off the entire bowl of soup.
Nathan couldn’t help but lick his lips as he watched Stanley inhale the soup. When the older man finished it, Nathan peered inside the container to find that there was nothing left; even the scraps had been picked clean by Stanley, not leaving the slightest bit for Nathan.
Nate’s expression fell immediately.
Meanwhile, Stanley didn’t let Sophia leave even after he had finished the soup. He tugged on her hand pitifully and said, “I’m in so much pain, Sophia. My leg hurts; won’t you massage it for me?”
Sophia wasn’t happy about it as she grumbled, “You were a soldier, Stanley. What’s this bit of pain? Besides, your leg is fractured. What can I do about it?”
She wanted to pull her hand back without making a scene, but Stanley had a vice-like grip on it.
Stanley continued to put on a frail and weak front as he begged, “Game with me, Sophia.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she replied.
The housekeeper brought two laptops in, placing one of them on Stanley’s bed and the other in front of Sophia. Sophia logged into her alternate account and played with Stanley, entering a dungeon together before wailing on some random monster. Stanley felt like death in real life, but he was filled with extreme vigour inside the game. Meanwhile, Sophia pretended to be weak and let him have his way.
Nathan puffed up in anger as he watched the pair gaming happily together. He side-stepped them and dashed out with pattering feet to find a deserted spot so that he could call Michael. Nathan immediately went straight to the point when the call connected and said, “She’s gaming with Stanley, and she looks like she’s having a lot of fun. What now?”
Michael mulled things over on his end before he spoke, “It’s time to let that stupid dog know the true strength of a little kid!”
Sophia and Stanley emerged from the dungeon after they had defeated the monster. Then, they headed into town to recover their SP and take a break while they were at it.
“Come on, Sophia—let’s explore the market. We’ll get to see what kind of fun stuff we can dig up,” Stanley cajoled.
Sophia followed him without a word. They had only just explored for a few minutes when a blond man dressed in gaudy gear descended out of nowhere.
“Hey! You look so pretty, milady. Why don’t you join me for some fun, eh?”
Sophia took a look at the blond’s ID; the name No. 1 Beast of the Server seemed rather familiar to her. Not only that, her alternative account’s ID clearly belonged to a man no matter how one looked at it. How did the guy know that she was actually a girl?!
However, she suddenly recalled Stanley’s idea of getting Sirius to act as a bad guy. It wasn’t hard to figure out what kind of scheme this idiotic Stanley was trying to pull!
Stanley looked fearful as he said, “Oh man—that guy is notorious for his bad reputation in-game, Sophia. He’s also a pervert who’s been giving everyone trouble. Step back and let me teach him a lesson.”
Sophia glowered at him as she repeated a mantra in her own head. Restraint, restraint! He’s injured! Injured!
I’ll let you pretend to be a hero just this once since you’re a patient!
Sophia didn’t say anything; she simply let Beast and Stanley take the stage. Soon, the two of them began their performance.
“Hey, Beast—how dare you tease a pure-hearted girl in broad daylight! Watch and see how the Snow Fox is going to put you in your place today!”
“Come at me! Do you think I’m scared of you?”
The pair began to fight in front of Sophia. Stanley tapped into his esports skills for the battle; he was willing to duel his own idol just so that he could show off in front of Sophia. They battled until Beast flew through the air and made a quick escape.
“Just you wait!” Beast seethed.
Stanley’s character in-game posed mightily as he panted, “Don’t let me catch you in-game ever again, Beast. I’ll beat you to a pulp each time I see you, and I mean it when I say I will!”
With his moment of preening over, Stanley thought that he must have been very cool during his speech; Sophia must be falling all over him.
Sophia played along and clapped. “Wow! You’re so awesome, Sundae Cone!” she wooed.
My Dreamy Old Husband Chapter 222
Stanley puffed up with pride. “Yeah, and he didn’t even stop to take a look at who I was; I’m Snow Fox, a clan master. From now on, I’ll protect you whenever you’re in-game. No one will dare to pick on you anymore!”
Sophia excused herself and went to the washroom to calm herself down. She felt really exhausted after playing along with Stanley’s act.
There was a washroom right next to Stanley’s room, and Sophia stayed in there for a long while. By the time she emerged, she saw that the door to Stanley’s study was open.
She was rather curious about Stanley’s study; from what she had heard from him, his study had over a dozen mechanical and capacitor keyboards. Each of these keyboards had their own story of origin, and they were like mystical items in the esports world; the most valuable keyboards in the world were with him.
Feeling incredibly curious, Sophia slipped in to lay her eyes on these keyboards that supposedly had storied pasts. However, she hadn’t expected to see Nathan sitting on the carpet and fiddling with a keyboard the moment she stepped in.
He had taken Stanley’s keyboards—keyboards that were as precious as his own life to him—and was plucking the keycaps off one by one with the soup spoon Stanley had used earlier. Nathan had even poured some water from the fish bowl onto the keyboards. The shelves with a myriad of priceless figurines had also been wrecked by Nathan. Action figures were scattered across the floor; if they weren’t missing an arm, then they were missing a leg.
“Nate, what are you doing?!” Sophia jumped in fright and rushed over, but it was already too late; Nathan had more or less wrecked the figurines and keyboards beyond repair.
Nathan continued to pour water over the mechanical keyboards. He lifted his head and revealed a dark look on his face. “I’m playing!” he sneered.
What? This was going overboard, wasn’t it? These were all part of Stanley’s beloved and precious collection. Without a doubt, he was going to charge at Nathan and slaughter the boy as soon as he found out!
Before the Fletchers noticed anything amiss, Sophia hastily shut the door and shoved all the broken figurines and keyboards into a cupboard. Once she had cleaned the crime scene as best as she could, she grabbed Nathan from the ground and ran. “Come on, run! We won’t be able to leave once Stanley finds out!” Sophia ran for it with Nathan’s hand in hers. She got Hale to bid Stanley goodbye on behalf of them before they were back out in the military compound. The moment they were in the car, Sophia ordered Hale to floor it at maximum speed, for she was deeply afraid of being captured and skinned alive by Stanley.
It had only been a short while since they left when Stanley called Sophia. “Sophia! I’m giving you half an hour to bring Nate over so that he can turn himself in, or else I’m going to your house with a knife in my hand!”
Sophia felt her head spin. She braced herself and said, “It’s just a bunch of mini figures of people and keyboards. I’ll just spend time with you to make up for it!”
Stanley was close to tears. He was completely in hysterics as he screamed, “How are you going to pay it back?! Those are all limited edition figurines! I hunted down master artisans to make those keyboards! They can’t be bought no matter how much money you have! Tell me, how are you going to pay it all back?!”
Sophia maintained her brazenness and replied, “He’s still a kid. Why are you holding this over a kid’s head?!”
Stanley was apoplectic as he screeched into the phone with all that he had, “A kid? He’s not a young kid anymore! He’s already in university. His grades are even higher than mine, do you know that? He’s wrecked all my babies on my shelves, and he even killed the goldfish I’ve raised for the past eight years! Pay it back! Pay it all back!”
Sophia glanced at Nathan, who was completely unrepentant as he sat next to her. With no other choice, she pretended that her cell reception was awful. “Huh? What did you say, Sundae Cone? I can’t hear you, so I’m going to hang up now! Bye!”
Sophia switched off her phone immediately after hanging up. With that done, she promptly disciplined Nathan. “My dear boy, you can’t do this in the future, got it? You do know that you aren’t supposed to touch others’ belongings without their permission when you go to their homes, don’t you?”
In a rare show of docility, Nathan nodded and said, “I won’t do it anymore.” Still, Sophia could tell that there was no sincerity in that promise at all.
Nathan’s destructive spree had struck several nerves in Stanley. Sophia didn’t dare to switch her cell phone on for a couple of days, fearing that Stanley would lose control and come knocking on her door to stab them. They were fortunate that he had a broken leg, so he probably wouldn’t come looking for them for the time being.
At the same time, Stanley didn’t dare to continue pestering Sophia; his heart was practically crushed with all his babies wrecked into the state they were currently in. He had sent the figurines and keyboards back to the original manufacturers within the day, hoping that he would still be able to salvage a few of them. As he rescued his babies, Stanley logged into the game again and saw that Harry was online. While the damsel in distress plan hadn’t worked out that day, Stanley still had to thank Harry. “Thank you so much, my lord!”
Harry was curious; he thought all Stanley had in his head were games. It didn’t occur to Harry that Stanley would actually think about hitting on girls, so he couldn’t stop himself from asking the latter, “Who’s the girl you’re chasing after? Where is she from?”
Stanley was extremely embarrassed. “If I tell you, you can’t tell Uncle Michael.”
Harry was even more curious now as he replied, “Okay.”
Then, Stanley finally told him. “It’s the babysitter Uncle Michael hired—Sophia.”
Harry truly had no words for that.
“You absolutely can’t tell Uncle Michael; he’d break my leg!”
“Hehe, he would certainly break your leg!” Harry snickered.
Two days went by and the danger passed. Stanley hadn’t come stirring trouble for her, so Sophia switched her phone on at last. She still went to class on time every day. Stanley had hurt his leg, so he was absent from class. On the other hand, Quinton was back to teaching his classes after having recovered from his injuries.
The Phantom Wolf incident seemed to be over just like that. Michael had gotten wind of Phantom’s Wolf retreat from the nation, and they wouldn’t come running back here for the time being; even the leader of the organization himself did not make another appearance again.
As for the love letter that Sophia had written, Hale had been constantly on the search for it. He found out that a local woman had received the letter. Once she got it, she mailed the letter to another address—that address was actually the address of Michael’s managing company, Imperial Entertainment!
Hale reported this back to Michael. Having figured out something, Michael was filled with delight. He ordered Hale to find that letter by any means possible and mail it to his workplace as soon as he could.
Hale was run ragged by this task; he found out that the woman Sophia had mailed the letter to was a hardcore fan of Michael’s, and she had formed a fan group dedicated to him. That superfan knew one of the assistants at Imperial Entertainment, and she would regularly mail gifts from the fans to the company and get the assistant to hand them to Michael. However, those gifts usually did not reach Michael.
The company received far too many gifts every day, and the fans sent anything ranging from food, love letters, postcards, and so on. The presents were piled as high as mountains; Michael’s home would never be able to accommodate all these gifts no matter how large it was. Even though the fans clearly knew that the items would never reach Michael, they still sent gifts his way mulishly.
Hale went to the company and looked for the manager who was in charge of receiving all the gifts. The manager brought him to the room where they stored all fanmail, and Hale was slack-jawed when he caught sight of the mountain of gifts. The staff had already divided up food gifts among themselves, while expensive gifts were stored in another room to be donated. The remaining gifts like love letters, postcards and such took up their own storeroom—an entire storeroom at that!
An entire storeroom of love letters! Hale felt his vision go dark after he eyed the colorful love letters piled in the room. How was he supposed to find a letter with no sender’s name on it among all of these?
According to the information that Nathan had provided, the paper was pink and the letter was written in cursive. The opening line was supposed to be, ‘You are the light in my life.’
Hale was in agony as he painstakingly sifted through mountains of love letters to look for the one that Sophia had written. Gosh, woman, why did you write that love letter?! Why did you have to send it anonymously?! Wouldn’t it have been more gratifying to give it to him in person? You even sent it to his managing company on purpose!
It seemed that Sophia never wished for Michael to read that love letter, but now that Michael found out about its existence, he had to read it. At last, Hale thought of a genius plan.
My Dreamy Old Husband Chapter 223
Hale hauled the entire pile of presents that the fan group administrator had mailed to Michael’s company back to the house. Maria helped him to move the gifts into Michael’s study, but there were so many that they overflowed into the living room and gym.
And so, the living room and gym were now filled with love letters of various sizes and colors, all of them addressed to Michael.
Sophia jumped in shock when she came home from class to see an entire house filled with love letters. “What are these?”
Hale had a blank expression on his face as he carried another box of love letters in. “These are from Michael’s managing company; they are gifts that the fans have been sending the boss.”
Gifts from Michael’s fans?
Sophia pricked her ears up at that.
No way! What a coincidence! Michael never brought any of the fans’ presents home, so why did he send all of these gifts over the moment she wrote him a love letter?
It had to be a coincidence!
Sophia pretended to keep her cool. When no one was around, she took the opportunity to slip into the study and scour the colorful pile of love letters to look for her own.
Being the one wrote it, she would be able to recognize it!
She soon found the letter that she had written among the pile of letters. She opened the envelope and cringed so hard that she couldn’t even fully describe how hard she was cringing when she looked at the cheesy words written on the letter. Why did she write such a stupid thing back then? She had to hide it quickly!
Fortunately, Michael had not seen it yet!
Sophia hid the pink love letter in Nathan’s closet, planning to dispose of it fully at a more appropriate time.
It seemed a bit of a pity to just toss it, but Sophia would feel antsy leaving the letter out; perhaps she should just hide it for a while.
Unbeknownst to her, the little spy in the house quickly spirited the letter away into Hale’s hands. Hale looked disgusted as he held the letter that had taken such herculean efforts to locate before quickly sending for someone to send the letter to Michael.
Sophia had no idea about this as the letter made its way across the ocean; she was simply opening the presents that the fans had given Michael.
These were all tokens of appreciation from the fans to their idol; even if their idol had no time to go through them all, she would take his place and open them up as his wife.
The gifts had already been sorted when they were first sent to the company, so the more pricey gifts and the edible ones were already set aside. According to official rules, the pricey items would be auctioned off and the proceeds would go to charity.
The rest would be stored in storerooms that were set aside for the remaining presents; Sophia had no idea why Hale had brought so many gifts back today.
She patiently opened each gift; most of them were handicrafts, artworks, postcards, letters and so on. She opened each and every one of them, and all gifts had the creator’s name on it. Sophia then placed the presents onto the display shelves.
Michael was fond of simple styles, so the house didn’t have a lot of decorations hung up, making it look rather empty. These little trinkets would be perfectly suited to liven up the place.
There were way too many gifts; even after going through them the entire night, Sophia had only opened half of them. She sat on the couch in the study, opening gifts until she drifted off to sleep.
Michael sneaked a look at the CCTV footage from his home during a film break. He caught sight of Sophia lying fast asleep on the couch with a pile of unopened presents next to her.
Sometimes he thought that his little dainty wife was so dumb that it was adorable.
Sophia did not have class the next morning, so she continued to open more presents after breakfast. Once she was done with them, she began to open the love letters—she ended up skipping her afternoon classes to focus on the letters. At night, she suddenly asked Hale, “I wouldn’t be breaking any rules if I printed some of Michael’s unreleased photos and sent it to his fans, would I?”
Hale nodded and replied, “Do as you like.”
Michael was the actual boss behind the scenes of Imperial Entertainment; the managers had no say over whatever he did.
Sophia relaxed at that and scoured the house for some photos of Michael; she bulk printed a few hundred copies and stacked them up. She mimicked Michael’s autograph and signed each of the photos, autographing several hundred photos in one go. Just like that, she spent the whole night signing the photos.
Meanwhile, away in a different country, Michael had already received the anonymous letter that had survived a trip across the ocean. The letter was written in cursive, but the way the letters looped across the paper was simply adorable. The corners of Michael’s lips couldn’t help but curl up as he read the letter, especially when he saw this one particular line.
‘You are a light in my life.’
If he hadn’t read this with his own eyes, he really wouldn’t have been able to imagine that the aloof and finicky wife of his would be capable of writing something so cheesy.
All the same, he was heartened by this.
After he read the love letter, Michael was on cloud nine. He thought things over before looking for a pen and paper, taking advantage of the current film break to carefully craft out a reply. His handwriting was like lines of soldiers, all straight and orderly. Poise seeped through the paper, making his handwriting very recognizable. He carefully printed each character in his reply.
‘I am a light that has come from the cosmos light years away;
I departed far in the past, braving thousands of years of changes in seasons, crossing time that spanned several millennia;
Just so that I can give you a moment of warmth and light.’
Meanwhile, Harry had just finished filming his scene and sauntered over with a frown; the makeup artist immediately started reapplying his makeup when she saw this.
When Harry caught sight of Michael, he hesitated and wondered whether he should tell Michael that Stanley had asked him to pretend to be a bad guy and hit on Sophia. Upon rumination though, he decided not to do so; if Michael suddenly went berserk, Harry would also be dragged into his madness.
Harry took a sip of water and noticed that Michael was writing something seriously. He squeezed himself over and looked curiously. “What are you writing? Let me see…”
Michael furrowed his brows and used a hand to obscure the extremely cheesy words he was writing. “Don’t look—I’m writing a love letter,” he answered.
Harry had no words for that. All Michael cared about when he was younger was violence, but now that he was a grown man, he was taking a page out of some youngster’s book and writing a love letter to express his feelings.
Of course, he kept that exclamation in his head.
Once Sophia had finished signing the hundreds of photographs, she handed them over to Hale. “Here, send them back to the managing company and get them to send these photos to the fans.”
Hale eyed the basketful of photos but didn’t say a word. He silently delivered the photos to the company and let the staff mail them off to the fans.
The boss’s wife sure has nothing better to do! Hale mentally chided.
Once she had gone through all of the fans’ presents, Sophia realized that she had busied herself throughout an entire Saturday, even skipping a day’s worth of classes. She had originally planned to go to the gym, but she would have to put it off for now.
Ever since her run-in with Phantom Wolf, Sophia had thrown herself even deeper into martial arts training. Michael may have assigned bodyguards to her, but they couldn’t possibly protect her for the rest of her life. If she were to get into danger again in the future, she would have to save herself.
She intended to go to the gym and look for Gwen, but much to her surprise, Stanley called her again without so much as a by your leave. “Ahem, Sophia—why won’t you see me? I’m in so much pain that I feel like I’m going to die. Ugh…”
Sophia was speechless. Was the energetic and spirited guy who just gamed with her a few days ago a ghost?
My Dreamy Old Husband Chapter 224
Much to her surprise, Stanley didn’t bring up the incident with the figurines and the keyboards. Sophia was actually feeling a little embarrassed now.
“I’m sorry that Nate broke your stuff last time. Why don’t I get his father to pay you back with some money?”
Stanley didn’t seem to care about that. “Nah, it’s just some figurines and keyboards anyway; I sent them back to the manufacturers for repair and they sent the stuff back as good as new. Just relax and come over; I locked the door this time,” he said.
Stanley had gotten injured while saving her after all. If he hadn’t been there, she might have died; yet, Nathan destroyed his precious collection. Sophia had no choice but to accept his request and said, “Just rest well. I’ll come see you tomorrow.”
“I want duck soup with carrots. And the duck’s got to be free-range!” Stanley didn’t forget to place an order for tomorrow’s meal.
The next morning, Sophia woke up early to make a pot of soup before bringing it over to Stanley’s place.
Nathan gorged himself during lunch, eating more than he normally would during mealtime. He naively thought that the more he ate, the less Stanley would have. Once lunch was over, he warily watched as Sophia transferred the duck soup to a thermal container. It seemed like she was about to head to Stanley’s place.
He hastily called Michael to report the current battle situation.
Michael frowned as he listened to the call. “You have to hang in there, son. I’ll be back in a few more days,” he said heavily. “The enemy is staging a strong offense, and the battle depends on you with my absence. Rest assured, I will shred him to pieces when I come back later!”
Nathan nodded in certainty and responded, “Right.”
Sophia belonged to him and Michael; they definitely couldn’t let Stanley have her!
Both father and son—who usually had close to zero interactions with each other—stood together on the same battlefront for the first time in order to protect the completeness of their three-member family.
Moreover, Nathan didn’t want to be raised in a single-parent household.
Michael continued, “Remember, you’re a mischievous kid—mischievous kids are unafraid of anything! When you’re at Stanley’s home, act as you see fit!”
Nathan nodded again. “Yes!”
His eyes were filled with determination after he hung up the call.
Mischievous kids are unafraid of anything!
The pair once again headed to the military compound in their car and stepped into Stanley’s home. The moment they entered, they saw Stanley lying weakly on his bed with a leg suspended in the air. Sean was here to visit him again.
Stanley grabbed Sophia’s little hand, looking pitiful as he did so. “Sophia, so you still have enough goodness in yourself for you to visit me.”
Sophia’s expression contorted as she attempted to pull her hand back. “Knock it off, Sundae Cone. I’m already married; it’s not good for you to behave like this.”
“No!” Stanley’s grip tightened even more. “You’re lying to me, right? I’m not going to believe that you’re really married! Even if you are, I won’t give up. There are no immovable objects in this world, only irresistible forces!”
Nathan was angered to no end by this and he left without a sound. He stalked over to Stanley’s study, but Stanley had learned his lesson this time; with the exception of the washroom, all the other doors were locked. Even the oil paintings on the walls, the vases on the tables, and other knick knacks were all stored away. The entire house had been kid-proofed.
Nevertheless, mischievous kids were not afraid of anything!
Nathan searched the place for a weakness he could exploit. At last, he caught sight of Stanley’s pet cat and dog.
Sophia finally managed to extract her hand from Stanley’s grip and began to spoon feed him the soup she made.
Stanley was moved to bits as he exclaimed, “You’re too kind, Sophia!”
The corners of Sophia’s lips twitched; she looked extremely reluctant.
All of a sudden, an earth-shattering howl boomed from outside of the room—chaos had ensued outside. The housekeeper hastily scurried out and reported back quickly. “The cat’s whiskers have all been cut off! Someone had also hit the dog!”
Stanley nearly jumped out of his bed in shock. “What?”
Sophia hastily put down the container and exited the room to see Nathan currently locked in battle with Stanley’s husky. The dog was howling from the strikes, and a cat with a head nearly plucked bald hid up on a shelf. It was shedding season, so fur was flying everywhere; Nathan’s entire body was covered with cat and dog fur.
“Nate, what are you doing?!”
Sophia zoomed over to grab Nathan. He looked at her innocently and said, “I got bored, so I played with the dog.”
Sophia checked on the husky as it howled in pain; it seemed like it had broken its leg. Nathan still had a clump of cat fur tightly clenched in his hand.
Stanley hobbled out of his room with Sean’s help. When he took in his poor, howling husky and his partially bald cat, he was so heartbroken that he nearly cried.
“My Sunset! My Judge!” He leaped over and embraced his mutilated pets. He nearly cried when he saw that Sunset’s head was nearly bald from having the fur yanked out.
He had always treated his pets like they were his own sons; he couldn’t even bear to pluck a single hair off them, yet Nathan had yanked his cat’s fur until the cat was bald—he even broke his dog’s leg!
This was killing him inside!
“Get over here, Nathan. I promise I won’t beat you to death!” Stanley’s emotions were running high now. How he wished he could lunge at Nathan and give the kid a sound pummeling. “Get over here! Now!”
Nathan hid himself behind Sophia with an expression of fear on his face. Sophia felt another headache coming on when she saw that Nathan had gotten into trouble again. All the same, she couldn’t admit it outright even when Nathan was clearly in the wrong. “You can’t completely blame this on Nate—he’s just a little baby who simply wants to play with the animals!” she stated eloquently. “Who would have thought that your pets are so fussy? Children still don’t know how the world works, and they haven’t learned how to control their strength yet! You can’t fully blame him! Why didn’t you put your pets safely away? Your dog’s so huge too; what if he had bitten Nate?”
Nathan nodded. He was still a little baby, so Stanley couldn’t be so savage toward him! This was against the rules!
Stanley was about to explode. “Come over here, Nathan. I will get revenge for my dog! I want to see just who’s the fussy one here—you, or my pets!”
Sophia was angered now. “If you dare to lay a hand on my son, I’ll make sure you pay for it twice over!”
Seeing how Sophia shielded the boy, Stanley felt as though he had taken a huge blow. He stared at Sophia dumbly, and after over ten seconds of silence, he finally let out a roar. “Get out! Out! I don’t want to see you two anymore!”
“Fine, we’ll leave!”
She snatched the clump of cat fur that Nathan had yanked out earlier from his hands and half-heartedly flattened it on the cat’s head. After glancing at the whimpering husky, she picked up her soup container and son before storming out.
Nathan followed Sophia with a look of victorious delight on his face, even turning around to pull a face at Stanley.
Stanley held his pets. He wanted to cry, but no tears would come out.
His dog’s leg was broken and his cat was bald from having its fur yanked out. Now, he even angered Sophia enough for her to leave!
You’re a vicious kid, Nate!
Sophia escaped the military compound with Nate in her arms. As they sat in the car, she couldn’t resist disciplining the boy. “You got into trouble again, you know that? What did I say last time? When you go to someone’s home, you’re not allowed to touch their things without permission, understand? No one likes naughty kids, you know!”
Nathan didn’t make a sound, but he suddenly whipped his head up after listening to her scolding for a bit and looked at her with teary eyes; it looked as though he had been wrongfully accused.
Seeing how pitiful Nathan looked, Sophia couldn’t stand to continue being angry with him. She patted his head and said, “Alright now, kiddo. Don’t be sad; I won’t continue to scold you.”
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Sophia couldn’t figure out what had made Nathan suddenly behave like a spoiled brat. After wrecking Stanley’s mechanical keyboard and figurines last time, he stripped Stanley’s pet cat bald this time.
With that, he had gotten into trouble twice in a row, which didn’t seem like a good sign at all; Nathan came from an incredibly distinguished background in the first place. Now that he had begun misbehaving recklessly at such a young age, who knew what he would do when he grew up?
As Nathan’s stepmother, Sophia felt hugely responsible for what he had done. How could she be worthy of the trust that Nathan’s dad had put in her if Nathan grew up into a spoiled brat because of her overindulgence?
The night after they went home, Sophia video-called Michael while applying her facial mask when she told him about the two troubles Nathan had gotten himself into.
Nathan was eavesdropping outside the door when he heard Sophia worriedly talking about the two incidents. At last, she concluded, “What Nathan has done this time is terribly wrong, and he is showing tendencies of growing up into a spoiled brat. We can’t let him go on like this!”
Michael pondered seriously for a moment on the other end before he said in a grave tone, “You’re right—kids shouldn’t misbehave like this. How can he make trouble as he pleases while being a guest at somebody’s home? Not only that, he also spoiled something so valuable! We can’t let him go on like that.”
He then continued, “Now that he’s broken the husky’s leg this time, he might start hitting other people in the future! Just beat the hell out of him; he’ll stop making trouble next time once he learns his lesson.”
Nathan, who had just celebrated his sixth birthday, experienced the pain of being betrayed by his closest kin for the first time. Everything is just part of his trick! he thought to himself.
After some discussion with Michael, Sophia decided that she couldn’t leave this incident like that. She would make Nathan apologize to Stanley and give him some money as compensation. After all, both Nathan and Stanley were Fletchers, so things would be awkward between them if this incident remained unresolved.
Nathan was seething as Sophia marched him off to Stanley’s place to get him to apologize to Stanley.
Stanley was delighted for a moment when he learned that Sophia was coming, but when he heard that Nathan was coming as well, he immediately hid his pet cat and dog away out of fright.
His pet dog ended up breaking its leg after being chased by Nathan; it had to have its leg suspended in traction like him. Even his pet cat had been stripped bald because of the boy!
Still, Stanley decided to forgive Nathan for Sophia’s sake, but he would never let Nathan hurt his darling little pets again. After hanging up on Sophia, he said to his nanny, “Auntie, please bring me my walking stick. I want to go for a walk outside with Judge.”
Judge was the name of his crippled pet dog. It got its name from ‘the Blade of Judgment,’ a godly weapon in the Swordsman Game.
Sean visited him every day and played online games with him whenever he had no classes to attend.
Sean and Stanley were the same age, and they had graduated from the same high school. Stanley joined the army right after his college entrance exam, whereas Sean went overseas to recuperate from a severe bout of illness.
When Stanley left the army and came back to pursue his studies two years later, Sean had also recovered from his illness and just returned from overseas. The two of them then ended up attending the same university and playing online games together.
Supporting himself with his stick, Stanley eagerly slapped some hair gel on his head despite not needing it with his current haircut. He then asked, “Do you think I look handsome today, Sean?”
Sean glanced at him and smiled before answering, “You’re very handsome already.”
Only then did Stanley feel relieved. He left home with the aid of his stick while Sean put his crippled pet dog in a stroller and wheeled it outside.
Meanwhile, Sophia had entered the military compound with Nathan. As they headed to Stanley’s place, she urged Nathan, “Darling, just listen to me and say sorry to Stan later. Got it?”
Nathan nodded with his head hung low.
He had been down in the dumps ever since he realized that he had been tricked by Michael. He had been so preoccupied with helping Michael that he failed to notice he had turned from a well-behaved kid to a spoiled brat in Sophia’s eyes.
Stanley was clever this time; not only did he forbid Nathan from entering his house, he also changed their meeting place to the military compound’s leisure garden so that Nathan-the-spoiled-brat would have no way of scourging him again.
Having entered the military compound, Sophia headed toward the GPS location Stanley had sent her and found Stanley, his pet dog, and Sean.
The military compound was built many years ago, and it had retained its original appearance despite being refurbished repeatedly over the years. Its spacious courtyard was filled with lush greenery. The trees in the garden were planted many years ago, and they gave off an intriguing air of history after being well-tended over the years.
The military compound looked even more stately with its long history as it lay bathed in the last rays of the setting sun.
The military compound was especially boisterous in the evening since aged men and women could be seen doing square dancing or exercising everywhere.
Stanley was playing a game of chess with a group of old men when Sophia found him. After a fierce battle, he was driven into a corner by his ferocious opponent, causing him to flush and scratch his head with anxiety. Sean, who stood at one side, was wheeling a stroller, inside of which was Stanley’s crippled husky as it fell asleep while wearing a disposable diaper.
Sitting across from Stanley was a grey-haired old man with a grey beard. Even though he was old, he was young in spirit; his eyes gleamed with astuteness and a heroic vigor.
A group of old men were standing behind the grey-haired old man as they chanted, “Check his king! Check his king!”
Suffering under tremendous stress, Stanley moved a chess piece apprehensively. With that, the eyes of the old man sitting opposite him brightened, and he shouted with an animated expression, “Checkmate!”
He lost again!
Stanley tossed the chess piece in his hand away and said, “I’m not going to play chess with you anymore; it’s meaningless since you’ve captured all my chess pieces every single time. I’m going to walk my dog!”
The old man opposite him grabbed him immediately and said, “Come, come, come—let us play another game of chess. I’ll let you make one extra move at the beginning of this game.”
However, Stanley didn’t budge. He could never be a match for the old man even if the latter let him make ten extra moves at the beginning of the game!
However, since the old man had forcibly dragged him back to his seat, he could only sit down and play another game of chess with the former. After the old man let him make one extra move at the beginning of the game, he kept on pondering over the positions of chess pieces on the chessboard with a grave expression, determined to win back a game.
This group of old men had a combined age of over a thousand, whereas he and Sean had only a combined age of a little over forty, so how could he be a match for them?
He thought to himself, This group of old men is bullying me on purpose. I’ve been checkmated so many times, and every time I was checkmated, he would let me make an extra move at the beginning of the next game and checkmate me again! It’s so awful of him to bully a handicapped person!
He was desperate for an excuse to flee the scene as quickly as possible, but it seemed that this group of old men wouldn’t let him off easily. They might look old on the outside, but they had been renowned figures in the military back in the day.
Sophia came just as he was playing the game. Overjoyed upon seeing her, he tossed the chess piece in his hand away. “My friend is here, so I have to leave!” he exclaimed.
The old man opposite him grabbed him, saying, “No—you’re not going to leave until you finish this round of chess!”
The old man was nearly a hundred years old, but he clutched at Stanley with such an incredible strength that the latter nearly cried in pain. Stanley said, “Let go of me! I’ll finish this game of chess with you!”
Sophia came over with Nathan when she saw Sean beckoning to her. She then caught sight of Stanley, who was looking at the chessboard with distress written all over his face as he was surrounded by a group of old men.
He had been stumped by the same move countless times. No matter what move he made to counter it, the old man would always succeed in capturing all his chess pieces; it must be what the old man wanted all along!
Moving closer to take a look, Sophia saw Stanley’s chess pieces under threat from all quarters, and any bad move would result in him losing the whole game. The game was so intriguing that she unconsciously lost herself in it, and she began observing the positions of the chess pieces relative to each other.
Having decided to give up, Stanley randomly picked an unoccupied square and moved one of his chess pieces to the position. Much to his surprise, while the chess piece was still wobbling, a fair hand appeared out of nowhere and moved it to a position he had never thought of.
In an instant, Stanley was saved from losing the game!
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Stanley was delighted, but the face of the old man across from him turned grave—so did the faces of the group of old men surrounding them.
Everyone at the scene fell silent at once. After pondering for several minutes, the grey-haired old man moved one of his chess pieces to make a move. Soon after that, a hand appeared behind Stanley and moved Stanley’s bishop two squares diagonally.
Only then did the old man notice the young lady standing behind Stanley. She seemed pretty young, but she looked wise and prescient.
She played chess using a completely different approach from Stanley’s. While Stanley played by constantly retreating, she kept closing in on her opponent at all costs, knowing very well that a good offense was the best defense.
Such a chess-playing method caught the old man off guard, and it was now his turn to have his chess pieces under threat.
Stanley quickly moved over to make room for Sophia to sit down. He then said warmly, “Come, Sophia. You can play it yourself.”
Sophia had been so wrapped up in the game; she didn’t realize that she had made a chess move on Stanley’s behalf without asking for Stanley and the old man’s permission. She felt a little embarrassed, but seeing that the old man didn’t object to Stanley’s words, she sat down and played against the old man with rapt attention.
Chess was one of her specialties as well; back when she was in high school, she had enjoyed free tuition, free board and lodging, and not to mention monthly allowances and annual scholarships. The only thing that enabled her to attend the best high school in Riverdale despite her poverty was her academic excellence.
Her high school was packed with outstanding talents, so she had to perform better than anyone else in order to keep staying at school and study for free. Besides earning top scores on every subject and staying among the top ten of the class in every exam, she also forced herself to develop extracurricular skills.
Since her high school’s women’s basketball team kept losing every year, she forced herself to learn basketball so that her school team wouldn’t suffer from an embarrassing defeat. Also, since her high school’s chess team kept losing to other high school teams every year, she made an effort to learn chess so that she could win prizes for the school annually. That way, she could be awarded with scholarships as well.
Feeling threatened was reason enough for her to learn everything with great speed!
Sophia and the old man were silent as they engaged in an intense fight by capturing each other’s chess pieces repeatedly.
It had started to get uncomfortably hot in the late spring, and Sophia’s snow-white forehead was covered with a thin sheen of sweat. On the contrary, the old man across from her was drenched in sweat.
Half an hour later, the sky had grown visibly dark, and Sophia gained a steady upper hand on the chessboard, pushing her opponent to the verge of defeat.
Having changed sides long ago, the group of old men now stood behind Sophia along with Stanley as they chanted, “Check his king! Check his king!”
Now it was the grey-haired old man’s turn to be under tremendous stress; any bad move would make him lose the entire game. Then, with another chess move, Sophia said with a victorious smile, “Thank you for playing with me, old man. Checkmate!”
The old man tossed the chess piece in his hand away in frustration. He argued, “No, the move I played just now isn’t valid! I was too careless just now. Let’s start from there once again!”
However, Sophia wasn’t offended; she retracted her previous moves and resumed the game. This time, the old man managed to make another five moves before Sophia succeeded in capturing all his chess pieces once again.
Unwilling to concede defeat, the old man said, “Let’s start again!”
They retracted their moves and resumed the game once again. This time, Sophia dealt the old man another crushing defeat before the latter could even make five moves.
At last, the old man tossed his chess piece away and said, “I’m not playing anymore!”
With that, he turned around and left in a huff.
Now it was Stanley’s turn to be smug. He yelled at the old man from a distance away, “You lost the game, old man! Did you hear me? You lost the game!”
The old man merely responded with an angry snort.
Stanley grabbed Sophia’s hand and squeezed it as hard as he could. He then said, “Sophia, you’re basically my savior! This old man has been scourging me for over ten years; he kept forcing me to play chess with him despite knowing that I’m terrible at it! You did a great job just now! If he ever asks me to play chess with him in the future, I’ll let you play in my place!”
Sophia could only respond with a helpless expression.
The group of old men had gone their separate ways to enjoy their pleasant nightlife. The military compound didn’t seem any different from other places since there were also a group of old men and women doing square dancing and exercises.
Sensible as he was, Sean took his leave first, leaving Stanley, Sophia, and Nathan to themselves.
Sophia first had Nathan apologize to Stanley and his pet dog. Walking up to Stanley, Nathan bowed his head and said, “I’m sorry, Stan. I won’t fiddle around with your things anymore.”
Then, he apologized to Stanley’s pet dog. “I’m sorry—I won’t hit you anymore.”
The dog merely responded with a woof.
Stanley turned up his nose, saying, “Hmph, I’ll forgive you this time since you seem so sincere, but you must not make the same mistake more than three times. If you do it again, I’ll send you to Uncle Joel’s place and let you undergo training with them!”
After Nathan had apologized, Stanley took a walk in the military compound with Sophia’s aid, whereas Nathan wheeled the stroller and the pet dog inside.
Sophia was silent the whole time, whereas Stanley babbled on and on like a chatterbox. He said, “Sophia, it never occurred to me that you’re so good at chess. It just so happens that our university will be having a chess tournament. Are you going to join it? Also, I’ll be competing in the Aseanos finals of the Esports World Championship. Please make sure to watch me play!”
After listening to his bragging for a long time, Sophia and Nathan left together.
No sooner had she left, the grey-bearded old man from just now sprang up out of nowhere. Leading a group of old men to surround Stanley instantly, he began by asking in an interrogative tone, “Who is the girl that came with Nate just now? What is your relationship with her? How far has the relationship between you two progressed? Have you two held hands and kissed each other? When will you two register for marriage? When will I have a great-great-grandson?”
His bombardment of questions made Stanley’s head swim. Feeling a little shy, Stanley scratched his head as he said, “Why are you so anxious, Great-Grandpa? There’s nothing between us yet.”
The old man who had just been badly defeated by Sophia was none other than Mark Fletcher, the Old Master of the Fletcher Family. Not only was he Michael’s grandfather and Stanley’s great-grandfather, he was also well-known in Cethos as the God of War and one of the country’s founding fathers!
Old Master Fletcher had retired many years ago. As he was pushing 100, he was now concerned about the marriages of Michael, his youngest grandson, and Stanley, his eldest great-grandson.
Michael was over 30 years old already, yet he showed no signs of finding a bride. Old Master Fletcher’s face nearly contorted with rage when rumors had it that he had registered for marriage with that Winston brat.
Because of that, he began worrying about Stanley’s marriage when Stanley was still attending university.
He said, “You aren’t young anymore—you’re 20 already, which is almost the same age as Mike! Where is the girl from? What kind of background does she come from? Just court her with confidence as long as she comes from a decent background. You don’t have to care about the difference between your families’ statuses; I’ll talk to your parents about it.”
Stanley was elated. He said, “Really? You’re so kind to me, Great-Grandpa!”
He then continued, “She is Sophia Edwards, an orphan and a student of Bayside University who is now working as Nate’s babysitter at Uncle Michael’s home. She’s attending university with Nate every day. Great-Grandpa, it seems that Uncle Michael doesn’t want Sophia and I to be together, so please talk to him, okay?”
Old Master Fletcher beat his chest and promised, “Don’t worry—just leave this matter to me.”
Then, he patted Stanley on the shoulder and added earnestly, “Stan, my greatest wish in this life is for the Fletcher Family to have five generations living under the same roof. I’ll be entrusting you with this arduous task.”
Stanley nodded with determination as he said, “I promise to complete this task!”
He thought to himself, It’s great! Now that Great-Grandpa is going to take action, nothing is going to be a problem!
Michael didn’t speak much with other members of his family, but Old Master Fletcher, his grandfather, was an exception. Out of everyone else in the family, Michael listened only to him.
Having gotten a guarantee from Old Master Fletcher, Stanley went home happily and started preparing the gift he wanted to give Sophia to declare his love for her.
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When Stanley’s excitement subsided, Old Master Fletcher suddenly asked in a peculiar tone, “Stan, are you sure that the girl’s surname is Edwards instead of something like Mitchell…”
For some reason, Old Master Fletcher couldn’t help feeling that the lady just now reminded him of a much younger former friend of his.
However, Stanley answered with conviction, “Her surname is Edwards; it’s E-D-W-A-R-D-S. I’m very sure about that.”
With that, Old Master Fletcher fell silent.
Nathan mulled it over along the way home before deciding not to risk giving Sophia a scare by telling her that the old man just now was actually his great-grandfather.
Meanwhile, the wrap-up party of the movie ‘Doctor Invincible’ took place overseas as scheduled. Thanks to the actors and actresses’ dedicated performances, the filming wrapped half a month ahead of schedule, and the film crew threw a ceremonious wrap-up party.
The film’s two leading actors were surrounded by everyone as they looked especially dazzling at the party.
Doctor Invincible’s production crew could be regarded as the best in the world, and its cast was also the most outstanding globally. Everyone in the film crew had gone all-out for the film, which was expected to become one of the world’s 50 highest-grossing films.
The film was scheduled to be shown next year. By then, its two leading actors would enjoy another unprecedented rise in their statuses in the world’s film history.
Michael uninterestedly handled people from all sides in a perfunctory manner, but his mind had flown across the oceans back to his cozy little home and his warm child bride.
Suddenly, his cell phone registered an incoming call; he looked at the screen and was surprised to find that the call was from the Fletcher Family’s home phone.
He rarely answered any calls from members of the Fletcher Family except Stanley and this home phone.
As he answered the phone, his stern expression involuntarily softened, and he greeted reverently in a low voice, “Grandpa.”
His father, Theo, had severed ties with the Fletcher Family back then for Elizabeth, his mother. After Theo was killed in action, Elizabeth brought the young Michael and his sister back to the Fletcher Family to see Old Master Fletcher. The Fletchers didn’t intend to acknowledge him and his sister at first, yet Old Master Fletcher brushed aside all objections and took them in.
Training them to be his successors, he personally brought them up and taught them everything he had learned in his life. However, it didn’t occur to him that his fondness for Michael and his elder sister made them an object of criticism from other family members of the same generation…
Old Master Fletcher first asked Michael about the latter’s recent work as usual. Even though he hadn’t met Michael for many years, he watched every movie Michael had starred in.
“Have you finished filming ‘Doctor Invincible’? I’m looking forward to watching it! The army headquarters have collaborated with the Ministry of Culture lately to produce a documentary film commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of Cethos. The film will have an all-star cast of more than two hundred celebrities, and I heard that you’ll be offered the role of me. Have you gotten any news about it? I think it’s a pretty good idea to cast you in the role of me. Not only do you look exactly the same as I did back then, but you’re more handsome than I was! That settles it, so don’t go back on your word! Watching anyone other than you play the part of me would be an eyesore. Just look at the movies shown in the past; what the hell were they doing? The way they acted made me look hideous! I was a handsome guy back then!”
Michael chatted with Old Master Fletcher for a while before the latter changed the subject and started asking about his marriage. “I heard from Stan that you have gotten married?”
As expected, Stanley couldn’t keep any secret with his big mouth. Michael answered with a nod, “That’s right, Grandpa.”
Old Master Fletcher was exasperated. “Sigh, I have no idea what has happened between young people like you two, but I’m not going to meddle in the affairs between you and that Winston kid. Having Nate is good enough anyway, though I still hope that you have a son of your own.”
Michael was speechless for a moment on the other end of the phone. He wondered how Old Master Fletcher learned about his marriage to Harry; did his Grandpa surf the Internet to read those awful entertainment news reports as well?
Luckily, Old Master Fletcher didn’t seem to have learned of Sophia’s existence yet, or he would certainly harass her!
However, what Michael worried about eventually came true, for Old Master Fletcher asked next, “I heard from Stan that you hired a girl named Sophia Edwards?”
Michael was dumbfounded. He thought he had been doing a good job at keeping his marriage to Sophia a secret, for nobody knew about it except Joel. However, Joel wouldn’t have talked about it since the announcement of Michael’s marriage would be detrimental to his position in the Fletcher Family.
Old Master Fletcher then continued, “I like that little girl, so I’ll be making the decision this time by betrothing her to Stan!”
Old Master Fletcher must have done a little digging and found Sophia’s outstanding character a nice counterbalance to Stanley’s self-conceited personality. Not only that, he had even thought up a name for his great-great-grandson!
“Hehe,” responded Michael. He thought to himself, F*ck you, Stanley. You dimwit—how dare you think of stealing my wife! The rankling hatred within me will never fade away unless I teach you a lesson!
However, Michael couldn’t make Sophia’s identity public yet, or else his grandfather would pester her to an annoying degree. Therefore, he could only say, “Grandpa, Sophia does work under me, but she should have the right to make choices for herself. Why not let the young people deal with the matters between them on their own?”
Old Master Fletcher replied with a nod, “Alright, alright.”
When Old Master Fletcher hung up the phone, he was very pleased; he had even decided which kindergarten his great-great-grandson would attend in the future. He was now pondering over what he should wear to attend his great-great-grandson’s kindergarten graduation ceremony.
The next day, Sophia had finished her classes and picked Nathan up. She was about to go home for dinner when Stanley unexpectedly called her in a panic. He said, “Hurry up and come over, Sophia—I’m going to lose! That bunch of old men is bullying me again; hurry up and save me!”
The familiar chant of ‘Checkmate him! Checkmate him!’ could be heard in the background.
Sophia was speechless. “Alright, I’ll be there in a minute,” she replied.
She then left the university campus and took a taxi to the military compound.
The military compound was especially boisterous in the afternoon as the group of old men and women began exercising outside. Sophia found the place where Stanley fell under siege, and his opponent was still the grey-bearded old man last time.
The old man noticed Sophia the instant she showed up, and he immediately fixed his sharp gaze on her.
Sophia knew that this old man must have an extraordinary background ever since she had played chess with him last time. After all, no ordinary old man could live out his life in retirement in this military compound.
He probably bullied Stanley this time because he felt that he had lost face after being defeated badly by Sophia the day before, which was why he had expressly told Stanley to call her over.
As soon as Sophia came, she took over the mess Stanley had left behind and played chess with the grey-bearded old man with great patience.
Nathan was scrambled for by everyone the instant he came. After being hugged by several old men taking turns, he sat on the grey-bearded old man’s lap and curiously watched Sophia as she played chess.
Playing against this old man was quite an easy job to Sophia. She wasn’t a top-notch chess player, but her chess skills could be considered superior to the group of old men living in the military compound.
It took only a while for her to defeat the old man three times as she played her moves and moved her chess pieces half-heartedly.
Unwilling to admit defeat, the old man said, “Let’s start all over again. I won’t believe that I can’t defeat you!”
Old Master Fletcher had never met his match in the military compound, which might’ve been because everyone had gone easy on him for the sake of his old age.
However, Sophia never cared about her opponent’s age when she played chess. She still rendered the old man totally unable to fight back with her savage chess moves.
After being defeated seven times in a row, the old man finally tossed away his chess piece and stopped playing. Sophia was hungry, so she went home for dinner while holding Nathan’s hand.
Seizing the opportunity, Stanley offered to send her home despite having a limp.
Even Nathan could tell that Old Master Fletcher was creating an opportunity for Stanley on purpose!
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From then on, however, the old man started to have Stanley call Sophia over to the military compound to play chess almost every day. Every time they finished playing chess at the military compound, he would then tell Sophia to have dinner at Stanley’s place.
Nathan was pissed off; every time Sophia went to the military compound, he would tag along and follow her around to prevent Stanley-the-dumb*ss from making use of every bit of opportunity to have Sophia on his own.
He thought to himself, Well, my Dad is coming back soon, and Sophia won’t have time to play outside by then. She will fall head over heels for him once he comes home!
Sophia had become a complete fangirl for Taylor by now, but she was too shy to reveal this side of her in front of Hale. Since she found it too embarrassing to brazenly ask about Michael’s whereabouts, she could only find out discreetly from his fan group.
Some fans in the group were able to find out the whereabouts of some celebrities. High-definition snapshots of Michael at an overseas celebration dinner, for instance, were quickly uploaded to the fan group after they were taken. Furthermore, the fan group’s admin had connections in the talent agency and would disclose some trivial pieces of news from time to time.
Over the past few days, something happened in the fan group which delighted everyone. Many of the group’s members had actually received letters from Taylor!
This was the first time they had ever received letters from him; even though everyone knew that their Prince Charming couldn’t have written these letters himself, getting these letters was at least some sort of encouragement, so the fan group was buzzing with excitement.
Sophia also went by the alias Sirius in the fan group. Suddenly, someone asked her, ‘Have you received a letter from Taylor, Sirius? Most of us in the fan group have received it as well as his autographed photos! Since you’ve made so many cinema bookings for his films, you must have received a special letter from him as well, right?’
Sophia felt extremely embarrassed; she couldn’t have received one of these letters because she had written them herself. She replied, ‘Yeah, I received one too.’
Many fans in the group had been boiling over with excitement for several days because of the letters. Suddenly, another big piece of news came out.
‘The latest news is here! Taylor has finished filming “Doctor Invincible”, so he is coming back to Cethos and will arrive at Bayside International Airport tomorrow afternoon! Let’s meet him at the airport!’
‘Lord Winston is coming back with him, so why don’t we team up with Lord Winston’s fans to meet Taylor at the airport together?’
The fans were filled with excitement as they said, ‘That’s right! Even though Taylor doesn’t need such a pompous display of grandeur, we should meet him at the airport!’
‘We have no intention of comparing ourselves with other celebrities’ fan bases, but some celebrities with huge followings always have tons of fans meeting them whenever they show up at the airport—just look at how impressive it is! We should show our devotion to our idol too.’
‘Taylor is way more popular than those celebrities, but look at how smug their fans are!’
Sophia had been following news updates from the fan group as well, so she learned about this as soon as the word was out.
Michael is coming back to Cethos! Why didn’t Hale tell me that beforehand? I’d really rather trust the fan group than trust him! she thought to herself.
Sophia had been indifferent to the world of show business in the past, but ever since she became a fangirl because of Michael, she started following what was going on in the entertainment industry.
A new generation of celebrities had risen to prominence in Cethos lately, and each of them claimed to have billions of fans worldwide. Since they each had a particularly crazy number of overzealously devoted fans, they turned up their noses at veteran actors like Michael and Harry.
These celebrities’ fans were also ready to draw comparisons between Michael and their idols at the drop of a hat. They had compared all kinds of funny statistics about Michael and their idols, such as the number of fans meeting them at the airport, how many followers they had on Twitter, how much they were paid for appearing in commercials, the number of high-end products they were endorsing, and how great their influence on their fans was.
Taylor usually kept a low profile, and he never appeared in variety shows or did product endorsements. Moreover, Taylor’s fans were relatively more rational, resulting in a wrong impression that Taylor had fewer fans than the celebrities with huge fan bases.
Unlike some overzealous fans in many fan communities, Taylor’s fans were not going to start a sh*tstorm on social media over the disparaging comments made about their idol by the fans of some of his fellow juniors. However, what should be done must be done.
Therefore, everyone in the fan group decided to go to the airport to meet Taylor in person.
However, the reality was that the fans who had gone to meet Taylor at the airport would never be able to see him in person. Taylor always left the airport through specialized passageways, so his fans never had the chance to catch a glimpse of him.
As such a situation went on for many years, the fans meeting him at the airport eventually dwindled in numbers until they disappeared altogether.
However, it was different this time round. Even though Taylor’s fans knew that they wouldn’t get to see their idol in person, they were determined to go to the airport to meet him—this was a battle between different fan communities.
The fan group’s admin even made a special effort to message Sophia in private. She said, “Please come tomorrow, Sirius. You paid the money for our fan group’s community shirts and even spent so much on cinema bookings for Taylor’s films, yet you never once showed up during our group’s activities. You have to come this time! Taylor’s flight will arrive at around 1 p.m., so why don’t we have lunch together after meeting him at the airport?!”
Sophia was a little hesitant, but she agreed to the admin’s request in the end.
Unlike other celebrities who had to treat their fans to meals, the aloof Michael never treated his fans to anything; he never had to play up to his fans since his capabilities always spoke for himself. Even though this group of fans had been adoring him for many years, he never lay his eyes upon them.
As her Lord’s wife, Sophia felt she should do something since it wouldn’t be long before she slept with their idol.
After going home from university, she began making preparations to meet Michael at the airport the next day.
The fan group had exclusively-designed clothing made for them to show their support for Taylor. It was a white hoodie with a pair of angel’s wings at the back and a pair of horns on the hood. The fans had clubbed together to have the hoodies custom-made, but Sophia paid for the bulk of it.
She put the hoodie on and looked at herself in the mirror several times. The more she looked in the mirror, the more dumb she felt dressed in this hoodie.
She thought to herself, Am I going to wear this thing while meeting Michael at the airport tomorrow? Won’t I lose my standing in the family if he sees me dressed like this?
On second note, she thought to herself, No, that won’t happen. We definitely won’t meet Michael in person tomorrow, so nobody will know about it as long as I say nothing!
With that, she put the fandom hoodie in her bag and prepared herself to meet Michael at the airport.
The next day, Sophia attended the morning lecturers and skipped the afternoon ones. When she reached the airport, it was already 12.30 p.m., and those from the fan group were already present. Since their fan group wasn’t large, the fans who were able to come merely amounted to about 50.
They changed into the customized fandom hoodie in the airport’s restrooms and came out looking like little angels. Sophia felt deeply uncomfortable about her appearance, but most of her feelings of embarrassment subsided when she saw everyone dressed like her.
Everyone even wore the same pink makeup, so Sophia hurriedly applied some pink makeup on her face.
Gemma and Hale had come with her, but she told them to wait for her in the parking lot; she didn’t want them to see the way she looked right now since it would be too embarrassing!
There were only 50 fans who came to the airport. They were all young people, and most of them were teenage students. The majority of them were ladies, but there were fanboys too.
Michael had fans across all ages, but those who were middle-aged certainly would not come to meet him at the airport. Hence, the active ones were those who were much younger.
Harry’s fans, who were also present, were wearing fandom hoodies similar to theirs. Since their idols were close buddies, the two fan communities were on friendly terms with each other—they even decided to collaborate this time round.
After getting fully dressed, the crowd headed to Bayside International Airport’s departure lobby. However, they soon discovered that the lobby was packed with huge crowds of people who had come to meet their idols.
It was only then did Sophia learn that the Academy Awards ceremony had just concluded in Freistan. Lots of Cethosian celebrities had attended the ceremony, and many of them happened to be taking the flight back to Cethos on the same day.
In other words, the airport was predestined to become a battlefield for the fan communities!
My Dreamy Old Husband Chapter 229
It was every celebrity’s dream to get an invitation letter to the Academy Awards ceremony. After all, being qualified to walk on the red carpet at the Academy Awards ceremony was symbolic of one’s status and standing in the entertainment industry.
Endorsements for high-end products and the red carpets of prestigious awards ceremonies were battlefields for the celebrities to flaunt their standings in the entertainment industry!
Therefore, Cethosian celebrities would do whatever they could to get an invitation letter to the Academy Awards ceremony in order to show off—even if it meant throwing money around to get invited as sponsors.
Taylor and Harry had chosen the perfect timing for their return to Cethos, for the Cethosian celebrities who had attended the Academy Awards ceremony happened to be coming back around the same time. Because of that, Bayside International Airport became a battlefield for fans of different celebrities over these few days.
Before anyone had realized, viewerships and box offices had ceased to be significant benchmarks of a celebrity’s public influence. Instead, a celebrity’s popularity had come to be defined by how many likes and retweets he or she received, how frequently his or her name was searched on the Internet, and the number of fans coming to meet him or her at the airport.
As a result, some celebrities pretended to be popular by paying hired supporters to boost their online popularity; they even hired temporary actors to pose as fans who were there to meet them at the airport.
Before entering the departure lobby, the admins of Taylor and Harry’s fan groups—who were leading the crowd—warned everyone, “There is no need to care about what others do. Just focus on what we’re doing, and don’t come into conflict with fans of other celebrities. Many fans are hired on a part-time basis at 100 per day.”
As they entered the departure lobby, Sophia felt as though she had opened the door to a world she had never seen before.
The departure lobby was already filled with huge crowds of people; fans of different celebrities were packed like sardines, and some celebrities even had up to thousands of fans coming to meet them at the airport!
For the celebrities, this was a matter of face. Therefore, they had to spend a fortune to hire people to pose as their fans even if they didn’t have so many followers in reality!
Compared to the swarm of fans who came to meet their idols at the airport in the thousands, the mere 100 fans who came for Taylor and Harry were quite a sorry sight!
There was barely any space for them in the lobby, so the two fan groups huddled together in a corner.
Huddling in the corner, Sophia curiously watched how fans of other celebrities reacted upon meeting their idols at the airport.
Just then, a celebrity emerged from the exit while being surrounded by seven or eight bodyguards. A large crowd of fans frenziedly rushed toward them at once, hemming them in and screaming hysterically; some of the fans even passed out as they were screaming.
Sophia couldn’t help but frown at the sight of the scene. Was this the so-called fandom subculture?
These people weren’t fans, but essentially a bunch of hungry ghosts who leaped at the sight of a glossy roasted duck as if they couldn’t wait to devour it in one bite!
The celebrity would have been stripped naked if it weren’t for the bodyguards!
Was Tay Tay treated like that every day?
For some reason, Sophia couldn’t help feeling sorry for the celebrities.
The fan group’s admins said to everyone, “Don’t behave like them later. When Taylor and Lord Winston come out, just spread the banner open and stand at both sides so that Taylor and Lord Winston can walk in the middle. Also, keep those fat and ugly attention-seekers out; keep them away from our idol!”
Unfortunately, the flight Michael was on board had been delayed. He was supposed to arrive at 1 p.m., but he had not arrived even at 5 p.m. Fans of other celebrities had slowly left one after another, yet they were still waiting.
To make matters worse, an idol named Nicholas Yates seemed to be on the same flight as Michael, and his army of 500 fans had also been waiting at the departure lobby the whole time.
Nicholas was a celebrity who had only become famous last year. Presently at the height of his popularity, he starred in many TV dramas, and his expressionless face appeared on whichever TV channel one switched to nowadays; even those who didn’t watch TV dramas would see him in commercials and advertisements.
His acting skills were next to none since he looked just like himself no matter which character he played. However, he was blessed with handsome looks typical of the heroes of romance novels, and the PR team behind him was incredible at attracting new fans. As a result, he was now acknowledged as a celebrity among the A-plus list.
Not only that, his fans were also the most ferocious of them all. They had dissed all of their idol’s rivals in the entertainment industry, including Taylor and Harry. In particular, it was because Nicholas had often been compared to Michael.
Nicholas had starred in two films, but their combined box office sales failed to exceed 500,000,000. On the contrary, every film Michael starred in grossed at least 500,000,000 at the box office, including niche art-house films.
Sophia had no idea what was there to be compared between the two celebrities, but Nicholas’s fans had been showing a tendency to pick fights with Michael lately; that was because Nicholas’s team had seriously overestimated their abilities by acquiring the film rights to a particular novel that had been made into a film several years ago with Taylor playing the male lead.
Furthermore, Nicholas’s fans often shamelessly chanted the slogan ‘We can’t live without Nicky.’
Because of that, Nicholas’s fans and Michael’s had been at odds with each other all the time, and Nicholas’s team continued to have the media write disparaging articles to vilify Michael.
However, Michael wasn’t involved in any scandals, nor did he have a stain on his reputation. Therefore, they could only find flaws in Elizabeth, his mother. Besides that, they disparaged him for his so-called lack of popularity, though the truth was that he always maintained a low profile. Since Michael never appeared in commercials, they mocked him for never receiving any offers to appear in one. Also, they claimed that he never appeared on variety shows because he was never invited to appear on them due to his lack of prominence in the entertainment industry.
Michael took acting primarily as a sideline since it was one of his hobbies. He never cared about the vilifying rumors surrounding him, but his indifference only served to inflate these people’s arrogance.
Nicholas’s fans were very overbearing; they took up more and more space, shoving Taylor and Harry’s fans into a corner. They also dropped litter everywhere, and the space they occupied was littered with trash. On the contrary, the space Sophia and the others had occupied was impeccably clean, for the used instant noodle cups were all packed up and thrown into the garbage can.
It was only natural for two fan communities that were at odds with each other to get into a squabble when they were side by side with each other in real life. One of Nicholas’s fans approached Sophia and maliciously struck up a conversation with her. “Our Nicky has just come back from the Academy Awards ceremony, and there are so many beautiful photos of him walking on the red carpet. Why wasn’t Taylor and Lord Winston at the awards ceremony?” she asked.
Sophia glanced at the fangirl as if the latter was an idiot without answering her question. Our Taylor isn’t interested in attending the Academy Awards ceremony. Is there any problem with that? she thought to herself.
However, the fan was going to find flaws in whatever she said, so she chose to bite her tongue instead.
Seeing that she didn’t respond, the fangirl started getting impatient. She said, “Say something! I was asking you a question!”
However, Sophia responded by lowering her head and fiddling with her cell phone instead of talking to the fangirl, infuriating the latter even further. She said, “Why are you so rude? I’m talking to you! Are Taylor and Harry’s fans so ill-mannered?”
Several other fangirls of Nicholas came over as if premeditated before they each started speaking sarcastically in support of the first fangirl. One of them said, “Their idol is a megastar who outclassed most of the celebrities in show business. His fans are as aloof as their idol, so they must have disdained talking to us.”
“That recent film actually did so well at the box office despite being such absolute trash. Nobody is going to be deceived, though! God knows how much of its box office sales were faked!”
“You’re not going to get an answer to your question. How could a male celebrity who’s past his prime receive invitation letters? They certainly aren’t going to talk about something so embarrassing!”
“Allow me to tell a joke—they are merely a bunch of fat and ugly attention-seekers praising two queers to the skies! Haha! Those two queers never lay eyes on them, yet this bunch of bumptious, fat, and ugly attention seekers show them excessive passion.”
My Dreamy Old Husband Chapter 230
Harry and Taylor’s fans were already accustomed to their sarcastic and offensive remarks, so they fiddled with their cell phones instead of paying them any attention.
Taylor’s films had grossed 5,000,000,000 in total at the box office last year, whereas the combined box office of Nicholas’s two films could scarcely reach one-tenth of it, so they didn’t have to argue with Nicholas’s fans at all.
An idol who overestimated himself after a short time of popularity like Nicholas would only stay popular for another few years at most before slowly becoming over-the-hill. God knew how many such idols had foolishly attempted to provoke Taylor over the years, so Taylor’s fans were already accustomed to it.
Sophia had been notified by the group admins beforehand, so she didn’t give Nicholas’s fans any response to avoid attracting negative publicity for her Lord. No matter what Nicholas’s fans said, she simply wouldn’t respond.
Sophia dressed a little young for her age on this day, and she looked even more girlish with the angel wings and the pair of horns on her hoodie.
It seemed that the fangirls across from her had attempted to pick a fight with her because of her particularly girlish and youthful appearance, which gave them the wrong impression that she must be quick-tempered and easy to bully.
However, little did they know that Sophia would pay zero attention to them.
Nicholas’s fans continued to demean Taylor and Harry sarcastically. However, Taylor and Harry’s fans seemed to be unconcerned, for none of them answered back.
Sophia ridiculed Nicholas’s fans in her mind while listening to their taunts.
An invitation letter to the Academy Awards ceremony? Excuse me, my Lord is both the first Cethosian to win an Academy Award for Best Actor and a lifetime member of the Academy Awards’ review committee!
He isn’t offered to appear in commercials, variety shows and reality shows? Sorry, but Tay Tay is never short of money.
A male celebrity who’s past his prime? F*ck that! Tay Tay can single-handedly beat 100 sissy idols like that idol of yours!
Verbal attacks could no longer produce any effect on Harry and Taylor’s fans, but Nicholas’s fans wouldn’t leave it at that.
Their idol had done everything possible to get an invitation letter to the Academy Awards ceremony, but he only managed to sit in the last row at the ceremony and cadge a red-carpet walk while he was at it. Not only that, he was nearly chased away by the security personnel!
Still, his presence at the Academy Awards ceremony could indeed maintain his popularity for some time. However, they needed to generate more news coverage, and the story of Taylor’s fans bullying Nicholas’s fans would be a good idea!
They would orchestrate the incident and have Nicholas make a tearful appearance after that. He would tearfully apologize to Taylor on his fans’ behalf and took all the blame upon himself, passing himself off as a naive and innocent young celebrity who was isolated from the rest of the entertainment industry. Everyone would subconsciously sympathize with the weak, and with some smear campaign, the entire incident would immediately be misrepresented as a case of bullying done by a senior in the entertainment industry against his fellow junior. Not only could they ride on Taylor’s popularity, but they could also put him down by doing so.
Nicholas was managed by Glory Entertainment, which was coincidentally funded by the Harper Family.
Sophia was hungry again since she had only eaten a cup of instant noodles. Had she known the flight would be delayed, she would have waited for Michael at home instead. She sat on the floor and was about to fall asleep when she suddenly felt a cool sensation on her head; as it turned out, one of Nicholas’s fangirls took her cap away.
The fangirl put Sophia’s cap on her own head to which the others commented on her appearance, “Why did you put on such a stupid hat? Hurry up and give it back!”
“Yeah, or you won’t have a chance to escape when the fangirl blows her top!”
“This cap looks so stupid! The fans of a has-been are just different. Look at their taste in clothing!”
Sophia lost her temper at once. She stood up and snatched her cap back, but the other party immediately started pushing and shoving her.
“What are you doing? All we did was borrow your cap for a while. Why are you getting physical?”
“What gives an over-the-hill male celebrity the gall to be so smug?”
“Oh, that’s so great of over-the-hill gay celebrities! Is everyone in your fan community homo? Yuck, that’s so disgusting!”
Not only did Nicholas’s fans snatch Sophia’s cap, they also pulled at her wings. However, Sophia wasn’t someone to be messed with either. With a forceful push, she shoved the fangirls who were pulling at her wings out of the way.
Unfortunately, that push was enough to spark trouble. Nicholas’s fangirls immediately flopped onto the floor and screamed, “Aaah! Someone is hitting people!”
Other fangirls immediately gathered around Sophia. Michael’s fans also stood up and attempted to move closer to look at what was happening, but the group admins immediately dissuaded them from doing so.
Nicholas’s fangirls wanted them to lose control, so they must not get flustered right now!
The two fan group’s admins moved toward the crowd and, together with Sophia, were immediately surrounded by the army of 500 fans who glared at them with hostile looks on their faces.
The fangirl who had just fallen over after being shoved by Sophia was now crying her eyes out as if she had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Nicholas’s other fangirls grabbed Sophia and said with feigned indignation, “We have been tolerating you guys for a very long time. Your idol bullied ours at every turn and offended half the entertainment industry—even his fans are so arrogant!”
“You guys have injured our people! See you at the police station!”
“Let’s go! We’ll see you at the police station!”
Amid the chaos, somebody scratched Sophia’s arms many times, instantly resulting in a few scratches made by fingernails.
Sophia would have fought back right away in the past, but if she did that right now, she would’ve given Nicholas’s fangirls a handle against herself.
That was also Harry and Taylor’s fan groups’ admins’ biggest worries. They immediately came over and advised everyone, “Calm down, everyone—calm down. Let us solve the problem amicably.”
However, it was pretty obvious that Nicholas’s fangirls had no intention of solving things amicably; they were dead set on bullying Harry and Taylor’s fans.
Sophia was furious. Never had she thought that the fight between fan communities could get so dirty!
Nicholas’s fangirls had begun recording videos of the altercation, making them look as though they were even more justified if Sophia fought back.
In a moment of desperation, she copied them and began putting on a pitiful look by squeezing out two drops of tears.
Who doesn’t know how to act? she thought to herself.
VIPMeanwhile, the plane that had been delayed for several hours touched down and was now taxiing on the runway. In the VIP cabin, Michael switched on his cell phone, whereas Harry woke up from sleep, took off his blindfold, and yawned with sleepy eyes as he got ready to get off the plane.
Many Cethosian celebrities who had attended the Academy Awards ceremony were on this flight as well. Luckily, Michael and Harry were seated in a separate cabin, or those seated in the first-class cabin would obviously pester them to death.
Whenever they showed up together, they would be bombarded with endless requests to have group photos taken. Because of that, they preferred the quiet environment of a separate cabin.
It just so happened that Michael’s private jet had been sent away for maintenance. Otherwise, their return trip wouldn’t have been delayed for so many hours.
My warm, soft, and adorable wife should have left her university by now, Michael thought to himself in anticipation.
Gary, who had been accompanying him on the trip, came over and reported, “The passage has been cleared. Our car is parked in the parking lot, and its surroundings have been cleared of other people.”
Then, Gary added, “Also, Hale called just now to inform that Madam has sneaked into the fan group who has come to meet you at the airport.”
Michael was dumbstruck for a moment before he chuckled in resignation.
His chica was really too adorable. He would obviously be at home, yet she sneaked into the fan group and spied on him furtively. Not only that, she didn’t even dare to hand her love letter to him face-to-face!
He instructed, “Just let her be; she’ll go home by herself later when she doesn’t see me. Tell Hale to keep a watchful eye on her and see if the Phantom Wolf’s men are around.”
However, Gary sounded a little hesitant. He continued, “Hale said that Madam had clashed with a petty idol’s fans, who overwhelmed Madam with their numbers and even beat the tears out of her.”