Today had been a productive day for Chastity Noel. She had completed various promotional photoshoots for The Julia Foundation and did an interview for a local newspaper about her new project. Despite the delays that her new pet project have undergone, she still expects it to get off to a roaring success as soon as it is ready to open. She also spent some time promoting Global Championship Wrestling, where she reigns as GCW Global Champion under her ring name of Julia Braddock. Yes, today had been a very productive day and she was hoping to get even more done during her time in the center of the city of London. After all, without her business partner, Henry Van Stanton, to pick up the slack Chastity is practically on her own handling not only the promotions, but also the corporate and legal aspects of her new project. It is time like this that Chastity envies her sister. She and her sister, Glory Braddock, were both taken under the wing and mentorship of Aphrodite Noel. They symbolically became Aphrodite’s daughters and Aphrodite in turn gave each of them something special; she gave Chastity self-confidence and even more in-ring wrestling skill. She gave Glory Braddock her immense corporate skill and knowledge. Chastity Noel wishes she had received the corporate knowledge instead. She could use that business know-how right now. Maybe then she wouldn’t be so behind? Instead she is having to deal with all of it herself until her business partner, Henry Van Stanton, returns to work. And she was at least making some progress today until she received a rather disturbing call from her head of security at The Julia Foundation.
Dressed in a black knee length dress with no sleeves and a silver blazer and black high heeled pumps, the blonde haired Kensington Knockout marches up towards the front door of the Braddock family home where she and her newly adopted daughter, a homeless orphaned seventeen year old named Grace, live. Chastity spots the bulky, muscular figure of her head of security, Charlie, standing there waiting on her; his arms are folded over his chest and he seems stoic and emotionless. By contrast Chastity seems very emotional and those emotions are a mix of frustration and anger.
“Where is she?!” Those are the first words out of Chastity’s mouth as she approaches Charlie.
“Before we get to your daughter, aren’t you concerned about your business?”
“It isn’t a business, it is a charity. And I am concerned but family is more important.”
“Regardless, The Julia Foundation is your project and I thought you would want to hear some sort of update about it. After all, you haven’t visited the headquarters in a couple of weeks.”
Chastity sighs out of frustration. “Very well. What do you have to tell me?”
“Some good news, actually. The construction and renovation teams finished earlier than expected. The headquarters is one hundred percent remodeled and ready for a grand opening.”
“Yes.” Charlie nods his head. “You really should find time to take a look at the place. It looks magnificent.”
“I have to admit that is rather surprising. Without Henry to cut through the red tape, with me having to manage everything on my own, I didn’t expect them to get finished.”
“You are better than you give yourself credit for, Ms. Noel.”
“Oh please, Charlie. I know next to nothing about business..”
“Perhaps, but what you lack in business knowledge you make up for in sheer determination and inspiration. The workers were inspired by your heart and desire to see this succeed. That’s what motivated them, Ms. Noel.”
“Thank you, Charlie.”
“Hey, everyone needs to hear some positive vibes every now and then. Even you.”
Chastity nods her head. “What about my daughter?”
“I was lucky to see her when I did. She was trying to hitchhike along the road nearby The Julia Foundation. I saw her on my way to work. I tricked her by making her think I was giving her a ride. By the time she realized otherwise it was too late.”
“Good man, Charlie. Now where is she?”
“I left her in the living room. But before you go in and give her a verbal beatdown that she no doubt deserves, may I make a suggestion?”
“Go easy on her, Ms. Noel; as an adopted child myself, I understand what she is going through. Changes such as this are not easy.”
Chastity marches past Charlie and enters her home through the front door. She slams it shut and marches towards the living room. After entering the living room she spots Grace sitting there on the sofa. Chastity immediately is disarmed upon seeing her like this and smiles.
“Serena...come here!” Chastity walks into the living room. Grace rises up off of the sofa and embraces Chastity in a tight hug. “Now do you mind telling me why the hell you decided to pull a stunt like that?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“You would be surprised at what I may understand. I have been through a lot, Serena. I told you, you and I are a lot alike.”
Grace shakes her head. “You say that but I’m not sure.”
“Fine. You want to know the truth? This isn’t working, Chastity. This just isn’t working out.”
“What do you mean it isn’t working out? You have a place to live. You are in drug rehab and have made great progress. You are about to begin school and get an education. And you have a family, you have me.”
Grace sits down. Chastity sits down next to her.
“Do you want to know why drug rehab has gone so well? Because I haven’t been attending. I quit attending after the first few sessions. It has just been too difficult. The withdrawals were too much. And you want to talk about education? I won’t fit in with those other kids at school. I am not like them. I am too old now, anyway. I would stick out like a sore thumb. And family?” She shakes her head. “I don’t know my family. I was orphaned. Remember?”
“No family?” Chastity shakes her head. “That’s where you’re wrong. What is your name?”
“I have no name. The orphanage called me Grace.”
“And I told you that you were to answer to Serena Grace Noel. That is your name. I legally adopted you and we legally had your name changed. Do you understand?”
“I remember but…”
“No!” Chastity’s voice takes on a much sterner tone. “I adopted you. You are MY responsibility! Now go to your room and change into some nicer, cleaner clothes. Change out of those dirty clothes you tried to hitchhike in.”
“Sure…” Grace, defeated, rises up off of the sofa and slowly exits the living room. Chastity relaxes a little and sighs as she thinks about what she has taken on. She has been dating JaMarcus Avery for a long time now and while marriage has always been on her mind, she hasn’t been married let alone had to take on the responsibility of motherhood. Yet here she is taking care of a seventeen year old. A part of her questions whether she is up to this tall and difficult task. But she also realizes that she wasn’t just trying to relate to the teen when she said that they were a lot alike. Chastity sees a great deal of herself in Grace, the teen she now calls Serena. Both were forgotten by their families, both fell into drug abuse, but Chastity managed to find her way back. Chastity was rescued. She knows that there are others in similar situations and she cannot save them all, but with The Julia Foundation she can save as many as she possibly can. But Serena is a special case. She wants to be personally responsible for her.
A few minutes more pass and then Chastity sees Serena return to the living room. She is now wearing a pink sun dress and sandals. She curtsies. “Is this better, mother?”
“Yes, much better. Now sit down.” Serena sits down on the sofa. “I understand that changes like this can be scary, I understand that they can be difficult, but you must understand that what I am doing is for your own good. Understand that I am only trying to help you.”
“A lot of people have said that they wanted to help me but didn’t do a damn thing.”
“I know. But I’m not a lot of people. I do want to help and I am willing to make certain compromises. For instance, if you are concerned about fitting in with the others at school, if you are concerned about being too old, then you do not have to start school. I can find someone to give you private schooling. Is that better?”
“I suppose it would be a little better. But my identity, my name, Grace is all I have ever known.”
“Your parents abandoned you, Serena. Maybe they had good reasons, maybe they didn’t, I don’t know. But I doubt that they had good reasons if they didn’t have time to bother naming you before dropping you off at an orphanage, not even caring whether you lived or died. And I experienced similar treatment, maybe not to that extent but similar. My biological mother didn’t care enough about me to fight for custody of me when she split up with my father. My father didn’t care about MY future, he cared about his vision of what my future should be. The pressure to live up to his lofty expectations were tough, so I turned to drugs. Did any of my family care? No. But one woman did care enough about me to help me; Aphrodite Noel. That is why I took her name. And like you I was very rebellious about it at first, I didn’t understand that what she was doing for me was only helping me to overcome my drug abuse and my fears. She couldn’t treat me like a best friend, because I didn’t need a friend, I needed discipline. Now she isn’t just my Mother but my friend.” Chastity reaches out and takes Serena’s hands and clasps them tightly.
“I want to help you. But you have to be willing to let me help you.I will not let you down the way others have let you down in the past.”
“But for me to help you I can’t just be your friend. I have to be your mother and that means you listening to me and listening to everything I say. You have a home now, that is a good thing. But that also comes with certain responsibilities. It means you are no longer free to do whatever the hell you wanted when you were homeless and on the streets. So if you are willing to live under my roof then you live under my rules. Do you understand that?”
“And what is your name?”
“I am Serena Grace Noel and I am your daughter.”
There are many thoughts going through the head of Chastity Noel at this moment. Has she been too tough on her adopted daughter? She sounded just like her own adoptive “mother”, Aphrodite Noel, did when she spoke to her. But thinking back, she rebelled just like young Serena Grace. She needed discipline. Grace needs discipline now. Before Chastity can consider any further words to say she hears her cell phone ringing. She produces it and looks at the screen. It is a FaceTime request from Henry Van Stanton, whom she hasn’t heard from in ages. She definitely wants to take this.
“We can talk more about this in the morning, Serena, but I really need to take this.”
Serena turns and walks off. Chastity sighs and turns to her phone. She accepts the FaceTime request. Immediately she sees Henry’s face on the screen.
“You sound surprised to hear from me.” Henry responds.
“Well to be honest I am kind of surprised. I haven’t heard from you in a long time, mate. How are you holding up?”
“As well as can be expected, I suppose. If you ask Autumn she’d say I was strong. But the truth is I’ve just been putting up a good front. It tears me up inside.” Henry’s voice is beginning to crack. “Archie was my only son.” He reaches up and wipes a tear from his eye. “But I am coping.”
“I hope you mean that, Henry. Of course if you need anything at all, even if it is just someone to talk to, just ask.”
“I appreciate that, Chastity. I really do. I may take you up on that offer sometime; though I have taken enough time off. It is time that I get back to work. I need to return to some sense of normalcy.”
“My sister never stopped.” Chastity says with a sigh. “I wish she had. She could have used a break.”
“People cope differently. Maybe continuing to work and compete was best for Glory? Nevertheless I am planning to return to England shortly and resume my duties with The Julia Foundation.”
“Excellent. There’s plenty to catch you up on when you get here.”
“I look forward to it, Chastity. Thank you for holding down the fort while I was away.”
“No, thank YOU for everything you have done to help make this dream of mine a reality. Though I still worry that you’re coming back too soon. If you need more time, feel free to take it.”
Henry shakes his head. “No, I am ready to return. Besides, I am not the one you should be concerned about.”
“My brother, Mason, he hasn’t taken this well at all.”
“What do you mean?”
“My brother may be a lot of things, a crooked con artist among them, but he did love Archie. He would have done anything for Archie. Archie was the one bright light in his life, the one good thing in his entire life. I didn’t immediately consider the ramifications of what would happen if that light were extinguished because I was too busy grieving myself but now that I have had time to think about everything, and I have come to realize that I have not heard from Mason since that night, and he hasn’t even returned my calls….” Henry’s voice trails off.
“You don’t think he will do anything rash, do you?”
“I don’t know what he has planned. All I know is that he will more than likely bury himself in his work and his work is professional wrestling. What that involves is anyone’s guess. So I am calling partly to let you know that I will be returning to work but also to warn you, so that you can in turn warn Hannah, Kendra, and Destiny that my brother is not in his right mind and he is more than likely returning.”
“Do you think he will target us?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. Just be careful.” Henry smiles. “And defend that Global Championship proudly, you earned it. Don’t let anyone take it away from you without a fight.”
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