Chapter One :Chapter 1

"Ms. Webb, I need you to sign this consent form for artificial insemination."

Maria Webb tightly gripped the pen, her eyes fixed on the consent form, her knuckles turning white.

Tomorrow, the operation was scheduled, the day after her own wedding.

The sperm donor was none other than Bradley Howard, the wealthy heir of the Howard family, and her groom-to-be.

But destiny had a twisted sense of humor. Three months ago, Bradley had been in a horrific car crash, leaving him in a coma with little hope of recovery.

The Howard family was renowned for their relentless pursuit of inheritance and legacy. They were willing to go to great lengths to ensure Bradley's lineage continued. It was why Bradley's father had decided to have his son marry before his passing. Bradley's sperm, frozen years ago, would be used for insemination in case he didn't recover.

As Maria lowered her head to read the consent form, her face turned pale, and a subtle sense of panic crept into her eyes.

"Could you please give me some space to gather my thoughts? I need to read it thoroughly." She turned to the lawyer and requested, her voice trembling.

After a few seconds of silence, the lawyer nodded and left the room.

The lawyer's exit led to a terrifying silence in the room. With the room to herself, she placed the consent form on the table. Maria dialed her secret boyfriend Charles Howard's number for help.

Fate had it that Charles was Bradley's nephew and the mastermind behind this wedding.

Maria's life had turned upside down due to the death of her father and the heartlessness of her stepmother, Riley Melendez. She was left with nothing, not even her late mother's belongings.

Just when Maria felt hopeless, Charles proposed a daring plan. He suggested that she pretends to marry Bradley and then together, they would find a way to sabotage the operation. Once Bradley passed away, Charles would become the sole heir of the Howard family, and in return, he promised to marry Maria and help her reclaim her mother's inheritance.

Initially enchanted by Charles's plan, Maria had agreed, but as the wedding day approached, she realized she couldn't go through with it.

Desperate for comfort and advice, Maria called Charles relentlessly, but her attempts were futile.

Feeling anxious, she sneaked out to find him. With her high heels in hand, she walked down the corridor, her heart pounding with fear and anticipation.

As she approached the last lounge at the end of the hall, Maria's footsteps halted.

A faint, familiar giggle emanated from inside the slightly opened door.

Through the crack, Maria heard the familiar voice saying impatiently, "Stay with me a little longer, Charles. Maria doesn’t have time to look for you right now."

Her heart sank. Peeking through the crack, she saw her half-sister Demi Webb straddling Charles on the sofa, both of them partially undressed.

Charles said impatiently, pushing Demi away and standing up. "I need to keep an eye on her to prevent her from escaping."

But Demi carelessly brushed away his concerns with a kiss, saying, "Oh, stop worrying so much. She always listens to you. Besides, we have her mother's keepsake. She wouldn't dare to run away."

Without a moment's hesitation, Charles turned Demi over and kissed her passionately. "You're right. Thank you, my love. Once my plan is complete, I'll ditch that b*tch. I only want you..."

Maria watched in sheer shock as they started making love, their moans and gasps filling the room.

The harsh reality dealt her a heavy blow. She staggered back, struggling to keep her balance.

The betrayal felt like a dagger in Maria's heart, tearing it into a million pieces, tears cascading down her cheeks.

Anger surged through her veins, her fists clenched tightly, nails digging into her palms. With disgust and rage, she listened to the sounds of their intimacy.

But Maria refused to be defeated. She had to take action. She wouldn't let Charles and Demi get away with their betrayal.

With newfound determination, she wiped away her tears, slipped on her high heels, and marched back to her room. Without a second thought, she signed the consent form, ready to become the true daughter-in-law of the Howard family.

She vowed that Charles and Demi would pay dearly for their betrayal, no matter the cost.

As night fell, the Howard family's mansion sparkled with bright lights, casting an opulent glow over the surroundings.

After the wedding ceremony, Maria was escorted by the butler to Bradley's room.

This was the first time she laid eyes on her so-called husband.

According to Charles, Bradley was a volatile, cruel man with a nasty temper. He even showed indifference to his own family. Charles used every derogatory term to describe him, even calling him ugly.

Maria had believed Charles's words, mentally preparing herself to face her unattractive husband. However, when she saw Bradley for the first time, even in his illness, she couldn't help but notice his inherent nobility and unbelievably handsome appearance.

Maria stood motionless by the bed, admiring Bradley's astonishing visage, beginning to doubt everything Charles had told her.

Just then, a visibly tipsy Charles burst into the room, holding a bottle in his hand, completely disregarding Bradley's condition.

"Maria, I'm so sorry I missed your call. Been a crazy day." Charles slurred, trying to sound apologetic.

Maria, having to play along with Charles's plan for now, replied, "No worries. It happens."

Confidently, Charles took another swig from the bottle and grinned. "I knew you'd forgive me. You can't resist my charm." He arrogantly proclaimed.

Suppressing her growing anger, Maria clenched her fists, "It's late now. Let's talk about this tomorrow."

Charles locked the door, plunging the room into darkness as he slowly approached her.

Feeling nervous, Maria took a step back and asked, "Charles, what do you want from me?"

Leering with an evil grin, Charles exhaled the scent of alcohol towards her and said, "We shouldn't waste time. If you have my children, they'll be the rightful heirs of the Howard family."

Charles paid no mind to Bradley, daring to make advances on her in front of his own uncle!

Maria fought back and shouted, "Let go of me!"

Charles suddenly froze in his tracks, and as Maria lifted her head, she gazed at him with utter bewilderment. His expression had transformed into sheer terror, as if he had seen a ghost behind her.

Stammering in fear, he muttered, "Bradley..."

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