A woman runs away in tears | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER
A woman runs away in tears | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

My Boss Made Me Dance for a Rich Man, It Turned Out That I Already Knew Him – Story of the Day

Roshanak Hannani
Mar 18, 2024
09:33 A.M.
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An interruption during her workday placed Ella in a private room, dancing for a strange man, except he wasn't a stranger. They just hadn't seen each other in almost ten years, and the secret she had kept so thoroughly threatened to be exposed.

Ella meticulously scrubbed the floors of "The Velvet Rose," a dimly lit strip club that reeked of stale alcohol and lingering perfume. Suddenly, a strange man disrupted her work by stepping on her cleaning towel. With an imperious gesture, he trod upon her cleaning towel, lifting her chin in an unexpected display of dominance.

"What are you doing?" Ella's voice quivered, her eyes wary as she glanced up at the man and removed her chin from his grasp. Let go!

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"I need you to come with me," he demanded, his tone brooking no argument.

"Sir, I'm sorry. I'm not allowed to talk to guests," Ella croaked. "Let me finish cleaning, and I'll get out of your way."

"No, little girl," the strange man said condescendingly. "You're coming with me."

"Why?" she faltered. "Where?"

"To be alone. One private moment with me is more than you make in a month," he replied, a smirk playing on his lips. His evil intentions were clear as day, and Ella didn't want anything to do with him.

Ella hesitated, offended, as her grip tightened on the cleaning towel. "No, sir. I'm sorry. I'm just the cleaning lady here. I can't associate with guests. Excuse me."

But the man refused to step off her towel, and his expression got even more agitated. Ella's heart raced as the standoff intensified between her and the imposing stranger. The air crackled with tension, her eyes darting between the man and the manager, Mr. Cooper, whose stern countenance amplified the gravity of the situation.

She tried to pull on the towel, and finally, the man relented, letting her go. But as Ella made a hasty exit with her cleaning towel and a water bucket, she crashed against a figure—her boss, Mr. Cooper. He yelled, outraged at being soaked in soapy water.

"Mr. Cooper," Ella began, her voice laced with uncertainty. "I'm so sorry!" No, I can't get fired!

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

The strange man appeared again, and his smirk revealed he had just seen that encounter.

"Despite her clumsiness, I would like some time with her," the stranger told Ella's boss. His voice was confident.

Mr. Cooper's angry expression turned from Ella to his client. His gravelly voice cut through the tension as he stared at the strange man. "I'm sorry, but she is booked right now. I can point you towards someone else."

The stranger hummed, disappointed, but left them alone. Ella sighed, relieved. "Thank you, Mr. Cooper," she breathed. "Let me help you with your clothes. I'll take them to the dry cleaners myself after my shift. I'll just keep cleaning."

"Didn't you hear what I said?" her manager snapped. "You're booked. You'll still be going to a VIP room. Someone has requested you. I should've known it would be better to have you as a dancer than a cleaner, but now, you'll do both."

Ella's heart sank. She swallowed hard, the directive shattering her sense of normalcy.

"But, Mr. Cooper, I—" Her protest faltered, lost in the unyielding gaze of the manager. I'm not a dancer!

Ella's plea for understanding was met with a cold, dismissive glare from Mr. Cooper, his demeanor unyielding.

"Mr. Cooper, please, I can't..." Ella tried again, her desperation palpable.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

The boss's eyes narrowed, his voice cutting through the air like a knife. "You'll do as instructed, Ella. Your personal discomfort is irrelevant."

Ella's breath caught in her throat, the weight of his words pressing down on her like an iron fist. She attempted to reason, to convey her discomfort with the demanded role, but Mr. Cooper's harshness left no room for negotiation.

"But sir, I can't—"

"You can and you will," he interrupted, his tone harsh and final.

The hopelessness of the situation settled upon her shoulders like a suffocating shroud, the realization sinking that her opinion and dignity were inconsequential in the face of the club's demands.

Mr. Cooper's demand felt like a cold, harsh ultimatum. His eyes, usually stern and unforgiving, held a glint of impatience as he reiterated the proposition. "Ella, you either go to the VIP room or find another place to work," he threatened.

Ella couldn't lose her job. It was her lifeline, and she had someone else to think about at home. All she had to do was give up her dignity. Should I quit?

"Enough, Ella," Mr. Cooper's voice grew sterner, his patience stretched thin. "You're testing my patience and risking your position here."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"But this isn't fair, Mr. Cooper," Ella's voice quivered, her distress evident as she struggled to make him understand. "I'm not a dancer."

"Fair or not, this is business," he retorted coldly, his eyes void of empathy. "Do as you're told or face the consequences."

Mr. Cooper's cold, calculating eyes locked onto Lana, an actual dancer at the club. His crisp command was devoid of compassion. "Lana, take Ella and get her cleaned up for the client." No, I need to quit! But she didn't.

Lana got down from her dancing podium as her expression tensed, a silent acknowledgment of the order she couldn't refuse. She cast a brief, apologetic glance at Ella before complying. "Come with me," Lana murmured.

Ella's heart sank at the directive. The semblance of getting "cleaned up for the client" masked the impending demand for a more presentable appearance for the private dance.

Ella's steps were heavy as she followed Lana, her mind reeling with a sense of powerlessness. The absence of hope gripped her tighter, leaving her with the unsettling realization that there was no escape from the fate Mr. Cooper had orchestrated… or was someone else at fault?

Lana guided Ella down a dimly lit corridor, the air thick with the scent of perfume. The seasoned employee led her to a secluded room tucked away from the prying eyes of the main hall.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"Here," Lana murmured softly, gesturing for Ella to enter the room. "Get ready. Don't make the client wait long."

"Lana, how can I do this?" Ella asked before Lana could leave her alone. I can't do this.

The dancer's expressions softened. "It's not hard. It's not what you think. Just dance. It's good money, too. It's much better than what you must make now. Some clients are more handsy than others, but they shouldn't hurt you."

"I can barely even dance," Ella lamented.

"It doesn't matter," Lana continued. "Go into your head, find a happy memory, and let go. And don't even think about sneaking away, or you'll lose your job."

Ella nodded, a silent thank you for her co-worker. As she changed into the dancing attire laid out for her, her reflection in the mirror revealed her defeat. Her fingers trembled as she adjusted the outfit, each motion reminding her of the unwelcome task.

The room, imbued with an eerie silence, echoed Lana's footsteps fading into the distance. Alone with her thoughts, Ella's mind drifted to a place she had long kept buried—a past that whispered haunting echoes in the recesses of her memory. Things could've been so different.

Images flashed before her eyes, fragments of moments she wished to forget. The ache of lost love, the burden of broken promises, and the overwhelming weight of the responsibility on her shoulders—a concoction of emotions she had meticulously concealed behind a facade of resilience.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

As she donned the costume meant to captivate, a sense of unease gnawed at her—a foreboding anticipation of the forthcoming encounter that seemed destined to unravel the carefully woven fabric of her existence.

Ella stepped into the private room a few minutes later, the faint glow of dim lights casting a hazy ambiance. The air hung heavy with anticipation as she began her dance, movements fluid yet tinged with an underlying tension. Time to dance.

The enigmatic guest sat at the corner, shrouded in shadows—an anonymous figure she was meant to entertain. His presence, though silent, exuded an aura of authority that made her heart quicken.

As she moved, her body swaying to the rhythm of the music, the man's inscrutable gaze never wavered. A palpable tension coiled in the room, intensified by the weight of his silence.

Suddenly, a commanding whisper sliced through the ambient music. "Closer," he urged his voice a low murmur that sent a shiver down her spine.

Ella's steps faltered briefly but resumed her dance, inching closer as instructed. The man's subtle demands unnerved her. There was a familiarity in his demeanor that teased the edges of her memory yet remained elusive.

"Closer," he commanded again… and again… and again. I'm as close as I'm gonna get!

With each passing moment, the tension mounted, his insistence growing increasingly palpable. His gestures were more commanding now, a silent yet forceful directive for her to draw nearer, to unravel the invisible boundary between them.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"Why aren't you looking at me?" the client wondered.

"You paid for a dance, not a date," Ella responded, more poignant than she wanted. "I don't have to look at you."

"That's harsh. You weren't always like this," he continued, confusing her with his odd comment. "You were the sweetest thing before."

Ella struggled to maintain her composure, the encounter stirring an unsettling familiarity that danced on the fringes of her consciousness. She couldn't entirely see his face, although she had gotten too close now. Or perhaps she was avoiding his eyes for a reason she couldn't explain.

"Do we know each other?" Ella wondered, trying to continue dancing but squinting at the darkness in the room. Dancing for someone I know! How humiliating!

The client finally stood and walked into the subtle light of the private room. Ella's steps faltered mid-dance as the enigmatic man's features emerged from the shroud of anonymity. Shock registered on her face, a momentary pause freezing her movements.

"Samuel?" The name escaped her lips in a breathless whisper full of disbelief. No! No! No! No!

The room crackled with electricity as their eyes met, a collision of emotions erupting from their shared past. Unresolved feelings simmered beneath the surface.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Samuel held her gaze, the unspoken words hanging between them like a veil of secrecy.

Their connection, forged in the innocence of youth, had weathered the passage of time, leaving a trail of unanswered questions and unspoken regrets.

"Ella," Samuel's voice broke the silence, a tender yet hesitant murmur that reverberated in the room. I have to leave!

The shock that had momentarily paralyzed Ella gave way to a whirlwind of emotions—anger, betrayal, and a longing for closure. Memories flooded her mind, a montage of moments they had shared and the pain that had driven them apart.

Their eyes locked in a silent dialogue, words unspoken yet echoing louder than any conversation. The confrontation hung in the air, each passing second laden with the weight of a past they couldn't escape, a future uncertain in the wake of this unforeseen reunion.

"You demanded a dance from me?" Ella asked accusatorily.

"Ella, no. That's not what I wanted. I wanted to talk to you. Please..." Samuel's voice was a prayer, his eyes reflecting the ache of regret as he reached out.

But Ella recoiled, a surge of hurt and resentment fueling her defiance. "Don't you 'please' me," she spat angrily. "You left. You left without a word, without looking back." And left me with nothing.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Samuel winced, his expression remorseful. "I know, and I'm sorry," he interjected, desperate.

"You're sorry?" Ella scoffed bitterly, her eyes blazing with a fire fueled by years of unanswered questions. "Saying sorry doesn't change anything, Samuel. It doesn't fix what happened. You think 'sorry' erases the years I spent trying to forget you?"

"You don't understand," Samuel's voice pleaded, his own frustration mirroring hers. "I never wanted to hurt you."

"But you did," Ella's words cut through the air, the weight of her emotions heavy upon her chest. "You did, and you never looked back. You didn't have the guts to tell me you were leaving."

Their words hung in the charged silence, a testament to the emotional turmoil that had lingered beneath the surface for years—a confrontation that only seemed to exacerbate the wounds they had both tried to bury.

"Give me a chance to explain," Samuel begged, but Ella shook her head.

"I can't just forgive and forget," Ella's voice quivered painfully. "You have no idea what it was like after you left." Get away from me. I can't do this.

"I know I hurt you," Samuel insisted. "I know I left you at the mercy of my mother. But please, give me a chance to make it right."

"You can't make the past right," she insisted. "Or everything I went through. What your family put me through can't be erased so easily, and how you just let them. 'She's just a cleaner. She isn't good for him,' they all said. And you couldn't stand up to them."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"I know, and I've lived with that regret all these years," Samuel stated. "But I'm back, and I want you. You're still beautiful. What if I told you I still have feelings for you and love you?"

Ella scoffed bitterly. The humiliation inflicted upon her by his family and the loneliness she endured resurfaced with a raw intensity that stung even after all these years.

"You weren't there," Ella's voice quivered with hurt. "I needed you, and you weren't there when I needed you the most. I can't afford to open my heart again only to be crushed under everything. This isn't just about me anymore."

"I know I was a coward before. I couldn't go against my family," Samuel started, not caring how many times he had to apologize but hesitated. "Wait. What do you mean 'not just about you?'" He reached out, a gesture of earnestness, but Ella stepped back, her heart guarded against the emotional tornado that threatened to engulf her.

"It doesn't matter. You're asking for something I can't give," Ella croaked. "Forgiveness won't erase what I went through. Love is not enough. It wasn't enough then, and it isn't enough now." Love should've been enough!

With those parting words, Ella walked away from the private room, not caring that Samuel was just as beautiful as he was in her memories. She had hoped to hear those words from him so many times.

Over the years, Ella had yearned for his return, hopeful to rekindle what they once had. But the harsh reality of life woke her up always, leaving her disappointed and sadder.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

So, she moved on, understanding that her life had to continue without him, for her sake… and for someone else. Her dream of Samuel's appearance wasn't as fairytale-like as she had hoped. It only left her more broken.

His words, feeble attempts at reconciliation, had only scratched the surface of the profound hurt he had inflicted upon her. Samuel didn't know the extent of her pain and what his family had forced him to walk away from.

Outside, Ella grappled with a whirlwind of emotions and decided to leave as her shift was done. On the way to her apartment, she stopped at the grocery store, hoping that Mr. Cooper wouldn't fire her for leaving just like that. Oh, who cares?

Ella arrived home, her steps heavy, showing her emotional fatigue. She carefully stashed away the food, each movement a mechanical ritual that offered little distraction from the whirlwind of thoughts swirling in her mind.

As she unpacked, her eyes fell upon a framed photograph stuck to the fridge—a slightly younger version of herself, smiling radiantly beside a young girl with lively, curious eyes. A pang of warmth and melancholy tugged at her heart as she gazed at the photograph.

"Sammy," she murmured softly, her voice tinged with a bittersweet affection. Her thoughts drifted to the young girl—the heart and soul of her existence—and to the years of struggling they had lived through. But I wouldn't change even a moment with her for anything in the world.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Ella leaned against a counter as she thought about her past colliding with her present. She pleaded to the skies that Samuel wouldn't disrupt their lives, although her heart wanted something else.

The sudden intrusion of a video call with an annoying ringtone shattered Ella's solitude. She answered, and the screen flashed with Mr. Cooper's stern visage. His voice, laced with accusation, cut through the air.

"Ella, what the hell did you do?" Mr. Cooper's harsh words made her cringe.

But confusion knitted Ella's brows as she scrambled to make sense of her boss's abruptness. "Mr. Cooper, I gave the client the dance and finished my shift. I don't understand—"

"You think you can lie to me? You think you can steal money from me by taking a client to your house?" Mr. Cooper demanded. What?

Ella's heart thudded against her chest, her mind racing to grasp the severity of the accusations. "I haven't done anything of the sort, Mr. Cooper. I—"

"Don't bother with denials," Mr. Cooper's interruption was forceful, his expression unyielding. "He left after you. You think you can make money on the side without my knowledge?"

"Mr. Cooper," Ella insisted. "Please, it's not like that." I would never bring someone home. I'm not a prostitute.

"You're fired! I don't care if I can use you for dancing and cleaning. I don't care that you're pretty!" Mr. Cooper spat. "I can get a million girls like you in this city. You're worthless!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

As the call ended, Ella was left alone, the accusations hanging in the air like an unshakable cloud. The stark reality of her sudden dismissal left her grappling with a sense of profound bewilderment. And his harsh words were salt to the wound that had been opened by Samuel's appearance.

Despite years of telling herself otherwise, Ella knew she was worthless and not good enough for him. Why did life have to remind her of that at every step?

The hollow echoes of the accusations still reverberated in the walls as a sudden knock interrupted Ella's self-deprecating thoughts. She hesitated, her heart pounding with uncertainty, before slowly approaching the door.

As she opened it, Samuel's figure stood before her. The raw emotions from their previous encounter surged within her, fueling an explosive mix of frustration and anger.

"What are you doing here? How do you know where I live?" Ella asked, unwilling to open the door further.

Samuel's gaze, laden with remorse, met hers. "Ella, please, let me in so we can talk. I want to explain," he begged.

"Explain?" Ella's laughter was bitter. "There's nothing left to explain, Samuel. We talked enough at a club. You think you can come to my house just like that? As if it wasn't bad enough that you bought me for a dance!" I can't believe him!

"Please! I didn't want the dance! It was only an excuse to talk to you!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"It doesn't matter. We talked and said everything there was to say. You walked away without a word," she continued, not letting him inside. "You left me to pick up the pieces. It's time for you to leave again and never come back!"

"I know I made a mistake," Samuel insisted, desperation lacing his words.

"A mistake?" Ella accused him. "You think all those years were just a mistake?"

"Please, just let me inside so we can talk properly," Samuel pleaded again, and Ella finally gave up, pacing away from the door to clear her head.

"I needed you," Ella's voice wavered, a blend of sorrow and reproach. "And you weren't there when I needed you the most. I was vulnerable, especially when the vultures in your family came upon me. I thought they would eat me up. I already said this. I don't know what else you think you're going to explain."

"Ella, I know I was a coward in front of my family," Samuel started. "But I realized that almost immediately. But when I looked for you literally the next day, you were gone! You disappeared without a trace, and I thought you didn't want anything to do with me."

I wanted everything with you, idiot!

"I had to disappear!" Ella snapped. "I had to. Your mother said, 'Take this,' and gave me some money. 'Get rid of that baby, or else!' You don't understand because you come from a powerful family, but I come from nothing. I didn't know what 'or else' meant to her. I had to leave!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"I didn't know she did that," Samuel revealed. "I didn't know how horribly she treated you until a month ago, right before Nana died. She told me the truth. And all these years that I've been trying to forget about you and forget about what we almost had surfaced. I knew I had to find you."

"Your grandmother died?" Ella asked, pausing her anger to mourn the old woman. She was the only one who never mistreated her, but she wasn't welcoming to Ella either. Still, losing a family member had to be tough on anyone.

"I'm sorry," she expressed sincerely.

"Thank you," Samuel replied and tried to get closer. "And here's the truth. I wanted that baby. So badly, darling. I'm sorry for not being there when you needed me the most. I'm sorry for what you had to do."

"It's too late," Ella shook her head.

"It's never too late to try again, to love again," he continued, getting closer and touching her neck sweetly. Ella was just human, unable to push his touch away. "Please, give me another chance. This time, I won't let you down."

Despite her better judgment, the room crackled with sexual tension. Years of longing were written on both their faces, but they were waiting for the other to make a move. The fragile moment shattered abruptly as a small voice echoed.

"Mommy? Where's my book?" Sammy's innocent inquiry pierced through the tense air, but her questions disappeared from her mind as her wide eyes fixed on the unfamiliar guest.

Oh, God. No. Ella's heart clenched in shock. "Sammy, darling," she murmured, pushing Samuel back.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Samuel's presence loomed in the room, his face a mask of astonishment. His gaze flickered between Ella and the young girl, recognition dawning in his eyes.

Sammy's innocent curiosity clashed with the charged emotions swirling between her mother and the stranger, her inquisitive nature unable to discern the underlying tension.

"Who is this, Mommy?" Sammy's voice bubbled with childlike curiosity, her eyes darting between Ella and Samuel.

Ella's attempts to deflect the situation faltered. Her daughter deserved honesty… or a semblance of it. "He's... he's just someone I used to know, sweetheart," she replied, her voice strained. "A friend from long ago."

Samuel pushed forward, closer to the girl. "Hello, there," he started. "What's your name?"

"Hi! My name is Samantha, but everyone calls me Sammy," the young girl revealed, shrugging. Ella closed her eyes when Samuel's gaze returned to her. He understood immediately—Samantha had been named in his honor. The cat's out of the bag, I guess.

Despite all the pain and humiliation, Ella still loved him and would always love him completely. Samuel looked back at the young girl—knowing she was his daughter, the one Ella was supposed to abort as per his mother's request. But she didn't because Sammy was her whole word.

"My name is Sammy, too. Kinda," Samuel told her sweetly. "I'm Samuel. How old are you?"

"Tomorrow is my 10th birthday," Sammy replied happily. "But I bet you're not 10, right?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Samuel laughed, and in spite of herself, Ella did too.

"No, I'm much older, but it's still great to meet you," he continued.

Ella finally took a deep breath. "Honey, it's time for bed. Go get ready, and I'll find your book later," she requested gently.

"Okay!" Sammy chirped. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Sammy. Goodnight!"

Samuel whispered goodnight as the young girl skipped to her room. The momentary reprieve in the charged atmosphere was gone. Ella had to take charge before his power made her succumb.

"Samuel, it's time for you to leave," Ella stated firmly.

"She's my daughter?" Samuel asked, ignoring her demand.

"Yes." Duh.

"You didn't say anything, I believed… I thought you had…." he continued but couldn't say the words.

Ella straightened her back, ready to be even more firm with him. "I know. But don't give me that look. Am I supposed to feel sorry for you? I thought you wanted her gone, too, just like your family," she said, her firmness tinged with her pain. "But none of that matters now. It's over. Please leave."

"We haven't finished talking about this, about us," Samuel insisted. "This changes everything. She… I want to—"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"I don't care what you want," Ella snapped, frustrated. "This changes nothing!"

"Mommy!" Sammy called from her room. "My book! I can't go to sleep without my book!"

"I'll be right there, honey!" Ella said and faced Samuel. "Please, go."

Samuel nodded in silent resignation. With a heavy sigh, he turned to depart, but his eyes landed on a set of keys lying on a table near the entrance. He reached for them secretly and left.

Ella's chest tightened at his departure. Her internal struggle mirrored the storm raging within her. She wanted him back desperately, and yet forgiveness was impossible. So, she went to her daughter's room. Please don't ask me about him.

"Mommy, who was he?" Sammy wondered as they looked through her room for the book.

Ella swallowed hard and smiled. "No one, sweetheart. Just a visitor," she replied.

They finally found Sammy's favorite book, which had fallen behind her desk, and settled for the night. Ella read to her daughter and fell asleep on her bed. Her dreams were by the day's events, Samuel's beautiful face, and the memories of the harsh past. But was there hope in that all that pain?

The morning light filtered through the curtains, casting a soft glow across the room as Ella stirred from her slumber. A sense of unease lingered from the previous night's tumultuous events, a restless night plagued by the specters of the past.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Yawning, Ella shuffled into the living room, the remnants of sleep still clouding her senses. Her breath hitched at the unexpected sight that greeted her—a tableau that defied the confines of her comprehension.

Samuel and Sammy, adorned with colorful party hats and a cake decorated with candles ablaze, marked a celebration that Ella hadn't anticipated. The air crackled with an odd combination of surprise and outrage, a palpable silence punctuated only by the flickering candlelight.

"Surprise, Mommy!" Sammy's gleeful voice filled the room, her eyes sparkling with excitement as she noticed Ella's presence.

Ella's heart raced, her gaze flickering between Samuel and her daughter. "What... what's going on?" Her words came out in a bewildered whisper. How dare he?

Samuel's expression was a mirror of uncertainty, a silent acknowledgment of the unexpected encounter. "It's Sammy's birthday," he explained, shrugging apologetically.

Ella struggled to comprehend the surreal scene that unfolded before her—a celebration orchestrated by Samuel, a man whose sudden reappearance had brought turmoil into their lives.

"I know it's her birthday," Ella said tightly. "I meant, what's going on here? Why are you here so early?"

Sammy's laughter rang through the room as she bounded toward her mother. "Mr. Sammy planned it all! Isn't it amazing?" Her innocent enthusiasm contrasted starkly with Ella's bewilderment. "I woke up, and everything was already here!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"Is that right?" Ella commented, trying to process the situation. She couldn't believe the gall of Samuel to come back so soon and try to join in Sammy's birthday celebration. But she couldn't say much. Her daughter was too excited. I can't ruin her happiness.

"I thought it'd be nice to celebrate together," Samuel's words carried an undertone of hopefulness, his gaze seeking understanding from Ella.

"Mommy, come sit," Sammy said. "You have to wear this hat today! Just like Mr. Sammy."

Ella nodded and sat, smiling as her daughter adjusted the cardboard party hat atop her head. The 10-year-old clapped and sat.

"Well, we should probably sing and cut the cake," Samuel said questioningly.

"Sure," Ella nodded, sighing.

They both broke into a chorus of happy birthday, and Sammy looked happier with each word. The girl closed her eyes tightly and blew her candles, jumping as the fire extinguished.

"What did you wish for?" Samuel asked. Oh, Sammy never wants much. She's the best.

"Mr. Sammy! I can't tell you that," the young girl shook her head.

"Why?" Samuel asked, chuckling.

"Wishes don't come true if you go telling people," Sammy said as if it were a given.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"What did you wish for last year?" he insisted.

"Hmmm," the girl thought, pursing her lips. "I wished for a day at the aquarium."

"Did you go?"

"Yes!" Sammy smiled. "It was the best day ever! Mom bought some fish so I could feed the mantas!"

"That's so cool!" Samuel said longingly.

"Mom, can we eat this cake for breakfast?" Sammy wondered.

"Sure," Ella nodded, unable to say no today in any way.

"Although, it's a little sad," Sammy said, pursing her lips.

"What's sad?" Samuel asked, unsure.

"The cake you got me is so pretty, Mr. Sammy," the girl explained. "It's sad to cut it."

Ella chuckled, the sound lifting the last of the tension in the room. "Cakes are meant for eating, but let me take a picture before we cut it so you can always remember it." She grabbed her camera and had Sammy posing in several ways.

Ella's eyes teared up when her daughter insisted on taking a shot with Samuel, although she tried to hide them.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"Let's take a selfie," Sammy said. "All three of us!"

"Sure," Ella sighed and sat next to them—her girl in the middle. Her hands trembled at the image her phone showed. It was her dream—all of them together like a real family. All I ever wanted.

Once the picture session was over, Ella cut the cake for all of them, and they ate with gusto. Sammy talked Samuel's ear off while chewing, and he didn't seem to mind at all. But once they were all stuffed, Ella decided to do something.

"Sammy, honey," Ella started. "If you go to my room, you'll find another present."

"Really?" the bubbly girl said, jumping from her seat and running off.

Samuel interjected before Ella could say anything. "I understand you're upset," his voice held a note of regret. "I know it was wrong to come like this and surprise you so unexpectedly, but I couldn't resist. Sammy deserves a father, Ella."

His words hung in the air, laden with a plea for reconciliation, a yearning to be part of their daughter's life. She does. But more importantly, I want that for her, too. So much.

"I know she does," Ella said, the emotions surfacing again. "This moment is what I've been dreaming of forever. But you can't do things like this without telling me. I don't know when you'll decide to lea—"

"Leave?" Samuel interrupted. "I'm not leaving. Ever. Ella, our daughter is ten, and this is the first birthday I have spent with her. I missed out on everything."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Although Ella hadn't felt sorry before, she felt it then. "I know. I'm so—"

"No, that's not what I meant," Samuel stopped her again. "I'm not accusing you. I'm accusing me. My family. My life. My background and my stupidity! I missed it all because I didn't want to rock the boat. I didn't want to face the truth. But now, it's time to make things right. Completely right."

"Samuel, please," Ella's voice trembled. "Don't promise what you can't give. This is not just about me."

"I know that. I finally understand what you said yesterday," Samuel said, rising from his chair and getting close to Ella. "But I promise you. This time is different. It's different because she's in the picture. It's different because I've changed, too. I know what matters now." Do you? Really?

Ella wanted to believe him, but it was hard. The conflicting emotions swirled within her heart, a fierce determination to shield her daughter from the unsettling truth of their past, entangled with the tumultuous desire to protect herself from the resurfacing pain.

Sammy's innocent voice echoed through the room, interrupting their emotional moment. "Mom! Thank you for the gift!" she chirped, running back to the table.

"What is it?" Samuel wondered, injecting excitement into his voice.

"It's a coloring book," Sammy revealed. "Do you want to color with me, Mr. Sammy?"

"Of course," he replied. "But only if it's alright with your mom."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Sammy's wide eyes turned to Ella, who could only nod. That face was hard to resist.

Samuel's expression lit up gratefully. He joined Sammy at the table, the rustle of coloring pages and the chatter of shared moments filling the air.

"Oh, unicorns," Samuel said. "I like these. But how should I color them?"

Sammy gave him directions, and the vision of them laughing together tugged at Ella's heart. "Sammy, honey," she began. "I have another gift for you." It's time to tell her the truth. I hope I don't regret this.

Sammy's innocent gaze shifted from her coloring page to her mother, curiosity gleaming in her eyes. "What is it, Mommy?"

Ella's heart raced as she grappled with conflicting emotions, the chasm between protecting her daughter and unraveling the truth of their shared past widening with each passing moment.

"Samuel," Ella's voice faltered, her breath catching in her throat, "he's not just a friend. He's... he's your father."

A hushed silence enveloped the room, the weight of Ella's revelation hanging heavily in the air. Sammy's innocent expression morphed into confusion and surprise, her eyes darting between her mother and Samuel.

"Really? My Daddy?" Sammy's voice held a note of disbelief.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

Samuel's gaze met Ella's, a silent acknowledgment of the pivotal moment they had entered. His expression was unsure but infinitely thankful. You're welcome.

Ella's heart constricted as she witnessed the tumultuous emotions flicker across Sammy's face—an innocent child confronted with the complexities of her reality.

The little girl jumped into her father's arms from her chair, and they both held on tightly.

Sammy pulled back for a second. "Why did you come only now?" the girl wondered. "I've waited a long time."

"I know, baby," Samuel said, his own unshed tears threatening to fall. "But I'm here now, and I'm not leaving. Ever."

The little girl returned to his arms, and Ella saw her back moving with her tears. Her resolve crumbled beneath the weight of her emotions, her sobs echoing through the room—a poignant release of the turmoil that had long plagued within her.

"Mommy..." Sammy said, moving from her father's arms into her mother's. "This is the best gift ever." Oh, God. It's a gift for me, too, my darling.

The words only made Ella weep more, as she felt guilty for depriving her daughter of a chance to know her father. Samuel rushed to their side. He enveloped them in a tender embrace, a silent reassurance of support, and shared remorse for the pain they had endured.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

For illustration purposes only | Source: Youtube/LOVEBUSTER

"I'm so sorry," Samuel's voice was a whisper, his own tears mingling with Ella's, a mutual acknowledgment of past mistakes and the irrevocable pain they had caused. "I'm sorry I wasn't here for you two before."

Ella clung to Samuel and Sammy, her sobs eventually giving way to a shared catharsis—a release of pent-up emotions that had long held them captive.

Ella's mind cleared in the hush that followed their cathartic release, allowing room for introspection. She glanced at Sammy, whose innocent gaze was confused and excited. She turned to Samuel, meeting his gaze, a silent acknowledgment passing between them.

Amidst the ache of their shared history, Ella found a newfound clarity—an understanding that transcended the tumultuous past. "Samuel," her voice trembled, carrying the weight of her revelation, "you are here now. You're a part of her, and she's a part of us." We have to be a family, no matter what happens with us.

But somehow, they both knew that they would get back together because their love had never ended.

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