Being Pursued By Ex-husband chapter 172

Penelope breathed her last in front of Sophia’s very eyes; one of her hands was on Sophia’s face and the other on her back.

Sophia crouched there, oblivious to the passing of time, until Kylie went over to her. “Sophia, come up. Your granny has departed.”

Only then did she move, but both her legs were numbed. When she raised her head, her eyes were red with grief.

Sophia was the one who had cared for Penelope in the last two days, and they had developed an inexplicable kinship between them. The Dawson family had been looking for Sophia and her mother for more than thirty years, and Penelope had hung on to her very last breath in the hope of seeing Sophia’s mother again.

Although Sophia had never had any contact with the Dawson family in all of her twenty-seven years, nevertheless, she felt a pang of sadness in her heart.

A nurse passing by witnessed the serene and affectionate scene of Sophia leaning against the knees of the deceased Penelope. She moved away quietly, not wishing to intrude on this private moment, and went off to inform the Dawson family of the news.

Penelope’s final days in the hospital were spent in the company of Sophia. Kylie had gone at midday and in the evening. On the other hand, Perrin went only once. He had a pretty good idea that Penelope would soon be leaving them for good.

Though Perrin was a man of fortitude, it was hard for him to witness the final departure of his wife, who had stood by him for the last fifty to sixty years.

The moment Kylie received the call from the hospital, she immediately informed her husband and son. All members of the Dawson family arrived at almost the same time.

Kylie and Perrin reached there first but stood at the far end of the corridor when they saw Sophia hunched over Penelope’s knees. The sight moved Kylie to tears.

Even the eyes of the normally aloof Lukas reddened when he was met with this touching scene upon entering.

They regained their composure as they reached them both at the end of the corridor and finally called out to Sophia.

The latter glanced up at Perrin and the rest. “Granny mumbled something just before she died, but I couldn’t hear it clearly.”

Kylie smiled through her red eyes and said, “It’s all right. Granny was probably showing her appreciation to you.”

What a perceptive girl she is. In only two days, she could tell that Mom was longing to hold her before her final breath.

Sophia nodded and tried to smile, but to no avail.

Kasper then pushed Penelope back to her room. The immediate Dawson family members numbered only a few. Perrin had a younger brother who passed away a few years ago. The remaining minor relatives were not very close to them, and they hardly ever met other than during festive occasions.

Nevertheless, they needed to be informed of the passing of Penelope in case they wished to pay their last respects. The end of March was usually very wet in Doveston, but funerals could still be delayed without much problem. However, Perrin wished to have everything done as soon as possible. “She had dragged on for so long, and now that she’d finally departed, I guess it’s time to close a chapter in all our lives. Contact the funeral home for cremation today, followed by the burial. May she rest in peace,” said Perrin.

They had long selected a beautiful site and prepared their funeral plots where they would lay side by side.

Perrin and his wife had weathered the ups and downs of life together. He was a man of few words, but he truly loved and respected his wife.

Kasper and Lukas naturally obeyed Perrin’s wishes. Both father and son quickly went about informing the other relatives about the funeral.

The relatives of the Dawson family were all assembled there when the hearse from the funeral home arrived just after three.

All of them knew about Penelope’s serious illness, but they did not know about Sophia.

The wife of Perrin’s second nephew had particularly sharp eyes. The moment she entered with her two daughters, she immediately saw Sophia. The three of them were very curious about her, but they were polite enough to observe the etiquette of that special occasion and asked no questions.

However, that did not stop them from constantly peering at her along the way.

Sophia could sense all that, but she did not bother herself with it.

She got into a car with Lukas. Through the car window, she could see the hearse that was carrying Penelope.

Sophia, Lukas, and a few others maintained a respectful silence for the forty-odd minutes it took for the cremation. The younger and more distant family members were chatting, with half the topics of their chatter devoted to Sophia.

Once the ashes were in the urn, it was normal practice for the eldest son or grandson to carry the urn to the graveside. On this occasion, Perrin said to Kasper, “Sophia was with your mother right to the end. In her last few remaining days, though she could hardly talk, I believe you could all see that she was very fond of Sophia. So, I suggest we let Sophia take her on her last journey.”

Kasper had no objection to that, but a relative standing by the side muttered something. Lukas swept his gaze over to her coldly, and she shut her mouth and dared not utter another word.

This was the third time that Sophia had to deal with the ashes of the dead. When her parents died, she single-handedly carried both urns and went with the hearse to the cemetery for their burial.

Not one member of the Sharp family had turned up for her parents’ funeral. Only Joshua and Katherine were there to lend support to her.

And now, she had to repeat the process. All that was left of a living person of over fifty kilograms was less than half a kilogram of ash.

Life could be heavy and ironically, light as well.

When the group finally filed out of the cemetery, it was already dark.

Perrin’s health had not been good, and his rheumatism would flare up on rainy days. Sophia and Lukas persuaded him to go back after having stood for more than an hour at the cemetery.

All the others had also left, leaving only Lukas and her at the cemetery.

In the last few days when Sophia was with Penelope, she learned a lot about Penelope’s life and deeds from Kylie. She was aggrieved at how fate had played havoc in the lives of mere mortals and regretted that she had not uncovered her mother’s secret earlier.

After her parents’ death, she hardly looked through the things that they had left behind. If she had gone through them carefully, she might have come across an emerald amulet commissioned by Penelope upon Rachel’s birth. According to Kylie, Penelope had paid the craftsman a lot of money to do it.

Sophia had seen that emerald amulet when she was very young but thought nothing of it then.

If she had chanced upon it in later years and seen the word “Dawson” carved on it, it would have given her pause for thought.

It was five years ago that Penelope found out that she had terminal lung cancer. If she had discovered it earlier, Sophia might still be able to spend time with her chatting or shopping.

Penelope’s one and only wish before her death was to hold Sophia in her arms. One could only imagine the love and affection that she had for this granddaughter, whom she had never met.

However, it was all too late.

“It’s getting dark. Let’s go home,” said Lukas.

Sophia turned round to look at him and asked, “Lukas, did granny often hug you?”

She had suddenly recalled an incident when she was three. Her mother had taken her back to Delilah’s house. She had imagined Delilah to be a kind and affable grandmother and had run up to her with her arms wide open to hug her. Instead, Delilah pushed her away, making her tumble to the ground.

Dazed and aching from her fall, she stared at the so-called grandmother. She was so shocked that she could not even cry.

She could not understand it then, and it was only now that she realized that it was not because she could not win her love but because that woman was never her grandmother.

“No, Grandma preferred girls,” replied Lukas.

After a while, he added, “She’s very fond of you, you know; that’s why she passed away with a smile. Don’t feel too sad about it.”

“Mmhm,” murmured Sophia as she looked away from him. “Let’s go, Lukas.”

How can I not be sad?

It was pitch-dark as Sophia and Lukas walked out of the cemetery. The streetlights were a fuzzy orange glow under the drizzling rain. Despite that, Sophia saw Alexander at once.

He was standing not far away, holding an umbrella under a tree that was just sprouting new leaves. She could sense his gaze, piercing through the raindrops and darkness, straight in her direction.

Sophia quickly averted her eyes. By then, Lukas had also seen him, and his brows furrowed as he asked, “Alexander?”

“Mmhm.”

Sophia did not wish to have anything to do with him. She was in no mood for that.

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