Chapter 4.

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A rose must remain with the sun and the rain or its lovely promise won't come true.

Ray Evans

Crayon city, even from a distance stood up in all it's magnificence.
The city, built up in the mountains was some sort of fortress, a fortress of fortitude for the rich and reclusive. It was also the home of the great Maracheli industries and the man that Ryan was there to see, Dominic Maracheli.

The fiery man was a force to be reckoned with and even now, as he settled back in his booked hotel room, Ryan felt a little apprehensive about meeting him. It was true that they had wronged him, true that because of them he had lost the one thing, no two things - people, as he quickly amended, who were very important to him. He had been a coward, that he could agree with but even so, he felt that it was quite a wrong thing to do to control a person or manipulate him in the way Katrina and his family had.

"It was all her fault!" he told himself, and even that one drunken night of stupidity, that too she had instigated it. He should have known that it was to trap him. To force herself into his life and because of that, he loathed her with every bone that was in his body.

" I'll show her..." he muttered to himself over a glass of dry scotch has his eyes went out and looked out into the greying landscape. It was going to rain soon and that meant that he would have to put his plans on hold, if only for then night and then, early in the morning, fresh and bright, he would confront the white witch and lay claim to his child growing in her belly.

A bitter thought, a bitter pill to take that is what it was and he masked it with yet another gulp of his scotch, burning it away as the drink went down his throat and into the empty stomach beneath. Another thought and his gaze went back to the now empty glass that was staring back at him, in his hands taunting him daring him to fill it up again. His grip tightened around its stem and as he brought it close, staring at it as if it was the very genesis of his every ill luck, his hand swung up then down, indecision marring his thoughts until finally he set the cup down with a heavy sigh.

"I really need to stop doing this." he reflected as he allowed his body to sag back into the Grey comforter, a wide piece of bedding that covered the entire expanse of the hotel's king size deluxe bed. It was luxurious as his mother had not spared any expenses in trying to appease him. If the decor had not been that obvious, the golden lamps and the silk bed sheets would have been prove enough of that very fact. This was a very costly room and even though he knew that he could afford it, a shattered glass against it textured grey interior would not work out for the advancement of his plans.

"I really need to stop drinking if I am going to have a shot at this." he thought as stood up to walk towards the Crayon city directory that wasvsitting heavily beside a corded telephone. For a moment, Ryan debated on whether to use it or not and if he did what exactly it was he would be looking for. His fingers lightly grazed its surface before brushing the book's cover aside, his hesitation showing in every slow and apprehensive move he made. A page, then another and soon he was looking at the listings on the first A page. His fingers lingered on the page, tracing, caressing the letters as they formed thoughts and those thoughts formed ideas that he put into actions.

"Of course, alcoholics anonymous!" the light bulb shone brightly in his mind, shedding light to his earlier hesitation and to the direction that he needed to go. He needed to prove that he was a worthy parent and if the words that he had once overheard his sister say were true, then he needed an entire arsenal of proof to do exactly that.

" If the white witch intends to divorce me, then I will make sure that she suffers for it. For wrecking my life and for attempting to do it again." he thought bitterly as he reflected upon the possibilities, the hurts and the pain that was threatening to rip his heart aside once again."She did all this to get back at me. Wasn't it enough that I didn't touch her, that I never touched her!" his fists slumped the phone directory before him as a wave of frustration threatened to drown him. Slowly his gaze lifted and his eyes regarded the still open bottle of scotch for a moment, then he shook his head no." I can't. I can't lose another one again." with that, he picked up his phone and jacket and walk out of his hotel room with a purpose in his mind.

Dark thoughts continued to cloud Ryan's mind even as he traipsed through the streets drenched in the rain that had finally let out. It bathed him, washed his soul, cleared his mind such that he was able to think to plot without the influence of alcohol clouding his judgment. Not that sound judgment was any concern to him but he never fooled himself to think for just one moment that this fight would be easy. With Katrina alone maybe, but he knew, he knew very well that she had the full backing of the entire Maracheli household behind her. Heck he suspected that some of very own family were supporting her too.

Hadn't they done that those five years ago? Driven him to the very edge of insanity with their preposterous list of demands? As if one could command their heart to love one and hate another? As if one could throw away all their dreams, their aspirations, the very thing that makes them tick to pursue another.

They had failed, terribly, for even though he married her, it was not fulfill any of their fancy. No, it had nothing to do with his love for her but a punishment, a punishment for the one who would elude him and a punishment who would claim his even when it was not theirs to take. It was to hurt Malisha, the woman who he had already wronged in so many other ways. The love that he was to ashamed to face and yet, it was to punish her to - Katrina, the genesis of all his ill fortune.

"Are you okay?" the voice startled him and he realized that he had stopped. His dark coat dripping, his blonde hair dark with wetness. The size of the mammoth of a building that was standing before was not lost on him and as he looked down from the steps leading to the great oak doors, his gaze settled on the little woman in heavy cloak and a transparent umbrella.

"Come in. We'll get you something to dry you off with." she said as she confidently gripped his hand and began to pull him in.

He should have stopped her but he didn't. It was so hard seeing form and her size but he was to weary. Too weary of the fight and her voice, the concerned tone in her voice was something he had never had the luxury of hearing before. It unnerved him, comforted him and made him weary at the same time. Somehow, this little stranger, had him hooked in her little hands and was pulling him to God knew where.

"You don't..." he started to say as he watched her put away her umbrella and the cloak that she had worn to meet him outside.

"Tut tut! None of that. All are welcome here." she said with that same concerned voice before turning to look at him straight in the eyes. Her eyes were brown, a warm brown that warmed his soul all the way to rain chilled bones she gave such a look, a look that could only be described as caring that made all the fight go out of him. "We will get you a dry change of clothes and a hot mug of?"

"Chocolate will be fine ma'am" he answered politely, surprising himself with how demure he sounded.

"Chocolate... and after that, when it is dry and no longer pouring, you can go on your merry way. Is that acceptable?"

"It is acceptable," he agreed and at which the little woman looked up at him to stare in a weird sort of way. After a while she shook her head as if from a daze and turned, beckoning him to follow her wherever she went.

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