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For tonight's family dinner, Adrian decided to invite their other relatives too.

Their uncles and aunts from their father's side as well as their nephews and nieces - everyone gathered for the special occasion. It's one big reunion, and for some time, it's been an enjoyable event. Everyone dines and drinks together, tells about how they have been doing lately, and takes pleasure in one another's company - forming what seems to be a picture perfect family.

At least on the surface, that's what they are.

Excusing himself in the meantime, Adrian left his guests to take a breather out at the balcony. The place is getting stuffier, and the tightening in his chest is getting tenser. So far, everything is going according to his plan. By inviting the others and avoiding conversations as much as possible, he was also able to silence the raging storm that was his mother.

Watching Gertrude shout at his maids and menservants already had Adrian nearing the limit of his patience - what more if he got to talk with her and hear another lecture of how much Cassidy influenced him.

"Oh, Cassidy... It turned out to be a lot more difficult without you around..." Adrian grumbled to himself with an exhausted expression, heaving a sigh and lowering his head.

"I badly want to see you. I really miss you."

As he thinks about his wife, he takes a moment to mope around for the millionth time and get lost in his thoughts, looking like a stray soul. He believes that she is fighting her own battle somewhere out there, and though he desperately wants to be by her side as she does so, he knows for himself that he has his own battle here.

It is just as Irish said - he should quit sulking and be a real man for once.

"Adrian," Edward suddenly called from behind, approaching the host of the banquet.

"Oh, Edward..." Adrian blurted out and turned around - only to find that he was not alone.

"And you two."

"G-Good evening..." Olivia greeted a bit timidly, somewhat dismayed at how he scowled and glared as soon as he saw her and her sister.

"Why aren't you joining us, Adrian? You barely talked with the others, and you were completely ignoring our mother. You're acting strange - like you're keeping your distance or something."

"Oh, am I now?"

She stiffens a little when he sharpens and narrows his gaze at her. It seems like he is never going to get over his resentment towards them, which she understands. Still, she wants to let him know that they will always be there for him.

"What's with this uncalled-for celebration, little brother? You sure you're throwing a welcome party here for Grandfather - not a pity party for yourself?" Irish chimed in from beside her sister, still not finished with provoking him like last time.

"If you don't want to get thrown out instead, you better stop shooting your mouth off like that," Adrian muttered with a calm yet icy-cold tone.

"Sorry. Just wanna know if you're still that same Ad

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