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When Beck suggested a check to test Izabella, she pondered for a moment before agreeing to go with him.

Sitting on the side, Wendy, a bystander, pretended not to care, but inwardly, she was as sour as vinegar, wishing Izabella would take that five million and leave her brother. But she knew Izabella wasn't like that. Her pride wouldn't stop at a measly five million.

What happened next, however, took Wendy completely by surprise. She hadn't expected Izabella to be the executive director of the Maple Group, a huge secret identity, and to be willing to give the whole company away for Casey.

She felt like a clown sitting under an apple tree, as if she had swallowed a dozen sour apples.

Even though her brother was handsome, had a good physique, could cook, was a great actor, was gentle, and could make money, none of it seemed enough for Izabella. To Wendy, Izabella was like a fairy. How could she date a mere mortal?

Wendy fumed as she got dressed, her bed piled high with discarded clothes. After much deliberation, she settled on a sky-blue dress.

She opened her door to find the maid tidying the room. She approached her and asked, "Gina, does this dress look good on me?"

The maid nodded as she assessed Wendy's outfit. "Yes, you look beautiful in anything, Wendy. This blue dress especially complements your fair complexion." Flattered, Wendy twirled in her dress. "Really?"

"Really," Gina confirmed. "Are you dressing up for a date?"

"Hardly," Wendy replied. "This is much more important than a date. I'll wear this dress tonight, and I need to put on some makeup."

Wendy returned to her room to get ready. The woman in the mirror was fair and beautiful, with sparkling eyes and long, curled lashes that added to her allure.

She applied her lipstick, fuming over the injustice of it all. Why should her brother get Izabella? He was just an old man, after all. Wendy was as beautiful as Casey, if not more so. She was his sister, after all. She plotted to get closer to Izabella, making her shiver from miles away.

When Casey noticed Izabella's slight shiver, he immediately turned the heater up a few degrees.

"Are you cold?" he asked, concerned. "How about now?"

"I'm fine now, thank you."

"Bella, my father just called. He wants you to have dinner with the Dempsey family. Judging from his tone, he might want to apologize to you. If you have something else going on or you don't want to go, I can decline."

Izabella set her cup down, perplexed. "Apologize for what?"

"Remember last Christmas when he tried to humiliate you with money?"

"That was a misunderstanding, and it's all in the past. Besides, it's not right to make an elder apologize."

"Why not?" Casey retorted, "If he did something wrong, he should apologize. Are we supposed to indulge him? My mother once made him kneel on a washboard, but I still think that wasn't enough."

Izabella had heard this washboard story from Casey more than once, and every time she heard it, she couldn't help but laugh.

"Then," Casey hesitated before asking, "will you come home with me today?"

Izabella nodded. "Yes, I'll go with you."

Casey's eyes twinkled as he beamed. "My parents are in R City, we can drive there after you're done with work."

Izabella looked at her watch. It was three o'clock. "How long will it take to get there?"

"If there's no traffic, it'll take about an hour and a half."

"Then I'll finish these documents and we can leave. We don't want to get stuck in rush hour."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Casey didn't want Izabella to overwork herself. She was juggling too many roles - executive director of the Maple Group, actress, and even overseeing post-production on a movie.

Casey didn't know how Izabella managed it all.

When Izabella heard Casey's offer to help, she couldn't think of anything he could do. But seeing his concerned expression, she handed him some non-critical documents. "You can go over these for me and sign them if everything's okay."

"Okay." Casey set to work on the papers.

By the time Izabella was finished, it was already four o'clock. She called her secretary in to clean up her desk.

Casey naturally handed Izabella her mask and sunglasses, adjusting her hair and making sure everything was perfect. Then, holding her bag in one hand and her hand in the other, he asked, "Aren't you tired from working so much every day?"

"Tired?" Izabella echoed, also questioning herself. She seemed to have gotten used to it. She didn't feel tired, but rather fulfilled. Watching her business grow and her company expand was rewarding.

In just one year, the Maple Group had risen in the national rankings, and its executive director had made it to the top of the rich list.

"I'm used to it," Izabella finally answered. "I love this life, Casey. This is who I truly am." She turned to look at him, her expression serious.

Casey knew about Izabella's past. She was the former richest woman in R City, wealthier than all the other women combined.

Old Mr. Salotti was on his deathbed, the Salotti Group on the brink of collapse. It was Izabella who stepped up, taking over the reins and miraculously pulling the company back from the edge of the cliff in just three months.

In those days, Izabella was untouchable in R City, outshining even the men.novelbin

But in the end, she was undone by a man. Her star fell, her life tragically cut short at the tender age of twenty-seven.

Brett was the towering skyscraper that brought down her world. With just a flick of his wrist, her world crumbled.

After Izabella's death, there was never another woman in R City who could match her brilliance.

Until Izabella reappeared. When people saw her, memories came flooding back. There was a woman back then, also named Izabella, who lived life just as vibrantly.

Many people started to reminisce about the old Izabella, thinking about her.

Casey ruffled her hair gently, "I like who you are now. But don't overwork yourself."

Izabella shook her head. She could handle this pressure. Once upon a time, she barely slept for a few hours a week, managing the Salotti family business that was worth billions.

When she arrived at the Dempsey's, Bunny Dempsey had already instructed the household to prepare for her arrival.

As soon as Izabella stepped into the house, she could smell the aroma wafting from the kitchen.

This was her fourth time meeting Bunny, but her first time visiting the Dempsey's. Yet, she didn't feel like a stranger at all. She smoothly changed into house slippers and made herself at home.

Bunny's expression was always so

gentle. Whenever Izabella saw her, she would think of her own mother If her mother was still alive, she would probably be just as gentle as Bunny, always checking on her health and whether she was

overworking or being bullied at work.

She would also gently pat Izabella's back and shoulder, the warmth of her palm comforting.

Upon hearing the commotion downstairs, Wendy scampered down the stairs in her dress. She had a dozen different scenarios planned out in her head, all of them involving an enthusiastic embrace as soon as she saw Izabella.

But when she did see Izabella, she froze, standing off to the side, nervously twirling her hair and blushing.

Izabella saw Wendy in the corner and walked over with a bag in hand. "Hey, Wendy."

"Hmm, what is it?" Wendy's tone was cold, and she didn't even glance at Izabella.

Every time Izabella saw Wendy, she was like this. Cold, giving one-word answers, or just sitting in a corner playing with her phone and ignoring everyone else. Sometimes Izabella wondered, did Wendy not like her?

But last time, Wendy had asked to take a picture with her and even gave her a chance.

She thought their relationship would have improved, but why didn't it seem to have changed at all today?

Izabella handed over the gift bag she was holding. "This is a gift I brought for you. I didn't know what to get you, but I heard from your brother that you might like this."

Wendy hesitated for a moment before reaching out to take the bag, murmuring a quiet, "Thank you."

"I hope you like it."

"I really like it." As long as it was a gift from Izabella, even if it were a pile of dung, she would love it!

Wendy wanted to have a one-on-one chat with Izabella, but Bunny came and whisked Izabella away. With a pout, Wendy took the gift upstairs to unwrap it. It was a limited edition dress from her favorite luxury brand.

She had her eye on this dress for a while and had planned to have someone buy it for her, but the limited edition sold out, and she couldn't get her hands on it. She didn't expect Izabella to have bought it for

her.

The white dress was of excellent quality, even more beautiful than she had imagined. She decided to wear this new dress to impress Izabella tomorrow.

Downstairs, Izabella asked Casey in a whisper, "Is Wendy usually introverted?"

"Introverted? How could she be?" Casey was taken aback, thinking about the time Wendy asked for his autograph to sell, and how she had even suggested taking a naked picture of him. ᴄomeɴoᴠel.ᴄom

"Does she not like me?"

"Who in this world would not like you?" This question was even more shocking than the last.

The surprise on Casey's face was genuine; even his pupils were shaking.

Izabella laughed and reminded him, "Have you forgotten about all those haters online?"

"Those people have problems with their eyes and brains, don't they? They can't even distinguish right from wrong, they are just stupid and shamelessly rude."

Casey was a master at praising Izabella. He could do it with his eyes closed. When he heard others praise her, he would look even more proud, as if the praises were for him.

"Don't worry, my sister is fine. Didn't she suddenly hug you last time?" The thought of that made him shudder.

Beck also showed up at this point. Izabella personally handed him the gift she brought, and politely called him "Mr. Beck."

"I heard from Casey that you like to drink tea. I chose this one, but I don't know if you'll like it."

Beck looked at the gift box. This tea was not cheap. His good-for-nothing son had never given him such a valuable gift. Thinking of these annoying things, he couldn't help but give Casey a sideways glance.

In the end, it was Casey who was marrying up.

"Why are you bringing coffee? Just

come and sit down, make yourself at home." Beck said, but his hand was already on the gift box, admiring it with satisfaction. "I watched the movie you recently starred in. You were excellent. I watched it five times. But that ghost face was a bit scary, gave me nightmares for several nights. By the way, Izabella,

do you play chess?"

"I know a little. I used to play with my grandfather."

"That's perfect. I just got a new chessboard today. It's still a while before dinner, so why don't you play a few games with me?"

Izabella glanced at Casey next to her and nodded. "Sure."

As dusk fell, the city was bathed in a dim glow. Beck had the chessboard set up on the balcony of the living room. Playing chess revealed one's character. It was only then that Beck realized how much he had misunderstood Izabella before.

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