The night he learned of my pregnancy, things changed. Now I was frightened.
He didn’t leave and didn’t demand I leave the master suite. We fell asleep, together. The next morning, I woke with William dressing for work. He looked in the mirror, fixing his tie.
Closing my eyes, I see the vision of him in the mirror and hear my voice as I ask,
“William, what does this mean?”
“You’re carrying my child. You carry this baby to full term, you will belong to us for life. From now on, you will have more freedom, more privileges. Remember who you are. You are Mrs. Stern, my wife and my children’s mother. You remember that and act as such then everything will be yours. Take your role serious because now, our son will count on you to do so.”
“I don’t know what that entails William.”
He turns from the mirror, looks at me so I’ll know he’s serious. “You will. Our child isn’t even born yet and people will want what he will have. It’s up to us to make sure they don’t get it.”
With that, he walked out the door, leaving me wondering what he was talking about. It didn’t take long before I found out though.
My pregnancy was wonderful. William followed up on his promise to give me more freedom. I was allowed to leave the mansion and shop. I always had a bodyguard with me until after my pregnancy, that was non-negotiable. He also wanted me to make connections with some of his associate’s wives. Here I was eighteen, acting like I was thirty. Doing luncheons was becoming a norm. He also quit flaunting women in front of me. I wasn’t stupid, I knew he hadn’t quit seeing other women but now he didn’t throw them in my face.
As my belly grew, I started feeling Gabriel move and the more my heart opened. I never knew it would be like that. I had no idea how easily I would cry at the idea of feeling love. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of my pregnancy. I was also terrified of giving birth to him. Not because of the pain but because I was scared to lose my connection with him. I was still scared to be a mother. I didn’t know how to be one. Would I still feel the same once he was here? Would he love me back? All I knew was there was never a better feeling than having this life inside of me.
It was during this time that I thought William and I had a chance at love. He had become more affectionate and loved showing me off to his friends. There was no family though. I asked him one time about his parents and he never answered me. I saw how agitated it made him though, so I never asked again. Many years later, I found out the truth.
Gabriel was born at home. William insisted. He was paranoid but refused to tell me why. Paul was called when my water broke and hours later, I gave birth to a perfect, healthy, baby boy. Perfection is the only word I can use for him. Pure perfection for the love that I felt. It was instant. Paul laid him on my chest and the second I looked at him, it was like I could finally breathe. Like my heart was exploding with emotion. Nothing can compare to the feeling you have when they put your baby in your arms for the first time. I felt it for all of them. But Gabriel was my first. He was the first one to ever own me because even though William thought he owned me, he didn’t. This little perfect baby, owned every inch of me. I gave him ownership freely and fully.
William came closer to me to see his son. I was proud and happy to show him but then he took Gabriel out my arms to hold him and my breath stopped. I started to panic internally. I tried not to show it, but I needed him to give me my son back. Even with him being only a few steps away from me it was like a boulder laying on my chest. It wasn’t until William walked back to give me Gabriel that I breathed again.
When Gabriel was a month-old, William invited all his associates and wives to visit our home to show off our son. This is where things clicked for me.
I walked around, holding Gabriel while all the women gawked at him, telling me how precious he was. Then William came and took him away from me to take a seat in the living room by the fireplace. I didn’t know it but William had Jeffery set a chair up like he was king. I walked in the room, watching all the men walk up to William and my son. One at a time, shaking William’s hand. The more I watched, the more I saw it. The hunger, the envy. That’s when Williams words came back to me.
“Take your role serious because now, our son will count on you to do so. Our child isn’t even born yet and people will want what he will have. It’s up to us to make sure they don’t get it.”
At that time, I was not fully aware of what William did or was to this state, but I saw the respect he was given and knew he was important. But, I also saw the jealousy.
My son was born now, and I finally understood what William meant. These men would take every opportunity offered to them to steal from my son. They would happily see him destroyed to gain whatever power he was to inherit. Right then and there, I vowed to never allow that to happen. He was mine, and he would be king in this state like his father looked, sitting in that chair.
That day was the day everything changed for me. I gave up any foolish thoughts that an eighteen-year-old would have. Even though I’d been called Catherine Stern for almost three years, this was the day I walked over to my husband and child. I stood by their side and truly became Catherine Stern. Let them come, I would kill any who tried.
Unfortunately, I never saw it coming from the man who made me. William saw the change in me. He had predicted it. His reason for allowing me more freedom was because he knew once my son was born there would never be freedom for me. He knew he could always use Gabriel to restrain me. He never needed a lock on a door again. He had his weapon of choice and he used it every chance he could.