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Published at 13th of August 2019 05:49:40 PM
Chapter 274
December 25-28, 20XX (Wednesday- Saturday)
Various Places

Mei Lin never expected to visit France without a passport; it seemed blasphemous that she could stand on this country's soil . If people knew of her true heritage, she knew many scandals would spring from reporters' imagination .
Mei Lin did not expect to be on a private get on Christmas Day, traveling to a small town in France . She was glad that Yang was at home in Zhao Manor, resting from his fever . Mother Zhao had told her to do what she wished and that she would take care of her son in Mei Lin's stead .
Yang had also called Mei Lin and then Chang Min after . Mei Lin could not hear what her husband and older brother had talked about on the phone, but she knew it made Chang Min grin like an idiot even with the impending death of their great-grandfather .
When they arrived at the airport, Mei Lin, her brother, and father were then escorted by foreign guards to a van like they were some important hostages . Mei Lin slept throughout the journey of the car ride in her father's warm embrace . She felt the nervousness of her father as the trip came nearer to their destination . Jerome had begun to shake his leg, and his hands started to waver as he patted his daughter's shoulder for comfort . Sometimes, Mei Lin noticed how Jerome would unconsciously play with the ends of her hair . His hands, although shaking, was gentle with practiced ease as if he had done it before .
"Is great-grandfather sick?" Mei Lin asked after the van parked on the hospital grounds .
" . . . He is old . It's already a miracle that a soldier like him could last his age," Jerome answered as he helped Mei Lin down from the van . Dragging his daughter and carefully protecting her, Jerome left Chang Min behind .
Between a son and a daughter, a father will always choose the daughter to dote upon . Well, if your father is Jerome Bonaparte, then it is evident that he would pick the beautiful daughter who was the best combination of his wife and him than another younger, half Chinese version of himself . Chang Min had decided that his father was not just playing favorites but was also blatantly racist and sexist! Seeing them walk further from him, Chang Min could only hasten his pace .
Once they were inside the private hospital room, Chang Min stood beside Mei Lin like a guard dog . Jerome let go of Mei Lin's wrist to reach and hold the old man's hand . Mei Lin leaned her weight to her older brother's side as they both heard their father's starting to sob . Someone with grey hair on top of his head and long grey beard laid on the white hospital bed, who was hooked into large machinery on the side that showed his heart rate and whatnot .
The old man moved his hand away from the firm grip to flick Jerome's forehead . He weakly scolded even against the ventilator obstructing his words, "Why are you crying? Even in my deathbed, you greet me with tears? I told you many times when you were young that tears-" "Can only be shed if you see no tomorrow . " Jerome interrupted .

The corner of Commander Alfonsi's lips tilted up in amusement, "Cheeky brat . It seems that I can't hold on any longer . I have done my piece with Arcadia; there is only one left, and I am forced to leave that one to you . "
Jerome's eyes widen . Frantically, he took the hands of the man that raised him and demanded, "No! You haven't met my children properly yet! Look, this is Chang Min and Mei Lin . "
Hearing their names being called, the two siblings hurried near their father's side for their great-grandfather to see their faces . Chang Min had occasional talked through phone calls with his great-grandfather, so he knew him more than Mei Lin does .
Chang Min put Mei Lin's left hand on top the old man's weary hand as he said, "My baby sister is finally back with me, great-grandpa . Doesn't she look so much like Mom?"
Commander Alfonsi chuckled lowly, but because he was weak, it turned into coughs . Mei Lin tried to help stabilize his shoulders as it shook from every cough . After the series of loud coughs settled, the commander took one long look at Mei Lin .
"You looked so much like Mu Lan with an Alfonsi's coloring- brownish hair and light brown eyes . The shade of your eyes is the same with my late wife, and your hair color is almost identical to my daughter . " Commander Alfonsi said, his voice carried into their ears like a whisper .
"Is that why Papa liked playing with my hair when we were on our way here?" Mei Lin asked as she sat on the hospital bed beside, peering into her great-grandfather's eyes to allow him to look at her face . Usually, she was not this open with a stranger, but the commander's face was what she always knew as her mentor . Admittedly, Mei Lin had mixed emotions that could not be recognized nor wanted right now especially in this tough time where nothing was imminent but death .
Commander Alfonsi chuckled, "Yes, your father loved playing with his mother's long hair as a kid . My daughter would complain about the possibility of him turning gay . "
Chang Min snorted loudly at his father's expense . Jerome rolled his eyes at his son . The two of them watched as Mei Lin leaned down to place herself, carefully, beside the old man that was her oldest family who was the real owner of her supposed mentor's name and face . Giuseppe Alfonsi chuckled as Mei Lin cuddled her warm body to his body that was slowly turning cold .
"You are such a cuddle bug," The commander added, "I am sorry that I let your father take you away . If I had known that you would be thrown in the orphanage before I went inside the submarine for the mission, I would not have left . "
Mei Lin stayed silent, listening to the old man's gradually fading voice, "My properties will be shared between the three of you . I have pictures of your grandmother at my house, take all the things you want . It is rightfully yours . Chang Min, protect your sister . Jerome, do better as a father . Mei Lin, forgive us for our wrongs . "
Mei Lin did not realize the tears that slowly poured from the edges of her blurry eyes . Sniffling, she nodded, "There is nothing to forgive . I have forgotten all about it . "
"No! Grand-pere!" Jerome shouted as the heart monitor lessened and grew weaker after every succeeding beat .
"Let me rest, my boy . " The commander muttered, "I want to be with my wife again . "
Mei Lin stood up quickly as the doctor that stayed at the side started to perform emergency procedures again . Chang Min supported her, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder . Jerome was on their side watching the staff work .
Once the heart rate monitor stopped beeping, Jerome's knees buckled as he fell on the ground .
Nobody can defeat time, not even the great Commander Alfonsi .


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