When a young man learned about his father’s demise, he rushed to attend the funeral, where his stepfamily wasn’t expecting him. While everyone was silent, the late man’s dog began barking at the coffin, revealing a secret the boy’s stepmother had kept for seven years.
“I want you to learn everything from scratch, Lias,” Brandon told his son at breakfast. “I know I can give you anything you want because of the fortune I have amassed, but I don’t want to spoil you.”
After Brandon’s wife passed away last year, he had to raise his son alone. All his life, he had worked to build his IT company, which soon became one of the best in town. If he wished, he could allow Lias to live a luxurious lifestyle without worrying about finances, but he wanted his son to work hard towards building his career. Ultimately, Brandon wanted Lias to replace him as the head of his company.
“I understand what you expect from me, Dad,” Lias smiled. “I won’t let you down.”
A few days later, Brandon met a single mother, Susan, at a party. They instantly connected because they had sons the same age. “Richard loves hanging out with his friends, and I keep dragging him inside,” Susan chuckled. “Sometimes, it gets so annoying.”
“I can totally relate to that!” Brandon said. “My wife used to handle everything so well. I miss her when Lias troubles me too much.”
After their first meeting, Brandon realized he liked talking to Susan. He thought she understood him well and considered her his potential partner―someone who could fill the void his late wife had left.
During their next few meetings, Brandon expressed his feelings, telling Susan he would like to get to know her more. To his surprise, Susan also showed interest in him, and they soon started dating. Brandon would meet her after work every day and would sometimes invite her to his place for dinner. He even introduced her to Lias.
However, Lias did not like his father’s choice. He told Brandon to rethink his decision because he felt Susan wasn’t sincere. He felt his father should take more time to get to know her before deciding, but Brandon did not consider his son’s advice.
Two weeks later, Lias learned something shocking when he returned home from college. Upon entering his house, he saw two extra pairs of shoes by the doorstep and was stunned to see Susan sitting in the living room wearing a silk robe―something she would wear at her own house.
Lias almost choked on his food upon hearing Susan’s words.
When he entered his room, he saw a boy his age sleeping on his bed. “Who are you?” Lias asked angrily. “Get out of my room!”
Before Richard could reply, Brandon heard the commotion and rushed to see what was happening. “Hey, hey!” he said, trying to take control of the situation. “Lias, meet your stepbrother, Richard. He’s Susan’s son.”
“My what?” Lias’ eyebrows arched, forming deep lines on his forehead. “I don’t want to have a stepbrother!”
“Calm down, please.” Brandon placed his arms on his son’s shoulders. “I asked Susan to move in with me, but you don’t have to worry. I’m getting the guest room furnished for Richard. He won’t sleep in your room tonight.”
Lias was disappointed after learning about his father’s decision. His strong gut feeling convinced him that Susan was not the right woman for his father, but he couldn’t bring himself to talk to Brandon until later that night when Susan made an announcement at the dinner table.
“Brandon and I are soon going to tie the knot!” her eyes glistened while she smiled. “We have decided to spend the rest of our lives together.”
Lias almost choked on his food upon hearing Susan’s words. He looked at his father with eyes wide open but was too shocked to say anything.
Later that night, Lias tried to express his concerns, but Brandon refused to talk. “You shouldn’t interfere in my life decisions, Lias,” Brandon said. “You must focus on your studies to pave your path to success.”
“Dad, please listen to―” Lias tried to talk to his father.
“I said I don’t want to talk about it,” Brandon interrupted before returning to his bedroom.
Feeling disappointed, Lias didn’t talk to his father about this topic again until Brandon’s birthday. Lias had saved money to gift his father a smartwatch, and he bought one before Brandon’s birthday, wrapped it, and gave it to him at the party.
“I have linked your watch to the cloud and named it ‘Family,’” Lias told his father. “My phone and watch are also connected to the same cloud.”
“That’s great, Lias!” Brandon exclaimed.
“If it’s a family cloud, you should add Richard and Susan too. They’re part of our family.”
Lias shook his head in disappointment. He didn’t want to share his father’s attention with Susan and Richard, but Brandon didn’t care. He was head over heels in love with Susan and couldn’t see anything past her beautiful appearance..
A few days later, Brandon came home with a key and gave it to Richard. “I bought a brand new hatchback for you, my son!” Brandon exclaimed while Lias looked at his father in shock. At that point, he couldn’t stop himself from interfering.
“That’s unfair, Dad!” Lias blurted out. “You always tell me to work hard for everything, yet you gifted Richard an expensive car? Why didn’t you tell him to work hard for it?”
Despite Lias’ protests, Brandon kept giving expensive gifts to Richard, hoping it would make his soon-to-be wife happy. He sought validation from Susan by gifting gadgets to her son, unaware that it would soon lead him to an undesirable place in life.
Meanwhile, Lias felt jealous of Richard and couldn’t understand why his father was spending so much on his girlfriend’s son. He felt a wave of fire within when he thought about his father’s unfair behavior.
Soon, Lias yelled at his father when he saw an expensive phone in Richard’s hand. Sitting at the dinner table with everyone, Lias lost his temper.
“Why can’t you see that this woman is after your money, Dad?” he shouted. “She’s using you! She doesn’t love you, Dad. She loves your money!”
“How dare you talk about her like that?” Brandon grumbled, rising from his seat. “Apologize to her and Richard. Right now!”
“I won’t, Dad!” Lias yelled. “I won’t!”
“I won’t let you live here if you don’t apologize!” Brandon replied. “Don’t make me do something you won’t like. Don’t make me cross all limits!”
Instead of apologizing, Lias kept arguing with his father until Brandon decided to kick him out. He ordered his son to pack his belongings and leave right away.
“I don’t want to see your face anymore!” Brandon yelled while pushing Lias out of the door. “Get lost!”
That was the last time Lias talked to his father. He left Brandon’s house that day, graduated college, and soon moved to another state for work. Meanwhile, Brandon married Susan and considered Richard as his son.
Lias wasn’t in touch with his father or Susan until he received an unexpected call seven years later.
“Hello, is this Brandon’s son, Lias?” an old lady on the other end asked.
“Yes, I’m Lias,” the young man replied while he tried to recognize the unknown voice.
“I’m Brandon’s neighbor, Sally,” the elderly lady said. “Remember me?”
“Oh, Sally! How are you?” Lias chuckled. “It feels so good to hear your voice after so long!”
“Lias, I wanted to tell you something important,” Sally’s voice deepened. “It’s not good news.”
“What happened? Is everything okay?” Lias felt his heart skip a beat.
“Your Dad…” Sally paused for a brief moment.
“Brandon passed away earlier this morning. I knew Susan didn’t tell you anything.”
“What?” Lias was shocked. He immediately hung up and rushed toward his father’s hometown. He hadn’t spoken to his father in seven years, and Lias wasn’t ready to learn about his demise. He also couldn’t understand why his stepmom did not inform him.
Susan had arranged a funeral at Brandon’s residence, where all his friends and family had gathered. She sat in a corner, weeping while covering her face until she saw Lias enter the house.
“What is he doing here? Who told him about Brandon?” she wondered while Lias looked at her with eyes wide open. He shook his head, trying to tell her how disappointed he was.
“Why didn’t you call me?” he whispered to his stepmother.
Instead of answering him, Susan kept crying because something kept bothering her deep inside. She didn’t want Lias to attend the funeral because she had a secret to keep. A secret that would change Lias’ life.
A few minutes later, Lias rose to his feet and saw Richard standing with Brandon’s pet dog. Lias walked towards the down, bent forward, and ruffled his hair. Suddenly, it broke free and rushed towards the coffin.
Hey, wait!” Richard said while Lias followed the dog. He was shocked to see his father’s furry friend continuously bark at the coffin. Soon, all guests had their eyes on the dog barking beside the coffin while Richard and Susan tried to pull him away.
“Wait!” Lias said. “Leave him. I want to see why he is barking. Maybe something inside the coffin is making him feel scared.”
As Lias extended his arm to open the coffin, Susan’s hand went to her face as she looked at him with eyes wide open. “No! No! No!” she whispered, but it was too late. Lias had already opened the coffin.
The devastated son was shocked to learn that his father’s body was missing. The coffin was empty, and Lias had no idea why. He shifted his gaze to his stepmother, his eyebrows furrowed, and he demanded an explanation.
“Where is Dad?” he yelled. “What is this all about? What’s going on?”
Meanwhile, the guests gasped and began whispering amongst themselves, discussing why Susan didn’t invite her stepson to the funeral.
“Hey, Lias!” Susan said nervously, her voice trembling. “I… I… I think you are overthinking. I mean…”
“Overthinking about what? Where is Dad? What’s going on?” Lias shouted at his stepmother.
Then, Lias slid his phone out of his pocket to call the police, but Susan held his arm and stopped him. “Please don’t call the cops. I’ll tell you what happened,” she said, looking at the ground.
After sending the guests back, Susan revealed her secret. “Look, Lias,” she said.
“Don’t get me wrong, but your father disappeared seven years ago. It happened a few months after you left.”
“What?” Lias felt his heart pound against his chest. He couldn’t believe Susan had hidden such a big thing from him for seven years. He was furious and began demanding answers.
“I launched a search operation with the local authorities, but they couldn’t find anything,” she lied. “I was just so sad all these years, Lias. I miss him so much.”
“Oh, please!” Lias snarled. “I know you wouldn’t have done everything you could to look for him. I know you very well!”
“Please believe me, Lias,” Susan held his hand. “I hosted the funeral because his absence made me believe he must have died by now. I’m sure he would have contacted me if he had been alive. You can ask the priests. They knew the coffin was empty.”
Lias sat on the sofa and covered his face with his hands. He knew he couldn’t trust his stepmother, so he went to his father’s office and looked for clues. Upon opening the drawers, he saw the box of the smartwatch he had gifted Brandon.
“This can help me trace Dad if he is still alive,” he said, sliding his phone out of his pocket to check the smartwatch’s location. The app showed his father’s last location was in the middle of a forest.
Lias immediately got behind the wheel and followed the location on the map. A few minutes later, he could see a familiar house before him. It was old, covered with wild vines, and it didn’t seem like someone lived there.
“Why didn’t you call me Dad?” Lias asked worriedly.
As Lias stepped inside the house, he realized it was the same place he lived when he was three. His parents moved there when Brandon started his company. The rooms reminded him of his childhood because he couldn’t recall everything.
While walking inside the house, he realized he knew all the routes. He knew where the kitchen was and which room had an attached bath. Upon entering the bedroom, he saw his father sitting on a chair. His hair had turned grey, his cheekbones protruded, and it seemed like he had lost much weight.
“Dad!” Lias exclaimed. “Where were you? What are you going here?”
Brandon was shocked to see his son standing there. “How did you find me? Are you alone?”
“Yes, Dad,” Lias replied. “I used your smartwatch to reach you. Remember I connected it to the family cloud?”
“Oh, thank God you came here alone, Lias!” Brandon hugged his son. “I didn’t want Susan or Richard to know I’m alive.”
“But why, Dad? Why are you hiding here?”
“It’s a long story, Lias,” Brandon took a deep breath. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry for not trusting your judgment earlier. You were right about Susan. She loved my money, not me.”
“Oh, Dad,” Lias shook his head. “What did she do?”
“A few months after you left, I suffered a big loss in my business. I lost a few big deals that could have given me millions,” Brandon recalled. “But when I told Susan about it, she didn’t care. I expected her to console me and be my strength during tough times, but all that worried her was if I had enough money to buy her a phone from the upcoming collection so she could show it off in her circle. She is so greedy!”
“Why didn’t you call me Dad?” Lias asked worriedly. “I could have helped you out.”
“I was too ashamed to contact you after what I did. I kicked you out for speaking the truth. I am a bad father.”
“Please don’t say that, Dad,” Lias held his father’s wrinkly hand. “You are the best Dad I could have asked for.”
After discussing what happened in the past seven years, Lias told his father he had a plan.
“I know how we can get rid of Susan. I have the perfect plan,” he said.
The next day, Lias went to his stepmother with a file and told her to sign the papers. “I discussed Dad’s will with the lawyer and learned that he wanted you to inherit everything,” he lied. “I want to give up my share because I know he didn’t love me. Please sign these documents so I can submit them in court.”
Susan couldn’t believe her ears. The thought of owning Brandon’s estate, company, and wealth made her so excited that she signed the documents without reading them and handed them back to Lias.
Brandon asked Susan to pack her belongings and promised her he would send the divorce papers in a few days. Soon, he moved back into his house with Lias, while Susan and Richard moved into a shelter.
During the next few months, Lias helped his father get his business back on track. Brandon shared all his learnings with his son, and they worked together to make their business profitable again.