Home > The Billionaire's Game ~ Kade (Billionaire's Obsession #4)(31)

The Billionaire's Game ~ Kade (Billionaire's Obsession #4)(31)
Author: J.S. Scott

Maddie nodded her thanks and replied, “I’ve heard of you, too. You’re a psychiatrist. A very good one. I’ve read a lot of your case studies and articles.”

“I am a doctor of psychiatry, a dream that never would have happened had it not been for Asha’s father,” she acknowledged in a fond voice. “How much do you know of your father’s work to help Indian female students, Asha?”

Flabbergasted, Asha gaped at her. “He was an engineer,” she answered, baffled by the woman’s words.

Devi nodded. “He was. But he was also an activist for the rights of Indian women. And your mother supported him in the cause. They never formed an official organization, but he helped a lot of female students here in the United States, including myself. Navin Paritala was one of the best men I’ve ever known. He gave very selflessly to Indian women here in various bad circumstances. His only request was that we all someday give the money back to his daughter for her education when the time came.” The woman rummaged in her purse, pulling an envelope from the contents. “None of us could ever locate you. You were whisked off to a foster family very quickly after your parents died, and we weren’t allowed to know where you were. All of us have looked for years, but we couldn’t locate you. When I saw the article about you being a half-sibling to Dr. Hudson and Mr. Hamilton, I had to find you. We owe you this.” Devi handed Asha the envelope with a smile. “There were ten of us, and we all kept in contact. It’s turned into a substantial sum.”

Asha looked at the envelope and opened it with trembling fingers. The check from the bank was over two hundred thousand dollars. Her head began to spin and her heart pounded. “This isn’t mine,” she denied, trying to hand the check back to Devi.

The woman pushed Asha’s hand away, refusing to take back the check. “It belonged to your father and mother. He helped all of us financially when we were in trouble. The money now belongs to you. Honestly, all of us are relieved we can finally pay back the debt. Your father gave us our freedom. That was much more valuable than money. When we all finished school, we all put the money in a joint account for you. It’s been there for many years. None of us needs the money, Asha. And it belongs to you.”

“What did Asha’s father and my mother do to help you, Dr. Robinson—if you don’t mind me asking?” Maddie asked quietly.

“I don’t mind at all,” Devi said, smiling broadly. “I fell in love with an American man, and my parents found out. They threatened to pull me out of school here and bring me back to India to marry someone from our caste, a man older than me and known to be cruel. Navin and Alice paid my school fees and helped me stay here. Dennis and I married and have two wonderful children, a daughter and a son, a mix of American and Indian just like Asha. Dennis is an architect.”

“Is that hard for your children, being mixed?” Asha asked tremulously, curious about others like her.

“No,” Devi answered fondly. “I teach them the good things about my country, but they’re ultimately very progressive Americans. Both of them plan on going to medical school,” she finished proudly. “Tell me how you were brought up after we lost track of you, Asha. Did you go to college? What do you do?”

Tears filled Asha’s eyes as she looked at Devi, now knowing that her father wouldn’t be very proud of her. She tried to speak, but failed.

Maddie, Mia, and Kara told Devi about Asha’s upbringing and her arranged marriage.

“Oh, Asha!” Devi exclaimed, her eyes filling with tears. “I’m so sorry. That’s not at all what your mother and father would have wanted. It seems so unfair that you ended up being treated that way after your own father gave us our freedom.” Devi’s voice was distressed, and she went to her knees beside Asha and gathered her into a hug. “Thank God you’re still very young and you broke your ties. You can find your own way with the money we were able to pay back.”

Asha cautiously hugged the woman back, asking quietly, “What do you think my father would have wanted for me?”

Devi slowly released Asha and returned to her seat as she said adamantly, “He would have wanted you to pursue the dream of your heart, whatever it may be. He wanted your happiness.” She looked at Maddie, adding, “He knew your mother had two other children from her first marriage that she had to give up. Navin and Alice looked for both you and Mr. Hamilton, but were never able to discover where you were. I don’t think they wanted to rip you away from adoptive parents, but they wanted to know you were okay. They were never able to find your records or get any information about you.”

“We survived. And we all finally found each other,” Maddie replied with a smile, sounding like that was all she wanted to tell the older woman. “So our mother did finally find a happy life with Asha’s father?”

Devi nodded. “For the time they had together…yes. Navin and Alice loved each other very much. I think loving Navin changed your mother quite profoundly. I remember Alice telling me that she didn’t like the woman she had been before, and Navin was her third marriage. I don’t think she ever wanted to give you and Max up, but she thought you’d have a better life without her. She said she couldn’t even afford to feed you and Max. I hope you can forgive her, Dr. Hudson. In the end, she was a good woman who helped her husband fight for women in bad circumstances. The love of a good man can change a woman, and I think in your mother’s case that’s exactly what happened.”

“I’m not sure she was ever really bad,” Maddie said sadly. “Just downtrodden. She and my father were poor, and I think she did what she needed to survive when my father died. I don’t know much about her second marriage, but I’m assuming it wasn’t good either. I’m glad she got lucky the third time, and I’m glad I got a sister out of the deal,” Maddie said with a soft smile at Asha.

“My father and mother wouldn’t be proud of me,” Asha whispered to herself. Discovering that her father had been so progressive, so adamant about women being treated equally, made her stomach sink in dismay at the realization that she had failed him. What would he have thought of her past, of the abuse she had put up with from Ravi, of the treatment she’d endured as what she thought she deserved from both her foster parents and her ex-husband? He’d have been so disappointed in her.

“He would have been very proud,” Devi replied sternly, having heard Asha’s low comment. “You survived, even in very bad circumstances. I know Navin would be sad that he hadn’t been there for you, but he would have been proud that you broke away and survived.”

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