Ever since Alvaro became Donna's son-in-law, he had been living with her family, performing household chores as servants did.
He served everyone and attended to his mother-in-law's needs, only to get abused by the entire family.
His wife, Carmela Douglas, had always been indifferent toward him. She didn't even let him lay a finger on her in the past five years. Although they shared the same bedroom, she would make him sleep on the floor.
Five long, daunting years had passed in the blink of an eye. Alvaro succumbed to their torture and eventually became numb.
He had thought of divorcing Carmela and fighting back. But he endured everything only for Carmela's grandfather, Emilio Douglas, who raised him. If not for him, Alvaro wouldn't be alive now.
He didn't know how else to repay his kindness.
Emilio had saved his life. Alvaro felt the injustice he felt was nothing compared to what Carmela's grandfather did for him.
Being accustomed to all the torture, he was shocked to hear Donna's kind words.
"You are my son-in-law; Carmela's husband. We are family." Donna's smile widened.
Alvaro grew emotional. "Okay. You wait for me at the table. I will come as soon as I finish."
"Okay, don't be late."
He quickly finished washing his clothes.
When Alvaro entered the living room, his mother-in-law, wife, and sister-in-law greeted him with a smile. They were already waiting at the table for him.
The delicious aroma of the mouthwatering dishes wafted in the air. Alvaro's eyes widened when he saw the enormous birthday cake and the bottles of red wine on the dining table.
His sister-in-law, Aaliyah Douglas, walked over and held his arm. "Why are you standing there? Come here and take a seat."
More than her kind words, the intimacy in her voice surprised him even more.
Carmela gently inserted a few candles into the cake and smiled at him. "Honey, make a wish and blow the candles."
Alvaro nodded unblinkingly. He couldn't fathom what had gotten into them. Carmela was gentle and kind to him for the first time in five years.
She had always been cold to Alvaro. She seldom looked him in the eye or smiled at him. His mere presence disgusted her. Besides, he cooked for the entire family but was never allowed to eat with them. However, everything seemed to have changed overnight.
Alvaro smiled to himself as he blew out the candles and made a wish.
"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you..."
The three women unanimously clapped their hands as they sang the birthday song.
Happiness and warmth filled the air.
"I hope this continues forever."
Alvaro felt a myriad of emotions when he saw the three women beaming at him. He wondered if all this was just a dream.
It looked like his hard days had finally come to an end. After five years of struggle and hard work, his wife and her family finally accepted him.
"Alvaro, come and eat. I've cooked all your favorite food."
"Let me pour you a glass of wine, honey."
"Happy birthday, Alvaro."
Alvaro happily hogged down the food. It was the best meal he had eaten in his lifetime.
The three women gave him a toast, served him food, and chatted with him like they were always fond of him. Alvaro was drowned in happiness that he didn't realize he was getting drunk. Eventually, he couldn't stay awake anymore. His eyes shut on their accord.
The next morning
The bright sunlight flooded through the window.
Alvaro woke up to the deafening screams of a girl.
He jerked up in shock and sat up. He rubbed his eyes and found himself lying on an unfamiliar bed.
Finally, his gaze fell on Aaliyah, who was looking at him with reproachful eyes, shaking with terror.
Just then, the bedroom door flew open.
"Alvaro! You jerk! How could you?"
Alvaro recoiled in shock.
Donna and Carmela angrily stormed into the room.
Alvaro opened his mouth to explain.
However, Donna slapped him in the face.
"Shut up! I don't want to listen to your stupid explanation. We celebrated your birthday out of sheer kindness, but you're a filthy monster. Look, we won't call the police considering our relation. But I can't stand the sight of you. Get out, and don't ever show your sorry face to me again!"
Alvaro's shoulders slumped. He knew they wouldn't believe him regardless of what he was to say.
Besides, what he did was blasphemous, even if it was just a drunken mistake.
He had no choice but to bear the consequences.
"I'm sorry, Aaliyah. I'm so sorry..."
Alvaro repeatedly apologized. However, Aaliyah continued to sob and refused to look at him. He had no choice but to put on his clothes and leave with a heavy heart.
"Wait a minute. Take this crap with you!"
Carmela took out her wedding ring and threw it on the floor.
Alvaro's face darkened.
The ring was a gift he got on his twentieth birthday from a mysterious man.
He received it via express delivery without the sender's name or address. The package only contained the ring along with a small note that read: "Happy birthday, King."
The strange gift surprised Alvaro. He thought someone had sent it to the wrong address, so he went to the courier company with the ring. However, the staff checked the records and said they neither received the package nor did any of their employees deliver it.
Alvaro tried every way to track down the sender but couldn't. Therefore, he kept the ring. After marrying Carmela, he gave it to her as a wedding ring because it was the most beautiful ring he had seen.
Later, Carmela took the ring to a jewelry store to find its worth. She learned it was a piece of scrap metal worth nothing and never wore it again.
Alvaro bent and picked up the ring. Then, he looked at the house for one last time, sighed, and left.
When Alvaro walked out of the house, he suddenly remembered he had forgotten to take his clothes. Just as he returned to the house, the burst of laughter from inside caught his attention.
"Wow! I can't believe it. We finally drove that loser away! It was amazing."
"Yeah. That moron thought we celebrated his birthday out of kindness and didn't realize we drugged him. He won't set foot into this house again."
"Yeah, thank God! He doesn't think he's good enough for me, does he? I wouldn't have married him if Grandpa didn't force me."
"It's okay, Carmela. We aren't going to see him again. Let's pop open a bottle of champagne and celebrate it."
Alvaro stopped dead in his tracks when he heard that.
The blood on his face drained. He clenched his fists, ignoring his nails sinking into his palm. He was seething with rage.
Suddenly, everything seemed to make sense.
The birthday party was a conspiracy.
The three women had conspired to get rid of him.
Alvaro felt stupid for falling for their trick. They had cooked a storm and celebrated his birthday only to kick him out of the house.
It was despicable.
Alvaro shook his head bitterly. He felt confronting those vicious people was pointless.
It wouldn't do him any good.
Therefore, he decided to leave.
The Douglas family had always treated him as a servant. Alvaro worked wholeheartedly without complaining once. He ignored all the humiliation just for Emilio.
But he couldn't stand it anymore.
Alvaro understood the entire family resented him. There was no point in staying there any longer.
He was exhausted.
A gust of cold wind whipped him.
Alvaro wrapped the coat around him and took a deep breath.
This winter was colder than the previous year.
A car darted toward Alvaro at lightning speed.
His eyes widened in horror.
Before he could react, the car knocked over him.
A piercing scream echoed across the silent road.
Blood splashed on the ring, and a strange, mysterious light flashed through the ring.