The party went on smoothly. The big and gorgeous cake dazzled many when it made its appearance.
Everyone sang the birthday song in unison, and the elder Mr. Norton was grinning from ear to ear throughout.
Overall, it was an happy occasion for all except for Mark. When the party settled down for a meal, he watched Finnick and Vivian with hawk eyes throughout. It was as if he was trying to read into something.
Meanwhile, Ashley was assigned to a prominent seat at the table. She also got showered with affection from Mr. Norton, who personally fetched her food and asked if it suited her tastes. “Now that you’re pregnant, it’s important to watch your diet.”
Ever since it was announced that Ashley was pregnant, the elder Mr. Norton’s attitude towards her improved drastically.
After all, he was very protective of this future heir and grandchild. During the meal, Vivian’s thoughts drifted to Mark, who continued to observe them.
It was finally clear to her why Mark targeted Finnick back then, and why Finnick had to pretend to be handicapped. Finnick’s command of authority was simply too threatening for the man.
Now that Vivian knew Mark was the culprit, the sight of him deeply unnerved her.
The man had an air of wickedness, yet his mind was unreadable.
Following the meal came the time to offer presents.
Mark presented an expensive wristwatch to the elder Mr. Norton proudly. Its intricate design indicated skilled craftsmanship.
Everyone looked on with awe, praising Mark for his generous gift. What a good son, they thought.
But the elder Mr. Norton was barely impressed. After taking a glance, he expressed nothing more but a short word of thanks.
Finnick presented his gift next.
It was an elegant rosewood box with exquisite carvings – a prized artifact with hundreds of years of history.
Finnick knew that Mr. Norton was a fan of antiques. As such, he specially procured the present through an auction overseas. It was meant to be a New Year’s gift, but the sudden birthday occasion meant the gift made it to the old man’s hands earlier than planned.
The elder Mr. Norton was more than pleased. Admiring the gift, he beamed. “You really know the way to my heart. The price aside, the box’s elaborate design is one fit for royalty. This is a great gift.”
The disparity in Mr. Norton’s reactions aggrieved Mark. But being the master of disguise, none of his resentment showed through externally.
The next gift was from Fabian and Ashley.
Brimming with joy, Mr. Norton thanked them for their efforts. “But I must say, the biggest gift you’ve given me is this little life right here. Thank you for continuing the Norton family’s bloodline.” He eagerly gestured toward Ashley’s belly.
His words unknowingly accelerated Ashley’s heartbeat.
Overall, everyone offered lavish gifts thus far.
Vivian could not help but feel ashamed of her own present. It was insignificantly inferior as compared to all the other gifts.
Out of nowhere, she felt Finnick’s hand on her. She did not realize when the man had moved beside her. His palm was colder than expected.
But she shrugged it off out of spite.
“Vivian, I look forward to your gift. What do you have for me?” The elder Mr. Norton enquired.
Vivian pursed her lips nervously. There was no wiggling out of this situation – she could only gather her mental fortitude and present the gift. Oh well, I’m already used to snide remarks and judgmental stares anyway.
A wave of disbelief from the onlookers followed after the gift box was opened.
“The great Mrs. Norton of the Finnor Group is offering such a pathetic gift?” Such was the general sentiment amongst the crowd.
“Oh? A massager?” The elder Mr. Norton took the gift from her.
“Y-Yes, Grandpa. I know that your body aches sometimes, so I hope this will alleviate some of your pain,” Vivian explained hesitantly.
Her voice was soft and lacked confidence.
After all, she genuinely admitted that her gift was far too inferior as compared to the others.
A wave of laughter echoed about the room upon her explanation. The crowd evidently concurred with her sentiments.
Comments began to emerge. “Don’t mind me saying this, Mrs. Norton, but… A massager? Don’t you think that’s way too lowly for such a grand occasion?”
“I mean… Considering her social standing, this sort of gift isn’t that surprising,” came another remark.