Chapter 31 - Once Again
When Emma arrived at work, she cried out in bewilderment as soon as she saw my face. I had messaged everyone a day in advance, but it must have felt unreal until she saw me with her own two eyes. As usual, I was the first person to arrive, and I greeted every staff member who walked into the secretary’s office.
“Good work the past few days. Sorry for leaving so suddenly. I look forward to working with everyone once again.”
Every single one of them looked up at me with visible relief. It hadn’t even been 10 days, but I didn’t need to ask what had happened to know how everyone had been. However, there was one thing I had to hear about.
“The party was a complete mess,” Emma reported as if she had been waiting for this moment. “I didn’t know about this until later because I was talking to you when it happened, but… when you called that day, the call that Jane had answered must have been Miss Elisa’s. I never would have guessed because she had asked so calmly! Apparently, she asked about Mr. Keith’s schedule, so Jane just told her which party he was attending. Well, that must have been enough information for Miss Elisa. I heard that she and Miss Abigail got into a catfight.”
Emma chattered without so much as breathing and giggled.
“And I also heard that they were both absolutely destroyed by the end of the fight. When I finally received a call and ran to the scene, holy mother of God, Mr. Pittman was nowhere to be seen, but the two of them stood there with their hair like bird nests and scratches and bruises all over their bodies. It was a total disaster.
“Thank God the police didn’t show up. The host of the party would also be involved in the mess if word got out, so they probably wanted to keep things as quiet as possible… Though I still think that there’ll soon be an article about it. There were many witnesses, and it’s a scandal about Mr. Pittman no less. Oh, I wish I’d been there for the whole thing! When I arrived, everything was already over, and they were just finishing things up.”
Emma seemed genuinely disappointed as she sighed. It was a rare sight to see her excitedly spill everything. It wasn’t like I didn’t understand, though. Considering last night’s events, it wasn’t hard to guess what had happened. If they made that commotion in front of Keith, it was completely understandable that he would be fed up. Keith must have now realized that I had been stopping things from escalating that badly all the while sacrificing myself. I never hoped that he would notice, but in any case, he raised the white flag and came looking for me thanks to the exhaustion from the incident.
The kiss, however, must have been unplanned.
Emma’s voice pulled me back to reality, and I found myself touching my lips. I hurriedly dropped my hand.
Emma asked worriedly, “Are you alright? What happened to your lips? I didn’t know you had a habit of biting your lips.”
“Oh, this… it just… happened.”
When I panicked and fumbled for an excuse, she didn’t probe for more. Instead, she pulled something out from her handbag and handed it to me.
“Use it. It looks like it’s going to bleed again. It might get really bad if you just leave it. You could even get cancer.” She gave me a lip balm, accompanied by some threatening words. “Good thing I had a new one with me.”
However, her kindness was unnecessary. I didn’t want the bite scar to heal. In fact, I was terrified that the only trace of him would disappear. I wanted my lips to remain ripped, even just for a day longer.
“… Thank you.”
I took the lip balm off her hands, but I didn’t even open the lid. I put it directly into the drawer and started to print some documents as if nothing had happened. Thankfully, Emma returned to her desk without trying to convince me any longer. She must have understood my unspoken message that it was time to start working.
As usual, I gathered up today’s schedule and the items to report and walked out of the secretary’s office. I had only taken a few days’ break, but the hallway that once felt so familiar seemed strangely foreign—so did the rhythmic clicking of my Oxfords against the floor. When I finally arrived before the door to Keith’s office, I was as nervous as I had been on my first day of work.
I softly knocked on the door and gave it a few seconds before opening the door. Right away, I saw Keith’s back. He was standing in front of the curtain walling, smoking a cigarette as he looked over the city that was curled up flatly below the tall building. The dense cigarette smoke muddled with his pheromones floated around the room.
When I let out an intentional dry cough, Keith—whose back was faced toward me—slowly turned around from his initial position. When our eyes met, I subconsciously held my breath.
For a moment, we stared at each other without a single word. I had no clue what Keith was thinking at that moment. I did, however, vaguely assume that I wasn’t the only one who recalled last night’s kiss. I simply waited for him to bring something up.
Keith exhaled over a few seconds. He took the cigarette to his lips once again as he began to move. I silently watched him as he walked to his seat, his shoes monotonously hitting the floor, and sat down.
“Reporting your schedule today.”
When Keith seated himself, I walked toward him and stood across the wide desk. I set down the printed schedule and stared at Keith as he examined the schedule with his cigarette wedged in between his lips. I waited for his order.
Just then, something caught me by surprise. The scent of his pheromones that was mixed with the cigarette smoke had become faint. On the contrary, the smell of the cigarette felt stronger, and I coughed before I could stop myself. Keith knitted his brows as he deeply inhaled the cigarette smoke.
“I’m sorry. I swallowed my breath wrong,” I apologized immediately.
Keith didn’t say anything in return. He merely flicked through the documents. He seemed somewhat distracted. As if to confirm my observation, Keith sighed out the cigarette smoke and tossed the documents across the table.
“Cancel all of my schedule for today.”
I jolted at his sudden demand. Keith continued without even glancing toward me.
“I’m going to Ian’s party this evening. Print out a list.”
He was referring to the list of people he could take as his partner. I had been doing this kind of work much too often ever since I entered the company. Sometimes I wondered if this man—who had a rotten lot of money—managed an entertainment company not just to spend it as a hobby of sorts, but because he found it easier this way to find someone to sleep with.