Chapter 34 - Hidden Intention
“He didn’t need to do that.”
I was hit with a sudden surge of strangeness. What she said were just some normal formalities. Why did it bother me so much?
There was something else that bothered me. She carefully peeked inside the envelope as she lifted the flap with the tip of her fingernail before setting it down on the table. She didn’t seem at all interested in what was inside.
‘She might’ve thought that it was rude to blatantly check what was inside while I was still here.’
I tried to change the direction of my thought, but it was still off-putting. Annabel was much too calm as if none of this mattered to her.
Something was up.
It wasn’t a guess but a conviction. She was hiding something—not some trivial thing like the membership to a country club of a strictly limited number of people, a very expensive piece of jewelry, or the acting role of a movie that would leave a giant mark in their filmography. It was something incomparably important.
“So your business is done here?”
Annabel’s voice pulled me back to reality. She was already subtly getting ready to kick me out. I couldn’t just leave like this. I desperately tried to think of something.
“Yes, um… I’m sorry to ask, but could I get a glass of water? I must have been really nervous and now I’m parched.”
As I added an awkward smile, she nodded without hesitation.
“It’s not an easy task to clean up after a breakup,” Annabel said understandingly as she headed toward the kitchen. Soon, she came back with a glass of cold water. “Here you go.”
I smiled and took the glass from her. What I was about to do required delicate and precise timing control. It was only supposed to last a few seconds at most, but I felt the hair rise on my entire body as I kept the smile glued to my face, all the while directing my entire attention to not letting go of this chance.
She and I exclaimed almost simultaneously. Our hands missed each other in that split second. The cup tilted right away, soaking my shirt and pants, and fell toward the floor.
It made a dull clunk as it landed on the carpet. We stood frozen for a moment as we stared at the fallen cup before glancing up and looking at each other at almost the same time.
“Oh no… I’m sorry. It must have been the nerves.”
I waved my hands around and gestured embarrassment. She opened her eyes wide and shook her head, waving her hand around.
“No, it’s alright. More importantly, what should we do? Your clothes are soaked.
Unfortunately, the water had spilled down the waist portion of my shirt and precisely in between my legs. Of course, it was just as I had intended.
I feigned my best troubled expression. “Ah, Christ… of course it had to be there out of all places.”
She smiled refreshingly, albeit a little late, and held out her hand. “It can’t be helped. Take it off, and I’ll dry it for you.”
This time, I was actually embarrassed. I turned around and fumbled as I took off my pants. In that short amount of time, I quickly examined the layout of the house.
“Wow, you have a beautiful bottom.”
When I turned around, she was staring intently at my buttocks. I felt heat rush to my face. I was too conscious of my front to turn my body, so I was left with no choice but to hunch over awkwardly and give her my pants standing sideways from her. Annabel smiled like she understood everything. She slung the pants over her arm and turned away from me.
“I must still have my ex-husband’s pajamas somewhere. I kept them somewhere to throw everything out at once, but would you like to wear them until your clothes are dry? If that’s okay with you.”
“Oh, of course. Thank you,” I said hurriedly.
Annabel nodded. “I’ll bring them for you. Wait here for a minute. Now, where did I put them?”
She was looking around as if to trace her memories. I decided to leave a word of assurance.
“It’ll take time to dry the pants. You can take it slow.”
Annabel turned to face me. When our eyes met, I smiled. She smiled back and teasingly glanced downward.
“Shouldn’t you also dry yourself?”
As she had said, I was soaked down to my underwear. I blushed as I desperately looked around, and she pointed toward one direction with her finger.
“The dryer is in that bathroom.”
As I muttered some words of gratitude once again, she left me and headed toward the laundry room. I pretended to head to the bathroom and turned in another direction. When I had come here last time to give her jewelry, she had taken them carefully inside. Since people usually kept those things either in their bedroom or their study, it must have been either one of the two.
The study was in the second room. When I opened the door and confirmed it, I quickly went inside and rummaged through the room. Ransacking a stranger’s house by my own discretion—it was truly a rude thing to do.
However, I couldn’t just turn a blind eye. Just as I was thinking that I would stop searching and report first if what I was looking for wasn’t here, I found the evidence that confirmed my suspicions in the last drawer.
* * *
The connection sound continued to ring, but nobody answered. When the automated message began to play, I hung up. I pressed the call button once again, but I had no certainty that someone would answer. Whitaker was probably busy guarding the place. Still, it was rare for him to not answer like this.
‘Something couldn’t have happened at the party, could it?
Since Keith had abruptly changed his schedule this afternoon to attend the party, the security team was in a state of emergency. ‘They could be in some kind of trouble,’ I thought when the call suddenly went through.
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