Chapter 61 - Bothersome
It was as if he were reiterating that I had no chance whatsoever.
This man had no intention of being bound by anyone, to begin with.
That was especially the case with me. He would never even have imagined doing things with me.
I moved my hands busily on purpose.
I tried to clear my head of pointless thoughts by focusing on the task before me, but my thoughts kept wandering. ‘If that were the case, why has he been seeing her for so long?’
Moreover, he was meeting her more often than usual. I had no doubt that he had taken a liking to her.
Even though my mind was in disarray, I felt a strange tingling sensation at the tip of my fingers. I didn’t know what was what—whether I was hurt or feeling hopeful. I just mechanically moved my hand.
“…Hahh.” Just then, Keith let out a sigh.
I stopped my hand and gazed at his face. “Would you like me to stop now?”
I sensed deep exhaustion from his breath. It sounded like he was close to falling asleep, so I asked cautiously. I used a soft voice on purpose in fear of waking him up. Keith didn’t reply.
‘Is he asleep?’ I wondered as I slowly lifted off my hand.
I was about to quietly leave the bedroom when he suddenly grabbed my wrist. I swallowed my breath in surprise and looked back. Keith’s eyes were open, and they were staring right at me.
I silenced my breath and looked down at him. Keith didn’t say anything, either. In the deafening silence, my wrist that he was holding was the only thing that trembled lightly as it emanated burning heat. I subconsciously licked my parched lips. I felt like I should say something, but nothing came to mind. Keith merely continued to stare at my face.
After a long while, I finally managed to pry my mouth open. “Um, did you need anything…?” The end of my sentence trailed off weakly.
Although Keith had to have heard me, he showed no reaction.
The anxiety made my heart feel as if it were going to burst. “…?”
The grip of Keith’s hand on my wrist became stronger. I somehow held myself back from letting out a scream. However, I couldn’t stop my brows from furrowing.
I wanted to ask him what was up, but nothing came out of my mouth. Keith lowered his gaze and looked at me with an expression that I had never seen him make; to be precise, he was looking at my wrist that he was grabbing.
What could it be? His face seemed like many complex emotions were overlapping, and it made it difficult for me to guess what he was feeling. I couldn’t at all understand why Keith was grabbing onto me with that kind of face. One thing I knew for sure was that he was conflicted. Of course, I didn’t know its origin nor its reason.
“Hahh…” Keith spat out an obstructed sigh and suddenly let go of my wrist. I faltered as I backed away. Keith turned around on the bed without looking at me. “It’s fine. Now get out.”
I blinked a few times before quickly turning around and exiting the room. Only after I closed the door behind me did my wrist begin to ache. I looked down to find that it had turned red. I felt my face blush. I gently lifted up my wrist and pressed my lips against it.
A deep moan escaped my mouth. My heart was pounding, and I couldn’t walk. I had to lean against Keith’s door for a long time, regulating my breath with my eyes closed.
* * *
“Ngh…” I slipped out a moan as I opened my eyes to the morning light. I finally managed to lift up my crusty eyelids after multiple attempts, but my head was still cloudy. I belatedly recalled last night’s memories and instinctively checked my wrist. It was still faintly bruised. I gently stroked my wrist. One corner of my heart was beating fast. While this bruise persisted, I would be able to treasure Keith’s temperature.
I pressed my lips against it when I heard a sudden knock. I quickly put my hand down and sat up.
As expected, it was Charles who walked in. “I see you have woken up. How would you like your breakfast? Mr. Pittman will be eating in his room today.”
“Is that so…” My voice sounded disappointed even to my own ears. I frantically lowered my head and hid my face, pretending it was just because I was getting out of bed. “I’ll eat downstairs. Thank you.”
After confirming my usual order, Charles left the room. Only then did I let out a sigh and slump my shoulders.
The table at which I ate breakfast with Keith every morning was completely empty. This was the time when we shared a meal once a day, but I must have become used to it nonetheless. The realization that I was alone amplified the emptiness.
“Ah.” The sound of the cutlery clanging against the dishes rang too loudly, and without realizing it, I let out a small exclamation. I turned down Charles’ offer to refill the half-empty glass of juice and stood up. I returned to my room and continued to get ready for work when I felt a sudden dizziness.
I placed my hand against the wall and regulated my breathing when I was suddenly hit with a bad feeling. I knew what this feeling was. It happened once every month if short or a few months if long. It happened whenever my heat was near.
There were also a few other symptoms other than that. I took out my meds with a serious face and tossed them in my mouth. As I had the day before, I took more than the recommended amount.
Keith didn’t even glance at my face during our ride to work. I stared at the screen of my tablet and pretended to work, meaninglessly opening and closing the schedule over and over.
The silence was longer than ever. I was suddenly reminded of his expression that I last saw the night before. Perhaps it was just due to a whim that he had breakfast in his room this morning. However, thinking about what had happened last night, it felt like it was something more than that.
I opened my mouth and closed it shut multiple times. Even if I were to ask him why he was in a bad mood, I didn’t think he would answer. If I asked and he answered with sarcasm, I knew I would be the only one getting hurt. Moreover, I had already gone through that experience time and time again when I first started working at this company. “It’s none of your business,” he had told me.
He told me so either verbatim or through his gaze. After a few emotional wounds, I chose not to ask anymore. Thankfully, I was fairly good at reading the room, so I was able to do fine without much difficulty up till now.
Today, however, I really had no idea.
Naomi suddenly popped into my mind. Now that I thought about it, he had met up with her last night. Did something happen at the hotel back then?
‘If that were the case, Whitaker would have let me know…’
I jumped at the vibration and the sound ringtone that was coming from my pocket and pulled out my phone. As soon as I checked who it was, I pressed the answer button.
“What is it, Emma? Calling at this hour…” I asked curiously.
Emma seemed flustered as she carefully selected her words. “Um… I’m sorry, Yeonwoo. Something came up this morning, and I think I’m going to be late. Would it be all right for me to come to work in the afternoon? I’ll ask Rachel to communicate the morning tasks to everyone.”
“Of course… Did something happen by any chance? If there’s anything I can help with, let me know any time, Emma,” I added seriously, sensing the gravity in her mannerisms.
She replied in a more relaxed voice, “Thank you, Yeonwoo. Will do.”
As I hung up and shifted my gaze, I met eyes with Keith, who was staring at me. I awkwardly opened my mouth. “Emma told me that something came up and asked if she could come in during the afternoon. I gave her the go-ahead.”
Keith didn’t say anything. I grew increasingly uncomfortable by his persistent stare and opened my mouth once more to ask if I should tell her to come as soon as possible.
However, Keith was the one who spoke up first. “When will you get better?”
I was taken aback by his sudden question and at a loss for words. I knew I was much better now than before. I had told him the other day what Steward had said.
However, thinking about how I had a panic attack upon facing Grayson just the other day, I couldn’t confidently guarantee that I would be all better soon. Without Keith, I couldn’t even leave the office.
As I searched for an answer, Keith stared at me. He soon knitted his brows together and turned his head. “You’re very troublesome.”
For a moment, my heart sank. I had almost forgotten. This man only kept me around because I was convenient.
His tender touch and his gentle voice as he held me and comforted me after my panic attack came back to me as a sharp wound instead of a longing heartbeat.
Thinking that there might have been some kind of meaning to it was just my imagination. Of course, I already knew. I just wanted to pretend not to know and indulge myself in the comfort of my delusion.
‘Still, did he really need to drag me back to reality in such a cruel way?’ I wondered as I stared at the reflection on the window of my dry face.
It was only to be expected. After all, this man had no clue about how I felt. There was no way that he would know that such words hurt me, nor did he have any need to.
Even if he knew, I couldn’t possibly expect his attitude toward me to change.
After all, I meant nothing to this man.
“I apologize for the inconvenience,” I murmured indifferently as always.
Keith was still facing away without saying a word.
‘Ah,’ I thought, ‘during my next session, I should ask Steward for a concrete estimate of when I’ll get better. I’ll ask him if there are more aggressive treatments. If such a thing exists, that is.’
The face that stared back at me from the window of the car was still without any expression.
I couldn’t rely on Keith forever.
If he really ended up getting sick of me, I would truly tumble down to the very bottom this time.
* * *
The meeting date with Chase Miller was finally decided after a few wrangling calls. I didn’t expect this to be easy, but confirming a bad premonition wasn’t all that pleasant.
“But you said that he was free for sure on Wednesday!” I snapped, unable to hide the agitation in my voice after two previous changes of plan.
The manager sighed deeply from the other side of the line and muttered, “Well, er… His schedule is empty and I confirmed with him multiple times, but he suddenly wanted me to change the date.”
“At least tell me the reason, the reason why he’s canceling on the day of!”
The manager let out something akin to a moan and said, “He said that he’s not in the mood to go out…”
I almost spat out a profanity. I barely managed to swallow the words back up from the tip of my tongue. Instead, I stretched out my neck and looked up at the ceiling. I needed a few seconds to suppress my emotions.
“Does he even have the intention to go through with the contract?” I asked wearily as a sudden wave of exhaustion washed over me.
The manager quickly replied, “Of course. Chase is very satisfied with his role. Oh, his new role, of course.”
“Then why…!” I shouted in anguish.
The manager mumbled, “Um, I think he’s just being a little moody…”
“…” Unable to hold down my anger, I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths. I counted numbers in my head and tried to recall some famous quotes that I had read somewhere. After quite a bit of time had passed, I calmly began to speak once again.
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