Chapter 62 (V1 End) - Heartburn
“Then please confirm with him when he’ll be feeling up to completing the contract. If you delay the meeting one more time…” I couldn’t just tell them that we would terminate the contract on my own accord. Instead, I let out a groan.
He quickly replied, “Don’t worry. We’ll make sure to keep our promise this time. Honestly, whenever he cancels his plans like this, it’s also a huge problem for me as the one in charge of organizing his schedule…”
His position was no different from mine. Holding back my desire to offer him some heartfelt words of comfort, I once again lined up our schedules with him.
“Please, do keep your promise this time,” I reiterated before terminating the call.
However, I still couldn’t trust them. What would Keith say if I told him that they called off the meeting again?
Until now, his reaction was nonchalant, as if he expected such a course of events. He seemed quite out of it these days, but even so, it felt much too indifferent.
And here I was, my brain about to explode from trying to figure out his remaining schedule.
I gritted my teeth as I reorganized Keith’s plans and frantically began to call various places.
* * *
We were to meet Chase Miller at a cafe inside a well-known hotel. The cafe was run on a membership policy, and entry to it was strictly regulated at the entrance. Of course, this was an exception to a select few.
“Welcome, Mr. Pittman.” The manager of the cafe courteously greeted Keith as soon as he saw him and took him to the reserved seat himself. Leaving Whitaker and the other guards at the entrance, I followed behind Keith across the cafe.
I had been here multiple times, but I still felt overwhelmed by the grandiose interior whenever I came here. I consciously stiffened my back as I walked in an attempt to not be daunted. Internally, I thought that those who ate and drank coffee at a place like this without a problem must have a very strong stomach.
Keith sat down first at the seat placed by the window. At a short distance behind him, there was a portable chair for me to sit in. I quietly took a seat.
I checked my wristwatch. It was the promised meeting time on the dot. I was still feeling uneasy this morning, as they had a history of canceling on the day a few times before. Thankfully, Chase’s manager had said with conviction during both of the two confirmation calls, “Today for sure!”
‘I should be able to trust them this time,’ I comforted myself against my apprehension. ‘Was Chase Miller the type to arrive strictly on time?’
I traced back my memories but came up with nothing. To be fair, I had only seen Chase Miller on screen. This was my first time seeing him in real life.
‘I wonder what he looks like.’
Despite having been tortured by him so much, curiosity got the better of me. Neither my age nor my circumstances allowed me to excitedly squeal at the sight of celebrities, but I was certainly intrigued. Even though I was the secretary of the CEO of an entertainment company, it was a rare experience to be in a face-to-face meeting with a top actor who was at the pinnacle of his popularity and boasted the most expensive payment for hire.
‘Now that I think about it, did Chase attend the last year-end party?’ I was sure we sent him an invitation. I remembered Grayson being there, but I didn’t remember anything about Chase.
I was blankly rummaging through my thoughts when a waitstaff came and handed me something.
“Oh, thank you.” I belatedly took the menu and flicked through it to the beverages section. I glanced toward Keith, but there was nothing in front of him.
I asked tentatively, “Mr. Pittman, would you like espresso or tea?”
Without even glancing toward me, Keith spat while staring at the wall that was entirely made out of glass, “Tea.”
“Understood. Would you like me to choose the leaves?”
Keith didn’t say anything. His silence meant his approval.
I tested the scents of the tea leaves with intermittent breaks, picked out a few leaves that seemed like they would satisfy Keith’s taste, and asked for a blend of the leaves. “The same thing for me, please.”
The waitstaff took the menu and the sample tea leaves and left. I sat upright and stared at Keith’s back. His subtle fragrance, his neatly styled dark locks, his firm neck, his solid shoulders… they were all the same.
‘Ah,’ I thought, ‘It’s really about time I clear him out of my mind.’
Multiple years had already passed since I first realized the hopelessness of my love. I had already given up being loved by him, but I couldn’t bring myself to give up yearning for him. Just like that, a few years had flown by.
I had also resolved myself that this would truly be the end multiple times over. Yet, I continued to long for him, not even a day after making that resolve. Even though I knew all too well that my love would never be returned, I couldn’t let go.
As if it were the most obvious course of action—as naturally to me as breathing was—I continued to keep my feelings hidden. There was nothing new. Feeling bitter about it after all this time was rather ironic.
‘You’re very troublesome.’ His words from earlier stabbed my heart once again. I slowly closed my eyes and opened them again. Nothing changed. Keith was still staring in the same direction, looking away from me, and I was staring at his back.
For the first time, I felt tired of this love.
Perhaps this was the time for me to really put away my feelings.
I heard the faint sound of his teacup hitting the saucer. Keith was already almost done with his first pot of tea. I wondered if I should ask for another pot of tea or not. I restlessly glanced at my watch, but Chase Miller was nowhere to be seen.
‘What happened? Did they get into an accident on the way or something?’ I wished that were the case. Making Keith wait for two whole hours was unbelievable.
I had called Chase’s manager around the 30-minute mark, but all he told me was, “We’ll be there soon.” He sounded very apologetic.
We waited for another 30 minutes, but he had repeated the same thing.
In the call after that, I ended up angrily asking in a low voice, “Are you really coming?”
He seemed rattled by my question as he replied, “We’re on our way.” However, I had already lost my trust. And here we were now after two hours.
‘There’s no way that he’s pretending again, right? He made us come all the way here.’
I anxiously glanced at my watch once again and found Keith’s teacup empty. I quickly stood up and picked up the teapot, but I already had a bad feeling about it.
As expected, as if to prove the weight of the teapot that I had effortlessly lifted up, the remaining tea could barely fill half a cup. I set the teapot down and glanced over at Keith, wondering if I should order another one.
“Um, Mr. Pittman—” When I carefully began, Keith suddenly rose from his seat. It took me by surprise, and I instinctively jumped back.
Keith must have also been surprised by my reaction, as he scrunched up his brows. He gazed at me as if to snap and say, ‘What?’
I became flustered and hastily fixed my posture. “I’m sorry.”
Without saying anything in particular, Keith turned around and walked straight toward the entrance. As usual, I chased busily after him to match his large strides.
“I sincerely hope that you will visit again. Thank you,” said the staff member politely as he stood near the entrance.
We had passed them and were walking across the main lobby when—
‘…Huh?’ I noticed a man in my peripheral vision. He seemed somewhat antsy as he restlessly paced back and forth. When he saw Keith, he jolted. He then closed his eyes and clenched his hands together, as if he were praying. I tilted my head.
‘What is he doing?’ I was eyeing him carefully when Whitaker suddenly approached me and started speaking in a low voice.
“What’s going on, Yeonwoo? Did Chase Miller not come? Did we miss him? We were guarding the entrance all this time, but we didn’t even so much as catch his shadow. There’s no way we didn’t recognize him, either…” He seemed as bewildered as I was. To think that he bailed on Keith Knight Pittman… It was hard to believe even though I had experienced it firsthand. However, unless we had all been dreaming the same dream together, it was an undeniable fact.
I gulped and nodded. “He didn’t come.”
“Jesus, what kind of bastard—” Just as Whitaker let out a short profanity, the suspicious man—the man that I had just seen—dashed toward us.
“Ah!” I spat out a short exclamation. Nobody could stop him in time. He lunged at Keith without a falter in his step, and I watched it clearly as the scene unfolded like a slow-motion video. I even saw the sharp blade as he pulled it out from the inner pocket of his jacket.
“Keith—!” My cry echoed in my ears a beat too late.
<Continues in Volume 2>
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