Chapter 72 - Vintage Wine
“I’ll go with this course menu,” I said as I showed the waitress the page on the menu. She nodded and gave a formal smile, which I returned. I turned my head to sip on my water, and I suddenly met eyes with Keith. For some reason, he was looking at me with a cold expression.
At that moment, I recalled something he had said before. “A man who is easy to control”—that was what he had called me.
I wondered if he was still thinking that way, laughing at me inside.
The waitress confirmed my order and shifted her gaze onto Keith, but he didn’t so much as glance at her. Flustered, I smiled at her and said, “Sounds great.” She smiled at me once again and left.
An awkward silence settled over the table. I pointlessly gulped down my water and emptied the cup. Right away, another staff member appeared out of nowhere and refilled my glass. Keith, who hadn’t been speaking until then, slid the wine menu across the table toward me. I instinctively picked up the menu and blinked.
“…You want me to choose?” I murmured.
Keith didn’t say anything. Of course, his silence meant yes. I was still left in the dark about the meaning behind these actions. What in the world was he thinking about?
Although it was lunchtime, I still had work in the afternoon. Drinking during work hours was a huge taboo. When we had gone out with the lawyer, I was able to drink in relief since Keith let it go. Still, I had tried my best to hold myself back. And yet, he was asking me to drink again today.
My head was filled with many thoughts in that short time. I quickly gave the wine menu back to Keith. “It’s work hours right now.”
“But you drank yesterday, no?”
“It was just one glass,” I replied firmly. With a slightly softer tone, I added, “Since I drank yesterday, I’ll pass today.”
“It’s fine. Drink,” Keith spat indifferently. “And empty the afternoon schedule. We’ll be logging off work right after lunch.”
I blinked slowly. ‘What was his afternoon schedule again?’ I thought for a moment before quickly turning pale. ‘He wants me to cancel all of it? How am I supposed to reschedule everything, then?’
Was this man determined to torment me?
War broke out in my brain, but Keith himself seemed calm.
After all, it was my job to cater to my employer’s whims and call everywhere to explain and beg.
I sighed internally and said, “I don’t know about these things very well, so I’d like for you to choose.” My head was all a mess and I didn’t want to think about anything.
Keith stared at me for a moment before reaching out to take the menu. He slowly flipped through the pages and asked, “Do you like Californian wine?”
“Red wine?” I inquired carefully.
“Yes,” nodded Keith.
I thought about it for a moment and replied, “Yes, I do.”
“It looked like you hesitated there.”
When I glanced at his face, he didn’t seem to be particularly offended or anything. I replied honestly, “There’s just one winery that I don’t like… Other than that, it’s okay.”
“Why don’t you like it? Do you dislike the flavor?”
Keith’s chain of questions took me by surprise, and I was in a fix. “The wine they brew is fantastic, but the founder, well… I just personally dislike him.”
He had clearly not understood, which was reasonable. I briefly contemplated it before confessing, “He cheated and got a divorce.”
Unsurprisingly, Keith seemed dumbfounded by my reason and exclaimed, “What?”
I felt heat rising to my cheeks. “I heard that they even received an award for their wine, so I got curious. I somehow ended up buying a book about the founder, and it told me a bit about his personal life. When it blatantly said that he cheated… I ended up disliking even the wine. That’s all.”
Keith took a little time before opening his mouth once again. “Is that so bad?”
My face automatically stiffened. “Everyone thinks differently, but I think it is bad. It’s an act of deceiving your partner.”
Keith asked again, “What if your partner also knows?”
I was stumped for a moment. “If it was a mutual agreement… I’m not in a place to say anything against that since I’m not a part of their relationship.”
Why was he asking me such things? Wasn’t this an unnecessary topic?
Just as I was getting uncomfortable, Keith thankfully put a stop to the conversation—if this could be called one, that was.
Keith picked out a French wine. The 20-year-old vintage wine was enough to astound me just from its scent dissipating in the air. I had never smelled such a fragrant scent. For a moment, I thought about the wine that was said to have been brewed in the 1800s and with just three bottles left in the entire world. How fragrant could that wine be?
Could it make my heart beat as much as Keith’s pheromones?
I carefully took the glass of wine to my lips and closed my eyes. The gentle flavor that caressed my lips took all my senses away from me. The only thing that remained was the clean aftertaste of the wine.
“It’s amazing,” I exclaimed automatically.
Keith smiled quietly, and I blinked. Did he always smile that gently? I had been around him for years, but I had never seen him with such a warm expression. Did Keith know that he was making that face?
However, it wasn’t just a mirage. Keith was still smiling faintly even when our food came out. I kept tilting my head, still finding it unbelievable.
All the while, I felt a slight bitterness in one corner of my heart that his smile was beginning to erase his hurtful words from yesterday that had been tormenting me ever since.
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