Chapter 73 - Vintage Wine
My wine glass was refilled yet again. Every time my glass was empty, a staff member appeared from somewhere, poured more wine, and disappeared. I only took cautious sips at first, but when my glass was refilled after I had emptied my first glass, my resolve began to weaken. When I glanced at Keith, he readily took the new glass of wine to his lips.
However, I was still hesitant. He and I were different. As the employer, he was allowed to get drunk, but I wasn’t. When I firmly peeled my gaze off my wine glass, I immediately met eyes with Keith.
“What are you doing?” he snapped. He was asking why I wasn’t drinking.
Being careful not to sound rude, I replied, “I’ve had quite enough.”
Keith spat as if he was sick of hearing excuses, “It’s fine. Drink as much as you want.”
Taken aback, I muttered, “But it’s still daytime… and I’m working.”
He suddenly called me by my name. I jolted.
I had been working under him for years now, but it was very rare for him to call my name. Most of the times when he did, of course, it wasn’t for something good.
“Yes, Mr. Pittman,” I murmured nervously, waiting for his next words.
Keith continued nonchalantly, “I told you to drink. If work is making you hesitate, just take a half-day.”
“N-No, I couldn’t just—” I hurriedly refused, clearly flustered. What was I to do? I truly felt what it was like for my logic and my emotions to engage in full-out warfare. I knew that I shouldn’t, but it seemed like Keith would get angry if I were to refuse one more time. Of course, I wanted to avoid putting him in a bad mood at all costs.
As I continued to hesitate, Keith pushed on, “When the meal is over, I’ll be getting off work right away.”
I jolted. Had he ever signed out of work so suddenly like this? It must be related to how he wanted to cancel his entire afternoon schedule.
Even if Keith were to sign off work, I would have to return to work.
As if he had read my mind, Keith added, “You, too.”
I pondered for a moment before asking, “Is there something you need to do at home?”
Keith didn’t reply, but it didn’t look like he was giving me a choice. I inevitably sent a message to Emma on my phone asking her to cancel all afternoon plans and telling her that I would organize the rescheduling later and let her know.
‘I’ll drink just one more glass,’ I told myself.
By the time we were done eating, I was buzzed. However, I was the only one who knew that. After all, it never outwardly showed whenever I was drunk. This was testified by my acquaintances. I only had one apparent drinking habit. Of course, I was nowhere close to drinking enough for that symptom to show.
“…So I ended up just laughing,” I smiled as I finished my sentence.
All Keith said in response was a short “I see.”
‘Ah,’ I thought blankly, ‘I must really be drunk. It almost looks as if Keith is smiling. Did that man always smile this much?’
Suddenly, I remembered that day—the day I first met Keith.
It was the day of the polo match.
I still remembered his laugh that had refreshingly tickled my ears. Why didn’t Keith laugh anymore?
“How long has it been?” I murmured. Keith stared at me, but I simply just sat there blinking. The remaining wine entered my sight. I picked up my wine glass and gulped down the rest.
The bottle of wine was now empty. I was a little disappointed, but this was for the best. I had almost finished half a bottle by myself. I liked wine, but I had to be careful since I couldn’t tolerate too much alcohol. I noticed that Keith was saying something to me, but I couldn’t hear him very well.
I smiled awkwardly instead of responding. Keith continued to stare into my eyes. I became flustered and lowered my gaze. ‘Oh, right. The medicine—’
I hurriedly rummaged through my briefcase. When I managed to fish out the meds and was about to place them on the table, Keith stretched out his hand. Without thinking about it deeply, I gently placed the small packet of meds in his palms, being careful not to touch his hand.
And that was when Keith knitted his brows. Had my hand accidentally touched his? I quickly retracted my hands, thinking that it might have made him uncomfortable. Even then, Keith continued to stare at me for a while.
‘Does he want me to apologize?’ I began to wonder.
Just then, Keith took the meds and tossed them all into his mouth. After immediately swallowing them with water, he blurted, “We should go now.”
Keith immediately stood up from his seat. I hurriedly stood up after Keith, but I had to stop for a bit. Moving so suddenly made the alcohol spread a little too quickly throughout my body.
Darkness settled before my eyes for a split second, and it took all of my strength to pull myself back together. Keith was already walking far ahead. I quickly signed the restaurant bill in his stead and followed after him.
Even until then, I wasn’t too different from usual. I was walking straight, I signed the bill properly, and I was feeling fine even as I got into the car after Keith.
However, that was all I could remember.
* * *
“Nnh…” I mumbled softly as I turned my head. When I rubbed my cheek against the surface, I felt a cool and smooth fabric over something firm. I shook my head once again in discomfort. I felt something hard on the back of my head. Was it a wall? But the area of contact felt a little too small for it to be a wall. Amidst the haziness of my sleep, I wondered what it could be.
Something warm gently touched my neck. I shrugged my shoulders in ticklishness. It seemed to linger for a moment before gently caressing my neck. A thin moan escaped from my mouth.
The slow stroking motion on my neck covered my entire body with goosebumps. My breaths became gradually deeper. The finger that was tracing my neck spread around my chin and slowly fondled it as it moved to my lips. I opened my mouth in reflex. It entered into the gap between my lips; to be precise, it gently touched the inside of my lips. I stretched my tongue and licked it. I felt it flinch. I instinctively nibbled on it with my lips so that it couldn’t escape.
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