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Chapter 6

  • JULIA
  • I was almost finished when Henry came to my desk to remind me of our dinner date. He said he was going to wait in front of the building.
  • At precisely twelve minutes before seven, I was able to get everything done. I stretched my arms in the air, then I pressed the pressure points of my shoulder with my fingertips. I groaned as I actually felt the pain. I was sore everywhere, especially my lower back. I was exhausted and starving. I decided I needed to advise Adam I was leaving.
  • I went to Adam’s office and was about to come in when I heard him laughed over the phone. Sometimes I don’t understand his mood. He was swearing at someone earlier, and now he was like watching a comedy high on sugar. To avoid seeing him play monster, I sent him a text saying I was leaving.
  • When I came out of the building, Henry was already there as promised. He was leaning on his white convertible Audi, but he wasn’t alone; he was talking to a blonde woman. I decided not to approach him, but he had already seen me.
  • “Julia,” he called out. The blonde turned.
  • I smiled a little. “Hi,” I greeted back, but I couldn’t stop staring at the woman.
  • “Oh, is this her?” she asked, referring to me. Her smile grew wide, and it was genuine.
  • “Yes. This is Julia, Demi. Adam’s executive assistant,” he introduced, then he looked at me. “Julia, Demi’s our childhood friend.”
  • Our? Did he mean Adam and him?
  • Demi was beautiful. She had a heart-shaped face, sapphire eyes, a small nose, full pink lips, long straight blonde hair, and was curvy. Her skin was a glowing honey shade as if a goddess came down from the heavens and gave birth to her. I didn’t want to be jealous, but seeing her beside Henry made me realize how unmatched I was for him. She and Henry would make a better couple. My heart sank in insecurity.
  • “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Julia.” She extended a hand to me. I accepted it with my sweaty palms. I almost shrank when I touched her soft hands.
  • Oh, she was perfect everywhere, alright! And she smelled sweet, like vanilla.
  • “It’s my pleasure.” I forced a smile.
  • “Henry told me about you just now. I didn't know you would be so pretty. I like your hair,” she complimented. I wasn’t sure if she was being serious, but I was sure she knew she was a million times more gorgeous than me. And it would be easy for me if she was a snob, but she wasn’t. She was genuinely lovely, and so was her smile.
  • Damn. She was definitely the supermodel type.
  • “Thank you. You too,” I sounded flat and fake, I almost wanted to choke. I hoped Henry didn’t notice.
  • He laughed softly. “I'm sorry I didn't introduce you formally. I didn't know you'll be visiting here. Julia is the one I told you that I like.”
  • What? That wasn’t how I wanted to hear that. But, was he for real?
  • The next 10 minutes, Demi and Henry spoke about their childhood memories and dreams as if I wasn’t there. All I could do was listen. I heard Henry once wanted to become a pilot, but he was afraid of heights. Demi shared that she wanted to be a mermaid, so the three of them played in a swimming pool wearing costumes. She laughed as she described Adam’s ridiculous yellow merman outfit.
  • I groaned soundlessly. I didn’t want to watch them anymore. They obviously belonged to the same world. A world that wasn’t meant for someone like me. Demi was born with elegance. She didn’t need a makeover, unlike me.
  • “Oh, I won't be bothering you anymore tonight, I'll go to Adam,” she finally announced.
  • “He's still in his office,” I joined in.
  • She grinned sweetly. “Yeah. He knows I’m coming,” she said. “I've been talking to him the whole day.” She giggled. “I already miss him! So yeah... enjoy your date.”
  • So she was the person Adam was talking to? I hardly even see my boss laughing his heart out until this stunning supermodel turned up out of the blue. Demi excused herself then she briefly embraced Henry. She hugged me as well, then left a gentle squeeze. Henry and I watched her as she moved away. How could her butt sway so sexily while she walked?
  • She's just a friend. A beautiful friend.
  • “Demi is beautiful,” I whispered in a rasped voice, “Can you whack me once? I haven't seen someone as beautiful as her.”
  • Henry beamed. “Yes, she is. She's kind and charming, but I won't hurt you for that.” He held the door open. “Ladies first.”
  • I stepped into the car. My mind was still filled with the walking Barbie doll. I couldn’t believe I missed all the details. She was Adam’s exact definition of a perfect woman. She was Adam and Henry’s type.
  • “Put your seatbelt on,” Henry said as he was setting his. He stared at me while I was gazing in an empty space.
  • “Oh, God! Why didn’t I see that?” I muttered under my breath.
  • “What?”
  • “She's blonde and beautiful and supermodel type,” I rambled.
  • “What are you talking about?” Henry asked with a frown.
  • “Demi was Adam's first love.”
  • Henry nodded. “Yes, what about it?”
  • “And yours…”
  • She was the woman they had shared. I wasn’t sure, but I was hoping I guessed it wrong. But Demi didn’t look like she was that kind of woman. Was she?
  • After a few moments of silence, Henry spoke.
  • “Not anymore, Julia.” He forced out a smile. I realized I shouldn’t have brought up the subject. I watched him as he buckled his seat belt.
  • “There’s another reason I came back, and Demi is not a part of it.” His tone turned serious. The tension swirled in the atmosphere in an unwanted deadly silence.
  • “It’s fine. Why are you telling me this?”
  • “I wanted to see you.”
  • I held my breath, unsure of what to feel. The air gave me incessant goosebumps. I didn’t know how to react, but I’m happy with what he said. I remained silent.
  • “After that night at the gala... I couldn’t forget about you. You’re different from any woman I’ve ever known. You captured me.”
  • Henry was thinking about me?
  • Then, Adam was wrong. Henry liked me, and he didn’t care about blondes anymore. It was the not very tall, pale, short-haired brunette woman he met at the party, and that was me. My heart lifted in bliss, but a part of me still ached.
  • Adam…
  • I kept pondering of him. I got what I wanted. Henry confessed his feelings for me. But why was I letting his brother confuse me?
  • I smiled at Henry. “I’ve been thinking about you since that night, too.”
  • How would I able to forget a beautiful soul like his? He was amazing. But I knew my limits. I had always considered it was impossible to date my boss’ brother. Who would have thought he would be here? With me.
  • Henry beamed, showing his perfect white teeth. But, the more I looked at him, the more I saw Adam. I must be crazy.
  • He revved the car engine to life. “Shall we?”
  • I smiled.
  • Henry brought me to Le Noir—a formal dining restaurant five blocks away from the office. I smelled the crisp scent of cinnamon and cheese at the entrance, making me hungrier than ever.
  • The door attendant, in a red and black vest, greeted us warmly and spoke what I thought was French.
  • “Bonsoir, monsieur. Une table pour deux?” the attendant said.
  • “Oui, et j'aimerais avoir le steak spécial du chef Doinel, s'il vous plaît. Je vous remercie,” Henry responded, and the attendant called for a waiter and then ushered us to a reserved table.
  • “You speak French,” I said as we strolled into the restaurant. He chuckled sweetly.
  • “The perk of living in Paris for years.”
  • We stopped on a table close to the instrumentalists who were playing a Debussy piece. I perched on the chair and gazed at Henry who’s already watching me.
  • “This is nice.” I grinned.
  • “I thought you wouldn’t go out with me.”
  • “Why not?”
  • “I’m your boss’ brother.”
  • “He knows.” I looked down as I felt the warmth rushing to my cheeks. His expression brightened, amused.
  • “How did he know?”
  • “I told him.” Yet, I felt guilty for what I did with Adam.
  • Henry let out a soft laugh. “I should have told him first. I’m sorry. What did he say?”
  • “Just this. And I need his consent.” It was half true. I thought letting my boss know could somehow lessen uneasiness. It was a half-lie because I didn’t really tell him. He found it out himself and made a fuss about it.
  • “You don’t need his consent.” His voice was flat. “This is your personal life—” he paused. The server arrived with our dinner. He set two plates of Châteaubriand steak and a bottle of Viognier wine. I watched him as he expertly poured two glasses. I swallowed the dryness of my throat.
  • The server stepped aside then beamed politely. “We will serve the dessert after the meal right away, Mr. Cavendish. Is there anything else you need, sir?” he asked in his soft voice.
  • “Oh, none at the moment, thank you, Jamie,” Henry answered.
  • “Bon appetit, sir,” he saluted “and miss.” He curtly bowed and then turned away.
  • “I’m sure Adam won’t disagree,” Henry continued, but my gaze stuck on the delightful looking meal.