Demi shook her head as she poured whiskey in my glass. “You can’t let his happen again, Adam. You are very aware of our history.” She sat on the barstool next to me at a cautious distance. “Back then, I felt so helpless. Imagine when you look at the clock and it’s been hours in just a blink of an eye. Sometimes I wake up finding myself in another location or talking to a person I didn’t know and without having an idea what I’ve been up to. But I am thankful you and Henry didn’t give up on me.”
“It’s not your fault, Demi.” I took a gulp of my whiskey. “You can’t help it.”
“And for that, I won’t stop thanking you and Henry for the rest of my life.”
“Don’t mention it. We didn’t even do anything.”
In the past, when she spoke about her dissociative identity disorder, it’s almost painful to listen. I witnessed how she suffered, and I couldn’t do anything for her. But she was a fighter, and I admired her for that. And when she realized getting away from us would help her get better, we decided to let her go.
“But your doctor did a good job helping you.”
Demi gazed at her glass of wine. “I’m still fighting my battles, but he’s always there for me and that’s also why I married him. It’s weird, right?”
“We don’t always choose the person.”
“That’s true, and he knows our past. He’s very understanding. Coming back here isn’t easy, but my father needs me now that he has lost my mother… It’s a long story.” She sighed.
“Send your father my condolences.”
“I will.” She touched my shoulder. “So, what are you going to do now? Your brother likes her.”
“Henry told you?” I queried, confused.
“Yes, he didn’t tell you?”
“Julia knows the company policy.” I drank the last drop of my wine.
She laughed. “You can’t possibly talk about the code of conduct right now, Adam. That can’t be your reason.”
“What could be the other reason?” I gripped my glass. “Julia is my assistant, and I know Henry.”
“I thought you wanted to help them?”
“Yes, so she would know him better, and she’ll eventually realize that I was right. I know Henry’s type. And it’s not Julia.”
Demi shook her head. “But that is not how I see things. Henry was looking forward to seeing her again. He told me he wants to know her a little better.”
“I can’t let them. I just can’t.” I took another shot of whiskey.
“Oh,” Demi’s eyes grew wide. She was speechless for a moment. “You like her!”
I clenched my fist. I wasn’t sure of myself anymore. “She’s my assistant, Demi.”
“Then, why did you kiss her?”
I couldn’t answer. Unfortunately, that kiss surpassed every kiss of women I screwed in the past, and I was craving for more. I wanted Julia’s mouth on mine again.
“I know you better than anyone. We’ve been together since we were a little,” Demi said. “You can’t deny it. You like her.”
I exhaled sharply. “God, I don’t know what to do.” I wiped my face, forehead to chin. I didn’t want to ask her opinion, but I didn’t know how I would stop myself from thinking about it. It was infuriating.
“There’s nothing you can do. They like each other. You can’t change that.”
“I’m not sure if I like her. I’m just bothered.”
Demi gently patted my back. “Adam, what you can do right now is to go home and rest. Stop overthinking about it. Anyway, I have a friend in this area. I need to go, but I’ll come by again. I need to call my husband too.”
“Where are you staying? I can drop you on the way.”
“I’m fine, Adam. Really.”
“Then, maybe I’ll stay for a few more minutes. Take care, Demi.”
Demi leaned then pressed a quick kiss to my temple. “Goodnight, Adam.”
I watched Demi as she exited the door. She was right. I couldn’t get them out of my mind. I couldn’t picture my brother holding my dear assistant. I ran a finger over my lip. I could still remember how Julia’s mouth tasted when I explored it.
This is crazy. She was driving me crazy. I was on the edge of losing my sanity over one woman.
Julia, what have you done to me?
Sweet and up-front conversation with Henry was absolutely relaxing. He was an open-minded and composed man. How Adam described him was the opposite of the Henry sitting in front of me. He was laughing so carefree and lively. I might not know about his past, but one thing was for sure. He had moved on.
“I can’t tell Adam about this yet. It's not that I didn't like to join his company, but I realized that it is time for me to create my own world. My brother might’ve stopped counting his money, but I have saved enough for new investment. It is my dream to have a restaurant like this, Julia. I just love food so much.”
His expression filled with hope, and it was epic to see this side of him. He was a visionary. I was sure he would achieve his dreams in no time.
“Then why do you work in the company?”
“I want to have corporate experience. I need to learn things about management. Starting a new life with a new goal is not easy. There are few complications. But being near my family lessened it a bit,” he explained. I watched him as he sliced off his steak, then ate a big piece. “Hmm...” he hummed, chewing his food. “The steak here is good. By the way, Julia, how's my brother as a boss?”
“He pays me well, he pays me so well, and he pays me incredibly well.” I exhaled. “That's all. I don’t want to bad mouth him, but your brother is demanding. However, I do receive good compensation and a yearly raise.” It was true. Though working for Adam was torture, my wage was high compared to the other assistants working in a corporate company in Manhattan.
He smirked. “That sounds incredibly boring. My brother is a workaholic.”
“Very much so.”
Henry lifted his glass and took a gulp of his wine. “Do you have any future plans, like being self-employed in your own business?”
I shrugged. “I didn't think of that. I have no time to think about creating a new world like you, but I do admit that it's a good idea.”
“Why don't you join me?”
I blinked. “What?”
“Join me. As I said, I'm building my own restaurant. It's not that I want to steal you away from Adam, but you have your own life and—”
“W-what are you saying? You want me to come work for you in your restaurant? Why?”
“Let's see,” he paused, running his tongue on his lower lip, “I can help you. You won't be stressed anymore. My restaurant would be near the beach, and you’ll have a beautiful view. We could watch the sunset together during breaks. I may not pay as much as my brother is paying you, but I can promise you growth in your career. I did a background check on you, Julia. You have a double major. You hold a culinary degree, too. You’re definitely fit for the job.”
I can't believe this! How was I supposed to tell Adam? He won’t let me work for Henry—not when I knew he was having second thoughts about me dating him.
“Why me? Why would you want me for your business? I am not capable of—”
He pressed a finger on my lips, shushing me. “You are capable. I want you because I want you. Simple. Everything is ready. I already have what I need. A place, people to work for me, except a competitive assistant like you.”
I wasn’t ready for this. It surprised me, yes, and I liked the idea. But, it still felt wrong.
“I don't know what to say, Henry. Adam won't let me go. He rejected my resignation letters several times. Your brother might get mad at you, or at me. We’re just going to start a misunderstanding.”
“I’m sorry if you think that way. It’s not my intention. I will properly tell my brother about this. Don't worry about it. Just trust me, Julia. I had a feeling that you would love this, too. Especially when I see how Adam treats you. I’m not saying he is bad, but you need to live your life.” Henry assured as he reached my hand and gave it a tight squeeze. I heard those lines before. Claire quoted it the same way.
“I like it. You said you felt the same. I think we’ll make a great team or maybe something more...” he added.
Didn’t I want to hear him say this? Why did I feel so blue? I couldn’t help but worry about what Adam is going to say. I wanted Henry, yes, but I wasn’t capable of betraying my boss.
“I will think about it,” I concluded. “It's not that I don't like it. It's a great offer, really. But I need time to process this on my own.”
“Right. I can wait, Julia. Don’t worry, I expected that you would refuse, but I'll tell my brother about this. I just hope you'll want to come with me. Sure, Adam will lose a beautiful and responsible assistant, but I'm certain he'll find a replacement.”
Adam would undoubtedly find a replacement. It made me think of a beautiful blonde he would want. The thought made me sober, but I tried to shake off the feeling.
“Another drink?” he offered.
I nodded and smiled back. “Yeah. Thanks.”
We sat for an hour more, talking about ourselves, but unfortunately, it was time to go. I had a great time. I still wanted to be with him forever, but we had a job to go to the next day. Henry took me home, kissed my cheek and embraced me before he drove away.
It was going to be different tomorrow. I would try to push away the guilt that I had been feeling for going out with Henry.