Talia immediately turned stiff at his words. How did Arthur find out about this?! She herself, Frank, and her best friend Judith were supposed to be the only ones who knew.
She could feel Jasper's eyes on her, and yet she didn't dare to meet them. She could only pretend to be calm as she asked, "You are quite the gossip, aren't you? Who told you that?"
"I forgot who it was." Frank had an unnerving look on his face as he replied. "It was so long ago. I heard about it when I conducted classes at your university. I only recalled when you mentioned that you were in the same course."
She then forced a sigh of relief and heaved, "I see. It is all in the past now. He is a great guy, but he definitely deserves better than me."
As she finished her sentence, she noticed how much darker Jasper's face had gotten. His gaze on her, too, had turned as sharp as a knife.
"He is probably someone you can lust for but can't have. You know, like how you don't necessarily deserve to be with someone who spent the night f*cking you," Jasper mocked. Unbeknownst to him, he managed to break Talia's spirits further with just one sentence.
I know I deserve neither you nor Frank. You don't have to remind me like that, she thought, heartbroken.
She quickly lowered her head when she felt her eyes tingle. The last thing she wanted was for any of them to find out what she was truly feeling.
Arthur finally realized that he had been starting conversations that were leading to the awkwardness, and so he quickly tried to distract them by placing food onto Talia's plate. "This one is good. It is this restaurant's signature dish."
Seeing Arthur doing the unnecessary, Jasper coldly told him off. "She has hands. She can take it herself."
Arthur took a big gulp at that. "Do you really have to get jealous because I took food for her?" he timidly rebuked.
"I don't need to be." He threw a side glance at Arthur. "Eat your food."
She didn't eat much of the food in the end, but even if hard feelings were only being suppressed for the sake of their dignity, the atmosphere soon came to a calm as it had been at the beginning.
Arthur was the first one to leave after they exited the restaurant. Talia, on the other hand, automatically knew what to do. "I'll grab a taxi. Drive carefully on the road," she reminded Jasper.
He didn't say anything in reply and headed straight to his car. He soon sped into the dark of the night, leaving her there by herself.
Unsurprisingly, she wasn't disheartened by his actions. It had always been this way all these years. He had never once not shown her contempt, even when all he did was drop her somewhere that coincided with his destination. 'Disgust' was the word he described his feelings with every time he had to see her face. Years of her trying to make him happier were all but a waste.
She couldn't even recall a time that he was in his right mind when they had spent the night together. It was always after he had drunk himself silly. Like what he said prior to this, "Why would he ever want to lay a finger on her if not because of the alcohol?"
She waited by the side of the road for about 10 minutes, and yet not one taxi was in sight the whole time. After contemplating, she decided to slowly stroll her way back home. She noticed how cooling the spring breeze blowing at night was, and how it seemed to be doing its absolute best at trying to soothe the wound in her heart.
After walking a short distance, a car gradually came to a stop beside her before the car horn was sounded to get her attention. She cast a side glance at the rolled-down car window, only to realize that it was Frank. "Why are you walking home alone? Should I take you back?" he asked.
"It is alright. I feel like walking tonight," she answered, somewhat feeling embarrassed being caught at her vulnerable moment.
Sophia's head then peeked out from the window behind. "Come on, don't say no! Frank has always been such a good guy, so don't you dare get any ideas!" she gloated.
"I won't get any ideas." Talia couldn't help but laugh bitterly.
"What are you going on about, Sophia? Stop your nonsense and tell Miss Carey to get in the car," Frank laughingly urged.
Finding it difficult to keep rejecting, Talia eventually conceded and hopped on.
Neither of the adults talked throughout the journey home while Sophia kept on chattering to no one in particular. Frank finally opened his mouth when they arrived at the Mills Residence. "Sorry for imposing, but I'm curious," he hesitantly started. "You live at the Mills Residence, and I noticed you were having a meal with Jasper Mills. Are you and him close?"