Treat Me Just Like That [Part II]

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Chapter 14 Rubbed Off on Me

Caroline was sitting on her chair swamped with work. Today, she had more work than usual. She was reading a file submitted by the R&D department. She looked at the name of the company before reading the document. “Sabbatini Group? Why is that asshole trying to do business with me?” She placed the document in the pile of the rejected stack of documents.

A few minutes later, she picked up the document again. Out of curiosity, she wanted to see what Liam wanted. She grabbed the document and read it thoroughly. “His proposal is not bad. This is exactly what we were going to do four years ago, but why is he trying to do business with me again? What does he want? Why does he want to torment me?”

Caroline placed the file on her desk and let out a sigh. She rubbed her aching temples. Just then, Joseph knocked on the door and walked inside her office. “Ms. King.” Caroline looked up and saw Joseph walking closer to her with a rather high stack of papers. “More work?” She asked. “Yes, Ms. King,” he responded.

Joseph placed the documents on her desk and bowed his head. He left her office and closed the door. Caroline looked at the time on the computer screen in front of her and thought, “the twins must be on their way home right now. I can’t wait to see them.” Caroline sighed once again and resumed her work. She grabbed the first document amongst the stack of papers. She looked at the contract.

The proposal presented in the document was better than what Liam’s company offered. The proposal was better than Liam’s in every way, and most importantly, she would not have to deal with him. Caroline grabbed her ink pen with encrusted crystals and signed the document. She grabbed the document from Liam’s company and placed it on the rejected pile.

Caroline was in her office pacing back and forth once again. “How did Liam Sabbatini become my partner?” Caroline asked. Joseph, who was sitting on the couch, trembling at the sight of his enraged boss responded, “apparently, Liam Sabbatini bought the company you signed the contract with.”

“When did he buy it?” Caroline exclaimed, making Joseph flinch. “The same day we announced the partnership.”

“That asshole,” Caroline murmured. “Ms. King?” Caroline turned to look at Joseph. “Why wasn’t I informed of this?” Joseph remained silent. She walked to her desk and grabbed the document on her desk. “What about this? I would never sign a document like this.” Caroline stepped closer to Joseph and handed him the document.

“This is the last contract sent by the company.” Joseph looked at the document and said, “Ms. King, you did sign this. If I remember correctly, we were on a deadline that day. You didn’t have time to read the document and you just signed it.”

“I would never ‘just sign’ an important document such as this one.” Joseph cleared his throat and spoke in a low voice, “if I remember correctly, you mistook this document for one that you had already revised. That day, you were in a hurry because you had to go home.”

Although Joseph was speaking in a low voice, Caroline was still able to hear him. She then remembered how she received a call from her mother, that day. She remembered how Mia had a high fever and she had to leave her work. She hurryingly signed the contract without looking at which it was.

“I must have confused it from all the other contracts on my desk,” she murmured. Caroline extended out her hand and Joseph handed her the contract. “You’re dismissed.” Joseph stood up from the couch and bowed his head before leaving. Caroline sat back on her chair. “When I saw Liam, I thought he might have used some fake name in order to do business with me. Turns out, everything is completely legal, and I can’t get rid of him now.”

When Caroline got off work, she went straight to the mansion. She arrived and went straight to the living room, where the sound of children laughing echoed in the mansion. “Mommy!” Mia exclaimed.

Caroline grinned. She crouched down with her arms open to embrace the twins in a tight hug. Mia ran to Caroline and Ian walked to them. “Mommy,” he calmly called. Caroline tightly hugged her children when Taekyung said, “we have been waiting for you. Why are you home so late?” Caroline looked at the expensive watch on her wrist and said, “something came up at work.”

“It’s alright, muñeca. Go wash up, so we can eat dinner together.” Caroline tightened her embrace once more before letting go of the twins to go wash her hands. She went to the bathroom and washed her hands.

When she stepped into the dining room, she took a seat on her chair. She looked around and asked, “where is Persephone?” Just then, Persephone walked inside the mansion. She watched as her bodyguards carefully placed the famous branded shopping bags on the floor.

In the dining room, the butler was announcing Persephone’s arrival. “Please, take her stuff to her bedroom,” Elizabeth said, “and tell her to come here.” The butler nodded and walked to the foyer of the mansion. Three maids grabbed the shopping bags from the floor.

The butler walked closer to her and said, “please, follow me.” The three maids walked up the stairs whilst holding the shopping bags. Persephone walked to the dining while holding Achilles’ hand as they followed the butler.

“Hello, everyone. Did you wait long?”

“Not at all,” Elizabeth spoke, “please have a seat.” Elizabeth signaled at the two chairs set for her and Achilles. Persephone walked closer to Caroline and leaned down. She placed a peck on Caroline’s head. She could not help but sniff the strong scent coming from her. Persephone leaned closer to Caroline’s neck and the scent became stronger. “You smell... is different,” she commented. “What do you mean? I’m wearing the usual Chanel Noᵒ 5"

Persephone smelled her again and said, “no, I smell a man’s cologne.” Everyone at the dining table instantly looked up from their plate. Except for the children that is. Caroline nervously chuckled as Persephone took a seat next to her.

“Shit! Liam’s strong, yet desirable scent of cologne must have rubbed off on me,” Caroline thought. Then she came up with an excuse, “well, today when I was supervising my subordinates, there was this man that was putting on cologne-.”

“At work?”

“Yes,” Caroline instantly responded, “I happen to pass by, and the smell caught on me.” Persephone spoke, “you are a terrible liar, Caroline. We will resume this after dinner.” Persephone looked at the woman at the end of the table and smiled. Elizabeth smiled back and announced, “Persephone will be staying with us for a few days.”

“Really? That’s great,” Mark commented. Taekyung looked at him and raised his eyebrow. “How long will you be staying?” Mark asked. “Not long,” Persephone said, “I just need to take care of a few things.”

“Oh, okay.” Mia tugged on Caroline’s baby pink blazer and cutely said, “mommy, does this mean Achilles will be having a sleepover all the time?” Caroline chuckled. “Until they leave, every day will be like a sleepover,” Caroline said.

Mark looked at Elizabeth and asked, “what room is she taking?” Caroline interrupted, “Mark, there are ten bedrooms in this house-.” Mark interrupted Caroline, “yet there are only two vacant.”

“If they are two vacant, I don’t understand why you are trying to make a fuzz.”

“I’m not trying to make a fuzz.”

“Then, what do you-.”

“What I’m trying to say is that you have too many clothes. You took up what was meant to be a guest bedroom and turned it into your closet.” Caroline shrugged. “So? I have a lot of clothes big deal. Plus, that is not only my closet. Mom uses about twenty-five percent of it for her shoes.” Persephone joined in the conversation and said, “if there are ten bedrooms-.”

“My mom uses the master bedroom on the first floor. I use the one on the second floor. Mark’s bedroom, Taekyung’s, the twins’, my closet, and the guest bedrooms. One is on the second floor and the other one is on the first floor,” Caroline spoke. “What about the other two rooms?” Persephone asked. “One is the twins’ playroom and the other is the pets’ room,” Taekyung responded.

“Just like Caroline’s closet, they were originally guest bedrooms,” Mark added, “I just don’t think it’s fair that Caroline has many rooms. She also has her study. The only thing I asked for when we moved here was a room I could customize and use whenever I brought friends over.” Caroline snickered. “If you don’t like the idea of me being mom’s favorite, there is the door.”

“Are you kicking me out?”

“No one is kicking anybody out, Mark. Caroline, stop behaving like a child. Can’t we just have a nice peaceful dinner?” Caroline looked at Mark and said, “if you don’t like living here, you can just leave. Aren’t you too old to be living with mom?”

“What about you?” He countered, “you are older than me and you even have kids-.” Caroline interrupted, “I live here because I want the twins to grow up in the same home as their grandmother. Just like you, just like me.”

After having dinner, Caroline and Persephone sat in the theater with the kids watching a children’s movie, waiting for it to be bedtime. Caroline leaned closer to Persephone and rested her head on her shoulder. “What did you do today?” She asked. “I went shopping,” Persephone responded. Persephone looked at Caroline and added, “when I was at your mother’s store, I met the rudest man.”

Meanwhile, Taekyung was in the foyer with the dog leash in his hand. He saw Mark going down the spiral stairs and said, “let’s go walk Cholate.” Mark looked at him and hesitated before answering.

When they were walking the dog around the property under the dim light of the light post, Taekyung commented, “when we were having dinner... I saw your face light up when you heard that Persephone would be staying with us for a while.” Mark continued looking at the ground and responded, “yes, well... Persephone is like an older sister to me. She has been friends with Caroline for a very long time. She cares for me like a brother.” As he finished the sentence, Mark made eye contact with Taekyung, then he looked away.

When they arrived back at the mansion, Caroline and Persephone were tucking the kids into bed. The twins slept in the bedroom while Caroline read them a book and Persephone was in the guest bedroom with Achilles, tucking him into bed.

When the twins fell asleep, Caroline went down the stairs, to the wine cellar. She grabbed a bottle of red wine. She read the label with a smile on her face. “Château Lafite 1787.”

She grabbed a wine glass and walked to the table in the middle of the wine cellar. She took a seat and opened the expensive wine bottle. She poured the wine on the glass and looked at the wine on the glass. She carefully noticed the color and the clarity of the wine. She lightly swirled the wine then took a sniff.

Caroline tasted the wine and hummed. She continued to examine the glass of wine in her hand when Elizabeth stepped inside the room. “Thought you’d be here.” Caroline smiled and offered, “would you like some wine?”

“Yes, please.” Caroline stood up from the chair and walked to the collection of wine glasses. She grabbed a wine glass and stepped closer to the table. She served Elizabeth the glass of wine before taking a seat. Elizabeth took a sip of the wine and asked, “what wine is this?” Caroline looked at the wine on the glass then she swirled it around. She smelled the wine and then she took a sip.

After tasting the wine thoroughly for the second time, she responded, “Château Lafite 1787. I’ve been saving it for a very long time since it was last available.”

“Is this one of the wines you brought from your wine cellar in New York?” Caroline nodded and admitted, “wine tasting is one of the best hobbies.” Elizabeth chuckled.

Just then Persephone walked inside the room. “The butler said you’d be here.” Caroline snickered and offered, “wine?”

“Yes, please.” Caroline stood up from the chair and fetched a wine glass for Persephone. She poured some wine for her, then took a seat after handing her the glass. “So, what we talked about the dinner table, why do you smell-.” Caroline yawed, cutting her off. “I am extremely fatigued, Sephie. Maybe we can continue this some other day? Or never? How does that sound?”

Caroline stood up from the chair and grabbed the wine bottle in one hand and her wine glass in the other. She walked out of the room, leaving the two women alone, wondering why Caroline was avoiding the subject. “She’s hiding something,” Persephone commented. “Uh-huh,” Elizabeth uttered in agreement. “What do you think she is hiding? Do you think she started dating someone?”

“I don’t think so. Since she broke up with Liam, she hasn’t been dating and from what I have seen, I don’t think she is willing to date anyone.”

“I guess he really broke her heart.” Elizabeth nodded softly. Caroline, who stood behind the door hearing everything while hugging the wine bottle felt an aching pain in her heart, remembering how Liam broke her heart four years ago. She walked away and got on the elevator. She went to the second floor and went straight to her bedroom.

Caroline walked out to the balcony and sat on the couch. She poured herself a glass of wine and took a sip. She looked out the horizon, the salty wind, coming from the sea brushed against her rosy cheeks. A tear escaped her eye as she remembered how Liam treated her and the way he used to treat her when he said he ‘loved her.’

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