Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 7: Beep

The next morning, I wake up to forty-one messages, twenty-three missed calls and seventeen voicemails.

At first, I think they were all from Cara. Perhaps in some way, she found out about Nate and I going on our date and she called to ask me about the details. But when I check my phone and scroll through my notifications, I realize they were not from her.

They were from mom and dad.

If my parents had spent their precious time trying to call me, it meant that all hell had broken loose.

I bolt out from my bed and head straight to the bathroom. After taking a super quick shower, I slip into a tank top and some shorts before heading down the stairs with my car keys and my phone. I scan the entire room. There is no sign my parents had even come home yesterday. Even though that is a normal occurrence, it didn’t stop me from having this sickening feeling in my stomach.

As I quickly search for something decent to eat in the kitchen, I listen to some of mom and dad’s voicemails.

“There’s something we need to tell you, Alexandria. It’s urgent.” Beep.

“Come to the office quickly. Please hurry.” Beep.

“Please get over here as soon as you can.”

Beep.

I stuff a creamy donut into my mouth before fleeing the house. The sounds of my parents’ worried voices fill my mind. I wonder what has happened that needed to involve me.

Holy shit balls.

What if my parents had decided to retire and they were going to tell me to run the company now? If that is the case, are they out of their freaking mind? I can barely run, let alone run a company. And there is a teeny tiny problem with my age. Hell, I’m only eighteen!

But I guess if my parents did hand over the company to me, they must really trust me. But what if I was a super crappy CEO (for Christ sake, i don’t know shit about business) and everyone else in the company decides to kick me out? Could they even do that? The company was under our family name.

Oh my god. I don’t even want to know.

I get into the car and start to drive.

My baby is going so much faster than it should be. I almost run into a traffic light, and almost hit a random passer-by trying to cross the road. And I’m quite surprised I didn’t get pulled over for going waaaay over the speed limit.

When I finally reach Woods and Co headquarters, I park my car a few blocks away to avoid having to find parking in the building. After shutting the car door, I start to run. I make my way through the main entrance of the building and head straight for the concierge, ignoring all the businessmen darting back and forth the building in a frenzy.

“Hi,” I say, completely out of breath.

The woman behind the desk appears to be raging over the phone, her hands flying around in exaggeration.

“I don’t know! I thought so too, but they already announced it,” The woman speaks, completely ignoring me. She flips her hair to the side and continues to talk to the person on the other line. “They said there were sorting things out, but who knows what else Mr. And Mrs. Woods can do about it.”

“Excuse me!” I say, this time a little bit louder. The woman’s eyes briefly meet mine, but she still doesn’t put down her phone. She continues her conversation, this time speaking in hushed tones.

“Oh for Christ sake,” I mutter. I reach over the desk and pull the phone out of her grasp. The woman looks at me with pure shock. I don’t think she thinks I would ever do that. But honestly, I don’t care what she thinks now. I need to get to my parents ASAP. “Good. Now I got your attention.”

She glares at me, and for a second there, I think she’s going to hit me. But fortunately, she doesn’t. “What the hell do you want, girl?”

I grit my teeth. “I’m here to see my parents. John and Margaret Woods.”

The woman behind the desk blinks a few times. “You’re their daughter?”

“The one and only Alexandria Woods.”

She sighs deeply and gestures for me to give me back her phone. I hesitate, thinking she was going to resume her conversation and forget all about me, but then she presses her lips into a thin line.

“I need the phone to call your parents.” She rolls her eyes.

“Oh, right.” I hand her back the phone, red creeping unto my cheeks. The woman starts to press some buttons on the telephone and I hear a soft dial tone. She murmurs something I cannot hear.

“Mmhmmm. Mmhmmm. Okay.”

Then, she hangs up. She then bends down to open one of the drawers and hands a card to me.

“Scan this on the elevator and it will take you to the 58th floor. Your parents will be waiting for you there.”

“Okay.” I snatch the card from her grasp and hurry to the elevator waiting for me. As the doors close, I can hear my heart pounding against my ribcage, threatening to tear it open.

My thoughts wander to what the woman was saying over the phone. She seemed really frantic... and scared about what’s going to happen. And what did she meant when she said that there wasn’t much my parents could do?

The suspense is killing me.

I watch as the floor number displayed on the panel in the elevator increases. My hands shake as I check my phone again for more messages. There are none. I’m guessing my parents know I’m here already.

When I reach the 58th floor, the elevator doors burst open. Taking a deep breath, I step forward and scan my surroundings. The atmosphere of the 58th floor totally contrasts from the ground floor, where everyone was talking and chatting at the same time. I notice that there was almost no one on this floor.

I walk along the hallway and finally spot my mom.

She is a mess.

Her hair is greasy, falling over her face in thick strands. Her beautiful chestnut eyes have dark circles underneath them. When she faces me, I notice her cheeks are flushed.

“Alex,” She murmurs and I immediately fall into her arms. I don’t care that we barely talked throughout the entire week. We hug for what seems like forever, her warmth enveloping me. It had been a long time since I had last hugged my mother. I missed her hugs so much.

When I finally pull back, I ask what happened.

“Alex,” She pulls me by the waist and kisses my forehead, a rare form of affection she barely gives. “I don’t know how to tell you this but... Woods and Co has gone bankrupt.”


“What?” I yell at her. I saw my mom’s eyes bulge, and I apologise for raising my voice. “How... what... why...”

How could this possibly happen? Woods and Co is one of the most successful companies in Boston. They basically ruled the business world here. So how could they have fallen so low?

My mom shakes her head and urges me to follow her. We’re walking along the hallway until we reach a glass door. It is blurred so I cannot see what is on the other side of the room. My heart flies over my chest, and I gasp.

She turns to me, casting a reassuring smile at my direction. I want to ask what’s going to happen now, and what are we going to do now that the company has gone bankrupt. I want to ask how are they going to pump money back into the company. I want to ask how are we going to get through with this.

My mind is spinning with questions I don’t have the answers to.

“Alex, we don’t really have much time left,” She says, “You have to listen to me, okay?”

“What is it?” I manage to speak, my voice squeaky.

“You have to go in there,” She points to the room with the glass door. “Your dad’s inside.”

“Okay.” I murmur as I take a step. But before I could go in, she grabs me by the hand.

“Wait,” Her voice is firm. “Alex, you need to know something.” I wait for her to explain.

She glances at the door briefly before returning her gaze next to me. “When you go in there, just... listen to what he has to say, okay? Don’t act irrationally.”

“Who’s he? And why should I act rationally?” I lift my eyebrows in confusion. “What the hell is going on, mom?”

She closes her eyes and sighs. “Now that the company has gone bankrupt, we have no other choice but to... turn to others for financial aid.” From the way her voice changes when she says that, I can tell she’s ashamed. “Someone very important has stepped up to help us. It’s an amazing opportunity, Alex.” But... Alex is still confused.

“I don’t understand,” I pull back and cross my arms over my chest. “No offence mom, but I don’t understand how this involves... me.”

She forces a smile on her face, a smile that is pained. “It has everything to do with you, Alex.”

“I dont understand-”

She presses her hands on my shoulders, “You’ll know everything soon enough.”

I look back at her, waiting for her signal. She nods, and I press my hand on the glass door in front of me and push.

The first thing I notice is the floor. It’s beige carpet, and the tiny fibres brush against my sneakers. When I finally manage to look up, I spot my dad. He looks so much paler than the last time I saw him. Thinner too. As I approach him, I also notice that his hair has several more grey streaks. Whoa, this whole situation had wrecked him.

His dark eyes lock with mine as I stand next to him. Then, he reaches forward to touch my shoulder. “Alexandria.”

The corners of my lips curve upwards. “Hey, dad.”

“Not quite the father and daughter reunion you would have liked, huh, John?” A masculine voice sounds. I tear my gaze from my dad and saw the man who was speaking. He looked much like my dad, except he is much more handsome, even though he looks like he is in his mid-fifties. He has dark brown hair and piercing hazel eyes. He also wears a black suit, and a nice red tie that my dad would have liked to own.

And beside the man is the guy I never expect to see in a million years.

Daniel

Freaking

Kerrington.

My heart feels like the voicemail machine.

Beep beep beep beep.

“Excuse me but... who are you?” I asked in a not so polite way. Then, I turn to Daniel, who looks just as surprised as me. He glances at his dad, a look of confusion passing his face. I have a feeling he doesn’t know why he’s here either. “And what is he doing here?”

The man turns to my dad and chuckles. “So, this is the famous Alexandria you’ve been talking about? Where are her manners?”

Who the hell does he think he is? “Um, you’re talking as if I’m not here.”

His gaze flickers to mine, hard and narrowed, and I realise I shouldn’t have said anything. There is something about this man that screams dominant. He can probably fry my ass right now if he wanted to.

“Sit down, Alexandria.” The man commands.

I sit down.

“Now,” He says, a smile forming on his face. Damn, his guy changes emotions as fast as a bipolar, “Where was I? Oh yes.” He begins to pace around the huge table situated in the middle of the meeting room. “Since Ms. Alexandria doesn’t know who I am, I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Harry Kerrington, the owner of Kerrington Enterprises.”

Holy fuck.

This guy is Daniel Kerrington’s father!

But... Harry and Daniel look nothing alike. Daniel has blonde hair and blue eyes. Harry is the latter. How is this even possible?

“You seem confused, Alexandria.” His eyes lock with mine again. “Penny for your thoughts?”

I blush. “No it’s okay.” I’m afraid of saying anything stupid. I have a nasty habit of doing that. “Go on.”

He cocks his head sideways and starts to pace again. “Very well. Now, as you probably already know, Woods and Co is on the verge of bankruptcy.” I thought it was already bankrupt.

Nope. I wasn’t going to voice out that thought.

“Your father and I have come to an agreement, Alexandria.” Harry speaks, his fingers trailing along the curved side of the meeting table. “Seeing as how my company is financially stable, I can get Woods and Co back on its feet. Possibly back to the way it has been before.”

I almost jump out of my seat out of joy. I look at my dad, knowing I would see his happiness. But he merely shrugs.

“That’s great, Mr. Kerrington,” I say, pleased. “That’s wonderful.”

Harry approaches me, grinning. “Yes, it is. And this is where you come in, Alexandria.”

My eyes dart from Harry to Daniel. Daniel tilts his head as if he doesn’t know what his father is talking about.

“You see, I am almost never this generous when it comes to money,” Mr. Kerrington speaks. “Moreover, your father and I have never been friends. You also could consider us as enemies, even.”

I have absolutely no idea where this is headed. Can this guy not beat around the bush and go straight to the point already?

“So why on earth should I help my own enemy?” He laughs to himself.

I purse my lips. “Um, because you should keep your friends close but your enemies closer?”

“Not exactly,” Mr. Kerrington licks his lips. “Turns out your father has something to offer to me.”

He looks at my father, and my father looks away, as if he was embarrassed. What is my father not telling me?

Daniel shifts from his seat, and leans forward. “Father, what are you talking about?” Mr. Kerrington merely grins at his son. Then, he turns straight to me.

I’m afraid of what’s he going to say next. My mother’s voice echoes in my head. It has everything to do with you, Alex. I gulp nervously.

“I offered your father and his company a loan, Alexandria. But on one condition: for you to be engaged to my son, Daniel.”

Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep

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