It was around six in the evening when Narmadha stopped the girls and ordered them to get out of the pool. The sun was still lingering in the sky, casting an orange glow to their surroundings.
“Sam, your dad just called. He wanted to meet you,” Narmadha informed.
Everyone around her perked up–giving her puzzled looks. “Okay. Did he say anything else?”
“No. But, I do know that Mr. Santiago was on his way here,” Narmadha stated.
“Oh, so Dad came earlier than usual,” Samantha frowned.
“Not only your dad. Axel is here too. If I were you, I would hurry up,” she replied and Samantha nodded, getting out of the pool.
She remembered her father, saying he had a meeting and won’t be back until nine p.m. What happened?
“He’s in his office,” Narmadha informed.
“Okay mom,” Samantha said, securing the knots of her bathrobe around her waist. Something told her this was urgent.
“Girls, I am going to go and speak to my dad. Don’t wait for me,” Samantha announced as she wrapped her hair in a clean towel. She didn’t want to waste any more time to change. The bathrobe she wore ended a few inches below her knees and was modest enough to meet them.
Wasting no more time, she went down the stairs to her father’s office. The familiar door came into view sooner and she entered the room, not bothering to knock. She was sure that her flip-flops would do that job for her, it was Amelia’s gift to her and it squeaked with each step she took.
Gregory, who was engaged in a deep conversation with Axel, looked up and grinned while Axel came to her immediately and engulfed her in a hug. Samantha hugged him back and snuggled into his chest.
“I missed you,” he whispered in her ear and she gave him a full-blown smile of her own.
“Can’t say the same. The girls kept me occupied,” she said, chewing her lower lip, feeling guilty. “I did think about you though. How was your day?”
Axel smiled softly. “I am glad that you had a good time. The meeting was boring as usual. We need to meet him again next week to discuss the proposal,” he replied as he led her to the chair next to Gregory and sat beside her.
“Hey dad, you’re early. What about your meeting?” Samantha went to hug him and he embraced her with a warm smile.
“Something has come up. Eric is attending the meeting in my place,” Gregory informed.
“Wanna tell me about it?” Samantha inquired.
“Of course. We’re just waiting for-” Gregory was cut off by a knock. “Come in!”
Daniel entered with his usual professional smile in place. His green eyes scanned his surroundings. The blue color shirt he wore, hugged his frame hinting his taut muscles and the dark blue jeans hugged his strong thighs like a second skin.
“Hello Mr. Sinclair, Samantha, Mr. Finlayson,” he greeted individually with a curt handshake.
“We hope you brought some news,” Samantha started.
“I do. Before we continue, I’d like you to listen to this audio,” Daniel stated placing a mini recording device on the table.
“You know, it’s not safe for us to meet like this.”
“I know, but this has to be done.”
Samantha realized the female voice as Alicia while the male voice was new to her.
“So, what do you want me to do?”
“The same thing we did for Francis Kaufman.”
“Are you sure?”
“I never wanted to destroy someone so bad.”
“Then, we shall start with Axel. The Sinclair International security system is difficult to breach. Destroying Axel would bring the same result anyway.”
“Axel and Alexander. I want them both to suffer.”
“I have a room booked for the night in a nearby hotel. What do you say?”
“Hotels are not safe. We could go back to my apartment.”
“What about the reporters?”
“I know a way to get in without being noticed,”
“You like that, don’t you?”
“Patience, Alicia. I have so many things planned for tonight.”
“That bitch!” Samantha glowered as the audio tape finished playing.
“Your suspicions were correct,” Daniel began. “Francis Kaufman was innocent.”
“So, what do you suggest we do in this case?” Axel asked as he shared a look with Gregory.
“Upgrade your security systems at both your home and office. Install new cameras, something similar to the systems we have in Sinclair International,” Daniel suggested.
“Then, I already got it covered,” Samantha stated. “When Axel decided to install security systems in his office and home, I chose the company who did our security systems,” she added.
“That’s great then,” Daniel nodded with a satisfied grin.
“Mr. Santiago, if this guy she is associating with is dealing with drugs, shouldn’t he be on the most wanted list? By the way, they talked it didn’t sound like he is some small dealer,” Axel stated.
“He’s right. I was thinking the same too,” Gregory agreed.
“I’ve spoken to one of my friends in the police department. We were able to get a few photos of this guy, which is not clear enough to run an identity check,” Daniel informed.
Axel looked at Samantha, with her brows furrowed in concentration, her teeth nibbling at her lower lip with a distant look on her face.
“What are you thinking?” Axel asked.
“We need to strike first,” Samantha replied. “Daniel, speak to Seemus. Get him to sign the divorce documents.”
“Sure, anything else?”
“Well, I think it’s time to release the scandalous images of Alicia,” Samantha stated.
“What about his Valtini guy?” Axel asked, his voice etched with concern. Samantha could already tell what was in his mind. He worried for the safety of his parents.
“I suggest that you and your parents stay away for a while. You can either stay here or in one of our apartments,” Gregory offered.
“Thank you. But, won’t they get suspicious if we are not staying there?” Axel asked.
“I agree with Mr. Finlayson,” Daniel piped in. “I suggest that your family continues to follow the current routine. I’ll have a team to watch over your home and office.”
“Thank you,” Axel smiled and relaxed at his words. “So, what if they did manage to place the drugs in my home or office?”
“They headed to Alicia’s apartment, straight into the trap,” Daniel said with a devious grin. “All we need now is a clear photo of this bastard to run a face recognition scan. Then, we will bust his ass.”
Samantha beamed. “Now, I know why you are the best in this field. Thank you, Daniel.”
“Always welcome. So, if there’s nothing more to discuss, I’ll be off to execute our next plan,” Daniel stated.
“Sure. Maybe you should contact Kenley for this,” Samantha added.
Daniel smirked. “Sounds good. She is already known as a gossip queen and no one would doubt a thing about how she got this information.”
“Exactly,” Samantha grinned.
“You didn’t tell me that she’s in our league,” Axel frowned.
“Oh, she called this afternoon asking for my forgiveness. I told her that she will have to continue doing what she was best at and I would pay for her,” Samantha shrugged.
Daniel left shortly and Gregory, who was mostly a silent spectator throughout the meeting watched his daughter in admiration. She reminded him of Narmadha in every way.
“Dad, Axel, I’ll go change and see you both soon,” Samantha stood up, rubbing her hands together and Axel got up with her.
“Don’t take too long. Wear something comfortable, we’re going out,” he informed.
“Where are we going?” She asked intrigued.
“We’re just going to hang out and get to know each other. Something we should’ve done a long back,” he shrugged.
Samantha chuckled. “All right then. I’ll be back soon.”
Gregory patted Axel’s shoulder with a smile before they exited the office.
“Axel, please… At least tell me where are you taking me? We’re heading out of the city,” Samantha pouted.
They’ve been driving for almost an hour and she wondered where he was taking her.
“I am taking you to the Ulster County Fair,” he replied.
“But, that’s in New Paltz.”
“Yes. We’re driving through the Taconic State Parkway. It’s the fastest route now and we can reach the fair in two and a half hours. We’ll reach in time for the fireworks tonight.”
Samantha gave him a full blown smile. “Awesome. I’ve always wanted to go to the Ulster County Fair. I’ve heard that they even hold pig racing,” she stated excitedly.
“It also has varieties of food stands and exciting rides,” he added.
“Have you gone before?”
“Yes. Dad couldn’t afford holiday trips. So every year he takes a break from his work for a week and take us there by train,” he informed her enthusiastically.
“Tell me more,” she asked and turned to look at him.
“Well, it’s almost four-hour journey by train. So, mom would pack food and we will play small games during our travel. Then, we used to stay at one of the motels there for a week and visit every day. I still miss those days.” Axel smiled as he reminisced the warm memories.
“That sounds wonderful. We should plan a family trip next year,” she suggested and he replied with the brightest smile that lifted her own spirit.
“It will take at least an hour to reach the venue. Why don’t we play twenty questions?” He asked.
“Axel, we’re not teenagers and we know each other for a year now,” she rolled her eyes playfully.
“Come on, Sam. It’ll be fun.”
“Okay, you go first,” she said, shaking her head in amusement and Axel’s grin widened.
“What’s your favorite color?” Axel asked. “Wait, don’t answer that. I can pretty much guess it for myself. Black and white.”
“Seriously Axel!” Samantha exclaimed with fake anger and crossed her arms over her chest trying to pose angry.
“Come on, you’re even wearing black and white now,” he said, pointing at her black skinny jeans and the white blouse. “It’s pretty obvious, panda.”
“Are you calling me fat?” Samantha scowled. The corner of her lips twitched slightly as she bit the insides of her lips to control the laughter.
“No, you’re cute,” he defended just like her brother, with her burst out into laughter and she hit his shoulders playfully.
“Okay. My turn. I know your favorite color is blue. So, what’s your favorite food?”
Axel grinned, his eyes crinkled with laughter. “Spanish cuisine. Because mom mostly cooks Spanish dishes. I do like to try new food.”
“I like Indian, Chinese, and Italian. I love to try every type of food,” Samantha grinned.
“What is your most favorite place in the world?”
“Home. Then, I like India, my grandma’s home. I’ve always wanted to travel around the world. What about you?”
“I like Spain. I’ve never been anywhere else outside the United States, except Spain,” he replied. “What’s your favorite movie genre?”
“Pretty much every genre as long as it keeps me hooked. What’s yours?”
“You wouldn’t believe,” Axel grinned.
“Let me guess,” Samantha tapped her chin thoughtfully. “Hmm… Action?”
“Stop popping the ‘p’… Thriller?”
“Come on, Axel. What is it?”
“What? No way.”
“Oh, God!” Samantha burst out into laughter. “Seriously, I never pegged you for a guy, who enjoyed Disney movies.”
“What’s wrong with that? They are pretty awesome.”
“Can’t disagree with that. I love them too,” Samantha commented, her cheeks ached with all the amount of laughing, she did and she was enjoying the trip so much.
It felt so good to see Axel’s genuine smile, which looked so attractive. Samantha wished that their happiness lasted forever as she looked out of the window.