I don’t know where these people were hiding, but when Julian looked around as clasped his hands, people started appearing and placed a neat and classy table setting in the middle of the empty restaurant for us. If this how they’ll usually serve their guest here when it opened, I would be extremely impressed. It was like we were in a movie how comical it looked. After everything was set, a man in casual white polo shirt and denim jean approached us. He gave a welcoming smile before he greeted.
“Mr. Hawksley, good afternoon.” He then turned to me. “Ma’am. How are both of you today?” He asked and glanced back at Julian.
“We’re doing well, Simon.” Julian replied and addressed him with familiarity. “This is Ms. Zoey Curtis, my executive secretary.” He paused briefly as Simon offered his hand to me.
“It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Curtis.”
“Likewise.” I curtly replied.
“I’m sorry for having this under such short notice, Simon. I hope I’m not troubling you with your preparations to this place.” Julian humbly said.
“It’s a pleasure to serve you today, Mr. Hawksley. It’s not an inconvenience at all.” Simon paused for a moment like he was hesitating. “Would it be only the two of you this afternoon, sir? Isn’t your brother and his wife joining?”
“No. It’s just us, Simon.” Julian smiled.
From the glint in Julian’s eye, Simon might have caught on with his unspoken words.
“Of course, sir.” Simon nodded and gave me a brief smile. “So for your lunch today, I prepared a four-course meal of the best dishes I’m sure would be a hit once the place opens next week.” He said.
“We’ll be the judge of that,” Julian lightly warned.
Simon chuckled, not affected by his words. “I’ll be back with your appetizer. And for your drinks?” he paused and waited for our reply.
“It’s too early for wine and we both have to get back to work after this… so sweet tea would be fine?” Julian looked at me for confirmation at his reply.
“Yes. I’ll have a sweet tea, please. Thank you.” I said.
It was difficult to pass any private conversation with straining ears closely around us. So throughout lunch, Julian and I could only pass small talk while we ate. Once we finished, it was more or less business when Julian talked with Simon. We gave him our honest review of our meal, which was recently the best luxury meal I’ve eaten. He looked pleased by that remark. Once we make our way out of the hotel, we were stopped by the lobby when Jensen walked in by the entrance. My heart nearly stopped, though I felt relieved that we weren’t showing any PDA (public display of affections).
“Julian, you’re here.” Jensen halted on his tracks the same time he met Julian’s gaze.
Julian closed the distance between them. I follow silently behind him. “Jensen, didn’t your wife told you we’ll be here?”
“No. Kyla didn’t tell me anything about you visiting the hotel.” He replied. It was then Julian sidestepped. Jensen finally noticed me. “Oh! Zoey. Hey! I didn’t see you there.” He greeted. He looked genuinely surprised.
“Hi. How are you, Jensen? Did you have a great lunch with Kyla?” I greeted and smiled to show him I wasn’t offended he hadn’t seen me.
“Ah, yes. I’m good. My wife and I ate at a bistro just close to your office.” He said.
It was then Julian interjected and took over the conversation again. “Jensen. Zoey and I had taken the opportunity of sampling the menu for The Chateau. The food is exquisite. If you’re wary of my approval, just let Simon sample you another round and bring Kyla with you. I know she’ll want a say. She’s very intuitive.” Julian stated.
“That lunch was today? When you called me this morning, I thought you meant tomorrow…” he trailed off like he caught himself saying something he shouldn’t. He then found me still standing close.
I knew Julian needed some hand to plan this lunch, no matter how last minute it was – and being his secretary, I’ve handled his occasional last minute plans as well. So something was up.
Julian sarcastically inquired. It cut my trail of thought. “When Kyla called you today for lunch, didn’t you get some sort of idea about that being today?”
“Was she in on it as well?” Jensen now looked confused.
“I’m not too confident sometimes about your ability to remember my plans. From how you were talking over the phone last time, you had Charlie in your arms.” Julian snorted.
“She was.” Jensen didn’t even try to defend himself. “But is it okay to be talking about this with Zoey here…” he looked uncertain as he glanced back at me. “I hope you weren’t expecting too much with my brother. He pretends like he can plan a perfect date, but he’s pretty sloppy at those.” He coyly stated.
“Hey! I’m not sloppy! I can be romantic…” Julian quickly defended but trailed off as he caught my eye.
“Did he give you any flower? You know, the standard cliché date presents?” Jensen playful asked me.
I chuckled and smiled, playing along. “No. He got me nothing. I didn’t even know we were going on a date until an hour before we left the office. Then it turned out the date was partly for business.”
“Oh god. You’re really rusty, bro.” Jensen laughed.
“A year ago, I could say the same with you. I know Kyla would vouch for me.” He countered.
“Not when she hears about this. For all I know, she taught your plan of a date was taking Zoey to somewhere fancy and…” Jensen kept on chuckling but stopped talking when Julian held up his hand.
“Okay. Okay. I get it. You don’t have to make me look and feel bad.” He rolled his eye at Jensen. “And I thought you enjoyed our lunch date.” He turned to me, looking a bit disappointed.
“I did.” I didn’t think twice in my response. “I was with you, which what matters.”
“Right? You could have said something, Zoey. Geez, now I feel like an idiot.”
Jensen chuckled in amusement and tapped his brother shoulder in comfort. “You’ll get it right next time. Since she’s still here joking about it, you’re good.”
“Thank for the assurance.” Julian dryly replied.
“You two know I can hear you, right?” I inquired in jest.
Jensen smiled as Julian gave me a flirty wink. I rolled my eyes at these two brothers. It never a dull life around them.
After a few more chat and banter between the two brothers, I reminded Julian and I were nearly late for a meeting in the afternoon. So we cut it short and go our separate ways. However, it was then Jensen remember something that knocked Julian’s breath off.
“Oh, yeah. I nearly forgot to tell you. Mom called this morning and told me they’re flying over here from England to visit Charlie early for her first birthday. They won’t be able to make it. Dad has an important meeting with a possible new business partner in Australia…” Jensen trailed off when he saw Julian’s stiff expression.
“This weekend? Here? The two of them?” Julian looked troubled by this information, which confused me a bit. “Are you sure that’s why they are here?”
“That’s what she told me.”
“She didn’t ask anything about me, or anything?”
Jensen arched his eyebrow. “Are you afraid she’ll find out you’ve broken up with Grace and now in a new relationship? Who, by the way, I’m happy you’re with.”
Julian groaned and peered around the lobby. It was then it came to my attention we’ve been idly standing there for longer than we should. I noticed a few staff and guest were slowly eavesdropping on our conversation. It was then I got a flashback of Kyla’s advice this morning. People will find out about us soon enough and I need to be prepared for it and under my own circumstance. If not, I would be in a compromising position which I might be ridiculed. Julian wasn’t just an ordinary man. His family and his position have a high regard in society. And I was miss no one. And somehow, this fact struck me again. Not that it had never crossed my mind.
“Zoey. Zoey. Hey, are you listening?” Julian lightly shook my arm, not realizing I was in a brief trance.
“I’m asking if I can make some changes to my schedule this weekend. I know my parents would want to have either lunch or dinner.” Julian said.
“I’ll need to check on it…” I trailed off and got out my phone.
“No need to check it now, Zoey,” Julian chuckled. “I will let you know later today, Jensen. Zoey and I need to head back. I can see the car outside already.” He pointed at the exit as he grabbed my hand, ushering me towards the door.
Jensen watched us exited the building. Julian didn’t even bother to wait for his brother to respond. As we reached the car, I got my barring and got in the car before I started making a bit of a fuss.
“Mr. Hawksley, I’m not sure I can reschedule your weekend. You have enough as it as. And if you do, you have to extend sometime next week to cover for it.” I informed, getting back to business mode.
“And are you willing to work those hours with me?” he asked, unfazed by my formality, which was a surprise. But I didn’t mind it as of the moment.
“You pay me to work those hours. So, of course, sir.” I replied and gone along with it.
“Right. I am. But are you happy, personally, that you’ll be spending more time with me at the office than at the apartment?” He rephrased. Now I understood why he allowed me to be formal around with him. His dilemma was putting me in a compromising position. His way of softening the blow was through allowing me to be formal with him.
“What? Are you worried I’ll get mad you’re putting business first then me?” I was baffled. However, if it was in a different situation and a different man, I would have thought differently after what happened with Ben, but I learned. And Julian made sure I knew he wasn’t Ben as well.
“You’ll have less time with me in bed,” he coyly said. His lips twitched in amusement.
I felt my face flush in reply. I gasped and lightly slap his arm. “You’re playing with me. Damn it, Julian.”
“But I’m hurt, you know. You’re not feeling a little bit sad about having more time privately with me.” He stated and grabbed my hand.
“I am sad, but I’m with you still Julian. Even if you go all night at the office.”
Julian gave me a devilish grin. “Well, I could think of a few places we could spend at the office in between breaks…”
I gasped and this time put a bit of force as I slapped him again. “Damn it, Julian! Would you please be serious?”
His echoing laugh brushed aside any feeling of irritation I had at his comments.
Throughout the afternoon as we got back to the office thing were running normally. I wasn’t anticipating anything that’ll put me on edge. I focused on work again as I had to rearrange Julian’s schedule for the weekend after that short meeting and announcement from Jensen. By the time I’ve settled everything, every paper works, and his schedule, it was past seven in the evening. I barely noticed the office going empty. When I’ve peered up towards Julian’s office, he was still glued in his seat his focus to his computer monitor.
It was then I felt my empty stomach rumble. So I gathered my things first before making my way to Julian’s office. He must have seen me from his peripheral vision as I opened the door since he quickly glanced up in my direction.
“Zoey, are you ready to go?” He asked before I got to say anything.
“What? I’m…” I stopped short on my reply.
“I was waiting for you to finish up. I didn’t want to disturb you so I kept away.” He said with a feign an innocent smile.
I rolled eyes. “You’re so cheeky today.”
“Cheeky? Wow, that’s a first I’ve heard someone say that to me.”
“Well, glad to be your first.” I grinned back.
He snickered. “And I wish you’d be my last.”
I felt my heart skip a beat from his words. Chill girl. He didn’t mean about that.
“Anyways, I’ve already rescheduled your weekend meeting. You’ll have the meeting with the design team on Monday, and have the meeting with the architect and engineer this Saturday morning since you’ve sited it’s more significant in the planning process.” I informed.
“Right, of course. Thank you, Zoey. Well, that’ll make my mother and father happy to spend an afternoon with us. They’ll easily warn up to you as they have with Kyla.” He stated proudly.
His words felt like he held me at gunpoint. “Wait, what?”
“Why do you look surprised?” He asked.
“Why do I look surprised?” I scoffed. “You just suddenly told me I’ll be meeting your parents this weekend. How am I not be surprised?”
“Didn’t you hear what Jensen even said this afternoon?” He firmly argued.
“Of course I heard. There wasn’t any indication that the meeting had anything to do with me. He said you were meeting your parents. I’m not included in that picture.” I defended.
“Well, for me, as of yesterday you’re included in any picture that involves my life. I thought we’ve at least made that clear.”
Now, I’m the one who sounded absurd.
“I’m…” I cleared my throat unsure what to say.
It was then he cracked a smile. “I’m so sorry. That made you worry, did it?”
“Gah! Stop playing with me.”
“I’m sorry. But seriously though, I would want you to meet them.” He stated in between chuckles.
This conversation was giving me a rollercoaster ride. “Are you serious?”
“I did say that I am.”
And then more silence.
“We’ve only been dating a total of a day and a half.”
Julian peered down on his wristwatch. “Well, nearly two days now.” He interjected.
I pursed my lips, now getting annoyed at his act.
He saw my distaste and grabbed my hand, giving it a brief kiss. “Come on. You’ll just be meeting them. My father would want to meet who Rufus hired to replace him. I’m sure that old man had told him about you already before I said anything to them…”
I gasped. “Did you tell your parent about us already?”
“What? No. I have told them yet… My mother doesn’t even know that…” He trailed off like he caught himself saying something incriminating.
“Doesn’t know about what?”
Before Julian could reply, his phone vibrated on top of his desk and broke our conversation. He hastily answered the call and ended it without any verbal response. It was then I knew who the caller was.
“Jeffrey’s downstairs. Would you like to have dinner out or we’ll dine-in back at the apartment?” He asked as he gathered his jacket and a few personal things.
“I’ll call some take-outs and have it deliver at your place,” I replied and opened the door.
“I feel like having Italian today.” He informed with a grin.
“Duly noted.” I grinned.
Like that, the conversation from before was shoved aside. But I didn’t forget. ′My mother doesn’t even know that…′ What did he mean?
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