Chapter thirty three
"Linda I know this will be very hard for you but I want you to mentally prepare from now on for the case. Jared Johnson is a shrewd man and he is known for tearing people apart on the stand.” I paused letting each and every word sink in for her.
And I continued again as she seemed to understand the gravity of the issue I am trying to make her understand,“Leonard choose the best one but we are also in the A game. You just have to be steel faced while facing his questions and truthfully speaking the way Jared will interrogate, you will begin to doubt your own credibility. So to outscore him you need to be mentally prepared from now on. Just do that and leave the rest to us.” I finished looking at the petite woman sitting before me looking so fragile and timid. I hope she will be able to strengthen herself mentally before the first hearing.
“I will try my best Ell.” She muttered softly looking at me with her grey doe eyes.
“You’ll be fine Linda. You are so brave to stand up for yourself like this against that pig and to top that we have a prime witness also a victim of his ready to testify against him. Pluck up that same courage and strengthen yourself.” Jemi encouraged rubbing her back whilst exchanging a doubtful look with me. If Linda is how she is now there is no chance she will be able to counter answer Jared on the stand.
“Thank you so much, if it wasn’t for you guys I don’t know how many doors I would have gone knocking for help. Each day I try my best to accept what has happened and move on with my life but the night times are difficult when I am alone with just my thoughts to keep me company on the bed. That’s when all the darkness tries to cover me and suffocate me and the only thing I wish for is death.” A silent tear slides down her high cheek as she lets out a slow deep breath.
Handing her the tissue,” Linda we will never be able to understand the amount of pain you are going through but we assure you we will not rest until that man is locked up for good.” I assured her in the best possible way I could.
It was true we will never be able to understand the depth of the other person’s pain until we ourselves have gone through the same. But sometimes just letting the other person know you are there for them no matter what is I think more than enough.
Jemi and I spent the next hour briefing and coaching her on what possible questions Jared might ask her and what she should reply. By the time she left, it was already lunch time and we were famished. We send Alex to get hot dogs and beverages for us.
“Do you think she will be prepared to face Jared.” I enquired taking a sip of my soda.
“Right now no. But we still have roughly three months so we can prepare her well and plus the therapy session will be an added bonus for her recovery. Now the only obstacle is going through a thorough background check on that woman willing to testify.” Jemi returned thoughtfully as she took a bite of the hot dog.
“You are right. I hope she is not some snitch send by Leonard. I don’t trust him one bit. He will do anything to sabotage our case.”
“Even me I had that same feeling when Linda first filled me in on her. Let’s hope she is what she appears to be.”
The sudden opening and loud banging of the door made both of us jump on our seats diverting our attention towards it.
“Dan broke up with me.” Came Michael’s shrill voice looking devastated. Closing the door behind him he sat down on the chair beside Jemi.
Exchanging a concerned look with Jemi. I diverted my attention towards our best friend who was sitting with palms covering his face and elbows resting on his thigh.
“Mic,” I called out.
He burst out crying, his whole shoulder shaking. I quickly got up and went towards him, kneeling on the floor and wrap my arms around him as I rub my hand on his back.
I handed him the tissue Jemi gave me but he refused and just continued crying. We let him cry out his pain saying nothing.
Finally lifting his palm away from his face he took the tissue from me and wiped his face,” I can’t believe this is happening to me. I thought everything was fine between us.“His voice seemed rather unsteady as he hiccupped from all the crying.
“What happened. Did he cheat on you or something?” Jemi enquired.
“No, he didn’t Thank God for that. I would have lost it if he did that.” He tapped his eyes with the tissue and threw it in the bin.
Jemi and I exchanged a confused look as I stood up and walked towards my chair to sit.
“Then what could be the reason for his sudden plan on breaking up with you,” I asked.
He heaved a deep sigh, closing his eyes as if to gather his thoughts.
“Oh for fuck sakes. Please kill the suspense already. Is it something I should go and kick his ass for?” Jemi retorted frowning.
“I wish it was that,” Micheal returned dryly.
Looking at both of us he began,” He broke up with me because he is traveling to Asia to find himself, whatever that is. He said he was not happy with how he was living his life and that he needed to cleanse himself mentally and spiritually and find enlightenment. He is giving up everything you guys. All his wealth, his family, Me.” He whispered out the last word shakily.
“Fine good for him. I won’t judge him for it but what’s the need of breaking up with you or giving up everything, isn’t that a bit extreme. I mean he can still find whatever he is looking for and come back right. Even the late Steve Jobs did something like that and look what kind of tech empire he built.” Jemi reasoned shaking her head in disbelieve.
“I know I told him that. But he said he might not come back, he might just decide on living out his life in an ashram or something. So he told me to just move on with my life.”
“I don’t know what to say Mic, this is so unfortunate.” I gave him a sympathetic look. Knowing Dan for the past one year through Mic, this news was not completely a surprise. He always talked about how he needs to find himself, always tapping on all sorts of world religion. Sometimes it is learning about Buddhism by staying in a monastery for retreats or kabbalah the next time, the list goes on.
“And to think I designed my whole fall collection based on the inspiration of our love. This is gut-wrenching, how I’m I suppose to take the bow on the runway stage knowing the inspiration behind my collection is no more in my life.” His words came out rushed and strangled as he failed to suppress a sob.
“Oh Mic please don’t cry. I know it is tough but trust me it gets better with time.” I assured him with utmost sincerity.
“You are a sexy beast. I am sure you will find a wholesome person meant only for you and get the happily after you so deserve.” Jemi patted on his back reassuringly.
“Aww, thanks so much, you guys. I knew I would feel better talking about it to you guys.” Michael managed to give a small smile trying to compose himself.
“What are friends for. Do you want to vent more about it over facials and cocktails at our place.” I offered.
“I wish I could. But I will be leaving for Milan tomorrow for the fashion week. Maybe once I come back?”
“Sure Mic. Good thing fashion week has started, at least that will keep your mind occupied.” Jemi returned.
“Indeed. I will be back right on time for your birthday Ell.” Micheal smiled.
“I completely forgot about it. This year I just want to have a quiet dinner at the apartment. Just good food and company.” I stated. Last year was crazy, Micheal threw a large last-minute party at his penthouse for me to cheer me up and we got drunk so badly I had hung over the entire day the next day.
I was so upset at Richard for ditching me on that day to attain a charity ball in Paris with his mother which I was sure now it wasn’t his mother but his fiance. I had planned a one-night romantic getaway at the Ritz and I confirmed with him again and again if he had any urgent plan on that day, but he assured me he wouldn’t miss my birthday for anything.
This man played me like a puppet and I went along with it blind eye; a fool in love. I let out a bitter laugh remembering my past with him.
Concern clouding their facial expression, Mic spoke up,” Ell I hope you are not thinking about that bitch from last season, Please don’t. You have a make me go weak in the knees sex God of a boyfriend who worships the very ground you walk on. You should be filling up your mind on sexing him up thinking of all the possible ways of banging him. Not with the thoughts of that bitch!” Micheal shrugged, his expression as smug as his tone.
Micheal can be a diva with full of attitude towards you if you get in his bad book and Richard has sealed his position on receiving this treatment from him.
" Whatever thoughts I had you poof it by that word sexing.“Both of them joined me as I burst out laughing after saying that.
Once the laughter died down. Mic eyed me in a curious calculative way,” what’s keeping you from reciprocating your feelings for him.”
“Exactly my thoughts Mic,” Jemi chimed in.
Two pairs of curious and calculative eyes, stared at me waiting attentively for my reply. I’m I that transparent to them? They always had a way of pulling out my thoughts and laying it on the table for discussion.
I shrugged,” It is nothing serious actually, just the usual insecure thoughts of mine.”
“What kind of insecurities will you have now. He is in love with you and not to mention he always goes out of his way to let you know that.” Mic points out.
I sighed,” I won’t dispute with whatever you said Mic but what happens when I confess. I mean now he is so attentive towards me as if I were going to disappear if he isn’t with me. What happens then when he no longer has to worry about my feelings for him, no more the chase, no more the anticipations. Will he just get bored of us in the long run? You guys know how extremely emotionally invested I become about everything.”
“We know Ell. But he is not Richard that I can guarantee you. You went out of your comfort zone by hooking up with him in Greece and took a major risk by giving him a chance. Now take that huge leap of faith and confess your feelings to him, Ell. Don’t deny him your love nor deny yourself the possibility of having the best relationship of your life.” Jemi reasoned looking warily at me.
I heaved a deep sigh,” I get what you guys are trying to make me understand. I just need a little bit time to settle these issues within myself.”
“We understand Ell. But don’t drag it too long where you might unknowingly hurt him. Remember just like you, he is also going through the same fears and insecurities. It’s a risk, it is scary but you can’t forever let your past haunt you this way.” Jemi shot me a meaningful look as she leaned her head on the chair resting her elbows on the arms of the chair.
“Or better yet just have sex already. Give him a break, emotionally unfulfilled, sexually the same.” Mic retorted waving his hand casually.
“I wish it was that simple.” I mused dismissively. Deciding it was time to take the attention away from me I changed the topic,” Did Dan say anything about when he is leaving?”
“He is leaving the day after. I don’t have it in me to see him walk away from my life for good. So I booked the flight to Milan the moment he confessed, I am three days early for the fashion week but I am not going to sit around in my penthouse mopping over him. Better be busy than piling up calories eating carbs.” He let out a breathless low laugh but there was no masking the hurt behind it.
The few hours were spent just exchanging mindless happy chatters amongst us. They both agreed with me deciding to have just Dominic, Seb and Alex over for dinner for my birthday.
Once Mic left, Jemi and I spent our time discussing and preparing for Linda’s case. And by the time we were done, it was already 5 pm and Dominic had come to pick me up which culminated in us having a very good time at his place.
"Janis is everything ready for tonight?” Everything must go perfectly tonight. I have been preparing for it for the past few weeks and nothing should jeopardize it.
“Everything is ready don’t worry Mr. King.” Came Janis’s prompt professional tone through the speaker of my phone. Although I have told her there was no need for her to address me in a formal manner. But she insists on doing it at least at work.
“Thank you, Janis,” I replied without diverting my eyes away from the MacBook. I was reading an email sent personally by Richard Spencer that fucker ex of hers, inviting me and Arabella for celebration over dinner at his parent’s place in the Hamptons for the successful merger of my real estate company with theirs.
I didn’t bother to reply him back. I’d have to first confirm with her and reply accordingly.
“Mr.King, Cecilia Duran is walking straight towards your office. Should I stop her?” Janis asked at the other end.
“No, it’s fine Janis.” I cut the call. There was no use stopping her, she wouldn’t listen.
The office door clicked and I prise myself to face her. Closing the door behind her she sensuously walked towards me hips swinging with her sultry smile. Plump lips adorned with ruby red, a dress that fit her runway figure showing off her long toned leg. She was a stunning woman but nothing that would stir my heart.
Flicking her long dark hair back and resting her palms on the table body leaning forward her cleavage on full display,” I am very upset with you Dom. Since Ibiza I never heard from you, calls ignored.” She pouted.
“I have been busy.” I returned flatly.
Tracing her finger on the table she walked towards me and sat on the table just an inch away from me as I turned the chair to face her,” I don’t believe you. But that’s okay you have always been hard to get type but I always get what I want. And I want you, Dom, I have always wanted you. More so after those pleasurable two nights at Ibiza four months back, my mind has been constantly occupied by you. Even our mothers are so excited by our relationship.” She traced a light finger on my face which I brushed it away with my hand.
“Cecilia from which angle are you terming our time together in Ibiza as a relationship? There is nothing of that sort and you know it. And as for my mother being excited about the supposed relationship. She is just misinformed and I’ll make sure I rectify it.” I replied dryly.
We were family friends and to top that Cecilia’s mother and my mother were childhood friends. Cecilia is the heiress to the Duran luxury Hotel Empire and also a supermodel.
“Dom whats with the name Cecilia you always call me Ceci. I know I have been very busy but I am completely free for the next two months except for some photo shoots here and there I am otherwise free. Let me make it up to you, make you realize what you are missing. I know you want me.” Before I could realize what she was doing she sat on my lap wrapping her arms around my neck and kissed me on my lip.
" What the hell!” I retorted angrily setting her down from my lap and stepping away from her.
Resting her hands on her hips,” Why are you so mad about it. I don’t remember you complaining about it four months back.”
“That’s what it is isn’t it four months back.” I enunciated each word clarifying what we had was in the past and I’m in no mood to revisit it.
“Look, Cecilia, you are a wonderful woman and whatever we had was just a fling I was absolutely clear about that but if my words somehow got misinterpreted I’ll make it clear this time. I am already in a serious relationship now and whatever was between us was just plain fucking and nothing else. I am sorry if I gave you any wrong ideas.” I finished walking towards the window, feeling so guilty for making her kiss me. It was like as if I have cheated on Arabella.
“Relationship? And you?” She huffed.
“Why? I’m I not capable of being in a relationship?” I turned to face her raising a brow.
“Fine! be with her have it your fill. But just so you know this isn’t over between us. I want all of you and I Cecilia Duran always get what I want. I’ll see you around Dom.” Back paddling she called out,” The way you responded to my kiss shows she doesn’t satisfy you at all like I would.” Her eyes shone in triumphant mirth as she turned and walked out of my office closing the door with a loud bang.
“Fucking shit!” I cursed out loud, the hell I responded to her kiss. The nerve of her, I knew she would latch on to me if I hook up with her but the first night happened with a drunken state and the next day out of lust. She was a spoiled tantrum throwing woman who thinks the whole world revolves around only her and I the bigger ass for getting involved with her. Now how do I explain this to my mother because I was sure she might have weaved some tall story of how we are exclusive to our mothers.
Thinking about it started giving me a strong headache. Rubbing my forehead with my hand I sat down on the chair, head leaning back and resting on the chair.
The ringing of my phone made me sit up straight. It was Arabella video calling me.
“Hi, babe.” She smiled as I received the video call.
“Hi, sweetheart. Miss me?” I smiled but she was no longer smiling. Her gaze was hard, emerald green eyes pore into me with judging eyes.
“You know what Dominic. Next time if you have to pick up my call after kissing another woman, at least have the decency to wipe her lipstick off your lips.” She cut the call before I could barely register her words.
Goddamn it! there is no way I’m catching a break today am I. Wiping my lips with the tissue which had the stain of the lipstick I kept calling her back but she kept rejecting my call.
I called again but this time it was switched off. Fucking shit!!
I rushed out of my office barking orders to Arthur to bring the car out to the front of the office building.
“Janis keep Cecilia Duran and all the women of my past on the blacklist,” I ordered through gritted teeth ignoring the amused look she gave me and strode towards the private elevator, punching the lift button furiously.