Why would he do that? Out of all these men, I trusted Finneas the most. Not Ricardo, not Donnie, not Vandermir. It was a simple question I had asked, it wasn’t anything extravagant. So why couldn’t he just tell me the truth? What was Finny hiding? What if Finneas was the most dangerous out of these men? What if he used his innocent looks and gentleman-like manners to trick people? No, he wouldn’t do that. There’s no way possible. He wouldn’t be so deceptive. He couldn’t be. Not him. It hurt the most to know that he lied to me, that too on such a trivial matter. If Finny could lie that easily to me about how long he knew someone, what else would he be hiding? Was anything he ever told me true? One thing I figured out for sure now was that he wasn’t the person I thought he was. He wasn’t the person I wished he could be. He wasn’t different from those guys. Whatever it was, one thing was clear to me, these guys were dangerous and so was whatever business they were up to.
Walking into the room, I noticed there was some sort of wine tasting going on at the other half of the hall.
“Oh, this piece is nice. Have you ever painted, Juliet?” He asked as he curiously looked at one of the paintings on display.
There was no way this guy was dangerous. The way he looked so innocently at the painting, almost as if he was a little kid that was admiring a house made of candy. How could I think he was even dangerous? Maybe I shouldn’t judge him so quickly. But why did he lie to me? And so easily he did it too. If I hadn’t seen the photos with him and Adrian, I would have bought that whole lie he told me. But now that I know it was not true, it just felt like I couldn’t trust him anymore.
“Why are you so quiet?” He asked again as he looked at me worriedly.
Why does he even look at me like that? As if I mean something to him? Doesn’t he see me as a stranger? I mean, that’s exactly what we were to each other. I didn’t even know his last name yet. But why? Why does he even look as if he is actually concerned about me?
I suddenly felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, “Juliet?”
“Oh!” I said a bit startled by his touch.
He kept that concerned look upon his face as he looked down to me.
“I’m sorry, Finny, I just zoned out a bit,” I said, feeling quite nervous around him now, “Actually, I haven’t painted in such a long time.”
“Ohh…” He said, taking a deep breath.
“Do you?” I replied, trying to encourage a conversation.
“Well, yes. I love to paint. It’s like a passion, you know, a hobby, to get my mind off things.”
What kind of things, Finny?
“I see. Since when do you paint?” I continued.
“Ever since I knew myself actually,” He laughed, “I remember even using my mother’s ketchup and mustard for paint when all the colours were finished. Although, I remember getting a good scolding for that.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at that, it was kind of adorable. Imagine a little Finny playing around and painting with condiments.
“Well, by now you must be a professional.” I teased.
“I’m hardly even one. Every year I try to do something for the exhibit though, just for fun.”
“Really? Where is your painting, then?”
“It must be here somewhere. I just sent it in. I wasn’t there when they had put it up.” He replied.
Suddenly his phone beeped and he looked at the message, almost a bit tired.
“Juliet, do you mind staying here for about twenty minutes? I’ll be back really quickly, I promise. Or do you want me to drop you back to the room? I won’t mind.”
“No, no, I’ll be fine here.”
“Alright, something just came up I need to see to it.”
“Okay then. You can leave, don’t worry about me.” I smiled.
As he left, I continued looking at the paintings. They were all really beautiful but at the same time I felt a bit uneasy as if someone was watching me. Nevertheless, I continued admiring the pieces when I found Finny’s piece.
Finneas J. Harrison.
So his last name was Harrison.
His painting oddly made my skin crawl, it was beautiful, yet so familiar.
Those colours, I’ve seen them already.
That intoxicating shade of blue, that rich strawberry nude colour, there was so many things going on in that painting. At first it looked like an image from a cathedral’s window, but there were so many colours. It was so powerful, almost as if there were so many stories he wanted to tell with this.
That shade of blue.
There was a girl in the back of all the colours, I knew there was, but he tried covering her up. I noticed she had the longest, most enchanting blonde hair.
Wait, was this the girl in the picture before? The one I saw holding hands with Adrian? That shade of blue, that was the same shade as her eyes. I had a gut feeling that it was Finny’s sister. Who else could she be anyway? But who was she to Adrian? Why were they holding hands? It was clear that in the picture the girl had deep feelings for him, the way her eyes sparked and the evident natural blush that was on her cheeks when she was with him.
Unexpectedly, I heard a raspy chuckle next to me. Turning to the side, I saw the sight of the dreadful old man I had never wished I saw again.
“My, my darling, I didn’t mean to scare you.” He grinned, looking at me eagerly.
This old man scared the heck out of me. There was this hungry kind of look in his eyes. There was an obsession within him. He honestly looked like a crazed pervert to me.
“Excuse me.” I said, trying to get away from him.
“Wait!” He answered back quite loudly, which gained a few turns from people.
If there was anything I didn’t want right now, it was to cause a scene and be the centre of attention. No one was with me anyway, no Finny, no Adrian, nobody.
“I see your fiancé isn’t here with you today.”
“That’s not the case, Mr. O’Neil. He’s -”
“Well, enough about him,” He interrupted, “I realized he isn’t here with you. If I had a lovely lady as you, I would be with you every moment.”
“Yes, because you can’t trust the men out there now. Can you, Mr. O’Neil? How vulgar and classless some can be.”
“You’re right my dear.”
What an idiot. I was talking about him.
“Well, look what I brought you.” He said offering me a wine glass.
The smell was terribly strong. Was he trying to drug me or something? And that too, here? Wow, this man was a lunatic.
“Aren’t you going to take it, my sweetheart?” He asked impatiently, still trying to hold that fake smile on his face.
“Actually, I don’t drink alcohol.” I smiled sweetly back at him and walked a few step away, but he held my hand back.
“Darling, I insist. You are missing out quite a lot. Come with me, I assure you that it will be the best thing you ever tasted.”
“Please, Mr. O’Neil, I told you already. Alcohol isn’t for me. It’s a vile drink that no decent woman should consume too much of.” I replied a bit frustrated and pulled my hand away from his, but he continued following me.
“Then show me how indecent you are.” He replied hoarsely, bringing the drink close to my face.
Within a minute, someone suddenly took it away from him and drank it.
Adrian emptied the contents of the glass down his throat and handed Mr. O’Neil the glass back with a smirk on his face.
“That was a rather strong drink for the lady if I must say.”
“Vandermir.” The old man laughed nervously, “I didn’t know you were here, I would’ve met you.”
“Yes, but I saw how bored your fiancée seemed to be here, so I came over to her first.”
Bored? That pig! I wasn’t bored, I was perfectly fine by myself before he came.
“I find that rather insulting, O’Neil.” Vandermir chuckled.
“Hmm?” The old man asked, obviously feeling uncomfortable.
“How can she ever be bored when I’m with her?” Adrian smiled as he placed his hand around my waist.
Wow, how cocky of him. Leave it to Adrian to give himself all the credit. He could have just said ‘when we’re together’. What a man.
“Now, don’t give yourself all the credit, hunnie.” I spoke up, feeling a bit tired of being the dumb hand doll.
I felt Vandermir’s hand on me tighten a bit. Huh, I guess he didn’t like when I spoke up too much. But really, did he expect me to just act like his ‘arm candy’ all the time? No way, I was having too much fun seeing the way Mr. O’Neil’s irritation rose on how close Adrian and I were together. I spitefully pulled myself closer to Adrian as I tightened my arms around his.
“You seem like such a fun guy, Mr. O’Neil. It’s a shame life caught up on you so quickly.” I giggled.
He didn’t like it. Nope, he didn’t like the fact that I indirectly called him old. Well, serves him right. Geezer.
Adrian surprisingly seemed to relax a bit more, it was as if he was enjoying how I taunted the old man and I was enjoying it just as much.
“I haven’t grown that old, miss.” He replied with an embarrassed laugh.
This was getting too old. O’Neil was beginning to become really annoying and I was starting to become frustrated with him.
“Adrian, did you see Finny’s painting?” I asked, ignoring O’Neil and walking away with Vandermir.
“Watch that mouth of yours, Ms. Greene, the old man can only take that much.” He chuckled, “Who knows when he’ll snap and lose it.”
“Thank God you came here.”
“How sweet of you, you finally appreciate me.”
Rolling my eyes at him, I noticed Finny’s painting again and he too observed it quite curiously. I wondered if Adrian could see the girl in the back of the painting, how he felt about it, about her, who was she? Unfortunately, I only got another impassive expression from him. I couldn’t understand what he was thinking or feeling.
Typical Cryptic Vandermir.
“Hey! You guys are here!” Finny’s voice echoed from afar as he came up to us, “Oh, my painting.”
“It’s terrible.” Adrian replied.
Wow, what a jerk.
“Well I think it’s really cool, I mean, how you incorporated the image of the girl in the background looks really pretty.” I said, which made Finneas look at me a bit surprised.
Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t have said that. The girl in the painting was supposed to be unnoticeable, well, to me that is. If I hadn’t seen the girl in the old photos, I knew for a fact I wouldn’t have realized there was a girl in the painting, but no, Juliet Greene was a curious brat who had to play a wanted FBI agent.
“There’s a girl?” Finny asked, trying to act clueless. And damn, he was doing a good job. This made me a bit unsure about his character, on how much I really knew him. He was frighteningly a really good liar. Finny, the sweet adorable guy I trusted, my friend- turned out to be a liar.
“Uhh….there wasn’t any?” I laughed, acting more dumb and clueless, “Huh, and I thought I figured this painting out. Anyway, I overthink too much.”
Finneas gave a small, silent sigh and smiled back at me. He bought it. Vandermir, on the other hand, stared at me intensely. It was as if he knew I was lying, and it kind of scared me.
“Did you take care of the call, Finny?” Adrian asked as he dismissed his gaze upon me.
“Yes, the worker is outside waiting for you.”
“Good, let’s just finish this fast then.”
“Wait, but I-” I quickly interrupted feeling a bit embarrassed to ask ‘what about me?’
I mean, they weren’t going to leave me here alone again for the old crazy man to prey on.
“You what?” Adrian quizzed, raising an eyebrow.
“You don’t expect to follow us around everywhere now, do you?”
“That wasn’t what I meant. I just-”
“You’ll go back up to the room. Or is your head too hard you forgot where that is?” Vandermir asked with a scowl.
“I know where it is. You don’t have to tell me anything.” I spat back hatefully and walked away from him.
On my way back, I saw Ricardo entering the same elevator as me.
“Ms. Greene.” He smiled.
It was odd seeing him smile because his smile seemed to be in the middle of a genuine smile and a smirk.
“You seem quite upset. What’s wrong?”
It was weird hearing him ask this to me as well. Leave it up to Vandermir and he wouldn’t even ask that. Honestly, I never expected Ricardo to be the concerned type of person. He asked me a concerned question yet his tone and facial expression seemed otherwise. Nevertheless, I answered him.
“That could be a problem.”
“And above all I just hate him. Vandermir. How can any of you even put up with his irritating mood swings!” I continued with frustration, “I mean, one minute he’s mean, the next he’s gloomy, another he’s okay with you, another he’s angry, like what the heck is his problem!”
“It takes time getting accustomed to Adrian. He’s quite... complex.” Ricardo replied.
“He’s just so awful. I don’t think time could ever help me put up with him.”
“It did for me thankfully, all these years I’ve spent with him I began to understand him a lot more.”
“What?” I asked confused, “All these years?”
“Yes, I knew him ever since I knew myself. He is my cousin after all.” Ricardo said giving his unique smile.
Oh my Gosh, Ricardo was Vandermir’s cousin? Well that would explain the physical resemblances and slightly similar attitude. It made sense. The elevator stopped to a floor he wanted to reach and he walked out, leaving me there in my thoughts. This is crazy, if a guy like Ricardo could tell me openly about his relationship with Vandermir, then why couldn’t Finneas? What was he hiding? It was highly unlikely that Finneas J. Harrison was related to Adrian Vandermir, so what was their relation to each other? And why was it so secretive?