Elegant Deception

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Twenty Eight

Yesterday, I was at my apartment with my boyfriend, my boss, his fiancé, who’s also his executive secretary, and my sister, who was recovering from a concussion. That wasn’t the only thing dreadful happening as well. My mother got a heart attack scare after finding out the news about the reason my sister got a concussion.

I’m grateful that my sister and I had a great supportive group of people. If not, I’m not I won’t be here, sitting by the reception and doing work. Though a bit distracted, I was still functioning well.

Or so I thought.

“Amy, are you listening to me?”

I looked up and found Steve. He placed an envelope on the counter. “Will you do me a favor and hand this over to Mr. Hawksley today? I just finished briefing it last night.”

“Huh?” I asked again, unable to grasp his words.

“Amy, are you okay? The last time I saw you this unfocused was…” he trailed off in realization. “Did you and your new boyfriend broke up or something?”

I was able to process what he was saying. “No. Gosh, no, Steve. It’s not about me. It’s my sister, April. And my mother. They were hospitalized over the weekend.”

Steve gasped. “I’m sorry. Are they okay? What happened?”

“They’re fine now. They were only there for a day. April got a concussion, and mom had a heart attack. But both are well and recovering. April’s taking a couple of days leave from work, and staying with Zoey since I don’t have an extra bed for her to stay.”

“Why isn’t she staying at her place?” Steve asked.

“I don’t know if it’s my place to tell her story. But April and her boyfriend are fighting, and I didn’t want her to be alone at the moment.”

“Fighting? Does her concussion had anything to do with that?” Steve easily piece it together. “Oh, no. Please don’t tell me. No. Wait. Tell me. Did he do it?”

I couldn’t reply. So I nodded.

Steve let out a heavy breath. “Damn it. That’s just… April doesn’t deserve someone like that.” He looked dejected. “Does she need legal help? I can do the case as pro bono. And I have some experience with domestic abuse cases.”

I got up and walked around my desk. Steve was too worked up. It took him a second to process my hug. “I know you and April don’t really get along when I was dating Flynn. So that means a lot.” I let him go but placed both of my hands on his shoulders to keep him close. “Thank you, Steve. Julian offered help so we’ve covered. But I’m happy you’d readily give her a hand.”

“Of course, Amy. You’re my friend. She’s your little sister. I would help a friend in need.”

A moment later, the elevator door opened to Julian and Zoey with the rest of the security team – with them was Dean, who I didn’t expect to see. He told me this morning he was meeting with his new superior at the FBI Chicago office.

They entered and greeted us. Though he knew I saw him, Dean stood quietly at the back of the group.

“Amy, how are you? Were you able to get some sleep?” Zoey walked up to me first. Steve stepped away to give her space to hug me.

“I’m well, Zoey. How’s my sister?” I asked as she let go.

“She was well enough to joke around this morning, so I’m sure she’s recovering just fine.”

I smiled. “That’s good to hear.”

Before Zoey had to excuse herself, as Julian was already retreating towards his office, I pulled her close and whispered. “Why is Dean with you?”

Zoey briefly glanced at him. A smile inches at the edges of her lips. “He’ll tell you himself.”

“Okay.” I nodded and let her go.

Steve briefly told me to keep him updated about my sister’s case, which I agreed. He then followed Zoey in. After that, since Greg and Albert were around, I decidedly approached Dean. He still stood by the elevator. The reception area wasn’t huge, and from past experience, I knew Greg and Albert would overhear our conversation. I understand Dean’s caution. He was here for personal reasons.

Once I was close enough, I pressed the elevator button down. To our luck, it opened a second later. We got in before either of the two could react to what we were doing. As the door closed, he told me the news.

“The police called me this morning. They’re letting April’s ex go. He got bail.” He stated.

I looked at him in surprise. I didn’t realize my hand balled into a fist until Dean reached out and unclenched it. “Julian and I have talked. He called his family lawyer and told us what to do. They’re going to file a restraining order on this guy, and this morning your sister agreed. I wanted to be the one to tell you, though April did offer to tell you later. I thought you needed to hear it now.”

Throughout his speech, I was having a slight difficulty breathing. However, Dean’s grip on my hand and his calm and confident gaze told me not to worry.

“Did this all happened this morning?” I finally spoke. But by then, we have reached the lobby, and a handful of employees were about to enter.

Dean escorted me out of the elevator and found a good corner, for privacy, to finish our conversation. “It did. I headed directly to Julian’s place after my contact at the police precinct called. And they all talked and came up with the decision. Julian was probably the one doing most of the work since he had to talk to his lawyer.”

I reached out and hugged him tightly. Dean took a moment to reciprocate. He was surprised by my sudden public display of affection.

“Thank you, Dean.” My words were slightly muffled as I buried my face on his chest.

Dean ran his hand up and down my back in a soothing rhythm. “My pleasure, Amy.”

We stood there in a comfortable embrace before I moved and let go. “Will you be okay being here? I thought you have a meeting with your new boss.” I asked in worry.

Dean wrapped one arm around my waist and pulled me back to him. “I’ll be fine, Amy. The meeting wasn’t until after lunch. I just wanted the morning off since I was supposed to check the venue for Zoey’s bachelorette’s party for Julian.”

“What did you say?” I lightly pushed him to get a better look at his expression. “We haven’t decided on a venue yet.”

“Really? Because Julian was sure you’re having your party at an exclusive bar with strippers.” He coyly said.

I blinked in shock. “And where did he heard that from? Though Zoey’s sister had suggested that… but we weren’t going through her idea. It was ridiculous, Dean.”

He scoffed. “Tell that to Mr. Overprotective. Julian doesn’t like it, though. But he’s not saying anything to Zoey.”

I chuckled. “You’re a dutiful groomsman. And just this once, reassure Julian that we aren’t having the party at a bar with strippers, and penis paraphernalia. I’m sure he’s thinking that as well.”

“What? You were planning on having those as well?” Dean teased.

I playfully shoved him and gestured to the main exit. “I think that’s enough talks about the party, Dean. And you need to go. If you rode with the Hawksley’s from their apartment, it may be a long commute to your new work office.”

“Are you shy talking about kinks and stuff, Ams?” He quickly understood my abrupt end of the topic.

My flush face wasn’t making it better for me. “Go, Dean. Just go.”

“You are. Really? So you don’t do any kinky stuff? Or fantasize…”

I stopped him. “Dean, please. Not in public. Come on.” I scoffed.

He chuckled and briefly kissed my forehead. “I’m sorry for teasing you, babe. I’ll do it when we’re in a more private place.” He stated with a wink before walking backward toward the exit.

“I’m not talking about that with you, Dean,” I argued at the same time, Dean started nodding his hand mocking, fueling my embarrassment.

I rolled my eyes and made a quick exit at an already open elevator. I was the last to enter, which gave him a second to call out another jest.

“I know you have fantasies, Amy Nolan.”

And that was the last I heard from him before I was stuck in an elevator filled with people, who were staring behind my back, wondering what the man meant.

By the middle of the week, the horrid trauma over the weekend was only a shadow. April was back to herself again when the bridesmaids gathered at Julian and Zoey’s apartment for one last meeting before this weekend’s party. And my sister insisted we don’t tone it down because she had issues, which she knew what Zoey and I were thinking. Thankfully, Kathy was informed by Zoey about April’s situation, so she was no longer shoving down our throats on the idea of a VIP bar with exotic male dancers.

However, the discussion of adult candies and toys came up at one point. And I’m lost for a moment.

“Why are we talking about this? I thought we’re just having a girl’s night out. No VIP clubs or bars. Just a private room, or something, without being extravagant.” I said.

Kathy groaned. “That would be no fun, Amy. I’m a married woman. My sister may be the last bachelorette party I might go to – that I care about. I need some fun. We need to let loose… a bit. Yes, to the candies and toys!” she cheered while raising her third wine glass. “And good booze!”

“Kat, are you sure you should be drinking? Don’t you have work tomorrow?” Zoey asked as she reached for her glass, which Kathy moved away from her.

“Yes, I do. And it’s fine, Zoe. I’m not drunk, okay. I know what you’re thinking. I occasionally have wine at home after work.”

“Three glasses of it? I’m sure Jeremy won’t let you.” Zoey said.

Kathy paused for a moment and then nodded. “Yes. He won’t let me. But this is girl’s night. I’m allowed at least three drinks.”

“We might not be underage girls, but we’re professional women. We should know our limits so that we won’t nurse hangovers tomorrow at work.” I interjected, eying Kathy’s drink as well.

Though I did have a glass with me, it was my first and I barely took a sip. Yet to my left, April snorted and poured her second glass.

“Don’t give us a sermon, Amy. Unless you have a year without incident or a hangover, your words have no power.” April argued and raised her glass to Kathy in agreement.

I met her gaze. April arched her eyebrow in challenge. But I got no comeback since she was right. “Fine. But only three glass maximum, not minimum. Some of us are going home after this.”

“Oh! Please, you’re not driving yourself anywhere. I’m sure Dean’s picking you up.” April remarked.

She was right again. And my defense was losing its worth.

Zoey chuckled beside me. “You’re not going to win this one, Amy. Their adults. Let them regret their decisions later.”

Kathy grabbed Zoey’s near-empty glass and poured her second round. “You’re drinking with us, Zoey. As the host, you should join your guest in their journey to a darker tomorrow.” She then handed her a newly filled glass.

“Kat, no. I can’t. Julian has an important meeting tomorrow I have to help him prep.” Zoey pushed the glass away from her.

“Julian’s a big boy. He can handle work by himself. He knows what we’re doing tonight. And if he’s lucky, and your drunk enough, he might get laid too. He won’t object then.” Kathy pushed the glass again.

“Well, I don’t really have to be drunk in order for him to get laid…” Zoey admitted with slightly flush cheeks.

“Oh damn!” Both Kathy and April drunken cheers echoed in the spacious living room.

“Where is he anyway? Where’s my future brother-in-law?” Kathy got up and started pacing back and forth, assessing the area.

“Kat, I told you he’s having a late dinner with Jensen,” Zoey informed and sigh. She got up and seized Kathy’s glasses.

She and I were in sync at the moment. I was worried Kathy would break the glasses in her state.

“Right? And are you sure we should be staying over? You might not be able to get laid tonight.” Kathy winked at her sister.

Zoey groaned and gestured for her to sit down. “Don’t worry. Our bedroom’s a bit soundproof. You won’t hear anything.”

“Oh!” They both bellowed in unison again at Zoey’s reply.

After that, like last time, there wasn’t much planning happening. With at least two more days before the party, I decided to make the final decision myself based on what I got from our meetings that we agreed on.

One, a private venue with good booze. Two, good food because we aren’t starving ourselves at this party. And lastly, no strippers or male genitalia shaped candies or toys. For that, I made sure the drinks and food were good enough to compensate for the lack of fun. Also, I thought of a couple of activities – the usual bachelorette party kind, that involves drinking games, and embarrassing the bride.

Once April and Kathy were asleep, thankfully both seemed tired and the alcohol only helped them get knocked out, I excused myself and headed home. As I did, Julian arrived. Zoey was by the living room, cleaning up our mess when I met Julian as he walked in the threshold.

“Amy, hi. I thought you girls are sleeping over tonight.” He said.

“No, Mr. Hawksley. Just the two of them. I’m heading back and Dean’s picking me up.”

“Oh, okay. That’s good he’s picking you up. I can see from here that you had been drinking,” he said as he peered at Zoey by the living room.

“We were. But Zoey and I only had one glass.” I informed. “Also, Mr. Hawksley, I’d like to thank you for letting my little sister stay with you. I had thanked Zoey, but I should personally thank you too. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Amy. If you’ve said it to Zoey, then by default, you had thanked me too. And don’t worry. It’s my pleasure to help. Zoey treasures her like a sister. So to me, she is like my own little sister too.”

I smiled. “Thank you for treating my sister as your own, sir. But it would be best you don’t tell her that, she can be… a handful. And she’ll take advantage of your good graces.” I lightly warned.

He chuckled and shook his head. “I think she did already since I started dating Zoey. But I’m okay with it.”

At that moment, my phone buzzed with an incoming call from Dean. I showed Julian the screen of my phone with Dean’s name flashing in green. “Looks like my ride his here. Thank you for accommodating us tonight, sir. And please tell Zoey that I’ll be going.”

“No worries, Amy. And have a lovely evening. Give my regards to Dean.” He replied. “And, Amy…” he called as I walked about to open the door.

I turned and met his gaze. “I’m happy it worked out well between you and Dean. If I’d known what I know now, I should have introduced you sooner.”

“Better now than never, sir.”

He smiled. “Indeed.”

Thank you for reading! There are three more chapters left including the Epilogue. As a treat, I will be updating all three chapters next week. Again, thank you for reading and following the series until the end.
Happy reading and have a lovely weekend everyone! :)
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