It had been an hour since Michaela called and told him that she wanted to see him in his office as soon as possible. Judging by her serious tone, the matter she wished to discuss with him seemed grave. He told her that she could share it with him later tonight since they were supposed to meet with his contacts in his apartment to discuss the new developments. However, she insisted on seeing him face to face in his office to talk the matter out before the meeting. She also stressed the importance of not breathing a word to Lesly. This made him more curious to find out what she wanted to say.
Alec eyed the time on his wristwatch before he directed his gaze to the window behind him. The sun was almost setting which meant that pretty soon, he had to wrap everything up and head back home. Still, there was no trace of Michaela. This made him reach for the phone so he could call her and inquire whether she still intended to meet with him, but the moment he dialed her number, he heard the ringing of her phone echoing outside of his office. Michaela walked in a few seconds later.
“I’m sorry I’m late. The traffic was impossible.”
“I had to talk to you today,” Michaela spoke as she shut the door to his office.
The redhead took hesitant steps towards his desk. Then she sat down in the chair facing him and placed her purse next to her. Alec could tell that she was a bit out of sorts. This made him worry. He waited for her to speak, but when she did not say anything, he tried to get her to talk.
“What is it that you wanted to discuss with me?” Alec asked.
Michaela ran a hand through her hair nervously. She was still trying to gather her thoughts. Her eyes met his in an attempt to seek something, but he had no idea what it was that she wanted to know. When she finally spoke, her voice was low.
“That day during the fundraiser…”
“What about it?” Alec inquired curiously.
“You chased the man who found Lesly there.”
“Did you find him?”
He could see that she was deeply agitated as she delivered her question. He stared at her long and hard, wondering all the while what to make of her reaction. Instead of giving her a direct answer, he chose an evasive one.
Michaela sighed, “You know he’s the guy who’s been helping Lesly this entire time.”
“I know,” Alec answered with a straight face.
“He risked exposing himself to help her.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“He’s not an enemy.”
“What makes you so sure of that?”
“Call it an intuition.”
Alec leaned back in his seat and studied her face carefully as if he were trying to decipher something. The longer he continued to examine her face silently, the more restless she became. Lesly was right. Talking to him in a professional capacity can be highly unnerving. It did not help one bit that his guarded expression betrayed nothing.
“Is this what you came here for, Michaela? To ask about him?” Alec finally inquired.
“Something tells me you apprehended him.”
“And if I did?”
“You have to let him go.”
Silence filled the room once more. Alec studied her body language closely. She seemed calm on the surface, but he could tell that she was deeply anxious. Her hands were clasped over her knees, yet her thumb continued to nervously rub a spot over her other hand. Her pose was perfectly composed, but he could tell that she was fighting the urge to tap her foot against the floor. Her expression looked guarded, yet her eyes spoke volumes.
To see someone as confident as Michaela behave like that, it was a clear sign that the conclusion he formed about her following the recent events was accurate. She was hiding something.
Bent on finding out what it was, he proceeded to engage her. “He called you that day to tell you where Lesly was, didn’t he?”
“I was not the only one he called. He also contacted Lesly. I guess he was desperate,” Michaela responded with a hint of nervousness.
Alec calmly began checking something on his laptop. Michaela watched him as he tapped a few buttons before he turned the laptop towards her to show her something. Her heart almost dropped when she saw what was on the screen. It was the surveillance footage he secured from the venue. The angle he chose to show her was the angle that captured her arrival to the venue at the entrance.
“I’ve been analyzing the surveillance footage for the last two days hoping to find something that could help me uncover more about this mystery guy. Then I found this.”
Alec fast-forwarded to a certain point in the footage when she received a phone call and marched towards the west hall. The door was locked when she arrived, but someone on the other side opened it for her. Nothing showed of that person except his gloved hand as he held the door open for her. Alec continued to keep his gaze focused on her as he explained.
“You told me that when you got to Lesly, he was nowhere to be found. Yet it is clear here that he’s the one who let you in.”
Michaela said nothing. Her eyes were still fixed on the screen as she watched herself rush in to check on her friend. Nothing showed beyond that point because of the renovation work that was carried in the west hall, but it was painfully clear that Alec already knew what was happening. He made that known to her.
“I must say I was quite intrigued with the way you just waltzed in there without giving it a second thought. There was no hint of hesitation on your part whatsoever. He opened the door for you, and you went right in without as much as a question.”
“I was worried about Lesly,” Michaela tried to explain in vain.
“So a stranger contacts you about a dear friend of yours, and you march in there without questioning his intentions or the validity of his claims?” Alec asked with an expression devoid of emotion. “You didn’t even try to confirm it by calling Lesly or even me to check whether she was with me or not.”
“You had already called to tell me that she was nowhere to be found.”
Alec leaned forward and clasped his hands over the desk. “Michaela,” he began with a composed demeanor, “I did check the time stamp on the surveillance footage. My call went to you after his. You knew where Lesly was when I called to let you know that I couldn’t find her, yet you didn’t tell me.”
She did not know how to answer him, so she shut her eyes and took a deep breath in a futile attempt to search her mind for a logical response, but he did not give her a chance to do so.
“No matter how I think about it, only one explanation comes to mind. You didn’t want me there because you were trying to protect him. You’re here in my office right now for the same reason. You know him, Michaela, don’t you?”
The redhead simply stared at him without uttering a single response. Alec drew his laptop away and shut the screen as he examined her face.
“Why are you keeping this from Lesly?”
“I’m not the only one here who’s keeping secrets,” Michaela answered coldly.
“What do you mean?”
“I know who you are.”
He was not affected one bit. The bastard almost made her doubt herself as he shrugged and asked calmly, “Who am I?”
“A ghost from the past,” she stated evasively.
Alec leaned back in his seat. He could see that she was getting a bit angrier now that she had spelled out his secret. He suspected it already, especially after he had interrogated the informant the day before. That was why he did not find it surprising at all that she knew who he was. If anything, it further proved that she knew the identity of the mystery guy. This could help him gain the answers he wanted faster than he anticipated. A smile began tugging at the corners of his lips.
“Do you think it’s wise? Coming here and telling me that you know what you know?” Alec eventually asked.
“I guess it’s inevitable. Don’t you think?”
“So you’ve known about me for a while?”
“And yet you did not do anything about it?”
“It was not for lack of trying. Believe me,” Michaela answered calmly.
“What’s holding you back?”
“Lesly is a dear friend of mine.”
Her response was a cryptic one, but he knew what she meant. Although it was not clear to him why she was hiding something this major from Lesly, it was obvious from the look on her face that she hated doing it. He totally got that because he was in the same position as hers.
Michaela and Lesly had always been looking out for each other. That much was clear to him the moment he saw the two of them together. What Michaela was doing right now was painfully obvious. She was trying to tell him that she would do whatever it took to keep Lesly from getting hurt. All the nervousness and anxiety she showed earlier had dissipated now that everything was all out in the open. She was not even scared about implicitly threatening someone like him despite her knowledge of what he was actually capable of. The woman had a lot of guts and damn it if he did not admire her for that.
Out of respect, Alec tried to reassure her, “Lesly is important to me, too.”
“You’re toying with her…”
“I’m not,” he quickly interrupted.
“Why are you keeping things from her then?”
“For the same reason you refuse to tell her about your connection to the mystery man.”
Michaela sighed, “I’m trying to keep her safe.”
“So am I.”
“How could I be sure that you’re telling the truth?”
Alec tried to reason with her, “Michaela, she saved my life and suffered a great deal for that decision. Why would I hurt her?”
“If you’re intention is to pay back your debt to her, then you could’ve done it without getting her involved with you.”
“You think that’s the only reason I’m with her? Because I owe her?” He asked with a hint of frustration in his voice.
“I don’t know what to believe anymore.”
“I love her, Michaela,” he responded emphatically. “It’s as simple as that. I’d do anything for her.”
“How noble!” The redhead shot back sarcastically. “Tell me something, what are you going to do when she finds out that you’ve been lying to her about who you are since the moment she’s met you?”
“I’ll deal with that when the time comes.”
“You think it’s that simple? She trusts you! Do you realize how devastated she’s going to be?”
“You know and I know that she would’ve pushed me away if she knew who I was. She didn’t even think about calling my old man for help when this whole ordeal started despite knowing that he would never go back on his word.”
Silence filled the room once more as the two glared at one another. Alec arched an eyebrow at her and waited for her to respond. When she did not say anything, he asked, “I’m right, aren’t I?”
Michaela sighed and looked away.
“Look, I understand that you’re looking out for Lesly, but I have to say, the secret you’re keeping is just as bad as mine if not worse.”
There was so much pain in her eyes at hearing his remark. “I never wanted to keep something this major from her, but…”
“He asked you to?” Alec tried to clarify.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Is he holding something against you?”
“Who is he then?”
“You have to let him go,” the redhead requested stubbornly.
“I can’t. He has to tell me what he knows first. I have to make him talk.”
“He’s not an enemy,” she stated emphatically.
“But he knows something.”
“He won’t talk to you. He will never talk to you,” Michaela tried to explain. Her anger at Alec’s refusal to grant her request was beginning to show, but Alec was having none of it. His demeanor remained as composed as ever.
“If you think you can get him to crack, think again. You can’t lay a finger on him,”
“And why is that?”
“Because Lesly will never forgive you if you do.”
Her answer caught him off-guard. There was definitely more to the matter than the simple connection Michaela shared with the mystery man. Alec narrowed his eyes at her. “She knows him, too, doesn’t she?”
The redhead realized that she had made a mistake. She took a deep breath to calm herself before she attempted to reason with Alec again. “I’ve already said too much. Please consider what I asked you.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then I can’t guarantee what’s gonna happen next.”
It was a threat. He knew it was, yet he could not help but smile coldly, “You’re really gonna take the risk by bringing everything all out in the open?”
Michaela was not fazed one bit. Her steely gaze remained locked with his cold one. “His safety is just as important to Lesly as it is to me. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure he’s not harmed. I owe Lesly that much.”
“You know I’m looking into him at the moment. It’s only a matter of time before I find out who he is.”
Michaela shrugged, “And?”
“If you value his life at al…”
“If you care about Lesly at all,” she interrupted sternly, “you won’t lay a finger on him. I mean it. She had gone through so much, but it would kill her if anything happens to him.”
Alec was beginning to lose his patience, “Damn it, Michaela who is he?”
He thought she was going to finally give an answer, but the only response he got was a cryptic one.
“He’s a ghost, just like you.”
“The hell is that supposed to mean.”
“I won’t be the one to tell you. If you want to find out who he is, do so on your own,” she simply responded as she hoisted her purse over her shoulder and walked towards the door. Before she left, she looked back at him, “I’m heading to your apartment now. I trust you’ll make the right decision after the talk we just had.”
And with that, she left his office.