The call center woman conveyed the truth about babydoll not answering my calls. She was leaving.
I was wrecking my brains for the doomed one sided sentiments I carried for her. I should have known better. I should have calculated that women like her and Stella would make anyone dance to their tunes if the matter was about minting money. Babydoll was not at fault. I was, for trusting a call center girl to care for me. I was blinded by her voice, her charm and her inclination towards things I liked.
I was the idiot to have unseen, I was fooled.
After Stella, I should have leant from the branding of distrust on my chest which ached every time her ruse danced up in my thoughts. Mrs. Rose was right. I should have been more careful but I tossed away my cautionary gears and jumped off the cliff of trust. The fall broke my back, shattered my trust in the girl whom I assumed would not make me travel down the betrayal lane but alas, she did.
I was nothing to her more than a highly paying customer. She was just another woman who was tagged along, played to my tunes for the minty green notes I tossed her way. In a way, I was the whore who sold out to her ruse. Her game with words.
The incoming call was the jarring reminder of my decisions, an ill fated one in the wake of my curiosity. My attorney, George was elated. His voice was high pitched only when he got what he wanted, in turn, what I wanted.
"The deal is done Roger. We have acquired the call center." He said, huffing like he was running a marathon with me on call.
Frustration ran over me, I tossed around the piling stacks of filed over my table but no about of regret could get me what I wanted. "I don't want it anymore." I spoke in a stern manner, gritting my teeth at the thought of being played again. Being played by a call center woman.
My mouth turned sour as the reminder of her leaving, rose up. It slid to become the rage I was used to. To the boiling hate I lugged for women who only cared for money.
"What. But.. you said.."
Sighing didn't help. It only made the pent up frustration soar up. "I know what I said. I am saying it now. Make it go away."
"But we can't. You signed the papers." George protested. His elation was not reduced to fumbling words as he tried fighting for a semblance of understanding on my chanced stance.
What influence did that woman had on me that I thought of acquiring a call center. What was I fucking thinking? I was drunk on her to take a rational decision. Hooked on her mirage like a drug addict to evaluate the repercussions of my decision. After all this time, I should have known better.
"Fine." I gave up fighting with George. After all, he shouldn't be punished for the ill fated decision of mine. "How many employees are there?" I enquired, hoping some good would come out of this debacle.
"Thirty. Most of them are girls. And others are some people who have lost their jobs in recessions and had to take up this.."
I was tired already. Brandon's lawsuit, my lack of sleep and the recent news of Babydoll leaving her job, was hard on my sleep and food deprived body. My head hung backwards, leaning into the headrest on my chair.
"I will get some teams to look into their background to see if they can be of help in our grievance call centers." I said. Salvaging the good out of a bad decision, I had to ensure my recklessness didn't cost someone their livelihood.
Before I could end the call, George called out and I hummed my presence. "Is everything alright?"
My strong, fundamental following Roger inside my mind laughed at the pathetic state I found myself in, trusting the words of a call center woman, her nightly promises to always be available for me and her act of seducing me into accepting it as reality.
"Ya. All's Fine." I lowered from my chair, cleaning up the mess I made of the files on the floor. Ironically, I was cleaning up the messes of my life in parallel. "How is Brandon's case coming?"
George's voice was relieved of the concern, held earlier. "It's coming fine. The profits of the business will help us in court. Your idea to merge with the Oswald through marriage was brilliant."
In the midst of my self blame, his kind and appreciative words were like a rope tossed towards a sinking man. The plan I was brewing in my mind for long, peeked out. "I have another favor to ask of you, George."
The next morning
I woke up in Oswald mansion for the first time. Although Xavier and I talked last night, I let nothing happen. Quite mature of me, right when I haven't slept with a man for so long.
I waited for dad to come home and after his continuous appeals for me to stay over, I stayed back in the guest quarters. My room, which dad was so excited to unveil in my presence wasn't yet finished with its renovations. Dad was furious when he talked to the contractor.
In a way, I was relieved of him not seeing my current residence. My matchbox apartment would have been a major cardiac arrest inducing element for him, had he witness my living standard. I didn't mind staying anywhere in this huge place. Scratch that. Palace. But upon dad's insistence, I was taken to the guest quarters.
I slept on the cozy cloud called mattress, woke up to the warmth of steaming sunlight and not the teeth clattering cold from the broken glass of my window which although has been shoved with a make-do cloth barrier stuffed into it, didn't do much in winters. Frosty air still seeped in through the crevices and pricked me under my covers at night.
I didn't have much savings to call in held and didn't have the dexterity to do it myself.
The wall clock sang, mechanical chirping woke me up completely. I danced in the shower under the warmth of rain drops from the shower which looked like a flattened basketball, pocked with holes. I rummaged through the walk in closet, trying hard to land on a wearable. Everything was fancy, the dress purse and heels and I was lost like a kid in a candy store.
I rush out of my room and into the parking. Dad had shown his willingness to drive me to work and I couldn't say no to him, to the longing he displayed. I was grown up for drop offs but I fell victim to his wide eyes when they searched every inch of my face for accepting his proposal. Dad's pleading eyes were torturous than any pups'.
Just like Xavier, dad too was a fan of classical music. The drive was soothing and in between traffic, he beamed about his work and I whined about mine. He was particularly thrilled about the merger with Roger's company.
Once dad mentioned Murphy enterprise, I remembered the text Selene sent. Roger now knew the truth about my notice period. A part of me longed to witness his reaction. I wanted too see him suffer while the news blew up. I had suddenly turned into a sadistic version of me, hoping my decision inflicted hurt on him, like he did.
Surely, he wasn't bothered by the news. After all, he had a gorgeous, spidery legs blonde whom he was getting married to. Still, the heartbroken part of me longed, hoping my action hurt him.
My destination arrived and I dashed off like school children, embarrassed to be seen with their parents. But unlike them, I wasn't hiding away from my parent. Infact, I was hiding my parent. The truth was not yet privy to anyone as before the world knew, I wanted my time, basking in the care of my dad before the media pried and desiccated my life life all other Oswalds.
As usual, the entire office was deserted when I reached. I was the early bird for most part of my work with the exception of those days when Roger's calls kept me up so late, I wouldn't register the alarm the next morning.
After my routine of taking in the silence of the office before it was marred with chaos, I began my day. The elevator chimed up and Peter pushed his newspaper cart into into Roger's office. His usual acknowledgment and the ritual of putting a pile on my desk before entering the lion's den went unconducted.
Peter has always been a shy boy but today he seemed more reserved. Once he reemerged, unscathed from the den, I waved my hand at him. He let out a tight smile and pushed the cart stronger, faster like he was in some kind of hurry.
My bag buzzed with the rumbling of my phone. Xavier had somehow managed to feed his photo into my cell and however hard I tried, I couldn't get it deleted. Again, let me retell, I was a handicap when it came to modern technology. God only knew how I managed to operate laptops and buttonless phones.
When I picked up his call, his vibrant voice greeted me. "Did you see?"
"Good morning to you too. See what?"
He giggled, soft wisps of air swept through the call before he drew a deep breath, as if he was preparing for a battle. ""Arin. Arin, My darling Arin.. Why are you so sweet?"
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing. Call me after you see the newspaper." He ends the call and I was tossed back to the conversation I had with him yesterday. Something about Stella.
As Peter didn't provide me a spare set, I knocked on Roger's doors and waited. With no response, I peeked in. There was only a faint light escaping into the room through the gap in the blinds. The rest of the place was an empty playground of files tossed on the floor, table and maybe even on the ceiling.
I grabbed the paper from his neatly stacked assortment of morning news and magazines.
My eyes widen, breath hitched in my chest and flatlining resonated in my ears as I saw the heading in the newspaper. Tossing one on the side, I pick up another and then a third.
Lost Oswald heiress found; family stays mum as girl works mid management
Photos of me with a coffee in one hand and stacks of papers in another have been spread all over the front page of all newspapers.
I held onto the chair for support. My knees were ready to give up and the news of my leaked information was mounted over my shoulder, crushing me beneath its weight like a puny bug.
I was transported back to the memories of junior school with everyone taunting me for not knowing who my father was. I was shoved into playground where girls taunted me and someone always pulled my pigtail when I let my guards down. Only this time, it was humiliating, times infinity. The whole of London was my school and the residence of the place who read the papers, my classmates.
As tears dripped down my face, I felt a hand run over my. Feeling Mrs. Rose's presence, I stumbled into her hold. Strong arms caught me. It wasn't soft, veined fingers of hers. It was calloused, muscular. It was Roger, holding me in comfort.
Before I touched the floor, he broke my fall, steadying me back on my feet. He didn't speak, didn't exhibit any expression. All he did was maintain eye contact. His gaze never shifted from mine. Not that my heart rate was pacing any less before but now it was pounding onto my ribs, ready to crash.
He placed me steady, nodding at me with a raised eyebrow as if he was asking in the silence of his words, would I be okay. I could only answer with a nod. Being near him, inhaling his cologne and being held into his body had pureed my brain. My body was relapsed into a loop of goosebumps trailing over the places he touched, mind replaying his glued gaze and olfactory nerves bubbling my mind with erotic thoughts of being intoxicated into his scent to ever regain conscience.
I had never been close to Roger like this before but now that I was, I realized it was a good thing. The man had the structure and the demeanor to put anyone in a state of trance.
"Are you okay?" Roger asked, breaking my chain of thoughts.
That was all I could huff before my eyes brimmed with tears, reminding me of the news article which now lays spread across his table. My plan to take time to come out in the open as an Oswald, failed. I was shoved out into reality. Some functional part of my brain which was not harmed in Roger's savior attempt, wanted to withhold the information from him.
I quickly grabbed the papers together in a bunch like a child, unwilling to share her toys. Before I could walk out with them, his voice reached me. "How many of them will you hide?"
My eyes widen again, knowing his expressions weren't of surprise or shock. It oozed calmness. He must have somehow known. Maybe that idiot Stella must have conveyed.
I dropped the bunched up papers on his desk. There was no salvage. The damage was already done. All that was left was damage control.
"Who told you?" I waited for Roger's reply. Without any hurry, he took his coat off and hung it on the hanger. I wanted to know his source.
He smirked, remaining silent for minutes together. With every passing second, my blood simmered. "Xavier." He answered.
"When?" My pitch was louder. The man who promised me, one who said to be on my side, leaked my information.
Roger was surprisingly patient with all the questions that I threw at him. "When he called me to ask about you. To get to know more about you."
Under normal circumstances, I would have jumped around, elated by the news of someone asking about me, displaying their interest in me. But this wasn't a normal circumstances, was it?
"And?" I wait for Roger to finish his sentence, still not knowing how the paparazzi got the news.
Leaning onto the desk, Roger placed his leg one before other as if ready for a ramp and tiled his head in some sort of ill intended pity. At least that was what I thought.
"And I told him about you." He said, carefully placing his next words to slide out. "How you are hardworking and a good assistant." Steady gazed, Roger walked over to me. I looked everywhere but his face. "And then he told me, who you really are."
Gulping down the water formed in my mouth over his ambrosial scent and looks, I croaked an 'Okay'.
As if being controlled by alien entities, I walked out of his office and onto my place, grabbing my phone and calling the person who might be responsible for all this. My anger was flaming me on the inside. Outside, I was pretending to be the statue of patience.
Upon hearing Xavier's voice, I saw red. "How dare you give my information to the press." There was nobody around but I tried to be cautious, walking into a deserted meeting room and shoving the door closed.
"Darling, you got it all wrong!" He laughed continuously before calming himself, drawing deep breaths. "I told you to check the newspapers yesterday. What did I warn you, who it might be?"
My voice quivered, not knowing whether to accept the things Xavier stated or to question them.
"Stella." was barely an aired answer.
"Yessss.." He elongated the reply upon my right guess.
"But why?" I looked over the carpet beneath my feet, feeling the heaviness of a rock on my chest.
"Jealousy. Maybe because she was the heir till you came along. She was the only blood."
Tears encircled my eyes, realizing the inflictions of the cruel world. "But.. but.. what about you."
His voice was calming while mine was raising a storm. "I told you darling, I am adopted." He sighed stating those words. His voice too changed from soft to dipped low. I was able to read it well. Yet he continued, pitching it up again. "So.. Are we on? Shall we teach Stella a lesson to not mess with people's lives?"
My neurons were firing up, thoughts ran wild amist the backdrop of the knowledge I possessed. I would have never hurt Stella, not even dreamt of it, no matter how she behaved with me. But when she crossed the line which I was treading lightly, carefully for my satisfaction before opening it up for the words, she invited troubles for herself. Maybe some people were mean and ruthless for their selfish enjoyment.
Although the school going Arin would not have fought her bullies, conquered her fears, the grown up version wasn't afraid to do so. Contemplating on Xavier's words, I dragged a deep breath, replenishing my lungs with air and determination.
"I would want to talk to her but yes, Project Stella is on.."
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Asides, have you checked out-
THE KING KILLER
It's my new cartel series in here and I hope you check out this dark, steamy romance, written in three parts, lives of three brothers, with dual point of views.