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Chapter eight

The flashes hitting my face made me lose my stance momentarily, stumbling back just a step - but with these shoes, it was enough.

I saw my life (and the cameras) flashing before my eyes as my heel lost it's contact with the ground, repeating my purse's comical tumble from earlier, but this time with a dozen reporters and cameras there to witness everything.

At least I thought that was going to happen, in reality, I was saved once again by the big hands in my close proximity.
The human attached to them had grabbed my waist and just as gravity had decided to take me, spun me around to face him.

The close up of Lee's perfect face was almost too much for my already weak knees, so I grabbed his shirt with desperation, my eyes wide as I looked at him.

For a moment we just looked at each other, his face like that of a beautiful statue, perfectly cold, and mine probably contorted by fear.

"I'm so sorry." I whispered, never breaking our eye contact, and I meant it.

"What?" his brows furrowed and his hold on me loosened, as if he was going to let me go at any moment.

"Your shirt. I wrinkled it." the tears in my eyes were those of embarrassment, I suspected the shirt had been much more expensive than my dress and shoes combined, and I had already made his evening unpleasant. What was going on with me today? I was always clumsy, but not to this extend.

It had to be the shoes.

Suddenly, there was a crack in his mask. I could read him, just as before, and in the split second I saw his eyes, the wonder in them made me have goosebumps all over and shivers grazing all sorts of inappropriate places in my body.

Then he closed them and leaned in to kiss me. I was taken by surprise and just responded automatically, my grip on his poor shirt only tightening. His arm had also regained his earlier strength, and he was even gripping me tighter now. His other hand came up to hold my head gently, before he tipped my torso over backwards, turning our kind of chaste kiss into something straight out of a romance movie.

No doubt, I was completely and utterly helpless and just let this gorgeous man kiss me. He was a good kisser, too. Damn him. After a second, I scraped together some of my composure and kissed him back, even grazing his lips with my tongue gently, holding onto his neck instead of his shirt, and, to my shame, enjoying the kiss.
Maybe MatchBoxx did have a point in matching us. Our physical chemistry was definitely something.

It was Lee who broke the kiss, of course. He straightened, pulling me with him, and pulled away from me slowly. Slightly out of breath, I looked into his eyes, searching his whole face for any openness, but his mask was completely restored. He grasped the one hand that was still clutching at his shirt, which was definitely crumpled now, and carefully removed it from his chest.
To the cameras, I realized, this must look like a romantic gesture, him holding my hand in adoration. Just as the kiss. My chest stung at that thought, but I ignored that feeling. There would plenty of time for my tears and hurt feeling later, alone in my bed. Right now, the cameras mattered.

Brazenly, I moved our joined hands to my mouth and pressed a little kiss to his knuckles. The cameras clicked non-stop, gobbling down our little interaction greedily. I had no doubt that the front pages of all magazines and newspapers would be plastered with how well our acting was.

With just another quick look in his eyes through my lashes, I faced the car again, beginning to pull him towards it. To the cameras, it looked like two lovebirds were eager to get away from spying eyes. The thought of it made my cheeks heat, and I preayed the blush wouldn't be seen through the makeup.

The door shut, and both Lee and I sank into the seats with exhausted sighs. I would have giggled at how comical our synchronisation was, but I sawhis mask in place.

"Thank you." I said while clearing my throat and straightening my slouched back once again.

"And I'm really sorry for your shirt, if you-" I began to ramble, but he stopped me by holding up a hand.

"If you offer to pay for it, I swear to everything holy, I'll find something to gag you with." he shot in my direction, and I couldn't think of anything to say to that. I just blinked at him, holding back my laugh at that undefined statement once again.

He was also looking at me, one of his cheeks twitching adorably. That did it.
In a fit of giggles, I bent over, releasing all the pent up stress from the evening.
Several minutes later, after a particularly sharp turn, I took a deep breath and finally felt confident enough to look at him again without laughing for another ten minutes.

Wiping the slight tears from the corners from my eyes, I took another breath and looked at him just early enough to see his smile disappearing. That had been a smile, had it not?

"It's ok, really. A little bit of ironing will fix all the wrinkles." He offered, and I heard the unspoken proposition of truce in these words.

"Alright. And I'm sorry I was such a bitch today, you kind of…" I thought twice about using the idiom rubbed me the wrong way, and instead finished my sentence with "...agitate me. I don't know." I waved my hands around in a confused motion, hoping he would get my attempted explanation. To my surprise, he nodded.

"Yeah, ditto." The silence that stretched after that was a bit uncomfortable and I shuffled my feet trying to think of anything to say, but just as it got unbearable, the car came to a stop.

"Master Lee, we've arrived at Mistress Layla's home." Alfred's voice announced through the speakers, leaving me to chuckle once again.

"Master, hm?" I raised one eyebrow at Lee before moving to open the door and get out. I noted how Alfred had spoken of him as "young Master" before, and now he had left out the young. It made me smile, I imagined him to have seen Lee grow up, a sight that must've been adorable.

Lee made a dismissive gesture, but other than that no attempt to open my door. He seemed exhausted.

"Ok, well, see you. Or um…probably not. Anyways, I'll get going." I slid over the seats, which was a bit complicated, despite them being made from leather, and it took me another second to get to the door. Just as my hand layed on the opener, Lee called out my name. I didn't turn around, but i waited patiently for him to say his goodbyes.

"Thank you." he whispered and a smile grazed my lips. A smile he didn't get to see, and then I got out.

As soon as I had shut the door, I took a breath. Already, the evening started to feel like a dream. I rolled my shoulders back, making my way to my home, noting how all the lights were off. Was it already that late?

The sound of a starting car overlapped with my jingling keys as I unlocked the door, and my smile deepened. He waited.
I noticed how fond I was becoming of him, of course, or at least that one version of him, but I'd kill that spark tomorrow. Right now, it felt good to let the feeling of his lips on mine linger a while longer.

Just until I went to bed.

Or until morning, who would know.

"LAYLA!" The light was too bright and my little sisters voice was too loud and all I wanted to do was sleep just five minutes longer. But the little devil didn't even think about that, jumping on my bed and crushing my hand under her little knee uncomfortably.

Swaying my hands around as if my precious little sister was a fly imposing on my sleep, I never even touched her, let alone succeeded in getting her to leave.

"Yes, Ellie Bellie?" I groaned, trying to pry my eyes open. It didn't work much, and I decided I'd have to shower soon, to remove the excess makeup, which was now glueing my eyes together.

"You're the front page!" Ella exclaimed, making my eyes double their efforts to see anything at all.

"No, I'm your sister." I replied, my foggy brain still working on the sentence.
Then I realized what my sister had meant, shooting up from my very comfortable position and finally opening my eyes.

"Wait, what?" In a glance, I had assessed the situation and frantically grabbed at the newspaper my sister had dropped on my bed.

I was, indeed, the front page. Together with gorgeous Lee Chen and the words "Lee Chen: off the market?" Skimming the article, I felt my jaws getting tighter with every line.

"Bullshit!" I cursed, making my sister giggle with kiryh and my mother yell "Layla, language!" from downstairs.
I looked at my sister.

"We don't say that word until we're at least twelve, alright?" she hooked her pinkie into the one I had extended, still giggling, and hopped off my bed to leave my room.
I had my quiet now, but sleep was the last thing on my mind. I opened my phone, deciding to leave the seventy messages from Aurelia for later, irritated at the various schoolmates that I had never spoken to now striking conversations with me and just archiving them for now.

Instead, I went on Oogle and typed in "Lee Chen". The wikipedia page was the first thing to pop up, but right under that was an entry from last night: "Rising star - Lee Chen seen with mystery woman". Under that was the title of the newspaper Ella had brought me.

The next article, by some kind of trashy magazine, called me "the thief of community husband Lee Chen". And another stated Lee Chen had "finally aquired his heirloom". This one piqued my interest, so I clicked on it.

"As stated in late Yaozo Chen's inheritance protocol, his grandson Lee Chen can only inherit his full rights to LD Entertainment and funds when married to his perfect match. The public was aware of the animosity between producer legend Yaozo Chen and his grandson, so the speculations ran wild: did Chen Sr. expect his grandson to mever get matched? Maybe, he'd found a flaw in the MatchBoxx system…" I went back to the front page. This was total rubbish.

All of it.

Dropping my phone glass down on my bed, I decided to just spend the saturday with my family, and hopefully without mention of Lee Chen.

Breakfast was ready anyways, so why not escape from this for just a few more hours? Heaven knew I earned it, with all that had happened yesterday.

Remembering the sweets in my clutch, I grabbed it before I went down to join my parents, siblings and Aurelia.

At least someone who'd enjoy my presence. Most of the articles I had seen were talking about my appearance as if I was a virus, stealing Lee Chen's life force by existing in his close proximity.

Oh, here I went again, breaking my own rules.

Shaking these thoughts from my head, I made my way down the stairs, soon being surrounded by my loved ones.

"So tell me," my mom began, sliding the bread over the table so I could take some, "what exactly did they use to flavor the curry?"

I'm sorry for not updating, but at least this chapter is quite long xD
I just recently took up writing again, and 18+ is my go to project so you can ecpect some (slow) updates!
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