Guess Who's Back
Being a mother of my CEO’s child doesn’t grant me special treatment at work, especially when it’s still undisclosed.
It’s only 3 PM on Friday and I swear that the long hand on the analog clock on the wall moves ten times slower than usual. Staring blankly at my computer screen, I’m tempted to bail on the rest of my working hours. The last day of the month is all about the report on sales figures that I need to send to my boss ASAP. That’s how my butt has been glued to my chair in the past three hours, nearly flat.
I’m seriously considering doing this at home right now, but the last time I attempted to do it, I had to go to the office on Sunday because I needed the supporting files that could only be accessed from work. Yeah, not a smart choice at all, Charlotte Garnett!
Also, being an Account Executive who almost passes the probation period, I should put more effort into showing my enthusiasm for being present; an enthusiasm that is almost non-existent right now. The idea of being home early and cuddling with my daughter on our big and soft couch is just too inviting. Too alluring.
“Got any plans for tonight?” My colleague’s voice pulls me out of my inner debate. Gina, who isn’t in a better state than I am, glances at me as she leans back at her backrest, sipping on her frappuccino. Her jet black hair is tied up messily as some stray hairs stick on her long bare neck. Doing report work is her worst enemy, especially after she lost one big client this month.
I shake my head. “Nope. Just the usual. A movie night with my girl.”
“Ah, easy cozy Friday night,” she murmurs on her cup with the logo Suit ’n Bean’s on it. “But seriously, Char, you should make time to hang out with us and hit the bar once in a while. You deserve a crazy girl night-out after these insane seven months.”
“I know.” I lean back and massage my temple. “I’ll see if I can join you guys next week. I need to ask my parents if Chloe can stay with them for the night.”
“I thought your girl prefers to stay with your sister.”
“She does, but Sophie’s husband just got back after months of being stuck on the rig. He’s going to spend the rest of the summer home. I’m not sure what their plans are for next week.”
“If anything, they’re the ones who are going to throw their kid to Char’s place, so they can go kinky all they want after months of celibacy, re-christening the whole house,” Sebastian chirps from the cubicle in front of us.
“Ewww. Don’t give me the idea!” I scrunch my nose, trying to push away the image of my sister going wild in the black harness she bought last week.
Sebastian breaks into laughter. “Just saying,” he says in a sing-song as he gets up with a coffee mug in his hand and walks toward the pantry. I swear that everyone in my team can only function as long as the coffee machine in our office pantry keeps brewing.
“Alas, no Friday night-out for you then. You’re on family duty,” Gina concludes.
“Maybe. I don’t mind, though,” I reply, shrugging. “I mean, my sister has been such a huge help since my first day joining this company and during the accident.”
Goosebumps prickle on my skin when my mind jumps back to those dark days. A drunk driver hit Chloe’s school shuttle bus, prompting the bus driver to make a sharp turn on the steering wheel to avoid the crash, but it was too late. The bus lost its balance, one kid lost his life and so did the drunk driver. I was so blessed that Sophie was there all the time during those excruciating moments.
“It’s nothing compared to what she has done to me. I owe her that much,” I mumble, playing with my mouse mindlessly while watching the cursor jump around on my screen. “The thing is, Chloe isn’t always around now. So, I’m not sure if her cousin still wants to spend her weekend at my place.”
“Chloe is not? Ah, right! She has a daddy day-out on Saturdays now.” Gina clicks her tongue before throwing her cup into the trash bin that is sitting next to her desk. Instead of disappearing into the bin, the cup hits the side of it and rolls to the aisle between office cubicles. “Damn it!” She gets up with a grunt and picks it up. “How is it going so far? Is she enjoying spending time with the long-lost daddy?”
The gorgeous face with a pair of pellucid green eyes invades my head, waking up an unwanted excitement in my tummy. You can’t go there, Char! Scolding myself, I mentally push his image to the back of my mind, where it belongs.
“It’s going better than I thought it would. But well, he has zero experience with kids. Things tend to be a bit... awkward, but I’m gonna let the two adjust to these new circumstances by themselves and find their rhythm. I can’t always be there to save the day.”
Gina purses her lips while nodding at my answer. She pulls her chair forward before grabbing her mouse, ready to go back to the tedious work. “Is he married by the way?” she asks casually.
“Recently broke up.”
“Oh, wow! Is he hot?”
“Do you consider our CEO, Ashton Knight, hot?” But of course, I don’t say it out loud. “He’s not bad.”
Gina glances at me teasingly. “Any chance of getting back together with your baby daddy?”
I gulp. “Ugh.” Random scenes pop up in my head. The kissing, our bodies pressing together, his groan, his scent. “No.”
“Ah, what’s in the past stays in the past, I see. But I agree. If the relationship died in the past then it’s best not to poke the dead soul.”
I scoff. “We weren’t even dating back then,” I retort before realizing that I just gave away information I should’ve just kept for myself. As soon as I pray that she didn’t hear what I said, Gina’s head snaps, and her piercing black eyes are on me again.
“What do you mean by you two weren't dating?”
So much for praying. I slump my shoulder in defeat. “Uh, me and Chloe’s dad... we didn't know each other.”
It’s hard to describe Gina’s expression right now. It’s somewhere between being intrigued and feeling pity?
“Okay, my mind is running wild now. Is Chloe a kid from a one-night stand with someone’s husband at a random club?”
“No! He’s not married, and never has been.”
“Okay. Oh, no! Did you drunk fuck a poor bastard who now begs to be in Chloe’s life in exchange for getting a father support from you?” When Gina sees me drop my jaw, she continues, “Please tell me he’s not that useless.”
“Girl,” I interject before she goes too far with her absurd theory, “there is no such thing as a father support! And it’s nothing like that!”
“Good.” Gina nods, but just as I hope she will drop the topic now, she turns her head to me. “How did you meet him then?”
I purse my lips, trying to find a line that can summarize the whole catastrophe from eight years ago; the moment Chloe was being brought to this world. “It was just an instant attraction in a party in our uni and Chloe was... unplanned. You see, I was one of those stupid and impulsive girls. Long story short, I never met him again and he never knew about the baby until recently.”
Well, that’s not the whole story, but for now, I want to keep it at that. They will learn about the identity of the mystery baby daddy soon anyway. Ashton is more than ready to announce his connection with my daughter publicly once I pass my six-month probation. And I dread the day.
“You kept her though. I have to say you were such a brave gal. Crazy, but brave,” Gina murmurs, a sincere smile on her lips.
I shake my head, chuckling softly. “Yeah, I never thought I would. I also didn’t want a kid by the way, like you.”
Gina’s eyes are fixed on mine. Since the very first day I met her, she has been straightforward and borderline insensitive to others’ feelings. But this time, I notice a strange glint in her eyes. “What changed?” she asks.
“I’m not sure. It didn’t happen overnight. I just remember the more I felt her movement in my belly, the more I got attached to her. When she was born, I knew that she owned me.”
“Babies do that to us, huh, effortlessly,” says Sebastian who’s been standing behind the cubicle wall that separates our office spaces. He has been following our chat while sipping on his coffee mug, a choco-cookie in his other hand.
“Well, then, you both are lucky to have each other,” Gina adds.
“I don’t know who is luckier, to be honest. She changed me though, in a good way,” I reply.
“Both of you are lucky, but the father is the luckiest one. He didn’t have to go through all the mess of taking care of an infant. No broken sleep, no stinky diapers, no screaming baby.” Sebastian chuckles. “What a lucky motherfucker.”
“Speaking of a motherfucker.” Shanti, our admin staff slash our office gossip supplier, joins us after getting off a very long phone call. “Guess who is coming back shortly.”
“Your non-existent ex-boyfriend?” Gina shots.
“Your sanity?” Sebastian takes a guess.
Shanti rolls her eyes as she tosses her wavy black hair like a shampoo model. “Hold your breath now... and wait for it...”
“Tell us already! I only have one hour left to finish this darn report,” Gina grumbles.
Shanti grins from ear to ear. “Fine. It’s the Knight number two.” When the three of us are gawking at her cluelessly, she wiggles her eyebrows before continuing her riddle. “The one who shared a woman with our daddy CEO.”
Still nothing from us, and Shanti’s eyebrow twitches. “Okay. Let me rephrase. He’s not a motherfucker. Actually, he’s more of a brotherfucker.”
We stare at her but still not sure what she was talking about, making her grunt in exasperation.
“Ugh, come on, guys! Friday afternoon really turns your brains into mush, huh? It’s our CEO’s brother, Dickson Knight!”