Surprise Me Maybe

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Family Fisticuffs

I lean back to my chair as I make an audible groan while taking off my green scarf. I’m late again today.

The downside of working in the International Marketing division is keeping my working hours from nine to five since I have to deal with clients from across the globe and the time difference. I need to talk to Dickson about the work hours flexibility, or if I can do some of my work at home given my situation. Otherwise, I need to start looking for a babysitter to watch over Chloe when I have days like this. Sophie and Mom have helped more than enough.

Sean, who has been following my client conference, gets up and throws a paper onto my desk. “That went extremely well. At least it’s a payoff for staying back a bit,” he says.

“I have to say that it was one tough meat,” I reply. “I’ve never been with a client as detailed as them. Damn.”

“Well, it’s also one big fish you got there. At least I know that you will be doing just fine without me from now on. Just make sure you’re careful with the details. Remember, the devil is in the details. If we can’t deliver what we’ve offered, your ass will be on the hunt by them or by Ashton Knight’s people.”

“I know,” I mumble as I stretch my torso with a loud moan. From the very start, Sean is one of those persons who doesn’t see my connection with Chloe’s dad a big deal, which I appreciate a lot. I pick up the paper on my desk. “What’s this?”

“A list of clients in Asia you might want to tap after you wrap up this one. Because you’re officially the queen of South Asia’s market now.”

I laugh while checking the list quickly. “I’ll go through them tomorrow. Going to have a bite and maybe a cup of coffee to keep me awake during my trip home.”

“Good idea.”

In the next fifteen minutes, we hover over the pantry’s counter, devouring our coffee while munching on the snacks someone has left there. People at this office do that from time to time. After they’re back from holiday or a short weekend trip, they bring a little thing for everyone on the same floor and stick it in the pantry. Hence, a regular pantry visit is somehow mandatory for freeloader bastards.

“Don’t your kid complain when you go home late like now?”

“Of course she does. But with this team, time is kinda bitch,” I grumble. “I need to talk to Dickson about this.”

Sean nods. “I can imagine how hard it is for a single mom.”

“I wish the time difference didn’t exist.”

“That would’ve been great, yeah,” Brian murmurs against his cup.

“So, you haven’t told me about the date last week. How was it? Did she like the place you chose?”

Sean winces. “It was a disaster,” he replies. “The restaurant turned out to be the place where she saw her ex-fiance get comfy with another woman. She was sullen the whole evening because of the memory and I figured out what happened after we finished our dessert.”

“Damn! Why didn’t she say it earlier?’”

“She didn’t want to ruin the dinner I had planned for her, which is ridiculous.” Sean puts his empty coffee mug on the counter and grabs one more cracker before turning his head to me. “What about you? I know you were stranded with Dickson alone last Friday.” He chuckles. “Did you guys have a good time nonetheless?”

It’s my turn to wince. “It was...” I pause for a few seconds to find the exact word for it, “an eye-opening.”

“How so?”

“I thought I saw another side of him but–” I tilt my head “–I’m not so sure anymore.”

“Ah, yeah, I know what you mean. He’s funnier when he’s drinking, and more carefree.” Sean chuckles. “Maybe alcohol does the magic to him.”

“I know,” I mumble, my mind jumping to how Dickson was back to being Dickson the next morning when the magic of the alcohol was gone.

After having our talk last Saturday morning, Dickson called his family driver to sort out our cars. Even though he tried so hard to convince me that the plan was a necessary measure to protect our daughters’ future, I declined his proposal. It’s their family war, their battles, not mine. In all honesty, I don’t think I will be able to rest in peace if Chloe decides to take her share one day and fight her way to the Knight’s throne. I’m not sure if it’s the life I want her to have.

But I can’t lie that the idea of Ashton agreeing to marry Diandra frightens me. I know I’ve been preparing myself for it, but still, I’m going to get my second heartbreak when the day finally comes. Am I not over him yet? Do I want him back? Or do I just need closure so that I can let him go without a heavy heart?

THUD!!

Our conversation is interrupted by a loud thud coming from the hall. It’s the sound of a huge object being slammed against the wall. Sean and I freeze before we look at each other in anticipation. Quickly putting down my coffee mug, I follow him to the pantry door and stick out my head to the hall. There is no one in the corridor.

The sound bangs again, making both of us jump.

“I think it’s coming from down the hall. Probably from the filing room,” Sean whispers.

“Let’s go and check,” I reply, matching his low tone. I have no idea why we’re whispering right now.

We both tiptoe to the end of the hall like a Ghostbuster team walking down an empty hall in an abandoned house. It’s seven in the evening, and who is going to stick their ass in the document room this late?

The commotion gets louder as we approach the venue. Seems like it’s not coming from the filing room; it’s farther down the hall. The photocopy room. Then the sound suddenly stops altogether.

Slowly, I walk closer to the door to make sure if I can pick up something. Did someone just get hurt? Should I ask from here or should I knock first? Then I hear people talking, scratch that, people arguing with low masculine voices growling at each other.

“Charlie,” Sean whisper-shouts from behind me, prompting me to look back. He shakes his head, urging me to just leave it, but of course, I have a better idea. I just need to make sure that everything is fine.

I lift my hand to knock, but at the same time, another loud thump crashes against the closed door in front of me, making me jump in shock.

“What’s stopping you? Go ahead, hit me.” My breath hitches in my throat when I recognize the voice. “Isn’t it hilarious to hear that the woman you love is shagging the same man? Again.”

“Shut up!” the familiar buffalo voice growls. “This is my last warning. You. Leave. Her. Alone.”

Dickson chuckles. “Or what? What are you going to do if we want to sleep together again? Ruining my face?”

“Oh, I’ll do more than that, don’t worry. But I know you won’t like it.” Another thud. “You will never spend the night at her place again!”

“It was a conscientious decision. We’re both adults and we needed it! You don’t have a say in this, Ashton,” Dickson argues between his raging breaths. “But again, if you knew how to satisfy your woman, she wouldn’t be crawling to me and letting me fuck her like there was no tomorrow.”

“I said shut the fuck up, you’re a fucking liar!”

“What? Is reality too hard for you to handle, little brother?” Dickson laughs again, the laugh that gives me goosebumps all over my neck. “Ashy, Ashy, you’re still the same clueless boy from five years ago. You glance away once, and your woman will open her legs for another man, willingly.”

I heard another thud, but it’s accompanied by the sound of a large metal shelf against the wall, followed by the start-up jingle of the photocopy machine. The next thing I hear is the series of shuffling, thumping, and the two brothers grunting filling the air.

Before I can even process what is going on right now, the clanking sound of metal hitting the floor makes me shriek. Ashton and Dickson are going to kill each other if someone doesn’t stop them. And all this commotion is for what? Just to show who has the bigger dick to claim Diandra?

Without thinking, I push the door open. Dickson’s butt is the first I see. He’s bent over with his face flat against the photocopy glass, Ashton’s hand holding it in place. My eyes squint from the moving blinding light coming from it. Papers are sliding out and falling onto the paper tray.

In one blink of an eye, Dickson jerks up and pushes Ashton backward with full force, making his brother stagger back. Just my luck, I stand too close and Ashton’s back hits me. Hard.

“Oomph!” The next thing I know, I’m flat on the floor.

It takes a few seconds for the two siblings to realize what has just happened. Ashton, who is holding a chair for balance, looks down at me and the color drains from his face. He drops down next to me.

“Shit! Char! I didn’t see you coming in.” Tentatively, his hand touches my arm. “Are you alright?”

“Charlie! Fuck! Are you okay?” Dickson hurries at me but is stopped by his brother’s glare.

“Don’t you dare come closer,” Ashton hisses before shifting his gaze to me, taking my hand in his. “How do you feel? Can you move your body?”

Dickson drops down on the other side of me, his hand on my shoulder. “Charlie, can you see us? Do you recognize us?”

Ashton’s eyes narrow at Dickson’s hand. “Hands off!”

Still feeling dizzy from the sudden blast, I try to push myself up using my elbows. “I’m alright, guys. I’m fine.”

Ashton wraps his hand around my shoulders to support me as Dickson lets out a heavy breath before saying, “Thank god you’re alright! We didn’t know you were in the room.”

“I’m taking her to her office now,” Ashton announces, his eyes never leaving my face.

“No.” Dickson holds my arm. “I am taking her to her office. Let her go. She’s my responsibility in this building.”

“The hell I will leave her with you,” Ashton spits.

“I’m not going to say this twice, Ashton,” Dickson growls. “Let her go.”

“Guys, please, stop!” I shout as I massage my temple. I swear my sudden headache is not coming from the knockdown, but from the two men arguing. “You two are acting like kids fighting over a toy. And bashing each other’s face just for what? A woman? Really? Do you think she will appreciate this? Give her a break. She’s pregnant for god sake.”

Ashton frowns. “Huh? What are you talking about?” he asks. “Wait, do you think it’s about Diandra?”

“I heard what you guys were fighting about. Sean and I...” I pause as I look around to see if Sean is still there. To my surprise, it’s not only Sean who is standing by the photocopy room door. Several pairs of eyes are gawking at us as if they are watching the most unbelievable performance at a circus.

I gulp. “People are looking now. Just stop this stupidity at once,” I seeth.

“But it’s not about her,” Ashton mutters, keeping his voice low.

“Wait. It’s not?” Dickson asks, looking confused. “I thought it was about the photo of me screwing her last weekend.”

“You slept with Diandra?” I gasp.

“It was her?” Ashton asks back, looking perplexed. “It’s not Char?”

A clicking sound of high heels against the marble floor is thumping from the hallway. In the next three seconds, the Human Resource Chief, Mrs. Smith, emerges from the door, splitting the crowd into two.

“Miss Garnett, someone just reported that you got hit by Mr. Knight. Are you alright?” Mrs. Smith inquires as she storms in. When she notices that there are two Knights in the room, she frowns. “And which Mr. Knight is responsible for this?”

“I’m fine,” I squeak, ignoring the two brothers who are pointing fingers at each other. “We were just... having a discussion. I believe it was just a misunderstanding.”

The middle-aged woman turns around to the door and announces. “Everyone, please leave. There is nothing to worry about. Miss Garnett is fine and this situation is being taken care of.” She pivots on her heels to face us again. “Let’s take this discussion to my office, shall we? Could you walk, Miss Garnett? We will need to check your condition too.”

“I believe we can handle this from here,” Ashton replies.

“Mr. Knight, you came to this floor–” she glances at our surroundings “–causing quite a lot of damage and having Ms. Garnett lying on the floor. At least, I would like to hear some explanation.”

“Sure, we’re coming with you,” I reply before Ashton or Dickson does, not wanting to create more drama. I prop myself up with Ashton’s hands holding one arm and Dickson supporting my other side.

After making sure the hall is cleared out, we slowly trudge behind Mrs. Smith. Sean is nowhere to be seen. I guess he has gone back to his desk with the rest, probably discussing what they just witnessed.

I tilt my head when I hear a deep and suppressed laugh rumbling from Ashton’s chest, prompting me to look up at him with a question on my face.

“This misunderstanding is hilarious,” Ashton mumbles, his warm breath brushing my neck. “At least I got to bash your face.”

“You didn’t mention any name. How would I know it was about Charlie?” Dickson grumbles while caressing his reddened jaw.

“You weren’t clear, either. You didn’t say it was Dee in the picture you sent me.”

“Why would I sleep with Charlie?” Dickson replies, making wince with the idea.

“I did say ‘leave the mother of my child alone’. Isn’t that clear enough?”

“Yeah. Very clear. But which one?” Dickson scoffs before wincing from the pain. “You hit like a woman by the way.”

“Gentlemen!” Mrs. Smith glares at us as we arrive at her door and holds the door open for us. “Please, I’m sure you would like to continue the battle behind a closed door. Make sure you don’t break anything.”

“We’ll keep that in mind,” Ashton replies before turning his head slightly to Dickson, seething, “And you punch like a pussy.”


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