I’m officially a permanent employee at the Remington Group, and from this point onward, things with Ashton and Chloe will move faster. At least that’s what we’ve agreed together.
Passing the six-month probation with a big client deal in my employment record was something I’d been aiming for. This is very important to me, especially after Ashton-Chloe happened. If anyone dares to say that the company hired me because Ashton Knight is the father of my child, they can shove their comments right up their stinky asses. Because that’s not how I got this job.
At the time I applied, I wasn’t even aware that my role would be under the subsidiary company, Knight & Co, which handles the existing clients and distribution exclusively. I learned about it later when I started my training. It was probably mentioned briefly earlier but it didn’t go to my brain for some reason. Regardless, it’s still a part of Remington Group and it resides in the same building which makes no difference in the work dynamic wise.
When I saw the picture of the CEO of Knight & Co for the very first time, his face didn’t ring any bells in my head. His exterior looked stoic yet radiating a leader vibe. He appeared less experienced compared to other executive board members, probably because he’s the youngest among them. He was handsome, I gave him that, but everything about him screamed sale figures and profits. And no, I couldn’t see the color of his eyes, not even his face contour clearly from the quick introduction during my new-employee training.
When I met him in person on my first working day, it was then I got smacked in the face and there my roller coaster ride began to take off.
The ding sound of the elevator pulls me out of my wandering mind. Hugging the contract document into my chest, I make my way to boss’s office.
“Congratulations!” My colleagues shout as I enter Max’s room. Everyone is there, except Sebastian. They’ve probably been waiting for me to come back from the headquarter HR office.
“Hmm, I smell a party tonight,” Gina adds, grinning at me as she leans back at the wall.
I bite my lower lip, weighing my options. “Sure. Chloe should be able to stay the night with my parents. I’ve told her I might not be home early tonight.”
“That’s called well prepared,” Max chirps.
“Can I choose the place?” asks Shanti, beaming at me expectantly.
“I can’t see why not?” I reply as I shrug. I don’t know the best place to hang out around here anyway.
“So, do you want to have a boring-as-fuck din–”
“Language.” Max glares at Shanti.
“I mean, a monotonously sophisticated dinner or something more alive?”
“No boring restaurant dinner, please. A place to drink and chill while we can have some bites sounds better.”
“I know a place. You guys will love it!” Shanti squeals before winking her eyes at me. “And you can also have some dudes to bite. It’s a place for awesome people to hang out. Business people, entrepreneurs, young executives... Well, some old dudes too, apparently. And occasionally, some less fortunate office staff like us.”
I purse my lips. “Why does it sound like a place I can’t afford?”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll put in. It’s a team celebration anyway,” Max says before noticing every pair of eyes is boring a hole in his head. He gulps. “I mean, I’ll help with the bills. We haven’t hung out for some time anyway.”
“Yes!” Shanti squeals again. “It’s going to be fun! Tighten up your undies, ladies, or you will be home with a baby in your belly!”
“No extra random dudes at our table while I’m still sitting there, please,” Max adds.
“I promised it won’t happen again. We will wait this time. You and Sebastian are going to leave early anyway, as any other married people with kids do. But these–” Shanti points her fingers at herself, me, Gina, and Donna “–bad-ass girls aren’t married or being tied down in the ass by any guy. We are going to enjoy the time of our life!”
We go to a disco bar downtown called Dopium, and the place is dope with a capital D. It’s not as big and messy as a club since the customers who visit the place are exactly how Shanti described earlier. Young kids must avoid this place like a plague, probably not wanting to risk bumping into their parents or family friends here if they want to go naughty.
I’m guessing this is where executive people meet each other outside their working environment, with no business agenda. Or maybe there is. It’s possible that some of them secretly broaden their business connections while having some drinks here. Something I’m planning on doing next time.
We’ve settled in the booth near the entrance, the only spot we can secure since we come on Friday night without a reservation. The bar is situated on the other end, which is also the center point of the room. It’s adorned with purple led lights that are blinking following the beat. Its barstools are all occupied by people chatting over drinks.
The dance floor is right next to the bar. It’s not big but enough to hold at least twenty people who are feeling pumped from the alcohol rush. Only a few girls are now swinging together and enjoying themselves under the disco ball. Maybe it’s still too early to dance or maybe people just don’t come here for that.
“I heard there will be an important person joining our company. Is that true?” Shanti asks, picking the last beef taco from our shared plate and turning her head to Max. The girl is on a mission. She wants to dig into what Max knows about the D news.
Yes, we are not at work anymore, but guess what? No matter where we are or what we do, as long as we are in a full team, our topic won’t be far from office gossip. Let’s say, we are just enthusiastic employees, or maybe we just don’t have a life outside work.
Max frowns a bit. “I dare not say it’s true. But all I know is they’re going to make some big changes in the organization.”
His reply throws me back to Ashton’s answer when I asked him about his brother the other night. “Do you think it’s going to affect us directly?” I ask.
“That I do not know yet. Been trying to fish for more information from Mr. Knight, but his lips are shut.”
Sebastian scoffs. “You’re digging the wrong spot. Of course, he won’t say a word. He only opens his mouth if our sales figure doesn’t meet his expectations.”
“Well, he might be keeping his mouth shut, but someone around him? Nope,” Shanti says, popping the p. “This person is the one who told me about the return of our old CEO. You haven’t heard about Dickson Knight coming back to Remington Group, Max?”
“No. Well, yes. Wait. Who told you this?”
Shanti bats her eyeglasses. “Andy, the executive assistant, of course. What? It’s not hard to fish for information from him.”
“Sounds like he’s not going to stay there long,” Gina remarks.
“Oh, no. Let him stay there forever. I have a bad feeling if that desk is empty again,” I mumble, earning a laugh from Sebastian.
“Working on the thirteenth floor is quite traumatic, huh?” he retorts.
“You don’t say,” I reply.
“So,” Shanti interjects, stopping our banter, “the capital D is back soon, but we still don’t know what he’s going to do here. Is he taking back his old position because Mr. Knight, our Mr. Knight, is being promoted to a higher level in the Remington Group? Or, are they going to open a new subsidiary for Mr. D?”
“What new subsidiary?” Gina asks.
“I don’t know. A D-subsidiary, maybe?” Shanti replies, shrugging.
“A D-subsidiary? What kind of subsidiary is that?” Sebastian asks.
“A subsidiary full of dicks in it maybe.”
“Or,” Donna chips in, ignoring Shanti’s absurd comments, “he’s going to just work as a mere employee like us, starting from zero!”
“There are a lot of speculations going around about it right now. But we don’t even know if Dickson Knight is really going to rejoin the company yet,” Max says. “As long as there is no announcement from the management, I prefer to not take the rumor about him seriously.”
“Speaking of the devil, and the devil shall appear!” Shanti exclaims, prompting us to stop short before following her line of sight.
A man with wavy blond hair —which reminds me of Ashton’s sister’s hair— sits at the table closer to the bar area. It’s hard to make out how tall he is since the table in front of him hides half of it, but he has a slender posture with intimidating broad shoulders. Just like Ashton, he possesses strong jawlines, sharp eyes —but I can’t tell if they have the same green color from where I’m sitting, and a smile that can twist women’s panties. Yep, my womanizer alert goes off instantly.
At a glance, he looks more like his sister than his brother, but he does share the same vibe as the rest of the Knight family members: trouble.
As if noticing that he was being gawked at, Dickson Knight shifts his gaze from the woman in front of him and stops at us. After a few seconds of scanning our faces, his eyes fall on Max and a grin slowly grows across his handsome face. He lifts the beer glass in his hand and makes a hello gesture toward us.
Max clears his throat. “Going to say hi to him. Be right back,” he says before propping himself up and striding toward his former boss.
“The woman in front of him, isn’t that...” Donna’s voice falters.
“Diandra, yeah,” Shanti finishes her line.
Gina whistles. “Are they on a date or something? Wait, Is Diandra still with Ashton Knight by the way?”
“Not sure, but I heard they postponed the wedding plan until they fix their issues,” Donna replies without shifting her gaze from the double-D’s table.
“I think they broke up...” I mumble.
“What issues?” Gina asks, ignoring my remarks and turning her head to Donna.
“I don’t know,” Donna murmurs, knitting her eyebrow. “Oh my god, do you think Diandra is seeing Mr. D behind his brother’s back? Again?”
“My oh my!” Gina leans back at our booth backrest before downing the rest of her wine. “The night is getting more and more interesting.”
“That sneaky bastard,” Shanti sneers.
“It doesn’t matter,” Sebastian interjects. “That chick will always get back with Ashton Knight anyway. She has him under her spell.”
“True,” Shanti replies, sending an unwanted knot in my stomach.
Diandra’s text message on Ashton’s phone that night pops up in my head, causing my throat to go dry all of a sudden. I grab my wine glass and bring it to my mouth when I realize it’s already empty. Damn it! Glancing around, I wave at a waiter who passes by our table, but our table has mysteriously turned invisible to him. I stand up and usher Sebastian’s legs to get out of my way.
“Going to grab something from the bar. Be right back!” I told my team who is still so engrossed talking about Ashton’s and Diandra’s lovey-dovey story. The hell I’m going to sit and listen to this crap.
When I reach the bar, a couple of men stand up and leave their chairs vacant. I plop down on one of them with a sigh while eyeing the bartender who is still busy serving other customers. Why am I here again? Right, to avoid the topic that my team is religiously talking about right now. The topic that pokes my nerves.
Are they really going to get back together like everyone predicted?
The scene of Diandra ambushing me in the toilet at the company gala is still fresh in my head. Even though I’ve learned about her situation from Ashton, it still didn’t give her the liberty to insult my parenting. Her issue was with Ashton, not with me and Chloe. If Ashton will ever let her in again, I will need to prepare myself.
Still pondering about what might happen, my eyes are following the bartender while tapping my fingers on the bar counter, following the music beat. It’s when I feel a presence next to me.
“Hi, Charlotte,” Diandra greets before sitting down on the bar stool next to me. “Fancy meeting you here.”