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Chapter 2

After her confrontation with Ashton, Zara was in no mood to continue her work for the day. She got up off the floor, cleaned her office, and packed her bags. There was no sign of an argument in that room. Zara stood by the door looking back into her office and let out a sigh before she left for the day.

The secretary looked up at her when she was clocking out, and noticed the frown on her face.

“Miss Zara, are you alright? Is there a problem? You know, a man just stormed out from the direction of your office.”

“It’s ok, Mona. He didn’t say anything. I’m going home. Good night!” Zara faked a calm and walked out to the parking lot.

She wasn’t a spoiled brat, but her father always got her the best of what he could afford. So, after a day of teaching, and more, Zara drove home in her white 2015 Lexus RC.

At home, Zara was greeted by her Ayaa, who had been with the family since Zara was three. The old woman ecstatically received Zara as she dropped off her bags in the front galley.

“Dobre Viyecher, Miss Zara! How was your day?” Ayaa greeted her good evening.

“Viyecher, yaya. How’re you doing?”

“You’re home, now I’m all better. Golodniye?”

“Ochen! yaya.”

“Go wash up. I’ll set the table.”

Zara picked up her bags and trotted up the spiral staircase to her room. She threw herself on the bed with the same vigor that she threw away her bags with. Zara lay on her back, staring at the canopy over her bed.

What a day, man!

She stared at the ceiling till the filmy stuff danced across her vision, and fell asleep till yaya called her down for lunch.

At first, she let the tap run, leaning over the sink as she stared down her reflection. Then, she scrubbed her face vigorously with the warm water, letting her worries drown away.

On her way down, Zara caught sight of her papa’s room: door wide open, sunlight streaming in through the uncovered windows. Her dad still hadn’t come home from work, and Zara knew why. Her face knotted in concern and she made a quick prayer for her Papa before putting a smile on her face and walked down.

When she finally came down again, her little sister was already at the table.

“Hey kukla! How was your day?” Zara ruffled her sister’s hair, taking the seat next to her.

“It was okay,” kukla replied as she munched on a beet. “You know that girl, Annie? She stole my pencil box but the teacher yelled at me!” She announced with as much drama as she could bring up.

“Right right, because our Bree is God’s sheep. Ne tak le, yaya?” Zara asked as the old woman brought in the food dishes.

“I didn’t understand a word. Obsuzhdinye v Rossi, Bree!” Aaya lightly scolded the youngest girl to speak in their native language.

“Yaya, be cool. Russian is so-”

“Bree! Be respectful. Pogovorit’ s yaya v Rossi.” Zara scolded her sister more sternly, through her tone and eyes.

“Sorry appa.” Bree reclined and retold the event in Russian to Ayaa

“<<What a terrible teacher you have! Tell me her name, I'll go and report her tomorrow>>.”

“Yaya, she's making a fool out of you. I know, she fought for her pencil box back.”

“Appa! <<Now you're speaking english!>>”


Ashton proudly walked out of the teacher’s office, not a hint of remorse or guilt in him. He walked fast with his head up high, rudely ignoring the secretary as she stood up for him, then jogged down the steps to the parking lot, and sped away in his black Audi.

The knuckles of his hand on the steering wheel were white, and he swept his hair behind his glasses with the other before he tapped a number from his speed dial on the touch screen console of the car.

“Yeah, boss. All good?” A gruff man’s voice immediately answered without the formality of a greeting.

“Sure, I just met with Alex Banner's daughter. I've shown her a sense of urgency in the matter. Gave her two weeks and demanded money that’s almost double the amount I’m willing to have you give to her dad when he sells the properties to me.”

“Good, boss. You're sure she'll bite?”

“If there's even a little bit of sense in miss Teacher, then it'd be wise for her to comply. I wasn’t very complacent with her.”

“And if she doesn't?”

“What's the use of you?”

“Understood, boss.”

“Good, now I'm heading back to the office. Meetings till the evening. Only disturb me if it’s really important.”

Ashton hung up the call, again, no formality was needed between the two.

It was Ashton who wanted to buy Mr. Banner's properties, and the old man was being stubborn. So the self proclaimed brilliant man tried a version of reverse psychology, hopefully giving Mr. Banner a clear and heavy incentive to sell the property and receive financial payment. And it all only depended on if his daughter was able to convince her dad to sell.


“Papa, if you worry more, you'll end up in the hospital, and then everyone else will worry.” Zara pleaded with her father as he sat on the daybed with papers sprawled in front of him.

The way the Banner family presented themselves, nobody could tell they were millionaires. Well, except for the big house and fancy cars, which the humble Mr. Banner had only gotten to provide the best for his family.

“Nana, what can I do if not worry. The threats those contractors are sending me,” Alex didn’t need to continue for Nana to know what he was talking about.

Nana was Zara' nickname; that’s what she would say when her aunt tried to teach her how to say her own name. And it wasn’t a trouble either, because the girls didn’t have a mother, let alone a grandmother from their mom’s side.

“There must be someone, papa. Why don't you go to the police?” Zara presented the logical action.

“Police make matters worse. And who knows which officer is in whose pocket. My Nana, my very grown up nana, Papa will find a solution.” Alex sweet talked his daughter and kissed her head.

A while later, her best friend Haley came to visit her, and the girls ran up to Zara's room. When they were settled and comfortable on her bed, Zara let it out, telling her friend all that had happened that day, omitting the name of the guy who had rattled her.

After trying to console her friend, Haley came up with a spontaneous idea.

“You know my boss is very rich, right?”

“Sure, you're the Executive Assistant of some CEO.”

“Maybe he can help you. Of course, he'll take money, but probably not as much as those assholes are asking.”

“Say more.”

“Get a loan from my boss, or, do some business in exchange. Or...”


“He has a side business. He can send some brutes to get the work done. But I don't know what he'll take for that.”

“There's some strength in your suggestion. I still have two weeks though, let's see what happens.”

“Your choice. But please do tell me first, I don't wanna be blindsided.”

“Alright, alright! I'll think about it. Let it go, you tell me, what's going on in your life?”
Zara diverted the topic, but Haley’s phone rang.

“Speak of the devil. I’ll be two minutes,” Haley excused herself and pressed the green button on the contact calling her.


“Yes, boss?”

“Haley, I have some business taking me out of work. You don’t need to come to work tomorrow,”

“Okay, thank you, sir.”

“Have a good ni-”

“Ashy, baby, enough with the phone!” A draggy voice from the background interrupted him and he hung up. Haley knowingly laughed and returned to her friend.

“What'd the boss say?”

“Nothing, I'm off tomorrow! Go get some snacks, I'll put on a movie for us.”

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