”No!” Kenna’s voice on the other line causes me to pull my phone away from my ear, closing my eyes in respond at the tone of her voice. The possibility of me going deaf is high if I have to deal with situations like this in the future, for the whole year.
My eyes wander to Flynn—who seems to have heard her sudden tantrum while I loosen my shirt’s sleeves and roll them up to my elbows.
”We talked about this and my answer will always be the same. I’m not going to Dallas. If you ever think about going … then, you can go without me.” She continues to speak, leaving me turn around to look at the glass window; down the busy street in the city.
”It’s their anniversary, Kenna. What can I say?” I sound defeated, not really knowing how to reason with Kenna for being stubborn. ”You’re right, we’re both very busy and committed to our careers but she’s also right, family comes first. I can’t say no to her and you know that,” I add.
When I walked inside Empire, my employees were surprised to see me. They thought I’d be taking a week or probably even a month off to spend some quality time with my so-called-wife. Their eyes widen as they had expected otherwise but then again, I didn’t say anything with the board about taking a time off.
Rumours began to spread around the building for the past couple of hours ever since my arrival—saying that I’m much of a workaholic for not spending time with my wife and care more about my career than anything else. Little do they know, it’s not what they think.
It had only been three days ever since the wedding. Kenna and I took a day off to unpack and help her settle in; that was basically it. We pay no attention to the media about our wedding or news about the ’bachelor’ losing the title when I finally became someone’s husband.
”My answer is still no but like I said, you can go without me.” She replies before going silent. The only sound I can hear is someone calling out her name and stating for some kind of emergency, ”Look, Aidan … I really got to go. Bye,” Then, the line goes dead without even giving me a second to respond, making me look down at my phone as I sigh, deeply.
It’s true that I can never understand how busy or how tiring it is to be a neurologist but she really needs to give time for herself. She works too hard as if she’s trying her best to avoid her personal life for some unknown reason which concerns me about her own health while she’s too busy caring for others, especially Albert’s … an old man who she has grown fond of.
”I don’t know what else to say to her,” I look up at Flynn who is currently holding onto a couple of files as he looks at me.
Flynn clears his throat, ”I’m afraid I’m not very fond with women and their ways of explaining things, Mr. Ashton. There’s not much I can help you in that department,” He replies, causing me to raise an eyebrow at his respond; he has always been quite nervous around me even though it has been years ever since he became my personal assistant.
My eyes wander to take a closer look at Flynn’s appearance. The same dark floppy hair for the past years without a slight change except a little bit of trimming, thick-rimmed glasses and no sign of a five o’clock shadow. It takes me awhile to realise that even after years of knowing him and spending time with him as his boss, I’ve never come to notice how his appearance has always been.
”Don’t you have a girlfriend?” I ask, leaning back on my seat without looking away from Flynn.
He seems surprised at my question, causing him to push his glasses back from sliding down on the bridge of his nose. ”No … Mr. Ashton. Actually, I’ve never had a girlfriend.” He stutters.
My lips curve up into a smile before growing wider and bursting out into laughters, trying my best not to attract further attention. As for Flynn, he starts to look down at his feet and try to find some sort of amusement like I did but according to his facial expression, it shows how much he didn’t expect me to end up bursting into laughters.
As soon as I realise how serious he was, my laughter begin to disappear as I clear my throat; feeling a slight regret building in. ”You weren’t kidding, huh?” I breathe out.
”No, Mr. Ashton.” He mutters, faking a smile.
”I’m sorry, Flynn. I didn’t mean to offend you,” I let out a sincere apology in which he accepts with a surprised expression—not expecting me to apologise. Then again, there’s a lot to people that we can never expect, they’re always full of surprises.
Years of knowing Flynn, our conversations were only short, subtle and business. There’s no such thing as me apologising over something I said or did because I’ve always thought it was unnecessary but right now, it feels as if apologising was the right thing to do. It doesn’t depend on certain titles or the amount of money, it’s all about the heart.
Just as I’m about to say another word, the door to my office bursts open, revealing Alain who has a small smile plastered on his face as both of his hands are shoved into his slacks’ pockets. His hair is neatly combed to the back, showing off an office appropriate look which screams respect, power and money.
”Excuse us, Flynn.” I say, standing up and taking a few steps towards my brother. We’re a few feet apart but it feels as if our gaze could burn a hole in our hearts—that’s just how much amount of annoyance overflowing in our bodies whenever we see each other.
”What brings you the pleasure to my office?” I ask, running a hand down my chin which causes him to roll his eyes, not liking my attitude. There’s only Alain and I in my office, causing me to sit at the edge of my desk before looking directly at him.
”I’ve been calling but unfortunately, you don’t know how to pick up a phone which explains why I’m here. Why does Oliver keeps on asking me about the company’s financial details? Is he the CFO? No, that’s me.” He starts to speak and there’s a slight hint of anger in his voice but I pay no further attention, only letting him continue.
”I handle the financial details perfectly fine. Ever since the very beginning, I was the one who checks on every single detail, record them and graph them. Why would he interrupt my work? Who gave him permission?” He adds before sighing deeply and pinching the bridge of his nose, leaving me to chuckle, softly.
”I gave him permission,” I answer, crossing my arms.
”You had no right to do that. In fact, you have no right to nosily play your part in my work.” He replies, taking a few steps closer as he points his index finger at me.
”Alain … incase you forgot, I’m the chief executive officer and I have every right to nosily play my part in your work. I didn’t mean to disrespect you and your work but you gave me no other choice. You kept the financial details in Australia a secret and why is that?” I ask, silencing him as he clenches his jaw, looking away.
”I didn’t keep it a secret, Aidan. You could’ve just fucking asked,” He throws a file onto my desk before turning around and walks out of my office.
The thing is, that was what we did. Not specifically me asking him about the financial details because I asked Oliver to play his role and not slack around but how can Alain be quite emotional about that? It’s a part of the job.
”Someone’s on his period,” I hear a familiar voice behind me which causes me to turn around and see Dimitri leaning against the doorframe, entering the office. ”He bumped into me on the way out but by the looks of it, he was ready to kill. What’s up?” He asks, taking a seat before crossing his legs.
I chuckle, ”Nothing. Just the regular family argument,”
There’s never a secret between Dimitri and I but when it comes to work, both of us never pay much attention. Even if I tell him about whatever happened earlier, he might just shrug it off and say that Alain will come around, like he usually does.
”Speaking of family argument … did Kenna agree yet?” He asks. If Kenna ever agrees to come with me to Dallas, that’s probably because she got her head hit by a bus. She’s not the one to easily change her mind, especially when it comes to her work. Sometimes, I don’t understand why she’s so … sensitive about it.
”Don’t ask. She’s stubborn as hell,” My respond came out as a groan, letting me look out through the glass window—thinking of ways for Kenna to come with me to Texas.
Dimitri seems to find this as his source of enjoyment because it appears to be funny to him even though I’m fairly annoyed by Kenna’s attitude. ”That’s Kenna … Aidan, she cares for her work more than she cares about anything else. You’ve known her longer than me and it’s quite a surprise that you can’t seem to understand,” He frowns, replying.
”Besides, it’s just your parents’ anniversary, right? You can just go for a day and celebrate then, come back to New York.” He adds, trying to give me a plan.
There’s nothing wrong with what Dimitri suggested but deep down, there’s just something else bothering me—for some reason, it feels as if I want to spend more time with Kenna without her worrying about her career. It seems to be forever ever since we had some quality time together.
He seems to have caught the sudden change of expression on my face which causes him to clear his throat, ”Clearly … there’s something else bothering you. You really want her to go with you, don’t you?” He asks, eyes piercing into mine; seeking for answers.
I quickly cross my arms before running my fingers through my hair while avoiding any eye contact with him, ”What do you mean?”
Yes, I want Kenna to go with me to Dallas. Not just to celebrate my parents’ anniversary but to spend more time with me. Together. It has been years ever since I went back to my parent’s hometown and it would be great to show Kenna around—spend time trying to have more memories together than just keeping ourselves busy with work.
It feels as if nothing has changed ever since we got married.
Then again, why does it have to change? We’re just pretending to be in love with each other even thought we’re legally married. She can do whatever she wants and I can do whatever I want but there’s just something going on in my mind … bothering me.
”Dude, you just got married a few days ago and you’re already falling for her.” He continues to speak, leaving me confused—falling for her? That’s bizarre and very out of topic.
”That’s nonsense. I’m not falling for my best friend,” My eyes wandering around the room while we both speak about my feelings. ”Why would I ever fall for Kenna? She didn’t do anything to make me feel attracted—she’s just … Kenna. Besides, we’re best friends, there’s no such thing as falling in love with your own best friend.” I say.
”It happens all the time in the world,” He shrugs. ”And, why do you have to keep on saying the word ’best friend’?”
Just as I’m about to answer, Flynn enters the room with Joanne—one of the employees here who works in the Proposal department which immediately attracts Dimitri’s attention. Both of his eyes wander down her body as his lips curve up into a smirk, leaving her to look at him with surprise.
Joanne is no doubt beautiful. When she first came to work at my company, I was quite surprised at her humbleness even with all her facial perfections. Then again, she’s also known to be shy around strangers but as soon as she knows them better, she’s more comfortable.
”Mr. Ashton, it’s time.” She says, glancing up at my direction and completely ignoring Dimitri’s gaze.
Both of my hands grab onto my coat before fixing my tie and make my way towards the door, Flynn and Joanne behind me. My eyes wander back to Dimitri who won’t stop eyeing her with a sly smirk plastered onto his face which causes me to clear my throat, ”Don’t you have a hotel to run?” I ask, shoving my left hand into my slacks’ pocket.
He starts to stand up, ”Hotels … to run,” Then, he makes his way towards Joanne as she tries her best to avoid any further eye contact with him. ”What’s your name, beautiful?” He asks, leaving me chuckling softly.
”Joanne,” She replies, her voice almost inaudible.
”Joanne … a very beautiful name. I’d like to take you out for dinner,” He grabs onto her hand before placing a kiss at the back of it—both Flynn and I watch the entire scene with our lips curved up into a smile; completely enjoying this.
She smiles. ”Unfortunately, sir. I’m engaged,” She replies before pulling her hand away and lifting her left hand, showing the ring.
Dimitri’s eyes widen at the sight before turning to look at Flynn and I who has already burst out laughing, expecting a rejection. It’s quite new for Dimitri when it comes to handling rejections because no one has ever let him down before … which leads him to clear his throat, fix his coat and take a few steps away from her.
”He must be a very lucky man,” He clenches his jaw, covering his embarrassment.
”The luckiest and I’m a very lucky woman,” She responds with a smile on her face before walking out of the room after nodding at me—leaving me lean my head back as I laugh.
”Remind me again to never come here,” Dimitri says, rolling his eyes as he makes his way out and straight towards the elevator, ignoring all of the other employees here which is quite an enjoyment for me—seeing him attracted to such beauty and being let down, unfortunately.
”Shall we, Mr. Ashton?” Flynn asks, gesturing for me to step out.
The whole day is being spent busily at different departments—it’s something I do once a month to catch up with my employees. I’m known as someone who takes things seriously when it comes to work but I’m also very close with my employees. Then again, they’re never brave enough to make any mistakes as I can’t seem to control my temper.
”Mr. Ashton, here’s your coffee.” Flynn says, entering my office before placing it on my desk.
My eyes wander down to glance at my wrist watch, seeing that it’s almost nine. Almost all of the employees have returned home a few hours ago, leaving Flynn and I.
”Flynn … you should go home. It’s late,” I mutter under my breath before taking a sip of my coffee. Then, I go through the files again, scrolling down on my laptop—trying to finish this before I go home, even though I know that it’s quite impossible because of the amount. ”You should never stay this late. I told you to stop working over-time,” I add, slowly.
He looks up at me, ”You shouldn’t stay up too late, either. Kenna is probably waiting for you at home,” He replies.
A soft chuckle escapes my lips, ”It’s funny you mention that when she’s probably taking other people’s shift tonight. She can get a little bit too … addicted with her work,” I answer and Flynn smiles, leaving me to realise that I should probably head home. Besides, this job won’t be finished tonight, either.
”We should head home,” I say.
”Goodnight, Mr. Ashton.” Flynn replies before walking out of my office, leaving me all by myself—turning off my laptop and close the files, leaving them on my desk.
It doesn’t take me long to reach home before parking my car next to my other three. I look up at the currently occupied spot—where Kenna usually park her car and realise that she’s home instead of being at the hospital, working the hours away.
I push my front door open, seeing Kenna laying on the sofa with earphones plugged into her ears as she holds onto her phone. As soon as she sees me, her eyes widen and she starts to make her way towards me while I make my way upstairs, ignoring her.
”Aidan,” She calls out.
”I’m talking to you … not to the walls,” She adds as I enter my room, loosening the tie around my neck and place it on the bed before unbuttoning my shirt—pretending to not being in the same room as Kenna. ”Are you seriously ignoring me? Are you giving me the silent treatment?” She asks, standing in front of me.
Still pretending not to see her, I walk towards my walk-in closet and pull out a plain shirt with shorts before throwing them on my bed.
”Unless you want to talk about Dallas, we’re not talking.” I reply with a slight smile on my face as I enter the bathroom—being followed by Kenna, leaving me looking at the mirror and see her standing behind me, her eyebrows furrowed and her arms crossed.
”Get out. I want to take a shower,” I say as I turn to look at her.
”No, I’m staying here.” She replies, stubbornly.
”Fine,” I lean towards her before taking my shirt off, leaving me shirtless as both of her eyes focusing into mine while I proceed with my pants—only standing with my underwear as she tries her best not to look at anywhere else but my eyes.
As soon as she realises that I’m going to be standing naked in front of her, she starts to turn towards the door; not wanting to look at me while I smirk, quite enjoying to be uncomfortable around me in situations like this.
”I want to talk,” She says as I shower, the warm water easing me and relaxing me.
To my surprise, she stands still and quietly until I’m done showering. As stubborn as she can be, her ego is just too much, sometimes. ”What do you want to talk about?” I ask, standing behind her, purposely letting her feel my warm breath near her neck as I stand with only my towel wrapped around my torso.
She turns to look at me, ”About Dallas.”
Droplets of water continues to drop down onto the ground from my hair while I run my fingers through it, my lips curving up into a smile before chuckling and walking out of the bathroom, Kenna following my every step.
”What about Dallas?” I ask, raising an eyebrow.
It takes me awhile to realise that both of her eyes were wandering down to my body before quickly looking up into my eyes again as I stand still, shirtless in front of her. Deep down, there’s something building inside of me … letting me feel my heart skip a beat as they fasten.
My eyes look down at her lips, seeing how they’re naturally pink—attracting me. If we’re not standing a few feet away from each other or if I’m not holding myself back, I would’ve closed the distance between us and cup onto her face just to meet her lips, knowing how soft they would be against mine.
”I’m going to Dallas with you,” She replies.