88 Second Question

If you had asked me how I felt right then, I wouldn't even have the words to properly describe it to you. 'Angry' would be putting it lightly, and I was a lot more than just incensed. To say I was merely upset by what he had said would be doing my rage a huge fucking disservice.

'Upset' was a severe and total understatement.

Every fiber of my being hoarsely screamed of blasphemy. Not a single one of my thoughts was spared the fate of being swarmed and flooded by a sea of seething red.

The crackle of lightning and the booming thunderclap that echoed far and wide outside was but a light drizzle compared to the raging storm brewing inside me.

"You're not making a very good case for yourself here, you know?"

My voice was leveled, settled… and it took all I had to ensure it was kept that way. To not go completely apeshit right then and there. But there was no completely hiding it away. He stared at me and heard the outrage beneath my quiet.

"I understand if finding this out, knowing what I've done upsets you..."

"Me? Upset?"

"But it's imperative you understand that I mean absolutely nothing by it."

He was speaking, his lips were moving, but I didn't understand a single word he was saying. Bullshit, bullshit, and even more bullshit. That was my privacy - OUR privacy he violated for days on end, and now he's telling me he meant jack all for doing so? Water under the bridge, a slap on the wrist, is that he wanted?

He's got another thing coming.

"Look at you, just look at you, so gentleman-like all a sudden," I exclaimed, my voice wavering with every syllable. "You think talking all sophisticated is gonna make what you did sound any better?"


"You think you're in the right?"

"Did you hear me saying that?" He frowned. "I for one don't recall ever stating such a thing. I'm simply answering what you've asked. How did I find out? Well… now you know how."

Believe you me, I was about ready to barrage on him with a full-on interrogation session complete with a set of handcuffs and the good-cop, bad-cop routine with Ash.

So eager to know more that I've almost forgotten why we were even here in the first place.

And then an aromatic reminder came barreling through the door. Two silver platters sitting atop a cart brought with it a visible blend of steam and smell wafting through the air.

The serving part was mostly a silent affair. A clatter of plates here, a pouring of water there, service with a smile present throughout. This dynamic waiter-waitress duo were like serving machines with how precise and efficient their movements were.

"Enjoy your dinner," they proclaimed cheerily before scattering quickly away again out of sight.

Even machines can be wrong too sometimes, I suppose. Dinner was never going to be an enjoyable experience, and though the pangs in my stomach roared at the sight of such a finely cooked steak before me… my attention was set elsewhere - these answer-hungry eyes of mine never once tearing away from the man beset against me.

A quick glance sideways revealed that Ash shared much with my sentiments. Both hands kept firmly by her sides, the plate of cheese-smothered pasta going disregarded by her cold piercing stare that has yet to falter.

If looks could kill… if only…

"What's wrong?" The man spoke out to both Ash and me. "The food not to your liking?"

The genuine concern arching his brows upwards. It's remarkable, actually. There were many causes for concern all throughout this little reunion and he barely batted an eye to most of them.

Now we weren't all that hungry, and rightfully so - and somehow that's what he deemed a cause for concern, somehow that's the thing getting his brow gliding up his forehead. This man needed to get his priorities sorted out straight and fast. I don't think I'll be able to keep my hands to myself any longer if otherwise.

"What are you planning?" I asked, my brain becoming a playground of many grim scenarios. "What do you want?"

Another sip of wine and then a tilt of a head forward. "Have a try first."

"I'm asking you a question here."

"And I'm telling you to give it a try first," He affirmed, eyes growing wide in warning. "Eat."

Having petty arguments would be a waste of time and energy, and as much as I resented the thought of having to comply again with his wishes - screw it, I got a fork in my hand, and there was a steak that needed stabbing.

Aggression had the table quivering for the third time in a row, this time with a fork skewered through a thick slab of meat. Ash, realizing much of the same, twirled a roll of pasta on hers and timed a bite just as I raised mine to my lips.

It was yummy, I had to painfully admit it. Ash was even easier to read, a glare on her face but an energetic movement fluttering her ears. Goddamn if only we could have enjoyed this meal in peace… we'd be in food heaven with how good the food was. No… 'stead we got to dine with the devil and watch him delight as we savored in his 'generosity.'

A wide smile prominently on display, naturally, it was only after our lips were stuffed to the brim that he finally decided to relay his answer.

"Your fantasy… roommates I should call them, I suppose. You don't have to worry about their secrets leaking out. This conversation stays in this room and once I walk out that door there, I'll pretend it never even happened."

Through bulging cheeks, I managed to sound out a muffled, "Why?"

"Because as I've said, I mean absolutely nothing by it. What am I planning, what do I want? Well, I suppose I've already let you in on ever since you've got here. This executive lounge is always in heavy demand. Not a day goes by without it being of use for some oil tycoon or CEO's date… they weren't very happy with me when I told them they wouldn't be getting it today."

"You're not getting a thank you if that's what you're asking," I said at once, swallowing the piece in my mouth whole.

"No thanks, necessary." He said. "It was for my own benefit. Your Dad and I go way back… I wouldn't think he'd appreciate it if I didn't at least try to get to know his kid. Dinner seemed like a nice way to go about it."

"Oh alright, okay, so you wanna be an uncle, then? Is that what this is about?" I gave him my most sarcastic smile. "Well - hello there, Uncle Mafia! Why'd you tried to drive me into total bankruptcy when we first met? Not a very nice welcoming present if you ask me."

At this point, Ash had withdrawn herself from conversing much aside from the occasional nods of agreement to whatever I was saying and disapproving frowns to whatever it was he was saying at the moment. She was taking bites after bites, also a sip of water here and there… hunger was always a difficult adversary for her. When it came to food - the Elf-Knight could only buckle her knees in complete and total defeat.

Just wish she wasn't so shameless about it. Damn Ash, at least try to pretend you weren't enjoying it, you're making my 'Uncle' gloat here.

"Drive you into bankruptcy?" said He, tearing his glance away from Ash. "You rightfully deserve it, don't you suppose? I've known people younger than you that have steered clear away when they were approached by my men - you, on the other hand, you just waltz into their arms with no reservations whatsoever. Your father had more sense than that, I expected naturally for you to have the same sense as he. Sadly, I have to confess myself disappointed. I had to teach you a lesson, a lesson so cruel… you'll never forget it, and you haven't, have you? Lesson learned."

I hated how confident and comfortable he was with his justification. Had he any idea the struggles I went through scrounging up the money… and I did that for what? A lesson in naivety?

Wasn't worth it.

But I couldn't dwell on it for long… for more questions await him, and more answers awaited me.

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