In the back of my head, I was making a victorious dance. I'm happy that I got my point across him which only means that my free will is still intact. We continued on with our lunch with an awkward silence. No conversations were made and surprisingly, Enrique nor Vincent didn't open one.
Once I was done eating, I felt my belly full (and as in really full.) After eating four different dishes, who wouldn't be right? I am not one who wastes food so I tried my best in storing them in my stomach, but damn, I feel like I'm going to throw up right now.
"Could you excuse me for a bit, I need to go to the powder room, " informed I to the three men with me. After they nodded, I stood up and raced towards my refuge.
Once there, nope, I didn't throw up, but I did take a lot of deep breaths to organize myself. I was glad that the ladies room provided cushioned seats and a soothing aura, at least I was able to rest myself there for minutes without the need to observe proper decorum. I slumped my shoulders, rested my head back against the wall and closed my eyes, letting myself get lost on the male Italian bossa nova singer through the wall speakers.
"What are you doing?" without warning, I heard a male voice say.
Yep, a male voice in a female comfort room.
I shot my eyes up and looked at the trespasser standing a few feet in front of me.
"Erik!" I exclaimed as I stood up. "My God, why are you inside? Go out now!" I strained to shout.
When he didn't move, I neared him, then pushed him out with great force on his back. Fortunately, he let himself get pushed along.
Thank God there was nobody inside the ladies room except me.
"Why are you taking too much time in the comfort room, Daniella?" he asked when we reached the small hallway.
"Nothing! I just want a piece for myself after you made me eat all of those dishes!" I wasn't angry at him, just frustrated that he had placed me in this kind of situation.
"Oh, I see, " he smirked at me, realizing what my dilemma was.
When he didn't apologize, I placed my arms akimbo and asked, "What's the big idea anyway, Erik? Why bother fattening me up?"
My query was met with silence. He didn't immediately answer, but scan me from head to foot he did, so intense that it made me feel self-conscious.
Bloody hell, I don't like this kind of reaction at all.
"For your employment, " he then answered with no intonation whatsoever.
"What's the connection of it?" I narrowed my eyes at him.
He leaned in close to me, so close that his mouth was almost touching my forehead. I had to step back an inch away as a response. "If you're going to be my maid woman, you should be healthy and plump or you won't withstand my chores for you."
Huh, chores. Figures.
"Are you going to make me lift heavy objects, Mr. President?" I twisted my lips.
"That depends, " he answered vaguely.
That depends on what? Shit, what is he up to?
I would have asked further, but he ended our conversation by walking away, I bet to return to the table.
If looks could start a fire, probably Erik's back would have been aflame right now. I waited for him to exit the hallway, then counted to twenty before joining them back. When I arrived there, two pair of confused eyes met me, so I just smiled at them and said, "Sorry for the long wait."
Enrique waved a hand in response, "Not at all Se?orita Daniella."
When I sat, I immediately saw a chocolate-dipped, raspberry mascarpone in a small glass container sitting on my side of the table.
"I took the liberty of ordering this dessert for you, darling, " said Vincent to me with a smile.
Oh, Vincent. He doesn't even know that my stomach could take no more.
But to show good manners, I smiled at him and said, "Thank you."
Taking a dessert spoon next to the mascarpone, I tasted it and made a pleased sound, "It's good, " I commented whilst looking at Vincent.
"That it is, " he replied, lifting a spoonful of his own mascarpone higher.
Enrique had his own share too, so he started eating it. Erik had one sitting on his front but didn't touch it. It looks to me that he is no fan of sweets at all.
"Would you mind if I visit you in New York, Daniella?" Enrique opened up a new conversation, but it instantly placed me in yet another dilemma.
"Uhm..." I shifted my eyes uneasily, "I...ah...I actually changed my mind. I'll be staying in the chateau for...longer than I expected."
"Really?" his eyes twinkled. "That's great news!"
"Why the sudden change of mind, Daniella?" Vincent raised the question then.
To tell you frankly, I don't want to use any alibis or even make a white lie just so to hide the real reason behind my stay. I really wanted to tell them about my arrangement with their president, but I realized it was better to zip my mouth than face the consequences later.
"I have...I have some..." Realizing I was stuttering, I cleared my throat and then ensued, "I have some few issues with—"
"I asked her to be a member of the Club, Vincent, " was Erik's volunteer announcement. I tossed him a look of surprise, the same as that of my two knights.
"What?!" they both said in unison.
The President sighed. "You heard me."
"Erik..." Vincent drawled in a dark tone. I saw his face darken and his eyes turning into a stormy violet. Preferring his prince charming looks, this kind of expression from him really knocked my air out.
"I know, " I heard Erik say, so I glanced at him with confusion.
"We need to talk about this later, " Vincent advised, whilst putting the spoon down.
"We will, " was the former's sure reply.
To clear the male tension, I had to voice out, "Why? What's the matter? It sounds as if you guys are against me joining the club."
"No, no, " Enrique immediately stated. "You don't need to worry about anything, Daniella. We love your company very much. Don't misunderstand our reactions earlier."
I gave him a worried face. "But really, you guys don't need to hide anything from me. If I'm unwelcome, I—"
"Daniella, " I glared at Erik, the source of my problems, who so most smoothly interrupted my sentence again.
"What?" I bit.
From his mesmerizing orbs, I could see his actions. It rolled from my face down to my cellphone I had placed in my lap. "Your phone is ringing."
Really, I had forgotten about it since I turned it to silent mode during our car ride.
"Oh..." I swiped it up and when I checked the screen, it registered Ericka's number. "Uhmm, excuse me for a bit gentlemen. I'll have to take this call."
My two knights nodded at me.
Before I could stand however, the ringing stopped. I paused in my chair to check on a text message she had left and typed back a reply.
'Hey, Dani. Where you at? The papers your mother asked are already printed.'
'Out on a lunch date. BRT.'
Releasing a deep sigh, I looked up to the three men who seemed eager to listen to me. "I'm sorry guys, " I made a sorry face (to Enrique and Vincent specifically), "I need to go now. I need to sort out some paperworks before my team leaves later."
Knowing that I won't be able to leave with my team back to New York, I will have to sign the paperworks like ASAP. And while I'm at it, I'm going to inform Ericka and phone my mother about my change of plans for the next six months. I bet Ericka's going to fangirl on me when I tell her about my contract with the President, and I bet I'm going to have one heck of a time explaining my alibi (which I badly need) to my mother.
"I'll drive you back to the chateau, Se?orita, " Enrique immediately offered, standing up before Vincent and Erik could.
I awarded him a grateful smile. "Ah, thanks Enrique."
After a casual glance on the two remaining men on the table, I managed to say, "I'll go now, " and off I stood (rather speedily might I add) before Erik could order me again.
I couldn't explain it thoroughly, but my goodness, I feel as though my back was burning when Enrique and I glided out of the restaurant. I'll bet my sanity that it wasn't because of his hand on the small of my back, but because of something else... something that Erik alone could specifically make me feel: dread.
In Enrique's black Bugatti, we rode back to the chateau. I threw him wild praises of how his car looked cool and classy which I couldn't when I was with Erik in his drool-worthy Ferrari, but he just smiled at me and quickly changed the subject.
"Hey, listen, " he started, glancing at me briefly. I have a feeling this is his serious side. "Don't misunderstand what happened earlier. It's definitely not about you why we questioned the President on your membership. It is another...confidential reason that is beyond your concern."
I curved a small smile and lowered my head down. "I understand. Don't worry, I'm not going to let it bother me."
And then smoothly, he released one hand from the wheel and wrapped it with my left.
"Good, " he said.
I glanced at him and saw how his face looked expressive.
"Daniella, since our lunch date is a disaster, can I invite you to dinner tomorrow? And, I mean just the two of us."
My breath hitched. Wow, what a way to pick up the pieces, Mr. Noble.
"That's so kind of you Enrique, " I gave him an apologetic smile, "but I still need to take care of some matters. I'm afraid my schedule is full for now."
It was my safest answer since I actually don't know yet how full my schedule was. Since I work for Erik, he alone owns my time whether I like it or not.
Enrique let out a long sigh, "I see, " and then released my hand, but not before kissing the back of it. "Then, I will just patiently wait. Thank you for being honest, Se?orita."
For that reason, I felt we have created a sense of camaraderie even though we have just been introduced to each other for three hours. "Thank you for understanding me, " I said as I felt a blush creeping up my face.
Letting him focus on his driving, I remained silent thereafter. When my phone buzzed a message, I checked on it and found an unknown number. I almost jumped from my seat when I discovered it is the same as that number who called me in Lotus Spade.
I wonder from who this is? I asked myself before opening the message, but when I read the name, I choked on my saliva.
'Oi, go to your room, get your bag and wait for a man called "Ian" to guide you to your NEW ROOM.'
This is Erik's number the whole time?!
I rolled my eyes. I guess it was expected since he was the one who pulled that hostage-taker stunt on me last night.
I read his message again after I was over with my initial shock, and then it dawned on me that he wanted me transferred to a new room. To where? That was my question, but I guess it seems I'll find out soon enough.