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3

CHAPTER 3️⃣


BENEDICT


"How was the meeting?" My secretary Sharon asked as I approached my office. "Considering how black your mood seems to be.I take itit didn't go well." She noticed.


I sadly smiled at her.A 49 year old womanwith blonde grey hair and a positive attitude towards everything in life.She has been my secretary since I took overand she had worked for my father before that.In a world where people looked at me and see money and wish to be meSharon Kendricks was one of my closest friendsdespite the age gap.I closed my eyes trying to control my raging headache.A part of me just wanted to run away from it all and forget all the problems.But I couldn't do thatI had responsibilities.Salvatore Tech Incwas a legacy my father left for me before he passed away.So the responsibility was mine now whether I liked it or not.At 30I was here nowand I was well on my way to making this company my ownrather that just a legacy that was left to me.


"The meeting went well Sharon except for the fact that Chrissie has a lot of explaining to do.There is some discrepancies that doesn't make any sense at all at the west chain she is handling.There are large deposits of cash that don't match the room bookingsand conference room rentals without any fees.JC is already on her throat.Butit could be worse  right?" I said with a shrug before I fell into my chair and sighed.


"Mr Jalal is still refusing to reconcile?"


"Obviously.That man can keep a grudge for years.If you cross him then that's that." Sydney Crews one of my friends and business partner made his presence known.


"Can you blame him?They are both in this mess because of Benedict.That is a mistake he cannot undo.This boy brought Chrissie into the company when Mr Jalal was trying to keep her away for obvious reasons." Sharon fixed her black glasses that were sitting on the bridge of her nose.She glared at Sydney looking more than willing to slap some sense into him.


"It happened years ago.Juan-Carlos should just give it up.Benedict made a mistake like we all do and he has been apologizing for it for years.But every time he doesJuan-Carlos' middle fingers are already up.You can't force it Benedict.If he can't forgive you then just stop trying so hard.Its not like the dude is a saint anyway."


"Benedict slept with Chrissie and she was Juan-Carlos' wife.And if that can't make you realize how stupid what you just said soundsthen try remembering that Benedict did not only sleep with Chrissiebut he got engaged to her a month after she divorced JC.On top of that he gave her 24% shares of the Jalal Chain of luxury resorts.A legacy that JC's father left for JC and her sister.On top of that Benedict wasn't even apologetic about it.Not even when the media ridiculed JC."

Danica walked into my office in jeans with heels and a white turtleneck. Her black hair was pulled into a slick updo.While she was beautiful and soft on the eyesshe was like coal in the inside.She was ruthlessauthoritative and  cold.And of course she was Juan-Carlos' childhood best friend.


Sydney frowned.They never got along. "Okay Danica you have made your pointbut why the hell are you here?"


She lowered herself into a plush couch besides Sydney and crossed her legs. "I just went to collect JC's suit for the annual charity event.And I just thoughtwhy not check on Benedict and see if karma is still fucking his ass up with a pitchfork.How does it feelbeing at the receiving end of Chrissie's bitchy ways?" The corner of her mouth rose into a smile.

She cocked her headher beautiful face looking ice-cold.


"For a ladyyou sure swear a lot." Sydney shook his head.


"Please can you get me a glass of scotch." Danica looked at Sharon.


"I don't work for you." Sharon flipped her hair and walked out head held high.


She chuckled before standing up and pouring herself a glass of the amber liquid. "The old lady got some feistiness I like."


She took a sip and set her glass down and crossed her arms over her chest. 

"Sohow did the meeting go?You tried to beg for forgiveness and JC gave you a cold shoulder again?"


"I don't understand why you worship the ground that dude walks on.Benedict made a mistake like everyone else and he has been apologising for it for as long as I remember.He is taking responsibility for what he did."


Danica stared at Sydney coldly the same look she gave me when she was pissed at me. "So what?Benedict can go whine to someone who gives a damn because JC definitely doesn't.Benedict stabbed JC in the back while looking at him in the eye.He fucked his wife several times behind JC's back.Then he got engaged to her after the divorce and he didn't have the balls to tell JC the truth.He had to find online along with the rest of the world.So don't turn this apologizing shit into some stupid act of nobility.It could have been completely different if Benedict had said the truth.He should have been honest.Telling the truth to be masculine and noble.A real man isn't afraid to tell the truth because he isn't afraid of consequences.Benedict should have known betterwe grew up together.You don't realise what's really wrong here do you?JC's rage isn't about his personal feelings towards Benedict but its because of how stupid this made him look.He knew what Chrissie was after.She wanted the shares and he didn't give them to her.She was just an opportunistic parasite that found a better host and that host just had to be his nephew.That's what angered him."


I poured a glass for myself and sighed.The mistake I have made in the past couldn't be undone but it wasn't fair that I had go be crucified for thatall the damn time.

"Can you stop talking about me like I'm not in the room.I get that I'm the villain.I wronged Juan-Carlos.Case closed."


Sydney scoffed. "The dude is not even perfect.He cheated on Chrissie left right and center.You might wanna excuse that saying Chrissie deserved it but does Ariel deserve it too?She is locked up in United Arab Emirateswhile the husband here goes to events with different women and is in between a different woman's thighs every week.He is not a saint.He didn't treat Chrissie right but everyone is making him a victim in all of this."


"Is Chrissie a saint?Besidesthat was their marriage not their marriage with Benedict.And honestly what goes on in JC's married life shouldn't be any of your business.Him and Ariel are not married in the traditional sense of the word.Its a business deal.You are familiar with that.After what Chrissie and Benedict did to JC do you really thinkhe is going to actually love someone and marry her?"


"Wellunless that someone is you.We all know about that little crush you have on him." Sydney shot back.


Danica didn't hide her look of annoyance. "Its been three years since I refused to suck your dick.Get over it Sydney.No wonder why you're single."


She looked at me."You're lucky that I'm here with you.My loyalty is with JCno matter what y'all think."


She stood up and turned to walk away. "By the way just accept that commercial for the Giorgio Armani cologne.Maybe that physique of yours will be of good use.Rather than using it to seduce other people's women."


"Why don't you give the deal to Juan-Carlos?He is your favourite."


She smirked. "Not a bad idea.He is hotter than you anyway.Have a good day." She walked out.


"What the hell is wrong with her?"


I chuckled. "She is just like that."


"You have a strange relationship."


"Trust me.I know."


"Soare you making progress with that curvy and luscious waitress at the coffee bay?" He wiggled his eyebrows in a naughty manner.


"Stop.Don't call her thatshe has a name.A very beautiful name.Meredith."

I had been watching over her the past three months and she was perfect.When I first met herit just happened that I was craving some coffeewhich was rare.I walked into the coffee bay and there she wassmiling at the customerstalking in a very soft voice and serving them.When it was my chance to be servedI found myself staring into a pair of melted chocolate eyes of extraordinary beauty.I was used to adulation of women in general and waitresses were no exceptionbut the woman whose name was Meredith according to the name tag was very pretty and she didn't seem to care about anything else rather than serving me coffee and moving on to the next customer.I was smitten.She was exquisite.Absolutely exquisite.With skin like honey and brown curly hair.She was definitely a mixture of something.She was fullluscious and curvy.Damn.I felt another beat of desire as I heard the wistful tone in her voice for the first time.She was just too good to walk away from.SoI visited the coffee bay very much often but she didn't seem to take notice of me.And she had a boyfriend but that didn't stop me from enjoying the view from afar.I went to the coffee bay almost everyday and bought coffee every morning.In the meantime I got to know the kind of person she was just by watching how she dealt with customers.She was soft and unchallenging.Someone easy on the eye and easy on the mind.Someone who could massage my ego and lot more besides.Exactly what I needed.


"I saw you talking to her last night at the casino.Did you shoot your shot?" Sydney's voice broke through my thoughts.


"She has a boyfriend."


"And not a husband?Like that has ever stopped you.Benedict you made a husband divorce his wife.What is a boyfriend to you?If I was you I would be smashing her by now.And the boyfriend is not even your uncle.Stack your claim dude.You should be in between her legs by now." There were times where I wondered how I was still friends with Sydney.The man didn't know how to be modest and sweet.I was surprised that he didn't give into being an escort he loved fucking that much and hated relationships.


"ManI don't know.I don't think she will want anything to do with me after reading the shit that the TMZ wrote about me.I don't wanna go back and forth you know.I'm thirty and I need to settle down.I don't need another Chrissie or Kelly in my life.After Kelly had Guy and the benefits that comes with being my baby mamashe broke things off.Yes we were young but still.I don't want that anymore.I'm tired of going back and forth."

I had made a mistake by sleeping with Chrissie and getting engaged to her.I owned up to that mistake even though my efforts didn't do anything to mend my relationship with my uncle.It was already messed up.Juan-Carlos hated me.And it hurt realising how much I messed up.We used to be so close and I destroyed that.To top it allChrissie used methere was no running away from that fact.Once she got what she wantedI was of no use to her.I realized that all she ever wanted in the affair since the beginning were the shares.Now that I'm matureI now find it very odd that she only started showing interest in me after my mother gave me her shares for Jalal Chain of luxury resorts.Anywayafter my mess up with Chrissie I discovered that the problem of giving shares as an engagement present was the growing number of women eager to be the next Benedict Salvatore's fiancé.The line of women grew strong and creative but I didn't trust any one of them anymore.Being in a relationship however was going to stop the woman desperate for my attention


"Do you?Want her?Or I'm free to go over there and ask her out.She is pretty and soft.I would love to.."


"Hell no.She is off limits."


"You're stacking your claim?"


"Yes."


He chuckled and raised his glass. "I see you.Its about time.What was the last time you were in a relationship anyway?With Chrissie?"


"Can we not go there." I dismissed him.


He threw his hands up in the air. "Okay.I'm off your case.Let me go back to work."


As soon as he walked out my office phone rang.I chuckledknowing exactly who it was.

I picked it up.

"I knew you would pick upthinking its a business call."


I smiled. "You can't fool me little bro.I knew it was you.I know your number."


He chuckled. "Dude you're just one year older.Stop using that little bro card on me."


"When are you coming back from the UK?You're starting to sound like a British lad."


He laughed. "Ohh I talk like this to blend in.You know the attitude British people have against Americans.If I talk like them its good for business.I'm coming back in two months.My father in law died so there is nothing or no one stopping me from divorcing the woman I sleep with everyday here.For that to happenI have to come back there."


I sat on my desk with a sigh and stared outside the window. "Do you think divorce is the best option?You have been with her for five years.You cheated on her  and she still stood by your side.Don't you think she deserves more respect especially right now when she just lost her father?"


I heard him release a sigh. "This marriage has been torture Benedict.Remember I didn't marry her out of love.From the beginning I was trapped in a nightmare.I really am sorry that she lost a father.But the facts remain the samehe was a pain in the ass.He put me through hell by forcing me to marry his spoil brat."


"You could have avoided that and refused to marry her." I rested my left hand in my pockets and started pacing around.


"Are you forgetting that he has done nothing but being the driving opposing force on the board of directors in my mother's company?I couldn't let it fall entirely into his greedy hands.I had already compromised and merged companies with him.I couldn't sell it now.I just had to marry her daughter."


"And what did that cost you?Your happiness.You lost a woman you loved and your child."


He sighed. "I know man.I know.I shouldn't have impregnated her.Or at least until I was done with my wife.Its already done though."


"Sowhat now?After you divorce your wifeyou're going to look for your baby mama?" I asked.


"I already know where she is.I don't knowif she is going to believe that I had to do everything I could to protect her though.My father in-law had threatened to kill her and make it look like an accident and I knew he was capable of that.He was that ruthless."


I fell back into the leather chair and shook my head as if he could see me. "If I were her I wouldn't believe you either.You left her with a baby and you gave up your rights as the father.There was no contact for years.The least you could have done was to tell her what was happening.Now there is a child out there with Salvatore bloodprobably suffering.I thought you learnt something from your own experience.You of all the people know how hard being rejected by your father's family is.How difficult being an illegitimate child isyou know that.You're using your mother's surname and you how miserable it makes your life.And your child is going through the same.Thanks to you."


"I couldn't tell her anything or contact her not because it was my choice.I was being followed.My calls were monitored."


"You could have made a plan.There is no excuse for what you did.You put yourself in this mess and dragged innocent people too.So you're telling me if this dude was to die twenty years lateryou were still going to sit around and do nothing?"


He sighed and kept quiet for a while looking for a counterargument.When he couldn't find one I had made my point.

"You're right.There is no excuse to what I didbut honestly my hands were tied during that time.My wife and father controlled everythingokay.I couldn't do anything."


"Wellgood luck with convincing your baby mama that."


"I'm really hoping that she forgives me.Manshe is the best thing that have ever happened to me.Yes everyone have their flaws but she was my dream man.So down to earthcalmvery soft and respectful.She is her own breed." I could feel his love for her with the way he talked.


For a brief moment I also thought about Meredith. "Reminds me of someone I know."


"Why do I have a feeling that you're smiling right now?Who is she?"


I chuckled."Because I am smiling.I might have met someone."


"Its about time.But why do I sense a 'but?"


I sighed. "There is a but.I like her but we have never really talked.I'm nervous because from what I have observedI don't think she is the type that would want to stick around after reading around my past.She didn't even know who I amso I think she doesn't know my past yet.But when she finds out I don't think she would even want to stop and talk to me."


"Stop punishing yourself.You made a mistakein your past.But who doesn't have a story to tell?We all have done something we are not proud of.I know that better than anyone else.But one of the upsidesyour past made everyone realise that Juan-Carlos is a normal man who can get cheated onjust like the rest of us."


I laughedshaking my head. "You really hate himhuh?He is your uncle."


"Yoursnot mine.He is not my mother's brother.And at least I'm honest about my dislike for him.He thinks he owns the whole world and has an ego for days.Jesus Christ."


"That's just Juan-Carlos. Jalal men are like that.AnywayI was thinking once you're back we should merge our companies and work together.I mean Salvatore Tech Inc and Energy Tech Cocan reach greater heights.If we combine our resourceswe should be able to make a device that tops anything else in the current market."

Having two technology-based companies in one city was always going to cause drama when one wins over the other.It didn't work in our favour that we were stepbrothers.There would always be comparison.The best way to stop all this was to merge into a strategic alliance and work together.


"I agree with thatbut our mothers will never agree to working us together."


I checked my wrist watch. "Well they will have to suck it up.This is business and personal feelings aren't relevant."


"Cool then.We will talk about this when I get there."


"Sure.Bye."


I spent the rest of my day in my officeburied in work.Running a billion dollar companyplus resorts was never an easy taskeven for my father.Even sohe had set the bar so high that it put a ridiculous amount of pressure on me and my heir who was going to take over after me.However I was doing my best.I had spent most of the past two months labouring away on tough deals and only pulled them all by the skin of my teeth.My name was splashed all over financial papers and I stacked up a few million dollarsand then I siphoned off a substantial portion to a cause far more worthy than my already bloated account.I ain't bragging. However success could be draining sometimes it took me away from the fundamentals in life.I wasn't married at thirty.I was starting to get worried for myselfhonestly.


Anyway after work I went home.When I got thereI knocked softly at the door and beamed at my 10 year old son when he opened the door.I had him when I was twenty and Kelly was 19.We were young then but we made it.Kelly and I were no longer together.And from my point of view that was the best thing we could have done other than not to have dated in the first place.We were young and naive back then and at the mercy of our hormonesbut Guy was the best thing that has ever happened to me.Kelly and I had formed a proper co-parenting bondbut it was local news that all she ever wanted was the benefits of being a Salvatore's baby mama.She didn't really care about Guy.


"Look at the smile.Please tell me you have a girlfriend." Guy said lazily looking bored.


"I was expecting a hug or something." I smelled the air appreciatively as I stepped inside.My chef had made my favourite.


"Its time for dinner." Guy announced before disappearing into the grand dining hall.


I took a quick shower and joined him a few minutes later.Just being the two of us felt so lonely.It was better with the help around but they had gone to their quarters now.Guy and I had a proper father and son relationship but it was kind of strange in some way.When we finished eatingwe went to play a video game.None said a word for like forty-five minutes

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until he decided to break the ice.


"Daddo you have a girlfriend?" He asked me drily.I was surprised by his maturity 


"Where is all that coming from?"


"Look dadI'm not telling you this to make you feel bad but it's a Friday night and you're hereplaying video games with your son.Don't you find it depressing?"


I looked at himshocked. "What's wrong with me hanging out with you.I spend the whole time at work and if I get time to hang out with youI grab the opportunity.What's depressing about that?"


He shrugged. "I'm ten dad and I have a girlfriend.But you look like you have nothing else going on in your life right now."


I chuckled and threw my hands in the air. "GuyI'm the dad and you're the son."


He nodded his head. "Exactly my point.You're the dad and I'm the son but you're single and I'm in a serious relationship and I'm tendad.What's that supposed to tell you?Put yourself out there.You're handsome.Go shoot your shot" He stood up and shook his head.

"Uhhh its worse than I thought."

He walked outshaking his head.I was left with my jaws on the floor.My ten year old sontelling me to shoot my shot.Just great.


"You know what?I'm going to going the casino.I'm dropping you off at your grandmother's place."


He turned to look at me from the fridge. "Its about time."



MEREDITH



I took several orders to the bar where the barman of the evening ran the tab.My mood was dampened earlier by a customer who had tried to blame me for spilling drinks and was refusing to pay.I could have probably lost my job and pay for stuff that I wasn't supposed to paybut fortunately the casino had CCTVs The security checked the footage and realised it was his fault.He didn't have money to pay so he was blaming it on me.He was asked to pay up and I didn't lose my job.Since I didn't go to the coffee bay in the morning I got some extra shifts from my coworkers so I would be on my feet for hours.


I was so immensely focused on my work that I didn't even see Benedict until he spoke.

"HeyMeredith."


I spun around where I was waiting at the bar for another order to be filled.There he wasin dark jeans and a black turtleneck.He looked like sin.


"Benedict.It's good to see you again." I flashed him a smilewhich he returned.


"Busy nighthuh?"He sat on the high stool and ordered a double scotch.


"Its always busy here."


"Meredithyour order is up." The barman announced.I almost rolled my eyes.Great just great.


I gave Benedict an apologetic look. "I'm sorry I really have to go."


He smiled. "Its okay I totally understand.This is your work place and you don't wanna lose your job."


"Right.Enjoy the rest of the night."

I took my order and started serving customers.Benedict abandoned his drink and leaned forwardhis chiselled arms on the table and eyes on me.He watched me as I walked between the peoplethe whole damn time.Women came and tried to talked to him.He would dismiss them politely and direct his gaze back at me again.My gosh.I tried to ignore his look but I could feel his eyes on me and it was making me conscious of myself.I would flash him a smile here and there because he couldn't just stop looking at me.FinallyI gathered enough courage and walked up to him.


"What?" I asked.


He smiled. "I didn't say anything."


"I know.But you have been staring at methe whole time."


"And I will keep staring."


"What are you thinking about?You have an expression I can't quiet read."


He held my gaze. "I'm thinking about you.You're pretty."


I looked downa little shy. "Ohh thank you.I will go back to work."


"Sure." He held his glasseyes still on me.Jesus Christ.


By the time I was done walking around tablesI was exhausted as hell.And Benedict was still on his same spot looking at me.


"Go and change so I can get you home.You look exhausted." He said.


"NoI can get a cab.It's okayyou don't have toplus I don't really know you."


He chuckled. "My name is Benedict Salvatore like I told you.I'm 30 years old and single.I'm American by birth and global by nature.I'm not a serial killer or anything.You are free to take my details and send them to whoever you want if that makes you feel better.Should I also tell you my blood type?"


I laughed."Okayyou have made your point.Let's go."


The drive home was a silent one.I realised he wasn't much of a talker and I appreciated it.I was too tired to strike a conversation.When we arrivedhe pulled his BMW 5 series into the front of my apartment and walked me up to my floor.


"Sothis is me." I nodded to the door.


"Greatumm.My diary is empty tomorrow.I was planning to catch up on a lot of paper workbut you Meredithhave tempted me into changing my plans.Do you wanna do dinner or lunch?"


I couldn't deny being tempted too but then I remembered I had just gotten out of a shitty relationship.I didn't want a handsome strangerwho probably wasn't single to add to that.The last thing I wanted was cat fights with wives is girlfriends.This kind of guy was not for the likes of me.He was too handsome.Probably too rich.Too everything.


"Its very sweet of you but  I'm afraidI can't." I saidapologetically.


"You have a boyfriend?"


"No.Umm there is no one.Just got out of a relationship but I have work tomorrow and other stuff to do."


He pulled a thick black business card from his wallet and slid it between my fingers. "Wellwhy don't you call me if you change your mind."


"Okay."


"Cool.Get inside and rest."He smiled.


I walked inside and he smiled before turning on his heels and walking away.I stood therewatching him as he disappeared down the stairs.

I looked at the business card.Salvatore Tech Inc.

"Interesting."


***


"Order up Meredith!" The manager shouted as soon as I stepped in.I was late for work because I had a late night and I was pretty exhausted but Victoria was very understanding.She was sweet and tolerantonly when necessary.


"Good morning Vic."


"Morning Meredith.Go take your order.Hurry girl.It's a busy morning today.Its a weekend remember."


"Sure." I spun on my heels and took two plates of muffins and creamthe chef slid at me.I checked the table number and hurried at the table.I gave the customers my best smiles and kept taking several orders.It was indeed a busy morning.


"Go take the order from table number five."


"Ok Vic."


I wiped my hands on my apron as I walked over to the table.


"Isn't this interesting?" A deep and husky voice caused my head to jerk up.I came face to face with none other than Juan-Carlos Jalal.He was gorgeous in a dark brown suit that complimented his skin which looked like burnished olive.

"What are you doing here?" 


His eyes dipped at my name tag and he smirked. "Meredith.." He said my namemaking it sound like pure poetry.He looked up at mewith a look I couldn't comprehend. "I'm here for a cup of coffee just like everyone else."


"Are you going to take our orders or what?" My gaze moved to the woman who was sitting opposite him.She was pretty and elegantjealous down.She glared at me like I did her wrong.I inwardly rolled my eyes.


"Oh yea sure.What will you have?" I pulled on my best smile and took out my pen and paper.


Juan-Carlos went through the menu. "I will have black coffee with no sugar and two lemon blueberry rolls." He looked at the woman he was with.

"Danicayou?" 


She smiled sweetly at him. "I will have what you're havingsweety."


 _Sweety?_ Obviously the girlfriend.


"Surecoming right up." I flashed them a smile and walked to the counter.The whole time I could feel Juan-Carlos' eyes on me.His presence was so distracting that I could barely do anything properly.I glanced at him and he gave me a lazy grin.I shook my head and tried to focus on my work.LuckilyI wasn't the one who served them but I had to take their plates after they were done having their breakfast.


"I had the best rolls ever.Do you do deliveries?" He leaned in on his chair and folded his arms over his chest.


"No we don't."


He nodded. "Hmm okay.Looks like I have to come here for the sweet cookies then."

He made it sound so dirty.


"You had rolls not cookies."


"But they are sweet cookies in hereright?"He gave a shrugwith a smirk on his face.


 I felt color rising in my cheeks.I tried to ignore the frantic racing of my heart and put on my best smile."I'm glad you enjoyed your meal sirand madam."I turned and walked away.


***


"What the fuck are you wearing?" Leigh-Anne frowned looking at me.After my shift at the coffee bay the girls convinced me to attend some fun day in Manhattan.I only agreed because we were bringing my son and nephew along.Since I couldn't afford to things like that for themI grabbed the opportunity.Now I was wearing a blue flowy jumpsuit that I had bought five years ago.Even thoughI was big I had stayed the same size because I couldn't afford enough food to make me gain more weight.


"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" I askedseeing nothing wrong with my outfit.


Chicago frowned. "Men can fuck almost anything but not youin that outfit."

She gave me a black leather mini skirt and a white cap-sleeve T-shirt.


I looked at the skirt. "Its tightshort and.."


"Sexy.It suits you Meredith.Girlyou've been starting to wear things far too dowdy and matronly for you.You have got a gorgeous body.Don't hide itflaunt it.Now put this on."


"Fine."


***


When we arrived in Manhattan for the Fun Dayit was in full swing.It was chaos and fun at the fair.All around people were cheering to something and enjoying themselves.


"Mommy look." Gabriel smiled looking at three jugglers as they slung and twisted long daggers in the air.There were pottery wheelslive bands and a games section.


When MJ noticed the game section he beamed in excitement. "Aunt Chicagocan I play that and win a toy?" He pointed at an axe throwing game.


Chicago picked him up. "Of course you can.Come let's go."


"I will go buy some hotdogs and ice creams." Leigh-Anne announced and she walked away.


A few minutes later they were all back.We hit another set of gaming stalls.The boys were excited and that's all that mattered to me.


"What is that?" Chicago asked looking at a blue tent that people were walking in and out of.


"Let's go check it out." Chicago said.


"Its a gypsies tent." Leigh-Anne shrugged.


"Fortunetellers?" Chicago asked.

 

She nodded. "Yes."


"Ohh mylet's go Meredith and try it out." Chicago beamed in excitement.


"I'm just gonna accompany you.I'm not interested in those kind of things."

We left the kids at an informal crèche which had been organized for children and Leigh-Anne was watching over the boys.

I followed Chicago to the mysterious tent.

When we approached ita woman walked out.She had dreadlocks braided in jewel.She looked like she was from the middle east.A purple pendent hung on her neck.The way she was dressed reminded me of Princess Jasmine.She walked over to us and stared at me.


"YouI saw you.I was waiting for you.Come inside." She said with her accented English.


"This is creepy." I turned to walk away but the woman reached for my arm.


"I'm harmless." She said softy.


"Go inside and have her check if you're going to manage to pay off your student loan in three years." Chicago giggled and pushed me towards the tent.Hesitantly I followed the woman.


When I walked inside I was even more terrified. Multicolored stonescrystals and candles surrounded the place.The cloth of the tent was so thick that the only light in there was provided by the candles.How the hell did she see me?I looked at the fortuneteller who was now playing her cardsshuffling and arranging them in a single deck.


"So am I supposed to touch a crystal or what?"


She chuckled. "You watch a lot of movies."


She arranged the cards in a single row.

 "SoI'm suppose to pick a card?"


"Nothe cards picked you instead."She moved the cards around until she was left with three.

"FidelityAngerFoe."


"The fidelity card represents loveloyalty and friendship.Anger is card of bad emotions.Foe represents rivalry."

She held my palm and pronounced firmly.

"When you stepped into this place your aura calmed every other aura here.You're a very calmdown to earth and soft person.But it is the calmest sea that brings the dangerous waves."


She looked at my palms and back at the cards.

"You can neither open your heart and risk a heartbreak.Or you can close it off and risk loneliness.Its a risk either way.Don't let yours or anyone's past cripple your future.I see a man in your life.You're each other's fatesalthough neither of you had recognized it yet.It was written in the starsway before you were born.You will love this man inexplicably and he will love you toobut his past mistakes and your fears will disrupt what you have.You will leave him and try to run away from your destiny.In the process you're going to give your love to those who don't deserve it.That will cause a lot of angerpainhurt and frustration.But forces outside your control will dictate your emotions.No matter how much you try to runyou will always go back to him.You can't change it.You can't escape it.You will always go back to him.Like I saidits written in the stars.If you're going to be with him forever or not?That remains to be forseen.You do not believe me and you wontuntil when these things start coming to pass."She leaned back against her chair and crossed her arms over her chest.


I stood up and turned to walk away but her voice stopped me.Her expression had lightened.

"Till we meet againMeredith."


I walked out immediately.


"What did she say?" Chicago askedexcitedly.


"Just some crap about men and love.She was trying to hypnotise me or something I don't know."


"Maybe she wanted some money.How much did you give her?They often say they need money and your name."


I looked at her confused. "That's odd.She didn't ask for my money."


"Ohh maybe she is doing it for free.I'm going in there." She rushed to the tent.


I stopped on my tracks. "She didn't ask for my name eitherbut she knew it." When I turnedChicago was already gone.


I found a nearby bench and sat downtrying to calm my racing heart.It was like a déjà vu.

"Well its rubbish and infective guess work.She probably knows me from somewhere.Its just a vivid imagination." I brushed it off.


The bench shiftedand then a heavy body filled the vacancy besides me.A musky scent filled the air.I lifted my head and there he was.


"This is a nice surprise.Usually my stalkers aren't prettysweet and innocent kitties.If you want meall you have to do is ask." His eyes were glued at me and focusedlike there was nothing else more important in the world than watching me.Juan-Carlos wasn't wearing the black suit I saw him in earlier.He was in blue jeans and a white turtleneck.


I looked at himannoyed. "I could tell you're arrogantbut wow."


"Wowwhat kitty?" 


I stared into his narrowed gaze but couldn't hold it for long. "First of allstop calling me kitty."


"Why not?You're so innocent and sweet.You remind me of a kittenkitty."


I chose to ignore that comment. "Soyou just assume that everyone wants to sleep with you?"


He cocked his head. "Don't you?You're even stalking me.First at the bankthe restaurant and now here too.Like I saidif you want meall you have to do is ask."


"Jesus Christ!You're even worse than I thought.A cocky man that is so sure he can get any woman he snaps his fingers at.Wellnews flash Mr Jalal I don't want your balls."

I stood up and walked away.


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