As I watched him slam the door and leave, my mind buzzed away. It was fine in the beginning, so how did it become like this?
Moments later, Mrs. Eriksen came upstairs. When she saw me on the floor, seemingly at a loss, she merely sighed. “Oh dear, you two…”
“Mrs. Eriksen, I want some peace!” I said, overcome by fatigue. I rose from my spot, stumbled out of the study and into my bedroom, where I proceeded to lock the door.
I must have blacked out after that.
I laid on the bed, in a daze, until midnight, when I was awakened by a nightmare.
There was no one beside me. I got up to pour myself a glass of water. I checked the time. It was three o’clock in the early morning. I supposed I would not be able to fall asleep again after this hour.
I had not eaten anything that night. I opened the door and went downstairs. Mrs. Eriksen had left some food for me. I took several bites but, honestly, I did not have much of an appetite.
As I headed upstairs, I glanced at the study out of habit. There was no one inside. The chaotic mess had been cleaned up.
It seemed Ashton did not return at all that night. I retired to the bedroom and looked through the email sent by OrbitTech again.
It did not take long for the weather to get cold, as the second round of heavy snowfall in K City came as expected.
The entire yard was covered with snow. To avoid traffic jams, people have already begun to shovel snow outside their homes.
Mrs. Eriksen was surprised to see me up and about when she came in for work. She said, “The new year’s rolling in soon. People are stocking up on new year goods and decorations. Letty, what do you say we go shopping after breakfast? See what the stores have on sale.”
I grinned at her. “I have somewhere to go in the afternoon, so I’ll have to pass. Has Ashton purchased the air ticket to J City for you?”
Mrs. Eriksen’s son and daughter lived in J City. She usually spent the new year break with them every year. For me, I used to spend it with either Grandma or George. It was great while it lasted.
Now that both of them were gone, it had become quite lonely during festivities, as though the holidays had become meaningless.
I wonder what’s going on at Macy’s. With that thought, I had the urge to give Jackson a call, but I shrugged it off when I checked the time. It was too early to do that.
I simply turned to Mrs. Eriksen and said, “I’m heading to the company in a while. Ashton’s not here, so you don’t have to make breakfast for us.”
She looked like she wanted to say something, but I had already grabbed the keys and gone out the door.
Work at the White Corporation started at nine. I got there early, so I waited in the office for a while before I went looking for the person in charge of OrbitTech to discuss work.
Research and development of AI could not possibly be achieved in a few short days, but I was pleased to see the progress we were making.
As I came out of the R&D Department, I bumped into Sally. It had been a few days since she moved back to the White residence, and it seemed she had officially returned to work at the White Corporation as well.
She saw me egging to leave, and said, “Are you in a rush?”
I shook my head. “No. What’s up?”
She clasped her hands and spoke, “The new year’s just around the corner. What plans do you and Ashton have this year? Are you returning to J City or staying here in K City? I heard that the Stovall family is adding you to the family register. What are your plans for the coming year?”
“Not sure,” I said, facing her. “Why don’t you ask Ashton?”
With that said, I got ready to leave, but when I reached the lobby I chanced upon a group of people just entering the building.
Among them were Ashton and Joe. They must have come to talk about work.
In the reception area, Ashton’s slender figure was particularly eye-catching. He stood with one hand in his pocket and seemed to be chatting with Joe about something important.
Our eyes met. He frowned at me, apparently still bitter about what happened. Briefly stunned, I pursed my lips and looked away as I headed towards the exit.
“Scarlett, have you had your breakfast?” Joe spoke as he came up and blocked my way. I could not pretend that I did not see them.
I stopped walking. My eyes darted to Ashton, who was still wearing the suit from last night. I could see the wrinkles.
“Later!” I replied. Other colleagues greeted me from the side and I responded to them in turn, ready to leave.
I looked back at Joe and said, “I have other matters to tend to, so I’ll get going!”
“Come on, Scarlett. Ashton and I are going for lunch soon. You should come with us!”
“No, thanks. I really have other things to do. You go ahead!” I said, feeling for my car keys.
Ashton’s face grew cold. He threw an icy glance at Joe and uttered calmly, “Are you that free?”
I pressed my lips. I had no intention to linger, so I said to Joe, “I’m leaving. See you!”
Then I left without waiting for Joe to respond.
I managed to hear Joe’s petulant strife with Ashton from behind me. “You’re saying I’m too free? Ashton, you’re one to talk. Who was the one who didn’t sleep at all last night and spent every waking moment drinking? Who’s the depressed one here?”
I was not sure what to make of that.
I got out of the building and into my car. I had barely got the engine started when my phone rang. It was Stacey.
I turned the engine off to take her call. “Hi. What’s up?”
“Can you come to J City, hopefully by today?” she said, sounding quite serious over the phone.
I froze at her request. “What happened?”
There was a pause before she continued, “I don’t really know how to put this. I think they want to keep this a secret from you. That’s why they haven’t called. But the truth will come to light sooner or later. So… why don’t you come back and take a look at it yourself? You need to know the cause.”