Not What It Seems Ch. 07byAscii©
You have no idea how sorry I am for the wait. Though exams are out of the way, I've recently started a full time job, which means working about 40 hours a week for the summer. I literally have no life for a nineteen year old.
I want to thank you all for the messages and comments. Want to thank some readers for suggestions to chap6, it was very insightful, I was actually glad we were thinking along the same lines :) want to thank a reader who told me this story deserves to be published/made into a film. THAT definitely made my day. It was very nice of you, though I don't think this is good enough.
Most importantly a big thank you to Jim.
Thanks for the support
It was after that night when he had made love to her in his pent house that made Jared realize he could no longer think of her as nothing more than his whore. He watched her innocent, sweet expression as she slept, the more he was with her, the more she snuggled into him at night made him want her more than his personal whore, he knew he was letting his guard down.
He hated admitting even to himself, but he was jealous that night at the Cullen's anniversary when he had seen her with all those men fawning over her. He prided on being an important man who people feared, the realization that she was his weakness made him fearful. Nothing ever made him close to feeling fear.
Though he told her she was moving in with him that morning he decided to wait. He decided to give her a surprise. Instead whenever he needed her he would take her to his presidential suite.
They no longer went to his pent house. Alin knew this was his way of telling her she was his whore and didn't want her to confuse their relationship, and truthfully she didn't want him to.
But it did hurt.
The only thing they did well together was sex, because this was the only thing they did. After sex he would always leave without a backward glance.
In a few weeks time they had settled into a comfortable routine, so that whenever he needed sex he would go see her, which was exactly how Alin saw their current situation.
Unbeknown to her, Jared had other ideas. He reminded himself it wasn't love so when he made his decisions he convinced himself it wasn't because he wanted her to be happy, but because he did it for himself.
Haltor paced up and down his office as he tried to control his temper. He hadn't shown much result lately and since his grandfather was close to being six feet deep, he really needed to up his game in order to get the inheritance.
"You know how stupid I look? Do you have any idea what the fuck people been saying behind my back. I don't care I want that cunt to lose everything. WHATEVER it fucking takes! As for Alin, I want her back. I want everyone to know I NEVER lose!"
Yeah but you always do Charles thought. He really wanted to help Haltor, with the paycheck he gave, hell anyone wanted to, but it was getting increasingly risky now with Jared taking charge of the operations fully.
If it wasn't his gambling addiction, Charles would never choose to contact Haltor again.
"John, I want to help. But-"
"Don't say 'help' you're not helping me when I pay you for it. And don't fucking say you can't because-"
Now Charles was beyond furious. Just because these bastards have money they treat him like nothing more than a dog.
"Look, five years ago if it weren't for me, would you have even come close to fucking up Jared and getting Alin? It was your fault you didn't manage to hold on to it all. Besides if it wasn't me who helped fuck up everything within the company after the failed E-bid contract, HTU would never be in the position it is in now. If it wasn't for me, your grandfather wouldn't even give you a second glance, now that old bastard gives all his shit to you instead of his other grandsons-"
"You fucking finished? As I recall, five years ago you came begging for my help." Mimicking his words John continued, "IF IT WEREN'T FOR ME, you would have been dead with your gambling debts. So are you in or you fucking out?"
Almost as if a whisper, Charles replied, "What do you want me to do?" Charles could feel the smug expression that must have appeared on Haltor's face.
"Update me with everything going on, any deals, any potential deals. I want his operations in China and Russia, so make sure you do the job I pay you for."
Charles was screwed. He knew Haltor meant business this time, and if he didn't deliver he would be screwed over. Although he was Jared's trusted aide, ever since the E-bid contract, Jared had become withdrawn, refusing to trust anyone, not even him. Jared was usually making decisions and plans the very last minute, so telling Haltor what Jared's next step would be was going to be difficult.
"At the moment all I know is about his potential partnership with Alexsander Petrov's to expand operations in Russia and he's discussing business plans to merge with the biggest e-commerce business in China owned by Tao Zhang."
Haltor laughed, "Why the fuck did you have to make that so difficult? See I scratch your back you scratch mine. Now I'll tell you one more time, if you do your job, then I'll pay you. Simple. I want you to get a meeting with Petrov and Zhang for me-"
"No fucking but, you either shut the fuck up and do it, or I'll make personally make sure no one lends any money to you.
Charles sighed. His fate was sealed. He knew messing with Haltor was a fucking big mistake and assisting him in destroying Jared was the only way forward.
"Jared ...please stop teasing me..."
"Mr. Valentine? Sir?"
Today's board meeting, Jared couldn't concentrate, and now? He had thought that he would be bored by now, but these past weeks he found he couldn't get enough of her. Never in his life had he needed anything, but now he found he was breaking his number one rule.
Seriously this girl was driving him crazy. Even while discussing business with his two executives his mind still manages to wander off... now they were almost staring at him curiously.
"Rita, you were saying?"
"Sir, I was saying six years ago when we expanded into the African region it was the hardest market to penetrate into. Though it took us a significantly long time to hit the target we thought we were going to hit, obviously it's now going from strength to strength. But unfortunately we've been losing market share in other regions. When we launched operations in China and Russia in 2006 it was a brief success, now that there's so much competition, I'm not sure if we should try and revive both regions at the same time."
Now concentration was definitely needed. E-commerce businesses were big business but competition was damn fierce. Jared pushed the image of Alin in nothing but her panties and stilettos away from his mind- for now, and tried his best to concentrate.
Jared looked at the figures in front of him, "We had a loss in the African region in the beginning, a huge loss, and every analyst criticized our decision- now we're turning over $150million. Are you saying we can't do that with China and Russia? Tom suggestions."
Tom groaned inside. He was the global analyst at BankSafe and Jared always valued his opinion. Tom hated Rita for keeping her comments brief and vague, knowing that he had to fill in what she cleverly avoided to say.
"Mr. Valentine, I think the main concern is well, it's um, you know HTU. Ever since the African region has been met with huge success, they've launched operations there. As you know even though we're practically the market leader in the African region, HTU has recently tried targeting this market and are currently in talks with some of the biggest e-commerce businesses based in Africa. Also, I know that John Haltor-" Fuck! Tom stopped talking and mentally kicked himself for even mentioning this.
Jared hated this shit. HTU has become a strange taboo in the company. No one wanted to acknowledge it, unless it was absolutely necessary. Knowing that HTU was linked VERY strongly to their boss's personal life, no one wanted to mention it.
Jared, looked at his watch and sighed in frustration, "Tom, do you really think I have time for this?"
"I'm - I'm sorry Mr. Valentine. I- it's just been rumored that HTU recently planned to aggressively push us out of the China and Russia market, and publicity have been very negative for us since, well, the engagement between , um..Alin erm... I mean- Miss Fanning and John Haltor broke up."
Jared smiled, he knew Haltor would soon try and play games with him, but he underestimated that the bastard would bring business into it. Fuck, he couldn't compete with him when it came down to finance. Haltor Corporation was an affluent firm and no oversea corporation would turn down an offer to work with them, this was a disaster waiting to happen.
It was hard to know what Haltor's next move was, it was inevitable he would try and overtake both the Chinese and Russian market, but how he was going to do it was another story. Fuck, this was more complex than he thought it was going to be, but still having Alin was worth losing a couple of millions.
He didn't want to think. It was giving him a fucking headache and besides he was late for dinner, "Rita, Tom it's getting late, we'll discuss this in the morning. Cancel all your appointments tomorrow; we need to hold an emergency board meeting."
The occasional phone call with Hallie had always ended abruptly, with her busy schedule, so Alin decided to meet up with Hallie and with Ryan coming in later. She had told Hallie about her relationship, though never in detail. She really did hate lying to her friend, but she knew it was for the best.
They were browsing the menu when Alin noticed the slightly bruised dots on her hand. It was blistered and looked extremely painful.
"Hallie, what's that on your hand?"
Hallie immediately pulled her hand away guardedly.
She hesitated, "I-it's nothing..."
Alin looked concerned, "Are you crazy?! How can that be nothing?"
Hallie continued to hesitate, before she suddenly broke into a smile, "Okay fine, it's really stupid, that's why I didn't wanna tell you. Well, I was trying to make a romantic dinner, for our wedding anniversary, cooking Jack's favorite meal, there were so many things to do, so I was, you know multi-tasking," Hallie paused to take a sip from her drink while Alin continued to listen intently. "Well, knowing me, disaster struck. I was looking out for the steak, while lighting the candles, then bam! SUPER HOT wax dropped on my hand!"
Alin shook her head. The story didn't seem right. In fact it seemed almost ridiculously made up. Besides Hallie never minded telling her embarrassing stories and this one was nowhere near as bad as her other ones. Why is she so hesitant in telling her?
"Hallie, um your wedding anniversary was two weeks ago, I mean yeah the wax might be hot, but why would the mark still remain on your hand. The wounds look pretty recent to me. Also, you told me you guys went out for a meal-"
"Try dropping wax on your hand, it really hurts! And I think it looks recent because lately whenever I cook I always burn my hand, maybe that's why it's opened the wounds again. Anyway stop interrogating me; I need to catch up on, well you and Jared's, hmm shall I say business huh?"
Alin was not convinced. Everything just didn't add up. And the fact that Hallie wanted to change subject was strange, "Hallie is everything going okay with Jack?"
She looked at Alin with a 'are you serious' look, "I'm the happiest I've been in five years- not that I wasn't happy before, but I've just celebrated my sixth wedding anniversary with the man I love, why wouldn't I be happy?"
Hallie felt really guilty. She had never lied to her best friend before, but the situation required it. Alin didn't look convinced, but Hallie refused to let on anymore than needs be. Besides the wounds on her hands, she had deserved it....
"...and then this little mischievous boy went to his grandma and begged his grandma for a new game station and the next day she brought it for him! God he's so bad, if she keeps spoiling him, I don't know what I'm gonna do!"
Arriving with Ryan, from afar, Jared could already see Hallie and Alin deep in conversation. Hallie was facing his direction, while Alin had her back to him.
"Hallie, it's a good thing Jack's mom spoils him! I mean come on she's got so many grandsons and daughters, yet she still treats Alex like a little prince, you should be-"
"Hey Ryan! Jared I'm so glad you came as well! Thought you wouldn't make it on time!"
Alin was about to turn around, when she realized what her friend had done. She glared at Hallie, for putting her in this awkward situation. Then, she turned and muttered a brief hello.
"Hi Hal, how have you been? I'm so glad you brought the kids with you."
"Of course, you said you wanted to see these little monkeys! Hey stop standing take a seat." Hallie said
"Hey Ryan." Alex paused and looked at Jared briefly then back at his mom before asking with a timid smile, "Mommy, who is he?"
Jared smiled at the kid and extended his arm for a hand shake, "you must be Alex eh? My name is Jared."
Alex shook his hand shyly, while Hallie said, "Alex, he's your godfather-"
"He is? So, if Jared is my godfather, and Alin is my godmother, does it mean like you and daddy, they are married?" Alex asked innocently.
Hallie and Ryan chuckled while Ryan patted Alex's head affectionately. Alin blushed furiously, while Jared remained strangely quiet.
"Well...Alex, Jared and Alin aren't married, but they are girlfriend and boyfriend. I do hope they will marry soon though." Hallie said with a grin.
Alin decided to quickly change the subject, before Hallie carried on. "Shall we order? Alex you must be hungry, what would you like hmm?" Alin opened the menu and started to look at it while suggesting food for Alex to try. She knew Jared was looking at her intently. God, after last night it was hard to concentrate on anything else.
"Hallie, your kids are so adorable and smart, Jack must be so proud."
Ryan winced. It was hard to control his feelings when he was around Hallie. He never liked Jack, though he hated himself for wanting to destroy her happiness.
She smiled at how far from the truth Jared was, still not wanting to ruin the mood, she nodded, "Jared, I've told you a million times, if you and Alin had kids, they would be smart as hell and certainly win every pageant contest."
He laughed, "Alin, what you say huh?
So now he was back to Mr. Charm.
Alin sighed. It was hard to keep up with his ever-changing moods. It was like he was back to the Jared she met five years ago. It hurt knowing that he was so nice only because Hallie and Ryan were here.
After dinner everyone decided to head home, though Alex had other ideas. "Jared, come, please? I hardly get to see Alin and now that Ryan and YOU are here, it will be so much fun!" Alex pouted, and then whispered quietly so that his mom couldn't hear, "and it also means I get to stay up a bit longer! Please?"
Jared looked down and smiled at the child, who was currently hugging his legs with one arm and using his other to pull Ryan's jacket so that they both couldn't move. He was tired, and after finishing his meal he wanted nothing more than a good night's sleep, "Hey, Alex your mommy's gonna kill me it's getting pretty late, I know your bed time is 8 and its way past 10...so buddy no can do."
Alex continued to pout, but still refused to let go of his legs and Ryan's jacket. Looking at the kid made him so happy... he did wonder what his kids with Alin would be like. Jared shook the thought from his head. The father of Alin's children could never be him. They had too many bad memories and vengeance was still what he was seeking from her. Strangely though, the thought of some other man fathering her children made him possessive.
Ryan, who offered to hold Penny while Alin and Hallie was doing there catching up, always wondered if Jack was actually ever there for his children, he really couldn't help it but he knew if he ever had the chance to be with Hallie, he would definitely treat her children as if they were his own, because he was genuinely fond of her kids.
He looked at the sleeping baby in his arm, his chest tightening. It was truly painful when you loved someone, yet you were the one watching at how happy that person was from afar, wanting to be in the picture, though knowing if you were, you would ruin everything.
"Honey, come on, it's time to go home. Everyone's tired, maybe if you stop whining, they might take you out sometime." Hallie shouted from afar.
Jared pried the child's tight arms open and picked him up, Alex was still pouting refusing to look at anyone, his father never had time to play with him, so having other 'cooler' adults here apart from his mom always made him slightly excited.
Jared suddenly had an idea to cheer him up. It was evident the kid needed some form of fatherly love, even if Hallie didn't admit to it, it was obvious Jack was never really there for him. Turning to Ryan, Jared said, "Hey man you busy Sunday?"
"No, I don't think so, why?"
Turning back to Alex, Jared smile, "Buddy, listen how about Sunday. A little birdie told me that Adventure Land has just opened Mega Slide, the longest slide in the world and only cool kids who sleeps before 10 can go on it, what you say buddy, you wanna go?"
Alex instantly perked up, a huge grin on his face, "you mean if I go home with mommy now, you will take me next week?"
"You're a smart lil kid aren't you? Of course, though I'll have to ask your mommy for permission."
Alin watched Jared with Alex. He was actually likeable when he was with kids.
"I did say he would make a great father, didn't I?"
Alin blushed furiously, having been caught staring.
Trying to divert the conversation Alin replied, "Not as good as Ryan, he is amazing. I just know he will treat his future girlfriend like a queen."
Hallie knew. It just makes her feel sad that that girl would never be her. Seeing Ryan hold Penny and playing with Alex made her wish he was their father. Regret was not something she wanted to feel about her marriage to Jack, because he had given her two amazing children, though it was hard to love someone who didn't treat her right.
"Alin, I really don't understand what's going on between you and Jared- you love him, he loves you, why do you two like making things complicated?"
Alin groaned, "Hallie we've been through this. I know, you think I'm the dictionary definition of frustration but it seriously is really complicated between us. The Jared you see right now, is not what you see behind closed doors. Sometimes...things are not what it seems."
The words suddenly made Hallie reflect, 'Sometimes...things are not what it seems,' how true this was in her case, staring at the blisters on her hand and hearing the faint laughter from Alex, she knew she had to accept the position she was in.
"Mommy, Mommy," Hallie's thoughts were interrupted by Alex who was running excitedly towards her, "Can I go please?"
"Honey, what are you talking about?"
Both men strolled over, smiling, "Hal, do you mind if I take Alex out to Adventure Land this Sunday?"
"Guys, you really don't have to-"
Jared watched Alex's puppy-eyed expression. "Hallie, please I promised him. It's not a chore I really would like to take him out if you'll allow me."
Hallie remained wary, "Hal seriously its cool, come along as well, you Alin, Jared and I, it'll be fun, besides we've never really spent time, just us four, so it'll be a catch up for us as well." Ryan interjected.