BILLIONAIRE SCIENTIST & HIS NEW SECRETARY
I must say that I am quite impressed that quite a number of readers were able to see the parallel I had taken from the original books and draw certain inferences without me expressly saying it. Well done! Hahaha… For those who didn't catch it, the Numair scolding Kaddar scene had some bits of inspiration from Sarge scolding Farant for flirting with Daine in Wild Magic. Below I have written some comments about the plotlines to clear things up, but may contain some minor spoilers.
Clarifications without any spoilers: Daine is STILL giving tuition to Alicia Draper. The sham engagement is STILL on, but Numair only told his mother. Numair STILL doesn't know that Daine had changed Varice's e-mail.
Things happen for a reason…as you will eventually see… :)
"JEALOUS? Me? Numair Salmalin?" Numair spluttered.
Alanna raised an eyebrow and grinned at him over her cup of coffee. They were tucked away in the corner of DD, taking a breather in between meetings. "You should know by now that the whole building of Tortall Inc is held up by the winds of gossip, the moment it stops, one would think that the whole place would fall down."
Numair put down his espresso shot and folded his arms. "As the internal security at Tortall Inc, you should know that some rumours are utterly baseless. Though this is the first time I ever heard a rumour about me being jealous over my secretary. Enamoured. Lustful. Goggling. But NEVER jealous. I can have my pick of females, there's no need to be jealous."
"Uh huh," Alanna responded, "I didn't say it was a rumour, it was a logical deduction on my part. You don't need to get worked up over it."
"I'm NOT worked up," Numair retorted, drumming his fingers on the table. "And on what sort of evidence are you basing your conclusion on?"
"Your increasing affection and protective gestures towards Daine. It has not gone unnoticed by my all-seeing eye," Alanna replied, grinning.
"You did all but throw a spanking new wardrobe at her."
"Oh come on, you saw what she used to wear, it all but resembled a potato sack. She had to give a good impression for our clients," Numair huffed.
"But Prada? Versace?" Alanna inquired.
"Our highly discerning and wealthy clients," Numair retorted.
"Throwing all sort of food in her way? And if I recalled correctly, you had just ordered for her a roasted turkey breast sandwich with extra cranberry sauce and no tomatoes at the counter. It's like a complete reverse from your former secretaries, they used to buy you meals without your asking, now you're doing it for her."
"She's a bag of bones," Numair answered, he started to drum his fingers faster. "Won't have her fainting on the job, not that she's anorexic or anything, but she just doesn't eat enough."
"You all but were growling at Kaddar?" Alanna queried.
"He's no good news for Daine," Numair muttered.
"And when did you start interfering with your secretary's personal lives? You didn't give a damn that one of your previous secretaries was hanging on the arm of the notorious playboy rapper," Alanna replied, smirking.
"Daine's different," Numair mumbled. "She's like a sheep and all the wolves want to have a nibble at her."
'Like you?' Alanna thought silently, having noticed Numair's eyes trailing after Daine ever since she put on her new wardrobe. However, she kept her thoughts to herself and said out loud, "Admit it Numair, you have a soft spot for her."
"I'm NOT!" Numair spluttered. "She's a…. friend! Nothing else, f-r-i-e-n-d. I go for blondes! I don't really see Daine as a w-o-m-a-n."
"For crying out loud Numair, you gave her your gloves. Your gloves man!!" Alanna insisted. "You positively hate the cold. Yet, yesterday you took off the very pair of gloves you were wearing to give to her to wear when you noticed that she was tucking her hands into her arms." She put her hand over his to still his drumming fingers. "Is it that bad to fall in love?"
"Fall in love?" Numair said, looking absolutely stunned as if Alanna had just told him that the moon was made of cheese.
"Hello folks!" a cheerful voice rang out, "Is the food and drinks fine?" Numair and Alanna looked up at the intruder. George sounded friendly, but his eyes were hard as they looked at Numair. Without asking, George slid next to Alanna on the bench and casually laid his arm along the top of the bench behind Alanna.
Alanna looked at George queerly and he said, "Move over, I'm cramped."
"What are you-?"
George bumped Alanna against her hip and she huffed a sigh of exasperation as she obediently shuffled more to the left. She took her hand away from Numair who now looked extremely amused.
Numair grinned as he stood up and leaned over, whispering into Alanna's left ear away from George. "I'm not the only one with jealousy problems." He picked up Alanna's other hand, he brushed his lips against her knuckles and said, "Until later."
"What?!" Alanna yelped and she turned to see George on her right giving Numair a deadly glare.
"So," George said casually when Numair left DD. "How close are you to Numair Salmalin, seducer of woman?"
Alanna sighed. Men.
"She's firmly in the friend category. Rooted. Planted. Chained. Cemented. Stuck. In that category," Numair muttered, walking to his office. "What on earth is Alanna talking about with all the, the, L nonsense. Unless she meant it in a sisterly way."
He walked through the double doors towards his room and stopped in his tracks. Speak of the devil… Numair gritted his teeth and fought down his raising temper at the sight of a man leaning over his secretary who appeared to be sleeping on her desk. Kaddar's face was awfully near Daine's when Numair barked, "What are you doing?"
Kaddar all but levitated as he jerked to his feet to face Numair. "I am here to pass you the follow up materials based on our last meeting."
Numair could feel his temper raising as he noticed Kaddar's red face – which was no mean feat considering Kaddar's dark complexion. "I didn't ask why you were here, but what are you doing to my secretary?"
"Nothing, just checking she was breathing," Kaddar replied jerkily and nervously. "You know, in case she lost consciousness or suffered a heart attack…"
"At 24?" Numair said quietly, noting that Daine was still sleeping despite the brouhaha.
Instinctively, Kaddar also lowered his voice, "Just in case, one never knows. Nowadays, young people just drop dead all the time."
Numair frowned at his flimsy excuse, but knew that he could find out what Kaddar had been doing. There were security cameras in the room. "Just get back to work."
"Yes sir!" Kaddar nodded and quickly walked out of the room.
Numair stalked over to Daine's desk and folded his arms, staring down at her. "You are a girl. You should know better than to let down your guard. Do you hear me? Serves you right if Kaddar took advantage of you while you were sleeping." He said softly, not really expecting her to listen to his admonishments. Normally, he would clear his throat loudly or make some noise to wake up the sleeping personnel, but he found that he could not quite bear to do so. She had looked quite run down and tired lately. Stressed, like something was bothering her. He could not quite imagine what could be burdening her to such a degree of exhaustion.
It could NOT possibly be the working hours or workload. When he first noticed her weariness, he discreetly told Shalene to inform Daine oh-so-casually that during this period where Numair was busy inventing, she could come at 10am and leave at 4pm because he would not need her assistance as he would be in his own little world. It was the lull before the storm. When the product is about to be launched, she would then have her hands full. Till then, she could take it easy. Shalene had taken his new policy for his secretary into her stride and just smiled when he had instructed her. Suspiciously, she took it too easily and did not act the least surprised at his words. (He hoped like hell that Alanna didn't find this out after her recent conversation with him – which is why he pulled in Shalene to help, rather than Evin.) Of course, like the new wardrobe, Shalene had to pretend that it was a long implemented policy. Not something provoked by Daine's recent haggard appearance.
He scrutinized her silently. Her right cheek rested on her arm and chestnut curls that were free from her bun tumbled down her neck and face. Unbidden, his right hand automatically reached out to stroke the hair away from her face. Her spectacles were still haphazardly on her face. He frowned at her side profile – it was not that bad actually. She had surprisingly long eyelashes which most females had to laboriously attempt to artificially achieve with their mascara and eyelash curlers. It was a pity that she looked quite sallow in the light. His hand went to her shoulder, about to shake her awake when he noticed that she had eye bags and dark circles under her eyes. He hesitated and said, "Ms. Sarrasri? Daine?"
She did not stir. He sighed and took the remote control next to her console. He tapped a couple of buttons that caused a bed from the opposite wall to unfold. The double doors he came through swung closed and locked. Any visitor would have to ring the bell. He slid his arms around her and lifted her.
His frown deepened when he realized how light and skinny she was. "You're too skinny," he informed the unconscious Daine. "Light as a bird." He carried her to the bed and gently set her down. "I guess this makes me feel better that I'm going to make you come with me to the Salmalin's annual charity fundraiser. Mother insisted you know, as you're supposed to be my fiancé. At least you'll get some R and R. And I'll be able to keep an eye on you and shove food down your skinny neck. Luckily I bought you a turkey sandwich. God knows what you would eat if I left you alone."
"Argh!" Alicia groaned. "I know I am in the advanced class but these problems are killer!! I swear, that grouch must have swiped the university final years' examination papers and gave it to us." She stretched and rotated her neck, "It's been three hours but we've only covered a few problems!"
"Yeah, I know," Daine grinned wryly and thought, 'It didn't help that I am distracted by yesterday's turn of events. Argh! It's no point wondering how I ended up on a bed in my office. A bed I didn't know existed till yesterday. I would be more upset by that if not for Numair's bombshell announcement. He all but ordered me to his mother's weekend charity function to pose as his fiancé. I should say no, it's not in my job description and I know, well, I think I know he wouldn't hold any grudges if I really turned him down. But he looked so pitiful, reminiscencing about how his mother threw all the eligible ladies at him at every function.' Deep down inside, she knew she had other reasons – primarily that she was beginning to fall- no, she was beginning to feel more… inclined towards him. Yes, inclined and wanted to savour every moment she had with him. She knew that he wouldn't be interested in a girl like her, but still, it would be fun to one day tell her grandchildren all about the dark and handsome Numair Salmalin. Daine grinned, as if she would have any grandchildren at the way her love life was going… Her first and only boyfriend had been that backstabbing bastard who…
Daine blinked, realizing someone had asked a question. "Yes?"
"Oh good," Alicia's mother – Vivian Draper said, her hands clasped together. "I'll let Alicia show you a change of clothing." She walked off as Daine turned to Alicia.
"Weren't you listening?" Alicia asked, looking excited.
"Er… no," Daine confessed. "I was… distracted… thinking about the problems."
"It's already dinner time and you accepted my mom's invitation to have dinner with us at the club house." Alicia informed Daine primly. "Besides, we need a break from all this physics."
Daine gaped at Alicia. "I shouldn't!"
"But oh, you already did," Alicia grinned in reply. "Don't you remember I always wanted to dress you up? This is the right time to do so! We're going to a swanky club, so it's dresses!!"
"Your physics problems…"
"Oh leave it," Alicia said. "We still have our Monday session before my advanced test on Tuesday."
"Oh dear," Daine murmured. "I just remembered that something cropped up, so I can't come on Monday." She thought hard, Damn Numair, the weekend frolicking around his function will mean I have a pile of work waiting for me to finish on Monday. "How about this, I will take back the physics problems you have trouble with and pass you a written answer and explanation you can check against. If you have any problems understanding, just give me a call on my mobile."
"Great!" Alicia chirped and clapped her hands, "It's time for Extreme Makeover."
"Umm… yikes!" Daine yelped as Alicia all but dragged her out of the room.
"Come on," Alicia sang. "You are around my size."
Daine blinked at herself in the mirror. It had been a long time since she last dressed up like this.
"I'm a genius!" Alicia whooped. "You look like a model I swear."
A beautiful brunette gazed at Alicia through luminous blue grey eyes that were lined with eye liner and voluminous lashes. Her soft lips painted in red lipstick were a sharp contrast against her flawless skin. Foundation really worked wonders. Alicia had attacked Daine's curls with enthusiasm and managed to reasonably tame them. "You should give me back my spectacles," Daine demanded, but not harshly.
"No, absolutely not, I am not letting you ruin my work of art by putting that butt ugly spectacles on," Alicia protested. "Anyway, you should wear more figure hugging clothes like this dress! You got a good figure, you should flaunt it!" Daine sighed. She was wearing a black bustier dress with a flirty asymmetrical hem that varied in length – from mid-thigh to mid-calf. Thankfully, the skirt of the dress was voluminous and the shortest part was hidden behind the folds of the skirt unless a mischievous wind blew or if Daine moved more vigorously than a sedate walk. The bustier showed a bit of cleavage, no thanks to her more bountiful frame than the endogenous Alicia. She was not wearing a strapless bra, so Alicia unbent enough to lend Daine a long-sleeved shrug to button over the top of the dress – covering the bra straps and the cleavage (thank goodness!). Hence, nobody knew that she was wearing the strapless dress unless she took the shrug off.
"It's time for us to go downstairs and greet the gentlemen!" Vivian declared with a wave of her hand.
"I'll go and get my things," Daine said to Alicia and she slipped off into the study room where they earlier had tuition lessons.
As she walked away, she heard Alicia's father (Adam) say, "My brother is joining us today for dinner. We're going to discuss how much we want to donate to our mother's annual cause this year. Heard it's concerning destitute elderly."
"Where is Uncle Arram?" Alicia asked excitedly. "I can't wait to show him my project for Odyssey of the Mind."
"He came when you ladies were dressing up and was finishing up some work in the Study Room. He's in the rest room at the moment. Oh a peculiar coincidence, when I mentioned Daine was joining us for dinner, he mentioned it was the same name as his-" Richard replied.
Daine walked out of hearing and she slipped into the study room and closed the door. She surveyed the room and found that the mysterious Uncle Arram had scattered his papers haphazardly around the room. She picked up a pile of papers that she thought was Alicia's advanced science problems and started to pack her bag.
Daine grabbed her bag and was about to walk to the door when she heard Alicia squeal in excitement, "You gotta see this!"
The door opened and Alicia bounced in. Daine gaped as Numair Salmalin filled the doorway with his tall muscular build.
"Now what do we have here?" Numair all but purred. He stalked towards Daine and gently stroked her under her chin. "No need to gape at me, I know my two horns from my head are rather distracting."
"That is such a bad pick-up line," Alicia giggled. "See Daine, after getting you out of those frumpy clothes and wretched black glasses, you are having men fall all over you."
"DAINE?" Numair screeched. It was his turn to gape.
"Why yes," Alicia replied, shocked at his reaction. "Veralidaine Sarrasri."
"I really should go," Daine muttered and tried to make her way around Numair when he suddenly grabbed her bag.
"Hey!" Daine protested. "Give it back to me!"
Numair ignored her and took advantage of his superior height to hold her bag out of her grasp. He dug around her bag and fished out her wallet. He opened her wallet to see her driving license.
Daine folded her arms when it became clear that her attempts to regain her possession were futile and glared at him, "Are you satisfied yet? Give me back my bag."
"I can't believe it," Numair muttered. "I must be growing old and senile not to spot all this potential under your hideous glasses."
Daine rolled her eyes, "They are meant to let you see, not make a fashion statement." Inwardly, she was pleased at his reaction, but suppressed the small voice that warned her that it was dangerous for more people to know how she really looked like…
"Arram?" Emily called. "The limo is waiting."
Numair frowned as he discovered Daine's palm top in her bag. "You are not supposed to bring this home you know. The palm top contains some mechanisms that are pending patenting, it won't do if the wrong hands get hold of it."
"Alright, boss, I get it," Daine huffed. "Mustn't let your precious technology get lost."
"Mom's calling us," Alicia said. "We should go, the reservations is at seven."
Alicia flounced triumphantly out of the door, pleased with her uncle's reaction. When Daine made to follow, Numair slid his arm around her waist and hauled her against him.
Daine looked up at him, with his face very close to hers as he looked deeply into her eyes. "What I'm more concerned with," he punctuated this by shaking her gently. "If competitors find out you have your hands on the palm top and do something drastic like break into your place or rob you at gun point."
"Uh huh," Daine responded, trying to sound casual. Damn! Why must he smell so good? She could smell his aftershave at such a close proximity.
"I mean it Daine," Numair persisted. "Don't take technology out of the building. Not only is it against your contract, but it's dangerous. I don't want anything to happen to you…" his arm tightened around her waist.
Daine's hearted hammered against her ribs as he leaned closer and whispered into her ear, "…or my inventions." In a more jovial voice, he let her go, walked past her to the table and started to neaten the things on the table, "After all, you can't possibly compensate me for the loss of all my hard work and brilliance. Each product I invent is a work of art."
The moment was broken and Daine desperately tried to get her racing pulse under control. "Now you're beginning to sound like Alicia with all this arty whatever. We better go," She quickly walked out of the room and tried not to run out of the house, not seeing Numair's red face+.
+For readers who didn't perceive this in the scene above, Numair was quite affected by his close proximity to Daine and had purposely hid his face from her by walking towards the table. He was blushing…. Awww…..
NOTE ABOUT PLOT (MAY CONTAIN MINOR SPOILERS)
It has been some time since I wrote some of the parts, but I have not forgotten about certain incidents. They happen for a reason and will come back again eventually. Or at least I intend for them to come back unless I have restrain of time and space.
I must admit there were certain plotlines I was preparing for, but realized it maybe too messy to carry on. Like, I originally wanted to put in the POTS bunch where they will be helping Alanna and Raoul out in security. But I think I better concentrate on the main story due to restraint of time. Perhaps in the distant future if I ever edit this fic, I might just throw it in, but at the moment, I'm leaving them out.
I also wanted to write more about Alanna/George/Jon, rather than to have the characters recap of what happened. But I realized that I wanted to better concentrate on the main focus of Daine/Numair and leave Alanna/George/Jon to the sidelines. So I'm afraid that's why I "forwarded" their status of their relationship without going through the actual notions of a blow-by-blow account of what happened.
As some may probably already know, I originally intended for Daine to "pretend" to be Varice and correspond with Numair. So we have this bittersweet sort of thing going on and Daine and Numair slowly falling for each other. Of course leaving readers to guess whether Numair knows who he is actually corresponding with. But upon reflection, I realize that there was too much things going on (or things I plan to go on), so I took out that idea and wrote it as E-mail Exchange. That fic can be found on the blog on my profile page. I wanted to upload it on but can't take the formatting. When I have more time some day, perhaps I will edit it to fit the formatting. Apparently they don't like e-mail addresses which unfortunately takes away a bit of the suspense element.
BUT despite not having this plotline of Daine "pretending" to be Varice and correspond with Numair, there is still significance in Daine's actions in editing the e-mail. As you will see eventually, Newton's third law will hold true – for every action, there's a reaction…
Thanks for reading!