24.

"…and these are the last receipts from the contractor. He said the building will be ready to open by the end of the month."

"Excellent." I assented and signed the papers after reading through them first.

"Anything else I can do for you, Mr. Masen?"

I shook my head. "No, Tia. Thank you. You can go as soon as you send those emails I told you about."

She smiled brightly. "Really? Thank you, sir!"

"You deserve it. Now, go!"

She left the office practically skipping, and I chuckled.

My phone rang and I hit ignore, already knowing who was calling by the ringtone. A minute later, the first notes of "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5 started ringing from my phone, and I picked up right away.

Birdy's sweet voice greeted from the other end, and I fell into an easy conversation with her. She told me about how Esme was pushing her to celebrate her birthday - a family dinner was a given - but she wasn't sure if she wanted to have friends over for a small party.

A knock on the door had me cutting the conversation short, and I promised to be there for the dinner. I would never fail her by missing it, even if you would be there.

I haven't seen you since that night I kicked you out of my room a month ago. I stayed away from the manor during that time. The excuse for not showing up at Sunday dinners because of having to deal with my new apartment had reached its limit, even though everything had been unpacked for a couple of weeks. I needed to find a way to be in your presence and not let this resentment show in front of my uncle.

What a difficult task, I thought to myself. I knew from Birdy that things at the manor weren't well. My poor girl's annoyance at you showed through the phone calls we exchanged every day, and the wistfulness in Esme's voice was downright depressing. How my uncle hadn't noticed the tension, I had no idea.

Another knock, and I called out for the person to enter, surprised to see my cousin Jasper.

"Hey, what are you doing in my neck of the woods?" I greeted him, shaking his hand and giving him a one-arm hug. I hadn't seen him in a while. Last time I heard from him, he was somewhere in Cambodia.

"I just got home two days ago. I needed to speak with you about something."

We sat down, me behind the desk and him in one of the guest chairs on the other side.

"What is it?" I asked, noticing the stress on his face.

When your name fell from his lips, I tried to hide the churning of feelings that were bubbling in my chest, but when the next question came, I couldn't hold in my gasp.

"How long have you two been lovers?"


Thanks to my beta MariahajilE. I truly appreciate your help.

You can find me on twitter: Riv3rBoy84
I post tiny teasers over there.

Thank you for reading.

-JR