"Are you sure you don't want us to have lunch together?" My brother, Axel asked me on the other line.
Shutting down my laptop, I leaned on my chair and answered my very protective brother. "Yes, Ace. I already ordered Chinese. Thank you though. Maybe next time."
Since I graduated from college and started working, he had been making sure that I didn't stress myself too much. He had to make sure I eat my meals. That was how protective he was. And I loved that about him. He cared too much.
"Oh, okay. Make sure to eat it. I'll go with Mr. Lee then. Bye, love you."
I smiled. "Love you too."
I did as what Ace told me. I ate my lunch in my office. I was quite busy these days, because next month would be the first fashion show ever from Khloe Sophistique by yours truly. There were so many designs of clothes to make. My mom was there to help me though. She promised to help me with the production of the fashion show and I was very grateful for that.
I have no personal assistant yet. My brother suggested to hire one, but I was not interested. I was fine on my own. I wanted to manage things on my own in the office. I was young, just twenty-one.
I sighed as I looked at all the sketches on my table. I was almost done. After making all the designs, I would hand them over to the dressmakers and tailors to proceed with the patterns and sewing.
The first grand fashion show was a very important event for me. As the owner of Khloe Sophistique, I have to do my best to make the event successful. The fashion show would introduce Khloe Sophistique to the world of fashion and market my designs. It was a very big deal for me. I have to be positive in whatever I did in order to have a good mindset. I should not stress myself.
"You can do this, Khloe. You still have a month."
Every time negative thoughts came to my mind, I encouraged myself. I was known to be a very positive woman. People saw me as bubbly and friendly. I looked too happy in front of them. That was because I have to. That was because I wanted to.
The truth was I was trying to cover my emotions. I was not pretending. I was just trying to move on by making sure that I was smiling in front of people. A smiling Khloe in front of them was trying to be strong and positive.
I let out a sigh. I hated it when I remember bad memories.
I rubbed my hands over my face. "Come on, Khloe. It's been seven years already."
In the middle of forcing myself to let go of those memories, there was a knock on the office door
Thank you, whoever you are.
The door opened and revealed Mrs. Maxwell, the Manufacturing Manager.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Evans."
I smiled at her. "Just Khloe, please. Take your seat."
She smiled back as she took the seat in front of me. "I came to know if some designs are ready so that my people can start making the patterns. I know you are very busy these days. I just want to make sure you are not stressed, that's why I need to start with the patterns as soon as possible so you will not be pressured as the event is nearing."
I smiled at her. "Thank you so much, Mrs. Maxwell, for caring. I appreciate it a lot. Yes, I was done with some designs already. Here." I handed her the sketches of my designs. They were ten dresses of different designs. There were cocktails, casual and formal.
"Wow. You really are so talented, Khloe. You get your Mom's skills. You two are good at arts and designs. These are so beautiful."
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Maxwell."
"Oh please. Just call me Jane."
I laughed. I loved her. I loved my employees. They were so dedicated to their jobs.
She stood up. "So, I'll go now and start working on these beautiful designs. Do you have copies of these already?"
"Yes. Thank you so much."
"You're welcome, Khloe dear." She walked out of the office with a smile on her face.
The room fell silent again. The only sound I could hear was the ticking of the clock. It was getting annoying. I looked at the clock on my right. It was already four in the afternoon. My eyes shifted to the sketches laid on my table. I decided to continue working on them and sketching new ones.
By the time I got to the glance at the clock, it was almost eight in the evening. Woah. I didn't notice it. I was too engrossed on working.
Crap. It is Friday.
And Friday meant family dinner for us. All our relatives and friends would be there. I piled all my sketches hurriedly and put my phone in my bag. Making sure everything was organized, I walked out and locked my office. I was not surprised anymore when I didn't see anyone on the fourth floor. They must have gone home already.
Sighing, I walked into the elevator. I didn't realize I was tired and hungry until a yawn escaped from me and my stomach grumbled. When I reached the parking lot, there was only one car parked and it was no other than mine. I got into the driver's seat. This was my first time driving home this late at night.
No matter how late it was, New York City was still very busy. Indeed, it never slept. I grew up in Upper Manhattan. I loved our hometown. My childhood memories were there.
As I passed by the streets of Lower Manhattan, my heartbeat paced up. It happened every time and I was getting used to it. The streets are dark. The lamp posts were not enough to light the area. I was almost in the urban part of the town when my car suddenly halted. I walked out to see the problem.
Oh no. Please not now.
I heaved a frustrated sigh as I looked at the deflating tire of my car. One at the back. I took a glance at my watch. 8:23 pm.
Fishing my phone out from my bag, I dialed Mom's number. She did not answer on the first call.
"Mom, I'm so sorry. I know I'm late, but I got a flat tire."
"Oh no. Your cousins and relatives and Dad's guests have arrived already. Your brother isn't here yet too. I'm sorry baby but I can ask Chris if it's okay with him."
"Mom, it's okay. I'll just call Ace if he can pass by. Besides, we're both going home. I'll be there as soon as I can."
"Please take care, baby. Love you."
"Love you too, Mom."
So, I called Ace.
"Ace, I got a flat tire."
"What? Okay, I'm in a meeting, but I'll finish this as soon as possible. Please just wait for me."
"Oh. Ace, no, it's okay. You have to be competent there. Don't finish it in a hurry, please. I'll be fine. I'll just walk a little and look for a car repair shop. I promise I'll take care."
"No, Khloe. I'll be there. Text me the location. I'll be there as so-"
"No, it's okay. I'll be fine, I swear. Don't worry."
"Please take care. I'm really sorry."
"It's okay. Love you."
"Love you too. Be safe."
Once the call ended, I decided to walk to the urban part of Lower Manhattan. I silently prayed I could find a car repair shop. A smile lit up my face when I saw a signboard that says, 'Chuck's Car Repair Shop' on my right.
However, when I got there, it seemed like no one was there. But, why was it still open?
"Hello?" I called out.
There was no answer.
"Hello? Is anybody here?"
My eyes wandered around the shop. It was a mess. I almost laughed at the thought. Of course, it was a mess. i***t Khloe. There were broken cars, car parts, paints and tools everywhere. I turned around to look at the entrance. I wondered why the shop was still open when there was no one here.
I turned my back to the entrance and my soul almost left my body when I saw a shirtless guy dusting his dirty jeans in front of me. My hands flew over to cover my eyes right away.
Where did he come from?
"You can look now." I heard him laughed. "I'm not even naked, girl."
Slowly, I put my hands down my I made sure to cast my eyes down. They were trained on his dirty combat shoes.
"What's the problem with your car?"
I was getting nervous and conscious. My hands formed into fists at my sides. They were shaking. Very slowly, I ascended my eyes, from his jeans to his abdomen, his chest, neck and finally his face.
I shook my head and closed my eyes.
You're just hallucinating.
I opened my eyes again, but he was still there, standing in front of me. We locked eyes and it was the moment I knew that it was really him.