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"What are you doing, Ms. Grey?"
"Why are you here?" Jenna exploded, confused at her unexpected visit.
"What? Do I need permission to come here?"
Provoked by Jayce and infuriated from his brash comments, Lillian's good mood got galled, so Jenna grew cautious with her words.
"Y- You can, but- remember that you are Gill, not everyone knows who you are, Ms. Grey!" Jenna whispered as loud as she could get her voice to sound serious.
"So, do I have to stay quiet and hidden forever? I can't come to a party! Maybe, I do want everyone here to know."
"Hey! Do you want to know who Gill is? Oh, snap! It's me!"
Lillian seethingly blurted.
It is the first time Jenna saw Lillian dislike keeping her ident.i.ty, a secret. Not once did the author resented not being in the spotlight. Frankly, she did use her pen name and kept her face hidden away from the world to protect her private life. However, right now, it appears otherwise.
"What did you say?" Jenna winced.
"I said, maybe I do want to finally show my face to the world and not get bothered by what others think!"
"Are you listening to yourself, Ms. Grey? Calm down, now, I know, Mr. Jayce said something to agitate you. But, now is not the time or place to get angry! Everyone here only wishes for a peaceful evening,"
"Am I making any trouble? It's that little princess who let his mouth running free. I will have my revenge, Jenna," Lillian swore in rage.
All Lillian wanted to do by making an appearance to the holiday gala is nothing but to see Giselle, maybe talk to her a word or so without causing a commotion to others. Having Jayce spoil her intentions infuriated Lillian Grey.
"Ms. Grey! I told you to calm down, first," Jenna insisted.
Lillian's soreness slowly seems to settle down in listening to Jenna. Soon, her anger resolved to quell.
"It isn't like I don't want you to come here, Ms. Grey. You do know that I ask you every year, to join me, even in disguise," Jenna appealed, her voice soft and subtle, only for Lillian to overhear.
Lillian changed her posture to another direction, inclining to listen to Jenna.
"So, tell me, now, why the sudden change in the heart?" she asked.
Lillian didn't want anyone to know of her plan and expected it to be a quiet evening. The unforeseen turn of events caused her to come up with a conceivable reason to persuade Jenna.
"I. I was curious."
Lillian said to stare at Giselle's way, finding that the woman is already looking right back at her.
As soon as they locked gazes, Lillian turned her face away instantly. Jayce's reckless comments made her feel ashamed to face Giselle.
"You're right! I should have never attended the party!" Lillian whispered on her own.
"What was I thinking?" she added to her desperation.
Hearing her say so in such despairing face made Jenna take pity on Lillian Grey. No longer did she worry or concern herself with the unexpected visit, but diving into the guilt of confronting Lillian affected Jenna as well. She finally yielded.
"Alright! Fine! Fine!"
"Forget about it, Ms. Grey! Now that you're here, stay and enjoy the party," she added with a belief.
Lillian moped less, feeling pleased with Jenna's words and let out a faint smile.
"But not everyone knows who you are, so stay low and silent."
Lillian's thin smile returned to the grave once again. She groaned heavily.
"If someone asks about you, then you say, you're Mr. Ricardo's sister or cousin! Got it?" Jenna prompted.
Lillian wasn't sure if what she heard just now was the real deal.
The humiliated heart is having difficulty digesting Jenna's innocent idea, which has zero ill-intentions. To go through a presumed evening without drawing trouble and now being told to pose as the president's sister or a cousin sounds contrary to her plan, no matter how impracticable it may seem in the first place.
"Excuse me! Shane's sister? Me? Do I have to say that I'm Shane Ricardo's sister?"
The proposal was too much even to consider for Lillian that she still believed it to be blasphemy.
"Well then, do you have any idea?" Jenna asked, not considering the weight that Lillian just felt it in her head.
"I'd go with Shane's best friend. That is the fact and the right thing to say considering the situation!"
Lillian decreed without succ.u.mbing, leaving the spot to join the chief editor, Norman, and other writers whom she already met.
Shane returned after sending off Jayce to his place and searched for the other trouble-child, Lillian Grey. He found her blended among the group of authors along with Norman and Jenna, sticking by, steadily keeping an eye on her.
Shane's mind managed to return to peace after seeing Jenna with Lillian. He went to join as well, and the rest of the party continued as pleasant as everyone antic.i.p.ated. The festive spirits restored inside the room as a few from the sales department daringly took the karaoke stage to deliver an electrifying performance.
Jayce's departure did stir a few rustles amongst the ladies. However, Shane had recommended Giselle to make an excuse for his sake to cover for Jayce, telling the fans that he attended to an emergency call over extending his stay in the gathering.
Watching the ladies roundup to Giselle, Shane took sympathy on the poor soul. Although it surprised him that throughout the party, Lillian did not attempt to approach Giselle and possibly stayed away. He knew the cause for it to be Jayce's remarks. Nonetheless, it all worked for the betterment as this was not the right place for them to reconcile.
The end of the party neared, and the large crowd slowly began to disband, leaving in all smiles. The gourmet treats sure knocked out all of the troubles away, and new hopes bloomed to the tired workers, making them feel thankful for the hospitality.
Lillian resorted to the bar and was enjoying Pimm's c.o.c.ktail to her silence. Her thoughts about the evening.
Meanwhile, finally exhausted and escaped from the demands of Jayce's admirers, peace returns to Giselle's side. All while when people kept her engaged, she would often glance at Lillian, hoping to meet her eye-to-eye. Lillian's rejections only forced Giselle to strive for more openings. Searching the room freely to find the person at the bar, drinking alone without any interruption, Giselle hesitated whether to approach or not as Shane's words kept feeding to her remembrance.
Immersed in her thoughts, Lillian obeyed as a voice led her to turn around, and she saw Giselle, standing like a doll in front.
Surprised, Lillian bounced from her seat, "H- Hey!!" she blurted out poorly.
"Hi!" Giselle said with a smile.
The two returned to stillness, fidgeting on their own and floundering to behave.
Lillian was the first one to break the tension.
"Did- Did you enjoy the party?" she asked, quite acting naturally.
Giselle looked around to find only fewer people left behind. Despite the strain she went through because of her author, it was still a pleasant evening. The DJ switched to soft music.
"It was nice. I wish I could bring Lia."
Giselle's comment made Lillian chortle.
"Everyone wishes to spend a nice and relaxed evening with some fancy drinks, not go chasing after their kids!" she added.
"My Lia is not naughty!" Giselle pouts for her daughter's sake.
Lillian's amus.e.m.e.nt ends as she stared at Giselle, studying her face and remembering how Lia resembled more of her mother, the grace, the kindness, the way the child spoke- everything had a touch of Giselle in it.
"I can agree!" Lillian says.
Giselle's pout disappears into a rare smile.
As they both stood together, Lillian saw people leaving one after the other. She had an idea popped in her head to pester endlessly. Left with no other choice but to listen to this annoying inner voice, she took a risky call.
Waiting for the chance, Lillian peered until no one is near to eavesdrop. When the bartender left the spot and gave the two freedom, Lillian jumped right into the action.
"Giselle!" she called, "Do- Do you want to go home- to- gether?" she gathered the courage daringly to ask.
Giselle blinked, wondering what she meant, only to understand later. The realization made her eyes appear bigger in shock.
"I- I mean- I could- drop you- at your place- and then I can go home. Oh, of course, we're going by taxi or bus or subway- whatever you prefer!" Lillian added to her endeavor.
It was a bold move of Lillian to ask in a way that she could learn where Giselle lives, and it appears to work well as Giselle's eyes wandered here and there, finally agreeing to the offer.
"Alright! Could you wait here for me? I'll be back in a minute. Just- wait for me! Okay?" Lillian rushed as she panicked to Giselle.
Returning to Jenna, she bid her quick farewell.
Jenna appeared gloomy for her author's sake and wished that Lillian could not feel restrained to attend an event because of her wish to stay secretive. Yet, her desire to expose her ident.i.ty could be risky. Jenna requested Lillian to consider carefully about the idea, before regretting it. As if her words fell on deaf's ears, Lillian hastily agreed while her mind is all weighing about going home with Giselle.
Jenna waited to see the reason for her haste and found Lillian soon join with Giselle as they left together.
"That fool! I can't understand what goes inside her brain."
A voice emerged next to Jenna, and she followed it to find Shane.
"Did you enjoy the party, Jenna? Or should I not ask since you had to keep an eye on the troublemaker!" he concernedly asked.
"No. It's okay!"
"I'm amazed by your tolerance, Jenna!" he remarked at her, astounding.
Jenna agreed that at first, it was crazy to work with Lillian Grey, but the more she endured and kept learning, the more she turned out to be great and started to have fun. Nevertheless, sometimes Lillian's behavior can bring out the anger, yet it never stays forever.
"Mr. Ricardo!" Jenna called.
The two saw Giselle and Lillian getting into the cab together.
"Ms. Grey wishes to reveal her ident.i.ty!" she said.
Shane's soft smile died to his trauma.
He looked at Jenna, speechless.
The drive was fun since no one spoke but simply watched the city slowly getting into the merry mood. Each took their own time to steal a glance without the other's knowledge, smiling in joy at this picture. It is the first time since Giselle's return that she was able to laugh with Lillian, without a worry. The same goes for Lillian too. After a long time, her aching heart returned to its place, beating like usual.
It was a lie! Her pulse was slightly faster than average, and an unyielding smirk never dropped, so she covered it with her hand and quietly enjoyed the ride.
They reached Giselle's place first.
Both of their joy vanished as if doom fell on them.
The part where they separate ways reminded them of the time when they used to say sad goodbyes while going home after school. Feeling the same old habit return and unable to comprehend, Giselle made a move this time.
"Wou- Would you like to- come in- for- a cup of coffee?" she shyly asks.
Lillian had her own struggle to find a way to say a decent farewell, but this offer shut down her thinking. Her pulse, now rising stronger, is collapsing from inside, making her realize all of this could be a dream.
"Y- Yeah! I'd love to-" she said to proceed.
Honestly, Giselle had hopes that Lillian might turn her down, but getting a positive response, startled her. Insisted on paying for the taxi, Lillian got down, signaling Giselle to lead the way to her home.
Both appeared extremely anxious about their audacity.