You…You..

    Mathilde comes from the back of the store through a security door carrying a black velvet case. Long An and Sara are sitting at the table having a glass of wine neither one talking. Long An is anxiously glancing around, when Long An sees Mathilde approaching she excitedly stands up almost spilling her wine. Sara quickly grabs the goblet as it wobbles on the glass table. Sara nervously sighs, Damn this is very nerve wracking.

    When the manager opens the velvet case  both Long An and Sara gasp at the necklace’s breathtaking beauty. Mathilde says, “Come over to the mirror.” Navarre walks out of his office when Mathilde is opening the black velvet case. They are here for the Midnight Lover necklace? I thought CEO Li and I agreed we would hold onto it until the competition in Paris next month.

   Long An is drooling at the sight of the magnificent necklace. I have never seen a more beautiful necklace, the way he designed it..the way the gems sparkle..my God.. the sapphires and the diamonds uniquely intertwined. Breathless her hand trembles as she reaches for it to try on the coveted necklace. Before her eager fingers can touch the velvet box an elegant hand stops her from removing the necklace. Long An’s face has an ugly expression when she looks up ready to reprimand whoever had the nerve to intervene. As their eyes meet she feels her heart pounding..It is him! Navarre! Oh My God he is even more handsome in person!

   Sara had a glass of wine and her patience is wearing thin after the tiring time she had with Long An at Chloe Designs, who is this man? Another employee hell bent on embarrassing Long An. Sara stands up and in Italian tells him, “What are you doing? Do I have to tell you who this woman is!”

   Navarre has a charming smile on his handsome face as he responds speaking Italian, “I am the designer and the necklace is for a competition so it won’t be available for purchase for another month.”

   Not knowing what Sara is saying Long An panics, staring at Sara indignantly, “What are you doing!”

   Sara’s face turns a bright shade of red, she remembers Long An said the designer is French so she quickly apologizes in French, “Je suis désolé”

    Navarre thinks it is funny how Sara went from fierce to timid so quickly, “No worries. Let me explain it to the woman, what is her name again?”

   “Long An.”

   Navarre turns to Long An and speaking English says, “Your assistant misunderstood my intention, don’t fault her she was quite protective of you Miss Long, thinking I was  being disrespectful. That is not the case at all. CEO Li and I have an agreement this necklace can not to be sold at this time. I apologize you were not informed of this matter.”

    Long An pouts when she hears him,“Huh..you are saying I can’t have it?”

“Not at this time.”

    Sun Peizhi is listening from a short distance away, the man in the trenchcoat outside earlier turns out to be  the playboy designer Navarre. Why was he staring at Song Sara with such an intense look when we were talking on the sidewalk. He watches the interaction between the three people. Is he interested in Song Sara? 

    Long An can’t believe she is this close to the Midnight Lovers necklace and can’t have it. “Could you lend the necklace to me to wear to the Bellini reception tomorrow? I have been in love with the necklace since I saw it in Vogue Milan.”

   He smiles and Long An is mesmerized by his good looks and his sexy French accent as he explains, “I’m sorry Miss Long, it inadvertently was added to the jewelry photographed for Vogue Milan. Luckily CEO Li was able to pull the magazine before it was distributed, you must have seen a bootleg copy.   Overexposure could harm my chance of winning or my design could be duplicated.”

    “Could I just try on Midnight Lovers and take a selfie? I won’t show the photo to anyone.”

    “You can try it on but no selfie if you don’t mind.”

     Unable to resign herself to not having a picture of the necklace to show her friends she has a plan. She sweetly says,“Okay.”

    She whispers in Sara’s ear as they walk over to the mirror, “Take a picture of me wearing the necklace, get several angles.”

    Sara keeps her voice low, “Miss Long the designer is being very accommodating to allow you to try on the necklace, if I take any pictures he might get angry.”

   Long An furrows her brows,“He said no selfie, he didn’t say you couldn’t take a picture.”

    “…” Sara is conflicted. Obviously he meant no pictures at all…Navarre is being very gentlemanly and considerate. I get it ..this competition is very prestigious and could enhance his reputation. As a young designer he needs to win awards even if he is popular to solidify his position in the industry. 

   Sara gathers her courage then refuses, “No. I can’t. He gave his permission for you to try on the necklace that should be enough of a concession… and the photos could get leaked.”

Long An is about to explode not being able to take no for an answer she pinches Sara’s arm , “Do it… just do it!  Who would leak the photos.”

   “Oww ! That hurts!” Sara glares at Long An, “You have gone too far. I don’t care about this stinking job! I quit!” 

   Sara rubs her arm, she is tired and can’t endure Long An’s rude behavior any longer. She hurriedly walks past Sun Peizhi who doesn’t know what was going on between Sara and Long An, he could only see them with their heads close together whispering. Her voice is shaking, “You don’t need to guard me any longer I quit.”

    She takes two steps past him, he reaches out with his long arm gently holding onto her sleeve, “What happened.”

     Sara holds back her tears tired of being humiliated first by the beast, then Li Tian now Long An. Her emotions are about to go out of control, not wanting to cause a scene she shakes her finger in Long An’s direction. Long An is shocked, she is standing frozen in place with her mouth open watching Sara rushing out of the store. The little mouse did not just insult me then quit..

  Sun Peizhi follows Sara out the door, she gazes up with misty eyes at Sun Peizhi regaining her composure, “I can no longer work for Li Tian, I am not a babysitter for his childish fiancee.”

    Long An has her hands on her hips..I can’t believe that little bitch boldly quit over a little pinch. Tian will not let me go if his assistant quits because of me. What the hell! I need to remedy this situation or I will be in big trouble. Her heels clicking across the marble floor she rushes to catch up with Sara, “Song Sara! You..You.. wait for me!” Long An gasps for air as she reaches them, “Song Sara I…I..”she momentarily considers apologizing but can’t do it. “You can’t dare quit!”

    Song Sara doesn’t want to disappoint Zhou Mo, but enough is enough. She composes herself and looks directly into Long An’s eyes in a resolute voice she declares, “Miss Long, if CEO Zhou didn’t insist I accompany Li Tian I wouldn’t be here. I have tried to do my best to overlook both of your arrogant and completely selfish attitudes but I don’t want to any longer. I don’t need to. So I will leave explaining the situation to CEO Li to you.I am going to enjoy this beautiful city then go home to Catang.”

      Sun Peizhi isn’t sure what he should say or do,  Goddamit I can’t fucking get involved I could fucking blow my chance to get the flash drive Then he hears Long An warning, “I think you are well aware of Li Tian’s temper. Do you think he will just let you walk away?” Sun Peizhi clenches his fist at his side, Fuck it I will find another way into the Bellini mansion. If Song Sara wants to quit I will protect her from that bastard.

     “I’m not afraid of CEO Li, I have my own plans I don’t need to be under his thumb or listen to you constantly whine over nothing.”

    “You..you little…!” Long An raises her hand to slap Sara and Sara closes her eyes bracing herself but Long An’s hand is caught midair in a firm grip by Sun Peizhi. Long An’s face turns red and she puffs out her cheeks, “How dare you!” 

    He drops her hand,“Miss Long, you are causing a scene in front of CEO Li’s store. If Miss Song wants to quit that is her decision it doesn’t give you the right to verbally or physically attack her. She could even sue you if she wanted, there are several people who can be witnesses. ”

    “Sun Peizhi! You stupid asshole! You are fired! You can leave with the little slut.”

     “…” Sara looks over at Sun Peizhi I didn’t mean to drag him into this mess. Now I am not sure what I should do. Why did I let her get under my skin!

    Sun Peizhi starts to laugh, “Miss Long I don’t think you are qualified to fire me but I will leave with Miss Song. CEO Li instructed me to be her bodyguard so until she hands in her resignation I need to fulfill my duty.”

    Nino, Giorgio you are in charge of Long An, I am escorting Miss Song back to the hotel.”

     Sun Peizhi nods at Sara to leave. Sara’s eyes widen in shock looking up at him incredulously. He not only stood up for me but is leaving with me?

     Long An watches them leave, what did I do…well, you know what ..HA..SCREW THOSE TWO! There is no way for them to  contact Li Tian while he is in a meeting. She looks at her watch, he said he wouldn’t be back until 11:30. She waves her arm at the two muscular bodyguards who are trying to figure out what just happened. “Giorgio..Nico follow me I have some jewelry shopping to do.”  She smoothes her dress as she marches back into the jewelry store.

       Navarre watched the scene from where he was standing by the counter and could hear their muffled conversation. After Sara stormed out of the store he followed.. I like the girl.. the more I see of her personality I know she is the woman to wear my Midnight Lovers necklace. Bien.. bien…quit then become my model. 

     After Sara and Sun Peizhi walk away from the LTG Jewelry Store Sara stops suddenly on the sidewalk. “Mr. Sun I appreciate you standing up for me but I don’t want you to get into trouble with CEO Li because of me.”

     “Miss Song, I haven’t liked her attitude since we were on the plane. It will serve her right if she sweats about how CEO Li will react to her insufferable behavior towards you. What I said is true, he told me to guard you and until you officially give him a resignation you are still his assistant. So he won’t fire me. You said you are hungry, do you want to get dinner?”

    Sara isn’t sure what will happen when she returns to the hotel and has to see Li Tian so she decides to enjoy her evening. “You know if you don’t mind I would like to enjoy the evening, this city really is beautiful. I studied at a culinary school here and haven’t been to Italy since that time. Are you sure it won’t be an imposition?’

    “ No. I’m starving. What would you like to eat?”

   “Do you mind just walking along the street and seeing what restaurant looks good? The air is so fresh after the rain and the night sky is pretty.”

    “Sounds good.”

    They walk down the crowded street looking in windows and people watching. Sara feels very relaxed with Sun Peizhi. She gazes at a beautiful woman sipping a cup of coffee at an outdoor cafe and instinctively pulls on his sleeve, “I think that is a popular kpop singer Jennie?” Sun Peizhi glances over at the woman he has no idea, he laughs “Sorry I wouldn’t know.” 

     Embarrassed Sara blushes really Sara does he look like he listens to kpop, she quickly points to a restaurant across the street, “Do you want to eat there?”

    “Sure.”

    They cross the street and enter the restaurant, the tables are filled and there doesn’t seem to be any available. Disappointed Sara turns to Sun Peizhi, “I don’t know if we can get a table.”

    “Let me see.” He walks over to the hostess desk after a couple minutes he returns, “They have seating on the second floor.”

    “Great.”

     They follow a middle aged man up the stairs and Sara sees the hallway is lined with private rooms with no open seating. The man opens the door to a room with luxurious furnishings and respectfully says, “I will send a server right up, Mr. Sun.”

    Sara looks around the room, “Mr. Sun this looks expensive , we could have gone to another restaurant.”

    “I got a large discount because the people who reserved the room didn’t show up.” Actually my family is close friends with the owner. 

     Sara thinks the temperature in the restaurant is a little warm and takes off her coat placing it on the leather couch on the right wall. “Oh that is so rude when people don’t call in a timely manner to cancel a reservation.” She walks back to the table, “We were lucky it became available though.”

    He pulls out a chair for her to sit down as the server comes into the room. The manager told him to take special care of the man. “Buona sera, Signore Sun what would you like to drink?”

   Sun Peizhi asks Sara, “Do you like wine?”

   “I do.”

   “We will have a bottle of  Bruno Giacosa.”

   “Very good choice.” He hands him the menu then leaves.

   Sara is looking around the room, “This room is beautiful, she runs her hand across the table I wonder what kind of wood this is.”

   “Walnut. It has become popular in upscale urban restaurants in the last few years.”

   Sara stares at him, how does he know that? “Interesting.”

   Shit a bodyguard probably wouldn’t know that. “Yeah, my buddy in Pushong City works at a Club there and he had me help him unload some tables one weekend. I asked him about the wood..seemed special.

   “Looks like it would be heavy to carry.”

    “…”

    The server comes back into the room with the wine then pours two glasses, “Have you decided?”

   “No, bring us your signature antipasto plate and specialty appetizers, then  we will decide.”

    “Si.”

    Sara smiles nervously raising her glass, “Thank you Mr. Sun.”

   He gazes at her charming appearance thinking maybe this is good that happened at the jewelry store now she has a good reason to quit. “No need to thank me.”

    “But I owe you a lot, first saving me on that freighter then standing up for me to Long An.”

    Sun Peizhi sips his wine not looking at Sara, “Just doing my job.” I need to stop looking at this girl, being alone with her in this private room is messing with my head.

    Sara’s heart tightens, right, he is just doing his job. She drinks her wine suddenly a little disheartened, lowering her head she fidgets playing with her napkin.

     The server comes in with the appetizers and a when Sara sees the plate her eyes light up, “What are these?”

   The server explains each item, “Oyster Spheres, the chef uses liquid nitrogen to create the shape,  looking at the young woman I knew she would ask how it is created.. Carpaccio of Diver Scallop, Fresh figs with Prosciutto and on the end you have Lobster and Caviar bruschetta.”

    “Thank you.”

    Sara puts some food on Sun Peizhi’s plate then says, “I have to try the oysters, they look really delicious.”

    He smiles watching her drooling as she picks up an oyster, she really likes to eat. He notices she finished her wine and pours her another glass, then orders some dishes while Sara is engrossed in sampling all the appetizers.

   “Miss Song, CEO Li will be tired when he returns from his meeting. I think the best time for you to tell him you quit is in the morning.” 

   Sara looks up from her plate then takes a gulp of wine, with a self deprecating tone she admits, “Mr. Sun although I would love to tell both of them to go to hell..but.. Haha.. now that I am calmed down I realize I am not in the position to be so frivolous as to quit a well paying job with Zhou Group.” Sara frowns as she swirls the wine around in her glass, “I just wish Zhou Mo hadn’t given me to Li Tian for this week. It is mentally exhausting dealing with that man.”

    She finishes her glass of wine, “Anyway, I don’t think Long An will have the nerve to tell CEO Li what happened because she wants to go to the Bellini reception. She knows he will send her packing for causing trouble.”

The wine is loosening her up, she giggles, “I bet right now she is in LTG Milan  picking out the most expensive jewelry using his black card.”

   Sun Peizhi laughs, “You are probably right about Long An. So you are only working for Li Tian for a week?” 

   “Yes, the Li Group and Zhou Group are collaborating on a big project. Do you mind pouring me another glass of wine? And please call me Sara, we are both working for Li Group. For now anyway..”

    He pours the wine and fills his glass also. She is working for him only for a week, but she is his girlfriend too right? He says she is his girlfriend and they were in the back cabin together. Should I just ask then I can tell her about Lin Xue Ling.  He drinks his wine, now might be a good time to find out their relationship.

   “My friends call me Zhi.”

    Sara’s mood brightens, does that mean he wants to be friends? “Okay.”

    The server brings in their dinner and places a juicy steak in front of Sara. She didn’t hear Sun Peizhi order and is surprised he remembered that she said earlier she wanted to eat steak.  She smiles at the server exposing her dimples and her brilliant blue eyes are sparkling, “Looks delicious!”

    He is momentarily caught off guard by her mesmerizing smile then he turns to Sun Peizhi, “Anything else Signore Sun?”

    Sun Peizhi looks at the empty bottle of wine, “Sara, did you want more wine?”

    Sara happily nods yes, “I would.” I am going to enjoy myself tonight, screw those morons. I have delicious food..great wine..and the man I like  sitting across from me. 

   

    “

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