Chapter Eight

Jared was kind enough to drive her back to the hospital before heading back to his office. But again, they didn’t talk at all in the whole ride. This annoyed Aurora most of all. She couldn’t seem to grasp the man’s point of extreme silence! She felt uncomfortable whenever he’s too silent, and whenever he speaks… Aurora couldn’t understand it either for every letter of sound that comes out from his mouth has the obvious hint of repulsiveness on them. Does this man find her unpleasant? Is it why he never talks to her if there is no need to? Is it his way of showing he disapproved of her, that he doesn’t find her suitable for his standards as a man? Aurora hoped she’d know. It was very hard for her to comprehend the man who was supposed to be her husband soon. They should at least try understanding each other if they want to get along. She glanced at him for a while and when she was convinced that there’s no hint at all that he was going to speak, she mustered all her courage to speak to him.

“Are you involved with someone as of now?” She asked politely. If he wanted honesty from her, she would definitely require the same from him. He inclined his head towards her indicating that she had his attention. Aurora looked at him. “I would like to know I’m not interfering with another woman.”

Jared answered her truthfully. She was honest with him, and it was his turn to return the favor. “I’m seeing Eleanor Leigh. I would have to straighten that out soon”

She knew Eleanor Leigh was a famous Hollywood actress and that would entail major publicity for both the actress and her soon-to-be husband. She felt nervous of the fact that this marriage would also entail a great disturbance on the quiet life she prefers to lead. Jared noticed her deafening silence and the many expressions playing in her exquisite blue-almost-violet eyes. Jared found it incredibly striking.

“Is it going to be a complication?” she managed to say before Jared could utter a word. “I don’t want to come between you. Not to mention the gossip for both you and me. I’m not a fan of tabloids and that paparazzi I’m afraid” She looked concerned now, and her voice bore the sound of worry.

“It’s nothing to be concerned about,” Jared broke her off, realizing immediately that Aurora Cunard valued her privacy immensely. “My lawyers will ensure the privacy of this arrangement including your personal privacy as I know you very much value and I’ll take care of Eleanor,” he stated matter of factly.

It was no longer her business, but Jared’s last statement about Eleanor Weinberg piqued her curiosity which she knew no longer was her right. She wanted to ask if he was going to continue seeing the actress. She knew better and decided to keep mum. After all, she discerned that if he did, she’ll eventually find out. Her self-control was not enough to help her not feel insecure, however. The man who was about to be her husband dated movie stars. She has never slept with any man yet. Calling herself pathetic was softly putting it. The situation was more of delusional and impossible. How would Jared react if he found out he was about to be married to a thirty year old virgin? Oh she wanted to faint!

Jared was not blind though, with Aurora’s many facial expressions which he could not entirely define in all honesty. They were on their way to the hospital to drop her back to the hospital when he got a message from his secretary regarding documents and a few cheques that needed his signatures almost immediately. He was waiting for those documents earlier today before he was summoned to the hospital by his father and it was a pressing matter as they were acquiring property in Ireland for their expansion plans. He shifted his gaze to Aurora while answering the message in his Blackberry.

“Are you required urgently at the hospital?” he asked, his attention riveted on his smartphone.

“My father commanded me to take a day off remember” she casually reminded him as she reached for her hair brush from her classic Neverfull tote. She untied her pony tail and let her golden brown tresses flow over her shoulders like a wave of silk as she brushed it so casually without any hint of flirtation whatsoever.

Jared could not seem to concentrate on his message for Renata. The woman had beautiful hair and he was beginning to see himself burying his face in that sea of gorgeous wavy tresses when his phone rang, tearing him off from his unwanted daydream. He almost muttered an expletive. What the hell is wrong with him? He instructed his chauffer to proceed to his office building instead, on a rather clipped tone of voice. He saw her tying her hair in a neat ponytail and had a sudden urge to grab her hand and stop her from completing the task but did otherwise. He must be out of his mind, he mused – his face bearing a scowl so unpleasant Aurora wondered why.

“Problem at the office?” she inquired nonchalantly gazing at him and the iPhone in his hands.

“Yes,” he lied taking a deep breath to gain control of his wandering thoughts. “Do you mind if we drop by before driving you back to the hospital? I have pressing matters to attend to. It would not take long”, he finished.

“Don’t mind me, I can hail a cab when we reach your building” she suggested smilingly. Jared however, gave her a look of surprise which bore a notable are-you-joking-me expression in his grey eyes. “Or your chauffeur can drive me back” she offered a not so surprising option.

“Sacha is heading to the airport to fetch several corporate auditors. He’s already running late,” he added, indicating that the chauffeur cannot possibly do the latter option because of other pressing errands. Aurora knew better than to argue. She was not dressed properly for a corporate visit and that was why it felt inappropriate. Her betrothed was wearing a double-breasted suit, for crying out loud. She was wearing a sweater, cropped blue pants, and loafers. Jared however, did not understand her hesitance, and just said; “I’ll drive you back myself wherever after signing some contracts. The matter is urgent”. 

With that, the vehicle stopped at the back entrance of the Rickford Corporate Building, and Jared exited the car and immediately assisted her out of it and directed her to the executive elevators where it accessed the executive floors. Upon reaching the 85th floor of the building where it housed the executive offices of the Boston headquarters of the Rickford Hotels International, Aurora was not ready for its grand corporate interiors, she was also aware of the reserve the office exuded the moment the elevator doors opened and the receptionist almost scampered herself from her desk to greet their CEO. She also noticed that for every greeting Jared received, he did not return any of it. Not even one.

Aurora also noticed the curious glances she was receiving not to mention the whispering which she happened to overhear from one of the ladies near the PR Department as they passed by them. “Who’s that?” the dark-haired woman asked her colleague. “Definitely not Eleanor Weinberg, that’s for sure!” the other one responded which brought some undertone laughter among them. Aurora did not know what to make of that.

“The documents just came in, Red” a forty-something man by the name of Herman Sachs approached them as they were walking past the Finance, and Legal Departments. He was a foot shorter than Jared but he had cunning eyes and a mature tone in his voice. “It’s clean and steady just like you want it”.

“Did the Irish affix their signatures?” Jared inquired while continuing his pace with Aurora beside him, towards his office. “You know RHI wouldn’t sign those papers without theirs first”, he reminded the man. Jared knew the papers were verified. But he reminded the man anyway. Not that there’s a need for it. Jared trusted the man and knew he was loyal to the corporation.

“It wouldn’t reach your table if it weren’t,” Sachs replied smilingly. “You wouldn’t be coming back so immediately to sign them either if you knew it isn’t flawless.”

“Touché”, Jared conceded a glimmer in his eyes as he found amusement in Sachs’ reasoning. He also noticed the man’s eye constantly lingering to the woman beside him. He felt the need to introduce him instead. “Herman, this is Aurora Cunard – a family friend,” he stated indifferently.

She was not at all surprised with that term of introduction and so she managed a proper smile without any tension breaking her steady eyes. She calmly shook the hand of Herman and said a very typical yet orderly “How do you do?” Herman’s next remark did not much help her composure though.

“Gracious,” he uttered almost in awe as he stared at her eyes. “You have the most beguiling eyes,” he remarked somehow shocked in a good way. “It’s blue violet… and I was told only Elizabeth Taylor has such a unique eye color. It’s incredible, Red.”

Aurora felt awkward, and kept her eyes riveted on Jared’s neck.

Jared almost smiled at the man’s reaction to the woman. “Is it?” he remarked. “You’re looking at the other one. Now move along, Herm.”

With that, Herman Sachs excused himself after shaking Aurora’s hand for the second time. They both proceeded towards his office and they were greeted by Renata, his executive secretary of eleven years. She was a plump woman of fifty years with very kind eyes but firm voice. Her smile was genuine, Aurora noticed and knew she was an ally.

Renata began her report the moment Jared finished his introductions. “The contracts were sent by Mr Sachs, and reviewed by Fairway and Lansing. The Zoning Commission has granted approval of permit for the construction of the Atlanta property. The green folder are checks needing your signature for the procurement of the Dingle property, yellow folder are stock certificates from Hilton & Accor, and red folder are invitations from the MET and the Gates Foundation,”

“Anything else” he checked before proceeding to his office noting Renata’s abrupt stop, yet her eyes still riveted in her notes meaning she was not yet done with her oral report to him.

“Ms Weinberg called three times,” Renata awkwardly delivered. She did not need to tell him that the actress told her to tell her employer that she wanted to see him tonight. “She also left a message, it’s on your desk” she provided instead.

“That’s not necessary, but thanks Renata” Jared irritably replied. “We might need some refreshments or mints. I’ll take care of the matters concerning Eleanor.” He ushered them inside his office after giving Renata some instructions absolutely unaware how wrong and awkward his last ministrations sounded to both women. The moment he opened the double doors to his workplace, Aurora was impressed but not enough to obliterate the dismay she was presently feeling upon hearing Jared’s last directions.

“Please take a seat, Miss Cunard. Help yourself with some mints, while I get you some refreshments” Renata beaconed.

“Thank you, Renata,” Aurora replied smilingly. “I’d like some cream in that coffee, if it’s okay?”

“Absolutely,” Renata happily replied as she went into the bar located at the other side of Jared’s office. She was observing this woman her beloved employer brought with him in the office. The fact that she’s the very first woman to be brought to this office by Jared Rickford was already worthy of her attention. Aurora Cunard looked simple and yet she bore some elegance Renata could not really pinpoint. And those shockingly exquisite blue eyes almost violet were all the more striking. She was wearing very casual clothing but her bag was the classic yet modest LV Neverfull. Which means she has fashionable yet practical taste knowing how much such accessory costs. She continued to study the woman seated in her employer’s couch, reaching to the magazine stand wherein she picked Newsweek instead of Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan. Interesting choice, Renata smilingly mused. She hoped she was right that Aurora Cunard was not as vain as the past women whom Jared liked to date. She opened the lid of the creamer and poured it in a separate container for their lady visitor. She finished making the tea and served it just as Aurora sat herself casually in the couch, pulled her reading glasses from her bag and began reading.

“That looks very nice,” Aurora acknowledged as Renata poured fresh tea in a cup. “Have a cup, yourself Renata,” she invited unequivocally, unintentionally surprising the older woman. “There’s enough for both of us. Here, let me get you a cup,” Aurora quipped rising from her seated position.

Renata stopped her from proceeding. “Oh no, Miss. Thank you but I had mine a few minutes ago,” she reasoned falsely. It staggered her beyond wits to realize how unspoiled this woman was. She was used to people instructing her to do this and that and to be confronted with a woman so kind and warm was beyond surprising, it was exhilarating.

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