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C3 Three

As Zerran approached the door to the apartment, the sound of the lock turning caught his attention. The door opened, revealing a tall man with curly, sandy-brown hair and a menacing smile. Zerran took in the man's attire—a yellow shirt, and black shorts—before the sound of small footsteps caught his attention.

As Zerran attempted to step into the apartment, he was suddenly greeted by the sight of a small child rushing toward him. The child wrapped their arms around one of Zerran's legs, and he looked down to see the clear blue eyes, smile, and dimples of a young girl with long, sandy, curly hair tied into a pigtail.

"Uncle Kent! You're here!" she exclaimed in a happy voice.

Zerran bent down and ruffled the child's hair, asking, "Hey, little female version of Adrian. Why are you still up?"

"I'm not here for you, Estella," Zerran declared, turning his gaze towards Adrian. The man suddenly looked serious, as if he understood the gravity of the situation.

Zerran's young niece came running up to him, asking, "Mommy and I are playing house. You'll stay here, Uncle Kent?" Her eyes were wide with excitement, and Zerran felt a pang of sadness knowing he wouldn't be able to stay and play with her. He had an important purpose for Adrian that couldn't wait.

Estella took the child in her arms and said in a warning tone, "Oh, don't trouble him, Zerran. He's not in the mood for whatever you're doing." She shot a glare at Zerran, making her feelings clear.

Adrian turned to his wife and flashed a smile, "Hon, I'll be back in a minute." And with that, he closed the door, leaving Estella's voice behind, "You need to tell me what my brother wants, don't agree to anything without me, hon!"

Zerran couldn't help but smile at the sly grin on Adrian's face. He was grateful to have such a great friend and brother-in-law. At first, Zerran had been skeptical of the two's relationship, but over time he had come to realize that their love for each other was genuine and had brought them so much happiness, including the cute and bubbly child.

The two made their way down the stairs to the third floor. Zerran leaned against the baluster while Adrian stood next to him, ready for whatever business Zerran had come to discuss.

"What brings you here?" Adrian asked, his eyes fixated on his friend's solemn expression. "How was the party with the president and his daughter?"

Zerran met Adrian's gaze head-on. "The daughter never showed up, and the president apologized for the inconvenience before leaving after only ten minutes of speaking with the attendees. But that's not the reason I'm here. I came because of Alexander."

Adrian raised an eyebrow in surprise. He hadn't expected Alexander to be the reason behind Zerran's visit. He reached into his pocket, searching for a pack of cigarettes, but was disappointed to find it empty. The mere mention of Zerran's father was enough to weigh heavily on him.

"What has Alexander done this time?" Adrian asked, his voice betraying the tension he felt.

Zerran took a deep breath and pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. "He's killed someone again, thinking it was the real culprit behind the deaths of Cassandra and Erika," he replied, bitterness evident in his voice as he spoke the names of his mother and youngest sister.

Adrian took the paper from Zerran and smoothed it out, reading the contents with a frown. "An innocent man, and he's the son of a senator. What are you going to do, Zerran? When they find out that an El Devar was responsible for his death, your family's reputation will be on the line, along with everything you've built."

"So, that's why you're here?" Adrian asked, his eyes fixed on his friend's serious expression. "You want me to accuse someone else of a crime and I am the man you need, as the director of NBI."

Zerran nodded, his gaze unwavering.

Adrian sighed, knowing that this task was not going to be easy. He didn't want to hurt Estella, who was a devoted daughter and deeply loved her father. The thought of causing her any pain was unbearable.

But, still, he found himself saying, "Don't worry, I'll do it. The person I'm going to accuse seems to be a major criminal. How did you find them?" He quickly tucked the paper Zerran had given him into his left pocket.

Zerran stepped forward, his arms crossed over his chest. "I have a connection. That's why I'm here. I'm leaving," he said, standing tall.

"What are you planning for her, Zerran?" Adrian asked with a note of concern in his voice. He was curious about why Zerran had offered marriage to the president's daughter.

When Adrian first heard the news, he was shocked and amazed. But Lauren was skeptical, believing it to be a lie. She was even angrier when Zerran confirmed that it was true.

"She's the ace I need, Adrian. The key to getting what I want," Zerran replied with a sly smile. "She's the important piece in this game and the one they want. My chess moves start with her and end with two."

"You know she's innocent," Adrian warned, his words carrying a sense of urgency.

Innocent? The word echoed in Zerran's mind, causing a flicker of doubt to cross his face.

"Adrian, no one is innocent, even her." Zerran's words hung heavily in the air between them, and he stepped towards the stairs going downwards. "I owe you thrice now, Adrian." His footsteps echoed through the hallway as he hurried away, leaving Adrian to contemplate his words.

Zerran moved quickly as if he were chasing time itself until his phone interrupted his haste. He snatched it from his pocket and answered without looking at the caller ID. "Hello, where are you?" A honeyed voice asked from the other end.

"Why do you call?" Zerran got into his car and turned it on, waiting for an answer. He looked at the call history, wondering what the woman wanted. "Lotus, why do you call?"

The line was silent, and he was ready to end the call when she spoke up again. "I need you to meet me. I have something important to tell you. I'll send you the address." The line went dead.

"What is she up to?" Zerran whispered to himself, but he received no answer. He drove off, feeling the weight of uncertainty on his shoulders. He read the message from Lotus and sped up; if she was calling, it could only mean one thing, Villamore was planning something against him, and he needed to know what.

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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