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C2 [2]

Leonel hasn't been feeling calm since what Chloe said three days ago. Divorce. That's something Leonel has been longing for a long time. To free himself from the shackles of an unwanted marriage. Then marry the girl he loves. And now, that desire is starting to come true, one by one.

But why is Leonel feeling uncertain instead? He still feels unfamiliar with all the changes Chloe is going through. Leonel racked his brain, trying to figure out how to return the old Chloe as soon as possible. There's an unusual sense of intimidation that Leonel is experiencing, and he doesn't like it.

He's used to asserting his presence at home. There shouldn't be any objections coming out of Chloe's mouth. His wife should comply with all his wishes. That's the punishment Chloe has to accept for agreeing to the ridiculous arranged marriage five years ago. If Chloe hadn't decided, maybe Leonel wouldn't hold such resentment towards her.

During their marriage, Chloe has always been the same. A suitable homemaker type of woman. Her hobbies revolve around cooking and taking care of flowers. Their home always has the scent of Chloe's favorite roses. Even most of Chloe's belongings are red. Her favorite color. She says it's inspired by the red roses she planted in their garden.

He opened his drawer. Chloe's written greeting cards were in the top storage box. He took them out again and read the words he knew by heart. He also remembered the phone call that disturbed him, which was news from the police about his wife's condition.

A creeping sense of guilt started to take hold because he was sure, especially after Deborah revealed the truth about Chloe accidentally opening the closed door. Chloe must have seen how he was intimately involved with Ester then.

Chloe's loss of vision is also his fault. The risks wouldn't be this big if he could control himself and take Ester to a hotel as usual. But who can resist Ester's temptations? They haven't seen each other for a long time.

No, no. Leonel is not at fault here. It was Chloe who was careless while driving. He even provided her with her facilities, but they were ignored. If someone else moved Chloe, the accident wouldn't have happened. Yes, what Leonel is thinking is the truth. He shouldn't feel guilty about Chloe's condition.

"Sir," Deborah called as she lightly knocked on his slightly open door.

His thoughts about Chloe had to be interrupted. "Come in," Leonel commanded.

Deborah was apprehensive because her boss's face was becoming scarier daily. Since Deborah started working at Mountain Pte, she knew what kind of boss she was dealing with. But Leonel's attitude has become more annoying and arbitrary in the past few months. Not to mention, he often gives orders that defy reason. And remember, if there's even a slight mistake, Deborah has to be ready to listen to a series of Leonel's anger.

"The next meeting with Doosan Group will start in ten minutes."

Leonel glanced at his Rolex watch in his left hand, realizing that his schedule was almost up. "Is everything prepared, Di?" He stood up while adjusting the end of his expensive blazer.

"Yes, sir."

"Are you sure?" Leonel asked with a doubtful look. "Don't tell me there's another mistake in the draft. I won't accept that excuse."

Deborah nodded quickly. "No, Sir. I've double-checked everything."

Leonel led the way, remembering to give Deborah a frustrated pat. Somehow, in his eyes, Deborah's work must be permanently corrected. "Let's wait in the meeting room."

Despite feeling frustrated, Deborah still followed in the footsteps of the company's CEO. Who needs to learn the influence of Hartono and his descendants? A tycoon who has a significant effect in Indonesia has also appeared on the list of the wealthiest people in the world several times. Being a staff member at Mountain Pte is a sought-after position for job seekers outside. It's a reputable company with many benefits and promising career paths.

This meeting went quite smoothly. Some have already agreed to Leonel's proposed collaboration, which the client is still reviewing. Leonel sees this meeting as deciding whether his proposal will be approved. He's not actively seeking and engaging new business partners but needs more support if something happens regarding the ongoing activities for years.

As the sole heir, Leonel must be fair and insightful, have a broader market understanding than anyone else, and be competent in managing thousands of employees who depend on Mountain Pte. This responsibility should belong to his father, but both of his parents decided to retire as soon as Leonel took over the company.

Like the parents of the jet set in New York City, they spent a lot of money on business-oriented vacations, opening several new businesses to support their other needs, and participating in high-class socialite gatherings.

"I will make a summary of the meeting soon, Sir," Deborah said, her hands still busy indicating some crucial points. Their meeting ended with many new agreements. Leonel seemed satisfied during the session. It also relieved Deborah because she didn't receive sarcastic looks or annoying remarks from her boss.

"Call Chris immediately, Di."

Her previously agile hand movements stopped. Deborah immediately raised her eyes from a stack of meeting results to look at the source of the voice. "Mr. Chris?" she confirmed.

"Yes." Leonel is different than the type of person who enjoys small talk. Whatever he wants should be resolved immediately, whether related to his business or personal matters concerning his family. The well-dressed man left the room, leaving his secretary still stunned. He took out his phone from his pocket to check the message from Peni, his housekeeper whom he had assigned to care for Chloe, especially since her return from the hospital.

There were no messages except during lunch, where Peni informed him that his wife had eaten quite well. She enthusiastically underwent therapy and didn't forget to take some medication and vitamins. That alone made Leonel feel a little relieved. At least Chloe is starting to regain control of herself after regaining consciousness.

As he was about to enter his office, he was surprised by Ester's presence.

"Hi, Darling."

It didn't take long for Ester to cuddle and plant a small kiss on his cheek. This was met with a slight chuckle from Leonel. "Is the photo shoot in Bali finished?"

"If it weren't, I wouldn't be here, Mas," Ester pouted, her hands perfectly draped around Leonel's neck. This time, her eyes were adorned with emerald-colored lenses, with makeup that enchanted many people, especially with her fashionable choice of clothing.

Isn't a model required to have perfection in terms of appearance? That's what Ester has been doing all this time. She wouldn't go out in just ordinary clothes. Even her makeup must always be perfect to match her style. She feels that many eyes have been on her since she became known as a model with numerous renowned brand endorsements in Indonesia.

In response to Ester's pout, Leonel widened his smile. "You always have impromptu events." He tidied up Ester's hair, slightly in the way they gazed at each other from such a close distance—the scent of the perfume he permanently recognized as Ester's favorite filled the air perfectly. Leonel's earlier remark made Ester laugh softly.

"Yesterday, I dropped by your house."

Leonel's body suddenly tensed. "Why did you go there?"

"No need to panic like that," Ester teased casually. "I just visited. Didn't your wife tell you?"

Leonel quickly responded, "No."

"I left something for Chloe. But it seems it wasn't conveyed, huh?" Ester deliberately made her voice as dramatic as possible. She leaned into his embrace. She used her fingertips to tease him, making small circular motions with constant intervals.

True to her actions, Leonel groaned with restraint because of what she was doing.

"Want to come to my apartment?" Ester offered quickly as she looked up and found Leonel's gaze was already clouded with great passion. "Deborah said you don't have any further meetings."

"You're naughty, you know."

Ester chuckled. She pulled his shoulder slightly so that she could whisper. "I also need an outlet for my frustration. Your mother visited yesterday too. As usual, she still distresses me."

Suddenly, the desire that had filled Leonel's mind disappeared.


Leonel gently swayed the contents of his cup. The ripples it created distracted him slightly from the background music at the club he was currently in. It was his second drink, but he already felt nauseous enough. Usually, he would spend the whole night before finally going home. No matter what condition he arrived in, he would always be greeted with a smile. Suddenly Leonel remembered missing that smile.

Chloe's smile.

The man scoffed softly, laughing dismissively at himself. How could his thoughts be focused on Chloe in a situation like this? Hadn't he been neglecting his wife's existence all this time? Ah, Leonel was sure that's why the image of a woman who liked the color red— he could clearly remember that it was the color Chloe wore most of the time—kept spinning in his mind because she had awakened from a coma and was disabled.

He felt sorry. Yes, that's the only feeling Leonel had now.

"Are you sure about meeting me here?" a man approached him and asked. From his tone of voice, which was both disapproving and burdensome, Leonel was confident that it was Chris Yanuardi—his family's lawyer.

"At least it's not in a hotel room," Leonel joked as he took a sip from his glass. He drank it without caring about the taste that greeted his tongue, only furrowing his brow as the liquid bothered his throat. "Pour me another." He pushed the glass toward the bartender in front of him.

Members, including the lawyer, could only access the club he visited. He needed to talk about matters outside the office and his personal life at home. And he thought this place was suitable, despite Chris's unmistakable disapproving look.

"Are you deaf?" Leonel frowned and looked sharply at Kevin, the bartender before him. "Quick!"

"I asked Kevin not to pour any more, Leonel. It would be best if you had the concentration to talk," Chris patted Leonel's shoulder gently. "I think it's more relaxed over there. What do you think?" He only needed a minor approval from Leonel. Surely the man would follow him. And true to his guess, he followed even though Leonel imitated his steps with an annoyed jerk and a sour expression like a child who was denied a toy.

"You're the one who asked me to meet you here. At least don't create a scene that would make me uncomfortable," Chris grumbled in annoyance. His hands were folded across his chest after they sat in a corner far from the other patrons. Although not many people came, they still needed a quiet place. "So, tell me quickly, what's this about?"

"Is this how a lawyer treats his client?" Leonel asked irritably. He immediately leaned back on the sofa and closed his eyes slightly. "You're just like Papa. Annoying."

"If you forget, I'm as old as your father."

Leonel waved his hand in disapproval. "Has Deborah told you what I want?"

"For such an important matter, you talk to your secretary? My God! I'm sure Robby Grisham would curse you!"

The still-closed-eyed man finally laughed. He straightened his back. "What's wrong with that? Deborah conveys what I want."

Chris shook his head slowly. He took out several papers that had already been prepared to be read to his essential client. If it weren't for the funds provided by the Hartono family to the law firm he managed, he probably wouldn't want to be here. "Read this." He handed the stack of papers to the man he considered his son.

Knowing Leonel since he was mischievous and taking care of many things related to the boy's mischief, Chris was confident that in the future, the naughty boy would become a star in the Hartono family. His instincts were never wrong, right? Leonel Grisham was one of the most respected businessmen in New York City.

"I can rely on you, Chris." A slight grin appeared on Leonel's lips. The lighting in the corner they had chosen was perfect. He could read all the words printed on the papers. He sifted through each page, occasionally paying more attention to specific points. "I think this is enough."

Chris nodded softly and immediately put the documents back into his briefcase. "I'll send the original documents to the office tomorrow." But before he left Leonel here, Chris needed to be assured of something. "Are you... sure about doing this?"

"Of course." Leonel picked up one of the available drinking glasses. "Why wouldn't I be sure? I've been waiting, and finally, God has been kind." He smiled as wide as possible. "Didn't you know best about our arranged marriage? And when she demanded a divorce? Why shouldn't I grant it?"

The older man shook his head softly. He stood up and patted Leonel's shoulder again. "Go home before you get too drunk. I don't want to deal with inheritance documents related to your death."

"You?" Leonel blinked in disbelief. "Cursing me to die?"

Chris chuckled. "Give my regards to Mr. Robby. Go home immediately."

"Alright, you noisy old man. I'll remember your old advice."

Not long after, Chris completely disappeared from his sight. He sighed long and leaned back on the soft sofa he was sitting on. He gently massaged his temples, hoping to alleviate the growing headache. But it seemed to be in vain. The pain only increased. He closed his eyes for a moment.

His thoughts turned to the conversation with Ester after the meeting earlier. The conversation that made him change his mind so quickly. Initially, he wanted to ask Chris for help thwarting Chloe's sudden request for a divorce. But the woman he loved managed to make him think otherwise. After all, granting her the divorce was essentially the same. Wasn't it he who asked for the divorce first? So that's what would happen.

"No need for you to visit her, Darling." Leonel planted a tender kiss on his lover's cheek. "It's better for you to rest well."

"You know, Darling?" Ester gently shook her hair, causing enough movement to capture Leonel's undivided attention. Her wavy hair cascaded in large curls at the bottom, a bright maroon red that perfectly complemented her smooth, fair skin. "I feel like this is our chance."

Leonel furrowed his brow. "What do you mean?"

"Well, you know. I've been waiting long for when you would divorce your wife. She already permitted you to marry me. And now? Is she demanding a divorce? Why don't you grant it immediately?"

Leonel let out a soft sigh in response. "When she woke up from the coma, she became blind, Darling."

"Do you care about her?"

"Of course not!" Leonel quickly retorted. "Not. I don't care about her." He emphasized the words excessively. "But I feel like I need to give her some time to recover. Her therapist said she might regain her sight in about six months. She's undergoing regular therapy."

Ester untangled herself from his embrace. Her eyes stared at him with frustration. "I bet you'll be busy taking care of her after this. And what about me? I'm the one you love, Darling. Should I wait until she recovers? Seriously!!!" She grabbed her bag that she had placed on the glass table not far from where she stood.

"Where are you going?" Leonel asked immediately. He held Ivanka's waist tightly to prevent the woman from walking further. "Give me a week. I'll take care of it."

Ester blinked slowly. Her eyes lit up with joy. "Really?"

Leonel nodded, although sudden doubt filled his heart. "Yes."

"Oh, you're so sweet, Darling."

He gently pulled Ester's waist to bring them closer. Their breaths intermingled with tenderness. Their eyes locked, and they assessed each other. "Let me inform Deborah to reschedule the meetings and prepare the divorce draft for Chris." Another kiss, and this time it lasted longer. He softly savored the peach-colored lips with a rhythm that always heightened his adrenaline. "Can you be patient and wait?" Leonel asked as he wiped away the lingering wet traces he left.


Recalling the conversation that had not even passed twenty-four hours with Ester, for some reason, it caused a suffocating feeling. Especially since he read through each article stated in their divorce draft. He was the one who said he didn't want to divorce Chloe, but now? Why was it so difficult for him to grant his wife's request? Wasn't this what he had been waiting for all this time?

Where could he finally be with Ester? He could take advantage of the current situation. He could gain many benefits, especially regarding his wife's blindness. He could use it as a shield against his father. Nothing could stop him now. Yes, he should be happy. Not feel this suffocating sensation. Damn! He got up from his seat and hurried home. He thought drinking too much, and the bothersome music were the sources of his fatigue.

As he was about to leave the room, his phone rang loudly. Peni's name appeared on the screen, causing him to furrow his brow. Lately, he had received calls from the person caring for Chloe.

"What is it, Peni?" he asked immediately.

"It's, Sir. Um, Mrs., Sir."

"Yes, what about her?" he asked anxiously. He didn't care if he almost stumbled and tripped over a table leg. His current goal was to go home.

"She's on the edge of the balcony. I'm terrified, Sir."

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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