C6 Chapter 6
"Stay with me tonight," Titan remarked as he drew himself away from Stephanie.
She had swollen eyes from sobbing, which he saw when he looked at her.
Given that she only has a short window of time before the landlord returns, he secretly felt sorry for what she had to endure and made arrangements to have her leave the following day.
When Stephanie heard her boss's offer, her eyes grew wide. Knowing she had nowhere to go made it all the more alluring to her.
In fear of what Titan might be asking in return, she shook her head and turned to face him rather than taking it. "No, I can go to my aunt's house. Maybe, she could help me out like she always does."
She considered the concept of residing with him to be absurd. The least expected proposal she could hear from him was this one.
If so, how could she tell Ms. Gonzales, the supervisor about that?
Even if she would be honest, the Sandovals have always been careful about their public image, so an intern, without any accolades -- someone like me -- living with the CEO didn't seem great news to them.
Nevertheless, how could Sir Titan present that as if it were the simplest thing in the world for him to do?
Obviously not. What else was I expecting? She pondered.
But as she thought back to Titan's hug just a moment before, her chest felt squeezed.
Knowing Titan, she was puzzled by such an unexpectedly kind gesture.
That sort of man was not him.
After all, he was a businessman. A young, successful billionaire of this generation.
His focus has always been on increasing his revenues.
And he must receive his investment returns.
Stephanie was so taken aback when her annoying boss unexpectedly offered her a space in his house.
She was even more surprised when he said in reply, "Then, I'll go with you," in his usual cold way. That caught her off-guard.
Stephanie felt her jaw fall as her brows wrinkled.
By the way, when did he start wishing to meddle in her private life?
She continued to wonder about that.
As she looked at him, she asked, "Why do you have to go with me?"
"I just want to make sure, Stephanie."
"Make sure of what?"
"That you'll be alright."
"And when did you start caring about me?"
Titan refused to answer and gave her an intense gaze instead.
Knowing how stubborn Titan was, she gave up trying to persuade him not to go with her, exhaling an exasperated sigh and shrugging.
She flicked her head and averted her gaze. "Fine." She checked her wristwatch. "It's not too late yet. Maybe, they're still awake."
"Alright. Let's go." He gestured to Stephanie as they headed out and entered Titan's car, driving off to her relative's house.
"Aunt Sari, I hope it would be okay for me to stay here." Stephanie leaned her torso forward to pull herself closer to her Aunt Sari, the second eldest sister of her mom.
Despite Aunt Sari appearing a little stocky and ancient, her hair was straight, which remained dark and devoid of white hairs.
That night, she appeared to be getting ready for bed by dressing in her nightgown.
Her eyebrows furrowed while listening to Stephanie's request. "What happened to your home?" She leaned against the back of the couch, crossing her arms.
Stephanie pressed her lips and glanced at Titan who was sitting beside her. "Well, I was forced to move out, and I have to get out tomorrow." She looked down, embarrassed and frustrated about her situation.
Aunt Sari clucked, shaking her head. "Poor you," she paused and sighed, "What are you planning to do now? I could offer you the spare bedroom tonight, but…" She looked sideward as if she was looking out for something or someone. "I'm not sure if I can help you right now, dear. Things have been pretty hectic these days."
Titan began to study the elderly woman when he saw Aunt Sari was wearing gold jewelry on her fingers, neck, and ears.
His realization of how different Stephanie's life came as he lifted his face to look around.
Aunt Sari's house appeared much better than her run-down residence.
The living room, adorned with a fan-shaped small chandelier, had pricey couches, a flat-screen TV, a surround sound system, and even collections of pricey books and other collectibles on the bookcases.
They were kept cool throughout the sweltering summers by an air conditioning unit that standing at the corner.
He couldn't help but cast a quick glance at Stephanie as she continued talking with her aunt, realizing how difficult her life must be.
Titan continued to survey the tiled and spotless house while feeling perplexed.
They had a nice, long dining table made of hardwood installed, as well as a kitchen.
He flinched when he heard Aunt Sari's response as he continued to notice the contrasts between Stephanie's lifestyle and that of her relatives.
Aunt Sari shook her head and raised her arm, dismissing Stephanie's appeal while feeling guilty. "I know I promised your mom to help you whenever I could, but right now, I'll have to say no. I don't think we have a spare room for you to stay in here. I'm sorry."
Stephanie tried to calm her nerves, although she wasn't feeling okay.
She nodded and let out a smile as she got up. "It's okay. I'll be alright. Anyway, thank you for your time. I know it's a bit late, and you need to get sleep. You still have to work tomorrow, I guess."
"Yeah, I have to. You know there's no free lunch. But, I'm retired. There's no work available for old folks like me, so money has always been an issue for me," Aunt Sari uttered as she got herself up, grunting.
But Stephanie wasn't asking for money. Titan thought.
Aunt Sari walked a few steps away from the couch heading to the entry door. "It must have been tough for you being alone, Stephanie."
As if she was unaffected, Stephanie smiled. "I'm okay. Don't worry about me, Aunt Sari. I can manage."
"By the way, did you visit your parents' grave?"
"Yeah." Stephanie nodded. "I did."
"Last Halloween, I guessed, I did. You know life is busy. However, if you do, be sure to give them some new flowers. Please, buy one for me. Since you work for the Sandovals, I'll guess an additional bouquet won't cost you a lot too much."
That raised Titan's eyebrow.
He turned and flicked his head to make sure he wasn't scoffing too loudly in front of the elderly woman.
"It's okay. I will make sure of it. You don't have to feel bad, Aunt Sari. I know your life's pretty hectic, so I understand you can't pay them a visit as much as you want to."
"Thank you for understanding me, Stephanie. Your mom was lucky to have you as her daughter. And I mean it."
Stephanie didn't answer and let out a smile instead, turning her back and heading to the entry gate.
Aunt Sari flicked her head in Titan's direction with a big smile. "Anyway, thank you for visiting, Stephanie, and you, too. Have a great night."
Titan had mixed emotions, yet, was compelled to smile because she was Stephanie's aunt and the only family she knew.
As they left, Aunt Sari waved her hand goodbye.
But without Stephanie's knowledge, Titan turned his head as she was ready to turn, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.
When he noticed that slight response from Stephanie's aunt, his eyes narrowed and he arched an eyebrow.
He didn't anticipate such an expression from a supposed worried relative.
As a result of his curse, he was able to hear Aunt Sari complaining to someone behind the door because of his cat-like powers.
He was close enough to hear what was being said.
"Oh my, that poor kid," Aunt Sari muttered.
"What was she up to?" a young woman's voice joined in.
"She wanted to stay here tonight."
"What else did she say?"
"She's said she lost her home because the landlord kicked her out, and she didn't have anywhere else to go but here."
The young woman clucked. "Don't tell me you offered the spare room? You know, I need it for my far more important guests. You can't just give it up for her."
"Why would I do that? If her mom wasn't a bitch, I could have liked helping her." Aunt Sari interjected.
"Where would she go now?"
"I don't know. In the streets?"
Titan looked at Stephanie leaving and going to his car as he overheard what the two women were talking about behind closed doors.
In his mind, it was clear to him that Stephanie doesn't have anybody to lean on.
So, it was the right moment to ask her about his offer again.
Titan swallowed and stared at her while she was gazing down and fidgeting with her fingers as they got inside the car. "So, do you still have other relatives you think could help you out?"
While she avoided looking at Titan, she answered, "No," shaking her head. "The only neighboring relative I have that I know well is Aunt Sari. I doubt I could afford to seek the others for assistance because they were outlying residents. Besides, I hardly know anyone other than Aunt Sari's family."
Titan sighed in frustration and glanced off into the distance while keeping one hand on the wheel and the other on his lap.
Then, he looked at her. "Well, they refused to help you. Do you still have other options left?"
Stephanie shook her head. "Unfortunately, no, sir."
"Well then, whether you like it or not, live with me," Titan said nonchalantly as he turned on the ignition.
Her eyes widened as she turned to face him. "Excuse me, sir?"
"Is living with me a problem in any way? Additionally, I'm paying you twice as much per month for your internship and your responsibility is to watch out for me at all times. You'll have a lovely home to live in, a soft, comfy mattress to sleep on, delicious food to eat, and of course, a handsome guy like me as your roommate. What more could you possibly want?" He stared at her, raising an eyebrow while stretching his lips wider than Stephanie would expect to see from this man.
After hearing the final phrase, she scoffed and turned her head to look in the opposite direction. When did he start chatting up to her more?
Leaning her head against the window and facing in the opposite way, she made an effort to block out Titan's piercing gaze despite feeling it.
Even though she wanted to reject his offer, she knew in her heart that she had no choice but to accept it.
She had no one to turn to but this idiot.
Titan's offer was alluring even if she wanted to turn it down because it was from him.
Stephanie threaded her fingers and let out a sigh as she continued to think about her options, which attracted his attention.
He cleared his throat to make the unpleasant and strained environment while driving. "You don't have to overthink things."
Stephanie didn't say anything as she looked at him.
Though Titan looked away, he sighed. "I'm your boss. I have a responsibility to look out for you," he paused and glanced at her, "You also appear too average to be my future wife." He raised his eyebrow while letting out a slight grin, teasing her.
Stephanie scoffed. "Is that so?" Feeling insulted, she crossed her arms. "Yeah, that's what most people say about me."
When he didn't say a word in response, as she glanced at him, she saw the uncommon beauty of Titan's sunset-colored eyes that was reflected when the lights from the street lamps shone on his face.
She wasn't sure why she kept pulling herself to gaze at it.
As she stared at him, perhaps, it helped to reduce her anxiety a little bit.
Titan cast a glance at her. "Do you do that often, Stephanie?"
She flinched. "What?"
He looked at her. "Looking at my eyes. Don't they look weird, do they?"
Stephanie was speechless when he turned away to stare at the road.
She looked away, flushing, embarrassed while she leaned her back against the seat.
While doing so, she continued remembering his nice gestures, such as the hug he ended up giving her, as she knitted her brows in confusion.
In her mind, they stood in contrast to the Titan Sandoval she knew.
She didn't get that at all.
Or was she observing Titan's reverse side, she wondered.
Was this the real side of him he has been hiding?
She smiled as she leaned against the plush leather surface. "I didn't expect you to be kind, Sir Titan."
Titan didn't say anything but kept staring at the road.
But when Stephanie said, "Anyway, thank you," he turned to face her and gave her a quick glance.
He didn't say anything but kept on driving as if he hadn't heard what she had said.
Titan's chest felt instantly tight and a little uneasy when she turned her head to gaze at him with a smile on her face.
While it felt good, that left him wondering what it was.
Compared to when she first bumped into him, it felt a tiny bit warmer.
That then got him thinking.
Does a soulmate exist?
He reeled off what had transpired that day in his memory. Things happened so quickly that he was left even more perplexed.
Titan continued to think about it as he turned aside, sat up straight, and cleared his throat. "You're welcome."
Even after saying those two short words, he couldn't help but cast a glance at her.
On the other hand, Stephanie kept thinking back to what had happened to her that day.
Too many things happened too quickly, leaving her feeling worn out.
With her eyes slowly closing and her head nodding toward Titan, she blinked before falling asleep.
When they got to Titan's apartment, he took Stephanie in his arms and led her to his spare bedroom, which had wallpaper decorated with purple flowers.
Its size allowed for the storage of the items she had left behind at her previous residence.
She might even have more room to lay on the floor or to leap around.
The enormous bed was draped in white linens and pillowcases.
Titan gently positioned her on the mattress while bending.
Stephanie turned, nearly springing off the bed, faced him, and whispered things he hardly understood as she felt the smooth linens, pressing her face.
In an effort to comprehend what she was saying, his brows wrinkled.
He shook his head in defeat and went to the closet to get more linens to cover her.
Then, he gradually wrapped her in the heavy covers.
When he heard his name come out of her mouth, his eyes grew wide.
"Sir Titan, you're such a cute bastard," she said in a slurred manner and let out a snort before she started snoring.
He grinned back and scoffed.
But when he knelt to correctly position the cover, he suddenly realized that Stephanie's lips were within touching distance of his face.
Titan suddenly found himself examining her, running his eyes over every detail of her face.
He pictured himself that morning watching her dozing off on the couch while she snored, as though he were filming the events in his head.
He shut his eyes and inhaled her scent as he drew nearer to her.
He placed his cheek against her forehead while his eyes were closed, acting like a cat growing more possessive of its human.
Stephanie shoved him a little bit while sighing and flicking her head.
Titan was stiff.
He blinked and drew himself away after becoming aware of what he was doing.
I don't know what I'm doing. Titan pondered, his face heated from confusion.
He sighed and glanced at her face once more as he stood before pulling out the remote control to change the temperature of the room.
He turned off the lights by pressing another button after that.
Titan muttered, attempting to remain calm, "Good night, Stephanie."
As he left the room and shut the door, his chest continued to pound him.
He rubbed his face as he leaned on it while gazing below.
In an effort to understand what was happening to him, his eyes expanded and his cheeks turned scarlet.
What he just did to Stephanie didn't make sense to him logically.
Titan dragged himself toward his kitchen and grabbed a glass of water, gulping it down in one swift motion.
His eyes widened, revealing the unusual glow in his eyes like a Padparadscha sapphire shone by light.
He pressed palms to the counter, looked down, and shook his head as he set the empty glass on the granite surface. Confused.