Thank you for following the story “A man in love”. Your patience is very much appreciated. 💓 I’d like to express my gratitude to those who have encouraged me through your comments 😍 on Chapter 12 or on Facebook. Because of you, I will keep writing! 💓💓💓
— Ms Puddle
The hard-working president continues to meet with the rest of the executives today, and things go well as planned. When it’s lunch hour, Master William keeps his promise to visit his aunt in the hospital. Before we get to her room, we run into Dr Leonard in the hallway. He recognizes the young man beside me even though he is clad in an impeccable business suit, unlike the low-cost cotton clothes yesterday.
“Mr. Brown, it’s nice to see you again!” he exclaims with genuine delight.
Master William blinks, seemingly at a loss; I figure he must have forgotten the name I randomly made up yesterday, so I swiftly greet the deputy director and asks about Madam Elroy, which brings us to Dr. Leonard’s office. According to the doctor, Madam Elroy’s diabetes has considerably worsened compared to her last checkup, making her more vulnerable to various diseases, so a mere common cold was enough to make her ill.
“She will be a lot stronger if her diabetes is well under control,” he adds. “Besides diet restrictions, her emotional well-being plays an important role as well. It not only gives her strength to meet the demands of everyday life, but it enables her to recover effectively from illness.”
While Master William keeps nodding in silence, the doctor remarks, looking full at the young man, “Therefore, I suspect something remarkable transpired yesterday, because Madam Elroy was literally exultant, especially after talking to you in private, Mr. Brown.”
Mr. Brown stares at the doctor, feigning bewilderment. Of course, the doctor can’t see through his pretense and further elaborates in a professional tone, “Her high spirits lingered even long after you left with Mr. Villers yesterday. To me, it’s a miracle her fever didn’t return at all. In fact, she’s recovering so well that she can be discharged.”
His report essentially signifies that the doctor is more convinced than ever that this visiting relative is very dear to Madam Elroy’s heart, that his sole existence was enough to boost her immune system and gave her the reason to fight. Like me, I believe Master William has grasped the implications too. In response, the young man flashes his resplendent smile and remarks, “This is flattering, doctor.”
But the doctor looks dazed, if not stupefied. Soon enough, the doctor observes, “Mr. Brown, no offense. You do resemble a man I’ve met before.”
Mr. Brown laughs, leisurely pulling himself up from his seat and brushing the invisible dust off his suit jacket. “Thank you very much, Dr. Leonard, for your detailed report. Please excuse me. I should see her now.”
The director comes with us. Fortunately, Madam Elroy’s personal maid is standing near the closed door to her room. She relays to us that Master Archie, Miss Annie and Miss Patricia are inside. Therefore, Master William decides not to ‘intrude’. He informs the maid the good news before leaving the hospital. On our way to the office, I finally have the opportunity to relate to Master William how I discovered who his roommate was.
“Dr. Leonard? Wow!” he repeats in disbelief, astonished at what he heard. He’s in agreement with me that the deputy director doesn’t look like someone who would break a rule. Yet, Master William’s features soften immediately when he learns the main reason behind the doctor’s action. At this point, he lets out a bitter chuckle, jeering at himself, “So the doctor wants to rescue Little Red Riding Hood from the big bad wolf?”
Having said that, he chortles out loud, but I can sense the hurt in his voice. Indeed, what a contrast, especially when comparing to how the doctor holds Mr. Brown in high regard. A moment of regret crosses my mind, but I feel I should advocate myself; I didn’t mean to play detective. Before long, an idea strikes me, and as his laughter ebbs, I utter in a matter-fact-tone, “I can hardly wait for your début, sir.”
My out of the blue comment brings a quizzical frown to his brows and puzzlement to his blue eyes. Taking note of the bemusement, I explain, “Imagine the doctor’s face when he discovers who Mr. Brown is.”
He instantaneously throws his head back and guffaws, and by then, we are to take the elevator up to the executive floor. Due to the lack of time, I brace myself and broach the subject, “Have you pondered over telling the doctor the truth, sir?”
With his lips curled up in a friendly expression, he only stares at me without answering. Within seconds, he changes the topic, “Have we scheduled any more meeting this afternoon?”
During the course of next few days, we manage to hold a series of strategic planning meetings for the rest of the year. Madam Elroy comes to the head office every two days; she is healthy enough to sustain two of those lengthy meetings, the ones that the board of directors are also attending. Though she’s more a spectator than a participant, without a doubt she’s immensely pleased with her nephew’s visions and leadership. Never have I seen her more proud of anyone else.
More importantly, since it’s highly likely Master William is required to work in the weekends to communicate with the satellite office in London, Madam Elroy willingly gives her nephew more free time for himself; that is, he doesn’t have to visit her in the mansion every weekend. Yet, she’s desperate in hiring bodyguards as soon as possible, and she even personally interviews the several candidates. Master William is to make the final call, but unfortunately, he doesn’t like any of them. Disappointed, Madam Elroy emphasizes the necessity of bodyguards, and Master William merely nods in agreement.
A little more than a week has elapsed since the first time Master William reappeared after having recovered. One afternoon, an unexpected visitor shows up and leaves a message with my secretary. Later, when Master William and I return from a grueling meeting, my secretary passes the message to me. When I unfold the note in the president’s office, it says, “The car is ready for Mr. Williams.”
The note is from a mechanic called Mark. Initially, I’m absolutely clueless who Mark is. Just when I believe this mechanic has delivered the note to the wrong person, Master William questions, raising his eyebrow curiously, “What’s this about, Georges?”
As I show it to him, his face brightens up in no time. He leans towards me, saying in a very low voice, as if he’s afraid someone is eavesdropping us, “The broken car.”
It then dawns on me that Master William is dead serious about getting that wrecked car. “Are you… certain, sir?” I venture mildly. When he nods with his lips tightly shut, I keep my silence, my brow furrowing deeper. He perceives my worry and even tries to console me, “Georges, you can test drive it too, but only if you like.”
Judging from his eager look, I suppose I have no choice but to take him there at his earliest convenience. Part of me is curious, and the other part of me feels I’m responsible to give him my advice. The next day, we go to work as usual, but we head out one hour before noon, test driving the car. In my opinion, its conditions are slightly better than I thought, but I won’t risk my life driving it on a daily basis. Honestly, I’m not a mechanic, and neither is Master William. What if there are hidden problems? Is this Mark truly trustworthy?
In spite of the terrible noise and dark greyish emissions from the mufflers, Master William begins to bargain, “How much would you charge?”
Mark scratches his head, the corner of his lips curving up into a sheepish smile. “Mr. Williams, I don’t have a figure in mind. How much do you think it’s worth?”
The young man weighs his options for a long moment, his eyes scanning the other used cars in the garage currently on sale. In my mind I keep praying don’t buy it you’ll regret; yet, he makes an offer, which I reckon is about the average price for a second-hand vehicle in good condition, but not this one. Needless to say, Mark accepts without delay. He eagerly rubs his hands together, appearing more than thrilled, “Come back anytime within a month if you find any problem, sir! I’ll fix it for you, free of charge!”
I figure that’s very generous of him, but I can’t help getting even more anxious. I have bad vibes about this absurd purchase. Just when I’m about to come up with some excuse like “we will come back again with the money”, little did I expect Master William has the cash ready for the transaction. In other words, he can drive his ‘new’ car away. By the time he obtains the car key, I must have shock painted all over my face; he casts me a glance that seems to implore, ‘Why can’t you understand me?’
I look away. I know my place, and I shouldn’t challenge my master’s decision, even though I think it’s a foolish one, no doubt. Seriously, what else can I do if I have already smelled danger?
As I accompany him to his new possession, he speaks up in a sincere tone, “Still suffering from the lost love, Candy had cried herself to sleep… before I came home… the night I regained my memory. I made up my mind then… I would do whatever I can… I just wanted to make her happy,” he murmurs haltingly, his eyes downcast and his voice low. “She’s suffered enough… you know I don’t have much time left.”
Why? Because of his upcoming début? Has he finalized the date yet? Even then, why can’t he keep Miss Candice with him? As I emphasized to her before on behalf of Granduncle William, she’d always be an Ardlay.
While these inner thoughts have been bothering me lately, I reprimand myself for doubting my master’s words. Hence, I almost miss his order, “… So you have to show me how to return to that decent place, the hill nearby with a magnificent view.”
That’s exactly what we do. I’m driving in a slow speed towards that place, but his car can barely keep up with mine. I feel sorry for anyone on the same route behind that wrecked car. I can’t see any at this moment; dark smoke practically obscures my view. Roughly five minutes later, I check my rear view mirror again, and Master William is lagging far behind. Therefore, I make a U-turn to find him.
When he sees me, he decides to park on the roadside. “Nobody will steal it from me,” he jokes, locking the door regardless. “Let’s return to work. We will come back this evening to pick it up.” So is it possible he’s run out of patience?
The evening befalls sooner than expected, and it’s time to face the reality; driving home with a knot in my gut, I summon my courage to persuade my master to return the car back to Mark for another round of repair. Regrettably, Master William insists, which means I have failed my mission.
Once he’s dressed in his casual clothes, I take him back to where he left his car earlier around noon. From there, it only takes us about ten to fifteen minutes to reach the destination, and he believes he has the route memorized. After that, I take him back to his car, and he happily gets off my passenger seat, waving goodbye to me. I stay in my driver’s seat, my gaze following his tall figure in the dusk; suddenly, he dashes back to my side, saying, “Don’t ever tell my aunt about this, Georges.”
That automatically makes me his accomplice. I feel like he’s committing a crime; I couldn’t stop him, but at the same time I must turn a blind eye to this. As I give him a hesitant nod, he ignores my reluctance. “No need to wait for me in the morning. I’ll go to work myself, but I won’t show up till some time after lunch.”
Then he adds he will get changed, like he always does, in my place before that; I only need to let my housekeeper know about this special arrangement. After receiving my acknowledgement, he sprints towards his car. At first, it seems he has difficulty starting the engine, but a few trials later, the engine rumbles and stays running. I continue watching until the car disappears down the road. As the smoke gradually dissipates and the roaring engine noise fades, I drive away. The unpleasant and tight feeling in my stomach crawls back, and I go home with a heavy heart.
Since then, I can’t shake away the apprehension that this car will fall apart any minute. When I wake up, I don’t feel any better. In fact, I’m unable to suppress the dread the entire morning, and I don’t have much appetite for lunch either. It’s my helplessness that bothers me the most. Even my secretary senses something is wrong with me, but the thing is, I can’t tell anyone why.
All the time I am preparing myself for the bad news. Not to mention that he’s still not in the office long after lunch. Thus, it’s an indescribable relief to see Master William again around two o’clock. Not only his face exudes satisfaction, but his features shine with pure joy, his blue eyes glittering with rejuvenation. Truth be told, I’ve never seen him like this. If I hadn’t known about his plan, I would have thought he has taken an exhilarating trip, somewhere with bizarre allure.
I suppose I have misjudged the mechanic after all. I stifle a sigh of relief and enter the president’s office with my boss. I have many things to report, but before I begin, I ask after making sure the doors are securely shut, “How was it? Did Miss Candice like the place?”
Upon hearing my question, he grins from ear to ear, settling himself on the chair before the executive desk, “Oh yes, very much… just as I expected.”
Under the bright lights above his head, I can detect a slight blush suffusing his cheeks, his eyes lit up with even more radiance; at this very moment, he suddenly rises from his knees, as though realization hits him that I’m observing him. He straightens up himself and turns around, facing the window instead of me. He then clears his throat, uttering, “Georges, let’s commence… shall we go through the documents now?”
So we get down to business. We have made significant progress this afternoon, and the lost hours in the morning don’t matter anymore. By the time I see his car parked alongside my house in the evening, I banter, “Sir, are you going for another adventure soon, taking Miss Candice?”
My remark is on the verge of sarcasm, which I didn’t mean to; yet, he shakes his head from side to side, chuckling with amusement. “No, I can’t push my poor car too much. I’ll let it rest.”
Later, before he bids us good-bye, he says to me, “See you tomorrow morning as usual, Georges.” Then he plants a peck on his nanny’s cheek.
I go out with him to his car, saying, “Take care, Master William. If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, this might be handy.”
Only then he notices that I have carried a long raincoat in my hands. “It’s my spare one, sir. I know, it’s summer, but the temperature plummets at night, and what if it’s raining when you’re in trouble?”
“Thank you, Georges! You’re so thoughtful!”
He gladly accepts my ‘gift’ and puts it right beside him on the passenger seat. Although he’s smiling at me, emotions touched his voice and eyes.
Next morning, I wake up at the crack of dawn, and I start anticipating his appearance right after breakfast. He doesn’t come for that anymore these days, but he’s extraordinarily late today. At about quarter past nine, I choose to stop dawdling and rise to my feet in consternation. My master’s personal safety is more important than anything else! Therefore, with determination, I head directly to my car. I’ll take the risk regardless of the outcome.
Note: I have double checked the manga when I first started writing this story. The famous sandwich scene doesn’t take place the day after the lion incident (which occurred after Candy’s birthday). I believe a short period has elapsed in between.
Once again, my gratitude to my dear friends below (not in any particular order) for their positive feedback and continued support! ❤❤ To the silent readers out there: I hope to hear from you one day. 🙂
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