It all began with Brandon complaining about the heat wave. We were all inside the mansion, but the air conditioning was conveniently out of order so we were forced to suffer in this heat as the servants hurried to fix it. It was reaching the mid-nineties and everyone was affected. Even Marlone looked uncomfortable and that was saying something.
As for me? I was used to this weather. Try spending a summer in China.
"Why is it so hot~?" Brandon whined, pouring water over himself which dripped down to the floor. He was lucky it was wood rather than carpet and that he didn’t go to sit down on the sofa; Tahlia was frightening when it came to cleaning up messes.
"Stop complaining," Lucius snapped, glaring. Coming from the kitchen, he handed Marlone a glass of…well, it was brown and had ice in it. “You’re irritating everyone."
"But it’s so hotttttt," the young weapon master retorted. He wiped away some of the water from his eyes. “Can’t we go to the pool or something?"
"You know it is better we do not venture outside needlessly," Kyle stated softly. He was reading a novel, sipping water with his other hand. “We still have not found who sent that assassin last time."
"Feng." I looked up from my sketchbook to look Marlone. “Are you feeling warm?"
"Not really," I answered truthfully. I was barely sweating, which was good since I was drawing with pencil. “But I don’t mind going somewhere cool if that’s what you want."
Brandon beamed at me while Lucius turned his glare to me instead—I ignored them both as I watched Marlone’s lips curled into that smile that made me see bad things happening in the future.
"Very well. We will go to the pool."
Honestly, I should have known that going anywhere with the leader of one of the largest gangs in the country and his entourage (although I was part of it now…) meant all sorts of trouble.
Like how he had rented out the entire pool just for us to use.
(I felt sorry for all those who were forced out in the fifteen minutes it took for us to get there; in case you were wondering, yes, he did have a swimming pool in the backyard but apparently, he decided that a public one might be more fun)
Brandon had wasted no time in dragging Lucius into the pool with him, ignoring the protests from the sniper. Marlone smiled as he accepted a towel from his personal butler and Kyle lounged in one of the chairs on his left, still reading his novel. I decided to sit beside Marlone, since I was his bodyguard, and turned to a new page in my sketchbook to draw the two splashing at each other in the water.
"How is your mother?" my boss asked me suddenly. I jumped at his voice and quickly erased the mark I accidentally made on my sketch.
"Um, she’s alright now," I mumbled, still uncomfortable with the fact that he was helping me pay for her hospital bills. “She says thank you for the flowers."
"I’m glad she liked them," he commented with a smile. “Why don’t you join them in the water?"
"I’m fine," I replied, hiding my face behind my hair. I concentrated on getting Brandon’s hair right. “I want to finish this drawing first."
I could practically sense his amusement from here. “Kyle?"
"I too am okay," the other bodyguard answered. He probably wasn’t even looking up from his book; a quick glance showed I was right. “I am getting to the climax of this story."
"What are you even reading?" Brandon asked, swimming closer to the edge. Lucius had gone to swim laps. I guess they were finished with their water fight. “Is it one of those porn books you like so much?"
Kyle frowned. “They are erotic fiction."
"They are porn."
"No, they are not."
"The characters have sex. It’s porn."
I wanted to whack my head with my sketchbook, but refrained. Marlone’s butler came to offer me a glass of soda. As always, this man knew when he was needed; I was pretty sure he was psychic. “Thanks, Garfield."
"No problem, Miss ZhanFeng," the middle-aged man said with a kind smile. “You have a real talent for drawing."
"Thanks," I said, smiling back. I could always count on Garfield to be the sane one around here. I turned back to the others, sipping my coke silently. Kyle and Brandon were still arguing, and it seemed that Lucius couldn’t take their yelling (well, it was only Brandon doing the shouting) anymore so he had come to add to the noise. Their bickering was quickly over when Brandon managed to pull Kyle into the pool, and the book as well.
This was going to end badly.
"I am going to kill you slowly," Kyle whispered, eyes narrowing as he brushed his wet bangs from his face.
Brandon grinned, always eager for a challenge. “Just try."
The urge to hit myself with my sketchbook rose up again, but Marlone stood up just then. I looked at him, bemused. He beckoned me to follow him as he went to where the vending machines were. Obeying, I stood there next to him awkwardly as silence hung over us.
"I have never used one of these before," he told me suddenly, staring at the machine. “Never had a reason to."
"Oh." What the hell was I supposed to say to that? “Do you know how to use a vending machine?"
"Yes," he answered, turning to me with a patient smile. “It isn’t that hard of a concept, Feng."
"Yeah, well, you’ll be surprised," I muttered, remembering a few incidents when I had to show some schoolmates how to use the university’s vending machines. “Why don’t you ask Garfield to get you a drink?"
"I decided that it would be an interesting experience to do it myself for once," he commented, eyeing the drinks behind the glass thoughtfully. “I have never used one before."
Right. He was a rich boy who had everything handed to him in a diamond platter. Given his upbringing, you would expect him to be a bit more snobbish, but he kept surprising me every time. “You have any bills to insert into the machine?"
He blinked at me. “Bills?"
Ohhhh boy. Trouble. “Yeah, like, one dollar bills or five dollar bills?"
He shook his head. “I only have twenties and hundreds."
Goddamn rich boy… I let out a sigh and pulled out my wallet. “I’ll lend you a few dollars. Which drink do you want?"
"That one," he said, pointing at the aloe drink at D4 that cost exactly two dollars. “I have heard of it, but never had a chance to try it."
"I suggest trying the mango flavored one. D5," I told him, handing him the two dollars. “It’s one of my favorites."
He smiled at me, one that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside and it wasn’t from the heat. Crap. That wasn’t good. No falling in love with your boss, Feng. Bad girl.
Remember your last relationship. It failed miserably, remember? And you swore off dating forever, right? REMEMBER THAT. And nothing good ever happened from falling in love with your boss who was only your boss because your gambling-addicted father bet you and lost.
Urgh, but I couldn’t help it, not when he looked like a little kid as he inserted the money and entered the code to get the drink, looking like he had just done something that would make his parents proud or something.
For someone who was in charge of a gang, he was surprisingly innocent at times.
He twisted the cap and sipped tentatively. "…it’s good."
"Told you," I said, hoping the smirk would cover up my internal turmoil.
"Thank you for the suggestion, Feng." Why was his smile making me blush? Oh god, I was doomed.
I coughed, turning away. “We should go back before they think something happened."
"You are right." He looked disappointed. Or maybe that was just me. This attraction was making me delusional now. Wonderful. “Let us go back."
"After you," I said with a slight bow. He walked back, with me following after. Feeling warmer, I adjusted my uniform, loosening my tie and undoing the top button of my blouse. Fuck this crush. Why did Marlone have to be just my type?
Well, he definitely wasn’t going to find out about this. No way in hell.
"YOU SON OF A BASTARD, GET BACK HERE NOW, KYLE!" Brandon zipped by us as he chased the bodyguard around the pool side.
"My parents were married," Kyle answered dryly, not fazed at all by the raging weapon master.
"SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
"Master Ren, maybe you should stop them before they hurt themselves," Garfield suggested worriedly.
Marlone was sipping his aloe drink pensively, however, and made no move to interfere. In fact, he seemed rather happy and satisfied.
Meanwhile, Lucius was sinking in the pool slowly, face turning red from what I would assume to be anger.I facepalmed. Maybe it was the heat. Definitely had to be the heat.