xxi. trouble in toulouse

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Last night was a blur.

I was somewhat hungover after last night. Okay, somewhat is an understatement. I could barely think straight after downing the entire bottle of cognac. Four walls of my room seemed to fold in on each other.

"Alright Octavia," Ace says while pounding on my door. "We have to go."

"You're going to have to pull my limp, dead body out of my bed." Groggy, I pull my blankets over my head.

Suddenly, my door slams open. Ace had fucking kicked down my door.

"Are you kidding me?" I yell.

My eyes glance up to see an annoyed man wearing a tailored navy suit. Ace looked pristine, despite the fact that he practically drowned in alcohol last night. The suit had outlined his frame perfectly. Two golden eyes narrow at me.

"Get your ass out of bed," he demands.

"Fine dad," I deadpan.

After hastily getting dressed, we get into a black SUV rover to head over to the Ambassador's house. Orange trees passed by the landscape outside as Ace drove. We were going deep into the wealthy suburbs of Toulouse where Ambassador Grant Deschamps resided.

"You really like this city," Ace muses.

"All I want to do is explore."

"Well why don't we take a walk after the mission, Cupcake?"

My lips can't help but tug into a smile. Ever since whatever happened last night, I tried to push away all romantic thoughts towards him. The mission was critical, and I didn't want anything to distract me.

But something had changed. Now, everytime Ace called me Cupcake, a warm feeling overcame me.

"Did you really have to kick down my door?" I sigh.

"We both know you weren't going to get up," Ace states. "Besides, seeing me in a suit is the best way to start your day."

I bury my now tomato-red face into my hands. When my eyes didn't even dare to gaze in his direction, I knew there would already be a smug expression plastered over his face.

"BS," I finally justify. "You look like a cross between a hyena with food poisoning and a rhino with dysentery."

"If I have dysentery, it's because of all the shit you spew."

"Should you contact the World Health Organization diagnose the mess that is your face or shall I?"

Ace suddenly stops the car. He turns to me with his golden gaze glaring. "One more word out of you, and I'm deserting you in this goddamn forest."

The rest of the car ride is silent after that.

We finally arrived at the beautiful mansion stowed away in the middle of the northern forests. Grecian, ivory pillars lined the outside of the three story house. A cedar pavilion was built off to the side, demonstrating exuberant wealth. The entirety of the structure was protected by an ironed fence.

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