Chapter 26 - It's Love, But

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Ines watched from the window with a hand over her mouth. Her jaw hung like an anchor when Richard and Mia pulled away and looked at each other deeply. She felt butterflies in her stomach, and they only multiplied when Kate joined her, saying, "My word."

"You saw that, too, right? I'm not hallucinating, right?" Ines mumbled.

Kate shook her head slowly. "Definitely not."

Richard and Mia exchanged very few words before kissing again. Mia's back arched when his hand rested just above her backside while his other maneuvered her chin with each peck. It didn't take long for Mia to open her mouth slightly to invite his tongue in for a dance.

Ines and Kate gasped simultaneously. They were both hitting each other in glee, uttering gibberish, and waiting for more in anticipation. Perhaps their manners would be questioned later, but that didn't matter for the time being. An incidence of that intensity was just too spectacular to pass up on.

Alas, it was short-lived.

"W-what happened?" Ines whispered. "Why'd she step back?"

Kate shrugged her shoulders. "I, I don't know."

The silence was deafening. They couldn't hear a word that escaped Mia's mouth, and nothing much could be deciphered from Richard's facial expressions. But the complications were evident — a mixture of uneasiness and desire, a dangerous dose that threatened their friendship. It sang to Ines and Kate at great volumes.

"Oh my god. Is she crying?" Ines raised.

Kate narrowed her eyes and tilted her head. "No, I don't think—wait. She's laughing?"

"She's what? No, she's definitely... oh. Oh, shit. She's coming." Ines grabbed Kate's arm and pulled her to the side, making her turn around, away from the window.

"Ezra!" Mia yelled as she marched through the door forcefully. "Ezra, let's go! We're leaving."

Mia's voice was demanding; it was stronger than her personality. Her facile tone suggested that she hadn't been crying, but she was certainly distraught. She wanted to leave so quickly that she didn't even bother to bid any proper goodbyes.

"Mia!" Ines shouted.

Mia had gathered her things as her intern followed behind. They exited in a flash, choosing the steep staircase over the comfort of an elevator. Ines sighed when she realized that there was nothing she could do but hope that Mia was going to get over it later.

Kate joined Richard on the terrace. He took out his pack of cigarettes, but dropped them when his hands started to fumble out of strain. It looked like the tobacco was planning a coup against him.

"I know what you're going to ask me," Richard said when he finally managed to place a stick between his lips. "And honestly, I don't feel like talking about it right now."

"Why?" Kate offered him her own lighter when he struggled to reach into his pocket. She lit it for him. "I don't even know what happened."

"Good." He huffed and puffed like nicotine was free and infinite. He felt nauseous untimely so, in deep thought that if he hadn't done the wrong thing, she wouldn't have ran away. But with what excuse? "You can go home now, Kate. Thanks for today."

"But I—but you? You're sure?"

"Never been more sure in my life," he stressed. "I'd like some time alone, please."

The air was knocked out of Kate's chest. It was like watching the end of a tragic movie and crying it out through the credits. She had never been told off that way before, but she agreed that some space was the best medium of support she could give.

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