The Billionaire's Mask (mask #1)

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Chapter 3


“Wait!” I called, then smirked. Really? Was he going to fire over some soup? I almost wanted to chuckle. How unreasonable could he get? I took a deep breath then exhaled the air slowly. I couldn’t lose this job. I needed the money and I was desperate. I’d got a lot of debts and I had no place to stay in this foreign city. I couldn’t just go back home bringing nothing but failure to my family.

"First of all, Mister, you signed me up to a two-year contract. You can't just fire people just because you wanted to, that’s against the law. I hope you’re smart enough to know that. Second, the soup is very exclusive, and I can't just give them away to strangers, especially a kind of stranger like you. I may have forgotten the woman’s name, but I know in my heart that only the two of us knew about the soup. Why do you want it anyway? I demand an explanation. Third, in all honesty, I forgot how to do it because it has been such a long time, but that doesn't mean I can't anymore. Kept somewhere on my personal belongings, is a notebook with the list of my specialties. Lastly, your people should have told me that this was the main reason why I got hired here and not as an assistant cook. Period."

“I hired you, Miss Hart, what made you think I don’t have the right to fire you? And in all honesty too,” he said discordantly, “I love firing stubborn people, especially those who don’t seem to know when to zip their mouth shut,” he added, not hiding the unpleasant tone in his voice. “I think you are forgetting something here, lady. You went to my room and you watched me while I was in the shower. You broke the number one rule in this house,” he pointed out. I felt my face whiten with guilt. “If that isn’t unlawful enough then I don’t know what is. But you've made your point, and for your information, I'm not just a stranger. The woman you are talking about was related to my father. I’ve been looking for her for a very long time, and upon searching for her, I found you. I found out you are the last student whom she passed on her infamous creation. If you can’t re-create the soup, at least tell me where I could find her.”

For someone who doesn't socialize with other people, this person could talk a lot. But his voice remained stern and flat.

“Let me just clear something here. What is it that you actually need from me? The soup or the woman? And for your information too, I’m not the last.” I answered, making sure I put on hard tone in the word ‘last’ student she passed the soup on. I was the only student she taught how to make it. May I repeat myself, only the two of us knew about the soup.”

He laughed with a hint of sarcasm, “You are not the last person who told me that. A lot of individuals claimed they could make it, but none of them succeeded, all of them were after my money. I know exactly how it tastes. Well, bad news, I’m not after the soup. I am after that person who made the soup. I just want you to re-create the soup, so I could tell if you are lying to me about the woman.”

"Isn't it obvious? I was the one who said it was taught to me by the two—"

"Shut up. Will you? I told you, you are not the last person who said that!"

I couldn't believe a soup could too precious. I bit my lower lip. I thought the recipe had been just an experiment. I never thought there were actually people wanted to steal it. Or maybe, it was only precious because this man put a price on it.

“Well, the woman has encountered a lot of aspiring chefs, but I’m not sure why she chose to pass it on me," I bit my lip hard. I better make a fair deal. He couldn’t just take something from me in exchange for firing me after a week! I scowled in my mind.

I thought about the situation thoroughly. I won’t be able to tell him where he could find the woman because she moved to London some days after the event, but I should I tell him that she was. I remembered she mentioned that her family lived in London and that she was finally going to see and live with them. He didn't need the soup, so I won’t bother re-creating it.

"Let's make a deal," I finally spoke after a long pause.

“This should be worth it,”

"You don't need the soup, just the woman, am I correct? I forgot her name, I think it sounded like... Annie? Anna? Anne? A—"

"Her name's Annette," he said briskly.

I snapped! “Yes! Whatever. We've only been together for three days on a college trip when I was in Venice. She was one of the judges in our mini competition. I won the competition and for a special price, she gave me the recipe. She told me that she was the only one who knows how to cook the soup with perfection. It was incredibly delicious!” I explained happily, recalling that moment. Suddenly remembering I was inside a lion’s hideout, I cleared my throat then turned serious. “I think you don't need to know that. Sorry. Hmm... She's not in Venice or anywhere in Italy right now.”

“What?!” he exclaimed in surprise then he sighed, clearly disappointed. There was a long pause on his end. I started imagining if he collapsed or probably just decided to cut our conversation.

“Where is she now?”

I jerked when I heard him talk. I thought he dismissed me already.

Ann Margarette

Edited: 05.09.2019

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