🌼ALL THE WRONG PLACES🌼
True to his word, the hotel reception called Julianne to
tell her that it was clear to open the door. Room service was
outside with a cart containing her food.
“Mister Starck would like you to know that Mister
McAllister had already left the property,” the room service
staff informed her.
She breathed in relief. It’s good to know she doesn’t need
to be a prisoner in this room for the rest of her stay.
Only when she saw the sumptuous food on the cart did
she realize that she was famished.
“This is a lot? Who arranged for this much?” she asked
when she saw that they had given her a piece of almost
everything on the menu. There was fish, chicken, beef,
vegetables, and a lot of dessert. There were at least three
choices for beverage, plus wine.
“Mister Starck wanted to ensure you were given the best
choices in the house.”
“Okay, thank you.”
She watched the news while she ate. The news stated
that the storm had gotten worse. The forecasts for the
following day did not look too good either. Julianne was
feeling frustrated because she wanted nothing but to go
home. She missed Jared so much. And she could barely
stand being in the same vicinity as Jin Starck.
She was thankful that Jin saved her from Patrick’s
battery. But she also hated the fact that he sounded so
vindictive, like he was out to punish him for what she did to
As if I would believe that he really was devastated about
what I did to him.
He was the heir of Starck Corp. He was running an
empire. He would do whatever it takes to be number one in
his game. He was even willing to marry for its sake.
How could she believe that he was willing to give up
everything just to make her stay and make a life with him?
He’s Jin freaking Starck! And I’m no Vanessa Bernard!
Julianne was an heiress then. But her family business
had nothing to do with hotels. She wouldn’t offer him any
And now… she was not an heiress anymore. She
didn’t have a significant amount of money or any valuable
property to her name. Maybe Patrick was right. Maybe she
was worthless after all—at least to rich ambitious men who
seek a wife for business advantages.
I don’t care! I don’t need a man in my life. Jared is
more than enough. And both Jin Starck and Patrick
McAllister can go to hell and leave me alone!
Julianne had a nap after her meal and when she woke
up again, it was almost midnight. It had stopped raining but
she suspected that the worst wasn’t over yet.
She was starving but she didn’t want to call room
service. She decided to go down to the restaurant to eat. Jin
Starck wouldn’t dare seduce or harass her in front of his
employees. She should be safe from him.
She put on a pair of white pants, white woolen
sweater and a coat. She tied her hair in a ponytail and then
came out of her suite. She hoped the restaurant was still
open to serve some food.
Adrienne was right. The hotel was very classy. The rich
cream interior with gold finishes screamed luxury ten times
over. It wasn’t small but not too big either. That’s why it also
and the interior furnishings. In her past life, she always
thought she’d be making her own furniture and decoration
pieces. She was even obsessed with hand-blown glass perfume bottles, ornaments and vases. But unfortunately,
she couldn’t afford that line of profession anymore. To
manufacture her own furniture or decoration wouldn’t be
very lucrative on a small scale and would require a lot of
capital. And capital, she didn’t have. She would rather
spend her time working on her current job, which gave her
enough money to save up for Jared’s future.
After having a bowl of fruits and a cup of tea, she
decided to explore the hotel property some more. There
were a few guests going around. Some were coming from
the small bar. Some from the café. Some were chatting on
the lobby listening to the pianist. All of them, trying to pass
the time until the storm was over.
Julianne ventured to the other parts of the hotel. The
corridors were adorned with abstract paintings. She was
mesmerized just looking at the swirl of colors. The strokes
were remarkable. She felt drawn to them as she stared at
each of the pieces hanging on the wall. The paintings felt
familiar and she had no doubt who painted them.
Jin Starck is a very talented artist.
And deep inside, she wondered if her son would be as
good as his father.
Opposite the balcony door, she found a painting of a
garden, illuminated by the moonlight. It had glowing flowers
and a spectacular dome-shaped glasshouse in the center. It
looked so real. It took her breath away. She went closer to
the painting and saw the initials on the bottom right side of
the painting. ‘Jas’, it said.
She closed her eyes for a moment and tried to
remember him from her past.
Je chérirai ce moment pour toujours…
Restez avec moi…
Tears rolled down her cheeks.
If only I could turn it all back! If only, I could have him
again… Jas… my Jas… the only guy who made me feel alive!
But she knew… there was absolutely no chance for her to
come back to that time… to that man.
He was a completely different person now. He was no
longer the sweet, charming man she fell in love with. He
was not the guy with simple dreams and believes in the
simple joys of life.
He was the billionaire who didn’t believe in falling in
love… whose dreams and happiness were tied to business
outcomes and hotel rating statistics!
Feeling emotional, she stepped away from the painting.
She turned around and found the door that led to the
outside balcony. Blinded by tears, she opened the door and
stepped out. Although the rain had stopped and the full
moon was out, streaks of lightning still appeared in the
She couldn’t believe that she got assaulted by Patrick
McAllister today. She came close to being violated or
battered. If Jin Starck wasn’t there to save her… this day
would turn out very differently. And she knew no storm
could stop Justin or Gian from coming here and beating the
life out of Patrick.
She remembered what Jin said to her.
‘You were wrong.’
‘You should have stayed with me.’
She made him believe that she didn’t choose him
because he didn’t have money. In a way, that was true. But
not for the reasons he thought.
She left him because she was protecting him. She didn’t
want him to be caught up in her family’s rage. Being
engaged against her will was her battle, not his. And back
then, when she thought he was a poor artist, she loved him.
She would have done anything to stay. But she left because
she loved him enough not to endanger him. Her father
would have destroyed him, she was sure about that.
Jin didn’t know that. He didn’t know a lot of things. He
was under the impression that she and Patrick McAllister
were lovers before they were engaged. He didn’t know that
her engagement was against her will. He didn’t even know
that she was a virgin that night he took her to bed.
He didn’t know that Jared was his.
Right now, he believed that she craved attention. That
she was a spoiled narcissist who always got what she
wanted. He thought that she toyed with his emotions.
He was wrong.
But it didn’t matter that he was wrong. It didn’t matter
what he thought of her now. It wouldn’t make a difference.
She didn’t care what he thought about her. He was a
different person to her now. He was no longer the Jas
Mathieu that she loved… still loved. He was the formidable
Jin Starck and he was several worlds apart from her.
She stared ahead of her and saw a familiar dome-shaped
glass house from a distance. It looked a lot like the
enchanting glass house in Jin’s painting.
She noticed the concrete staircase going down from
the hotel. The last step was connected to a covered and
lighted pathway leading to the glasshouse.
She looked at the skies once again. The moon was
shining brightly. The sky was clear and she could even see
some stars. She thought that it wasn’t going to rain anytime
soon. So, she decided to walk towards the glasshouse to
have a look.
She hugged her coat to herself as she descended the
steps. The closer she got to the glasshouse, the more
intrigued she became. The dome-shaped structure was
surrounded by small shrubs with night orb lights.
From outside, she could see only green. She couldn’t see
the center of the house at all. She turned the knob of the
door, pleased that it wasn’t locked. And when she stepped
inside, she was immediately enthralled.
The inside of the dome was one huge indoor garden.
There were roses in full bloom scattered around the huge
space. They came in different sizes and colors.
When she stepped inside, she found that the
temperature was slightly warmer than outside. The glass
ceiling was adorned with hand-blown glass pendant lights,
which looked like large fireflies illuminating the entire place.
The glasshouse was slightly bigger than it looked like
from outside. Green shrubs and short trees surrounded the
walls to obscure the view from outside, providing complete
There were serenity fountains on every corner, giving off
a nice peaceful sound and adding to the relaxing ambience.
In the middle of the house sat a huge white circle
sectional sofa. It was big enough to be a bed. And Julianne
thought it was a brilliant idea to lie there and gaze at the
sky through the glass roof.
The sofa had two beautiful hand-blown glass floor lamps
sitting on either side of it. Julianne looked around and
realized that there were hand-blown glass decors on every
nook and corner of this glass house. They were all unique
pieces and they made the place even more enchanting.
Julianne remembered how she loved hand-blown glass
bottles when she was growing up. She had a whole
collection of them in her room in her father’s house. She
had been collecting them every chance she got.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t afford to collect them now.
They just serve as a reminder of the life she used to have.
Tears ran down her cheeks. Though she had no regrets of
the decisions that she made, she couldn’t help missing that
part of herself.
She turned around to explore the garden further when
she saw a figure standing behind her.
“Sweet Jesus!” she muttered. “You scared me!”
Jin Starck swiftly but quietly walked towards her. She
didn’t know how long he had been standing behind her,watching her.
“There’s a storm outside. You shouldn’t be wandering
outdoors alone,” he said.
“How did you know? Were you stalking me through the
He did not answer.
“I take that as a yes,” she muttered under her breath.
“How do you find the glass garden?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful,” she replied. “This whole place is…
“Thank you,” he said. “You’re lucky to have seen this…
because this was going to be torn apart.”
“What? Why?” she asked in a shocked tone. She felt
heartbroken to know that this beautiful enchanting mini
paradise was going to be destroyed. “It’s beautiful! You
can’t seriously think about tearing this apart.”
“Piece by piece,” he said with a sober expression on his
face. “Demolition is scheduled in two weeks.”
“Why? This is spectacular!”
“You’re not the first person who said that,” he told her.
“But I’ve made up my mind.”
“I just don’t see the point. This is the most beautiful glass
garden I have ever seen. I’m sure your hotel guests would
“They do. But it didn’t matter. I built this place for a
reason. And then I found out that the reason wasn’t what I
thought it was. So, technically, this was pointless.” There
was tang in his voice, and there seemed to be a hidden
meaning in the look he gave her.
She sighed. Jin Starck seemed to be harboring a lot of
pain and anger. Even this poor garden wouldn’t escape his
“I’m sure this wasn’t the first beautiful thing you’ve
destroyed,” she muttered under her breath.
“What about you, Arabella? I’m sure I wasn’t the only guy
you gave a fake name to.”
“You’re not going to let that go, are you?” she asked,
heaving a frustrated sigh. She kept her voice steady, but her
eyes were burning with anger, which he actually saw when
he looked down at her.
“I will,” he answered. “Someday.” To her surprise, he
actually smiled instead of looking mad. “I like you better
when you show some emotion. Like you used to. Whatever
happened to you?”
She looked away from him, blushing. “It’s none of your
business.” She tried to look stoic, shielding her real
emotions from him.
He sighed in frustration. “There! Again you go back to
being the ice queen! You weren’t like that when we met. You
were… sunshine and flowers. Like this garden. You were full
“What about you? You were an angel when we met.
Now… you’re… evil!”
He raised a brow at her. It seemed that he was deeply
offended with what she said. “Be careful of what you say. I
just might take you up on that challenge. I could show you
what evil really looked like, ma belle.”
She raised her chin to him. “The people around you seem
to paint you like you’re a devil in disguise. Like you are what
your name sounds like—the jinn.”
He smirked. “And whose fault do you think was that?”
“You blame me too much for your bruised ego, Mister
Starck,” she smirked.
Come on! Could he really be so heartbroken and
devastated when I left? He’s Jin Starck! He claims to not
have a heart!
To her surprise, he fell quiet. He didn’t have a rebuttal to
what she said. Maybe it was true then.
He claims to have a broken heart, but it was all a deep
dent in his reputation, his big head.
For a moment they were both silent. She could hear the
bustling sound of the serenity fountains. It helped to calm her nerves. Otherwise, she would be hearing the loud
pounding of her heart inside her ribcage.
I sure wouldn’t hear his heart. It wouldn’t beat if it didn’t
“I should go up now,” she said quietly.
He gave her a nod.
She walked past him and she could hear his footsteps
behind her. She could cut the thick emotional tension in the
air with a knife. His mere presence around her made her
want to panic. No matter how hard she tried to control it,
she couldn’t deny nor restrain the effect that Jin Starck had
on her. He was the only man who could affect her like this.
She headed towards the door. Jin had left it ajar when he
entered. Outside, the wind started to move fast and the
skies were quickly getting darker. The raging storm was fast
Suddenly a strong wind blew from outside, shutting the
glass door with a bang. Then the power on the glass garden
was cut off, covering them in darkness. Along with it, came
the thunder and a strike of lightning. Julianne couldn’t help
the shriek that escaped her throat.
Julianne felt Jin pull her into his arms.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She took deep breaths. She could only make out the
contours of his devilishly handsome face from the little light
coming from outside.
“Are you okay, ma belle?” he asked again.
She nodded. “Yes.”
He took her hand in his and gently guided her towards
the door. She could see that even the hotel power had been
“Power’s out,” he said.
He reached for the door handle but suddenly, it wouldn’t
“fvckin’ hell!” he cursed under his breath. He released
her hand and gave the door handle a harder push. Nothing happened.
“The knob is stuck. I can’t open it from the inside.”
“Are you serious?”
“No. Because I like to joke about these things,” he said
sarcastically. He fished his phone from his pocket. “fvck!”
“I think the whole city’s power is out. I can’t get a signal.
Check your phone,” he told her.
She shook her head. “I left mine in the room.”
“Great!” he muttered. He reached for her hand again and
gently pulled her towards one corner of the room. There was
a telephone there. He checked if he could get a dial tone.
But it seemed that the phone lines were also out.
She stared back at him. Clueless of what they would do
next. He was eyeing her from head to feet.
“Are you warm enough?” he asked.
“Because it seems we’re gonna be stuck here for a
“Are you freaking kidding me?” she asked in disbelief.
“Yes, I am. I have a great sense of humor,” he said dryly.
He sighed and checked his phone again. “We’ll wait until the
power is restored.”
“Don’t you have generators?” she asked.
As soon as she said that, she saw the hotel structure light
“Unfortunately, I had the generator connection to this
place removed last week.”
“Why would you do that?”
“I don’t know,” he replied with a bored expression.
“Maybe because I was demolishing this garden and I failed
to foresee that you and I will be stuck here when the power
goes out tonight. Hmmm… I should really sharpen my
rusting psychic skills.”
“Would you stop that?” she asked.
“Stop annoying me!” She turned on her heel and went to
the circle sofa in the middle of the garden. As soon as sat on
it, she realized how fluffy the foam was. It felt soft, firm…
Jin approached her.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I could use a drink though.”
“Ahhh… alcoholic or non-alcoholic?”
“Does it matter?” she asked.
“There’s a bar at the back,” he replied. “I have water…
She stood up from the sofa and raised her chin to him.
“Are you going to be nice to me?”
“Are you going to be nice to me? At least while we’re
stuck here?” she asked him again, cutting him mid-
He sighed. “Ma’am, yes, ma’am.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “And do you promise not
to kiss me again?”
“Ha-ha!” he chuckled sarcastically. She raised a brow at
him. “Oh, you’re serious?”
“Hell, yeah?” she asked matter-of-factly.
“Then… hell, no!” he replied.
“What the…” she started protesting but he cut her off by
brushing his lips against hers.
Jin Starck may have been known to be rough, evil even,
but the kisses he gave her had always been soft, gentle
and… heavenly. And when he pulled away from her, it felt
like she forgot where she was and what she was doing. He
never failed to make her feel dumbfounded.
“Hell. No,” he whispered against her lips. He stepped
away from her. Then he reached out for her hand. “Follow
He led her towards the end of the garden. Though it was
dark, she could make out a small counter, with two bar stool
chairs. Jin went on the opposite side of the bar. He turned on
the two hand-blown glass orbs sitting on the counter. They
ran on batteries. It illuminated the surroundings a little bit. It
was not bright but it was enough for them to see each
Then Jin poured wine for her and whiskey for him.
“Mademoiselle,” he said.
“Merci,” she murmured.
They drank in silence. Streaks of lightning frequented the
skies, followed by bellows of lightning that seemed to go
louder and louder.
“How long do you think this is going to last?”
“A couple of hours,” he replied.
“Won’t any member of your staff look for you? I mean…
they should notice when you’re not around, right?”
“Maybe,” he said. “But I mostly keep to myself when I
stay in my office. It’s private and no one can enter it except
for me. No one comes in. They usually wait for me to come
“Won’t they check your room?”
He shook his head. “I slept in my office last night,”
“Why? Don’t you have a suite here?”
“I do,” he replied. “But we were fully booked last night. I
gave up my accommodations for our last arriving guest.”
“Wow. That guest must be quite special. Who was it?”
she took a sip of her wine.
He gave her a long, measuring look before he took a gulp
of his whiskey. Then he replied, “You.”
She was taken aback. She realized that last night, she
wasn’t planning on staying. But because of the storm she
was forced to. She didn’t have prior reservations and the
receptionist told her that they were fully-booked. She
remembered Patrick complaining about her suite being
more luxurious than his. Now, it made sense.
I slept in Jin’s bed last night.
“You didn’t have to do that,” she said. “I could have gone
to the next hotel property.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Did you think I would send
you away in the middle of the night?”
“Well, I was just another paying customer,” she pointed
He took a gulp of his whiskey again. “Justin will kill me if
he found out I sent you away.”
She finished her wine. It was delicious. Sweet. And it was
making her feel warm.
Shit! I must be drunk now, thinking that Jin gave up his
room because he was looking out for my comfort or safety.
“Do you want another glass?” he asked.
“Why is there a bar here?” she asked as he refilled her
“There was a time when I came here often to paint,” he
replied. “I needed refreshments.”
“And you don’t come here to paint anymore?” she asked.
“That’s why this structure has no more purpose to you?”
It took him a long moment to respond. “This was the last
hotel property we built in Chicago. I was the one who set
this up. Now, it’s done. I will be painting in Paris more now.”
He’ll stay less in Chicago?
There was a twisted pain in her stomach that didn’t
escape her attention.
What the hell is wrong with me? He lives in Paris anyway!
Why would I want him to stay in Chicago? I should be happy
he’s leaving. I would be seeing less of him. He’s
“Can I ask the questions now?” he asked.
“Okay. But I can’t promise to answer all of them,” she
“Why do you live with Justin and Adrienne?” he asked.
“I’ve lived with them in the past,” she replied. “All of us
had rooms in the Adams’s mansion when we were growing
up. Uncle Jac liked a full, noisy house.”
“And your parents were okay with that?”
Julianne bit her lip. She felt that familiar pain in her heart
again at the mention of her parents. It had been more than
six years since she last spoke to them.
“Arabella,” he called. She realized that he asked her a
question and she hadn’t answered yet.
“Sorry,” she took a deep breath, hoping her concealed tears
would not roll down her cheeks in front of Jin Starck. “My
parents had been used to that arrangement.”
“But shouldn’t that have changed now? Wouldn’t they
want you to live in their house because of Jared?”
How can I tell him that my father doesn’t even recognize
his own grandson?
She took a deep breath. “My father… was too busy
running his company. I doubt that would make a difference.”
And how can I tell him I’ve been disinherited?
It was something she could not tell just anybody.
“Jared doesn’t talk about your parents at all,” he said. “I
can tell he was close to Justin’s parents. But he never
She took a sip of her wine. His questions were getting
harder to answer. She cleared her throat. “We live with
Uncle Jac and Aunt Christine. My parents weren’t around.
That’s just the way with kids. They talk more about the
people they often see.”
He drank his whiskey. He watched her expression without
a word and Julianne prayed that he doesn’t ask another
question about her parents.
“Do you always work late?” he asked.
She shrugged. “I work hard.”
“Being the Head of Corporate Strategy of Adams
Industries is a very taxing job,” he said. “I heard you were
“I’m very dedicated,” she replied curtly.
“Is that what you really wanted to do?”
“What do you mean?”
He shrugged, “Didn’t you study design? And once you
told me you wanted to design furniture and décor pieces.”
“I mainly studied Political Science and Business
Management,” she replied. “I only took up short courses on
“That’s three different areas of interest that were not
even connected to each other,” he remarked.
“I was told I was smart,” she said wryly. “I liked to
matriculate. I was good at it too.”
“Hmmm… you would have been the perfect wife for
Patrick McAllister. No wonder he was so disappointed with
the broken engagement,”
She bit her lip so she wouldn’t have to answer that.
He noticed her silence. “Okay, sorry. I wouldn’t want to
talk about an ex either.”
He poured her another glass of wine, without her asking.
“If you weren’t the Head of Justin’s Corporate Strategy,
what would you be?” he asked as he poured himself another
glass of whiskey.
“Yeah, you’re right. I would love to design ornaments and
decors,” she replied. “When I was a teenager, I thought I
was gonna start my own empire. The House of Arabella, I
used to call it. I would be the designer of bespoke furniture
pieces like couches, and chandeliers and lamp pieces.”
Damn! I haven’t thought about The House of Arabella in
more than half a decade!
“Wow. That is quite far from what you are doing now,” Jin
said. “Why didn’t you do it?”
She sighed and took another sip of her wine. It was
starting to make her feel tipsy.
“I can’t afford it,” she answered. She hoped he wouldn’t
hear the sadness in her voice. “It will take a lot of capital to
finance that dream. And a lot of time. And it’s too risky. I
can’t take risks. I have a son to raise. His future is my
Jin nodded. He didn’t speak for a long time. Neither did
she. Outside, it started raining. The wind blew at a raging
“Are we safe here?” she asked.
“Yes,” he assured her. “This glass was meant to
withstand a storm worst that this.”
She looked around the place again. She sighed sadly.
“Don’t destroy this place, Jin. Whatever your reason was,
I’m sure it’s not good enough.”
She put her glass down on the counter. Then she stood
up from the bar stool and walked towards the center of the
house. Outside she could see the rain pouring non-stop. The
leaves and trees were swaying violently with the force of the
strong winds. But inside, she could still hear the peaceful
sounds of the fountains. She felt safe and protected. And
she thought this may be what it would feel like to be inside
a snow globe. Magical. Surreal. Unaffected by the troubles
and tremors of the outside world.
“You know that this place has a name,” Jin said behind
her. She could feel his presence behind her. He was standing
not more than two feet away. She could almost feel the heat
emanating from his body.
“What is it?” she asked quietly.
She heard his deep intake of breath and then he replied,
She closed her eyes for a moment and repeated his
answer over and over in her head. And she realized that just
as she was hurting for him all these years, Jin Starck was
hurting for her too.
And unlike her, it wasn’t his choice they lost each
other. She was the one who left. He was the one she left behind.