🌼ALL THE WRONG PLACES 🌼
Jin and Julianne set out to return to the Adams Mansion,
Monday morning. Jin wanted to make sure she made it to
the mansion safely before he went to the airport. He had to
be in Paris and then Greece and Maldives for the soft
opening of two of their hotels.
He stopped by a supermarket, a few blocks away from
“I hate it that I would leave you so soon,” he told her.
He pulled her to him and kissed her lips.
“But you need to go,” she said. “This is your life. This
He kissed her again. Then he leaned his forehead
against hers and said, “You are important too. So, do
whatever it is you need to do so we won’t have to hide this
and we can make a plan about our schedules.”
She nodded. “Okay. We’ll talk when you get back.”
“Three weeks is going to be too long,” he said.
“Promise you’re not going to disappear this time?”
She giggled. “How can I disappear on you again?
You’d know exactly where to find me. It’s not like I have the
resources to hide.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Your father can give you
an entirely new identity if he wanted to.”
She sighed and pulled away from him. “Yeah. He sure
She sadly remembered the time when her father told
Justin that he didn’t want her to use her family name
anymore. She knew he meant that.
“What?” Jin asked, raising a questioning brow at her.
She shook her head. “Nothing. Forget about that. I
really need to go. The longer we take, the more we risk somebody seeing us.”
“Okay,” he said hesitantly. “I’ll get you a cab. Then I’ll
follow you all the way back.”
“You didn’t have to do that. I’ll be fine.”
“I don’t take anything by chance, ma belle,” he
insisted. “I’ll be right behind you.”
He got out of the car and hailed a cab for her. He told
the driver where to take her.
He kissed her lips before she got out of his car.
“I’ll be right behind you,” he said.
He kissed her again, refusing to let go.
“Jin! I need to go,” she giggled.
“I will be miserable without you,” he whispered.
She smiled at him mischievously. “Promise?”
He nodded. “I miss you already.”
She leaned forward and kissed him.
“We’ll video call
and you can call me anytime you want.”
He grabbed her to him and hugged her. “I saved both
my numbers on your phone. Call me on my private number
first. If I don’t answer, try the business line.”
“Always be safe. And take good care of Jared.”
He kissed her forehead. “Go, before I change my mind
and drag you back home.”
She got into the cab. She had a permanent smile
pasted on her face, and she knew her cheeks were the
darkest shade of red.
She couldn’t believe this was happening to her. For
years, she thought she would never be this happy again.
But fate let her find him again and they finally have a
chance to rectify their mistakes in the past. They have a
chance of making things right, so they could be happy
together… so Jared could have a complete family too.
When she arrived at the mansion, she went straight to
Jared’s room. He was so happy to see her.
“I sure did. You will love it.”
“When can we go see it?”
“Friday. Then we’ll have a party on Saturday and we
can invite everybody to come.”
“So Jeffrey can sleep in my room?”
“Well… I don’t know if they’re sleeping over. Maybe
After taking Jared to the dining room so he could have
his breakfast, she went to the gazebo to meet Adrienne and
Justin. Her heart pounded in her chest when she saw Jin
Shit! This is awkward!
“There she is!” Adrienne went to hug her. “What’s up,
“How did the decorating go?”
“Perfect!” she replied nervously. It was hard to
concentrate when she could feel Jin’s eyes on her.
“Everything went well? You didn’t ask for help,” Justin
said. “I could have sent for some contractors to help you
“Umm… I’m fine. Everything went well. I did… get
some help… on the painting in particular,” she stammered.
“And the garden.”
“So, it’s all done?” Adrienne asked.
Julianne nodded. “You can see it on the weekend. We
can have lunch there.”
“That would be lovely!” Adrienne beamed. “I’m sure
the kids will be happy to see Jared. They’re already sad to
know that you guys are moving out.”
“Well… you know you didn’t have to do that,” Justin
said. “Your father’s threa…”
“Justin!” she interrupted him. She’s not up for
discussing her estranged relationship with her father in front
of Jin. When he gets back, she’ll tell him everything. She
needs time to prepare for that. “I will take a half day today,
if you don’t mind. I have nothing pending anyway. I hope
Justin blinked back at her in confusion. Adrienne gave
her husband a meaningful look. Finally Justin said, “Sure,
take the day off if you want.”
“Good,” she said. “I could use a bit of rest.”
“You look tired,” Jin suddenly said. “Slept late last
She stared at him. His face looked stoic, but his eyes
“Umm… yeah,” she croaked. “I was busy.”
“I’m sure you were,” he said, giving her a wink and
she widened her eyes at him.
Thankfully, Justin and Adrienne weren’t looking.
raising a brow.
“Came to say goodbye to Adrienne,” he replied
casually. “And the kids. I won’t see them in weeks.”
Adrienne turned to his brother. “Aren’t you gonna miss
Jin looked at his watch. “I wish I didn’t have to go,” he
stood up from his seat. “I’m going, guys. I’ll be back after
“Really? Back to the States again?” Adrienne asked.
“Is that okay with Papa? You’re staying here more than
you’re staying in Paris these days.”
“Well… let’s just say… it’s impossible for me to stay
away,” Jin said.
Julianne bit her lip and looked away from Adrienne and
Justin so they wouldn’t notice her blush.
Jin merely smiled at his sister. He leaned down and
kissed the top of her head. “See you later, sissy.” He turned
to Justin. “Take care of my sister, bro.”
Justin merely nodded, looking at Jin suspiciously.
“Arabella,” Jin said, addressing Julianne.
“Jin,” Julianne said in an even tone.
Jin went off.
“What is up with him?” Adrienne asked.
Justin smirked and then opened the newspaper in
front of him.
“What?” Adrienne insisted.
“Nothing,” Justin replied.
“I know you!” Adrienne said in an accusing tone. “I
can tell when you have something in your mind.”
“I have a lot of things in my mind,” Justin said
“Okay. I want to know your thoughts concerning my
brother,” Adrienne insisted.
“Jin is a grown man. He’s the least of my worries,”
“Justin Jeffrey Adams!” Adrienne raised her voice.
Justin laughed and put the newspaper he was reading
back on the table. He pulled his wife by the waist so she
could sit on his lap.
“Okay, fine,” he said. “I think there’s a woman in the
city that’s keeping your brother here. You know him. He
travels sixty percent of the time. Except for Paris, he never
stayed in one city for a week. But recently, Pierre had to
locate him, call you about his whereabouts and had to beg
for his son to come home and be more attentive to his
duties. It’s a woman.”
“How could you be so sure?”
“I was like that with you,” Justin replied. “I stayed in
Chicago most of the time, I couldn’t stay away from home
longer than a week. But when we started seeing each other,
they couldn’t get me to go home.”
“Do you think it’s Vanessa?” Adrienne asked. “But
Vanessa lives in Paris too.”
Justin shrugged. “I couldn’t care less who your sister-
in-law is going to be, as long as she doesn’t make your life a
“Me too. Vanessa is sort of bitchy,” Adrienne
mumbled. “But it’s not like Jin has a choice. He’s already
given his word to her family that he will marry her.”
“And so? He can always take that back, right?”
“I don’t know. They have this saying… ‘Starck word is
gold.’ When they make a promise, when they enter into
business arrangements, they never back out. The Starcks
could always be trusted.”
“Well, I did all I could to break off my arranged
marriage. He should be able to do the same.”
“It’s different with us, honey,” Adrienne said wearily.
“You didn’t give your word to marry me then. You have
every right to refuse to honor that arrangement. In this
case, Papa didn’t want Jin to marry Vanessa. He didn’t want
him to marry for business advantage. He told him that they
were fine. But it was Jin who made that decision—in spite of
Papa’s advice. He entered into that agreement with
Vanessa’s father. I wonder how he’ll get out of that without
ruining Starck Corp’s business relationships and standing at
the Round Ten.”
“Well, your brother is a smart man,” Justin said,
pushing a lock of stray hair away from Adrienne’s face. “I’m
sure he’ll be able to figure a way out of this himself.”
“How would you solve it if it happened us?”
Justin stared at his wife thoughtfully. Then he said, “If
it meant I get to spend the rest of my life with you—the
woman of my dreams—then… to hell with everybody else.”
“Knowing Jin… family is worth more to him than
Julianne felt a twist of pain inside, and suddenly, she
was worried about what she learned from Adrienne. Jin had given his word to marry Vanessa Bernard. True, he didn’t
propose at that party. But that still didn’t mean he would not
marry her someday.
He gave his word that he would. And in the business
world where he was fast becoming a legend, the ‘Starck
word’ is a symbol of reliability.
Her phone beeped, interrupting her thoughts.
Jin: “Just said goodbye to Jared. He showed me that
he’s already solving two sides of the cube now. He’s very
smart. And he’s a good kid. Good job, Mom.”
She bit her lower lip to keep from smiling too widely in
front of Justin and Adrienne.
She replied, “Thanks.”
Jin: “See you both in a couple of weeks, love. I’ll go
straight home from the airport.
Now, she couldn’t help the big smile on her face.
“What are you smiling at?” Adrienne asked. Julianne
looked up at her in surprise.
She shook her head. “Nothing.” But she knew they
wouldn’t buy it. “It’s just… just a joke I read.”
“Seriously. What joke?” Justin asked, raising a
challenging brow at her.
She had to make up a joke really quickly.
She cleared her throat. “N-not all men are annoying.
Some are dead.” She faked an angelic smile on her face.
“Ha-ha. That’s really funny,” Justin said, faking a
laugh. Then in a more serious tone he said, “You know,
technically speaking, it’s office hours. But don’t think of me
as your boss. Think of me as your cousin—who could fire
She gave him a stoic face. Then in a very bored
expression, she said, “Oh my God. I am very, very scared.”
Adrienne laughed. “Cut it out you two!” She went to
her husband and gave him a hug. “Let’s leave Ian be. I’m sure when she’s ready to share, she will tell us.” She gave
Julianne a meaningful stare.
“If there is anything to share,” Julianne said. She stood
up from her seat and turned to leave. “I’ll go rest for a bit,
guys. I still need to pack Jared’s clothes.”
She went up to her bedroom, thankful that she was
now out of Justin’s and Adrienne’s prying eyes.
Julianne spent the following days packing hers and
Jin sent her a message almost every hour. He would
tell her about his day, and ask her about hers.
He would insist she sends him a photo of herself often.
She would take goofy faces of herself and send it to him.
And every night before she goes to bed, he would call
her and they would talk for at least an hour.
Thursday afternoon, as she went down Adams
Industries’ main building to get her lunch, a man in his late
twenties, wearing an expensive coat, approached her.
“Miss Sanders?” he asked.
He held his hand out to her. “Hi, I’m Gatwick,” he said.
“I work for Mister Starck.” He handed her a business card
bearing his name under the Starck Corp. logo.
She immediately scanned her brain for that name.
Then she remembered, one time she heard Jin talking to a
guy called Gatwick on the phone.
“What can I do for you?” she asked.
“Can we sit in the coffee shop?” he asked.
“Because Jin wants me to give you something and I’m
not very comfortable giving them to you in the streets.”
“Oh. Okay. Let’s go to the shop next door.
They went inside Jord’s Café, a coffee shop on the
ground floor of Adams Industries Headquarters. The coffee
shop was owned by Jordan, one of her cousins.
Julianne led Gatwick to a corner table.
“Do you want anything?”
Gatwick shook his head. “I won’t be long,” he said.
“And I can’t be seen with you.”
Julianne’s eyebrow shot up at him.
“Don’t get me wrong. You’re a very beautiful woman. I
can totally see why Jin’s smitten,” he said.
Julianne’s eyes widened in shock.
Just how much does he know about us?
Gatwick immediately noticed her expression. He
shook his head. “Do not worry,” he said. “I’m not Jin Starck’s
friend. I’m his personal assistant. I’m paid to know and keep
“Okay, so… shall we go down to business?”
He took a black box from his pocket.
“Mister Starck wanted me to give you this.”
Julianne opened the box and found another Van Cleef
& Arpels five motif gold and diamond bracelet, and a pair of
matching motif diamond earrings.
“Holy mother of crap!” she cursed.
Gatwick grinned. “Wow! You’re my kind of woman.”
“What the hell is this for?”
“A present,” he replied.
“You bought this?”
Gatwick cleared his throat. “I picked it up at the store. But he chose it and paid for
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Tell him I cannot accept it.”
“I didn’t accept the last one. What makes him think I would accept this one?”
“My boss is… persistent.”
“Stubborn is more like it,” she muttered. “Well, I’m just as stubborn. Probably
more.” She shook her head. “I won’t accept that.”
Gatwick was surprised. “Excuse me?”
“I’m not going to accept that,” she repeated. “And next time, tell your boss that if
he wants to give me a present, he must give it to me, himself. So, I can personally reject it.”
She pushed the box back to Gatwick. Gatwick looked like he couldn’t believe that
she would reject a forty-thousand-dollar gift. Then finally, he took the box back from her
and slid it to his coat.
“Your message will be relayed—every word of it.”
Gatwick sat up from his seat. “I shall be on my way. As much as I want to stay here
and enjoy your company, I’m afraid that my boss is a jealous man. And only he has the
power to fire me.”
He gave her a final nod and then he went off.
Julianne’s hands were shaking when she dialed Jin’s number.
“Ma belle,” he greeted her after two rings.
“Who told you to give me another insanely expensive present?” she started
“Wow. I’m assuming you’ve already met my assistant.”
“Met him. Spoke to him. Rejected what he brought from you.”
“As in… I took a peek but didn’t even touch it,” she replied. “You do not learn, do
you, Jin Starck?”
He sighed. “I’ve always hated gold-diggers. And now, the only woman I want to
spend money on won’t take any of my gifts.”
“And you didn’t get the message the first time. I don’t want those. I’m okay without
“And I told you every time you reject my presents, they will just keep coming… and
each one will be more expensive than the last one.”
“Jin! Why do you insist on giving me jewelry? It’s not even my birthday.”
“Because you’re my girlfriend, Arabella,” he reminded her. “I don’t think a man
needs an occasion to give his woman a present.”
She sighed. He does have a point. Adrienne received a lot of presents from Justin
and many of them weren’t given on special occasions.
“But does it have to be overwhelmingly expensive?” she asked.
He was silent for a moment and then he said, “You’re Julianne Sanders. Are you
forgetting that? I want to give you a present that’s fit for an heiress like you?”
She sighed. “Jin, if I weren’t an heiress, would you even consider pursuing me?
Because if you won’t, then we might as well stop this now.”
“I didn’t know you were an heiress when I met you, remember?”
“Exactly. I am still that girl.”
“Okay, okay. I get it,” he said. “Can we stop arguing now?”
“So, tell me, how’s your day so far?”
“Busy,” she replied. “Work is hectic. And I’m organizing a housewarming dinner on
“Oh, wow. Why this Saturday? I’m not there.”
“You cannot be there, remember?”
He groaned. “Now, I remember. Okay, have fun then. Are you cooking?”
“Damn! Now, it makes me wish that I could be there even more!”
She laughed. “I’ll cook for you when you come back. I’ll prepare for that.”
“And we’ll tell Jared about us.”
Her heart pounded in her chest. Has the day really come for him to know? She
figured that before they tell Jared about them, she must tell him first about Jared.
“We’ll talk when you get back,” she simply said.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “These past few days had been hell. I miss you so much.”
She looked around her to make sure no one she knows was within earshot. Then she
whispered, “I miss you too.”
“Why are you whispering?”
“You know why.”
“No, I don’t. Say it again. I didn’t hear it.”
“I miss you too,” she said, a little bit louder.
“I still couldn’t hear it.”
“Jin Starck!” she raised her voice and then she suddenly realized what she’s done.
“Ooopps!” he teased.
“Oh, damn it!” In spite of herself, she couldn’t help giggling. Then she heard him
take a deep breath on the other line. “Are you okay?”
“More than okay. I can’t wait for all these secrets to be out in the open,” he replied.
“Are you going to tell your parents?”
“What makes you think my father doesn’t already know?”
“Jin… don’t tell me…” she trailed off, unable to believe the possibility that Jin could
have already told his father about them.
“Well, I haven’t spoken to him in more than a week,” he said. “So, I don’t know if he
“If you didn’t tell him, then he doesn’t know.”
“Well, soon, love, you will meet the great Alexandre Martin. My father’s cousin, his
right hand—the steward of the Starck family.”
“And he knows everything that goes on with all the members of our family.”
“You—you told him?”
“I never tell him anything. But he still knows everything.”
“Should… should I be worried?”
“Of course not,” Jin chuckled. “I’m just giving you a heads up. He knows about you.
He knew about us seven years ago. I don’t know how long he can keep that a secret from
my Dad. So, whatever it is you’re planning to do before telling your family about me, better
do it fast.”
“You’re putting so much pressure on me!” she groaned.
“I’m not!” he laughed. “I’m just telling you the odds and variables, so you can make
the right decisions.”
“Okay,” she said. “First we talk so I can tell you my plan. And then we tell Jared.
And then Adrienne and Justin and then everybody else.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Okay, I have to go. I only have ten minutes left on my lunch break.”
He chuckled. “I’ll make it up to you,”
When she hung up the phone, her heart was pounding through her ribcage. She felt
nervous as hell, but she also had a big smile on her face and she couldn’t be more excited
to see him again so they could finally set things right.