🌼ALL THE WRONG PLACES🌼
Julianne brought Jared home the following Friday
evening. The first thing he asked for was his room. And
when Julianne showed it to her, he was ecstatic. She
videotaped the whole thing because Jin wanted to see
“Mommy, this is so beautiful!” he beamed happily.
“You got me a Rubik’s cube room. The painting is so
beautiful! Did you do it Mommy?”
“Umm… no. I’m not that good at painting. But
Mommy’s very good friend is a painter. He did this
especially for you. I told him you wanted a Rubik’s cube
“Mommy, your friend is a good painter. I wish I could
paint like that.”
“Someday, you will, sweetheart,” she told him. “It’s in
She thought of the day when she could finally tell
Jared that the one who painted his room was his father. And
that someday, he would be as good as him.
“I want to see the rest of the house, Mommy! Do we
have a garden? Can I play outside?”
Suddenly, she heard a loud hammering sound from
the other side of the wall that she shared with her neighbor.
She remembered that Janis sold the house next door. Her
neighbors must be getting some works done.
“What’s that sound Mommy?”
“I don’t know. Must be our neighbors renovating,” she
said. “Come, let’s go outside.”
She was ecstatic to bring Jared to the backyard.
Before Jin left, they created a vertical garden with different
colorful flowers. Her heart swelled just looking at the beautiful garden they made together. As Jared squealed and
jumped around the garden, she couldn’t help the tears from
peeping in her eyes. Jared was the first beautiful creation
she and Jin made.
“Can we put a trampoline here?”
“What? No. There’s not much space.”
“Please, Mom? It would be so cool! I will never leave
this house if I have a trampoline!”
“Oh, okay, in that case, I think we can arrange
“I’m not saying yes yet. We’ll go to the store later and
see if they have something that fits.”
“They will have!” he said positively. “If they don’t, we
can ask Uncle Jin to find one for us. He knows where to buy
Julianne smiled. “I’m sure he does.”
Suddenly, everything turned really bright. Halogen
lights were turned on from the other side of the fence. They
heard some people shouting followed by the loud sound of a
“I think they’re doing some work. Come, sweetie. I
don’t think it’s safe out here.”
But the noise from the other side kept on going. It
seemed like they were working overnight as well. The next
day, Julianne couldn’t take it anymore. She went over to her
neighbors to ask what was going on.
She rang the bell and she was surprised to see Janis.
She seemed surprised to see her too.
“How are you?” she asked. “Have you moved in?”
“Ah, yes. Just last night,” Julianne replied. “May I ask,
what’s with all the noise?”
“Oh, yeah. I sent a notice to your office regarding this.
Didn’t you get it?”
Julianne had no idea what she was talking about.
renovation works going on here and in the garden for
another two weeks or so. We’re really sorry. But we’re
rushing to finish this ASAP.”
“But I can hear you hammering through the walls
even in the middle of the night.”
Janis merely smiled at her apologetically. “Oh,
sweetie. Just two weeks. Then you can live in silence.”
“I’ll be deaf already in two weeks if you don’t stop
drilling at two in the morning.”
“I’ll ask the owner what we can do to compensate you
for your trouble.”
Julianne sighed in frustration. “Don’t worry about it.
Just make sure you’re done after two weeks so I can go on
with my life.”
Then she turned on her heel and went back to her
house. She was upset but she didn’t have a choice. Jared
was complaining about the noise too, even in the middle of
the night, he couldn’t get a proper sleep.
So, after the fourth day, Julianne grabbed his bags and
they went out of the house.
“Where are we going, Mommy?” Jared asked.
“Well, we will come back after two weeks. But right
now, I cannot sacrifice your sleeping hours just because the
neighbors are running a twenty-four-seven operation on the
other side,” she muttered. “We’ll go back to Auntie
Adrienne’s house. We’ll stay there for two or three weeks
“But my stuff! My cool fridge!”
“They will still be there when we get back, sweetie,”
She drove the car that Adrienne lent her back to the
“That was quick!” Adrienne was practically beaming
when they saw her.
“No, unfortunately, we’re still moving. But our
neighbors are getting some major works done on the walls
and in the garden. They’re working on the other side of the
wall twenty-four-seven. I cannot let Jared live like that. So, I
decided to move back in. Only for two weeks. Is that okay?”
“You know, you didn’t even need to ask, right?”
Adrienne whispered to her.
That night, before she went to bed, she sent Jin a
photo of her getting ready for bed. “Back at the Adams
Mansion,” she captioned the photo. It’s already morning in
Paris, and she didn’t expect him to respond. But she was
pleased when she received a message a minute later.
Her: Neighbors are doing major works even at night.
Like who does that?
Jin: Contractors with clients who don’t care about the
money just to get the job done on time.
Jin: I mean maybe they have a deadline—by hook or
Her: So it would seem. Anyway, it’s too noisy, Jared
couldn’t sleep. So, I decided to bring him back here until
Janis and her team finish their work. The housewarming isn’t
gonna happen too. I cannot bring people there with all that
noise going on. You know, Justin had been skeptical about
this from the beginning.
Jin: I’m sure he’ll be pleased when he finally sees your
Her: I hope so.
It warms her heart to remember that she and Jin
worked together to make the place perfect for their son.
Jin: What are you wearing?
She bit her lip. She was completely new to all of this—
the sweet stuff, coupled with kinkiness. Is this what
relationships were supposed to be like? You’re completely comfortable with each other one minute, and then you’re
going at it the next?
Her: A silk nightie.
Jin: Sounds delicious. What else?
Her: Nothing else… 😉
Jin: Jesus, get me home now!
She giggled as she texted, “You’re gonna have to wait.
Two weeks will zoom by fast.”
Jin: Two weeks cannot come soon enough.
She started feeling naughty and decided to tease him
more. She took a selfie of herself, lying in bed. When she
looked at the photo, even she found it—steaming hot, and
she was the least narcissist person she knew. Her soft
blonde tresses framed her face, as she bit half of her lower
lip. The white blanket covered the top of her [email protected], but
still revealed a whole deal of cleavage. Her eyes looked
mesmerizing, she looked innocent and sensual all at the
She clicked the send button before she could stop
herself. She waited anxiously for his reply. One minute. Two
She almost jumped out of her skin when her phone
rang. She smiled when she saw Jin’s number on the screen.
“Hi,” she greeted him.
“If that’s your way of making me even more
miserable, you’re succeeding,” he said.
She laughed. “Well, I’m just giving you an incentive to
come back after two weeks, like you promised.”
“I wanna come back now.”
She heard him groan in frustration. She could only
giggle at his reaction.
Then in a more serious tone, he stated, “You’re so
hot… and innocent… sensual…” he paused and added,
She smiled. “Thank you.” She liked the word he used
“I’m crazy about you, you know,” he said.
She giggled. “You might have told me that before.”
“I said it at least twice before. And I’m telling you
“Maybe when we see each other again, you can tell
me that in person.”
“Oh, I will. I will tell you so much more than that.”
She sighed happily. Her heart swelled, she couldn’t
believe this kind of happiness could be real.
“You need to sleep now,” she said. “It’s five in the
morning your time.”
“The photo you sent was stronger than any coffee I’ve
had. I’m wide awake now.”
She laughed. “Now, you need to delete that photo.”
“It’s going to be my wallpaper.”
“Why not? Can’t a guy use his girlfriend’s photo as his
phone’s wallpaper? Isn’t it normal?”
“I don’t know. Nobody made my picture a wallpaper
He laughed. “There’s a first time for everything, ma
belle. I’ve never done it before either.”
“Okay. Just don’t leave your phone lying around for
everyone to see. Anyway, I need to go. The kids want to go
to the beach tomorrow.”
“Are you going to be accompanied?”
“Adrienne and Justin will be there.”
“Good. Send me pictures once in a while, okay?”
“When I come back, I want us all to go on a small
“The three of us,” he replied. “You, me, Jared.”
“Well, that can only happen after we tell everybody
“Yes. So, do what it is you need to do. When I come
back, we won’t delay this any longer.”
She sighed. “Okay.”
“Good night, ma belle,”
“Good night, Jin.”
That night, she slept with a big smile on her face. In
her dreams, she was in cloud nine. Well, she could very well
Days zoomed by quickly. Julianne had been so busy
with work. Justin was working on a new strategy to supply
their products in Asia and other emerging markets.
Two days after she moved back to the Adams
Mansion, she received a delivery from ‘Immortal Gardens’ in
her office. It was a huge, beautiful flower arrangement
encased in a glass container with a wooden base. The
arrangement contained immortal roses, hydrangeas and
other smaller flowers in different colors. The front of the
wooden base had a message engraved on it, “You are
She smiled from ear to ear. She knew exactly who
sent her the flowers. She took a photo and sent Jin a
“Now, this is a gift I won’t say no to,” she wrote on the
description. “So beautiful! Thank you!”
He replied after two minutes, “You’re still going to get
diamonds once in a while, you know. But you’re welcome.”
She was practically glowing, and she was scared that
people were beginning to notice. Justin was looking at her in
a weird way when he told her that about a business trip she
might soon go to. After briefly giving her the details, he
stayed in her office, just looking at her with a raised brow.
“What?” she asked.
He shrugged. He walked over to the shelf where she
placed the immortal flower arrangement.
“These are very pretty,” Justin remarked.
“I know,” Julianne looked back at her computer
screen, pretending to read something.
“Where did you buy them?” Justin continued. “I want
to get one for Adrienne. She loves roses… more than jewelry
and designer clothes.”
He’s fishing! Aaarggh!
“Umm… Immortal Gardens. They have many different
Justin stared at her for a moment. It was as if he was
waiting for something. Julianne held her ground.
He’s not gonna get anything from me.
Finally, Justin gave up and said, “Okay. I’ll go check
out the store. Maybe I’ll get more information from the
Julianne faked a smile and then went back to her
Shit! Justin has his ways! He can investigate and he
will know who sent me the flowers!
She bit her lower lip nervously. As soon as Justin was
out of her office, she grabbed her phone and texted Jin.
He replied after a minute, ‘For you, never.’
Her: Justin was asking about the flowers. I think he’s
gonna go to Immortal Gardens.
Jin: So? Those are beautiful flowers, you have to
admit. I’ll bet Adrienne would love to have that.
Her: I know!
Jin: So? Let Justin get one. He’ll score points with his
wife. He loves spoiling her.
Her: That’s not what I was worried about.
Jin: What is it then?
Her: Justin can pry, investigate, even pay for
information. He can ask them who the sender of these
Jin: I doubt they will give that information easily.
Her: Hello! We’re talking about Justin Adams here?
One of the most powerful men in Chicago!
Jin: Don’t worry. He won’t find anything. Gatwick paid
in cash and didn’t record any sender’s information.
She breathed in relief.
Her: Thanks. That was good forward thinking of you
and your assistant.
Jin: Him more than me. Me, I don’t care if Justin finds
out about us. Better if he does.
Her: I still have more than a week to go, remember?
Jin: Of course, I remember.
Her: By the way, I need to go to Detroit next Monday.
Her: Business. I’m meeting the owners of a huge
Japanese conglomerate. They have a huge project for next
year. They’re interested in making Adams Industries their
steel partner for the stadiums they’re building in Asia.
Jin: You speak Japanese?
Her: No. I’m hoping they speak English well. Do you
Jin: Of course, I do.
Jin: What? You asked! I’m surprised your father didn’t
invest in sending you to language schools. Didn’t you have
businesses around the globe? You have a glass factory in
Paris but you didn’t know how to speak French.
Her: Gian does. Gian is fluent in at least six languages.
Jin: So, your father thought Gian would need it, but
Her: Spot on!
Jin: Weren’t you supposed to inherit half of your
There was a twist of pain in her chest again.
Her: Gian was going to inherit our businesses. Me, he
was hoping I would marry a rich guy who can enhance our
It took a while for Jin to reply. She was afraid he would
change his mind about them once he found out that she had
been disinherited, and she had nothing to show for under
Finally, her phone beeped.
Jin: I gotta go, ma belle. Speak to you later.
She stared at his last message for a long time. For the
first time since she met him again, she thought how stupid
it was for her not to tell him about her standing in her
family. During that time she made this decision, she was
convinced that nothing could happen between her and Jin
Starck. Thus, he didn’t need to know any significant detail
about her life. But now that she’s officially dating him, she
was worried that part of the reason he was with her was
because he thought she was still a woman of good standing
in the A-list society they were living in.
I guess that will be the first thing I need to tell him
when we see each other next week. And he can decide
whether to take me as is or leave me the hell alone.
Before the weekend, she received a call from Janis
asking to meet with her briefly in her house.
When she arrived in her home, she noticed that the
renovations on the next-door still hadn’t finished yet. There
were trucks and workers on the backyard.
Janis arrived a few minutes after.
“I’m so glad you are able to make some time to meet
me,” she said.
“Don’t think about it,” Julianne said. “What’s up?”
“Well, I was going to ask if you’re going to be around
here the next three or four days?”
“We’ll do some major works, mostly on the walls. You
might hear even louder sounds. Also, major landscaping is
going on in the backyard next door. I was afraid it must
cause a major disturbance.”
“Oh, you mean it’s going to get worse than it already
Janis nodded apologetically.
“But the owner is willing to compensate this. Next
month, you can stay rent free.”
Her eyes widened. “What?”
“We’re truly sorry for the inconvenience. We hope you
can accept our offer.”
“That’s too generous. No need for that,” Julianne said.
“I’m not here anyway. I have a business trip next week. My
son will stay with his uncle. So, it’s really no big deal.”
“But we insist,” Janis said.
“Oh, okay. Then, tell the landlord that I thank them for
their generosity. But please, we cannot extend further. I
need to get on with my life. Here. In this house.”
“Okay. So, since you’re not going to stay here for a
couple of days, might I suggest you don’t leave anything
“Just a precaution. We have workers coming in and
out. I don’t want to take any risks for loss or damage to
Julianne nodded. “I totally understand. I will make sure
When Janis left, Julianne cleaned up the house a little
bit. In the bedroom, she smiled at the sight of her bed, as
memories of her nights with Jin flooded her mind. They
spent two nights together. They used that bed more than
half a dozen times.
She took a selfie of her and sent it to Jin.
She wrote, “Back at the house for a bit.”
She waited for his reply. Usually he responds within a
minute. But for the past two nights, he’s responded to her
messages less. Sometimes, he barely read her messages at
He called her two nights ago, but they did not talk
much because he was tired from an event he went to. She
remembered that short conversation.
“I’m sorry, did I wake you up?” he asked.
“No, that’s okay,” she replied. “What’s up?”
“I just wanna say goodnight.”
“Where are you?” she asked.
“Paris. Home. I just got back from a charity gala. My
father forced me to attend.”
“Must be a long party. It’s already five in the
“It’s a Round Ten event. And it’s in our hotel. I had to
stay after the party to oversee the breakdown on the
“Don’t you have an assistant who can do that for
“Gatwick is… er… indisposed.”
“Oh, so how was the party?”
“Boring,” he replied. “But I had to pretend I was
“Well, what’s important is that you survived it.”
“I did. I always do. And I always will.”
Julianne thought she heard a bit emotion in his voice.
It sounded like weary or sadness, she couldn’t quite place it.
“Are you okay, Jin?”
“I’m just tired, I guess,” he replied.
“Okay, then you better rest.”
She heard his sharp intake of breath. “Arabella, when I
get back, we need to talk. I have to tell you something.”
She suddenly felt nervous. “Can’t you tell me now?”
“No. This is not something we can discuss on the
phone,” he replied.
“What’s it about?”
“About us. About our arrangement in the future,” he
said. “It’s something we need time to discuss and think
Well, that doesn’t sound bad, does it?
“Of course,” she said. “We need to tell everybody
“Well… maybe we can do that after we talk.”
“Okay,” she said. “Well, goodnight then.”
Are we okay?
But she didn’t ask that question before she hung up.
And now, she wanted to beat herself with a hammer for not
His tone of voice wasn’t as jolly as it used to be the
previous days. And his text messages had been lesser, his
calls almost non-existent in the following days.
He’s probably just too busy.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the ring of a
doorbell. She ran downstairs to answer the door. She
thought it could be Janis again.
When she opened the door, her jaw almost dropped to
the floor when she saw who was outside, ringing her bell.
She wore a white faux fur coat over her skin tight
black sequined cocktail dress. She wore at least a five-carat
diamond on each ear, a diamond choker necklace, and
matching diamond tennis bracelet. She was sparkling all
over. Julianne thought, all she was missing was a crown and
a petal-covered red carpet on her feet.
“Leave us,” she told the man beside her.
Julianne stood in front of her, tongue-tied.
“Judging from your shocked expression, I take it that
you know me,” she said. “May I come in?”
Julianne recovered from her shock and opened the
door for her. She walked inside in her sparkling crystal-
studded stilettos and Julianne watched her thinking, ‘What
the fvck is Vanessa Bernard doing in my living room?’
Vanessa looked around her house, scrutinizing it.
Julianne had a few ideas about what’s going on in her mind
and she’s guessing none of them were good.
“Why are you here?” Julianne asked.
Vanessa raised a brow at her. She looked at her from
head to feet, unashamedly scrutinizing her look.
“Miss Bernard, please. Can you get down to business?
I have places to go.”
“Of course, you have,” she said in a heavy French
accent. “You’re working extra hard to support your son,
“Excuse me. I don’t see why that’s any of your
“You made it my business when you started seducing
Julianne blinked back at her. “Excuse me? What are
you talking about?”
“You know well what I’m talking about, Miss Sanders,”
she said. “You’re my fiancé’s other woman. Ever since I met
Jin Starck, he’s always been focused. Nothing can get his
eyes away from his goals. The only thing that mattered to
him was Starck Corp. That’s why I know I would be the
perfect wife for him. I am the only one who could give him
his much-coveted goal of being the number one hotel group
in the world.
“And then recently, he looked distracted, out of focus.
So, I had him followed, investigated. And your face came
back in the reports. You are his current distraction. I had you
checked out. You’re related to Justin Adams. You came from
a wealthy family too. But… not anymore, right?”
Julianne bit her lower lip, refusing to answer.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re not rich anymore. Jin
Starck doesn’t need any more money,” Vanessa continued.
“But it’s power and influence that he needs.”
“Doesn’t he have that too?” Julianne asked, raising
“Yes. But who doesn’t want more?” Vanessa raised a
brow at her. “We all do. Especially Jin Starck. His ambitions
have been around longer than he’s known you. He can
easily forget you after he’s tired of your body. But his
family’s goals will always be there.”
“Why are you really here? You want me to stay away
from him?” Julianne asked. “Shouldn’t you be asking him to
do that instead? Or don’t tell me you don’t have a hold of
“Oh sweetheart. I have him on a leash now,” Vanessa
said in a sultry voice. “We were together the other night, did
you know? He left my apartment late. Like almost early
morning. We’ve sealed the deal. I’ve seen the ring he was
going to give me once we announce our engagement to the
“He didn’t propose to me at the party, yes. He wanted
to make it more intimate, rather than public. I agreed. And
now, I’ll be wearing my heirloom engagement ring as soon
as Starck Corp. makes the big announcement on the papers.
Do you know that ring was worn by his grandmother and
was passed on to all the brides of the first-born Starck sons?
I thought, I should tell you this in person.”
Julianne shook her head. “If what you’re saying is true,
Jin would tell me himself.”
“He would,” she said. “I’m sure about that. And he’ll
probably leave it up to you if you want to maintain this tryst
of yours or not. He would offer you to stay. I’m certain he’s
smitten with you. But I guarantee you, he wouldn’t offer you
marriage. He probably wants to. But he won’t. Because he
“Because he had already proposed to you?”
“Because our families had already sealed the deal.
And if he backs out, my father will move to get Starck Corp.
out of Round Ten. That’s not a good blow to their numbers
because Round Ten was built by his ancestors. It would be
quite shameful to lose that privilege and title… and what?
Over a has-been heiress who had been disinherited by her
own family for giving birth to a bastard son.”
Julianne’s blood boiled. It took every ounce of her
control not to punch Vanessa Bernard’s thickly made-up
“You call my son a bastard again and you won’t live
long enough to make it to that wedding you speak so
proudly of! You won’t even make it to your own engagement
Instead of being threatened, Vanessa merely smiled at
her. “As I was saying, Jin Starck will never choose you over
me. At least never legally or officially. If he does, he stands
to lose every bit of their competitive advantage in this
market. They may incur so many losses. Starck Corp. prides
themselves of being completely family-owned. And Jin
Starck is a genius. Maybe even better than his
predecessors. Would you want him to fail, because of you?
Are you worth it?”
Julianne closed her eyes. She wanted to curse and
shout at Vanessa. But how could she? Vanessa just asked
her the very same question she’s been asking herself.
Was she worth it?
Jin would lose everything over her. Was she really
worth all that trouble?
“I have no ambitions over my future marriage with Jin
Starck. He doesn’t love me. I know that much and I have
accepted it a long time ago,” Vanessa continued. “That man
is incapable of falling in love. Don’t fool yourself and hope
that if you’re good enough, he’ll fall head over heels for you
eventually. He won’t. In the end, he’s still a servant of his family legacy. I understand this very well. I am sure he will
have a mistress or two in the future. I will allow that. I intend
to take on lovers myself too. It will be an open marriage.”
Julianne narrowed her eyes at her. “What the hell are
you trying to tell me?”
“I’m telling you that you have to accept the fact that I
am going to be Missis Jin Starck, while you… you will never
be worthy to wear that name! And I’m telling you now, what
our arrangement is going to be in the future. You will
become my husband’s mistress! That’s the farthest you will
reach. He will provide you with a nice home, even take care
of your child! But legally, you will have nothing! Only I and
our future children will have the right to wear his name and
have access to his fortune. That’s what our future
arrangement is going to be. And if you cannot accept that,
you better leave him now. Because he will only be yours in
bed. But never in name and never in paper!”
“Why would you marry him if you know he was going
to cheat on you? If you ask me, you’re the one selling
yourself short here. Not me.” Julianne’s voice was
controlled, and she tried her best to look stoic. But deep
inside, her blood was boiling and she was fighting the urge
to drag Vanessa out the door by her pretty hair.
“I don’t care,” Vanessa muttered. “I want him. We will
spend the rest of our lives together because a divorce would
be too costly. He can take mistresses like you in the future,
but in the end, he will always come home to me. And that is
Julianne shook her head. “That would never be
enough for me.”
Vanessa nodded. “I know,” she said. “I checked your
profile. You’re smart and well-raised. Obviously, you are
beautiful. I’m quite certain you would be able to find more
suitable candidates for your hand. Plenty of guys would die
for a chance to marry you. If you do not want to be Jin Starck’s mistress, I suggest you leave him now. I have a
feeling you deserve better than that.”
“How sure are you that he will choose you? That he
wants the same life as what you’re talking about?”
“Because he doesn’t have a choice,” Vanessa said,
smiling at her smugly. “My father had already spoken to the
other members of Round Ten. If Jin Starck doesn’t honor our
agreement for marriage, Starck Corp. will be voted out of
“What kind of business circle votes out a member on
the basis of personal issues?”
“The highly competitive kind,” Vanessa replied
immediately. “This circle was created so they don’t go rogue
and kill each other on the market. Each of those ten
members are dying to vote each other out. The fewer they
are, the more competitive advantage they will have, the
greater market share they will enjoy. All my father needed
was sixty percent votes and Starck Corp. is out. And let’s
say, he’s already gotten forty. It will only take the
McKenzie’s vote to kick Starck Corp. out. And being head to
head in market share for decades, this is a golden chance
for McKenzie to kick Starck out of the game.”
Julianne fell silent. Vanessa looked at her thoughtfully,
then she asked, “Do you really want Jin Starck to gamble his
family’s legacy and future for you? Are you sure you’re
Julianne stared at Vanessa coldly, trying to keep her
stoic face on. Vanessa walked towards the door.
“Well, I’ll be on my way,” she said. “You have a big
decision to make. And I have an engagement party to plan.”
She turned to Julianne one last time and added, “I hope you
make the right decision and we never see each other again.
I think you’re too pretty, too smart to become any man’s
mistress. Even of the great Jin Starck.”
With that, Vanessa turned on her heel and walked out
the door. Julianne followed her and locked the door behind her. Then she fell on the floor, buried her face on her hands.
It took her all her strength not to cry in front of
Vanessa Bernard. But now that she’s all alone in the home
that she had built with Jin, she let all the tears fall.