Kieran saw Julie’s text message, his expression morphing into a tight frown.
Flavia, noticing their troubled expressions, voiced her concern, “Can I be of any help?”
Julie looked up at Flavia, a small smile playing on her lips, “No, thank you.”
Flavia chuckled, “Well, you’re a friend of my sister, so that makes you a friend of mine.”
At this, Kenton, notorious famous wife-protector, nodded in agreement, “My wife’s got a point there.”
He then turned to Hayden, “Are you going to say anything or just continue being mute?”
“No.” Hayden replied, his tone cold and distant.
Flavia tugged at Kenton’s sleeve, a look that screamed ‘why are you provoking him?’ on her face.
Julien seemed to be oblivious to all the commotion.
Soon, another text message buzzed on Julie’s phone, this time from Zenith, “Julie, go alone. Leave the black box at room 2404. I promise you’ll be safe.”
“I’ll go,” Kieran offered, reaching for Julie’s phone, but she held onto it tightly, not handing over the black box.
Her phone rang again, another text from Zenith, “Ker, Trust me.”
Only Lucian called Kieran by that nickname, not even Amanda used it. Julie’s phone had been delivered just before the banquet by Zenith’s people.
She pried Kieran’s fingers off her phone, looking at him with a determined gaze, “If Zenith is Lucian, we have to trust him. We must trust him.”
The black box contained a USB drive, and if it were as safe as Zenith claimed, he could have delivered it himself or sent someone else. But he insisted Julie do it, indicating the importance and safety of her doing so, and the risk involved if anyone else did.
Kieran understood this.
Their argument over the text messages left the others confused.
Finally, Julien asked, “What’s going on?”
Julie quickly explained the situation, to which Julien replied, “I thought it was something big.”
She took off her wristwatch and put it around Julie’s wrist, pointing at a small black button, “If you’re in danger, press this. We’ll be there in ten seconds.”
Zenith’s plan was to reveal all truths once Julie completed her task, so she had to take the risk. With the backing of Julien and Hayden, and the promise from Zenith, she was reassured.
Flavia suggested, “How about we check the surveillance of this floor? According to Zenith, we’re not supposed to leave, but we can still watch the entrance to room 2404.”
Eventually, Kieran agreed to Julie’s insistence.
As Julie approached room 2404, she was careful and alert. The task seemed simple enough: leave the black box at the doorstep of the locked room. Julie took a deep breath and finally reached the door of room 2404.
Sure enough, the door was locked, there must be someone inside. Julie took the black box out and put it on the floor, where someone should see it as soon as he opened the door.
There was no one around, but the place was a bit too quiet compared with the bustle of the banquet hall downstairs.
“I didn’t realize the task was so easy!” Julie thought.
As she placed the box down, she noticed a pair of shiny leather shoes in her line of sight. Looking up, she saw a well-tailored black suit, and chin of a man. The man suddenly looked down, showing a face that made Julie jump back in fright.
From a building across the hotel, Zenith and Bruce watched through binoculars. Upon seeing Julie startled, Bruce asked, “Sir, should we send someone?”
Their men were stationed around room 2404, just in case.
Zenith shook his head, “Wait.”
Facing the man who once pointed a gun at her head, Julie was terrified. “You…you…” This man was her nightmare.
He bent down, moving closer. Julie’s hand hovered over the black button on the watch, but she didn’t press it.
“Again, you.” He said, stopping at a safe distance.
Julie felt like she was having a streak of bad luck. She wondered if she should press the button, but she wasn’t sure if she had completed her task.
She quickly asked, “Are you carrying a gun today?”
“Man carries a gun daily,” he replied, stepping back.
Relieved, Julie held onto the black box tightly, hoping he wouldn’t notice.
She had a daring hunch and asked cautiously, “Do… do you live here?”
She was referring to room 2404.
The man didn’t respond right away, instead, he looked at her, a bit of tension in his gaze, and asked, “What are you hiding?”
She had carefully tucked it out of sight, how did he still see it? Remarkable.
Julie clutched the box in her hand, prepared to fight tooth and nail before giving it up. Zenith, unable to text Julie at the moment, could only watch the standoff from a distance.
“You’re alive, lucky you.” The man stood up, not pressing further about the black box in her possession. His voice was cold and detached.
Julie, shaky and scared, got up from the ground. She was indeed lucky. This man had left her on a deserted island, a place where no man dared to venture, full of with unknown and potentially harmful creatures. All he had left her with was a gun with a few remaining bullets. Her survival and escape from that island were thanks to Kieran’s timely arrival.
Julie knew that never mess with this man, and particularly his associate, Kleist. Thankfully, Kleist was not here today. After all, he was the one who had nearly ended her life back then.
“How did you sneak in here?” He leaned casually against the wall, asking her.
It was then that Julie noticed his formal attire. He must be attending the banquet downstairs. It was surprising that he looked so healthy. She had assumed that he would have succumbed to his wounds from the snake bite on the island.
She leaned against the door of room 2404, hiding the black box behind her back. “I didn’t sneak in,” she replied, playing along. “I walked in, invited.”
“Oh? Invited.” His attractive lips formed these words, then he cast her a sidelong glance, “The invitations from the host, I believe, didn’t include the name Patriot Newell.”
With a dry laugh, Julie realized she had forgotten about that alias. She murmured, “You’re not the host, how would you know if the invitation doesn’t include Patriot?”
Perhaps it was the memory of him suffering a snake bite for her that made him seem less intimidating. She wished he would just leave and let her complete her mission, so she asked him, “Do you have an invitation?”
“No,” he replied, quite frankly.
Julie kept her distance, seeming wary of him. “Since neither of us were invited, and we’ve both been through that survival ordeal, why don’t we just pretend we’ve never met?” she suggested. “You go your way, and I’ll go mine.”
“Your real name.” He asked.
Julie was taken aback.
“Tell me your real name and I’ll let you cross the bridge,” he said.
Julie licked her lips nervously, “You haven’t told me your real name, why should I…”
Before she could finish, he calmly interjected, “Do I need to point a gun at you to get you to talk?”
Startled, Julie took a few steps back, “You’re armed?”
Her hand clutched the black box behind her, ready to press the button at any moment.
Seeing her alarm, he scoffed, turned around, and walked into room 2403.
Julie, her heart pounding, quickly tossed the black box by the door and ran. Her escape was so swift, beating any record she had set in her school days.
Kleist saw his young master leave and then return, frowning. Before he could ask what was wrong, his master was out the door again.
Outside room 2404, the man bent down and picked up the black box, inspecting it closely. He pulled a room key from his pocket, swiped it on the door of room 2404, and walked in.