By Design – Chapter 35

Russ Walker watched the whole scene between his brother and Mei unfold from where he stood outside on the balcony. It was obvious that Mei was not happy with Gracie’s being there. As cool and collected as she tended to be when doing business, in this instance she had been unable to hide her emotions from her face. Eli played his part really well, showing off just how much he cared about his girlfriend, selling the relationship with hardly any effort at all. Russ was impressed—impressed that Gracie had come up with such a plan and impressed that Eli had been able to pull it off. Perhaps they really were meant for each other.

Mei left them in a huff. Russ watched her until she made her way through the doors that lead onto the balcony. She went straight to the rail and was forcing herself to take deep breaths.

The excitement Russ had felt at his brother’s victory fled. He couldn’t be certain from this distance, but it looked like Mei was crying. That hadn’t been something he had expected to see from her.

Could it be that a thorn as sharp as her can also feel the needle when it pricks? Russ made his way over to her, not quite sure what he would say when he got there.

“I wouldn’t worry myself too much over Eli if I were you,” he said, doing his best to sound friendly, a smile spread across his face.

Mei started at the sound of his voice. She looked up at him with the look of a deer caught in the headlights.

“To be completely honest, I don’t think he’s really the kind of guy you would want to spend the rest of your life with,” Russ continued when she said nothing. “He’s not the family corporation loving man you might have hoped him to be when he grew up.”

Mei’s eyes narrowed. It wasn’t suspicion so much as contempt that settled onto her face. “Are you mocking me?” she asked.

Russ threw up his hands in his own defense. “In no way,” he assured her. “I’m just saying, he’s probably not worth getting this upset about. I mean, when it comes right down to it, it was just a business arrangement. It’s not like you’ve lost your only chance for love in this life.”

Mei scoffed. “Don’t tell me what this was or wasn’t, Russell Walker. Nobody asked for your opinion.” Her voice was bitter when she spoke, and for the first time, Russ considered the fact that she lost something more than just a portion of shares in his father’s company.

Could it be possible that Mei had actually liked Eli? Russ tried to think back to when they were kids. He tried to remember the way Mei had acted around Eli at that time. He couldn’t seem to recall. He had been too young to notice those kinds of things.  But heartache was something he had become familiar with as he had grown into an adult, and he recognized that look on Mei’s face as she glared at him.

He lowered his gaze from hers. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to be smart about it or anything.”

“Then what are you doing here?” Mei’s voice was cold. She was annoyed by his presence.

“I was just trying to help,” Russ said. “I was just trying to make you feel better. I can’t help it. It’s in my nature to try to help pretty girls when they look down.”

Mei snorted at him. “Are you trying to hit on me after what your brother just did?”

Russ couldn’t help himself; he threw his head back and let out a deep laugh. “Sorry to disappoint you, Miss Chen, but you are definitely not my type.” And with that Russ walked back inside to rejoin the party and let Mei work out her own problems.



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