Cole sat in his living room drinking. It had been a long time since he’d been on a couch getting wasted. Ever since Danny’s death, he thought sullenly. He wasn’t sure why every time he considered making a commitment to another person, it all ended up a mess. A complete mess, he thought in disgust. It didn’t matter that Savan had lied to him about his name, his family and everything that mattered. All he knew was that he loved the man. The man he’d had in his bed for countless hours, talking, making love, sharing ideas and laughing with. He wanted that man.
He’d been ready to tell Savan all that when he’d gone to the hospital. When he’d heard Savan say that he was going back to Hong Kong pain he didn’t understand had hit him deep. Taking a swig of red wine straight from the bottle, he cursed his selfish heart. How could he fault Choi Yang for wanting to take his son home? He’d spent time with the man, listened to him talk about his son, confess to missing him. He should be happy for both of them.
But he wasn’t. He wanted Savan to stay. He wanted Savan to choose him and remain with Bovian Image. He didn’t want to think that the man he loved was going to leave him behind without giving them a chance.
A knock came on the door, and he ignored it. The doorbell followed and rang several times, the sound of it making his head buzz. Stretching out on the couch, he closed his eyes hoping that his visitor would leave. He wasn’t up to talking to anyone right now. He just wanted to be alone, wallowing was important in these kinds of situations.
The lock beeped and the door opened. He cursed under his breath at the thought of seeing his brothers. Why the hell had he given them keys to his penthouse again? They filed into his living room, stopping at the edge of the couch. He kept his eyes closed, not wanting to see their expressions.
“I thought it might have come to this.” Antonio declared with that all knowing tone he liked to use. “Cole, stop pretending to be asleep, your grip on that wine bottle is a bit too secure.”
Michel chuckled and Cole opened his eyes in time to see him sink into an arm chair. He propped his legs on the wooden stool in front of him and reached for the remote. Turning on the television he started surfing the channels while Antonio went into the kitchen.
“What are you doing here?” Cole asked.
“We were worried when you didn’t come to the office today. Yesterday, you weren’t exactly yourself.” Michel shrugged. “What’s going on kiddo?”
“Nothing,” Cole shrugged.
“I’m sure ‘nothing’ has everything to do with this story they’ve been running all evening?” Michel replied, adding the volume. He’d apparently found a channel he wanted to settle on.
Cole turned his head slightly to find clips of Savan’s big rescue running over and over. He couldn’t remember any reporters, but his thoughts had been so preoccupied with Savan, nothing else had mattered. He sat up a little to get a better view.
Top news today, the lost son of the Head of the Ashika Consortium is found, after a long search that ended in a brutal showdown at the consortium’s downtown offices. Sources close to the family confirm that Master Choi Yang’s son was kidnapped by an unidentified man. He was rescued this morning in a daring mission that included efforts by the police, and afterwards was taken to a nearby hospital due to the injuries he sustained during his ordeal. Master Yang was unavailable for a statement, but the Ashika Assistant director, Mr. Ahmon Sanori, released a statement on his behalf.
Ahmon looked impeccable in a dark suit when he came up on the screen. He stood behind a podium outside the Ashika headquarters, looking refreshed and alert. No one could guess he’d been running wild all night searching for Savan.
“On behalf of Master Yang, I would like to thank you all for your support and wishes. It was a difficult search, but we are all relieved and happy to have Master Yang’s son safe and sound where he belongs. Those responsible are now in custody with the authorities and will face the full force of the law. For now, this is all we have; a more detailed statement will be given at a later date. Thank you again for your support.”
With a curt nod at the members of the press, Ahmon went back into the building as the reporters broke into a frenzy of questions. Michel lowered the volume as the presenter continued with her report.
“So, this nothing you don’t want to talk about, does it have to do with Savan being the ‘lost son’?” Michel asked glancing at him. “How come you didn’t tell us anything?”
“I didn’t know.” Cole sunk back into his couch pillows and tried to close out the ongoing report that was detailing the numerous times Choi Yang had made statements of looking for his son. The despair in the man’s voice was so evident it was hard not to hear it. Closing his eyes, he thought about Choi Yang holding on to Savan’s hand at the hospital. “Savan is going back to Hong Kong with his father. That’s where he belongs, which is all that matters.”
Antonio returned from the kitchen carrying a coffee tray which he placed on the coffee table. Taking the bottle of wine away from him, he placed a cup of strong coffee stool beside the couch. “So, you’re sad that he’s leaving. It’s very obvious you’re in love with him, hence the drinking. Shouldn’t you try to sort this out?”
Cole glared at his oldest brother and sat up slowly, a hand pressed to his head. He usually tried not to get drunk, but he’d needed to blunt the pain. A picture of a younger Savan, this one with black hair cut neatly, innocent dark eyes and a smile came on the screen. His brow creased in a frown. It was hard to reconcile the picture with the man he knew. It was the eyes, Cole thought. Savan’s eyes were anything but innocent. He’d seen too much, been through too much to still be the boy they were showing on the screen.
“Did you get to talk to him?” Antonio asked as the footage returned to the big rescue.
He finally noticed that he had been pushing the stretcher alongside Choi Yang. Once Savan was in the ambulance, he let go and Choi Yang had gotten in to the back. The doors hadn’t closed immediately, his eyes widened when he noticed that Choi Yang had been waving him in, but he refused. He hadn’t been aware of doing that. He reached for the coffee and took a sip. Choi Yang had been asking him to come along and he’d refused.
“It’s amazing how these things happen.” Antonio mused, taking a seat in the armchair across Michel. “Master Yang is so hard to get a hold of. I’ve tried it before and failed. He is a portal of investment and getting to him is like climbing Everest fifty times. You go out with a hair stylist and he ends up being the lost son of the man.”
“It doesn’t matter, Savan is leaving.” Cole put the cup down and sat back. “If you’re thinking of investments, you had better throw that idea away. I’m not going to capitalize on this. You have no idea what it was like for them.”
“What are you doing here then?” Michel asked gently. “Why aren’t you beside Savan in the hospital?”
“I’m giving him time with his father. They have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Come on, that is an excuse and you know it.” Antonio sipped at his coffee, and turned to meet Cole’s mutinous gaze. “If you notice, they didn’t mention Savan’s name at all, which means the decision to leave, has not been made yet.”
“I went to the hospital.” Cole confessed quietly. “An hour ago, I was standing outside Savan’s private hospital room, with a bunch of flowers, ready to face it all. I overhead him telling his father that he was going back with him. I can’t compete with that.”
“Compete with what?” Michel frowned. “You’re not intimidated by Savan being Master Choi Yang’s son are you?”
“You have no idea what is expected of him. I was there last night, watching Ahmon and all he was doing. They moved mountains last night, things you and I cannot even imagine, they did in minutes when they were looking for Savan. That is his life, his world.” Cole shook his head. “I don’t know if I fit in it.”
“Are you making this about status?” Michel chuckled in disbelief. “You’re turning into mother. If you didn’t notice, you have only known Savan as a hairstylist. Working a salon in Harajuku, walking around looking like a punk, do you think he cares about power?”
“He doesn’t know who he is either.” Cole decided. “He’s been running for so long, I think he has forgotten what he should be.”
“Or maybe, you’re just being an idiot.” Antonio lifted a brow at him and shook his head. “If I was marrying the princess of Jordan, I hope you wouldn’t treat me this way.”
“You’re already married, you idiot.”
“I’m just saying,” Antonio replied with a sigh. “Well, since you’ve decided to mope around, we have no choice but to turn this place into a party. The girls are on their way. A few people from the office, and I asked Yui to bring her friends over.”
“Oh no,” Cole sighed.
“Yep, no moping around by yourself,” Michel said standing up, he stretched his arms over his head and let out a loud yawn. “I’m going to raid your kitchen, I’m starving.”
It didn’t take long for the house to be filled with people. Cole sat on the couch listening to Michel’s wife talk about a house she was thinking of buying for her mother. Antonio’s wife took charge of the food, and the guests who filed into the penthouse. The quiet he’d been craving quickly disappeared, and the pain retreated to be dealt with later.
“How is he?” Savan asked Ahmon two weeks later. He was staying at the Ashika house, with Liang and his father because the loft was undergoing a complete remodel. After all the destruction, it had felt like a war zone and he hadn’t wanted to see it. Liang was working the salon while he recuperated. On top of healing his bruised body, he’d also spent his time talking to inspectors about Jiro’s case and everything they’d had to live through. It was an exercise that left him exhausted each night and when he went to bed, his spent his nights wishing he wasn’t alone in bed.
“Immersed in work,” Ahmon replied. “He spends his evenings with his brothers, holding endless parties, and then wakes up in the morning and heads back to the office.”
Turning away from the view of the compound, his gaze settled on the documents laid out on the desk in the study room. Ahmon sat on the couch, feet resting on the coffee table. He was deceptively browsing on his laptop but Savan knew different. Ahmon was watching him keenly, from the corner of his eye.
“How did it go with the inspectors today?” he asked going to sit in the chair behind the desk. It was already four o’clock in the evening. The days were moving faster, he had only three days left before he was to return back to Hong Kong. An hour ago, Jiro Nang had officially been charged with kidnap and murder. The evidence they had accumulated over the years and the testimonies from him, Liang and Xiao Wei had all played a large role. The official trial was the main reason why he had to return to Hong Kong on top of other things. He still couldn’t believe that the ordeal was over. Every time he woke up in the morning, he kept thinking that he might be dreaming.
As if sensing his thoughts, Ahmon assured him. “It’s over, Savan. All that’s left is for you to make your peace with it.”
“That’s easier said than done.” Hands splayed over the documents on the table he looked at Ahmon. “Thank you for your efforts, and for helping Liang.”
“I couldn’t have done it without Cole’s help.” Ahmon confessed. Putting his feet down he sat up to look at him. “Are you sure you don’t want to go see him? You can just go talk to him instead of having people watch him all the time.”
“I can’t.” Ever since he’d woken up to find Cole was not by his side, he’d known things would never be the same between them. There was too much to explain, so much he didn’t know how to explain. It was too complicated. “It’s better this way. What are these documents? I thought I signed all the papers the inspectors wanted?”
“Those are from your father’s lawyer. Those documents will officially make you his heir and give you the position you were meant to have from the beginning. That way there will be no more confusion on what is what for everyone.”
“Meaning I have to take up responsibilities from today if I sign these.”
“That was going to happen the moment we found you. No more running around like a punk, Savan. You might have to give up the motorcycle.”
“Who is a punk?” Savan made a face at the back of Ahmon’s head before he returned his attention to the papers before him. Picking up the pen beside them, he stared at the first page. Was he ready for this? Five years of running was a lot to erase. Dao Ming and his son had kept him away from home because of revenge after they had killed his mother. Closing his eyes, he rubbed at his forehead.
“Savan, you were always going to end up here. I think you’ve more than earned the position,” Ahmon said into the silence. “I wouldn’t have had the courage to keep going as long as you did.”
“It was cowardly, running.” Savan dropped the pen down and sunk his fingers into his hair. “Five years, Ahmon, blindly moving from city to city without wanting to know why, don’t you think it was foolish? I lost five years with my father because of revenge.”
“You were protecting him and two other people. You did what you needed to do. As for those years, get them back. Be by your father’s side and show that bastard that nothing changed.”
“He’s right, son.” Choi Yang’s voice startled him and he looked up to find his father standing at the entrance watching him. “Nothing has changed the fact that you’re still my son. It’s a fact that will never change.”
The words healed the scars in his heart, but uncertainty still ruled his resolve. A quick perusal of the family business and its interest had left him sweating with shock. There was a lot he didn’t know, a lot to learn.
“I don’t know very much about the company, or the Ashika consortium.” He wasn’t even sure he could grasp that kind of responsibility. “So many lives will be depending on my decisions.”
“You will do fine. You protected three lives with such capability, it shouldn’t be any different. And also, there is the success of Bovian Image. I’ve read up on it, your numbers are very good. In fact, you’ve been holding it back.” Choi Yang moved to sit across Ahmon. “Why is that?”
“We didn’t advertise very much. It would have drawn too much attention.” Savan explained with a shrug. He didn’t need to explain more about why press exposure would have been a negative thing for him and Liang.
“Working with me will be no different from running Bovian Image.” Choi Yang lifted a brow at him in challenge. “It’s all up to you; I don’t see any other obstacle.”
No, there was nothing stopping him. Savan picked up the pen and stared at the tip for a moment. His thoughts lingered over Cole and how much he was missing him. He wished he could see him just one more time before he left. Have one more night with him. Biting his lip hard he chastised himself for his wishful thinking. He signed the papers then without hesitation.
On the night of his departure for Hong Kong, Savan signed over his share of Bovian Image to Xiao Wei and Liang. Walking through the salon one last time, he paused at the reception desk thinking of the staff with a smile playing on his face.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Xiao Wei asked shell shocked by the gift he was giving. She’d settled very well into the loft upstairs, and being close to Liang was bringing her smile back. It was everything she deserved, he decided.
“Xiao Wei.” He stepped up to her and leaned down to hug her. Closing his eyes when she ran caressing fingers through his hair, he let out a breath to curb his emotions. “Let me do this for you.”
“But you’ve already done so much,” she said quietly.
“Think of it as a gift for Mei then. Take care of it, and Zun.”
She sighed and patted his shoulder when he pulled back. “You will come back to visit. The staff will miss you, and your skills.”
“I’ll come by when I can.” He promised. Pressing a kiss to her cheek, he turned to Liang who was leaning on the reception desk with a closed expression. “I have to go.”
Liang nodded and stepped up to hug him tightly. Clearing his throat, Liang stepped back and ruffled his blue black hair. “Call me when you get there.”
“I will.” Savan promised forcing a smile on his face. His driver honked outside and he sighed. Giving Xiao Wei one last hug, he waved goodbye and hurried out. As the car pulled away from the parking lot, he gave the building one last glance before he turned forward to face his future.