Cole sat in his living room drinking. It had been a longtime since he’d sat on a couch drinking. 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.
He wanted that man.
Cole had been ready to tell Savan all that when he’d gone to the hospital. When he heard Savan say that he was going back to Hong Kong, pain he didn’t understand had hit him deep. Taking a sip of red wine straight from the bottle, Cole 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.
Cole wanted Savan to stay. He wanted Savan to choose him and remain at 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 Cole 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 wanted to be alone, wallowing was important too.
The lock beeped and the door opened. He cursed under his breath at the thought of seeing his brothers.
Why had he given them the code 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.”
Michael chuckled and Cole opened his eyes in time to see Michael sink into an armchair. Michael propped his legs on the wooden stool in front of him and reached for the television 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.” Michael 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?” Michael replied, adding the volume.
He’d apparently found a news channel.
Cole turned his head slightly to find clips of Savan’s big rescue running. He couldn’t remember any reporters, his thoughts had been so occupied on Savan, nothing else had mattered. He sat up a little to get a better view.
Top news today, law enforcement authorities have found the lost son of the Head of the Ashika Consortium, after a long search that ended in a brutal showdown at the Consortium’s downtown offices. Sources close to the family confirm that an unidentified man kidnapped Master Choi Yang’s son. Local Police rescued him this morning in a daring mission. Master Choi Yang’s son was rushed to a nearby hospital due to 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 and will face the full force of the law. For now, this is all we have. I’ll release a more detailed statement later. Thank you again for your support.”
With a curt nod at the members of the press corps, Ahmon went back into the building as the reporters broke into a frenzy of questions. Michael 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’?” Michael 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 appeals to the public to help find his son. The despair in the man’s voice was so evident it was hard not to ignore. 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 Cole, he placed a cup of strong coffee on the stool beside the couch.
“So, you’re sad that he’s leaving. It’s obvious you’re in love with him, hence the drinking. Shouldn’t you try to sort this out?” Antonio asked.
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.
Cole 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 Cole refused.
He hadn’t been aware of doing that.
Cole reached for his coffee and took a sip. Choi Yang had asked him to come along and he’d refused.
“It’s amazing how these things happen.” Antonio mused, taking a seat in the armchair across Michael. “Master Nan is so hard to get a hold of. I’ve tried reaching out to him 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?” Michael asked. “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 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?” Michael 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?” Michael chuckled in disbelief. “You’re turning into mother. If you didn’t notice, you have only known Savan as a hairstylist. Working a unisex salon in Harajuku, walking around looking like a punk, do you think he cares about power?”
“Savan doesn’t know who he is yet.” Cole decided. “He’s been running for so long, I think he has forgotten what he should be.”
“Or maybe, you’re being an idiot.” Antonio lifted a brow at him and shook his head. “If I married 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 sulk, 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,” Michael 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 his penthouse to fill with people. Cole sat on the couch listening to Michael’s wife talk about a house she was thinking of buying her mother. Antonio’s wife took charge of the food, and the guests who filed into the penthouse. The quiet Cole had been craving quickly disappeared, and the pain retreated for now.
“How is he?” Savan asked Ahmon two weeks later.
Savan 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 Savan recuperated. On top of healing his bruised body, Savan also spent his time talking to Inspectors about Jiro’s case, providing statements detailing the hell they’d had to live through. An exercise that left him exhausted each night.
However, when he went to bed, Savan spent his nights wishing for Cole.
“Immersed in work,” Ahmon replied. “He spends his evenings with his brothers, holding endless parties, and then he wakes up in the morning and heads to work.”
Turning away from the view of the compound, Savan’s 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?” Savan asked, going to sit in the chair behind the desk.
It was already four o’clock in the evening. The days were moving fast. He had only three days left before he was to return to Hong Kong. An hour ago, police in Hong Kong had officially charged Jiro Nang 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 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, Savan 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. “Are you sure you don’t want to go see him? You can talk to him instead of having people watch him all the time.”
Ever since he’d woken up to find Cole was not by his side, Savan had 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’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. 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 Ahmon 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, Savan rubbed 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.”
“Ahmon is 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. A quick perusal of the family business and its interest left him sweating. 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.” Savan 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 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?” Ahmon asked.
“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.”
Savan picked up the pen and stared at the tip for a moment. His thoughts lingered on Cole. He wished he could see him one more time before he left. Have one more night with him. Biting his lip hard he chastised himself for dreaming and 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, a smile tugging at his lips.
“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, Savan decided. Savan stepped up to her and hugged her. Closing his eyes when she ran rubbed his back, he let out a breath to curb his emotions.
“Let me do this for you.”
“But you’ve already done so much,” she said.
“Think of it as a gift for Mei then. Take care of Bovian Image and Zun.”
Xiao Wei 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.” Savan promised, kissing her cheek. He turned to Liang who was leaning on the reception desk with a closed expression.
“I have to go,” he said to his best friend.
Liang nodded and stepped up to hug him tightly. Clearing his throat, Liang stepped back and ruffled Savan’s mink 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, Savan gave Bovian Image one last glance before he turned forward to face his future.