Chapter 24 - Driving To University
'I've been so stupid! I should've inquired Philip about Carlos more before. If I did, I wouldn't have had the audacity to cross him. Alas! It's too late now. What else can I do?' Debbie thought, beating herself up over her ignorance.
Now that she was seeing things in a different light, she really regretted having sung the song that evening to offend him.
'Debbie Nian, why did you have to provoke him again and again?
You lifted a rock only to drop it on your own feet!' she berated herself. Slapping a palm on her forehead in resentment, she then stood up. Tomorrow morning was going to be tough for her. When she went to the second floor, she stole a glance at the closed door of Carlos' bedroom. As soon as she was certain that it was not going to burst open at any minute, she sneaked into hers and closed the door as gently as possible.
All night long, she tossed around in her bed. Her worries did not leave her alone at all.
The next morning, she got up half an hour earlier than usual. After readying herself, she went down the stairs with dark circles around her eyes. All she wanted was to leave the house without being noticed by Carlos.
The previous evening, she had made up her mind. Since she could not divorce him right now, she just had to keep herself away from him as much as possible. It was her only solution until she could make the man sign the divorce papers. If she had to face him, she decided she would not provoke him again. After all, safety was now her first priority.
When she reached the first floor, however, she saw the very same man she meant to avoid in the dining room. Without even looking at her, Carlos ate his breakfast. It was a bit strange seeing him in a black shirt instead of his usual business attire.
"Debbie, come eat," Julie said in a cheerful voice as she went to the kitchen. Before the servant could reappear with Debbie's breakfast, the young lady was already running to the entrance door.
"No need for that, Julie," she shouted hastily. "I'm in a hurry!" 'When did he get up? I didn't even hear him make any sound, ' she thought to herself.
"Stop!" came a cold voice from behind her back. Almost as if on command, Debbie paused from changing her shoes. Her breath hitched when she heard him.
"Um..." she stammered, turning around.
Until that moment, something never occurred to Debbie. What was she supposed to call him? 'Boss?' Debbie thought. 'Sounds like I'm an employee of his. Honey? That would be disgusting!' She scrunched her nose in revulsion. "Sir," she said formally, trying to make an excuse,"I have something urgent to finish. So I'll be leaving now."
'Well, actually I can call him Uncle. He's so strict with me that he reminds me of my father. But, ' Debbie thought, still trapped in her own musings, 'if I really call him Uncle, he will surely get irritated.'
The young lady refrained from voicing out her thoughts, for if she did, it would throw out her entire plan of not getting on the wrong side of her husband.
But upon hearing Debbie call him 'Sir', Carlos could not help but furrow his brows while saying nothing for a while. Gracefully, he wiped his lips with a napkin, and said,"I'll drive you to the university after you have breakfast."
He then opened his laptop, burying himself with his work. Once again, his walls were up.
Although Debbie wanted to turn him down, she decided against speaking up. The young lady could already imagine how he would react if she insisted on going to the university on her own. She did not want to be frozen to death by his cold glare. Nor did she want to be thrown into the sea or buried alive. Well, not again.
In a slow and cautious manner, Debbie walked over to the expensive mahogany dining table and sat as far away from him as possible.
There was no question about how good Julie was at cooking. But Debbie simply had no appetite at all. His presence made it difficult for her to enjoy her meal. While putting food into her mouth, she kept stealing glances at Carlos every now and then. It was like she was not anticipating the slightest sound coming from her to annoy him. By the time she finished her breakfast, her forehead was wet with sweat.
The lady stared at her hands under the table. A stomachache this morning did not seem out of the question.
When Carlos noticed that she was done, he stood up, picked up his briefcase from the couch, and headed towards the entrance.
Sighing with profound resignation, Debbie grabbed her backpack and followed after him.
When she got out of the house, there was a black car parked right before her. Something about the vehicle appeared to be very striking, but she could not quite point a finger at it. Through the car window, she saw that Carlos was sitting in the back seat. Groaning, she did not approach the car at once. Where should she sit? Next to him in the back seat?
The mere prospect of being close to him sent shivers down her spine. 'No, ' she thought stubbornly, 'I do not want to die out of fright! Hm... but maybe I can sit in the passenger seat.' The young lady was too focused on staying away from Carlos to notice he was running out of patience.
"I have no time to wait for you," he stated from inside the car. The harshness in his voice brought Debbie back to her senses. Darting towards the car, she opened the door of the passenger seat. To her disappointment, however, it was already occupied by Carlos' belongings.
Left with no choice, she could only shut the door and sit behind with him. As Carlos was sitting on the left, she took the right side.
Neither of them spoke another word while the car moved slowly. Casting a glance at Debbie from the car window, Philip noticed the girl lean against the car door, averting Carlos as if he were the plague.
Sighing, he thought, 'Debbie used to be a cheerful and lively girl. Now that she's in front of Mr. Huo, she looks so cautious and reserved. She must be frightened of him.'
Twenty minutes later, a black luxurious car stopped along the entrance of the Economics and Management School of Y City University.
Seeing luxurious cars at the university was not anything out of the ordinary as many of the students came from wealthy families.
In fact, many students often took delight in parading their high status. However, the car that was parked in the entrance of the university was worth at least tens of millions of dollars. Who could own such an extravagant set of wheels? It was for this reason that it caught several people's attention.
"Thank you, sir. Goodbye!" Debbie said hastily. As soon as the words left her mouth, she pushed the door open and ran as fast as she could. It looked so comical, as though she were being chased by some fierce animal.
The moment the young lady emerged from the car, students in every direction began to gossip. Their curiosity was satiated by her appearance, but now they had more questions.
"She usually rides a BMW. And now, she has a new car?" "This car is several times more expensive than her BMW!"
Suddenly, people were sharing their theories with one another. Although some students had families who could afford these luxury cars, there were many pretty girls in the university who were mistresses of rich men.
That theory would have satisfied them, but that did not just make sense because it was Debbie. It was difficult to believe that she would ever be someone's mistress.
Indeed, she had a pretty face. But the young lady did not act like a girl at all! No one could believe that there would be a rich man who would like to have a tomboy as his mistress.
"Tomboy!" Jared exclaimed as he rubbed his eyes. "Am I dreaming?" Apparently, he was among the students who saw Debbie getting out of the black car. At first, his interest was innocent enough. It was a really nice car.
All he knew was that Debbie came from a rich family and that her usual ride to school was a BMW which already cost millions of dollars. So Jared's curiosity was not about whether Debbie's family could afford it. More likely, he was curious about the type of man who would spend so much money on a car.
It made him wonder who her father was, as he had not heard of a rich man whose surname was Nian. Simultaneously, he realized that Debbie had rarely spoken about her father. Now more than ever he wanted to get to know the man with extravagant taste in cars. The car named Emperor was ZL Group's latest product, worth about tens of millions of dollars.
'Wait!' Jared thought suddenly. 'As far as I recall, there are only two Emperor cars in Y City. And one of them belongs to... Mr. Huo.
No... Debbie and Mr. Huo?'
Jared did not even notice that he was casting a dirty look at his friend who was wearing white trousers and a grey coat. Upon examining her in a tactless manner, he concluded that she did not look like she had slept with Carlos the previous night. His suspicion was so obvious to Debbie that she did not even need to be a mind reader.
Pak! Once she stood beside her dirty-minded friend, she slapped her hand on his back. The man yelped in pain, and rubbed his sore back.
The disapproving look on her face was enough to make him pause while looking too silly for his own good. Scowling at him, Debbie rolled her eyes in disbelief. How could Jared even think that she was a mistress? Why on earth would she even sleep with someone for money?
'Well, ' Debbie thought to herself, 'if sleeping with Mr. Huo means he would be kinder to me, I just might consider it.'
Because of her insistence on avoiding annoying her husband, the frightening and cold Mr. Huo, she did not stop to consider that using a different car might attract unwanted attention. Clenching her teeth, she quickly thought of a plausible cover-up.
"Don't take it the wrong way," she began to tell him. "The car belongs to my family. Don't you know that I come from a rich and powerful family?" By the end of her explanation, she tried to sound as proud as she could, which immediately convinced Jared.
Shaking off all his reckless thoughts, Jared proceeded to the classroom with her. Every so often, she would catch him giving her an apologetic look. 'What was I thinking? How's it even possible for Tomboy to be someone's mistress!' Jared scolded himself in his mind.
Regardless of whether Debbie convinced him or not, the story of her riding an Emperor car to the university still spread like wildfire across the entire campus.
As though she did not unwittingly draw enough attention to herself on her own, she became even more famous now.
In the classroom, Debbie was leaning on her desk and pondering about Carlos' and her marriage. For a while, she almost forgot about it. And when she did remember, she made sure that it did not affect her normal life.
With the new complications that she was forced to deal with, it was going to be more difficult now than before.
Making sure no one was looking, she allowed herself to seethe in secret. Her anger was not directed to anyone else, but herself. 'I thought I was brave enough,' she thought. 'But the moment I was in front of him, I got cold feet and didn't know what to say! I didn't even dare to mention the whole divorce thing. what a coward I was!
Frustrated, Debbie buried her head under her arms. If Carlos was unwilling to divorce her, was she going to have a stressful life from now on?
'I seduced Jared and made eyes at Emmett in front of Carlos on purpose. Everyone knows he hates that type of woman, so he should have been enraged by it!
He should have signed the divorce papers last night. But why did he not do it? Oh God! I just cannot understand that man.'
While Debbie was internally caught up in her dilemma, Kasie's voice rang in her ears and brought her back to earth. "Hey guys," the cheerful lady said, "tomorrow is Kristin's birthday. We're going to have a party in a bar tomorrow night. If you're coming with us, please go to Dixon to enter your name."