14 | butterflies

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N E V A E H

"I'm cooking," I abruptly say. "I'm cooking, Dad. My hands are full right now." I nervously laugh.

"What are you cooking, sweetheart?" Mom chirps in, and my gaze drops on the food on the table.

Meanwhile, Aiden is still watching me.

"Pancakes."

"Always your favorite," Dad says, and I can imagine the smile on his face.

"Did you get the maple syrup I placed on the kitchen for you?" Mom asks. "I know you like to eat with lots of it."

To my surprise, a small smile forms on Aiden's lips. He pours the remaining maple syrup on my pancake, leaving nothing for himself.

I'm stunned, but then I realize that I should answer Mom's question. "I got it. I got it, Mom."

"And the cereals?" Dad asks. "I bought a lot of packs of Lucky Charms for you, remember?"

"I had to stop you from buying all the stocks in the grocery store," Mom speaks to Dad with amusement, and I can imagine her shaking her head in disbelief.

"She loves it," Dad says, sounding hurt, only to receive a chuckle from Mom.

Ian comes back to our table to place Aiden's coffee, and that's when Aiden whispers to him, "Lucky charms for Nevaeh."

Ian raises his eyebrows.

"The cereal," Aiden whisper shouts, and Ian quickly nods before walking back into the kitchen to prepare it for me. I don't even have time to stop him.

"I'm so excited for your first day, honey." Mom indeed can't hide her excitement. She knows how eager I am to join the business classes.

"You remember our deal, don't you?" Dad asks, and I feel like pulling my hair out.

Please, Dad. Not again.

"Stay away from guys who--"

"I know, Dad," I cut him off. "Anyway, I gotta hurry. My first class is pretty early today. I'll call you later. Love you." I hang up before Dad unknowingly spills unnecessary information to Aiden.

I'm sure that Aiden isn't interested to hear about my love life.

Dad must be staring at his phone with opened mouth now, but I'll text him later.

"Sorry," I say, feeling embarrassed. "They're always so nosy."

"I'm sorry that you had to lie to them." Guilt is visible in Aiden's eyes.

"It's okay. My Dad... He's just too overprotective." I let out a sigh of desperation.

The guilt I'm feeling worsens too. I can't imagine if Dad knows all about this.

Ian comes back with a bowl of my favorite cereal, while Aiden resumes his breakfast.

A few moments pass in silence, and just as I'm about to start a conversation, Ashton arrives at our table. Aiden turns to him, only to find an apologetic look on Ashton's face.

"I know that we haven't reached office hour, but it's urgent," Ashton says. "I had a call from the branch office in Singapore that they were told to cancel the deal due to the government's policy. They wanted me to pass this message to you."

Aiden sighs, takes out his phone, and walks off to call someone that seems to be very important and most likely resides on the other side of the world.

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