“Mr Hastings,” the valet, with a belly too big for his ash uniform, smiled as Oliver stepped out of his Benz.
“Rex, hi.” He buttoned his suit and tossed his car key to Rex. “How was your night?” he asked with a friendly smile.
“Well, I have twin babies, sir,” the corners of his lips curled up.
“Ah, not much sleep then?”
Oliver could tell by his grin that he was content with his lack of sleep. He tapped Rex’s shoulder as he entered the Benz and wheeled it to the underground parking lot. Oliver tipped his head back to take a gander at SH Group headquarters. The morning sun shone brightly on the panes of glass as white fluffy clouds drifted by. The 46-story structure, which was built on a higher topography in the city’s most expensive real estate district, was visible from practically any place in Red Hill. Oliver chose a property with a view of the building from his terrace. He walked in via one of the two massive spinning doors, his hands buried in his pockets.
“Good morning, Mr Hasting,” said a young female employee.
Oliver peeped at the employee’s ID badge, which was dangling around her neck. “Hello, Veronica,” he said. The SH headquarters alone employed almost 2000 employees. Despite his best efforts, Oliver couldn’t possibly recognise all his staff. To address this issue, he mandated that all employees wear their identity badges.
“Mr Hastings,” a male employee acknowledged him with a slight bow as he walked by.
He answered, “Hello.”
He made his way to the elevator through a flurry of hellos and good mornings. It was one of those blessed rare times that the elevator was sitting on the ground floor. The nude-coloured door shifted aside for him to enter. Turning back, he saw two employees hurrying towards the elevator and held the door for them. The female employees slowed down when they saw Oliver.
“Get in,” he told them. “I won’t bite,” he smiled. They picked up their paces, entered and pressed their respective floors. On the eleventh level, they were joined by two guys and a female staff.
“I can’t believe we are going to Braxton Villa for our retreat again.” It was the woman in the last group that complained before the elevator continued its upward course.
“I am sick of going to that place every year,” the first man in a royal-blue suit grumbled.
“I don’t see why we can’t go somewhere else,” the woman remarked to the guys, a yellow file folder clutched to her chest.
The second man grumbled, “Every year it’s the same thing. I’m not sure why it’s called a retreat if we’re not allowed to have any fun.”
“Retreat is just another way of saying work away from the office,” the man in a royal-blue suit added.
As though an idea dropped in her head, the woman shot her face at the men. “Is the director dating the daughter of Braxton Inc.?”
Following the conversation, Oliver, who had stood motionless behind them, swung his face up and enlarged his eyes at their heads.
Both males exchanged stares before slurring, “Nahhh.”
The two ladies who entered after Oliver shifted their glances awkwardly between their boss and the prattling employees. One of them tapped the woman with a file folder to call her attention to the fact that the director she was talking about was on the elevator with them. She shrugged off the tap without looking at her and continued to blabber.
“Why does he make us go there every year then?” the woman said in a loud whisper. “I am certain he is dating her,” she declared.
The lady made another attempt and pinched the blabbering woman’s arm.”Ouch!” she said as she turned to face her. “What?!” Her gaze was drawn to the man in a dark-brown suit beside her; her boss. Her jaw fell and her eyeballs became twice their normal size. She covered her mouth as she stuttered, “Si- s- sir.”
Oliver cleared his throat and poked his inner cheek wall with his tongue. “I am not dating her,” he stated emphatically.
“The daughter of the Braxton Villa, I am not dating her,” he clarified. His face showed that he had not been offended.
The woman lowered her head and scratched the back of her ear sheepishly. The men that accompanied her glued their faces forward as though they were not part of the conversation initially.
When the elevator dinged and the door opened, the first two females eagerly exited.
“And I don’t choose where you go for a retreat,” Oliver added. “Heads of departments do that, not me.”
She replied with an abashed nod.
The elevator dinged again. The men filed out and pulled the woman after them. Until the door shut, Oliver focused his comically narrowed eyes on them. The next stop was his floor. He stepped out and walked briskly to his office. Walking through the double sensor door, he had to square off with another round of good mornings from staff working at the Director’s office. He wished they would continue working and not pay attention to him every time he walked in. He waved at them and beelined to his office.
Jane rose from her seat when she spotted him. “Good morning, sir,” she said in her usual formal, yet soft tone. Her station was a metal and glass C-shaped desk opposite Oliver’s office. Her main office was beside Oliver’s, she moved a section of it outside to be closer when her boss needed her.
“Jane, morning,” he said as he walked inside his office, Jane leaping after him
Oliver shrugged off his jacket and hung it on the coat rack behind his chair.
“How’s the puppy doing?” Jane had inquired before noticing Oliver’s ruby-red eyes. “Are you all right?” she asked, concerned. “Your eyes look punched,” she said, rolling her finger over her eyes.
He plodded on the leather chair, “I am okay. It’s a reaction to puppy hair.”
“Oh, I thought you would have sold her,” Jane teased.
“I did consider the idea.” They chuckled.
“I will get an anti-allergy pill for you.”
Jane’s assistant walked in with a mug balanced on a steel tray. “Good morning, sir.”
“Good morning, Nadine.”
Nadine lowered the tray soundlessly on the desk. “Thank you,” he said and lifted the steaming mug of black coffee. Nadine nodded and exited the office.
“Hill’s construction left you a message,” Jane said. “They’d like to know when you’ll be able to see them.”
Oliver sipped his coffee, a pleasant way to begin yet another busy day. “What is my schedule for today?” He licked the vanilla syrup flavour in the coffee with his curled lips.
Jane unlocked her Mac tablet. “You have one hour free this morning.” She lifted her oval face from the tablet. “You can use that to attend to the documents on your table.” She tipped her head at the documents stacked on the executive desk. “By 8 am, you have a meeting with some managers from SH foods. 9:30, meeting with SH digitals regarding the launching of the new graphic tablets. 10:15 is for your appointment with the Chairman of Erudite Group. At 11:00, you have a conference at LaVida, the Young Entrepreneurs Conference. You are receiving an award there. 1:00, lunch break. 2:00—
“Wait, lunch break?”
She dropped her arms and overlapped her wrists. “Yes, sir.”
“Since when do I have a lunch break?” he chuckled over the rim of the mug before taking another sip.
“Since your mother called last night, asking me to report your lunch schedule,” Jane grinned.
“She called you?”
He shook his head, smiling.
Jane tapped the Mac and continued. “By 2 pm, you’ll be meeting with the acquisition team. Inspection of SH Farm by 3 p.m. and SH sports centre inspection by 4 p.m. You have to return to the office by 4:30 to review the M&A of Pinnacle Hotel in Chicago. You also need to review for Sung Enterprise and the buy-out terms with Yamasoto Cars. 8 pm, dinner at the Prime Hotel. Mr Yen is throwing a fundraising party.”
He raised a corner of his mouth and asked, “Did I agree to that?” He despised parties, and he thought fundraises were particularly worthless.
“Yes, sir,” Jane replied frankly.
“Why?” he asked Jane, wondering what possessed him to agree to a night of handshaking and fraternising when there was an option to say no. Jane had an excellent memory. She would know why if she had that information.
“Because Mr Yen is a major shareholder of Evolan Oil, one of SH Group’s subsidiaries in China.”
“Ah, right,” he muttered. One of the challenges of running a multi-dollar group of companies was that he had more asses to kiss. He was the largest shareholder of his business group which gave him significant power, but having allies was important in business. His father made sure he taught him that before he died. He gave his son all the connections and relationships he would need to keep the business afloat for as long as the family wanted.
Jane locked her tablet. “It is going to be a busy day.”
“Always is.” His nostrils caught a whiff of vanilla syrup as he sipped his coffee again. “Where is the company’s departmental retreat schedule?” he asked after a smooth gulp.
“I sent it to you in an email this morning.”
Oliver switched on his computer. “Could you please get me the head of the Planning and Strategic department?”
“Yes, sir.” Jane met Niles at the door and they exchanged greetings.
Niles had a dark complexion, green-blue eyes, thick brows, and a neatly maintained moustache. With an IQ of 141, he could easily pass for a model rather than an acquisition hunter.
“Woah, what in the world happened to your eyes?” Niles asked Oliver, standing across his desk.
Oliver sniffed, “Dog fur.”
“Where is the puppy? You sold her, didn’t you?”
He rolled his eyes at him. “Do I look like someone that would sell a puppy?”
He jutted his chin and said, “Yes, you are that precise person.”
“Because of money?” he mocked.
“No, no, no, no. Because your personality is the sort that gets rid of anything that makes him uncomfortable.”
He rolled his eyes again and slurped his coffee as he navigated over his 19-inch flat-screen desktop. Oliver met Niles while studying in Switzerland five years ago. It had taken him six years to tell Niles about his gift, and he was the only friend he had managed to maintain.
“Right!” he clapped and sat down. “What is important here is not the dog you almost murdered. That doctor, have you considered why you couldn’t see the end of her life?”
Oliver hesitated before continuing to go through his emails. He pondered on it all night without reaching an answer. He has never met someone whose death vision he couldn’t see. He would label Eden as strange, but since he was the man who could see how people would die, he wasn’t the one to talk.
“This is strange,” Niles rubbed his chin, thinking aloud. “You see everybody but hers. There must be a reason.” He leaned against the desk and rested his forearms on it. “Perhaps, she has the same ability as you and she stopped you from using yours on her.”
Oliver shook his head, recalling Eden’s bemused expression when he took her arm. “I don’t think that is it.”
“Or,” his voice dropped, “she’s already dead, like a ghost,” he whispered.
He looked at him with a tilted brow. “Ghost? That is your brilliant insight.” He faced the monitor, clicking his tongue.
“How else do we explain this? Have you tried to talk to her? Did you touch her again?”
“You did? What happened? What did she do?”
“She twisted my arm.” The words spilt out before he could stop them. He’d just admitted to his closest friend that a girl got the better of him.
Niles’s eyes bugged out. “She hit you?”
“She didn’t hit –” The appearance of the Head of Planning and Strategic Department stopped his defence. It was the perfect timing that granted him a reprieve from having to explain the details of how strong Eden was. Niles would mock him, adding insult to his terrible injury. “Don’t you have a meeting this morning?” he inquired.
“Shit! I almost forgot,” he said as he leapt to his feet. “We’ll continue this later,” he murmured and hurriedly left Oliver’s office.
“Good morning, sir,” Mr Vince, a bald man in his forties, said to Oliver.
“Mr Vince,” Oliver said, assuming an official posture. “Are you by any chance dating the daughter of Braxton Inc. in Green County?”
Mr Vince was visibly stunned. “Sir?”
Oliver faked a gasp, “If not the daughter, is it the wife?”
Mr Vince stuttered, “Sir, I am a happily married man with three children. I’m afraid, I don’t understand where you are going with these questions.”
“You don’t understand?” He bobbed his head. “I know how you feel because I also don’t understand and I need your help.”
“With what?” he drawled.
“Why do you have your departmental retreat at Braxton Villa every year? Every year, you submit new locations for approval, and they are always granted. So, why Braxton Villa every year? I also don’t recall authorising any other office-related work on retreats, except reviewing the company’s plan for the year, which shouldn’t take more than two hours. Department heads are to organise team-building activities and provide opportunities for personnel to have fun. What exactly have you been up to?” Oliver queried with a stiff stare.
Mr Vince stammered. “The Braxton Villa is cheaper and closer—
Oliver folded his arms and leaned back in his seat. “Did the staff complain about travelling a long distance?”
“Sir? Uhum… no.”
“Are you the one paying for the retreat?”
Mr Vince remained mute.
Oliver nodded at him to answer, but his eyes danced around nervously.
“So why are you concerned about proximity and cost when employees are complaining? The company retreat is the only period of the year they take time off from work, apart from annual leave. Explain to me why the budgets you have been submitting are disproportionate to your expenses?” he asked sternly. “I reviewed the schedule for last year. You presented a budget for Kent Ranch in Arizona. The cost was twice the amount you would have spent at Braxton, yet you went to Braxton! Same for last year and the year before! You completely lied in your reports!”
“I am sorry, sir.”
“You are sorry?” Oliver chuckled. “You deny staff their rights while slurping company funds for yourself – what? You are sorry?”
Mr Vince blanched as sweat beads formed on his forehead.
Oliver pressed the intercom and Jane walked in seconds after. “Mr Vince will report himself to the Audit Department for misappropriation of funds and embezzlement,” he declared. “In addition, he is to clear his table at once, pending a criminal investigation. Any company properties in his possession should also be turned in immediately.”
Mr Vince’s pleas fell on deaf ears. Jane knew it was pointless to apologise to Oliver. He was a competent director and a skilled manager. What he would never stand for was corruption within his company. He prioritised the well-being of all employees. Happy workers, rich company, he always said. Jane followed the security men as they escorted Mr Vince out of the office.
Oliver expedited his schedule for the day, attending brain-tasking meetings and making million-dollar decisions until it was time for the Young Entrepreneurs Conference. He had a mountain of documents to read through with little time. He had to multitask, so he called for Rhodes, his driver. Though he preferred to drive himself, when he didn’t have the luxury, Rhodes was always on stand-by.
Jane walked Oliver to the lobby with two thick files meant to keep her boss occupied on the way to and from the conference. Rhodes, a stocky man with scanty black hair, pulled up at the entrance of the building in Oliver’s car.
Three hours later, Rhodes was driving Oliver back from the conference. After scrutinising the terms of an M&A agreement for thirty minutes amid the city’s traffic, Oliver was due for a time out. He flipped to the cover page at once and tossed the agreement on the seat beside him. He was exhausted but today was one of his better and easier days. He had time for nothing else and frankly, he didn’t want to have the free time. Work kept him occupied and sane, a way to deal with his ability. It kept his mind busy enough not to think about the number of times he had seen people die in his head.
He rubbed his forehead, casting a glance at the crystal plaque given to him by the Young Entrepreneurs. Most Outstanding Businessman of the Year. The award as well as seeing young hustlers at the conference reminded him of when he started working at his father’s company. That was a long time ago. He didn’t really struggle to start climbing the corporate ladder. His grandfather had already built SH Group into a formidable force in the business world. His father and himself only maintained and expanded the family business. Though, that didn’t make his task any easier. He had four master’s degrees in various business courses and had to start working his way up from the position of the deputy head of department. The death of his father seven years ago sped things up. Unopposed by major members of the board of directors and being the largest shareholder after his father’s shares devolved on him, Oliver became Forbes’s third-youngest billionaire at the age of twenty-five.
As Rhodes drove past Johnson’s Vet, Oliver peeked out the window. A strong urge to see the good animal doctor overtook him. No! he didn’t have time to fritter away, but on the other hand, Eden piqued his interest. Apart from not seeing her death vision, Eden was intensely familiar to him. “Stop the car,” he tapped the driver’s seat.
Rhodes lifted his eyes to the rear mirror at the unexpected request. “Now?”
“Yes. Stop.” Rhodes checked the side mirrors and pulled over to the side of the road.
“Wait in the car.” Oliver ducked out after opening the door. He could feel Rhodes shooting a series of questions through his optics as he beelined to the clinic.
Rodney had a headphone bigger than his face clapped on his ears when Oliver walked in. He was so preoccupied with his phone that he didn’t notice Oliver enter until he knocked on the reception counter. Rodney yelped at the knuckles, yanked the headphone off and looked up.
“Who are you?!”
Oliver clicked his tongue, shaking his head at him like he was the most pathetic human he’d ever seen. “You won’t last two days in my company,” he said under his breath but loud enough for Rodney to hear.
“Oh, it’s you from yesterday,” Rodney drawled.
“Where is Eden?” Oliver nosed around the front store.
“Her name is Dr Johnson.” Rodney’s voice held defensiveness.
Oliver scrunched his face at him and raised his eyebrows at his multi-coloured striped shirt. Is that his entire wardrobe? he thought without his facial expression betraying him.
He heard the door open and shifted his focus away from Rodney to the door.
“Mr Hastings!” Lessie beamed as she walked to him.
Oliver returned the smile. “Hi.”
“How are you? How is your shoulder?” She reached out to touch his right shoulder.
Oliver pulled his right shoulder back reflexively. He wouldn’t have seen any vision if Lessie had touched him because of his suit, still, his body acted without warning. He saw Lessie’s confused and startled expression. His eyeballs danced around as he thought of an explanation. Usually, he didn’t give them, but Lessie was one of those people who had a peaceful aura around them that you don’t want to upset. “Sorry,” he forced a smile.
Lessie pushed a smile out. “It’s okay. Hands off the goods, right?” She raised her palms in surrender. “Okay, got it.” She laughed. Though it still seemed false, Oliver laughed with her. “You are here to see Eden?”
“What?” the question caught him off guard.
“Eden, you are here to see her. Come on,” Mindlessly, she wanted to pull Oliver but stayed her hand when she recalled his earlier reaction. “Follow me,” she beckoned to him as she went to the door, “I will take you to her.”
“She doesn’t like to be disturbed during lunch,” Rodney sing-sang.
“Just watch the clinic,” Lessie chaffed. She turned back to Oliver with a smile, “Come with me,” she advanced to the exit.
With his hands in his pockets, Oliver smiled triumphantly at Rodney and followed Lessie outside.
Lessie took him down an alley next to the clinic. Oliver had not paid attention to the building before; it was a three-storey apartment building. Eden’s clinic occupied the front half of the first level, while a nameless mart occupied the rear half. He peered up to the third floor and deduced that it had been abandoned based on the lifeless flower pots bordering the balcony. As they began climbing the metal stairs linking the balconies, Lessie waved at a middle-aged man inside the Mart. The man responded with an equally ecstatic wave. They’d most likely known each other for a long time. They stopped on the second floor, in front of what looked like a coffee shop.
Terra Café, Oliver read the door sign as they entered. He was startled since he drove past the building every day on his way to and from work and had never noticed the café. The coffee shop was larger than anybody would have expected from the exterior. The wall facing the entryway was tiled with around 10 book racks. More than a dozen tables and chairs were arranged in an organised fashion from the centre of the café to the right side. A guy and a female attendant worked at the coffee counter on the left side. Both attendants were dressed in brown vertically striped uniforms with aprons tied around their waists. Behind the bar, an espresso machine was brewing, and the relaxing aroma made Oliver’s throat yearn for a cup.
Lessie turned right upon entry and Oliver soon realised why. Eden and her sister, Makayla, sat opposite each other at a table for two beside the window. When Eden saw them weaving through the tables and chairs towards them, her expression flung a loud query at Lessie, beating her voice to it.
“He wanted to see you,” Lessie said in quick defence when she saw Eden’s scrunched nose. “Kayla, I want to see you,” she said, grabbing her arm.
“For what?” she asked in a high-pitched voice.
“Just come with me,” she said through clenched teeth and pulled Makayla off her seat.
“If you are going to stay, order something,” Makayla told Oliver. “Here’s the menu,” she tapped the pamphlet on the round white table before Lessie dragged her away.
Now focused on Oliver with curled lips loudly asking, ‘what the hell are you doing here?’ Eden folded her arms, waiting for a response.
“May I sit?” he asked and sat without waiting for a reply. “Your sister works here?” Makayla had the same brown apron as those behind the counter, though she wasn’t wearing the brown uniform. She was wearing black ripped jeans and a yellow top.
“She owns this place,” Eden replied.
Oliver nodded, taking a gander at the café. “It’s nice. You own the clinic downstairs and she owns the café.”
“We own the building.”
He gently lifted a brow, “Really?”
“What? You look surprised.”
“Why? I don’t look rich enough to own a three-storey building?”
“No, that’s not it.” He interlocked his fingers on his crossed legs. “It just didn’t occur to me that it might be yours.”
“It’s the same thing.”
She had beautiful caramel skin and a pair of ebony eyes that screamed defiance and trouble. All those features nudged a distant memory in Oliver’s mind. He was becoming irritated with himself for almost remembering where he knew her and then letting it slip his grasp. “You really didn’t know me before yesterday?”
“Of course, I do,” Eden shrugged.
“I knew it! Where did we meet?”
“The billboard on Broad Street.”
His smile died and his jaw fell. He clenched his teeth and muffled, “Not that. Before then.”
“On the TV.”
She’s just playing with me. “That—” he clenched his teeth again, “is not meeting me.” He leaned back. “ I think I know you somewhere but I can’t place it.”
“If you can’t place it, it means you don’t remember,” she shrugged. “Since you can’t remember, that means our meeting wasn’t impactful enough for you to remember.”
“Good afternoon,” a young male barista greeted. Oliver recognised him from the counter earlier. “Miss Johnson has asked me to take your order,” he informed Oliver.
He looked past the boy and saw Makayla giving him a suggestive look to order. He chuckled to himself. . “Espresso, cold brew,” he said to the barista.
“What are you doing here?” Eden asked him when the barista had left the table.
Oliver cleared his throat; that was the question, wasn’t it? How could he tell her he found her fascinating? That he couldn’t see how she would die. He thought for a while, throwing reasons and excuses around in his head. “Stray,” he said abruptly.
Eden squeezed her brows, “Stray?”
“The puppy I brought to you yesterday, I want you to know she’s fine.”
Eden chuckled. “You came here to tell me that?” They paused. “Wait,” she shook her head, “you named the puppy Stray?”
Oliver darted his eyes sideways. “Yes,” he slurred. “I didn’t name her. I just call her Stray because… well, she’s a stray.”
“It’s the same thing. My eight-year-old niece can come up with a better name,” she ended her sentence with a giggle.
“Your order, sir,” the barista said, placing a mug in front of Oliver before leaving.
Oliver tasted it and immediately regretted it. He sputtered and caught drops of whatever he was given with a tissue folded on the table.
Eden laughed. “That isn’t what you ordered, right?”
“I am not even sure it’s coffee,” he said, wiping coffee stains off the table.
Eden pointed to the barista who had delivered the coffee and remarked, “That’s our Alvin. He never gets his orders right.”
“I would have fired him,” Oliver muttered.
“Makayla never lets him take an order. That and the fact that this is a self-service café.” She nodded at the customers standing at the counter, waiting to place their orders. “She did that deliberately.”
As though Makayla felt Oliver’s eyes on her, she faced him and shrugged with a mischievous smile. “She doesn’t like me,” Oliver opined.
“I don’t like you either,” Eden said.
He cocked his head at her. “Why?”
“I don’t know you,” she replied matter-of-factly. “Why are you here?”
As Oliver’s mind raced, his gaze was drawn to Eden’s delicate hand on the table. He flexed and extended his fingers for a touch without thinking.
Eden slapped his hand aside, halfway to its intended destination. “Hey, what are you doing?” she frowned. He would have punched his teeth out if it hadn’t been for those dreamy brown eyes and his black stubble that sculpted the lower part of his cheekbones down to his jawline – which she was inclined to rub. He was masculine and gorgeous. It’s a shame about the unobtrusive scar on his left eyebrow. It had to have been a pretty deep cut that happened a long time ago. She hadn’t noticed the scar before now because it had mostly faded. In a way, the scar gave him a roguish beauty that suited him.
“Honestly, what is with you and the need to have skin under your palm?” Eden asked him.
He pressed his lips together and parted them to offer an explanation he didn’t have.
He was saved by an elderly woman Eden called, “Granny Wess!” She lit up and sprang to her feet to embrace the woman.
The woman was at least eighty years old. She had an arm bag slung over her shoulder and a large grey cat with black stripes in a basket in her right hand. She wore plain black trousers and a floral shirt. Granny Wess had porcelain white skin, in contrast to Eden’s caramel skin. Nothing physically showed that Eden was related to her, yet she called her Granny.
“Eden,” Granny Wess smiled, the wrinkles around her eyes and chin deepening.
“Hello, Miss Roosevelt,” Eden patted the cat who purred lazily.
“I went to your clinic, Rodney told me you are here,” she spoke with a wavery voice common to most people her age. “Miss Roosevelt has not been eating well. She ate only two cans of tuna yesterday,” she reported.
Oliver arched his brows and turned to face the enormous cat. Two cans of tuna, is not eating?
“Granny,” Eden laughed, “I told you not to overfeed her. She probably has ingestion.” She examined Miss Roosevelt’s tummy. “Has she had anything to eat today?”
“Three tins of milk,” Granny Wess replied. Oliver stared at the cat again.
“I don’t think it’s dyspepsia though. She doesn’t appear to be in pain..” As Eden massaged the cat’s tummy, she purred again. “She seems fine. I think she has just eaten enough. If you notice anything again, bring her back.”
“Alright, thank you, Eden.” She was about to leave when she noticed Oliver. She whispered to Eden, “Is this Jay?”
“God forbid,” Oliver muttered between chuckles.
“No,” Eden said, resting her hand on her shoulder.
“Hello,” Oliver stood to greet Granny Wess.
“Humm, he looks strong,” her wrinkled hands massaged Oliver’s biceps.
“Granny,” Eden called between laughs, watching Oliver’s flushed cheeks.
“Come visit the Mart, Eden’s friend,” she smiled and tapped his cheeks.
Oh boy! Oliver froze again, staring into space as the granny’s death vision flashed across his mind.
Granny Wess removed her hand and that was when he came to. It took him a few seconds to get himself, at which time the elderly lady was a few steps away and Eden was giving him a questioning look.
“Do you have haphephobia?” she asked and sat back on her chair. “You had the same expression when Lessie touched your hands yesterday. Like you are about to have a cardiac arrest or something.”
Oliver sighed deeply and turned to face Granny Wess. She waved at Alvin, the barista who served him lemon as coffee earlier and two more people greeted the elderly lady before she walked out of the café. Two more people would feel the sadness and grief that accompanied death when it came for Granny Wess later that night.
On her third effort, Eden knocked the table to get his attention.“Oliver!” He faced her with a somewhat sombre look. “What is it?”
“Are you close to her?”
“To who? Granny Wess?”
“Yes. Her son owns the mart downstairs. They have been using this building since my sister and I bought it nine years ago. Why?”
It was futile. Nothing could save Granny Wess from dying that night and there was no way he could tell Eden that. “You should spend the day with her and tell her anything you want to tell her.”
Eden snorted and glanced at the street through the transparent wall that overlooked it. “What is he talking about?” she muttered.
Oliver’s phone buzzed and he answered it. After listening to the caller, the only thing he said was, “Okay.” He hung up the phone and placed it back in his pocket. “I have to leave.”
Eden rose to her feet, still trying to guess what was wrong with him. She had seen him twice, and both times, he had a bright face with a powerful and confident gait- exactly the way business magazines, billboards and TV had presented him- but that had changed. It had dissolved into a depressing or sad countenance since Granny Wess touched his cheek. Does he truly have a phobia of physical contact? Or is it OCD? Eden wondered.
“Don’t forget to bring… Stray on Saturday for her vitamin shot,” she reminded him as he turned to leave.
Oliver replied with a nod and walked away.
“And give her a better name!” she shouted and looked away when she saw customers staring at her outdoorsy voice.
Hi everyone. Hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Lessie and Granny Wess… Oliver has seen their death visions, now he has a choice to make. Ignore it like he always does or try to change their fates. What will his choice be? Join me next Saturday. Don’t forget to share.