Lika was Henry Kingsley's PA & best friend. He messed up & vowed to get her back. ROMANCE
|Aunt Mercy's second letter called for her to stop unproductive moping around. After all, it had been days. All parties must come to an end, including her own pity party. Besides, the petite woman was sure by now that her tear ducts had been completely dry, leaving only numbness inside her chest. That was okay. She was sick of crying anyways.|
Lika spent the eighth day being in Jakarta trying to find a semblance of being a normal human being again. With a huff, the chocolate-eyed woman managed to fold all her clothes and put it in her hotel wardrobe located in front of the bathroom, setting aside dirty clothes from the clean ones for laundry. She gathered all junks scattered across the room and put them in a trash bag. The rest of the messiness, she figured the housekeeping staff could manage. After showering, Lika put on her oversized t-shirt and skinny jeans, slung her bag across her shoulder and pulled a pair of sneakers, comfortable enough for her to walk around the city.
A month, she sighed inwardly, remembering her aunt's challenge to stay and explore this place, all by herself. Upon arriving down at the hotel lobby, Lika walked towards the entrance and glanced outside. She noted that it was another beautiful day in Jakarta. The tropical country seemingly had only one season–summer all year round.
Where to start? she asked herself. Lika ended up going back in and asked the receptionist about the ways people often get around. The hospitable Indonesian woman in Batik uniform–Indonesian fabric with tribal, beautiful pattern, patiently showed Lika an Uber app equivalent called Gojek, where she could order rides and food online basically from anywhere in Indonesia.
She began her journey with the most unoriginal, uncreative and unimpressive destination–the mall called Central Park Mall. Lika, even before her fall from grace, was by no means a materialistic person. She bought designer shoes or clothes but simply out of necessity: to not embarrass Henry Kingsley. After all, she was his PA, and by job description she was required to be by Henry's side almost at all times, including accompanying him to high-profile meetings and events, with him constantly under the spotlight.
Lika shook the thought of Henry off of her when the image of his charming gentleman smile and his captivating blue eyes appeared in her memory. She missed him. Terribly. Yet her common sense told her that leaving London, leaving him, was the best decision she had ever done for herself in years. After days mulling and grieving over everything that had happened, Lika had grown to accept the bitter fact that her supposedly best friend had been taking her for granted for years now. He had used her, and when she was of no use to him anymore, he threw her away.
Lika had never been so conflicted before. While her mind started to hate Henry with each passing days, her heart still steadfastly loved her best friend.
Ex-best friend, she reminded herself.
Lika entered a Starbucks–another unoriginal decision. Sipping her coffee in solitary, the petite woman pulled her ipad from her bag and began hunting for a more suitable living arrangement. She was willing to bet that she could find better living space options with cheaper price by paying monthly rent instead of daily for a hotel room. Besides, her current hotel was booked by her drunken alter ego, who was infamous for making bad choices.
It wasn't like Lika was going to get broke for living a month in her current place. Lika had been very organized with her financials. She had quite a handsome amount of money saved from working with a triple A actor over the years, even with having to pay house rent in London and her aunt's expensive nursing home. Still, that didn't mean Lika wanted to spend all in Indonesia. She wanted to keep the money for when she was ready to start over again somewhere, especially now that she was unemployed.
In three days time, Lika was entering her new studio in a decent apartment located in West Java. For the first time in days, Lika let out a smile as she sat herself on a nice cream colored sofa. She reached took off her shoes and blasted the air conditioner to the coldest temperature before turning on the tv. Pulling out her Bahasa dictionary and her notebook, she began watching local news, keeping her ears perked if there was any Indonesian words she recognized.
Learning Bahasa Indonesia was far easier than she thought. There was no tenses separation like in English. All verbs in Bahasa was in present tense, that can also be used to indicate past or future events. If one was diligent enough to memorize vocabularies, they would definitely be able to make a somewhat understandable conversation with the locals.
The only downside of Bahasa Indonesia was probably the prefixes and the suffixes. Those were tricky–no one rule fits all. That was the instance in which Lika had to rely on practice and repetitions.
Hence, everyday, Lika went out just for the sake of meeting someone new and hoping to immerse herself more with the language and culture.
Good thing about being in the capital city of Indonesia, it was easy to find someone who speaks fluent English. The fact that most Indonesians were warm and friendly helped a lot too. She successfully made friends–two neighbors, her apartment security guy, her landlord, and a group of friends she met in a cafe. Friendship with these people exposed her to more of Indonesian culture and food.
Are you happy? Food. Are you hanging out with friends? Food. Are you stressed? Food. Are you angry? Food. Is someone celebrating? Food. Is someone dead? Also food.
Day by day, Lika had began to return to her usual self–or what was left of her. But the one thing that hadn't returned to her was her eating appetite. Despite the fact that Lika had pleasant friends now and had been laughing with them more often, she still didn't eat as much as she used to. If she ate, she did out of necessity or simple politeness. When she wasn't around her friends, her choice of meal would usually consist of lots of coffee and energy bar, and she was good to go.
A month had passed.
The thought of Henry subsided little by little. Lika was stronger. Being in Indonesia, with its warm people, warm sun, warm air, provided slow yet sure sense of healing and safety. Somehow, in the midst of her exile, Lika had begun to feel more at ease with herself. More accepting of what her life had become.
Lika fished for her aunt's letter. This time, being in better mental state, she no longer cry upon seeing Aunt Mercy's beautiful, neat penmanship. The grieve was there, but she decided that this time, she was going to open her letter with love and fondness in mind for the aunt that had raised her like she her own child.
Challenge No. 3
PUT OTHERS FIRST
My dearest, Lika,
Sometimes when we don't have much, when we are left behind in a strange place, alone and lacking, we'd be surprised at how well we can take care of ourselves. How we can survive. The fact that you're still here proves that you are a survivor and that you are doing wonderfully.
It is empowering to know how independent we can be. How strong we are on our own. But strength and independence meant nothing without love and sacrifice.
Give your time and service back to the society that has welcomed you. Further enter their world. Become one of them. Find purpose in humanity.
The next time things are getting harder, and you want to quit, the third challenge is completed, and you may open the next letter.
Sincerely rooting for you,
Your Aunt Mercy.
"Yeah. Yeah. Hello," greeted a woman frantically from the other end of the line. She sounded like she was in a hurry.
"Hi. Emily Pearson?"
"It is she."
"My name is Henry Kingsley. I got your number from–"
"–Did you say Henry Kingsley?"
"Yes," Henry confirmed, "I'm sorry to bother you. I'm calling about–"
"–Yeah, good day and good bye."
A sudden click was heard from the other side before the line was cut off. Henry pulled his phone from his ear, staring at the screen with bewildered eyes.
The tall, handsome man let out a series of curses when Emily Pearson, the only lead he got on Lika's whereabout, hung up on him the moment he introduced himself over the phone. He hadn't even have the chance to talk to her.
Henry tried calling her again. Again, and again, to no avail. He tried texting her. His messages didn't even get through. He was sure by now that Emily Pearson's had blocked his number, as if he was a creep who stalked her over the phone.
The word frustrated didn't do Henry any justice. More than a month had passed since Lika was missing. The pit in his stomach hadn't left him ever since.
Before Pearson's name turned up in his search, Henry had to basically call everyone he and Lika both knew. He called the people on the sets of movies and shows he and Lika was in. Hell, he even contacted the nurses in Mercy Denali's nursing home–besides Johanna, in order to find a clue about where Lika was. He had Thomas, his new assistant, file a missing report on Lika to the police, whose only response was telling him that she was probably out of the country by now.
Big help coming from the authorities, Henry thought in sarcasm, knowing full well now that no one could rely on people whose job was to do nothing and eat donuts for lunch breaks. Henry's stomach churned with worry for the small woman with a soft personality. His heart constricted upon imagining the worst possible scenarios she might be in.
Lika being kidnapped and chained in someone's basement.
Lika being in an accident and lying in a coma, in a random hospital in Europe.
Lika's dead body being in a ditch somewhere.
Henry ran his fingers in his dark curls, clutching his head in distress.
He did this. He caused this. And if something really did happen to his best friend, he would never be able to forgive himself.
Henry had no real lead, until one day, Tom Skarsgard referred to him a Derek Donovan, an American private investigator, who Tom claimed to be able to find anyone and anything in the world. Upon his referral, Tom only asked for one thing in return: that was to never mention to anyone that it was him who had referred Donovan, and that Tom would deny even knowing a Derek Donovan.
That alone should be a huge red flag in Henry's mind, but he was desperate enough to find Lika that he was willing to put aside the fact that Tom Skarsgard had been very shady about it despite the casual tone in his speech.
Something about this PI made Henry uneasy, so much that after calling him to arrange a meet, the actor decided not to tell about the matter to anyone. Not his own family, nor Annika–the only person he didn't tell that he had been searching for Lika in the first place.
Henry wasn't even sure why he didn't tell his own fiancee about Lika being missing. He thought he was trying to save Annika any discomfort, though she might have heard a wind of it from their mutual coworkers. But even if she did, she said nothing about it to him.
Meeting shady people alone was probably not a good idea, despite the fact that they were meeting in quite a public setting. Henry changed his mind last minute and asked Morgan to accompany him.
Derek Donovan happily munched on his Spinach and Feta Quiche as he watched the two Kingsley brothers sitting side by side at the Tide Tables cafe facing the Thames River–most likely so that the famous Kingsley won't get noticed by the peasants around him.
Derek sipped on his orange juice as he watched the back of two men. His trained eyes noted their body language. One was relaxed, though his head tilted and turned once in a while as he took in his surroundings. The level of awareness let him know that the older one was a military man. Royal Navy, probably. The younger one sat back in his chair, the muscles on his shoulders appeared loose as he folded his arms. Derek wasn't sure what they taught the famous Kingsley back in drama school, but a relaxed person don't just sit back and remained unmoving for a long period of time.
Deciding to hear what his prospective client wanted to say, Derek took his orange juice and his quiche, and moved to sit next to Henry Kingsley.
"Hey man," he greeted casually, flashing a smile at the two men who bore similar features. Dark hair. Tall. Fair. Blue eyes.
"Donovan?" asked Henry.
"The one and only," he grinned, taking his hand firmly for a handshake. Derek shook the oldest brother's hand too. "How do you do?"
"How do you do," replied Morgan, "Military?" observed him.
"Qandahar. Two tours," Derek supplied. The oldest Kingsley, he noted, had keen eyes. "Yourself?"
"Iraq. One tour and I'm not coming back," admitted Morgan. Derek supposed there was more to that, but chose not to ask. He could find out himself if he wanted.
"Brutal," commented Derek understandingly. Morgan shrugged.
Henry wasn't particularly interested in the conversation. He slide the file he had on the table towards the obscure man, who despite his friendly smile had a somewhat dangerous look in his eyes.
"I was told that you can find anyone and anything in the world," Henry began, "I've been wondering if you can help me."
"And who told you that?"
Henry Kingsley was silent. From the looks of it, seemed that Morgan Kingsley didn't know the answer to his question. The edge of Derek's lips pulled into a smile. He liked and respected the fact that Henry didn't rat whoever that had given him his contact.
Derek could always find out, but it wasn't necessary at the moment. Even if he knew, he would probably only thank them for sending another money bag his way.
Derek took the file and scanned the information within briefly. "Pretty girl," he commented upon seeing a woman's smiling face photo inside. He put down the file and looked at both Kingsleys brothers. "People usually come to me for two things. To retrieve what was stolen from them, or to retrieve someone who had stolen from them. Which one is she?"
"None," Morgan answered for Henry.
"She was missing for almost two months now," informed Henry, "I did my own search and came up with nothing for weeks. I have one lead but the said lead is avoiding me and I can't find her. You can start from there as well."
"Eliska Denali," read Derek draggingly. His eyes fleeted to Henry's, noticing every movement of his facial muscles as he pronounced the girl's name.
Interesting, thought Derek. Despite Henry Kingsley's even tone and impassive voice, his eyes betrayed him. He cared about this girl.
"What's the nature of your relationship with her?"
"She's one of my oldest friend."
"What's her favorite food?"
"Ice cream," Henry answered. Unbeknownst to him, his own expression softened as he answered the question.
"What's her favorite flavor?"
"Why does it matter?" countered Henry, frowning a bit.
Derek shrugged as he kept reading the file, "As a PI, I just need to know everything about the subject," he lied smoothly. "So. What flavor?"
Henry held himself back from rolling his eyes and humored the man. "Chocolate mint."
From Henry's response alone, Derek gathered that the famous actor loved the girl more than he let on. It was important for him to know, to make sure that he wasn't being set up or anything of the sort.
Derek Donovan nodded to himself, deciding to take the case.
"Tell me everything. Start from the beginning."
Morgan thought that Henry was overreacting when he said that his PI sounded dangerous in the phone. He had rolled his eyes then. But today, after meeting the man himself, Morgan had to agree with his little brother.
Everything about the PI was shady. His answers. His testy questions. Morgan knew then that this man was a real deal–that's why he decided last minute to give him something else to find out too besides Lika's whereabout. That is, the truth about who was behind Annika Mendez' poisoning.
Sure, it had been long, and the trail must've gone cold now for anyone to find out. But this Derek Donovan–if it was even his real name–might be able to find the truth.
"Obscure man. Don't you agree?" Henry began as both of the walked by the Thames. Henry adjusted his cap to cover half of his face.
"Should I be worried? Are we wrong to have business with him?" asked Henry with doubt in his voice.
Morgan shook his head. "No. That kind of man is probably one of the best in his field. He cares only about money and his anonymity. As long as you pay him well, he'll get the job done," he stated with conviction, "But let's keep this from the others. I don't want our family being anywhere near Donovan."
"Don't tell Annika, your agent, even your PA."
"Just you and me," Henry muttered, earning a nod of affirmative from Morgan. "I hope he really is as good as he was advertised."
Morgan placed a hand on his brother's shoulder. "I miss her too," he said knowingly, "We'll find her, Henry."
[Author's Note: I love Derek Donovan. Doesn't he give this rouge MI6 agent vibe? Review and let me know what you think below. I will try my best to speed up the plot so we can get to that point where Henry and Lika be in the same scene again, but do let me know if I went too fast or anything. Thanks for reading and for supporting my works. Love y'all to the moon and back! Don't forget to vote! ❤️]