Ue o Muite Aruko
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“Only the unknown frightens men. But once a man has faced the unknown,
that terror becomes the known.” ~ Antoine de Saint Exupery
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Shut up, man. The billionaire jabbed the power button to shut the radio off. Kyu Sakomoto normally didn’t piss him off, but he just wasn’t in the fucking mood right now, and his annoyance only grew when he saw how his abrupt movement had caused Kady to jerk in her seat.
“You should’ve just told me to go to hell,” he snapped, “if I’m scaring you that much.” Having her make record-breaking jumps in his presence had only been fun when she had been almost as nervous around other men. In some ways, the billionaire had even considered it a matter of pride. When Aidan had told him Kady had stammered a lot the first time he met her, Slade had told the police chief that Kady was worse in his presence, barely coherent and looking close to fainting every damn time.
But now that she had apparently gotten over her anxiety with the other locals, why was it that she still acted like he was Hartland’s answer to Norman fucking Bates?
Kady’s anxiety grew as Slade remained tight-lipped with anger. He was always in such a bad mood these days, and even though she knew it was none of her business, she couldn’t help worrying about him.
The truck sped past scenery that usually held her spellbound, but Kady didn’t see a thing, her troubled thoughts focused entirely on her boss.
“Mr. W-Wyndham—” Kady caught the murderous glare he threw her way, and she quickly corrected herself. “I mean, S-Slade.”
And of course she only called him that under threat, the billionaire thought irritably, whereas she probably didn’t think twice about calling the youngest Blackwood by his given name.
Kady started wringing her hands as she sensed her boss’ growing tension. Oh no. She heard him curse under his breath all of a sudden, and Kady could only gasp when Slade suddenly pulled the truck up at the side of the road.
But before she could ask what was wrong, he had already turned to face her, and the dangerous glint in his blue eyes had her paling.
“Will you tell me one thing?” Slade asked flatly. “Why do you I still terrify you while you’ve obviously gotten over whatever fears you had with the other guys?”
Her eyes widened. That was what he was furious about?
The billionaire nearly rolled his eyes when he saw surprise flit over Kady’s face. So fucking clueless. He had already told her that she was the one girl who could make him jealous and possessive, and while it was the unfortunate truth, she had obviously thought he was only joking.
“You really are different,” Slade muttered under his breath.
Kady couldn’t help blushing at the words even though she wasn’t exactly sure why she felt embarrassed. “I n-never meant to be—”
Slade’s lips twisted into a self-mocking smile. “You think I don’t know that?”
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Wyndham—”
The billionaire winced. “So it’s an age thing then?”
Kady was horrified. “No, not at all!” And unable to bear the thought that Slade would really believe she could be that shallow, she knew she had no choice but to speak the truth.
Avoiding her boss’ piercing gaze, she looked out of her window as she confessed uneasily, “It’s h-how you flirt.”
The billionaire frowned. How…he…flirted?
“Do you remember when Farica asked if I was in love with a guy?” Kady heard Slade grunt and took it as a yes. “Well, it was sort of true. There was…there was this guy I used to date. He was literally the boy next door, and although he had always been way, way more popular than me in school, he had always made me feel…special.”
Like you, her tone implied.
“He was good at making me laugh, and he would always tell me I was the prettiest girl in his eyes.”
“But he turned out to be lying, is that it?”
Kady gave him a small nod.
His gaze bored through hers. “Since I also remember you mentioning that your ex virtually hooked up with your best friend behind your back, I don’t exactly find the comparison flattering.” Slade paused. “I might be an ass, but I’ve always been upfront about it.”
He waited patiently, seeing her visibly mull over his words, and when her gaze darted back to him, it was as if she was seeing him in a whole new light.
“I’m so sorry.” Kady couldn’t help cringing as the full truth hit her. “You’re absolutely right. You have nothing at all in common with him.”
Slade’s gaze narrowed. “Then…”
Her brows furrowed. “Then?”
“Shall I take this as a sign you’ll stop being nervous around me?”
Kady tried – she seriously did try – imagining acting naturally around Slade, and she just couldn’t picture it.