One month ago
Derek and Jaike Christopoulos’ house, Jaike’s baby shower
“I see someone is about to escape,” a distinctly male voice drawled behind 27-year-old Jane Cooper just as she was about to step into the elevator. She recognized the voice, of course, and knowing who it was, she could only turn around and face the music, saying with a sheepish smile, “You caught me.”
“Indeed.” Derek Christopoulos smirked at his wife’s friend. “You know I can’t let you leave, right?”
“There’s just too many people inside,” Jane grumbled.
“It wouldn’t be a party if it weren’t,” the Greek billionaire reasoned.
“I can always visit next time—-”
Green eyes bored through her.
Jane stopped speaking. Right. Derek Christopoulos might have once been a notorious playboy in his university days, being the ringleader of the BBFs, but he had completely reformed ever since getting to know (and eventually marrying) Jaike. What his beloved wife wanted, his beloved wife would always get, and both of them knew Jaike wouldn’t be happy at all if she ever learned her husband had let her friend slip and miss her baby shower.
“I can always make a run for it,” Jane muttered.
“You can,” Derek agreed, “but security has already been informed not to let you leave.”
Jane let out a gasp. “That’s playing dirty!”
But this only had Derek raising a brow at her. What Jaike wanted, Jaike would always get.
Jane threw her hands up in surrender. “Okay, fine, I’m going in.”
Derek’s lips curved in an approving smile. “I knew you wouldn’t let my wife down.”
“You wouldn’t let me,” Jane pointed out, but this time the billionaire simply acted like he had heard nothing.
Heads immediately swung in their direction the moment Derek let her in and insisted on walking her to wherever it was Jaike was likely to be waiting for her. Most of the guests were looking at her like they couldn’t understand how she had been invited to the baby shower of a billionaire’s wife, and Jane honestly couldn’t blame them.
Even after all this time, she herself still had a hard time believing she was friends with Jaike. The two of them had met months ago at the press launch of Books & Babies Foundation, a non-profit that Jaike herself had founded and whose name was the other woman’s way of leveraging her husband’s popularity for a good cause.
BBF, after all, also stood for boys with billion-dollar trust funds, a collective term that the media had coined in reference to Derek and his group of billionaire friends when they had still been studying in Christopoulos University. Years had passed since then, and although everyone in BBF was now happily married, the paparazzi still followed them around.
It was why the press launch for Books & Babies Foundation had been particularly vicious, with reporters, bloggers, and social media influencers sniping at each other while they waited for the chance to throw questions at Jaike.
And throughout it, Jane had simply kept to herself in one corner, and it was while she was minding her own business that one of the organizers had approached her, saying that her presence was requested at Room A.
A as in what, Jane had wondered nervously as she followed the staff member. Was she being arrested? Apprehended? Oh God, what if she was about to be annihilated—-
But as it turned out, A hadn’t meant anything special. It had simply meant the first room at the second-floor hall, and inside it had been Jaike Christopoulos herself, with the other woman having singled Jane out for an exclusive.
You’re the only one out there who didn’t look like a shark to me, Jaike had told her cheerfully, to which Jane had blurted out, So does that make me a goldfish?
She hadn’t been trying to funny at all at that time. It had simply been Jane’s nerves talking, but it had made Jaike hoot with laughter, and fast forward to the present…
Jaike visibly brightened when she saw who it was entering the antechamber of the bedroom she shared with her husband. “You made it!”
“But not without costs,” Derek couldn’t resist commenting. “If you saw the looks on people’s faces at seeing me escort your friend to our bedroom…”
“You guys just don’t understand,” Jane protested as she took a seat next to Jaike. “If people at my workplace find out I’m friends with you, they’ll hate me.”
“You’re just paranoid,” Jaike told her.
“Neither is it a crime to stand out,” the billionaire added.
Jaike and Jane exchanged looks, and after a moment both of them burst into laughter. Of course Derek would say something like that. The billionaire had always been blessed with the kind of charm that drew people to him like moths to fire, and he did so without even trying the slightest bit.
“You just won’t understand,” Jane said finally. “Let’s just say that if the world was a romance novel, I’m the kind of character who can only exist in the side and never be the heroine of my own story.” Even her name was a dead giveaway. It wasn’t anything cool like Jaike, and she couldn’t even have an exotic sounding surname like Christopoulos.