-A coffee shop along Wardour street, London.-
"President Qin, please forgive me for being late." A man in his twenties gave Lily a little bow before straightening up and looking expectedly at Lily, as if he was waiting for her to invite him to sit at the table with her.
"No apologies needed. Please take a seat," Lily answered nonchalantly as she took a sip of her coffee. "And please call me Lily."
The young man gave Lily a respectful nod before flashing her a boyish smile. "I wonder why would Miss Lily ask to see me?"
"Please Jack, I am not Liam or Sofia, so you can drop the act." She then lifted her gaze and stared at the man in front of her.
Jack gave off a totally different vibe compared to Liam. Liam have this masculine vibe which could be due to his muscular build and his broad shoulders. The little stubble that Liam kept made him look ruggedly handsome. While Jack was boyish-looking and a little lean for a six-foot tall man. Based on first impressions alone, people might look up to Liam while looking down on Jack.
Like his brother, Jack was working in the family business. He was a managing director in one of the smaller subsidiaries under Arison Holdings in Poland. Contrary to popular belief, Jack wasn't chair warmer. He actually pulled his weight at work and his company was doing well. Because of his good performance at work, the major shareholders in Arison Holdings were starting to notice him and thought the man had potential and was capable of achieving more.
A small smile escaped Jack's lips as he gestured for the waiter to give him a cup of coffee. He leaned back in the chair and stared back at Lily with a small smile on his face.
"The scandal," he stated before leaning towards Lily. "Was it your doing?"
"Is that even a question?" Lily retorted while taking another sip of her coffee. "This coffee is exquisite."
Jack accepted Lily's reply as an affirmative. The smile on Lily's face was enough to tell him that Lily had more tricks up her sleeve against Sofia and Liam. "So, why do you want to see me? Do you want to marry me instead of my brother?"
Jack's question instantly earned a chuckle from Lily. "You must be joking, don't flatter yourself too much. Why don't I tell you something interesting about coffee instead." Jack's jaw almost dropped. He did not know if he wanted to laugh or cry at Lily's bluntness.
"Ninety-nine percent of our coffee are grown in developing, third world countries with really cheap labor," she started. "But I'm sure you already know that." She paused and watched as the waiter delivered the coffee that Jack had ordered.
"Coffee is highly consumed in developed countries while the people who grow them are dying of malnutrition. But do we care about that?" Lily then placed her cup of coffee on the table. "No, we don't. We still crave more for this addictive drink that has less flavor than a bowl of soup."
"We don't care about the process of how coffee gets to us. We only care about the lingering taste of a cup of coffee. Don't we?" she smiled.
"Yes, you're right." He nodded as he took a sip of his own coffee. "So are we just going to talk about coffee all night?"
"I wish we could but I'm a busy woman. I still have matters to take care of regarding your family." Lily's frankness rendered Jack speechless. "Now Jack… I only have one question for you." Lily made a deliberate pause before she continued, "Will you treat Arison Holdings just like how you treat your coffee?"
Jack was stumped by Lily's question. He simply stared at her, his eyes full of emotions as he thought about Lily's question. Lily wanted to know if he would treat Arison Holdings just like how he would treat his coffee. Would he be able to disregard everything else as long as he could obtain Arison Holdings for himself? A classic quote came to his mind 'the ends justify the means' and applying to the context of Lily's question, he wondered if it does.
"Take your time." Lily smiled at him. "I can wait for your answer."
Jack stared at Lily's amber eyes that seemed to sparkle. No, it wasn't amber, it was light brown. It was too light that it looked like yellow. There was a ring of golden hue inside her irises that seemed to be beckoning him to look at her, so much so that he couldn't look away. As he continued to stare at Lily, he slowly began to lose himself in his thoughts.
Jack was the second son of George Arison but his mother was just a mistress.
George Arison was a womanizer but when he got married to Sofia, he restrained himself for her sake. However, when Sofia got pregnant with Liam, she wasn't able to satisfy his needs which led him to look for other women outside. Jack's mother was a model who caught the eyes of George Arison and she willingly became one of his many mistresses.
Though Sofia hated the fact that George kept mistresses outside, she was helpless against it. She was heavily pregnant and didn't want to stress herself over these shameless mistresses. Hence, she allowed George to have his fill of young and beautiful models and actresses. However, after giving birth, Sofia made sure to eliminate all those women who had the audacity to become her husband's mistress.
But Jack's mother was smart enough to move overseas when she discovered that she was pregnant with George's child. She gave birth to a healthy baby and brought baby Jack to see George. This made Sofia deranged. After it was confirmed that Jack was indeed George's son, Sofia had someone to kill Jack's mother. Not that George Arison minded this. He only cared about Jack and not some woman whom he does not even remember. After the death of his mother, the Arison family took baby Jack in and raised him.
As Jack was growing up, he was constantly reminded by Sofia that he was a bastard, a son of a whore who climbed into a rich man's bed. Sofia only loosened up a little when she noticed that Jack was a little dumb compared to Liam and she began to pick on Jack lesser. Then, to make sure that Liam's brilliance would not be challenged, Sofia suggested to George that they send Jack away to work in one of their smaller companies in Poland.
Throughout his life, Jack had to hide his intelligence to avoid being targeted by Sofia. But his potential did not go unnoticed by some shareholders who noticed how well the small company in Poland was performing ever since he started managing the company.
Moreover, given the present circumstances, Jack felt that this should be the right time for him to shine, to prove himself and claim his position beside his father. But he still had some reservations. He was afraid that Sofia and Liam would recover from this scandal and target him once again.
Jack had been living comfortably in the shadows for too long and he was reluctant to compromise his safety over gaining power. People might call this cowardice but Jack just wanted to survive. 'Is it wrong to value your life above everything else?'
"So the reason why you wanted to see me is to convince me to go against my brother and seize power from him?" he asked.
"You got it wrong." Lily elegantly propped her chin on the back of her hand. "I am seeing you today because we have something in common. We're both villains in somebody else's eyes. And I think it's time for us villains to get our own happy ending. Don't you think so?"