331 days after
I am so nervous before this talk. I couldn’t have fallen asleep even though I’ve stayed at Harry’s place, my head was still projecting all the things that could happen today. I worry mostly about things that aren’t certain and that’s killing me.
“When do you plan the talk?” Harry asks casually as I put my hair to the plastic band.
“I hope as soon as he arrives to the office. But I am not sure yet” I response and smile at him.
“That’s a great idea. The sooner the better”, Harry replies and put toothpaste back on its place. His hands reach the nearest towel and he wipes his whole face to it. I sit on the corner of the bath and watch him. Since when become these looks at him so casual? Weeks ago I could have even dreamed about this and denied the feelings as usual. Funny thing is that my heart still races when his eyes fall at me. I realise Harry is humming some melody and my thoughts are quickly gone. I grin at him and he grins back. I take it all back. Nothing what concerns Harry and my feelings is casual.
“When do you have to be in office? I was thinking about some tea in the park before we go” His face lights up when my hand lands on his back.
“That’s fine with me. I am not so thrilled about going to work anyway. We can make lunch from it and then dinner. Or we can just stay here and watch all the movies that have ever been made in the whole history.”
“You really don’t want to confront him, do you.” Harry’s long arms lock me in the thigh grip.
I sigh heavily and shake my head as no.
Becca could you please call Mr. Bennet to come to my office, please?” I ask Becca as I arrive to the building.
“Of course, Ms. Newman” She replies and I respond with a smile.
I sit at my desk and take two deep breaths. One for not collapsing and the other for Bennet. I hope things get solved now.
I hear knocking and take the third deep breath, just in case.
Bennet steps in with a half-smile and sits on the chair in front of mine.
“Hey Noel” He says as he sits.
“Hi. I am sorry, I don’t want to keep you busy for long but I would want to discuss something. And it just can’t wait. Ok. I should just say it. There is missing money from the budget. And also the money from my personal account too. Please tell me you can explain it properly.” We both stay silent after my speech for a couple of seconds.
“I will return everything, I promise” he speaks up and I see how afraid he is. His whole body is shaking and his forehead is covered in sweat.
“Tell me what happened. Why did you take the money?” I say back, calmly.
“I didn’t mean to Noel, really-“, he tries to defend himself and my eyes just widen.
“Cut the crap, Josh. Why did you steal that money from our company? And why did you tried to transfer other 50,000 pounds to another account few days ago?” I seriously want to know the answer. Right now.
“I was blackmailed. I didn’t have any other choice…” He buries his face in his hands and his voice goes slowly off.
“- than going behind my back? I would have helped you, you know.” I pity him now.
“You were getting over James and you weren’t even here! I was scared Noel! Panic took control of me. I am sorry.” He replies and I want to scream at him that people don’t do shit things when their friend is just not being there for them.
“Why would someone blackmail you?” I ask reasonably.
“I own them money.” He responds straight away.
“Ok. Who do you own the money to, Josh?” I sound ironic, but I mean that question.
“Coleman and Co.’s CEO.” The words hit me. What the fuck.
“You mean Coleman himself?” I ask him and he nods. Harry’s boss, Coleman, is blackmailing Josh for some stupid money? He is the head CEO of the whole corporation. He eats securities for breakfast. I bet the money Josh owns him means nothing to him, he goes after something else. Something bigger than game itself.
“Tell me the whole story.” I say and hear everything from the beginning.
Bennet had some personal issues. He needed more money to cover his “lifestyle”. He just drank too much and loved too many prostitutes. He was broke. He got an echo about Coleman and his generosity and he lent him cash. Eventually, Josh paid him back everything with high interest. But it wasn’t that easy.
“An eye for an eye” I say and interrupt him. Josh nods and I take a deep breath.
“So what did he want?” I ask.
“Your share of the company”, Josh replies and I suddenly feel sick.
“What about yours?” I ask automatically.
“He told me it would be too suspicious if he got mine too. His plan was just to put you out of the game. It would be easy for him to get rid of me. You were the tough cookie for him.”
“Then why would he let Harry to take care of our financial problems, his own employee? That doesn’t make sense.” I shake my head in disbelief.
“He told me to call him to look into our accountings. I had no idea why, because Styles is smart enough to put two and two together. Coleman told me to act like we miss money from the revenue. I haven’t actually stole them. They are still on my account.”
I have to drink something. My throat is suddenly so dry. I can hear my heartbeat in my head, how my blood loudly travels into my brain.
So the money was just a bait. Coleman wanted me to pay an attention. He wanted me to know who I am playing with. Did Harry really knew what was happening? Was he in this with Coleman the whole time? Fuck. I suddenly start crying.
“Leave me alone, now” I tell Josh quietly.
“Noel, I am sorry. I am going to call the police and confess. You were dragged into this. I am sorry.”
“Josh, go. Now.” I hiss at him.
“Styles must have known something”, he adds while walking to the door and I just turn my chair to the window. The second he leaves, I feel the stream of tears down my face. I am shaking inside. I feel the word betrayal hanging above me. Swaying every time I tremble.