No one knew what kind of talk proceeded amongst the three. The maids and house helpers didn't dare to go near the library, fearing to get the ire of the cranky-headed younger Albarez.
Leo, too, who was both curious and fearful of Fred Mendez was far away, threatened to run errands again, this time only within Alina.
Time just flew by and by the moment they finished their discussion, only Conrad's face had a hint of a smile on it. Gio's eyes were only staring meaningfully at his beloved's lunatic father, Fred, beholding the other's unfriendly countenance that became so stiff, it could even rival a rock.
Actually, if only the two would gaze into Gio's eyes more intently, they would realize the brooding look on them, as though the man was not really believing in the compromise Fred had made.
The unreasonable had a mind that works differently from normal. It wouldn't be too surprising to suddenly find the person doing opposite what he promised. It was not hard to predict that the prideful man would not easily back down. At least, that was what his instinct and 'memories' were telling him.
'As long as he doesn't do anything funny to me anymore...'
He would let bygones be bygones.
For Sofony's sake.
Unfortunately. The very next morning.
Three villas and mansions, five malls, seven factories, and four company buildings solely belonging to Gio. All turned to ashes overnight the same way Jasper City's Ever Mall had become yesterday afternoon!
Everything happened so fast that when he arrived at Ever Victorious at around 9 am in the morning, his people were still having a heated and, at the same time, gloomy discussion about the chain bombing incidents.
Gio quietly listened to the number of properties turned into mere piles of rubbles and debris, staying like that even after the assistants finished reporting the numbers of casualties and the total amount of liquid and illiquid assets lost or damaged.
"Sir, we're in real deep trouble this time."
"Our stocks are continuously plummeting down. Investors also kept on phoning us for updates, explanations, and resolutions."
"Young master, please authorize a city-wide raid! We'll hunt that bastard down and deliver him to you!"
"Yes, young master! Close to ten billion credits are lost this time! We can't let this go on! At least we have to capture that terrorist bastard and crucify him inside the dungeon!"
Frowning, he raised a hand, signaling the small crowd before him to shut up.
When peace resumed to his office, he then closed his eyes and cursed to himself,
'A motherf*cking liar!'
'As expected, promises made by high-level hosts cannot be trusted!"
'Hatefully, there's nothing I can do right now since I'm still technically powerless.'
'That madman really did it...'
Gio rarely admitted weaknesses, but even though he was someone who doesn't care much about how much wealth he owns, whatever he has were still things he didn't want anyone to destroy without his permission. He would certainly want to demand payback for everything. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. It doesn't matter if it was someone blood-related to his girl. Anyway, it was a man who abandoned her, a man who didn't reciprocate the kindness and respect he tried hard to show him yesterday.
Unfortunately, even if he was having this thought, despite being immune to hosts' attacks, he actually had no way to protect his material and external assets like the buildings and the factories.
There was also no other way to retaliate as the other was someone who only has his daughter to worry about aside from his nigh impossible experimental goal.
What a hateful situation.
Now, what should he do?
When afternoon came, the one who rushed to Jasper City was finally on her way home.
It was quite weird though.
Given that there were several Ever Victorious' properties attacked last night, she should have hurried back to Alina way earlier. As someone who vowed to become useful to Gio and considering how strongly she reacted to those that tried to covet his company and money, she should have already ditched Chris Meyer's affairs just to hurry back to Gio's side, even if it causes the latter to die.
So what went wrong this time? Why was she still taking her sweet time traveling the main road of the two cities, acting as if there were no urgent matters to tend to in her home ground?
Actually, everything was Fred's fault since even now, he had yet to remove the barrier isolating Alina from the rest of the world.
With the communication and media blocked, there was just no way to transmit news from within to the outside.
The newscasters and media people were doing their jobs. But even they were under the illusion that their news was connected to the rest of the country. This was why even though the stations based at Alina were puzzled why their viewerships were lower than usual despite broadcasting some earth-shattering news about the bomber attacks today, they merely lamented for a while, then moved on. The world doesn't revolve around the Albarez' or Leo Jones. Stories were everywhere and they must capture them. Otherwise, without constant news to pump out, their stations would go bankrupt.
Probably among the innumerable citizens within Alina, only Fred and Conrad knew that there was no means for anybody lower than a level 5 host to sneak out information from the city. Even Gio hasn't realized it yet, or maybe he had, after remembering that he never heard back from Sofony. As for those level 5 who could also have a guess, one had already gone overseas, the other spent the night teleporting here and there and tired out by the errands, so he was now taking the chance to catch some rest and sleep, only waking up in the afternoon when another message was sent to him by the terrifying iceman.
Back to the girl who was on her way back to her home.
When Sofony's car was about a kilometer away from the boundary, that was when she stopped stealing glances of the sceneries outside, thinking over why she was having a gut feeling that Leo's appearance at Jasper City was weird and not in-line with his current goals.
Alas, with little to no information in hand, she could only endlessly speculate, arriving at no definite conclusion.
Ten minutes later.
The sky above had already turned reddish, seemingly warning everyone under that the sun would be setting within thirty minutes.
Fortunately, the girl's car finally entered Alina's boundary, speeding along the highway which would lead to the heart of the city.
Yet unfortunately, Sofony didn't have the chance to marvel at the sky-high ice walls that previously surrounded her whole home city as it had quietly vanished to not alert her that something alarming took place within it.
'I have to let him know that I'm back.'
Pursing her lips, she took out her phone from her clutch and powered it on. She didn't have to wait long to see that Gio had just recently sent her a message, asking her where she was. A beautiful smile blossomed from her red lips. The arc resulted by that action was very gentle and breathtaking, probably enhanced by the contrast of the red to her very fair skin.
Her right forefinger tapped on the box where she could type her reply. Seconds passed that her fingers were flying on her phone's screen, replying to her beloved that she just arrived and would be directly going back to the condo.
Carried away, she added that she missed him so much. However, when she realized it would be a bit out of character to text the last part, she paused. Smiling bitterly, she hastily deleted the words and only clicked the sent button after confirming that only her location and her destination were left on the message box.
Sofony did not put her phone back to her bag after texting the reply. Instead, she stared at his name for some time. Then before she knew it, her right thumb was already swiping the screen, her left hitting the back button repeatedly to go back to her home screen. She fell into a daze as soon as she saw the picture serving as its background.
Just a single glimpse on this person could do her more wonder than all the beautiful sceneries she saw along the way combined.
As to who could give her this much effect to the point of wanting to just fly or teleport to his side...who else could be? Apart from Gio?
The girl leaned on her back without taking her eyes off of his image.
In the photo, his eyes were closed, his peaceful shaved face looking so mature yet gentle as he leaned his head on the backrest of the car.
The photo was taken at dusk when they got caught in heavy traffic on their way to Lauren Walker's laboratory. In her fit of playfulness to temporarily forget the worries and other heavy feelings plaguing her heart, she took a picture of him napping as they waited for the car ahead to move forward.
She had never been thankful in her heart that she did that as the picture was one of the things which sustained her in her one day of not seeing Gio. If the man only knew how much she missed him, that she almost wanted to ignore Chris' matters behind and drive back in order to see him again.
'Hopeless.' she shook her head and told herself.
<System: Glad you know.>
"Damn! Miss, please hold onto something!" Just then, her driver suddenly roared in panic.
The sudden screeching of the car tires caused by the car's haphazard turning of direction promptly deafened Sofony, the sounds of a collision that followed awakened her from her stupor.
"Hah!' A gasp came out of her lips due to the surprise of her body getting thrown in front violently.
She lost grip of her phone, causing it to slip down, tumbling somewhere on the car's carpet floor mat. Her freed hands automatically grabbed onto the backrest of the seat in front of her, her eyes momentarily closing. However, her enhanced reflex allowed her to immediately open them. With alertness rivaling that of a feline's, she roamed her sight around in an attempt to grasp the situation.
A second later, her eyes widened, disbelief and a bit of despair crossing her already pale face.
Looking as though she saw a huge man-eating monster in front, with extreme urgency in her high-pitched voice, she hurriedly shouted to the driver, "Get out! Fast!!!!!!"
The moment the last word came out of her mouth, she had already thrown herself out of the opened car door, rolling almost a dozen times from the asphalt road onto the rocky uneven sidewalk.
A loud blasting noise. Groans of pain. Crisp sounds of something being rapidly devoured by fire. Metals and gears clanging everywhere...
Behind her, a deafening explosion which shook the ground within at least ten-meter radius from her car reverberated through the earth and the air. Mixed with it were all sorts of noises, from the crackling sounds of fires burning the heavy-smelling gas and other flammable things in and out the car, to the loud and panic-stricken beating of her own heart.
Following which was the loud and crazy laughter of someone.
A person who made her widen her eyes earlier in both fear and bafflement.
A teenager with a big lunatic grin on his innocent-looking boyish face... sitting casually atop the traffic lights above the intersection ahead.
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