Irene’s blue hues glared a hole into the papers left scattered like a wind just blew everything to hell on her desk in her office. Today was supposed to a decent guy because the weather seemed promising earlier this morning, but the moment she set foot outside and specifically, into the company and her office, she was bombarded with plenty of paperwork given by her personal assistant aka who’s also her secretary, Nadia. Usually, Irene didn’t mind doing the work since it is her work, to begin with, but what does bother her, is that those papers are filled with numbers; quite possibly one of the many things the Farley heiress despised with all her might.

Despite her many years of experience as a CEO, she’s never been good around numbers. Even though most knew her behind a proxy, seeing as the dark diviner never aged no more than one year or two and retained her youthful appearance even after 60 years while everyone else from World War 1 and 2 either kicked the bucket already or is living what’s left of their life in foster homes or their own comfortable home with their family. Meanwhile, there’s her who looked not a day older than her 20s and would still be able to pose herself as young as 21 or 22 if she wants to. Nadia, for example, has been working for her since 1999, two decades long, and knew of her supernatural identity only because the flaxen-haired female trusted her enough to do so. The font printed on the white sheet regarding their financial ledgers had the diviner riling and it was only nearing lunch hour. The day did not go well with her today.

“Do you think we can run this thing back for another day? Because I don’t think I can handle more numbers than three times this week, and it’s only freaking Monday” she grumbled grumpily, blowing the stray strand of her fair locks from shielding her peripheral vision as she leaned against her seat, staring at the papers scrutinizingly as if it just killed her cat. In truth, she can probably set the entire stack on fire if she gets aggravated by them next time today, so Nadia chuckled and settled the arrangements and told her she’ll try to call a helper tomorrow. “I’ll call Jeremy tomorrow and see if he can help, is that okay with you?” Sighing in relief, a tired sleepy yawn escaped her as she nodded softly. “Yes please, thank you. I can’t handle those digits…” Surprisingly, for someone who’s been in the corporate world longer than any bachelor in the industry, she still never seemed to get around numbers, which is why she’s very bad with digits in general. Don’t ever show her the algorithms too, she’ll go nuts over it and god knows who she’d accidentally hex that day.

“Lunch hour is here, go and get yourself something to eat, Irene. You’re crankier when you’re hungry, and believe me, none of the employees like to see our cranky CEO.” The flaxen-haired female send a playful glare at her secretary before getting up and grabbing her coat and bag before bidding her a good afternoon and pushed the elevator’s button. Nadia wasn’t wrong, she’s already a force to be reckoned with, let’s not include her when she’s cranky seeing as the dark diviner is already temperamental in her own right. The elevator ride down didn’t take longer than a couple of seconds, and she was already making her way down the blocks as soon as she dashed out of the building. Since her company is located in the city center, it’s easier to get around there, so she didn’t have to drive to go everywhere because her residency is already further than most.

Irene has no intention on joining the local diviner community in Evermore just yet, and truthfully, she’s still new to the eternal city and it should take her a while to adjust to the new living arrangements here. Halfway making her way to the restaurant to have her lunch, she came across a bookstore who looks hidden away but very enticing. Is her lunch worth the wait for a couple of minutes to spare in there? Maybe she could pick up a few books on economics to aid her in this painful journey of financial works. How long is she going to depend on someone else to run a countdown on the ledgers every month?

So without any hesitation, she pushed the door to the bookstore slowly and stepped inside, peeking in halfway before doing so. From the sounds of the bells and open sign, it seems to be open so Irene quickly went to the said aisle to go looking for her books. Until she received a call from a representative from a certain company that tried to get ahold of them a few weeks back. From one minute turns to three, Irene ended up talking to him about the deal they were supposed to bargain with, and while her instincts tell her to wait until a contract is finalized, she’s a bit stressed from financial works and wanted things to get done with.

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He pulled a face at her question and rolled back his shoulders nonchalantly “Does anyone actually like working office hours?” well, any hours were a pain in some ways or another but a nine to five tended to be one of the most rigid schedules and made it impossible to do anything, being a business owner, if he wanted to take the afternoon off then he could or he could ask Willow to cover that day and that fit his lifestyle much better “Besides, the whole office environment isn’t my thing, I’m useless at banter” he chuckled but gave an appreciative smile when she said she was impressed by him. “I have been told that before” he commented with a shy chuckle when she called him peculiar “But I think you’re wrong about it going to waste” he spoke softly, just because he could have been making millions swindling over numbers didn’t mean that was ethical and he liked to think he was bringing a little good to the world with his store “This place might be small but it brings a lot of joy to a lot of people” he nodded slightly.

He tilted his head a little as he looked back at her, she was an interesting person, she had determined roots and she struck him as the type of person who was on a mission, which was a good thing because he saw so many people in his life that were just letting the world spin around them and wondered why they got left behind “And yet the world still seems to run on labels” he commented thoughtfully, it was so easy to categorize people and miss everything about them. It started in school and it carried through with people throughout their lives. Seeing the way she smiled made him smile too, she looked so relieved and he could tell she was in a really difficult spot “What sector do you work in?” he asked as he fixed up his glasses and opened a browser on his computer to load up the stock prices.

He listened to her run down the company details while he checked the portfolio and the trends of the stock price, he glanced over at her every so often seeing the way she looked as she described her livelihood, he found you could tell a lot about a business person's interests by how they acted when they were talking about what they did. Some people were only in it for the money but something about her told him her motivations were different “Oh no absolutely not, it’s definitely an every person for themselves kind of industry” you had to be a certain level of ruthless to be in business like that and Leigh knew he couldn’t do it “Though I’m sure you’re a better reader of people than I am” he followed it up with a thoughtful nod “Company has had many CEO changes I see” he commented as he scrolled through the business profile.

He laughed when she called him prodigy “I’d hardly go that far, most of my classmates just called it me being a geek” he shrugged slightly “Imagine that, tall, scrawny, nerdy guy who just happened to also be gay, I stood out for all the wrong reasons” Leigh was in a much better place about accepting himself for who he was now but back then he had tried to suppress basically everything about him for fear of being different “Ah, family motivations” he spoke softly “Is it a case of duty or do you have personal interest in the field?” that answer mattered to him because he found hard to work with people who did things because they had to, rather than because they wanted to. He smiled and nodded slightly when she spoke about learning to love it “Reading obviously” he responded and looked at the books that surrounded them “I’m into anime and reading manga” he pursed his lips “Volunteer at the soup kitchen sometimes” he smiled gently “You?” what did a bigshot CEO do in their spare time?

She chuckled humorously because he wasn't wrong, nobody likes working office hours, it's a grade A pain in the ass, "Can't fault anyone for not liking it though, it's probably something people needed to think twice before coming to work. Even I don't like doing them. I do admire those who could work office hours and do overtime at the same time though." Namely her secretary and personal assistant, Nadia. God knows how long the redhead had worked for her all these years and yet she never actually left Irene despite her insufferable attitude sometimes. "Honestly, looking at your shop alone makes me envious… maybe I should retire and do all of these just to make my investment worth it, you know? Nothing can go wrong with reading a book anyway. It's the best hobby to do during one's favorite pastime. Take a page out of your book got one chapter of my life and do something like this. No need to punch in my card and all…" It was a wish she had in her mind, perhaps someday. She couldn't afford to make any mistakes now. "And I am excellent at banter." 

It does seem like Irene was the exact opposite of Leigh and somehow, she found common ground with him and it had been a refreshing effort. "It's a beautiful place, I agree. Very aesthetic" she quipped and examined the entire room, the decorations were miniscule and simple, it felt homey. And for someone who doesn't even like going to libraries to read a book, this was big coming from her. Leigh had this refreshing aura about him, someone with opinions and thoughts you want to hear on and wisdom placed beyond his peers, intellectuals do strike her interestingly. "It's just how the world works" she shrugged, it wasn't going to change just because someone spoke it into existence, it's going to take a lot of patience and effort to get rid of an old habit, the same applies in this situation, "It's ironic how quickly the world turns on you the moment you show a sliver of weakness and a moment of fear. I swear it feeds off your negative energy and then pitches you over across the world…" That was what her parents used to stand for, it was written in her mother's journal, "Some of it is utter hull but… In a way, society perceives it differently. Yet they fear the unknown and detest the whole idea of being different." 

When asked what sector she worked at, she beamed slightly because as much as she hated the drama, she does like doing what she did, "Construction. Plenty of challenges ahead and drama is everywhere, you can't afford the littlest of mistake at all or the entire house will crumble." Though it did make sense why the company strives under legacies, it wasn't something you would give the position to anyone carelessly. "Our headquarters used to be in Paris. We have plans on branching out again, to add a few more potential subsidiaries into the list and as you can see, with the retirement of our CFO a few months ago, the company had been in utter chaos because the ledgers are always misread" she massaged her temples briefly and sighed heavily, "Financial consultants come and go but the profit had been decreasing in the last two months. It doesn't help that 4 of our subsidiary branches were involved in arson incident. Insurance doesn't cover all of it." It was clear that whatever problem she was having both professionally and personally was bothering the blonde. She has a lot of enemies just waiting for her to make a mistake. Some even have a seat on the board. 

Irene couldn't help it when she heard Leigh commented on the many changes of CEO over the decades, "Yeah… kind of. Same types of people, some say. Blonde. Female." She couldn't exactly let the entire world see she hasn't been aging since 70 years ago. Scrunching her nose up in response to his remark, she shook her head at the therian, "I think being called a geek hardly counts as an insult. People forget those people they bullied for being smart would end up being their boss in the future. Sucks to be them, I guess." She may not be the kindest soul there is but Irene does not tolerate bullies who does not know their places. She is by no way, righteous. But if you were going to do something, do it right. "And being gay? One's sexual orientation doesn't have to define a person. You are more attracted to males, so what? I don't even know which part I'm attracted to most of the time and nobody dares to make a sound about it. It's only something if you make it a something. Don't give it power, Leigh, don't give it the ability to hold it over your head" she whispered with a smile. It was upsetting to see someone as kind as him being put down by things like that but she wouldn't undermine his feelings either. 

"Personal interest. Construction seemed boring at first but it's interesting to see how it's formed. It's also one of the most petty sectors to be handling but… it's worth it. I guess halfway in I just fell for it." It used to be a responsibility but now it is her life. She had worked hard for this do she wasn't about to let anyone take over when she's still here; alive and well. What does she do in her spare time? "I like to read. I joined equestrian clubs and surprisingly I can do gymnastics pretty well. Most of the time, I try to ride the horses, if I have the time hahaha, my residency back in England was by the countryside so there were plenty of spaces there. Other than that… don't think there's anything else. I've been buried with work since god knows how long. Maybe I can come and volunteer here" she grinned bashfully, "Volunteer works sound like fun. I think I'm more prone to hold charity fundraisers if anything though. You should come, Leigh. I'm having one before the year ends."

The way she commented about his shop and her jealousy of it was a strangely nice thing to hear, a lot of people made comments about how his talent was wasted on the store or that he should be out making millions but he was happy with the way he had managed to turn this place from nothing to this. To inspire people every day with something he loved. There was no greater feeling than that. “Sounds like you’re about to become a competitor” he teased with a laugh “I’ll warn you I am very tough to beat” he spoke it in a joking tone because he was evidently the least competitive person ever, far too polite for his own good mostly. “I’m sure you’re doing great things with your work too though” frankly there was a part of him that was morally conflicted with the affinity he had with numbers because a few right plays on stocks and he could probably just retire for life if he wanted and he had played a few chances before but that wasn’t the kind of person he was.

“Yeah I was kinda going for a place where people come in because they love books and stay because of the setting, nothing makes me happier than seeing people curled up in the back with their new favorite story” he shrugged and laughed a little bashfully “Everyone has the internet these days so you have to find a way to compete with the convenience” so he got WiFi installed and sometimes bought some cakes from the nearby bakery to share with customers who wanted to spend time. Leigh had made a fair few friends just by chatting with someone who had a long day and needed to escape. “The world is a pretty ruthless place, you have to build your walls as strong and as tall as you can” unfortunately that was reality, people were cruel, bad things happened and the world kept spinning whether you wanted it to or not.

He had to admit he wasn’t expecting her to say that construction was her base of operations but that was a very interesting area for him, construction usually came with big partnerships and deals and could range from smaller-scale projects such as parks, town halls, home development and become things like theme park improvements, city monument upkeep, community building construction. It was exciting, building things, introducing brand new things to the world, definitely a sector he could see lots of influences financially on. He listened to her give the basic rundown of the stats “Paris?” he asked and pressed his lips together “Big jump from the EU market to the US, any particular reason?” though he could tell there were a lot of stresses going on for her right now, not entirely surprising for a CEO who had an entire company’s worth of problems to think about constantly “Well the market is on a current downtrend anyway, it would be tough to be thriving in such a climate but I’ll know more when I run the numbers, in the meantime, I’d be cautious of companies looking to ride on your back” no matter what contracts they could offer it seemed unlikely they’d want a merger for any other reason than to avoid going under.

“Blonde females huh? Seems like an interesting run” he commented with a sly smirk because he recognized what she was trying to tell him, that she was supernatural and therefore needed to change the person running the company as to not give away the lack of changes to her age. He nodded a few times before he glanced up at her, he gave a shy smile because he didn’t want to interrupt her speaking her mind and she seemed to be quite steadfast on what she believed in from what he had seen so far. “Yeah if only 17 year old me had recognized all of that then maybe I would have saved myself a lot of heartache” but back then it had been actual hell for him, going to school every day knowing things weren’t going to get better, wondering if that day it was only going to be names or if it was going to be worse than that. Pretending to be sick so he didn’t have to attend, turning to medication to cope with the feelings he was having, it wasn’t a happy story, nor one he really talked about with anyone. “But here’s to living and learning right? I managed to say all of that out loud without shame which is a vast improvement” he recognized how far he had come but he also knew there was plenty left to go.

He was definitely happy to hear that her interest in the company was her own though because he typically found those kinds of CEOs more interesting to work with, they had an actual investment in whatever the company was trying to achieve rather than just the money alone. Leigh had decided over the course of their conversation that he actually quite liked Irene, she was driven and witty and seemingly well moralled. The hobbies she listed were actually quite surprising to him, to the point he quirked a surprised brow “I’ve always wanted to get into riding” he spoke it softly “One of those silly things you beg your parents to do when you’re younger and they always say no” he explained with a shrug of his shoulders “Do you ride casually or do you do things like jumping?” he gave an easygoing smile and pointed towards the room in the back “I have tea and coffee if you want something to ease the stress” he laughed softly, sometimes you just needed a warm drink to wind down a bit, though when she mentioned a fundraiser he grimaced “Me and big crowds don’t really get along well” he admitted shyly as he glanced towards her.

Maybe she should, working in her sector has been so frustrating and tiring, god knows she probably needs a rest from all the toxicity surrounding her workplace that eventually follows her personally because that’s all that the blonde had; her work. Everything is on the line there. Her work, her company, that was all that she had. She has no family, no coven to rely on, no friends… did she even have one? Aside from her personal assistant? No, she didn’t think so. “I was just thinking about it but now you’ve given me quite the reason to open up a place like this” she shot, grinning widely at the way he feigned his defensive stance, “And people will tell you that I’m resilient and very persistent” she retorted and narrowed her bright hues at him before eventually giggling to herself, is this what it felt like to have someone to talk to? To have someone to chat lightheartedly with?

 “Maybe I do bring good things from my work. But it’s a lonely path, for sure. You either drive people away or they’re just scared of approaching you. Admittedly, it’s done me good when it comes down to competitors but leaves me with no acquaintances, you know?” No friends, that’s what she wanted to say but she bit back her tongue, probably best if she doesn’t go all fledgy there. Not the best first impression, after all. The way Leigh described his bookstore made Irene smile unconsciously, “You know, I used to love reading books when I was a kid. I mean, I still read them now, obviously. I just don’t seem to have the time anymore, that’s probably because I suck at time management.” She’s been told that plenty of times, for sure. Strong and tall, he said. The walls needed to be that impregnable. For nothing to penetrate it. “True, you can’t let anyone bring you down.” Perhaps, that was why she’s been quite cold and harsh because she was afraid of being at the lowest of the hierarchy she’s in now.

 “But we really shouldn’t forget that we are humans first-” she bit her lip and grinned sheepishly, “before anything else. Sometimes I wonder if I grew unapproachable because people are afraid I’d eat them alive.” Surely, she wasn’t that scary, right? She doesn’t give off the appearance of a cutthroat harpy though she does admittedly, act like one. At times. Something she will have to improve on. “Yeah, Paris. No particular reason… I just wanted to branch out in this industrial age, right?” Okay, maybe not the full extent of the truth yet but Mira wasn’t the sole reason why she came here. “You know, I’m impressed by you, Leigh. You seem like a pro in this area and yet here you are, such an underrated talent hidden” Such a shame, really. Though Irene can understand why Leigh chose to stay where he is, it was far away from any stress. Living your life stressfully could not have been good for your health, anyway.

 Seeing the sly smirk on him upon mentioning the blondes running the company for almost 80 years, she tried to stifle her giggle, her eyes softened considerably when he said he probably could’ve saved himself a lot of trouble if younger him understood that, “Don’t blame yourself. I learned that blaming yourself is not gonna get you anywhere. Blame your circumstances, instead. Sometimes when push comes to pull, you are forced to do things in the spur of the moment” she reassured, she may not empathize with people most of the time but when her eyes fell on them, someone she could relate to, she couldn’t help but let the emotions overcome her, “See, you’re happy and content now. Isn’t that what’s important? We can atone for our mistakes and all later but let’s not forget to live life to the best of our ability. We only live once, after all” she winked playfully. So far, every single quirk she found off Leigh only made her smile even further, she wanted to recruit his talent so badly, not because she wanted to utilize his talent to save her company but because she wanted to know how it feels like to work with someone she trusted. 

When asked if she rides casually, she shrugged with a wry grin, “Eh, I am still part of an equestrian club. I used to ride every twice a month but I haven’t gotten the chance to go around a lot lately” She probably should try to think back about her hobbies though, her eyes did lit up at the sudden mention of coffee or tea, “I drink coffee to keep myself up but tea is always my favorite. Green tea.” Seeing the shyness radiating off him, Irene couldn’t help but smile because it seemed so pure, “Come for me, then. You don’t have to mingle with the crowds, you know. Come and chat with me instead. I’m sure I provide a better company than most of the people there.” 

He laughed gently when she said she wanted to open a place like this for herself “Well you know, if you were interested in a joint venture at any point, I was thinking of expanding this place into a cafe of sorts, I already have the area in the back where I make tea but obviously the place needs to be expanded, I kinda had a dream of working with the local animal shelter and bringing animals into the store for adoption” he shrugged “So a cafe where you could read books and pet cute animals, kinda sounds like the perfect day doesn’t it?” because the book shop as it was fun and good business but it wasn’t anything groundbreaking and it was pretty hard to compete with online stores now because they could deliver next day and were generally quite cheap.

“Well you can always find more to do outside of it, I mean no offense meant here but it’s okay to sit back a little and let your company run as a CEO” he shrugged slightly and smiled “Take some time to make some friends or do something you feel passionate about” construction was one of those industries that were big and had a lot of money in them but also one that was hard to feel personally involved in or like you individually were making a difference. It was the same for Leigh with his stock market predictions, it was all about money for most people and there was no real joy to be found in it which was the exact reason why he had chosen the little book shop on the high street over the corporate job. It meant it was harder to get by but he got to see the happy looks on people’s faces every day. “I’ve always loved reading books, something I make time for even when life feels overloaded, sometimes you just need to escape” he grinned slightly and nodded “Well there’s some people you can let bring you down, but normally just the ones you know have your best interests at heart” his parents had given him real talk a few times and he’d appreciated it.

He laughed when she worried over whether people thought she was scary and unapproachable “I mean I’m one of the shyest people you will ever meet and you managed to get me talking didn’t you?” he spoke it softly as he looked up at her with a slight grin, he got the impression from her that she was quite charming which he was sure translated well into a business position but the position of CEO always gave you a bit of an extra fear factor and he wasn’t sure there was much you could do about that. “I’ve never been to Paris but it’s definitely on the list of places I want to see” though there were many, to be honest, he was the type of person who could just get lost in culture and art and wandering around the streets with no real destination. When she said he was impressed by him he blushed and smiled shyly “Well I definitely didn’t choose the easiest path for myself but I have a vision and a will to see it come true” which counted as doing something good, right?

He nodded slightly, he definitely didn’t blame himself for what had happened back then now but at the time he felt like everything was because of him and it had been very hard to pull himself out of that spiral, he turned to substances to cope which only made him more emotional and agitated and eventually, it came to an implosion. “Oh I know that now, but it took a long time for me to understand why things happen the way they do I guess” he didn’t like to complain because people certainly had worse lives than he did and he was really lucky to have a supportive family and a stable career but sometimes he wished he didn’t have to struggle with his mental health the way he did sometimes.

“That’s fun” he spoke softly and laughed “I’ve never even been on a horse so if I ever make it to one I’ll probably be pretty terrible at it but I’m determined enough to want to learn” it’s not really a skill you can use that much in everyday life but it was something that had been important to him since he was a kid and never really left him. He beamed slightly when she said she liked green tea “That’s my favorite” he spoke softly and encouraged her to follow her into the back room while he filled up the kettle and grabbed the box of teabags. When she suggested an event again he shook his head slightly “Sorry it’s just not something I feel up to and I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s night” big crowds were the most likely thing to cause Leigh to have a panic attack and his new friend probably wouldn’t know how to handle him like that, nor should she have to.

Her eyes lit up at the sudden mention of a collaboration done together, that doesn't sound like a far-fetched idea, especially for a businesswoman like her who often invest on things that would be more probable to bring back the same amount of profit or the likes. It does help her to know that Leigh is a kind soul who she could trust, technically he did save her from making the worst mistake that would eventually jeopardize her own company. That alone was more than enough of a proof for her to trust the therian. "That sounds like a wonderful idea, I never thought of that, see you do have more aspirations than you care to admit, Leigh" she quipped humorously, "Making the bookstore as a cafe and a pet cafe at that, it certainly calls for a variety, no doubt that would also attract more customers to come venturing here. In a way, that could be seen as a promotional marketing strategy for you to invite people to read more books" Because god knows how many even read books these days that wasn't anything academic related or being forced to do so. 

"I think that's a great idea. And of course, I would love to help you out." Perhaps, a few things like this is what Irene needed to do, rather than stressing her head unhealthily focusing on others. "I know I would love to visit a pet cafe where I can also read books at... So good thinking." This conversation has definitely took a turn, she came in here initially to find a few books that would help her understand the financial problems her company is facing head on, but ended up meeting a kind person who not only prevented her from making an impulsive choice but also taught her something valuable today. Maybe today wasn't so bad at all. "Make some friends?" It was evident that judging from the timid tone in her voice, Irene has never been lucky around that department, or really, it was because she never tried. "This sounds so awkward but I don't think I've ever had any… friends. Unless you count my personal assistant who is constantly nagging in my ears telling me to do this and that when I forget to do it, well, she's more of a caretaker if anything I swear."

 That was when the blonde realized just how dull her life has been and how much she's been missing out. To take some time off from work and do something she enjoys for a change? That sounds like a tempting offer. "I used to keep myself cooped up in the library when I was a kid, I think it was my only company. I didn't have… friends, you see. I'm not sure if it was because I didn't want to or because I'm hard to be approached" Probably a mix of the two. All her life, ever since she set her foot inside the corporate world, she's always met with a dead end at every turn and there were snakes waiting for her to mess up, it was no wonder Irene grew up thinking the worst of everything. Though admittedly, there was still a part of her that was still curious to learn, to see if she really did miss anything worth the remembrance. What Leigh showed her today, reignited that part. When he said she managed to get him to talk, the diviner chuckled wryly and shrugged, "Well, I know I can be pretty persuasive so I'm sure it's not all the kindness exuding off me." His attempts on trying to assure her that everything was fine made Irene wonder if that's really the truth. 

"You should let me know when you do venture to Paris, it's a beautiful city, especially when you know exactly where to go," she pointed out softly, Paris had been her home for as long as she could remember. It was her mother's birthplace, after all. She supposed a part of her still craved that motherly affection somewhere. "What a wise and kind man you are, Leigh, I don't think I've ever met anyone quite like you before and believe me, I've met plenty of different types of people." To Irene, the therian exudes the kind of energy you would love to bask yourself in, always acting like a cute goofball that would most probably make you laugh with how clumsy he could be or certain phrases where he would recall the numbers. Or maybe when he tapped his feet unevenly while he was concentrating on something. "It's sad that we couldn't control some things that happen in our life but at some point I just thought that's what was already stored in for us. I'm sure yours are even more promising after going through such a hardship, karma beats, right?" she winked playfully and took out her phone that's been vibrating in her purse since 2 minutes ago, right her lunch time should come to an end in 10 minutes. 

"If you have the passion to try out things, then you'll do fine with it" she reassured, the smile curved on her lips seemed so genuine there was no false authenticity in it as usual, when he beckoned for her to follow him to the back room, she looked back at the time displayed on her phone but decided she can afford being late because god knows she needed a getaway, "It's a shame you wouldn't attend, I would love to see you there. Though, in a way, I suppose you're also excusing yourself from several snakes, they can be cutthroat and ambitious. Stay humble, Leigh. It's a good look on you." She pulled out her phone and wagged it in front of him with a sheepish grin, "I have about 10 more minutes before my break ends but I can do some of that tea right now."

It seemed like he had struck a chord with her at the mention of his cafe idea, truthfully it was the first time he actually mentioned it to anyone, just one of those ideas you had but wondered if they were a little too crazy he supposed so to see someone seem positive about it was actually really encouraging for him. “Maybe I do” he responded with a slightly shy smile “I guess I just never thought it could actually be a real thing” he shrugged slightly “People sometimes tell me I’m over-ambitious” he explained and smiled, though they’d probably call it head in the clouds or completely off his rocker, or something else equally ridiculous sounding. “I was just thinking about what my perfect afternoon would be and it involved animals, books, music and food, so if I could combine all those things, imagine how much better I could make people’s lives” though he might never actually want to leave if it did become a reality.

“Well you have my number now so when the shock factor of the idea cools off, let me know if you wanna talk” he wasn’t expecting anything to come of it if he was honest with himself, he wasn’t exactly the ideal business partner and while his bookstore did pretty well for a bookstore he was hardly rolling in profits. He had chosen a pretty modest life considering the fields he could have gone into if he wanted to but he didn’t regret it, he liked what he had achieved so far. “Well that’s one person on the potential customer list, I’m sure we can find more” though figuring out all the logistics weren’t going to be as easy as most made it out to be her was sure. Animals and food were an interesting combination for starters. Her timid tone when he spoke about friends actually caught him off guard because until now she had seemed very sure of herself “None?” he asked in a slightly surprised tone “I mean I don’t have all that many but that’s not entirely surprising considering I barely speak to anyone but” she was pretty talkative. He pressed his lips together “People intimidated by the CEO?” he supposed that could explain it because most people tended to be afraid of power.

He could relate with her though, he spent most of his school life and then his university days in the library studying, back in school it had become his escape from everything else going on and pretty much the only thing he had to look forward to and then by the time he went to university it had become a habit that he didn’t want to let go of, so he didn’t. He did make a few friends in college but none of them were especially close with him he supposed “The curse of being an introvert huh?” he commented it quietly, she seemed like the type who would be confident and an extrovert but then he knew how different appearances could be to the reality of a person, someone could seem nice and be horrible behind your back quite easily. “Well you can count me as friend number one then” he spoke and beamed slightly, he wouldn’t mind spending more time with her, she seemed nicer than most people probably gave her credit for. “Maybe people just need to look a little harder” it hadn’t taken him long to get the gist of her intentions when it came to the business world after all, just took asking a few of the right questions.

“Somehow I don’t see it happening any time soon, small businesses don’t really run themselves” he laughed softly, he supposed eventually he would retire and then he would have plenty of time to go and do everything he had been putting off until then but that seemed like a bleak way of dealing with everything. “You go back often?” he asked with raised brows, CEOs traveled a lot so he wouldn’t be surprised if she made a few stops to places she cared about on the journey, why not when you were paying so much for flights? “Well I do like the idea of being unique” he spoke softly and grinned “As long as it’s in a good way” he added as a second thought and shrugged, he had always just been him and a lot of people didn’t seem to like that but it wasn’t like he could change even if he wanted to. He nodded slightly in response to her words and gave a slightly amused look in her direction “Karma got some of them pretty good, I’ll tell you that much” the little thug who had made his life miserable ended up in jail last he recalled.

“I’m in a state of taking things one step at a time but then I also don’t intend on stopping either” onwards and upwards as he saw it, moving on to bigger and better things with time, as the show grew and the customer base grew he was able to stock more and selling more stock meant being able to do renovations, it was a slow and rewarding process. “Maybe one day” he spoke softly when she spoke about her fundraiser and shrugged slightly “Miracles do happen every day after all” he chuckled at the way she described some of the people that attended those as cutthroat “Who knew charity could be so competitive” he commented with a soft nod when she told him to stay humble. Hearing her say she had limited time he nodded a few times before making up the tea he promised her and pouring it out into a thermos for her “Here, this is mine and I expect it back, call it a token of friendship, as you will” he grinned as he offered it out to her.

Irene never actually got to receive any of the ideas her company rides on, face to face, they were always given to her office by documents printed out for proposal purposes or emails that Nadia always had stored neatly, everything was brought to her so when Leigh came to her with this suggestion, hs was more than on board with the idea. Perhaps, she could actually catch a break from all he looming in the office and actually work off site, doing something she actually enjoys for a change. "I'm very interested in designs and layouts in particular. So I think we'll have fun expanding that business" she exclaimed enthusiastically, it was clear that the diviner was excited to see this idea bloom. When he said people sometimes told him he was being over ambitious, Irene chuckled and shrugged, "Nothing wrong with being ambitious at all. That keeps your gear moving, that's a potential right there. It means you're innovative." Why must people be stuck in their own bubbles? Why wouldn't they branch out to see how far their capabilities stretch out? Irene likes him, he has the morals and the brains, a perfect combo, basically. 

It helps that she converses easily with him without any hint of fakeness. He's actually a good company. "I'll definitely give you a call on this, Leigh. You got me hooked so I don't think I can back down anytime soon, this is all your fault" she shot playfully. It's been a while since she actually did something of her interest and this had given her a new-found hobby to work on as soon as she gets back home, she had already calculated what to do. The confession made by Irene when talking about friends actually made her tear up internally because she never thought much about it but now? How much has she been missing out? "Yeah, none. Not to worry of course, I have one now" she grinned wryly and pointed at him, "You." That's a start, Irene. It's a start. She only nod in response to his question, it wasn't unbelievable, Irene had plenty of rumors spreading around which helped solidify her reputation, albeit it not being quite reputable for being nice and tolerant, it ensured the lesser people fighting for power in the company and that settles a lot for her. 

She always does seen like an extrovert, always equipped with a smile, used so much at the point where nobody could figure out if it's genuine or fake, she never showed her tears or rage in front of anyone. In a way, that suppressed a lot of things in her. "You can say it like that, mhmm… though I'm not sure if anyone ever saw me as one. Brands and all, huh." In the end, they're all categorized. The blonde had a bright smile curved on her lips when he said he could be her friend, yeah she'd like that. She was thrilled and touched that Leigh could see past her, she wanted to be known like that, she wanted to be likable too, it's just not in her deck of cards, unfortunately. She'll survive but it doesn't necessarily mean she wanted it to be this way forever. Leigh showed the door to a path she actually wanted to take. Baby steps, right? "Well, never say never, right?" she chuckled and nodded in response to his question regarding whether she went back home often, "Depends on your definition of home. I came from Kensington but Paris has been home for...well, a while." 

She knew what he meant but it does spark an idea, perhaps she should rethink those favorite spots she liked to venture to. "Unique is something that's rare these days. I take it to be someone's story." Their personality traits usually tells a lot about people, that's what she learned. "Good. That should tell those people off for messing with you." Oh, she wished karma would do that for her but so far, her life is practically miserable so long as Mira Harridan still runs amok and causing trouble for her. What a life. "See, told you, this ambitious side of you is promising, Leigh. Keep it up and you may just find yourself exploring." She knew he had good intentions, she could tell the authenticity in him from his body language alone, and there's also the way he talks, Irene was sure Leigh could actually convince people if he tried. "One day, then. I'll hold you to it, Kingsman." When she received the thermos from the therian, she chuckled and took it from him, "Oh don't worry I'll take good care of this thermos." A token of friendship, he said, she smiled to herself and turned around to wave at him before exiting the bookstore, heading back to her office but with a bright smile, because hey, she made a friend today. 


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