My stomach begins to hurt as I continue to laugh, wanting to give him some credit for making me genuinely laughing as I've been dealing with enough stress lately at the hospital. My eyes wander to meet Aidan's, seeing that he's only staring at me, expressionless.

          ''Okay, Aidan. I think it's too early for a birthday prank but where are the cameras?'' I ask, eyes wandering around the cafe, seeing that most of the people here are staring at us. They are all shaking their heads as they turn to look away, leaving me in a confusion of my own.

''White people,'' Someone says, under his breath.

          With an acoustic version of History by One Direction playing in the background, I begin to realise that Aidan has done nothing but stare at me. His lips have not curved up into a smile or burst out into laughters like how he would always react whenever he makes a silly joke.

          He's exactly how his employees would describe him. Expressionless. Boring. Evil. Maybe, I exaggerated the last one but that was all they said . . . but, he has never reacted that way towards me. Not even once.

          I lean back on my seat, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear as my eyebrows furrow. Deep inside, I start to realise how I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable—more likely with his stare and the way he's just sitting there while I was busy bursting out laughing.

          ''Are you done?'' He asks, gesturing to my sudden burst. Both of his brown eyes are staring directly into mine, making me feel slightly uncomfortable to make further eye contact; he has been my best friend for years, I've never felt like this around him except now.

          ''You're not joking . . . are you?'' I ask, my voice low and almost inaudible as I lean forward, not wanting anyone else to hear our conversation except for him. Then, he leans forward, too, with his face inches from mine.

          ''No,'' He answers before leaning back.

          ''Wrong answer. Take that back,'' I mutter before leaning back and mentally slapping myself. My eyebrows continue to furrow as his lips curve up into a smile, leaving me with an urge to just smack his face to turn his smile upside down.

          ''Why would I joke about this? In fact, Kenna . . . I'm actually very serious but you managed to surprise me. I didn't expect a reaction like that when I ask someone to marry me,'' He replies as he leans back, eyeing my every movement which leaves me frustrated.

          As I slam my hands onto the table, ''You're asking me to marry you, for god's sake. How do you expect me to react? Jump with joy? You're out of your damn mind,'' I continue to say before crossing my arms in disbelief, continuing to catch people's attention.

          ''If you're not going to marry him, I will.'' The waitress says as she serves our food, both of her dark brown eyes are looking at him before turning to look at me. Her skin's dark glow gives me a slight envy as I frown at my own tanned skin. Without further ado, my eyes are glued to Aidan . . . seeing him slightly surprised.

          ''Do you want to marry her?'' I ask, pointing at the waitress as she stands beside our table. She has her right hand on her hip before glancing at Aidan who seems to be speechless. In fact, everyone in the cafe has turned to look at us, all of them remaining silence.

          Aidan clears his throat, ''No. No, thank you.''

          ''Well, if you ever change your mind . . . you know where to find me,'' She adds before turning to walk back towards the kitchen, making everyone else continue what they were doing previously while Aidan and I, blankly stare at one another.

          I quickly drink my water until my final sip while he stares at me, letting me take my time. As I keep on drinking, I raise my right index finger up as a sign for him to wait. After putting the glass down, I start to breathe heavily which leaves him smirking at me.

          ''I can't breathe,'' I mutter.

          ''Fine. I'll give you a minute to breathe,'' He replies before taking a bite of his sandwich, chewing it slowly. Both of his eyes are never leaving mine yet he continues to eat his food as he continuously check the watch on his wrist.

          Aidan must've lost his mind. He has never reacted this way or taken our friendship to the next level—we've always been friends. Close friends and I'm pretty sure, both of us wanted it to last that way . . . except for now. He's acting differently.

          Everything around me seems to disappear as I am left on my own, trying to figure out what the hell is happening with my life. This morning, I woke up praying for a better reason to wake up every other morning other than waking up for coffee but I did not expect this.

          God must've been confused about my prayer.

          ''Can you breathe, now?'' He asks, breaking me from my thoughts as I look down at his plate, seeing that he has finished his sandwich.

          When he doesn't get a respond from me, he begins to sigh. ''You should've listened to my explanation first because you're overreacting,'' He continues to speak, taking a glance at his phone to check the time before turning to look at me again.

          ''There's an explanation to this?'' I ask.

          ''There's an explanation to everything. If only you wouldn't jump to conclusions then, you would've really understood more. The reason why I'm asking you to marry me is because I want you to help me,'' He answers, ''And, you're also the only one who can help.''

          ''How is marrying you . . . helpful?'' I roll my eyes which causes him to raise an eyebrow. ''I mean, don't get me wrong, Aidan but you're asking me to marry you when you've only seen me naked when I was eight and it wasn't even pleasurable,'' I add, reminded back of the memory when he accidentally walked into the bathroom when mother was bathing me.

          He laughs, ''That memory will forever stain my mind.'' Then, he clears his throat, ''But that's not the point, listen . . . if you're not going to marry me, I'll be forced to marry Shin-hye. You know how she is, right?'' He shakes his head, cringing.

          I burst into laughters, ''She's Korean. I don't think that's a problem,'' I furrow my brows as I think back of the night he went on a date with Shin-hye because his mother forced him and the situation was forcing too . . . his mother brought her to his office when he was leaving.

          ''What does that even mean? I can't marry her . . . we can't even communicate without a damn translator,'' He leans back after sighing deeply while I'm too busy laughing back at the memory when he called me continuously that night, complaining about the awful date. ''Apparently, my mother fell in love with their culture that she wanted me to marry a Korean,'' He adds.

          ''Funny. You speak seven languages yet Korean is not one of them,'' I laugh as I take a bite of my sandwich, ''You could've communicated without a translator. She might've been a great woman to be your wife,'' I say as he groans, clenching his jaw.

          ''Korean is hard to learn,'' He shrugs.

          ''Stop giving excuses. You speak fluent Mandarin when it's harder than Korean,'' I chew the sandwich in my mouth as soon as I take another bite, leaving him sigh, again.

          ''Nationalities or race is not the problem, Kenna. Mother is trying to ruin my life because she has been busy finding me an heiress to marry. If I even agree to marry the woman of her choice, I'm not surprise if she starts to plan the wedding, picking the venue or even tell me the better sex position for her to have a grandchild,'' He says, eyes showing annoyance.

          My mind was absolutely losing focus as I laugh, finding this as humouring. The way his eyebrows are frowned and his eyes showed disagreement—it's all clear. We've been best friends for too long that I've completely lost count of how many times he has complained to me.

          ''Come on, Aidan. I know you . . . you just don't want to get married,'' I mutter, ''That's why this is becoming a problem for you.'' I speak, truthfully of his situation.

          ''And, that's why I need your help. You're the only one who understands me more. You have always been there for me and right now, I want you to actually be able to help me. We just have to get married and that's it . . . she'll have to agree because she loves you,'' He grins.

          ''I hope you realise what you're talking about. Marriage is a sacred thing for me, Aidan. This is not just a game where you can end whenever you want because this is a very important thing, especially for me. I know how our perspectives are different but you know mine,'' I reply which causes him to clench his jaw at the realisation.

          He stays quiet for a few seconds before speaking, ''I'm setting up a contract. You'll be a part of it where it satisfy both sides. All we need to do is get married for a year and when the year is up, we'll get a divorce. We'll convince our parents that it didn't work out and that we're better off as friends,'' His eyes widen with every word, leaving me gape at him.

          ''What makes you think that she won't ask you to marry again?'' I cross my arms, trying to find an escape to this whole thing but Aidan's clever than that—he's not going to give up easily because he's a really determined person. He works hard to get what he wants.

          ''I'll just say that I can never love someone else as much as I've loved you,'' He points out which leaves me sighing—thinking of the contract. ''I'm sure she'll understand because we've been friends . . . long enough and the pain must be too much to bear,'' He adds.

          As I continue to stare at him, I think of the possibilities of this might turn out to be. We'll be able to survive the year pretending to be a happy married couple when it's only for a short amount of time—we've known each other for too long, we don't have to worry about being uncomfortable or about falling for one another.

          For twenty years, we've been friends for twenty years . . . I'm confident that we will never forget the main purpose of the contract. Besides, helping my best friend is worth it. He has been the one to help me before ever since we were in middle school, might as well return the favour.

''It might work,'' I mutter.

          ''Does this mean that you agree?'' He asks, raising an eyebrow. Our eyes meet for a few seconds before I nod my head, causing him to smile widely; revealing his perfectly pearl white straight teeth—believe me, he got braces in middle school. So did I. We got it together.

          ''Well . . . I want to help my best friend. I don't want to see you marrying Shin-hye, having to have a translator live with you for the rest of your life and not being able to communicate with your kids. So, I'm doing you a favour. Besides, it'll only last for a year and then, we'll be going on our lives just the way it is, now. We will always remain best friends . . . we have nothing to lose,'' I reply, after thinking it through.

          ''You're a god damn lifesaver, Kenna.'' He chuckles, letting out a breath of relief while I smile to myself—seeing myself as a knight in shining armour, saving the damsel in distress but instead . . . he's a grown man.

          ''But, there are conditions.'' I say which causes him to stop smiling immediately, making him turn to look at me before leaning forward, ''I only have two right now but I'll figure more tonight before emailing them to you . . . comprender?''

          ''Si,'' He nods, ''What are they?''

          I roll my eyes, ''First of all, you can't think I would just agree to marry you without a proper proposal, right? I'm a woman and I have class—you don't get to choose me. So, you'll have to work on proposing me and last but not least, you've got to have the ring,'' I smirk.

          He clears his throat, ''You mean . . . ''

          ''Yes, Aidan. You have to go on one knee,'' I stand up, looking down at him as he stays focus, ''If you would like to disagree, I wouldn't want to sign your contract or agree to marry you. Okay, that's all for now, you'll have to send me back to the hospital as I have patients to attend,'' I say as I make my way out of the cafe, leaving him all by himself calling for the bill after giving him the professional gesture.

          As soon as I step out of the cafe, I am greeted with both Flynn and Gerald as they stand beside the car. They turn to look at me before looking at someone behind me, the none other than Aidan.

          ''Kenna,'' He calls out.

          I turn to look at him, ''What?''

          Surprisingly, he takes a few steps closer towards me while I stay still at my spot. My eyes wander to look at his face as he grabs onto my left hand . . . leaving me raising an eyebrow but I stay quiet—waiting for his next move.

          Both of his eyes are focusing onto my hand which leaves me pressing my lips into a thin line before he looks up at my face after letting go of my hand.

          ''Let's go,'' He says as he walks towards the car, opening the door for me while I keep on glancing at him as I step inside with him trailing behind me. Expectedly, he starts to take his phone out before typing something in which I don't bother to invade.

          When we've arrived at the hospital, he grabs onto my hand just seconds before I can step out of the car which causes me to look down at his grip, ''Don't forget to email me your list of conditions. Just . . . make them bearable,'' He says and I chuckle.

          ''You'll see,'' I answer.

          Just like that, I step out of the car before making my way towards the entrance. My lips curve up to the few doctors that are smiling at me and as soon as the air-conditioners greet me, I am left sighing in relief.

          ''Kenna!'' I turn to see Lucas walking towards me with a smile on his face, ''I was about to ask you to grab lunch with me but they told me you left,'' He says, revealing his right dimple. Both of his green eyes are looking directly at me which reminds me of . . . plants?

          ''I was with a friend,'' I reply, ''You really need to work on your timing, Lucas.'' I continue to speak and he laughs, leaving me smiling at him before turning to look at Willow, seeing that she has both of her eyes glued onto me.

          Lucas nods with a smile, ''I'll just have to make sure that I don't have surgeries to perform before asking to grab lunch with you,'' He replies.

          Well, you see . . . Lucas here is a surgeon. He's a specialist in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department which means he deals with giving birth and pregnant women. Yet, he seems to be smiling a lot—other than getting the pressure from hormonal women.

          He also appears to be a highly-requested doctor in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department due to his good-looks . . . patients said they were able to bear with less pain when having him as their doctor.

Like I said, hormonal pregnant women.

          Just before I can answer, someone calls out for me which causes me to turn around—seeing that he has a panic-look on his face. I turn towards Lucas, ''Sorry, Lucas. Duty calls,'' I say and he nods, gesturing for me to make my way as I quickly walk to the nurse.

          ''Albert has nightmares again . . . it's getting severe,'' He says as we walk towards the stairs, after glancing at the elevator—seeing the amount of people there. My eyebrows furrow at the thought of Albert, he has been having trouble breathing for the past couple of weeks yet he's such a tough cookie.

          A stubborn one, I tell you.

          ''Why didn't you call the other doctors?'' I ask as we both push onto the hospital doors, reaching towards the third floor. The hall is busy with the amount of nurses walking in a hurry with files in their hands while others are dealing with patients.

          ''He didn't want them,'' He replies.

          As soon as I enter Albert's room, I am greeted with two other doctors trying to calm him down as he keeps on shouting for my presence while his heartbeat is raising. The two interns turn to look at me, gesturing for me to make my way towards them.

          ''Albert . . . it's me,'' I say and he starts to calm down a little before turning to look at me, ''You need to calm down,'' I add when I realise that his heartbeat is not slowing down.

          ''What happened?'' I ask one of the interns, seeing that they're breathing heavily from trying to contain Albert. He has been in the hospital for the past couple of months but due to his age, it seems impossible from him to not have any sickness.

          ''He was having nightmares and he started screaming so we helped him but he has been shouting for you. We were trying to give him a sedative,'' He replies and I quickly take it from him before turning to look at Albert again.

          ''Albert, I need you to calm down. Just look at me and breathe,'' I continue to say but he has both of his eyes focusing onto the other doctors—leaving me turn to look at them. My hand grips harder onto the sedative, ''It won't hurt . . . it'll calm you down,'' I add.

          ''They were hurting me!'' He says.

          ''It's okay . . . it's going to be fine,'' I slowly inject the sedative into his veins, causing him to lose grip on the sheets as his body begins to relax. My eyes focus onto the beeping machine, seeing that his heartbeat is also slowing down to a normal rate.

          Then, he closes his eyes as he drifts into a deep slumber. The nurses come inside to help him by checking his heart rate again, seeing that they're normal. Both of my eyes wander to the two interns, ''You must be new. He's not fond of other people,'' I say.

          ''We were just trying to help,''

          ''He hates that. It's okay, don't worry about it.'' I nod my head and they both turn to leave the room, leaving me looking down at Albert—seeing that he's deep in his sleep. His nightmares are getting severe than before and it has not helped him with the death of his wife, either.

          Albert was supposed to be under Doctor John but apparently, he wasn't very fond of John. When John was absent that day, I was the one who calmed him down—apparently, he was kind of fond of me . . . since then, they transferred his name as one my patients. He has been suffering with high-blood pressure yet he can't seem to control his temper.

          ''If he keeps this up, there's a higher chance he'll get a stroke.'' I mutter under my breath to the nurse beside me as he nods his head, agreeing. As I look down at my wrist watch, I quickly make my way out of the room and down the hall.

          Hours have passed as I take off my coat before looking down at the time, seeing that it's getting late but I had to wait for Albert to wake up or he'll react the same. As I make my way towards my car which is parked in the basement, I turn to see Lucas.

          ''Kenna, you're still here?'' He asks, stopping his steps. Both of his eyebrows are furrowed as he eyes my outfit—seeing that I've changed into a shirt and pair of skinny jeans. ''It's getting late . . . I thought you didn't have night shifts this week?'' He continues.

          ''I'm heading home and uh, I had to wait for Albert. What are you doing back at the hospital?'' I ask, realising that he had left a few hours ago.

          ''Albert . . . right. He doesn't like other doctors,'' He replies and I chuckle, ''My patient gave me a call saying that she was on her way to the hospital. The baby is due a little bit early,'' He answers, leaving me nod my head before unlocking my car.

''I'm sure it'll all go well,'' I say.

          Lucas smiles as he reveals his dimple, ''You should go home. Sorry for taking your time because you look tired and I should've noticed. Drive safe,'' He says and I smile before stepping inside my car before locking the doors again.

          Without further ado, I quickly drive out of the basement and head straight home. My mind has been thinking of laying in bed while surrounded with pillows which causes me to press harder onto the gas pedal—unable to deal with the temptation of sleeping.

          As soon as I've arrived home, I immediately push my heels aside before running towards my bedroom. Just as I lay onto my bed, I am left staring at my laptop which causes me to sit up straight before putting it in front of me.

The conditions.

          With a deep breath, I begin to write.

Comments (1)
goodnovel comment avatar
Rey Guidangen
nice novel

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