With a frown, Natalie clenched her fists and said unhappily, “I wasn’t trying to…”
As soon as she spoke, Draco looked over and their eyes met. Suddenly, the light of the crystal chandelier seemed to become brighter. Draco’’s eyes lit up and a smile stretched across his handsome face.
“Sorry, everyone. Excuse me.” With an apologetic smile, he walked through the crowd and made a beeline towards Natalie.
Draco stood in front of Natalie. He was much taller than she had expected, and had a rather affable expression, though it didn’t make him any less manly.
“Excuse me, Miss. Are you Natalie Quinn, the designer who participated in the first show of Seacisco Fashion Week?”
He had to duck his head slightly as he spoke to her, if only to avoid looking arrogant and self-important. He was so tall that Natalie seemed petite beside him, despite her average height. She flushed at his question, both surprised and embarrassed.
“You’re right, Mr. Wesley. But Quinn is no longer my last name by now.”
Draco’s face broke into a smile, his eyes curving into tiny rainbows.
‘I see. I finally get to meet you, Miss White. You’re a lot cuter than I imagined.”
“What do you mean, Mr. Wesley?” Natalie asked, visibly confused.
“You see, I paid close attention to your designs at the Seacisco Fashion Week. I really liked them, but for some reason, they were suddenly removed from the selection. I was abroad at the time, so I naturally had no idea what went down. A friend told me later that you were involved in a plagiarism scandal. How did it go, by the way? Has the matter been solved?” Natalie tilted her head curiously.
“I wonder, Mr. Wesley, why aren’t you asking me whether I did plagiarize another designer’s work or not?”
“A plagiarized work will never be able to earn my appreciation in the first place,” the man said firmly.
“Are you sure about that?” This time, Natalie’s surprise turned up a notch. Draco chuckled gleefully.
“How interesting you are, Miss White. I happen to have a very discerning eye. Besides that, I also have a phone, which allowed me to read about the press statement released by your company.” The two of them chatted amicably, completely unaware that the people around them were staring.
Draco was easy and pleasant to talk to. Natalie felt the tension slowly leave her body.
“Ah, you look more relaxed now,” Draco said with a smile, as if he had meant to ease her worries all along.
“Well, I’m actually not used to this, socializing with the upper-class elites, so I’m sure my stress is justified,” Natalie joked.
“Are you still working for Larson Group, then?” Natalie shook her head.
“I quit because of some… personal issues.” Draco immediately perked up.
“Have you taken a new offer elsewhere?”
“I haven’t decided yet, to be honest. A part of me wants to run my own studio, but I can’t help but feel intimidated. I think I should continue as an employee for now and gain more experience. God knows I need it if I’m to thrive in the industry.”
Natalie sighed wistfully just as the warm, soft light fell on her delicate face. It lent her an innocent and youthful glow. Draco didn’t hesitate to put his offer on the table.
“How about joining my studio? You can work as my assistant and get all the experience you need. You’ll be free to leave once you think you’re finally ready to set out on your own.” Natalie gaped at him in disbelief.
“Mr. Wesley, I-Are you kidding me right now?” Her head was buzzing from the sudden and ludicrous opportunity that fell on her lap Draco’s studio was a much-coveted post for all young designers who wanted to make a name for themselves.
Natalie had never even dreamed of setting foot in that hallowed place.
“Does it look like I’m kidding?” Draco teased, though there was an unmistakable serious edge to his voice. Natalie took a couple of seconds to process his words, and then she grinned.
“Not at all. I’ll be more than happy to work for you. It’s every designer’s dream.” After hearing her exclamation, the young socialites nearby glared at Natalie in shock and envy.
“Great! How about starting next week?” Draco was already taking out his business card and handed it to Natalie.
She was over the moon. Having no reason to refuse this once-in-a-lifetine chance, Natalie nodded and promised to be at his studio the following week. Johanna saw it all unfold from the sidelines. She walked up to Natalie as soon as Draco left and whispered, “Lucky you! It’s a good thing to be in Mr. Wesley’s good graces. You’re definitely headed for a bright future.”
But there was another side to Johanna’s elation over Natalie’s promising prospect. After all, if Natalie worked for
Draco, then she wouldn’t be coming back to Seacisco any time soon. Lila felt conflicted as she watched Johanna and Natalie whispering and giggling among themselves.
Although Johanna didn’t express any dissatisfaction toward her, the woman was obviously very proud of Natalie.
And Lila had to admit that Natalie was truly brilliant, more so than herself.
Natalie was still in high spirits long after she had arrived home. She lay in bed and stared at Draco’s business card, turning it over and over between her fingers.
Then, out of the blue, Sebastian’s glum face flashed in her mind. It suddenly occurred to her that she had been too busy recently to go on video calls with her dear husband. Natalie wasted no time remedying that.
As soon as the video call connected, Sebastian’s scowling face appeared on her screen.
“Have you finally remembered that you left your husband here in Seacisco?” he complained.
“I’m so sorry, honey,” Natalie immediately apologized.
“My mom has been taking me to parties and getting me to meet the local socialites. I get so tired that I pass out as soon as I come home.” Sebastian snorted at that and rolled his eyes.
“You don’t think about how I would feel, do you? You don’t care about me at all.”
It looked like he was becoming a very clingy and needy husband. Natalie had no choice but to cajole him with everything she got.
She even talked sweet nothings to him for several consecutive minutes, until she finally noticed the corners of his lips twitching.
“By the way, I have some good news.” She told him about Draco’s job offer. And just like that, Sebastian’s face darkened all over again. This time, he looked even more sullen and cross.
“You… Are you really planning to work for him?” He spoke through gritted teeth as he tried his best to rein in his jealousy.
Natalie’s parents had spirited her away with no regard for Sebastian’s opinion, and he was still mad about it. In addition, he was all too familiar with Draco, what with the man being a reputable icon in the fashion industry.