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Arianna frowned at herself in the mirror. She carefully removed her clip-on earrings and gently kneaded her earlobes afterward. She thought they’d done enough damage to her ears for the day.

This luxurious hall even had decorations in its bathroom. She glanced at the purple orchids by the sinks.

She began to fix her hair with some water and re-applied a layer of lipstick.

A shawl originally accompanied her white dress, however, she gave it to her colleague, Melissa, to cover a stain on her dress. Unfortunately, this left her thin shoulders and back exposed in her deep V-neck dress.

Arianna took out a small perfume bottle from her handbag and sprayed her hair, neck, and wrists. She took a deep breath, pushed the door open, and stepped out of the bathroom.

The main hall was illuminated with golden lights and was filled with beautiful dresses, melodic music, and noisy chatter. She scanned the crowd, hoping to find Melissa.

But, the committee affairs leader called her, “Arianna, we could use a little help, if you don’t mind.”

This was the annual banquet organized by Arianna’s business association. As staff members of the investment department, she and Melissa were recruited to be the interpreters for the evening.

However, many foreign guests brought their own interpreters, leaving the two women with lots of free time.

Arianna saw the company president speaking to a European guest as she approached them. She joined the conversation, facilitating translation and ensuring everything was properly understood.

She bowed elegantly before stepping away when she felt that she was no longer needed. But before she could do so, the guest suddenly grinned and softly picked up her wrist and slid his hand underneath her fingers.

His rugged beard was rough on her skin as he placed a kiss on her hand.

Arianna blushed in embarrassment as she turned to leave.

She could only take a couple of steps before someone stepped out in front of her and said, “Dear Arian.”

Her heartbeat ramped up for a moment. It had been many years since someone called her that. She lost contact with her old friends a long time ago.

Standing in front of her was a young, shining woman in a red dress. A heart-warming smile on her face, “Arianna, it really is you!”

“Hello, Janie.” Arianna responded without the same excitement, “Long time no see.”

“What are you doing here? I thought your entire family moved away!”

“Nope. I’ve been here all along.” She responded flatly. Arianna was about to say goodbye, but Janie began to beckon to someone. Arianna placed her hands on her hips.

A man turned his head away from the group of people he was talking to and looked at Janie. He politely excused himself and strode over to the two women.

The man was in good shape and had a deep, booming voice. On his fourth finger was the same style of ring as Janie. He said, “Arianna, you haven’t changed a bit!”

“Neither have you two. Congratulations on the wedding!” Arianna said with a fake smile and left.

****

During the first few hours of the banquet, Arianna had nothing to do. She sat at a table with Melissa and observed the people. But now, people were recognizing her and giving her things to do. Was it because her gown was more revealing now and drawing more attention to her?

When Arianna finally found Melissa, she was talking to an official. She stepped back and waited for them to finish their conversation.

However, the official caught Arianna’s eye and called to her, “Aren’t you Arianna Jenkins, the granddaughter of Franco Sanchez? How is he?”

“He is well, thank you.” Arianna was a little coy. She knew who he was but did not remember that they had ever officially met.

This was not Arianna’s scene. She didn’t expect to encounter acquaintances one after another. After the man left, she let out a long sigh.

Melissa raised one eyebrow at Arianna and asked, “What’s up with you? He seemed nice.”

“He knows my grandpa.”

“And that couple you were talking to over there?”

“We were classmates back when we were kids.”

“Well, they’re making negotiations with the city.” She pulled Arianna’s arm and continued, “Anyways, stop hiding yourself. You don’t need me to tell you that any man here packs a fortune. We’d make a nice score if any of them fell for us.”

Melissa winked at her, “Let’s go. Don’t look down, hold your chest up and smile.”

Arianna was surprised by Melissa’s behavior. But she did have a point. Melissa helped ensure that neither of them was having a wardrobe malfunction, but her eyes widened, and she said, “Nice!”

Following her eyes, Arianna only saw the side profile of a tall man. His head was slightly lowered to speak to a group of shorter men.

The man had a modest expression on his face, but he still appeared to be above the others out of their league.

He turned his head sideways towards the girls as he could feel them watching him. Both Melissa and Arianna looked away when they saw his head begin to move.

Melissa said under her breath, “This guy is gorgeous. He could be a Greek God if you ask me... I haven’t seen a real man like that in a while.”

The corner of Arianna’s mouth twitched as she fought her smile in response to Melissa’s words. She looked back at the man and could see that they were saying goodbye.

His eyes briefly met hers once more before she quickly lowered hers to the floor.

Melissa asked, “Do you know him? Arianna, Hello? Who is that guy?”

At that moment, the music dipped to a quieter rhythm, leaving Melissa’s questions echoing through the room. Before she could answer, someone nearby stated, “That is Travis Cooper, the president of Transcendent Jewels.”

Melissa’s mouth dropped, “Transcendent Jewels? Wow. Word has it that he owns diamond mines in South Africa. I thought he would be super old!”

She continued to babble, “People say he’s out of the state most of the time and rarely appears in public. He doesn’t like to be interviewed or photographed.”

“This guy is a legend.” Melissa finished with a hair flip.

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