It was ten minutes to six by the time Alexander arrived at Mirage. His afternoon meeting had dragged on for almost two hours, and as soon as he stepped out of the conference room around five, he drove straight to the restaurant.
Unfortunately, he was held up by traffic in the city center for over ten minutes, thus foiling his plan of reaching half an hour earlier.
Since the staff at Mirage were all familiar with Alexander, one of the waiters wasted no time greeting him. “Hello, Mr. Xenos. Are you meeting a friend, or would you like to book another private room?”
“I’m meeting a friend. His last name is Dawson.”
“Ah, Mr. Dawson has yet to arrive,” the waiter quickly replied. “I’ll take you to the room first, Mr. Xenos.”
Alexander merely hummed an acknowledgment before leaving with the waiter.
A couple of minutes later, the waiter stopped outside a private room and pushed the door slightly open. “Please take a seat, Mr. Xenos. We’ll send Mr. Dawson in once he’s here.”
“All right. Bring me the coffee brewing kit,” Alexander instructed as he strode into the room.
With an approximate size of twenty square meters, the private room was neither big nor small. Apart from a dining table, the only other piece of furniture in there was a bench.
Alexander had barely warmed his seat when the waiter brought the coffee set as instructed.
Since the former didn’t know what Perrin preferred to drink, he had taken the initiative to order Red Hibernia.
Even though I did learn some coffee brewing skills from Sophia, I wonder if it’d be enough to impress Mr. Dawson…
Very soon, the door to the private room opened again, and the waiter ushered in an old man with a cane.
Dressed in a brown suit, the latter’s gray hair and wizened face were undoubtedly a testament to his age.
Alexander lifted his head and immediately met the gaze of the hale and hearty Perrin Dawson. Perrin, however, simply glanced at the younger man before sitting on the chair that his assistant had pulled out, his face devoid of expression.
“Have some coffee, Mr. Dawson,” Alexander said as he got up and offered the old man a cup of freshly brewed Red Hibernia.
After looking at the coffee brewing gear in front of Alexander, Perrin calmly handed his cane to his assistant. “Sorry to have you kept waiting, Mr. Xenos.”
“I’m just doing what I should.”
The next second, the waiter came by to take their food orders, which Perrin promptly deferred to Alexander. “It’s my first time here at this restaurant, so I’m not sure what’s good. I’ll leave it to you, Mr. Xenos.”
Of course, Alexander happily complied and ordered several signature dishes and a stew.
The waiter left a while later, leaving the three people behind in the private room.
Perrin took a sip of his coffee and turned to Alexander. “Mr. Xenos, I don’t like to beat around the bush. I’m sure you know why I’ve arranged for this meeting.”
“You can call me Alex, Mr. Dawson.”
“Given the notorious background of the Xenos family, I don’t think I can bring myself to call you that, Mr. Xenos,” Perrin replied with a derisive snort.
Just like that, Alexander was rendered speechless.
Ah, Mr. Dawson knows everything that happened during those three years. I guess I have no choice but to put up with his admonishment. Besides, I have no words to defend myself with…
Seeing that Alexander wasn’t saying anything, Perrin slowly set his coffee down. “You’re a clever man, Mr. Xenos, so I’ll spare you the harsh words. Besides, I know how arrogant and reckless young people can be. I wouldn’t want you to think I’m bullying you with my seniority, would I?”
After a few seconds of silence, Perrin continued, “Sophia’s parents passed away early, and it took some time before I managed to bring her back to the Dawson family. She could only keep her sufferings to herself when she was on her own in the past, but she’s not alone now. That said, she has also mentioned she didn’t want to dwell on everything that’s happened between you and her, so I’ll respect her wishes. In any case, I’m sure you know better than anyone else what you and your family have done to Sophia, Mr. Xenos. My wife and I loved Sophia’s mother, who, in turn, doted on Sophia. Naturally, we all love Sophia too. The Dawson family may not be as big and prestigious as yours, but we still have the power to protect our own. I won’t pursue what’s in the past because I don’t want to dredge up those awful memories for Sophia. However…”
At that, Perrin suddenly paused and harrumphed.
Alexander pursed his lips and met the old man’s cold-eyed stare. “Feel free to speak your mind.”
“I won’t agree to you getting back together with Sophia.”
Perrin was direct and firm, and even though he wasn’t scolding Alexander, his words still hit the latter hard.
Try as he might, Alexander didn’t know what to say. Mr. Dawson’s constantly reminding me how nasty I’ve been toward Sophia. I can’t rebuke that…
“You ought to be a man of your word. Since you had agreed to the divorce, it’s only right that the both of you go on to lead your separate lives,” Perrin added, stumping the younger man further.
Alexander hung his head and muttered, “I admit I was wrong in the past, Mr. Dawson, and I apologize for my actions. However, who hasn’t made mistakes in their life? Isn’t it good that I’ve realized the folly of my ways and am trying to make amendments? As such, I sincerely hope you’ll give me another chance.”
“I believe Sophia had given you plenty of chances during those three years,” Perrin scoffed. “I wouldn’t be sitting here today if you had grabbed one of those.”
“You’re right. That’s why I’m regretting it now,” Alexander replied, so choked with emotion that he couldn’t say anything more.
“There are many regrets in life, but no one can ever start over with a clean slab,” Perrin said coldly as he looked away.
Alexander glanced at Perrin, only to realize the latter was glaring back at him. For a man in his eighties, it’s impressive that Mr. Dawson still cuts such an imposing figure. It’s almost as if he’s staring right into my soul…
Needless to say, Alexander had lost his appetite and barely touched the food.
Perrin, on the contrary, ate to his heart’s content before instructing his assistant to foot the bill.
With just the two men remaining in the private room, Perrin took another sip of his coffee and looked up. “I don’t want Sophia to know about this meeting, Mr. Xenos. I’m sure you feel the same, too, don’t you?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Alexander uttered, a glint in his eyes. “Mr. Dawson, I know this may sound very presumptuous, but I can tell you that Sophia won’t fall for another man. I’m the only one she’ll ever love.”
Upon hearing that, Perrin laughed in exasperation. “It’s good to be confident, but more often than not, overconfidence leads to arrogance.”
Just then, Perrin’s assistant returned to the room. “Mr. Xenos has already paid for the meal, Mr. Dawson,” he said as he began to help the old man up.
Alexander instantly jumped in to pull the chair out, only to have Perrin smack his hand away.
Momentarily stunned, the young man drew back his hand and watched Perrin walk out of the room.
Gosh. My first meeting with Mr. Dawson didn’t go well at all.
After being rooted to his spot for what seemed like an eternity, Alexander finally left the private room.
It was already past seven by then, and the sky was dark. Alas, the longer he sat in his car, the stronger his craving to smoke a cigarette.
Argh… I haven’t had a smoke in months, though. Sophia doesn’t like it, and I promised her I’d quit.
Alexander stared at the convenience store in the distance, but eventually, he averted his gaze and drove off.
No. I won’t go back on my promise to her.