Sophia woke up slightly late. She had been in a good mood last night. However, a meeting with the insolent Evan after dinner and a tiff with Alexander had thoroughly ruined her mood. She had gone to bed late. Her alarm clock cried in vain at six in the morning.
It was already seven, almost eight.
Sophia cursorily scrolled through her phone. She got out of bed and stepped into the shower. Then, she made herself a quick sandwich and a glass of milk. She wolfed down her breakfast while scrolling through Twitter.
For once, everything was fine. There was not a scrap of news that involved her.
Sophia gulped down the last of her milk. After turning the yoga mat out, she went downstairs to feed her goldfish.
Even in November, Jadeborough was not a cold place. It was close to nine o’clock when the sun had fully risen. There was just a slightly cool breeze.
Sprinkling food into the fishbowl, she was about to head back upstairs for two hours of yoga when her phone suddenly rang.
It was Benjamin.
She raised a brow as she hadn’t expected him to uncover information about Bethany so quickly.
“Good morning, Mr. Morris.”
“Good morning. Something happened last night. I think it’s crucial that you should be informed about it in advance.”
Sophia frowned. She was somewhat baffled. “I’m sorry, I don’t follow. What do you mean?”
“Let me clarify. After we parted yesterday, I had the opportunity of planting a bug on Bethany’s phone. Last night, she went to the bar. At first, she wanted to leave with Samuel and Charles, but she was rejected by them. In the end, she got into the car of a man named Jay.”
Sophia hummed in acknowledgment as she digested the new information.
She waited patiently for Benjamin to continue.
The latter continued, “Last night, Ms. White and Jay were in a room at Salia Hotel. After listening to the wiretap recording, I found that she talked about you with Jay.”
A man and a woman spent a night together in a hotel room. Every adult knew what that meant.
Sophia didn’t know Bethany was that type of person, but that wasn’t the main point. What she was puzzled by was why Bethany had mentioned her name in a conversation with Jay.
“Well, what did she talk about with Jay?”
“I must say, you’re quite a sharp lady, Ms. Yarrow.”
Benjamin chuckled triumphantly and played the recording for Sophia.
The voice in the recording was initially thin and reedy. After a few seconds, Sophia could pick up a pair of human voices in the conversation. “You’re even better than I thought!” “Is that so? How do I compare with Sophia?” “Why? Is there some rivalry between the two of you?” “You’re quite perceptive.” “Well, I’ll have to hook up with your rival sometime.” “I believe you’ll soon get that chance.”
Sophia was silent for a few moments after listening to the recording. Clearing her throat, she asked, “Do you know what sort of person this Jay is?”
“I’ll look into him if it’s something you’re interested in finding out.”
Sophia chuckled. “Good. I’ll send your fee over right away.”
“You’re quick, Ms. Yarrow. I like that. I believe it’ll take me about three days to dig up some information on Jay. Well, I’ll hang up now. I shan’t bother you any longer.”
“Good luck,” said Sophia.
She stared at her phone in disbelief for a few seconds before trudging upstairs.
After her yoga session, Yvonne called to remind her that she had a lunch appointment with Tobias at noon.
The reminder was unnecessary. Sophia remembered the appointment very well. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, she spent half an hour dabbing on some makeup before stepping out of her house.
Yvonne was waiting for her at the restaurant entrance.
Spotting her car, Yvonne walked up to the driver’s seat. “Ms. Yarrow.”
Sophia nodded and smiled in greeting. Taking off her shades, she asked, “Has Tobias arrived?”
“He reached ten minutes ago.”
“I see. That might mean he’s quite sincere.”
As Yvonne led her into the restaurant, she said, “Mr. White’s opening offer is three hundred million.”
Sophia smiled wryly. “That’s quite a number.”
She thought, “Expedite was listed on the market five years ago. It’s now valued at more than two billion. However, Tobias wants us to pay thirty million for five percent in shares. What a farce.”
Collecting herself, Sophia put on a cold, calculating expression and followed Yvonne to a private room in the restaurant.
Just as Yvonne opened the door to the room, Tobias stood up and exclaimed, “Ms. Suny!”
Upon seeing Sophia, Tobias’ expression changed noticeably. “Why are you here?”
Sophia chuckled. “Ms. Suny is… busy. As her new secretary, I’m here in her stead.”
Smiling faintly, she continued, “Hi, Mr. White. I don’t think it’s necessary to introduce myself.”
She wanted to photograph and frame the look on Tobias’ face. When she and Alexander had gotten married, the White family had made gossiping about her their household pastime. Once, the White family paid the Xenos residence a visit. Tobias’ wife and Kristen had gleefully mocked and insulted her to her face. The memory was still fresh.
If there was one thing Sophia was good at, it was bearing grudges.
She still remembered the event, though it happened two years ago.
With obvious difficulty, Tobias composed himself. He stared at Sophia. “Ms. Yarrow, you have changed since the last time I saw you.”
Sophia beamed graciously. “People change. Some of the credit has to go to Mrs. White’s… tutelage. Please help me thank her when you get the chance.”
Tobias had spent many years immersed in the world of commerce. He clearly understood the implication and resentment behind Sophia’s words.
He shifted his feet uncomfortably like he was wearing ill-fitting shoes. He didn’t know whether he should leave or stay. It was a real dilemma.
He was even beginning to regret contacting Sunshine Group. If he had known that Ms. Suny wouldn’t be present, he wouldn’t have bothered asking for an in-person meeting to conduct negotiations.
He had refrained from any cruel comments when Sophia married into the Xenos family. However, he knew that his wife and daughter soon found a new hobby in tripping up and making fun of Sophia.
For the first time in his life, Tobias grasped the meaning of the well-worn adage—between a rock and a hard place.
Having finished speaking, Sophia leisurely flipped through the restaurant menu. Without the least bit of shyness, she ordered two expensive dishes. Looking up at Tobias, she said, “Expedite is valued on the market today at about two and a half billion to three billion. Yet, for some strange reason, you want us to pay thirty million for five percent. Do you think Sunshine Group is in the business of printing money?”
There was a predatory grin on her face. She was going straight for the jugular.
Tobias was a sly man, but he didn’t know what to say in this situation. He wished to just leave. However, things were different this time. He had no cards to play. If Sunshine Group chose not to invest, Expedite was finished. They would struggle to exist even if they managed to survive this particular obstacle.
Sophia glanced at him triumphantly. She flashed a look to Yvonne, who promptly shoved an acquisition booklet in front of Tobias.
Sophia said, “How about this, Mr. White? I have a suggestion. For two and a half billion, Sunshine Group will buy out Expedite. What do you say?”
She could see a throbbing vein on Tobias’ forehead. He cried, “You… you swindler!”
Sophia tutted disapprovingly like a disappointed parent. “Well, it seems there’s no point in continuing this conversation. In that case, I think I’ll leave now.”
Flashing Yvonne a look, she stood up.
Halfway out the door, Sophia stopped and grinned at Tobias. “By the way, Ms. White seems to have a lot of free time on her hand these days. You should treat her well. You might regret it if something happens to her.”
Sophia stepped out the door without sparing Tobias another glance.
As she left the room, she bumped head-first into Alexander.