Chapter 253 Hidden Motives
“Nope. But we might arrive sooner, so you can return earlier, too,” Paul answered.
Paul was being thoughtful. He had a feeling that Calista might have some impending commitments when Shawn inquired about her schedule earlier.
“In that case, I’ll head home and get my luggage ready.”
Calista initially planned to leave tonight, and now that her desire had been fulfilled, she agreed with Paul. He got up and took the car keys from the drawer.
“Yep, let’s roll. I’ll swing by your place, and we can catch our flight later. It’s right on the way.
As they left the premises together, Lucian concluded his meeting. Lucian’s reputation had spread
throughout the project department after the previous incident.
A staff member wasted no time sharing the news when she spotted him.
“Mr. Baker and Calista are on their way to the airport.”
The staff had caught snippets of their conversation during Paul’s earlier task handover to the deputy
“The airport?” Lucian inquired, his eyes locked on the informant, a woman in her twenties.
Unable to withstand Lucian’s scrutiny, the staff promptly revealed more information.
“They’re heading to check out Apthon’s most popular tourist spot, which is themed around the Celestial
The staff couldn’t be bothered with their affairs.
Just the two of them? Lucian asked.
Yeah. But tomorrow…
Before she could complete her sentence, Lucian had already turned and strode away, his expression
The staff breathed a sigh of relief as Lucian walked away. Her heart pounded heavily in her chest. It was
astonishing how Lucian’s gaze had the potential to be lethal.
It was close to midnight when the plane touched down at Apthon International Airport.
It’s getting pretty late, and I bet there won’t be too many folks around If we head to the venue now. How
Paul noticed Calista’s weary demeanor and suggested. Calista checked the time.
It was getting quite late. The airport was a fair distance from the city, but fortunately, their hotel was conveniently situated near the tourist hotspot. She planned to glimpse the landmark during the ride.
“Sure,” she agreed.
The driver that Paul had arranged was already waiting. The late–night drive from the airport was surprisingly empty, and the nighttime scenery was rather unremarkable.
Calista felt herself growing drowsy shortly after settling into the car.
In response to Paul’s gesture, the driver turned on the heater and muted the music. Calista soon fell into a deep sleep and was awakened when they reached the hotel.
She turned to look out the window, her eyes squinting from the bright lights of the hotel lobby. Still groggy from her nap, it took her a moment to remember where she was.
“What about the tourist hotspot?”
Paul resisted the urge to fix her messy hair and answered, “It’s getting late, and most shops are closed. Plus, it’s too dark to see much, so I figured I’d let you sleep.”
The driver sat silently up front, listening to Paul’s lies. As they had driven through the area, it was clear that numerous people were still enjoying the night.
The streets were illuminated, stores remained open, and street performers were entertaining. One
wouldn’t have guessed it was midnight.
Paul continued, “Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and rest up. You’ll have the entire day tomorrow
to explore. There’s no need to hurry.”
Calista nodded and stepped out of the car. A chilly breeze swept over, instantly dispelling the remnants.
of her drowsiness.
The hotel, a five–star establishment within the scenic area, remained a short distance from the bustling street, guaranteeing that the hustle and bustle of the lively landmark didn’t disturb its tranquil atmosphere.
A short distance away, a man engrossed in a phone call casually turned his head and coincidentally
caught a glimpse of Calista.
After a brief moment of surprise, he spoke into the phone with a serious expression.
The hotel reservation was made in advance, and Calista provided her ID for check–in. As they were in the final stages of their check–in process, another guest arrived behind them.
The check–in took longer since only one staff was servicing at the front desk. However, the man behaved rudely and abruptly cut in line without waiting for Paul and Calista to finish their check–in.
He leaned on the counter, with nearly half of his body extending over it, closely monitoring the hotel staff’s actions, and inquired, “Do you have any rooms available?”
The man turned to look at Calista, revealing a set of teeth stained yellow from smoking.
“Calista, what a lovely name you have. It’s similar to my daughter’s name.”
While the man displayed excessive enthusiasm, his demeanor wasn’t unsettling. Nevertheless, Calista
couldn’t help but sense that something was amiss.
Standing beside Calista, Paul placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder and ushered Calista to the other
He positioned himself beside the man and said, “I’m sorry. My sister tends to be shy.”
The man turned his head and smiled without saying anything.
Once they finished the check–in process, they made their way upstairs. Their rooms were conveniently
located next to each other.
Paul patiently waited until Calista opened her door before offering some advice.
“Make sure to lock your door tight at night. If anything happens, just call me or knock on the wall real
hard. I should be able to hear it.”
“Alright, Calista responded.
After Calista returned to her room, she promptly freshened up and slept.
The five–star hotel was equipped with top–notch soundproofing, and despite its relatively low floor, the
traffic from the road was muted entirely. It was a peaceful night.
The next day, Shawn and two colleagues joined them at 10.00 AM. They grabbed a brief meal and then
went to the tourist hotspot.
The tourist hotspot was relatively calm during the daytime, with shops casually opening their doors
without much haste.
Calista and the group began to survey the buildings‘ exterior designs, specific features, and architectural
While they strolled and discussed, they jotted down some ideas and soon stumbled upon a cafe for a brief meeting. As evening descended, the tourist hotspot transformed into a vibrant scene.
They fortuitously found themselves amidst a carnival, with local street vendors lining the streets, offering unique snacks and handmade crafts.
Street performers added to the spectacle, breathing fire, skillfully balancing balls, and executing acrobatic somersaults at street intersections.
The staff at the costume shop held a stack of flyers and stationed themselves by the roadside to entice
“Get your affordable costume here! We’ve got makeup services on top, and don’t miss out on our professional photographer for amazing photoshoots!”
Paul gently wrapped his arm around Calista’s shoulder, ensuring her safety amidst the crowd.
He noticed her gaze shift toward the flyers and offered
costume and snapping some photos?”
a smile as he asked, “Interested in grabbing a
Calista shook her head and replied, “No, thanks. I’m here for work, after all. But hey, you’re the boss. Setting an example by letting employees mix business with pleasure, aren’t you concerned about the
Paul gestured to their surroundings and remarked, “Looks like everyone else has disappeared into thin air. With all this noise around, it would be tough for you to hear a word I’m saying anyway. It’s pointless event
if I wanted to discuss it with you all.”
Not too far off, Lucian observed as Calista navigated the bustling crowd, occasionally bumping into Paul. His expression darkened, simmering with frustration.
“They call this a business trip? It feels more like mixing business with pleasure. When has any reputable company ever sent its employees on a trip and allowed them to skip work, leaving just a man and at
woman to go on a date?” he muttered.
David was growing increasingly exasperated. Lucian wasn’t setting a better example either. Weren’t they
here for a business trip, too?
David had been trailing him repeatedly throughout the tourist hotspot four or five times already.
Just as Calista was enjoying herself, something in her peripheral vision grabbed her attention. She tumed her head and focused her gaze.
Her expression changed dramatically after a moment of recognition, and she hurriedly dashed in that