Chapter 17: Angelo Montenegro

"You honestly worry too much," Angelo said smilingly towards his phone.

"You are almost 30, yet you still act like a teenager. When are you going to settle down?" his mother on the other end of the phone asked him worryingly.

"I started a business, and manage it. I also did exactly as you asked. I'm doing fine." Angelo gave a laughing response.

"I'm seriously. What about the future? Who will take over after you?"

"Mom, you worry too much. I won't let the family business fall. I swear." Angelo tried to sound reassuring.

"Fine, then at least meet with some potential candidates I've picked out for you."

Angelo shook his head. "I can manage on my own."

"They are really good girls from good families."

"Mom, I would to talk more, but I've got to go. Okay?"

"Wait-I'm-"

"Sorry, I really need to go. I'll talk to you soon." Angelo said in a rush.

"Wait, I'm not done," he heard his mother said as he hung up the phone.

Angelo leaned back on the sofa as he watched the club floor from his private room. The sound of the music could be faintly heard in the dark silent room. The lights flashed on the masses of bodies as they moved to the bass line of the song, but Angelo wasn't truly watching those people. His mind was preoccupied with the pondering thought: what to do.

It wasn't the first time his mother expressed her concern on his single and debauched lifestyle. Except, it wasn't something he had any real desire to change. It wasn't specifically for the variety of different girls on different nights, but the idea of not being a bachelor. To be tied to one girl was a heavy weight to bear. Especially after watching his friend, Blair, get shaken up and drink himself blind when a relationship did not work out. Yet, Blair's never seemed to give up, which Angelo felt it was kind of pathetic. It wasn't anything he could truly pinpoint. Maybe it was due to the family pressure of finding a nice girl, getting married, and starting a family to continue the family business. Then, to see his friend question himself, wondering if he was a good enough man, or if he was lacking something. Things that shook his confidence of himself. Did Angelo really want to go through all of that?

It wasn't as if he hated women. The short few hours of countless flirting and good feeling that leads to the most natural of ecstasy were the moments he enjoyed the most, to live in that instance.

A sudden knock on the door disturbed Angelo's thoughts. He pressed a button by the dark leather couch he sat on and the door unlocked. The music from the dance floor flooded into the quiet space as the door opened.

"I see you are here alone today. What happened?" Ana asked when she entered and closed the door behind her.

The room fell into a silence once again. "Ana, good to see you. How do you like it here?"

Ana walked across the room and sat on the couch to his right, facing him. "Enough of the presence. How much were you offered to find me?"

Angelo had a genuine surprise look on his face. "I don't know what are you talking about."

"Come on," Ana said with a cunning smile on her face, "For it to just so happen that Angelo Montenegro to find me in the remote location I disclosed to anyone to bring me back here? That is far more than a coincidence."

"And yet you agreed?" Angelo commented.

"So how much?" Ana crossed her legs and leaned back on the the couch.

"Would you like something to drink?" Angelo politely offered.

"Oh, let me guess. A loan to pay off this place with no interests."

"I will admit you are brilliant to have figured this out, but no that was not the deal. Also, the job offer is real."

Angelo pulled out a cold water bottle and handed to Ana, which she set on the table in front of her.

"What else could be better than free money?" Ana wondered, but the moment she asked that a realization came to her. "A merge?" Her smile disappeared from her face.

"I don't know. I simply did what was asked of me. Family comes first," Angelo responded. "However, you didn't answer my question. What made you decide to come back if you knew this was the case?"

"I was planning to come back anyways." Ana's face gave no tells.

Angelo chuckled. "That is a lie." He had always been good at telling if someone was lying or not even if their face gave no hint of it. It was as if that was Angelo's sixth sense. "Want to try again?" A devilish smile played on Angelo's lips.

"It's personal," she responded calmly.

Angelo nodded. "Fair enough. Well, as I said, the job offer still stands. I need a barista for my bar upstairs and I like you."

"What?" Ana eyebrows arched into a confused look.

"Don't misunderstand me. It means nothing more than as it was stated. I just simply like you. Your skills and personality would suit well here," Angelo calmly clarified.

Ana leaned her head against her hand as it rested on the armrest of the couch. "So when are my hours?"

Angelo smiled. "Flexible. In the evening of course."

Ana nodded in approval. As she stood up to leave, Ana said, "Call me when you need me."

"You will always be free?" Angelo asked skeptically.

"Most likely." Ana opened the door, leaving Angelo on his own once again.

Merger. The word played again in Angelo's head. Now that's a disturbing thought.