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71 Another Chance

    Inside a platinum suite, Kiba and Meghan were sleeping on a bed. It was afternoon but they were dead tired.

    ~ring~ring~

    A sudden phone call broke their sleep.

    "A business call so excuse me," Kiba gave Meghan a kiss and told her to rest. He walked to the adjacent room before picking the phone.

    "Claudia, what happened?" Kiba asked.

    [[Data from SBC News Headquarters' has been downloaded.]]

    "I see," Kiba took a seat on the couch. Even for Claudia hacking through a news channel's internal servers is not an easy task since the data inside is the lifeline of the channel.  To overcome this difficulty, he helped her in planting required tools in SBC Headquarters.

    Kiba swiped a panel on mobile screen towards the tv. A moment later, the tv was filled with the data Claudia has hacked.

    "Anything we can use?" Kiba asked.

    [[There is a recording of a video call between Sylvian and Daniel. It took place a few hours after what you did in the wasteland.]]

    A media corporate would always have few cards under their sleeves. Daniel was the same. He recorded his conversation with Sylvan for worst-case situations. '

    "Sylvian? The chief supervisor of the city?"

    [[Yes. He wanted Daniel's and other media houses' help in fooling the commoners about the incident. To do so, he bribed Daniel with $50 million and a clearance for a pharmaceutical company.]]

    The screen showed the conversation between Daniel and Sylvan.

    "Wow. So Daniel used me to cover an incident I created," Kiba couldn't help but laugh at the irony. To distract people from the wasteland, SBC ran the breaking news regarding Agatha's pregnancy.

    [[The next data I acquired is related to that. The internal logs of the channel say it was Sarah who proposed the idea of using you and Lady Agatha to attract viewers. To be precise, Daniel readily agreed to the proposal so both of them are responsible.]]

    "Is that so?" Kiba's voice was cold.

    -----------------

    Daniel was sitting inside the living room of his house. He has personally checked all the security arrangements and was now confident that Kiba could never barge in.

    ~~beep~

    [[A video message from Jody has been received in your private server.]] The AI responsible for the management of the house said.

    "Jordi? Quickly play the video," Daniel said. Jordi was the man responsible for surveillance on Sarah.

    A holographic projector was activated and showed the contents of the video. There were two recordings in it: First the indirect meeting between Kiba and Sarah at the art exhibition where they didn't really meet. The second recording showed Kiba's and Sarah's encounter on the beach.

    Daniel felt his blood boiling when he saw Sarah smiling during the second video. There was no audio recording of their conversation so he couldn't know what they were talking about.

    At the end of the video, there was a message from Jordi saying Sarah has paid for Kiba's drink.

    "Buying him a drink?!" Daniel couldn't understand why she will do such a thing.

    Alas, Jordi and Daniel didn't know about the encounter between Kiba and Sarah at dining spot. Their first meeting was brief; something which happened moments after Sarah entered the hotel.  So there was no way for Jordi to record or know about it.

    "They only had a brief encounter so I shouldn't think too much," Daniel tried to calm himself but then he thought what if they had an encounter inside the hotel premises. Jordi's team were able to record the events at exhibition and beach by acting as if they were guests who were recording their stay.

    But inside the hotel rooms? Daniel knew how strict Close Horizon was about the privacy of its rich patrons. There was no way he could access the security footages either.

    "No! I am thinking too much! There is no way Sarah will fall for that bastard!" Daniel took a deep breath and proceeded to make a drink for himself.

    Half an hour later~

    ~beep beep~

    Daniel was sitting on a couch drinking when he received a message on his cell phone. His expression turned ugly when he saw the sender's name: KIBA!

    Grudgingly, he opened the message which read: "Every smile has a reason, every laughter has a way, every destination has a way, every lock has a key."

    The last two phrases were italicized as if to denote their importance.

    "Son of a bitch!" Daniel's eyes were bloodshot as he read the message full of innuendo.

    -----

    It was evening when Sarah returned to her home.  She was surprised to see her husband sitting drunk in the hall.

    "Honey, you are early," Sarah put her bag on the table and took a chair opposite to Daniel.

    "Can't I come early? Or are you perhaps expecting someone?" Daniel asked in an annoyed voice.

    Sarah was startled by her husband's words.

    "What is going on with you?" She couldn't understand her husband's behavior from the last few days.

    "With me?" Daniel's eyes were filled with anger at Sarah's words. He clicked a panel on the table nearby and a holographic projector was activated.

    Sarah was shocked to see her personal outings recorded.

    "You were spying on me?" Sarah was incensed. What has she done to deserve this?

    "It should be you who needs to give an explanation and not me," Daniel pointed towards the projection in which Sarah was smiling at Kiba, "What do you have to say?"

    "You are an asshole," Sarah has enough of her husband's rudeness as she continued, "Kiba made a funny remark so I smiled. Or do I need permission to even smile?"

    "You were with Kiba! KIBA!" Daniel couldn't help but remember the message Kiba sent an hour ago.

    "You are dirty minded so you can only think of dirty stuff," Sarah stopped the projection and said, "Do I become suspicious when you speak with women? I thought you were better than this."

    "Stop lying! Only a whore would hang out with Kiba!" Daniel instantly regretted his words.

    Sarah felt her eyes turning moist.

    "I didn't mean th--" Daniel wanted to apologize but then his private number rang. He wanted to cancel the call but then he saw the call was from his chief secretary. Someone who would never call on this phone unless it was an emergency.

    "Sarah, please understand I didn't mean what I said," Daniel hurriedly apologized and then picked the call. Soon his expression turned unsightly after he heard the words from his secretary.

    "I have a meeting," Daniel quickly took his leave.

    "STOP! You better give me an explanation first!" Sarah tried to stop him but Daniel didn't listen as he left the house.

    Sarah couldn't understand her husband any longer.

    "He is not the man I loved," She left the house as well after asking the nanny to take care of kids.

    -----

    Love Heart Beach was located in the outskirts of the city. It was a beach accessible to all and something frequented by rich and poor alike.

    Sarah absent mindlessly walked on the beach. This beach was her asylum whenever she felt lost or broken.

    "Daniel...just why?" Sarah looked at the setting sun and wondered about her husband's recent behavior both at home and work.

    "Is this midlife crisis?"  She wondered in her heart as she walked further. Suddenly, she stopped when she saw a man sitting on the sand floor.

    Kiba?

    Kiba's face was towards the water. He seemed to be lost in thoughts as he threw a stone across the water. The stone bounced on the surface few times before sinking in.

    "Life is like a stone," Kiba slowly muttered to himself. Sarah, who was some distance behind him, could hear his words.

    She didn't want to meet him after her conversation with Daniel. But now that she saw him all alone in thoughts she couldn't help but become curious. She felt there was nothing wrong in striking a conversation.

    "We meet again," Sarah slowly said as she walked near him.

    Kiba's eyes were filled with surprise after Sarah sat next to him.

    "My luck is far too good for me to meet the goregous lady again," Kiba said.

    "You are not with your girlfriend?" Sarah asked. She remembered he was with Meghan in all the previous encounters and from what she saw, they seemed close.

    "You mean Meghan?" Kiba continued after Sarah nodded her head, "Well, she has a modeling assignment so I came here to clear my thoughts."

    "Clear your thoughts?" Sarah was surprised.

    "Thoughts about life," Kiba threw a stone on the water surface again and said, "I wonder why we are born only to die."

    "That is something hard to answer," Sarah said.

    "Sometimes I think we are like the stone used in stone skipping," Kiba looked at the stone as it bounced on the water," We bounce a few times only to sink."

    Sarah saw the stone sinking.

    After thinking for a minute she replied,"Perhaps just like stones we exist to create ripples. Ripples of change in this world."

    "That's some deep thinking though I don't understand what you mean," Kiba said with a smile.

    "I just spoke some gibberish so don't think much," Sarah also smiled. She has always enjoyed conversations about life so she was happy to see another person sharing the same passion as her.

    "Where are your friends or are you alone?" Kiba asked after a minute of silence.

    "Alone. I also wanted to clear my thoughts so I came here," Sarah said.

    "What thoughts can affect a pretty lady like you?" Kiba asked.

    "I had a quarrel with my husband," Sarah looked at the sky before saying, "He has been an asshole lately."

    Kiba didn't say a word.

    "You are not going to say things like he is not an asshole or maybe he is really an asshole?" Sarah was surprised by his silence

    .

    "It is a conflict of interest so I can't speak," Kiba said with a sigh.

    "Hmm?" Sarah looked at him in surprise.

    "A lady I am admiring is married so you can imagine how conflicted I am now," Kiba said in a bitter tone.

    Sarah couldn't help but smile.

    "You were right when you said you are always like this," Sarah said.

    Kiba smiled as well.

    After a few moments of silence,  Kiba said, "You only quarrel with a person you love."

    Sarah was startled.

    "So give your husband a chance to explain himself," Kiba said after hearing no response from her.

    "I did give him a chance but instead he rushed outside by making an excuse," Sarah said a minute later.

    " If he has rushed outside perhaps he has a reason," Kiba looked at her in the eyes and said, "Maybe he is involved in a trouble or perhaps he is having a hard time expressing himself."

    "I..." Sarah was shocked by the words. When she thought further, she felt maybe he is right.

    "So give him a chance to prove he is the man you married," Kiba concluded by saying, "You are his wife so you owe him this much."

    "Thank you," Sarah felt heartfelt gratitude.
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