Shaquille snorted instead of spitting out mocking remarks.
“I think you have proven yourself,” he gently grabbed the rope and pulled the girl closer to him. “Let me tell you the truth. Your parents did not gather enough money. The buyer is Shaen of the Yamin family.”
She could feel her cheeks growing hot and was utterly speechless.
She had long expected this. However, hearing him saying it in person still caused tears to well in her eyes.
“Believe it. Although the whole world is saying that the Juan family is ready pay the ransom, the fact of the matter is that they have been telling my people privately to extend the ransom payment deadline. By contrast, Shaen has sped up the money-gathering process and paid me early upon hearing about the Juan family’s actions. By trying to get ahead, you actually ended up being worse off.”
“Just give my parents a little more time!” She spoke eagerly.
“Give you more time so you can get what you want? No, I have decided to end this bid right here.”
“Get what I want? What do you mean—?
“Did you know that someone deliberately set the workshop on fire that day?” he reached out and clasped her jaw, spraying her cheeks with a breath of alcohol. He seemed to do this regularly, laughing and playing one second and threatening in an intimidating fashion the next. His constant sudden change of attitude had almost caused her to tell him the truth several times. But she had learned it by now; the more he was unsure about things, the more frequently he used this tactic to scare others.
“I do not understand,” she replied sternly.
“Also, I want to know where your jewelry went. Did you leave it on the ground to signal where you were?” He sneered. Although the two people were right next to each other, the premonition of death spread between them. “Tell me, and do not lie to me, who was the person that set the fire that day? You must have met someone that night.”
She gulped nervously and tried to fight off his domineering attitude. She suppressed her fear with rage and barely squeezed out a smile.
“If I had, would I still be here? Are you scared now, Shaquille? A few shadows here and there, and you think it is the chameleon?”
“Bullshit. I am not scared of anyone who needs to wear an armor to fight me!” He gritted his teeth, obviously consumed by anger again. Perhaps worried that he might hurt her with his hand, he let it go. She fell to the ground, kneeling and coughing.
“What about me? You… still have not said why you have not killed me yet,” said her, coughing.
His eyes were burning with strong emotions and something more.
“Because I really admire you, Diana. I want you to live until the last moment.” He resumed his playful facial expressions and frivolous tone. “Although your parents are more unreliable than one would imagine, if you hug me, I may change my mind before dawn and not let Shaen kill you.”
“Seems like you are not only playing me, but also Shaen.” She girl put her hand on her neck and raised her head to stare at him. “You are either a madman who is full of himself or someone who has lied about your ‘buyer.’ You want to destroy both the Juan and Yamin families at once.”
“Ah, I was serious about the proposal. Why won’t you believe me?” He sighed loudly.
“Who is the real buyer? Andrew? Cecilia? Or someone else?”
Uncharacteristic of Shaquille, he remained quiet for a few seconds. She felt that she could finally see through him, and that to find out what the truth was, this was the time—and the only time—to do it.
She stood up straight in front of him.
“I order you to tell me, Shaquille. If I am to die tomorrow, I would rather see the knife piercing through my chest than have my head covered in a bag and die without knowing how I die and who killed me,” she said in a clear manner. “I used to think of you as a noble warrior, so you must know what I am talking about.”