Unfortunately for Debbie, Carlos managed to dodge her aim with ease. Not a single drop of wine fell on him. Usually, that alone was enough to forgive and forget. But not for Carlos.
After he had straightened his suit, he cursed her in an icy cold voice, "You bloody woman!"
"Carlos," Curtis chimed in instantly before things could get out of hand, "it was an accident." Glancing at Debbie, Curtis discreetly motioned for her to agree.
But she merely snorted, and threw Carlos an overt taunting look. Without batting an eye, she declared, "No, Mr. Lu. As a matter of fact, I did it on purpose." As soon as the words left her mouth, a pair of burning eyes met her equally intimidating gaze.
If one listened carefully, the sound of angry flames crackling could almost be heard in the silence which was fraught with tension.
"Security!" Carlos shouted without looking away.
A few seconds later, several guards came running to his aid. "What can we do for you, Mr. Huo?" they asked promptly.
Through clenched teeth, he commanded, "Feed this woman to the sharks. Anyone who so much as attempts to save her becomes an enemy of mine!" His intimidation worked. Because now, no one dared to rescue Debbie from what was about to happen.
The young lady, however, did not even flinch. Giving back Curtis his jacket, she took off her high heels and braced herself for a fight. "Don't you dare!" she warned the security guards who were moving towards her.
More people turned their attention to the conflict. From afar, Jared, who was already tipsy at that point, suddenly heard Debbie's loud voice. He sprang up from his stool and dashed towards the crowd, abandoning the two girls who were with him.
When he arrived at the scene, Debbie was already in the middle of a fight with the guards. As the onlookers were interested to see the outcome, they did not vacate the premises, and simply kept their distance by taking a few steps back every now and then.
On the side, Curtis tried to talk Carlos out of his irrational decision, but the latter remained impervious to the principal's appeal. It had always been that way with him. Once Carlos made up his mind, no one could sway him. Not even his best friend.
When Warren Lu, Curtis' father, thought there were people causing trouble on the cruiser, he decided to send some professional bodyguards over.
Determined, Debbie was able to knock down seven security guards and three bodyguards before finally being subdued. It took three bodyguards just to restrain her on the floor. Although no one could say it out loud, it was quite an embarrassing sight to see.
Nevertheless, it was enough to snap Jared out of his trance. The moment he tried to come to her aid, he was stopped by two other bodyguards. In his condition, he did not have the maximum capacity to fight back. It did not mean, however, that he would make it easy for them to detain him. "Let go of me! I have to help her!" Jared said, struggling out of their grip. "Get out of my way! Otherwise, I'll kill you! Did you hear me? I'll kill all of..."
His voice trailed off as soon as he noticed Carlos staring at him.
Closing his mouth, Jared watched the bodyguards drag Debbie out of the cabin. Like a flock of sheep, the crowd followed them.
Clearly, they were enjoying the show. No one could care less how serious the whole matter was becoming.
After all, the star of the show was the influential Mr. Huo. And now, he intended to have someone fed to the sharks. How often could one see that happen? Was it not exciting?
Unlike the others, Curtis did not follow them. Before he walked out of the cabin, he whispered something to a few bodyguards. And when he passed by Jared, he gave him a comforting look, as if to say, "Take it easy," before running off to implement his plan.
Although Curtis tried to calm Jared down, the latter still wrenched himself free from the hold of the two bodyguards. Without giving them a chance to grab him again, he ran out of the cabin. As soon as he reached the deck, all he heard was loud exclamations from the onlookers.
"My goodness! She's really going to be thrown into the ocean!"
"Woah, Mr. Huo is so terrifying! How did the poor girl end up offending such a man?"
"Hmph! Whatever she's done, she probably deserved what's coming to her! Stupid woman! Even if Mr. Huo does throw her into the ocean, nobody is going to stand up to him!"
"Ah, my God! They're about to drop her!" Amidst the mixed reactions, Jared sought the lady who had caused such a turmoil.
To his horror, he found Debbie with half of her body falling off the cruiser. Jared brushed past the onlookers and rushed towards her, shouting, "Release her! Carlos Huo, for Pete's sake, send your dogs away and let her go! This is too much! Ugh!" Just as he was about to approach Debbie, two bodyguards held him by shoulders. Out of the blue, one of them punched him hard in the stomach. It was so painful to a point where Jared could not utter another word for a while.
As he fell to his knees, he did not see what happened next with his own eyes. All he heard was a distinctive scream, and he knew he had failed to stop the inevitable from happening. Water flew in every direction as Debbie was thrown into the cold sea.
Aghast, Jared lifted his head with an ashen face. As though in denial, he looked around first. His friend was really nowhere to be seen on the deck.
'No! No!' he thought while panic crossed his face. 'Tomboy! Debbie!'
The initial shock gave him a burst of energy as he struggled to free himself. The moment he wriggled away from the bodyguards, he dashed to the rails and shouted to the ocean, "Debbie!" He squinted his eyes in the dark. "Debbie!" Nothing. No response. Neither could he see her as far as his eyes could reach. "Why are you all standing around, you idiots! Do something!" he yelled at the bystanders.
The sea was as black as the sky. Soon, it appeared serene once again. Deep and vast like an enormous sleeping beast, it only took several seconds to swallow a person.
Weakened by the horrific incident, Jared punched the rails in anger. He hated himself for not knowing how to swim. "Tomboy, I'm so sorry. I..."
Some women screaming in shock brought him out of his own thoughts. Something was floating in the sea. "Look! Is that Debbie Nian?" someone in the crowd exclaimed, pointing somewhere in the water.
"Aye, it's really her! Look! She's held onto the boat!"
"Turns out she can actually swim!"
When Jared looked around, he saw some faces in the crowd looking relieved to find out that Debbie could swim.
Within a minute, Debbie clutched the rails and appeared before everyone, drenched from head to toe. As soon as her feet touched the deck, she spun back and spat a mouthful of water. It tasted salty. It had not completely sunk in yet that a moment ago, she could have died. After gasping a few times, she still could not breathe normally.
Her eyes swept the crowd. Soon, she spotted Carlos, who was holding a glass of wine not far from her. The man looked at her with indifferent eyes, as though what she had just experienced was of little importance.
She turned her head and spat more water. All good etiquette forgotten, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. There was no room for elegance when everything she wore was soaking wet.
Except for her high heels. They were long gone. Barefoot, she began to walk on the deck.
Lifting her soggy dress, she wore an expressionless look while pushing away Jared as he tried to hug her. Something did not feel right as she walked straight to Carlos.
Everyone on board held their breath. They wondered and waited in anticipation. What was Debbie going to do?
Handing the wine glass to the waiter who was beside him, Carlos stared at the woman approaching him. His hands were deep in his pockets while his face showed no signs of worry. He raised an eyebrow at her, a hint of amusement in his eyes.
The more I utter your name, the more it feels familiar, ' he thought to himself.
"Ah! Crazy! The woman must be crazy!" remarked a man in the crowd.
"This is suicidal! Someone ought to stop her!"
"She's so dead! How dare she treat my dream man that way!" exclaimed a woman.
Although everyone was certain that Debbie was up to something dangerous, nothing had prepared them for what the young lady did next.
As Debbie drew closer to Carlos, she ran towards him and locked his neck with her arms like a koala clinging to a tree. Before anyone else could shake off their awe, she kissed him on the lips. When Jared realized what was happening, his eyes widened to the size of two plates.
"What?" A bystander voiced his thoughts out loud. "Kissing? This woman is just getting bolder and bolder."
Anger became visible in Carlos' eyes. Even with the dim light, Debbie could clearly see it. It was just what she wanted to happen. From the moment her life was no longer in peril, she was enveloped with the desire to see him filled with rage!
However, when the shock and anger began to wane, Carlos brought her closer to him and held her in his arms. The kiss lasted a long time. Longer than Debbie predicted. What was actually happening was far from what she had imagined. Her lips were purple because of the cold.
Carlos bent a little to carry her in his arms. Without so much as an explanation, he strode towards the lounge of the cabin.
It was as though the whole word quieted down. Nothing but the soft waves could be heard.
The people one the deck exchanged puzzled looks, yet nobody said a word. Some were too scared to voice out their thoughts; others felt like it was a dream, while the rest were too furious to speak.
In the third category, among them was Olga.
Meanwhile, in the lounge, Carlos kicked a door open and carried the woman into the room.
In his arms, Debbie was too stunned to speak. Had she gone too far? The man seemed too dazed to pay attention to her facial expression. He kept the lights off. After putting her down on the floor, he kicked the door shut.
Now that they were alone at last, he approached her and did what he felt like doing ever since the kiss on the deck.
Her hands pressed behind her back, Debbie was trapped between him and the door whilst he explored her body. She could not move.
"Carlos..." she observed. But it fell on deaf ears. She wanted to say, "Let go of me," but she never got the chance.