Clad in his Yummy Express delivery uniform, Brennen indulged in a Marlboro cigarette, joining a group of fellow workers engaged in lively banter about the local happenings in Enceridge.
With a cigarette nonchalantly dangling from his lips, Brennen chimed in, "What's the hot gossip, boys?"
Dominick Jones theatrically shook his phone, revealing, "The heiress of the wealthy Lewis family in Enceridge is tying the knot with the scion of the city's richest man."
Securing his shoelaces, Brennen quipped, "Why should we care who she's marrying when we're pulling in a mere five grand a month?"
Dominick, with a sly grin, held up his mobile and declared, "Well, what I'm trying to say here is that Miss Lewis is drop-dead gorgeous! Yet, the man in question not only lacks aesthetic charm but also treads the path of moral laxity, reveling in a life of debauchery. Rumors have circulated that he bears the taint of syphilis, an unsavory revelation that casts a shadow over his already questionable character. It's truly a stroke of misfortune for Miss Lewis--endowed with such breathtaking beauty, yet poised to tie the knot with a man whose exterior mirrors none of her own grace."
Brennen glanced over and was gobsmacked when he caught a glimpse of the stunning woman on Dominick's phone screen.
Perhaps owing to the haze of just waking up, Brennen squinted at the cell phone, attempting to get a clearer view of the captivating woman on the screen.
Dominick, with a playful smirk, teased, "Do you share the sentiment that it's a travesty for a beauty like her to hitch her wagon to such an unsightly fellow?"
Wearing an enigmatic expression, Brennen fixed his gaze on the woman in the photo, confessing, "I've crossed paths with this woman in the sheets!"
Dominick snatched the phone back, disdainfully remarking, "Easy there, Bren. Spare us your tales of conquest. Last time, it was an international movie star, and today, it's a rendezvous with a rich man's daughter."
Jensen Clarke chimed in with a scoff, "Brennen's always spinning yarns. Remember that night of drinks? He boldly claimed to be a globally recognized arms dealer."
Dominick, smirking, added, "And that's not all. He also boasted about being a prominent figure among the heirs of affluent families in Sotrith. According to him, they treat him like royalty."
The duo exchanged incredulous glances before bursting into simultaneous laughter. "Hey, dude, if you're such a legend, why are you here delivering takeout?" they jeered.
With a cigarette hanging casually from his lips, Brennen retorted, "You're clueless. I'm a noble of solitude!"
As he uttered these words, his thoughts seemed to drift into a realm far removed from the banter of his friends.
That particular evening, having recently landed back from foreign shores, Brennen found himself caught in the throes of revelry with a handful of companions. Morning light revealed a striking beauty nestled beside him in the aftermath of their spirited celebration.
To his astonishment, the lady unveiled herself as none other than Miss Lewis, the coveted heiress of Enceridge's affluent Lewis family.
The vivid imagery of that sensual encounter remained etched in Brennen's memory.
Yet, post that fateful day, she adeptly assumed an air of nonchalance, as if the passionate interlude had been nothing more than a fleeting dream.
Brennen sighed and got ready for his day.
Having spent over a decade abroad, Brennen returned home not as a mere wanderer but as a legendary figure in the underworld, earning the moniker of the Valor King.
He also held sway as the Lord of Blelnard, a gathering ground for the world's most intimidating rogues and villains.
Upon his reentry, protocol dictated that he report in. However, Clayton Roberts, Brennen's father, deemed his son's demeanor too hostile and fierce. Instead of a formal return, he decreed a baptism of sorts--a cleansing in the hustle and bustle of the ordinaries.
And so it was, despite his power and influence, Brennen found himself engaged in the humble pursuit of delivering takeout.
Dominick, reflecting on his own circumstances, sighed. "Damn, why is it that I bear such a resemblance to the son of the affluent man, yet he's the one destined to marry a beauty? Meanwhile, I'm stuck delivering takeout."
Brennen secured the battery into place on the electric bicycle.
"Well, then, you can lay blame on the luck of your family lineage," Brennen remarked coolly.
Dominick shot Brennen a pointed look, saying, "Come on, dude! We're not as different as you might think. The pot calling the kettle black, aren't we?"
Jensen, quick on the retort, adopted a sarcastic tone, "Dominick, what's this nonsense? Brennen's supposedly an international outlaw who's had his way with the heiress of the Lewis family. What's your claim to fame in comparison?"
Dominick scoffed, "Who doesn't know how to embellish a bit? I'll have you know, I've even shared a bed with a royal princess!"
Brennen, choosing to ignore their banter, casually strolled towards the bathroom to take a leak.
Unbeknownst to him, as Jensen turned around, a Maserati pulled up outside the delivery service station, heralding an unexpected arrival.
In short order, an enchanting figure emerged from the sleek Maserati.
Draped in a white lace shirt, her voluptuous bosom gracefully filled the fabric, while a form-fitting skirt accentuated her round, perky posterior. Black silk stockings adorned her slender legs, leading down to the allure of high heels.
With tender and flawless skin, she exuded a captivating charm, effortlessly pulling off a cold and beautiful countenance. Rimless glasses adorned her face, adding an extra layer of allure to her already striking presence.
"Damn!" Jensen couldn't help but exclaim, his eyes widening in sheer admiration.
Dominick, following Jensen's gaze, took in the sight with his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. Joining in the sentiment, he echoed, "Damn."
Upon closer inspection, Dominick felt a sense of recognition. Hastily retrieving his phone, he compared the live vision with the photo, realizing that the woman before them surpassed even the captured image. "Emilee Lewis, the heiress of the Lewis family? Why in the world is she here?"
Dominick couldn't resist voicing his astonishment.
Why would an affluent young woman like her find herself in the midst of ordinary folk?
Emilee gracefully approached in her high heels, the sharp clicks resonating on the ground.
Jensen, his excitement palpable, greeted her, "Hello, can I help you with something?"
With a glance from her beautiful eyes, Emilee inquired, "Is there someone named Brennen Roberts here?"
Jensen and Dominick, both caught off guard, turned their attention in the direction of the bathroom.
"Yes, but why are you looking for him?" Jensen probed.
Rather than answering, Emilee simply cast her gaze towards the bathroom, where Brennen emerged, zipping up his pants.
At the sight of Brennen in his delivery attire, Emilee couldn't suppress a furrowed brow.
"Brennen!" she exclaimed.
Brennen, with a cigarette casually hanging from his lips, pivoted around, and upon locking eyes with Emilee, he experienced a momentary lapse.
"Why are you here?" Brennen queried.
Emilee, recalling the passionate night she shared with this man, blushed every time the memory surfaced.
Learning she was destined for a marriage of convenience, she sought solace in a solo drinking spree. In a state of inebriation, she inadvertently stumbled into the wrong hotel room, setting the stage for that unforgettable night.
In the ensuing days, a delayed period triggered a sense of unease in Emilee. A pregnancy test later, two unmistakable lines stared back at her. Panic ensued, but after regaining composure, she promptly reached out to the hotel front desk for Brennen's contact details.
"Why didn't you answer my calls?" Emilee questioned, her tone tinged with both urgency and vulnerability.
Jensen and Dominick, upon hearing Emilee's revelation, stood there in stunned silence.
Their gazes towards Brennen now held a toxic mix of envy, jealousy, and resentment.
Brennen, sporting a perplexed expression, gradually pieced together the puzzle-- connecting the dots from the unknown phone number to the messages hinting at pregnancy.
A sense of foreboding settled over him.
As if confirming his suspicions, Emilee declared with an icy tone, "I'm pregnant."
Brennen nonchalantly flicked the cigarette butt into the trash. "What does your pregnancy have to do with me?"
Emilee couldn't help but sneer at his heartless demeanor. In her cynical assessment, all men seemed to be cut from the same cloth of irresponsibility.
"The baby is yours," Emilee declared with a straightforwardness that added weight to Brennen's already burdened mind.
Jensen and Dominick, witnessing this revelation, stared at Brennen in utter shock. Their admiration for him now transformed into a realization that perhaps, he wasn't merely boasting; he was living a life none of them had truly fathomed.
Brennen's initial reflex was to view this assertion as a desperate attempt by the woman to find a convenient scapegoat for her pregnancy.
And he certainly didn't want to play that role.
Before Brennen could voice his rejection, Emilee continued, "Well, then let's go to the hospital."
With that, she turned and headed for the waiting car.
Jensen and Dominick, playing the role of impromptu advisers, nudged Brennen forward, encouraging, "Go on, Brennen. What are you waiting for?"
In the car, as Brennen settled in, embarrassment colored his question, "Is the baby really mine?"
"Why would I be lying to you?" Emilee retorted, her tone icy.
After a brief pause, Brennen asserted, "If the child is truly mine, I'll take responsibility for both of you."
Emilee, cynical and unyielding, countered, "You'll take responsibility? How exactly do you plan to manage that-- with your food delivery job?"