The quietude of the environment is soothing. It calms my nerves and my head. This is one of the rarest times that I could just sit on and watch the birds fly and the trees dance with the wind. It’s not always like this. Well, at least not my life.
“She’s awake.” Rush Thunder’s voice envelopes the wind.
Rush Thunder is one of the closest friends of mine. He’s playing at our school’s radio station and is one of the hottest men in the campus. I remember when we first met, I was running down the corridors and I bumped into him. It was one of the most embarrassing moments in my life and he laughed at me hard because the cake I was carrying for my baking class covered my whole face.
I hated how when he sees me, he would always smirk like he’s making me remember what happened when we first met. But then again, I grew immune to his stares and now, we’re friends.
I slowly look at him and smiled. “I’m glad.” I want to see her. I want to see her so bad. But I’m afraid my parents would see and shout at me again.
“It’s not your fault.” Rush Thunder sits beside me. “It was an accident.”
I look down at my fidgety fingers. I know it is an accident but they don’t know about that. My parents have always favored her over me and it would only intensify now that this happened.
Rush Thunder reaches for my hand. “Kaine Serenity, it’s okay.” His voice sounds so convincing and I’m close to believing that everything will be alright. But it’s not. I know it won’t.
I look at him. I want to smile to assure him that I believe him but it’s hard. How can I make myself believe such an unbelievable fact – or is it even a fact?
“Be still.” He orders me as he takes something out of his pocket.
My heart fell when I saw a golden necklace hanging from his hand. I look at him as his eyes slowly get to gaze at mine. The sparkles in his eyes are so evident. I couldn’t help but feel bad.
I know from the way he treats me that he feels something for me. I want him to know that I feel him, too, but I can’t. Doing so would mean hurting the closes person to my heart yet again.
“Kaine Serenity, I know this isn’t the right time for me to be telling you things like this,” he pauses and I shake my head. No, no, Rush Thunder, you can’t. You can’t— “I love you.” I pause on my spot, wide-eyed. This isn’t right.
I shake my head. “No…” I breathe as tears are forming at the sides of my eyes.
His expression fell as he purse his lips together in a firm line. “Kaine Serenity, I love you.” His voice trembles as he says those words.
I shake my head. “I’m sorry, Rush Thunder. I can’t… I can’t love you.”
And that’s the last time I’ve ever seen Rush Thunder.
“Perez Group of Companies is offering you to design their newly built houses.” Mr. Joras Aniceto, the big boss of BH Interior Designing Corporation, proclaims the moment I stepped into his office.
His thick glasses are covering most of his face as he raises his thick brows at me. His hair that had just been colored back to black again makes him look whiter than the usual.
He sits on his swivel chair behind his desk with an opened folder held by both of his hands. “Come and sit in front of me, Ms. Marquez.” He offers the chair in front of his desk.
I slowly walk closer. “Perez Group of Companies?” I ask, confused.
Perez Group of Companies is one of the biggest chains of hotel, restaurants and even real estates in the continent. And now, I guess, they are, too, are venturing into home communities as well.
Mr. Aniceto nods as he moves from his swivel. “Yes. Perez Group.” There’s something in the way he pronounces Perez Group. It’s as if he’s uttering a very delicate word. I wonder.
I nod but look at him with questioning eyes. If I heard it right, Perez Group wants me to design their newly built homes? How come?
Mr. Aniceto chuckles. “You look so funny, Ms. Marquez. Couldn’t you believe what I told you?” He asks.
I shake my head. “Yes, Sir, I couldn’t believe it.” I admit. Why would a huge company hire me to design for them when they can afford someone better and more experienced?
“You should believe it.” He smiles. “The CEO personally called our company for your service.”
My mouth flung open. “Really?” I can’t believe it!
He nods. “And they are asking you to report on the CEO’s office at three PM.”
I stare at him, mind’s still blank. Report. CEO’s office. Three PM.
Mr. Aniceto laughs. I must look so laughable now because he’s almost close to roll on the floor laughing. “You’ve released three interior design magazines but you still don’t believe your abilities.” He muses. “You deserve the job, Ms. Marquez. You must report to their office and take it. Show them what you got!”
I finally smiled as I heard his words of encouragement.
Mr. Aniceto has been one of the pillars of this company and he’s also one of the best interior designers of all time. He’s also my mentor. I owe a lot to him.
“Show him what you learned from me, Kaine Serenity Marquez.” I take pride every time Mr. Aniceto mentions my full name. It’s like hearing someone so proud of you. And now, even if I still have both parents, none of them ever pronounced my name like how Mr. Aniceto does.
I smile and nod at him. I couldn’t ask for more. The trust that he has bestowed on me is enough for me to get motivated.
I step out of his office with a smile on my face. I don’t usually smile but knowing someone put that much of a trust in you makes me walk on sunshine.
“You’re smiling today.” Jen comments as I arrive on my cubicle and fix my things. “What makes serenity smile like this?” She teases.
I laugh. “I’m going to the office of the CEO of Perez Group.” I reply.
Her mouth flies open. “You mean…CEO…Office of the CEO, the CEO—” She can’t seem to continue what she’s saying. It’s like she’s in awe of something – maybe of someone.
I narrow my eyes at her. “Yes. Is something wrong?” Suddenly, shivers had gone down my spine because she showed a devilish smile.
She types something on her MacBook. She’s too serious and it bothers me when she’s like this. It’s as if there’s a bomb that’s about to explode.
“There.” She pushes her laptop at me.
I narrow my eyes and stare at the screen. Marcux Archer Guillermo Perez, the most eligible bachelor in the country, proclaimed as the new CEO of Perez Group of Companies. Then there is an image of a handsome man with cold and serious features. His hair is disheveled at some point but I bet the girls would still swoon over him. His eyes are green-gray and they look like anyone who’d look into them would get lost in an instant. He’s not smiling but I couldn’t deny that he’s looking so heavenly. All the gods in Olympus would be ashamed to even face him.
“That’s the CEO.” Jen speaks behind me as I read the article. “He’s just been proclaimed three months ago.”
I’m not really aware of these kinds of stuffs because I do not take interests in business and politics. I’m focused on interior designing and I don’t have time for this news.
“Hot.” Jen exclaims. “I hope I’m as good as you. I want to meet Perez Group’s CEO vis-à-vis.” She pouts and I roll my eyes.
I place the MacBook down. “I better go.” It’s two-thirty in the afternoon. I don’t want to be late for the appointment.
Jen smiles at me. “You just got excited!” She beams.
I ignore her and walk to my Mini Cooper Hardtop S, the car I’ve received from my company months ago when I hit it big with my interior design. It’s a fifteen-minute drive towards the Perez Group Building, one of the largest buildings in the whole Boston.
I look up and read a huge PG at the top of the building. I’m here.
I take a look at the façade. It’s made of glass, a black-tinted glass that one could use as a mirror. The corners of the building are made of refined stones with some touch of diamonds – very classy and elegant.
The valet welcomed me as I entered the vicinity. The security is so tight. From the looks of how secured everything is, one would not fail to know how important these people are.
I step out of my car after getting my bag and let the valet take it away. There must be a minimum of fifty floors for this building. It’s so tall!
“Kaine Serenity Marquez of BH Interior design,” I speak and the receptionist checks her list.
Benny, as I read her name on her name plate, looks at me and smiles. “Mr. Perez is waiting for you in his office.” She stretches her right hand towards the direction of the elevator.
I smile at her. I walk to the elevator only to be awed by the golden lining and the delicate formation of small diamonds around the opening.
“Which floor, Ma’am?” The elevator girl asks.
“CEO’s office.” I guess that’s the top floor because she pushed the Penthouse button. There are fifty-eight floors before the Penthouse. No wonder, this building is so tall. Fifty-eight floors!
Seeing the design of this building from exterior to interior, I know that this is a company that wouldn’t settle for less – it’s always for the best. From the stone post to the delicate diamond lining of the elevator, I know how elegant the Perez’s are. I wonder if that pretty boy’s nice…
The elevator girl bows at me as we reached the Penthouse. “The whole floor is the CEO’s office, Ma’am.” She smiles.
I bow then walk out of the elevator. I look up and saw a big Office of the Chief Executive Officer lettering. I take a deep breath, “It’s going to be alright.”
I walk towards a counter where a woman is sitting by. I believe that’s the secretary.
She looks up at me and revealed her name through her name tag. Patricia. That’s her name.
“Are you Ms. Kaine Serenity Marquez?” Patricia politely asks.
I smile and nod. “I am. Is the CEO in?”
She nods and smiles. “He’s actually waiting for you.” She retorts. “You better get inside, Ms. Serenity Marquez.”
I feel uncomfortable when someone calls me Serenity. Well, my name suits me, though. I’m calm and quiet. Unlike Kaye Felicity, my twin, who’s jolly and cheerful. I feel like I’m living in a boring world while Felicity is having a happy life.
It’s not that I don’t like the life I am living in, now. I love it. There are a lot of problems but there are more blessings to be thankful of.
I reach a huge wooden door. “This must be it.” I mutter to myself as I held my hand up and knocked three times.
“Come in,” a faint voice comes from the other side.
I gulp as I slowly opened the door.
A pair of green-gray eyes pierces through me as I enter the office.
There he is – Mr. Marcux Archer G. Perez – sitting on his chair as both of his elbows are placed on the table while his chin leans on his left palm. His hair is a bit shorter than the one in the report and it’s held up effortlessly. Even with his face looking straight at me, I can see how perfectly chiseled his jaw is. His all-black suit even gives him more justice. He looks so divinely good!
“Ms. Marquez?” His thick brows move as he mentions my name. “You may take a seat.”
His formality could kill other women. How could someone be this handsome? He should be forbidden from the eyes of women!
I walk to the vacant seat in front of his desk. I suddenly regret not wearing something better. “Good afternoon, Sir.” I bow shortly.
He nods and gives out a folder to me.
I look at him, confused of what’s inside the folder.
“That’s your contract.” He starts. “There are more than fifteen newly built houses from Perez Group.” I like the fact that he goes straight to the topic. He doesn’t go around the bush.
I read the details in the folder slowly, absorbing every piece of the information.
“I want all of those houses with different designs. Artistic, cutesy, minimalistic, all kinds. I need you to design it with all kinds of design that you know.”
The boss is somehow demanding. Alright, he is demanding. I could blame it to the brand of the company he is running but I still think he’s a little too demanding. Suddenly, all the perfect description of his physical features went down the drain.
Mr. Perez asked me to call him by his first name after being so formal to each other. I agreed about the first name basis. So, I call him Marcux Archer now.
Marcux Archer discussed his plans for this new project. I must admit that he thinks futuristically – demanding, yes, but he foresees everything. He’s a perfectionist but I don’t think I have a problem with that. I, too, am one.
I walk to my car to take a rest before I start designing for the Perez Group. This has to be the biggest project in my whole career. I wouldn’t let it go to waste.
I hear loud laughs the moment I step out of my car. It’s my parents and Kaye Felicity, I guess.
I take a deep breath as I push the front door open. My parents and Kaye Felicity looks at me the moment I step inside the house, their happiness gone.
Kaye Felicity smiles at me as she walks to me to give me a hug. “You’ve been overworking, twin sister!” She beams. “Don’t drown yourself into the four walls in your office.”
I smile at her. Kaye Felicity and I don’t have an issue with each other. If anything, I could call her the closest person to me. She’s my twin sister, after.
But although we’re twins, we’re completely different – physically and all the other aspects.
Kaye Felicity is tan while I have milky white skin. She’s playful, talkative and always smiling while I am the serious and quiet type. Her chestnut hair flows to her shoulder blades while I have curly, black, long hair.
And most of all, our parents love her.
“Serene! I’ll be having my fashion label soon!” Kaye Felicity happily informs me as she jumps up and down.
I congratulate her with a smile. Then I glance at my parents who are frowning at me. There’s nothing new, though. I’m used to the cold treatment.
Sometimes I would even wonder if they ever wanted me alive after what happened years ago. I wonder if they wished I was the one who suffered. Or if I suffered and survived that incident, would they shower me love like Kaye Felicity now?
“Promise me you’ll go to my fashion show next month, please?” Her puppy eyes make me smile widely at her. Kaye Felicity is lovable. No one would not love her.
I nod and she gives me a tight hug. “Thanks, Serenity! You’re the best!” She beams as she runs back to our parents, babbling all about her upcoming fashion show.
I silently walk to my room to rest. Just thinking about drawing fifty different home designs already stresses me. I need all the sleep I could get for the stamina.
My stomach grumbles after a few moments and that’s when I realize that I haven’t eaten anything after breakfast. No lunch, no dinner. I talked to Marcux Archer for almost four hours about the designs that I didn’t remember to eat.
I’ll just eat tomorrow. For now, I must sleep.
I am about to fall asleep when I feel my phone vibrate from my bedside table. It’s from an unknown number.
You can contact me here, Kaine Serenity. – Marcux Archer Perez
I raise my brow as I read the message. He told me we’d be meeting tomorrow again for my ideas, why did he have to send me a text?
Okay. Good night.
I’m not the texting-type and I’m really – really – sleepy right now. I feel so drained and weak.
The next days of my life were the most stressful days I have ever lived in my twenty-four years of existence in this Earth. I’ve been busy revising and revamping the first designs I’ve drawn.
Marcux Archer is so delicate about the details of each design.
“This is going to be the home for the elite, Kaine Serenity. You need to report specific and delicate designs.” He tells me when I decided to show him my new designs.
If I had only known that this project would be the death of me, I shouldn’t have said yes.
His brows arch as he stares into my designs. “I’m not saying that your designs are awful,” he stops and stares into me. I stare back. “They’re incredible, honestly. But…” He pauses and looks down at the designs in his hand. “…I think you lack something. I feel like you can do better.”
I stare into his eyes that are queerly looking at me. “I’ll revise…again.” My voice comes out of breath with his look. I shouldn’t look into that pair of eyes while I’m thinking because I lose all my thoughts.
He nods and leans into his swivel. “Alright, then show me your designs before this day ends.” He massages his temples. He, too, must have been so stressed as well.
I bow at him then walk back to the office that he’d given me to work on my designs. It’s not as huge as his but it sure is an artsy room. I have a couch and a television which could help me de-stress.
The walls are wooden with tribal letters printed all over. Love and happiness. Hatred and loneliness. Those were the lines that are repeatedly written around the room.
I look at my desk, seeing the sketchpad I was drawing on moments ago. It’s almost running out of paper when I barely bought this, three days ago. I’ve already used four sketchpads since I started working for the Perez Group but none of my designs made it.
I want to hate Marcux Archer for being so choosy about the designs. I want to tell him to hire more designers for this work to get done faster but I couldn’t get myself, too. If only I could speak my mind, Serenity wouldn’t be a part of my name.
I take a deep breath before starting to design again. I’ve researched some contemporary designs and got an idea from those. I’m praying that this time, they could get approved.
I’m a sucker for approval because my parents never showed me one. I’ve grown with such disappointed minds and people around me that, right now, I want to have all the approval I could get.
Living in the shadows, unloved and unwanted, is the hardest thing in my life. I thought my parents are only disappointed in me because I’ve always been failing them ever since. I always fall short from their expectations. I always am not good enough.
When I got my first big break in interior designing, I thought they would treat me differently. I thought. But they didn’t. And that’s when I stopped trying to please them.
There’s no harm in trying, they say. But why is it that the harder I try, the more painful it gets.
That’s when I realized that there are some things in life that you have to leave uncrossed – that just have to stay the way they are – because the more you dig into them, the more it runs away from you, the more you try to care, the more you get hurt.
I stop drawing when I hear three consecutive knocks on the door. I look at it as it slowly opens revealing Patricia with a smile. I’ve been talking with her since I started working here and I’m happy that she’s kind.
“Mr. Perez is calling you, Serenity.” There’s something about my name that calms me down when I’m feeling confused and devastated. Or is it because my name shouts tranquility? I don’t know.
I pick up my designs and walk to the door towards Marcux Archer’s office, wishing they’d get approved this time. I’m tired and I’m so close to hating him for being so picky. If he only knew how hard it is for me to design fifty different designs in a given span of time…
I didn’t knock because his door is open. I walk straight in only to find him looking straight at me. He’s observing my every move and I don’t know if that’s a good thing.
I look down and continued walking towards the chair in front of his desk. Folders are aligned and filed on his desk. I bet he’s busy like that.
“Let me see your designs, Kaine Serenity.” His pitch black hair is messed up and his tie is loosened.
I hand the sketchpad to him. “That’s all I can do for today, Marcux Archer.” I tell him because it’s already ten in the evening and I’m still out.
He looks at the wall clock and nods, “Yes. We’ll go home after this.” His lips move so tiredly as he browses my designs.
If I am like any other girls out there, I would have fallen head over heels for Marcux Archer. Who wouldn’t? He’s the most eligible bachelor in town. He’s insanely handsome – yes, even with a messy hair, he looks so perfect. He’s rich and powerful.
A lot of girls would line up to be with him. But I’m not one of them.
“This is better.” He turns to me to give me a small smile. “Minimalistic but detailed.” He nods and looks at the design again.
I couldn’t help but smile at his approval. Approval’s everything I’ve been wanting all my life, so getting one is an achievement for me.
He places my sketchpad on his desk and turns to me. “You can go now.” He tells me but then he narrows his eyes. “Do you have a car?”
I nod. “I have, Marcux Archer.” I reply.
There’s this certain expression in his face that I didn’t recognize but I let it go. I don’t have time to deal with unreadable facial expressions.
But then I look back and he smiles at me.