[*Prologue was taken out of the last chapter of the story]
June 22, 2011
New York City, Police Station
A bright beam of light flashed suddenly over head. Sydney Watters held a hand over her face for shade, unable to adjust to the light.
"Alright." A short, stout man took a seat from across the table and folded his arms expectantly. His gray hair stood out like neat streaks, making him appear older than he should, but his face was toned and young. His eyes examined her for a long moment, forcing her to turn away from his gaze. He smirked.
"Before we begin Ms. Watters, let me introduce myself to you: My name is Jude Colton. I am a detective-investigator for the New York Police Department, and I am here under the direct orders of Mr. James Preston."
Sydney narrowed her eyes slightly, but maintained a neutral countenance. "What do you want with me?"
The man's face crinkled into a smile. "It's not something that I want from you, but rather what you can enlighten me with."
"And that is...?"
"You probably already know, but the infamous Antonella Quinton and Eleazar Preston have been missing for the past two months. We traced his gang members several weeks ago but unfortunately, the only surviving contact is you."
He chuckled lightly. "Straight to it, I see. I like that." She rolled her eyes.
Mr. Colton leaned forward, searching her face as though it held the answers to a covert enigma of some sort. "We need to know where they are. Can you tell us, Sydney? But why bother asking...you're not leaving until you do."
Her eyes widened in shock and began to protest when his hand was raised to stop her. "I'm not doig this for you. I'm not even doing this for them, for that matter. Mr. Preston's paid me a great deal of money to find his son; regardless of his condition and that orphan friend of his. You will be cooperating won't you?"
This man was unbelievable. Anger started to boil within her, and it took every ounce of sanity to control herself from punching him right in the face. "So you don't even care about any of this. It's just about the money for you, isn't it? Well I'm not telling you anything!" she exclaimed and folded her arms stubbornly.
"Ms. Watters, this isn't something we can negotiate. We are talking about the lives of two different people here. I'm merely here to-"
"What? Here to what?" her voice trembled as she fought to contain the burning tears. "You can't expect me to give away my best friend's life for the sake of a rich man's false sympathy. Who do you think you are?"
Mr. Colton sighed, not exactly feeling entirely defeated but he knew from the start that she would be this unyielding. "Then at least tell me what happened."
Sydney cast her eyes on her entwined fingers, fiddling with them to stall some time. "I will never tell you."
He leaned back and suppressed a long sigh. "If that's how you want it. Ms. Watters, you do know that if I don't find them first, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will track them down and find them, whether they are alive or not." Sydney raised her head at this. Now that caught her attention. Why in the world would James Preston want his son dead? It doesn't make any sense.
Mr. Colton watched as Sydney thought about what he said and knew that she couldn't deny his help.
Should she tell him? The world has a right to know. But this would change everything. He needs to know. She furrowed her brows in frustrating until finally she exhaled a breath she had not realized she was holding. Sydney glanced at him and brushed her hair out of her face so that she could look him levelly in the eye. Here it goes. "It all started in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong..."
September 3, 2005
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Somewhere in the streets
The rain poured heavily over my blue parka, soaking the sleeves so that it clung against my skin. I adjusted my pack over my shoulder nervously, fully aware that it was perfectly secure by my side. This was the first time I'd run away from home, from the orphanage; but I couldn't stand living there anymore. It wasn't that I hated it there or that they were abusive, but some part of me felt like I was missing something. Something I wouldn't find if I stayed. I had to know who I was, I wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere.
A sudden gush of wind blew and I nearly let go of the papers that were clutched in my hands. I grunted, blinking water from my eyes so that I could take a better look at the streets. It was raining all day. It wasn't a torrential rain but it was definitely strong enough to make me look like I just walked through a car wash.
BEEEP! I halted, scowling at the man in the cab who glared at me through a window. "Watch where you're going jerk!" I yelled. People these days... They just don't have a sense of thought. I forced myself to look away before eyeing the building across me wearily, stomping my way across the road.
Preston Films, Inc. The building towered as one of the tallest in all of Hong Kong. I would have killed before walking through those glass doors, but at this point, I was desperate for a job.
I pushed through the doors of Preston Inc. and cold air nipped at my exposed, wet skin. I took a few steps and my boots made loud squeaky sounds while leaving a large puddle in the entrance of the building. The security guards and a few people inside turned their heads at me, staring with incredulous expressions. I cast my eyes on the floor, feeling slightly uncomfortable. I knew I should have bought an umbrella when I passed through the market...
The inside of the building was pretty grand. A glass chandelier lit the center of the anteroom where counters of clerks and managers were bustling in their fancy black and white suits. The entire left wall was made of glass while the rest of the building seemed to have been completely framed from stainless steel, marble, and more glass. To give the place some extra color, random picture frames were hung on the wall at intervals beside blue lanterns. Fancy, Fancy. I sighed wistfully, wondering what it would be like to live in a place like this every day.
I whipped around and noticed a woman in a plaid dress- most likely in her early twenties- who was eyeing me critically. She had short, auburn hair that was cropped into a tight bun. Her ID read no name but instead had "system administrator" embedded in bold ink. She crinkled her nose. "May I help you?"
"Actually yes. I'm here to apply for a job..."
For a moment the woman stared at me with a blank expression, waiting for me to go on or signal the pun of some unintended joke. I stared back, her gaze making me squirm in my now uncomfortably wet clothes.
Suddenly, she burst out laughing, right at my face. I didn't know what was so funny so I watched her uneasily as she tried to regain- unsuccessfully- for control. She held her side and bit her lip, but a few giggles still managed to escape. "You can't be serious."
I raised my brows, looking her straight in the eyes. "I am actually..."
Her smiles dropped and she seemed to realize her mistake. She looked away shamefully. "Oh-oh! I'm sorry ma'am, it's just you look so young. We don't usually accept teenage girls working in our corporation."
"Wait!" I grabbed her arm before she turned to leave. She frowned at my grasp. I let go. "I really need this job. I'll take what you have, I'll do anything."
The woman sighed and looked me over twice. "How old are you?"
"Fifteen." I knew that being this young gave me narrow chances for job hires, but I had to try. It wasn't until I said it out loud that I realized how pathetic it was to be applying in a place like this... "Come with me, miss..."
"Oh, um, Quinton. Antonella Quinton."
"Right." She turned on her heels and I trailed behind her, still soaking wet.
We stopped at a counter and chatted quietly with a man in a very fancy suit. His gaze turned to me and I forced an awkward smile.
The woman turned her attention back to me. "Alright. Do you have your resume?"
I nodded briskly and handed her the soaked up piece of paper, which she took with the tips of her fingers.
"Aha...it got wet in the rain," I explained. She nodded slowly and returned her attention to the man in the counter.
"Just wait here Ms. Quinton. I'll be with you again in a moment."
I didn't wait for her at the counter, mostly because I didn't want to leave a huge puddle in the middle of the floor. Scanning the room quickly, I took I seat at a little blue couch across from an old man who had his nose glued to a newspaper.
"I never agreed to be here!" a voice yelled suddenly. Everyone in the room turned their heads towards me. My face heated up slightly from all the attention. I wasn't that wet was I? Then I realized...they weren't looking at me, but at something behind me! I forced myself to look away until my eyes caught two men glaring down at each other. One of them looked like the younger version of the other, who had gray hair with white streaks and was probably around his mid-forties. The younger man looked just a few years older than me, but I couldn't exactly tell from where I sat. He had dark brown hair and unlike the other man, and just about everyone else in the building- I'm guessing- he wore a suit that looked ridiculously disheveled and his tie hung loosely against his dress shirt.
"It wasn't a suggestion, Eleazar. It was an order!" The older man yelled back. His brows furrowed in frustration and his face was colored in an impossible shade of red.
The younger one turned away abruptly and headed for the elevator. "I don't take orders from you."
"I'm your father! You have to listen to me-" His voice strained over the deafening silence that now engulfed the entire room. The man named Eleazar was already in the elevator, glaring at his father when his eyes flickered towards me for a second, shooting daggers with his piercing gaze.
I gulped quietly and turned around as slowly as possible, so as to look like I hadn't just been watching his public dispute.
"Do you know who that is?"
I looked across me at the man who had spoken. "Excuse me?"
He lowered the newspaper. "That's the owner of Preston Inc. It's just rare seeing him out here, ya know? He usually stays at one of his business firms in New York."
I narrowed my eyes and returned my attention to the elevator. It was already closed but I tried to imagine what it would be like to work for someone like him. What if I was a minute late for work and he fired me right there and then? Or worse...he'd yell. I shuddered at the idea.
"Not him," the man said to me, shaking his head. "That's his son."
"Oh," I frowned.
The sound of heels clicking told me that the woman was back, and I was right. She crossed the few feet that separated us until she stood hovering beside me. "Ms. Quinton, unfortunately we have no other available jobs at the moment except for maintenance duty. If you're still interested, you're welcome to start right away," she said, eyeing the huge spot of water I made on the gilt-streaked carpet.
I grinned excitedly. It was the first time anyone accepted me for a job. And I was desperate...so I take what I get. "Thank you! I accept, I-I mean, yes I'm interested." Smooth, Anya, I mused.
The woman nodded somberly and gestured for me to follow her. "For two weeks starting from today, you will be assigned office duty on the eleventh floor. Here's a list of the offices on the west wing." She handed me the paper which provided a full page of names... two columns... single space...12font. What the...do they even clean at all? It was a really long list. I scolded myself quietly; I haven't even started, I couldn't be complaining now. Trying not to wince from the loud clicks that her heels made, I straightened my posture so that I stood just as tall. "Now your job is quite simple. There is a small cart in the storage room down in the basement where you will find all of the things you'll need. In the morning you are to serve as a doorwoman during conference calls, and in the evening you collect the trash in each office, vacuum the floors, and dust everything you can get your hands on." She turned to me abruptly. "Do you have a problem with that?"
I stared at her nervously. "No, not at all!"
She frowned and continued walking towards the elevator. "Good."
As we entered the elevator, the woman punched the button the took us to the eleventh floor and stood neutrally on one corner. "Cool!" I breathed, pointing behind me. The far wall was made of glass- of course- and it provided a view of the inner hub of Preston Inc. At the very low landing was a small, but elegantly crafted pond and fountain that sprayed a colorful silhouette of water. The bright colors of it all stood out against the black and white theme of the building.
"Mr. Preston is quite the conservative man," the woman spoke. I faced her to find a smile planted on her face. "You get used to it."
I nodded. "Have you met him in person?"
"Of course!" she scoffed. "In my position, I'm constantly messaged at the last minute to fly out of Hong Kong to help him with a movie production. Otherwise I'm stuck here, guiding newbies with their maintenance duties." She smiled kindly and I grinned back.
"You're lucky then. I've never been out of Hong Kong."
"Just work hard and maybe you'll even be working with me someday."
I laughed. "That would be nice. Oh um, I never got to catch your name..."
"It's Sydney. Sydney Watters." The elevator beeped and I glanced at the arrow that pointed to eleven. "We're here. The conference call started a little late, so you're in luck if you don't get yelled at."
I turned to her with wide eyes and she held a hand up to her mouth to hide her snickering. "Don't worry about it, just relax. You can't possibly get fired on the first day." My mouth opened to say something but she pushed me out of the elevator and led me through a narrow hallway lined with office doors on both sides. As we rounded a corner I notice something familiar in one of the rooms. The walls were completely glass so I could see clearly through the thin blinds.
"Hey! Pay attention!" Sydney snapped her fingers over my face, making me tear my gaze away.
"This is the room. The conference call will be on in a few minutes so try not to daydream about Mr. Prettyboy over there."
My mouth opened in shock despite my now heated face. "I wasn't daydreaming! I was just...trying to memorize our way in."
I stuck out my tongue as she left me by the door of the conference room. Was she always like this? At least I knew one person in this place; I'd probably go crazy if I spent the entire day without having someone to talk to. Shaking my head with a sigh, I pulled open the glass door...except it didn't budge. I pushed it with more force only to end up shaking the door like an idiot. There were only two ways to open a door... I tried the other one but I was left just as disappointed. Something clicked and my eyes landed on a hand below the door handle.
I jumped back, my heart pounding with increased vivacity as I looked up at the man from downstairs. What was his name? Ezlra...I couldn't remember. Something was different though, and he no longer wore his coat, making his lean muscles more pronounced under his shirt.
"The doors are usually locked from the outside, in case you're wondering," he said politely.
"Thanks...It uh, won't happen again," I promised. And it shouldn't...I'm the doorwoman for goodness sakes!
He ran a hand through his hair. "Do you work here?"
"Rae!" I jumped once more and turned to find the source of the voice. A man in a grey suit and short black hair stood a few feet away with a grin plastered on his face. He looked just about as old as the man next to me. "Did you see the offices in here? They're so big! I have an closet in my closet! Oh and the bar is to die for, I might just finish my share of champaign on the first week. "
"I know, I just finished mine."
"Ha ha, hang in there bro. It's not like you're stuck here forever."
Rae glowered. "No but it will sure feel like forever."
I watched the two exchange a few more words, feeling at a complete loss for words. Rae and the other man didn't bother introducing themselves and entered the conference room, forgetting my presence entirely. I sighed, stomping my way in.
A long oval table took up most of the room, The seats were all taken by business men and women in their fancy suits. I stared down at myself self-consciously, spreading the wrinkles of my sleeves from the dried water, even though it wouldn’t help me at all.
[*Um, yeah that's it xD I originally posted chapter one but decided to add the prologue as well. I don't think there's anything wrong with the grammar, I just have a feeling it's a very boring start to the story... What do you think? ^^*]
Here's the synopsis, maybe you'll understand (but you don't have to read it ^^):
What’s an odder way to meet a boy than to be caught picking out of a trash can? Fifteen-year-old Antonella Quinton first meets the rich grandson of Preston Films Inc. founder, Rae Preston after two days of being hired to clean out his new office. After a few days of wooing, she agrees to go out with him but as their friendship grows, so does their love. When Rae finds out that she inherited coronary artery disease, he goes out of his way to push his feelings aside and just be an older brother. Antonella reveals a list of wishes that she has always wanted to do or got to in life. One by one, Rae grants these wishes, except one: his heart.
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