“What in the world happened to you?” Ann looked at her twin sister from her head to toe. Her hair’s full of cheese powder and her clothes are stained with them. Last time she checked, Sab walked out of their house looking great, but now? She looked as if she took a cheese powder shower – if that makes sense.
“Don’t even ask.” Sab answered, tone as cold as ice, eyes glaring daggers – which took Ann by surprise. She had never seen her sister this pissed off.
Sab walked passed her sister, dumping the grocery items to the kitchen before stomping loudly as she walked towards her room, probably to take a shower first.
With no idea of what happened, Ann let her be and decided to check what Sab bought. Her right wrist might be injured now, but it doesn’t mean she can’t help around. She has been sitting in their house, doing nothing because no one allowed her to work. Where is the justice in that?
Her sisters told her to stay at home, and so as her employees. Apparently, Sab called her office, informing them that she is injured and will take the day off. That’s without Ann’s permission. Ann insisted that she needs to go to her office to finish the pending work, but Sab countered with Doctor’s orders reason. Nothing she can do at that point.
Now, she decided to use her left hand to slowly put the recently bought items to their proper places. At least Sab won’t have to do all the work.
About 20 minutes later, Sab came back, freshly showered and in a better mood than when she came back from the grocery.
“You didn’t get that bag of chips?” Ann was referring to Sab’s favorite snacks.
It seems that the older brunette asked the wrong question as Sab’s mood instantly went downwards, triggered by the question. Sensing the mood changing, Ann raised an eyebrow, questioning her sister.
“The chips are gone! Because of that bastard!”
Now, that is a surprise. Sab rarely calls someone a bastard, especially if she is this pissed off.
“That red-haired bastard! He has a lot of nerve to claim he found the chips first!” Sab shouted while getting all ingredients to use in cooking their dinner. Ann found herself sitting right in front of Sab while she rummaged around, slamming the chopping board on the table and almost throwing the vegetables.
Ann winced a bit, looking at her pissed off sister.
“He must have a reason why he claimed that he saw it first. Weren’t there any chips available in the supermarket?” Ann continues to ask calmly, enjoying the expression her sister is showing.
“No! There was nothing left! I grabbed it and he did not let go. He went as far as claiming he grabbed it first! He has a lot of nerve pissing me off again.” Sab ranted while chopping carrots. Ann pities the carrots, it was turned into a stress reliever.
“Again? Wait, do you know the guy beforehand?”
“Hell no! I don’t know anyone as rude as him!” The strong denial was so evident that Ann almost burst out laughing while looking at her sister.
“But if he pissed you off again, this shouldn’t be the first time you met him.”
“Ugh, I wish I never met that guy! He is so infuriating!” Sab was reminded again of how they met, which she told Ann about. In the end, her twin sister laughed at her.
“Oh my god! That’s hilarious and funny!”
“It is not!”
“No, I mean, what I find funny is how you are so affected by this guy. Come on, this is not the first time you encountered an asshole in your life. What makes this guy an exception?”
Sab was silent for a moment before answering. She must have calmed down a bit and must have realized something.
“You’re right. I shouldn’t be affected by that asshole. You know what? Let’s just forget about it. It’s not like I will be meeting him again anytime soon…”
Ann stopped commenting on what Sab said. She doesn’t wanna dampen her mood more than it already is. If you met him twice in a row, in a span of a few days, there is a high chance you will meet him again. She wants to voice it out, but she chose to change the topic.
“Mom called, asking how we are doing.”
“Really? What else did she say?” Sab asks while still preparing the ingredients.
“Eh, well, the usual rant she has. She talked about one of the biggest fashion shows in the world. Apparently, it is not too late to submit a profile to be casted as a model.” Sab rolled her eyes at what Ann said.
Their mother never gets tired of bringing up anything about fashion and her desires to see at least one of her daughters to follow her footsteps.
None of them followed it or even considered such career. Although they respected models and beauty queens, the three agreed that being part of that industry is just not their forte. They love where they are now. Their mother is proud of what the sisters achieve, it’s just that from time to time, she will casually bring up a few encouraging words to them to be a model or join in a beauty contest.
“But we will never be as good as you anyway.” Ann reasoned this out when their mother persistently convinces them to be a model.
“You are my daughters. What makes you think you are not as good as me? Or maybe better?”
Their mother never forced them to become models, but she never gave up in hopes that one day, one of her daughters will at least become models.
Even if it’s just for a day! Their mother usually says this.
“She sounds desperate, to be honest.”
“Probably because she knows we are getting older and being accepted in the modeling industry is not going to be easy, given our age, or when we get older.” Sab reasoned out.
“I thought she would at least stop, but she never did. Did you know she bought a bunch of new stuff from the recent fashion week? It’s like dozens for each of us!” Ann complains.
“Oh, not again.” Sab groaned, imagining what their walk-in closets look now. In their current house, each of them has their own walk-in closets, although it is relatively small compared to what they had in Raftel Palace.
Their mother renovated their walk-in closets all the time because she keeps on buying new clothes for them. Half of the clothes stored in their closets still have price tags on them.
The sisters never cared about how many clothes they have. As long as they have enough to wear on a day to day basis, it should be fine. Their mother on the other hand can’t prevent herself from buying new clothes for her daughters. It must be a mom-thing. Something like dressing her daughters up just like her.
“One of these days, we have to declutter our closets and donate them. We don’t need them anyway.” Ann suggested. She’s starting to get a headache thinking about the mountains of clothes they have to reorganize.
“Yes, let’s do that. While we’re at it, we have to prevent mom from buying new ones all the time.” Both agreed and shook their heads.
3 hours to go… When in her office doing paperwork, Luffia keeps on staring at the clock, calculating how long she has to wait before it is time to go home.
Unlike other Presidents, she usually doesn’t do overtime. That rarely happens, and only if there’s a major problem going on.
After coming back from the farm, Nami made it her goal to cage Luffia in her office to finish all paper works.
Luffia wishes Robin is here. If she were here, she would have helped Luffia, unlike Nami who is just sitting there, glaring at Luffia like a devil that she is.
Ring… Ring… That was her personal line. Luffia picked it up lazily, greeting a simple ‘Hi, this is Luffia.’
“Hello Miss Luffia. How are you today?” An unfamiliar voice greeted her, but it’s not like she minds.
“I am doing ok. Bored. By the way, who is this?”
Nami, who was listening on the side raises an eyebrow, curious as to who Luffia is talking to.
“Oh, apologies for not introducing myself. My name is Morgans. I am the new director for Grandline Motorsports racing. Pleased to be your acquaintance.”
“Oh! The car racing! I love them! Are you going to organize a new tournament?” Luffia’s lifeless tone became livelier upon hearing the word car racing. It’s a sport that she and her sisters are fond of. It is their hobby. They even participated quite a few times in the past.
Twice, Luffia won a sports car racing event under the alias of Lucy. Unlike other events, they allow anonymous participation. Or not really anonymous as the organizers will still check their identity, however, these racers who participate under an alias won’t have their real names publicly announced.
Same with Sab and Ann, who won three championships themselves. They were technically newcomers, but they beat so many veterans that the three of them garnered so much attention from those who are into Motorsport events. Many wondered about their identity and probed the organizers to release it, but the organizers cannot simply release it. After all, SHI is one of the biggest sponsors of this event and they have a contract signed.
The aliases used are not enough of a lead to who they really are.
Sab and Ann, they used the aliases Aokuro and Akaren. These are a combination of their favorite colors.
Ao means blue in Japanese and Kuro means black.
Aka means red and Ren was derived from the word orenji which means Orange.
“Yes. We will organize the new competition in a few months. Would you be interested in joining us as one of our sponsors?”
“Sponsors… I’d love to, but I have to check with my sisters. You can’t be a sponsor and participate in the race at the same time, right?”
“Not at all. If the sponsorship is listed under a corporation, and someone from that corporation will participate, that is allowed. However, if the sponsorship is listed under your name and you decided to participate, then, that is not allowed.”
“Is that so? Alright, sign me up.” She said.
“Hey! What did you just sign up for?!” It was Nami who shouted.
“Sponsorship for a Motorsport event.” Luffia said as a matter of fact. Her answer did not satisfy Nami at all, so she took the phone from her to talk to the man on the other side. After a few minutes, Nami bid her goodbye and looked at Luffia. “What?”
“Couldn’t you at least let us know before signing up sponsorships? We have to agree to terms and conditions, not just sign up and give our approval.”
“We’ve sponsored a few races before and it worked right for us. It is a good advertisement for our future Motor Bike manufacturing business. Franky and Usopp are thinking of developing a motorbike that can use water instead of gasoline. Ann’s going to be part of that project too. It will be great if we can have someone to participate using that invention and win.”
Nami fell silent. She knew about the project that Frank, Usopp and Ann were involved in, however, she did not realize that Luffia was thinking far ahead. She should be used to Luffia’s surprising moves. She can be reckless in her decisions, but there was a hidden logic behind it.
“Fine. We will have a discussion about how much money we can spare for that sponsorship.”
“Ok!” With a better mood, Luffia continues reviewing documents, still under Nami’s guidance and scrutiny. “Ah! I better tell Jaggy about it!” Luffia remembered her friend who also loves motorbike racing. Since the event will involve a lot of categories, she might as well include her friends.
Luffia stopped doing paperwork to get her phone and dialed someone’s number. After a few rings, someone picked up the phone.
“Jaggy!” She greeted then placed the phone on speaker mode so she can still finish her paperwork. Nami will nag her again if she doesn’t.
“Tsk! What do you want, brat?” An irritated voice of a man can be heard coming from the other side of the line. Nami just shook her head and let the conversation continue knowing who Luffia was talking to.
“Shishishi! I have good news! Did you know? Did you know? The biggest Motorsport event is going to be in a few months! How exciting is that?!”
“That’s exciting and good news indeed, but can you not shout?!” Luffia just laughed at her friend, ignoring what he said.
“We will be one of the sponsors and I will be participating! Isn’t that great? Can you participate too?”
“What, are you asking me to represent SHI in this competition?”
“No. We have Zoro to represent in one of the events. I am just not sure all the details, but I will let you know so you can participate under SHI.”
“Oi! I did not agree to participate under your banner!” The man’s voice sounds really irritated, but Luffia paid no attention to him. She just continued.
“I will call you again! Start practicing so your skills won’t get rusty. Bye bye!”
“I said I didn’t agree to - ” Before he can finish his sentence, Luffia ended the call.
“I really never understood why you gave him the nickname Jaggy.” Nami voiced out after the call ended. “It’s a surprise he’s allowing you to call him that.” What she got as an answer is a laugh from Luffia.
Ann is nervous. Dead nervous.
This will be her second time meeting Marco since the embarrassing incident. Since the meeting has been scheduled for initial plans of transition, Ann decided to bring up the payment for the damage she caused to his car.
Apparently, the whole project is being supervised by Marco as the head, with the help of Vista, who was also an Engineer. Izou was there to also check on the expenses during the transition as she is the company’s Finance Director.
The first thing Ann did is to ask for the blueprint of the company’s electrical circuit design. She needs to know where to start as this will be crucial to the transition.
“Would you like to have a building tour, yoi?” Marco asks.
“Yes, that would be great. If you could just let me see a few parts of the building, that’d be wonderful. Is the rooftop used as a helipad?”
“Sometimes, yes, but not often.” Vista answered. “Why?”
“I was thinking of installing Solar Panels in the rooftop. The building is very large and having additional panels installed will be great so we can ensure that it has sufficient power. If the rooftop is being used as a helipad, that’s fine. We can proceed with using other means.” Ann is marking a few of the parts of the building she’d like to see in person.
“Alright. Then Vista, about the building tour, do you mind showing Ann around, yoi?” Hearing Marco’s question, Ann is quite disappointed. She kind of wish to have Marco around… Ok, that was a bit too much to ask. Marco is a very busy man after all. Surely, he doesn’t have time to spare.
“I don’t mind, but I have a meeting in 20 minutes. It may take an hour. I can try cancelling it - ”
“No, that’s fine. You don’t have to cancel your meeting. We can just reschedule the tour tomorrow, I don’t mind.” Ann is quick to interrupt him. The tour can wait, it is not urgent. She can use the free time to do the other phases of the plan instead.
“That’s fine Vista. You don’t have to cancel your meeting. I’d take her around instead, yoi.”
Ann cannot help but look at Marco instead. Deep inside, she is happy and nervous, but it makes her wonder why he will volunteer.
“Are you sure? Don’t you have other meetings to attend to?” She can’t help but ask.
“I am free for the rest of the morning, yoi. You don’t have to worry about that.” And he smiled at her – which almost made Ann melt into a puddle of water. “So, which part of the building you’d like to see first? Although the rooftop is being used as a helipad, it is only in a certain area. Would you to like to see it first?”
“Yes. That would be great.” And she smiled back.
After a few minutes, Vista decided to bid his farewell, which is their queue to visit the rooftop. Since they are in the 70th floor, there is no need for them to use the elevator. They used the stairs going to the rooftop.
Marco was explaining that they rarely use this helipad as most of the time, the helicopter is out and about in Pop’s mansion or on the private island they owned. Ann just listed and also explained her initial plan. Seeing how the rooftop is wide enough for 4 helicopters, she brought up the idea of using half of the space for Solar panels.
Even though it will be installed, having a helicopter landing meters away won’t be a disruption after all, which Marco thinks is great.
After 20 minutes of spending on the rooftop, they decided to go visit the other areas of the building. The tour took more or less an hour. After going around, they decided to return to Marco’s office where Ann left most of her stuff. Marco came along with her, of course.
While gathering her stuff and ready to leave, Ann decided to bring up a subject that is not part of the project.
“What is it?”
“Er, regarding your car… So, I was thinking of paying for the damages. Did you send it to a mechanic for a repair?” She’s a bit hesitant in asking about this subject, but she said she will pay for it, and she will.
“Actually, no. Not yet, yoi. I still do not know a shop that has spare parts for that car.” He said while preparing a drink for her. After placing the glass of juice in front of her, he decided to sit right next to her, drinking his tea.
“Why are you looking for another shop? Doesn’t your company have connections of where to get these parts?” Ann knows that WGC sponsored a few Motorsport competitions before, hence, there should be enough connections to get a side mirror for Marco’s car.
Marco chuckles a bit before answering.
“Good question. The company indeed has parts I can use, however, if I use it, my family would know that my car’s slightly damaged.” Ann feels guiltier than ever.
“I’m sorry. Are they going to be mad at you?”
“Huh? No. If you think they are going to be mad at me because my car’s damaged, no. I just don’t want them to ask how it got damaged, yoi. My family’s nosy as hell, I’d rather avoid being in a hot seat. Also, you don’t have to apologize several times. You already did, so that’s fine.”
Marco’s really kind and understanding. Making Ann like him even more.
Thump. Thump. Stupid heart, beating like crazy.
“Wait. You said you are looking for a shop that can repair your car, right? Why don’t I take you to my sister’s friend?”
This got Marco’s interest.
“Let me check if they have the parts. Hold on.” Ann took her phone and dialed her sister’s number. Thank goodness she picked up rather quickly. “Hey Lu! Yeah. I need a favor. Could you ask Franky if he has a spare part for a sports car? It’s a side mirror.” Ann waited for a few moments before smiling. She seems to be talking to someone else, probably the one named Franky.
While she is busy talking on the phone, Marco can’t help but stare at her. It’s kind of rude, so he tries not to be too obvious that he’s staring.
He can’t help it, okay! She just looks so beautiful. He was so damn looking forward to meeting her again today that he ended up freeing his schedule for the rest of the morning, just in case he finds a chance to ask her for a lunch or something.
A guy can hope, right? Earlier, when he asked Vista to accompany Ann in visiting parts of the building she needs to see, he was hoping for Vista to decline, and thankfully that went well. Marco doesn’t want to be too obvious that he is interested in her, especially in front of his siblings. The amount of teasing he will get is giving him a headache. Besides, his siblings are so nosy, especially Izou. She will surely do something just so Marco can ask Ann out. He likes to find a good pace and not scare her at all. For all he knows, she may be dating someone else now. Wouldn’t that be awkward if he asks her on a date and she declines, because she is dating someone? Marco is not afraid of the rejection – he kind of is – but he’s more afraid of how awkward it will be given they will be working closely for the next several months.
“Alright! That’s great. There’s a car I need you to repair. Will you be able to do it sometime this week?” Marco hears her ask someone. He might have answered yes, because Ann smiled after a few seconds. “Cool. I’ll ask the owner of the car if Saturday is a good day to replace the side mirror. Thanks Franky! Thank Lu for me, too, ok? Yeah, bye!”
“So, I’m assuming you found someone to replace the side mirror, yoi?”
“Yes. He’s free on Saturday. Are you free on that day too?”
“I have nothing to do that time. Who was it that’s going to do the repair, again?”
“Ah, he’s Franky. You probably heard of him, but he works for SHI. He’s going to be in their office this Saturday, so he can replace the side mirror. I’ll take you there this Saturday.”
“Sure. That sounds like a plan, yoi. What time?” The idea of spending his Saturday with her brought smiles to his face.
“Are you good with morning? 10 AM?” Ann suggested.
“Yes, I’m good with that, yoi. Then, I’ll pick you up at quarter to 10. Here, if you don’t mind giving me your number in case there’s a change of plans.” Smooth. Real smooth, Marco! His mind is shouting at himself.
“No problem.” She took the phone and entered her number. After saving it, Marco called the number, and her phone rang.
“Great. Where will I pick you up, yoi? Or should I pick you up at your house?” Ann was silent for a while, making Marco nervous that he was pushing a bit too much and fucked this up.
“Yeah, my house will do. Wait, let me text you my address.” Marco almost breathed a sigh of relief after she replied. It did not take a minute before Marco received the text message. He knows the area. It’s a village full of big houses, almost like a mansion.
“Yeah, I know this area. Do you live here alone, yoi?”
“No, I live with my sisters. You met my twin sister, Sab. The youngest is Luffia.”
“Good, I thought you lived alone. It would have been hard for you after you got slightly injured. Is your wrist doing alright now?”
“Yes, no worries. It’s all good now. Sab told me to take a day off and cleared me to do some work today, as long as I won’t do anything stressful to my wrist.”
“Good. That means no driving either, I presume?”
“No. Sab won’t let me. She had been teasing me about wrecking a car and how I may damage the side mirror of my car this time.”
Marco chuckles, being reminded how siblings were born to annoy each other, but judging at how Ann’s tone is, she sounds fond of her sister. Goes to show how they care for each other.
“Since you don’t have a car, might as well drive you back to your office, yoi.”
“Uh - ”
“I’m not going to take no for an answer. Come on.” Without waiting for her to answer, he gathered her stuff, carried them while taking his keys and wallet with him.
“This is the second time you’re giving me a ride. But, fine. Let me buy you a meal. That’s the least I can do. It’s almost lunch time anyway.”
True, it is 30 minutes past 11. They did not notice how much time passed since their meeting, and they have been talking here in Marco’s office for quite some time now.
“Yeah. Let’s get some lunch along the way.”
And off they go to their dat- aherm. To their lunch.