Dear God, why?! Ann silently cried while looking at the tall blonde man in front of him.
Why, of all people, it has to be him? Why?!
Ann remained there, frozen in shock while staring at his overly gorgeous and handsome face.
Never once she thought that he has the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen. Sorry Mom!
“Is your hand okay, yoi?” He asks again, looking at her right hand. His voice brought Ann back to reality and she did the most logical thing to do. To run away.
“My hand is okay. I’m sorry and I will pay you. Bye!” Ann hurriedly walked past Marco, ignoring his baffled look.
Without turning back, she walked as fast as her heels can allow her to and ignored when Marco called out to her.
Shivering from the terrible encounter, she went ahead telling the receptionist why she’s there.
“Can I help you?” The receptionist asks. Ann would have snapped because she has no time for these security measures, not when her meeting is just 5 minutes away.
“Ann from Firefist Technologies Incorporated.”
“Oh, yes, Miss Ann. Please head straight to 60th floor and the receptionist above will direct you to the meeting room. Please use elevator number 10.”
“Thank you.” She was about to walk to get on the elevator when she saw Marco entering the building and being greeted by the staff. Without hesitation, she turned back, hiding somewhere in the corner where he will not see her.
“Good Morning Sir Marco!” The receptionists enthusiastically greeted Marco. Ann made sure to note where he is going so, she can avoid him at all costs.
Granted, he chose the 10th Elevator. Even though she needs to be in that elevator as well, she chose not to get on it. She refused to be in the same space with Marco alone – not with what happened in the parking lot. Talk about embarrassing yourself in front of your crush.
As soon as the elevator closes in, Ann asks the receptionist if she can use the other elevators.
“Unfortunately, Elevator 10 is the only elevator that is allowed to go to 60th. You will just have to wait.” Ann just nodded and wait for the elevator to go down again.
She is running late for the meeting and her right hand is actually throbbing. It must have been sprained due to the impact, but she is fairly ignoring the pain for now. Sab will definitely scold her if she finds out how Ann got her wrist sprained.
Ding! Ann was brought back to reality when the elevator opened and thank goodness it is empty. She can’t handle seeing Marco now after she put herself in that embarrassing situation.
A disaster. This is what Sab calls her from time to time. She can agree to her fraternal twin now. What she is a total disaster. All she can hope now is that this meeting will not end up being disastrous too.
Another ding was heard and that’s her queue in getting out of the elevator. As soon as she goes out, she tried to be as composed as possible, ready for the meeting.
Greeting the receptionist with a smile, she stated her purpose and the receptionist gladly guided her to where the meeting room is.
The moment she entered the meeting room, she immediately wanted to back out the moment she saw him sitting right next to Edward Newgate.
Fuck. How many times had she cursed now since the incident happened? She lost count. This time, she curses her brain for forgetting that Marco does not only work in this company, but also serves as the COO. Naturally, for big changes like these, he needs and must be involved too. How could she forget?
No use in backing out now. All she has to do is to pretend that he does not exist. Which is hard to do. His charisma alone draws her eyes back to him.
Must resist. Must resist.
“You must be Ann. My name is Izou. Pleasure to meet you.” A very beautiful woman stood up and introduced herself to Ann.
“Pleasure’s all mine.” Ann accepted the hand offered to her and she fought the urge to say ‘ouch’ as loud as she can because the force of shaking hands is getting on her sprained wrist. “Apologies for being late.”
“Not at all. We just arrived anyway. By the way, I am Thatch, and I dare say that you are more beautiful than what the rumors say about you.”
“Rumors are rumors, however, a pleasure to meet you Thatch.” They shook hands and once again, Ann winced at the force she received.
She was later introduced to other members of the board as well as Whitebeard, who was very warm and welcoming. Thank goodness he did not apply that much force when they shook hands.
Lastly, Marco introduced himself. The pleasantry is normal for business associates. He did not mention the incident earlier on but the only difference with his greeting is that he did not apply a force when they shook hands. His eyes landed on the bruised wrist, and as they locked eyes, he looks worried.
Ann looked away, embarrassed. This is not the time to be distracted. He is distracted enough that her crush is in the same room as hers, her wrist is throbbing and she was about to present to one of the most influential people in the world.
Great. But she gotta do what she must. If she fails at the end of the day, at least she did what she could.
Once everyone is settled, Ann started off her presentation, giving them the ideals she had when she pursued this technology. The next thing she discussed in on how she can sustain the electrical demands of a building as large as Moby Dick’s.
She explained how she devised the same ideas and plans as she did during the implementation of such changes in Luffia’s building. The started off from a small portion of the building, thinking how the installation of new technology should not compromise the daily activities of the people and the company’s operations.
Complete transition to the new technology will take 6 -10 months, depending on the complexity of the electrical plans set in the building.
She explained disaster plans she had when it is not summer time or when it is raining season.
Acquisition of a tropical island not far from Grandline to be the main source of their power during the wet or snow seasons. The help of installing water-reliant source to convert to electricity has been presented as well, but this will only be applicable during the time that the weather is not favorable for Solar Panels to function.
“Your ideas are great, but I’d like to know your passion about why you decided to pursue this path given how arduous it will be considering the disadvantages you have at hand.”
Ann was mildly surprised when Whitebeard asked such question, but this, she can answer.
“My sisters and I grew up visiting islands, climbing mountains and exposed to nature and wildlife. Preserving the natural beauty of the Earth is something we should be responsible for. Wildfire devastated and killed so many animals and this is because of how much we consume resources on a daily basis that Earth cannot keep up. With that as a mindset, I decided to use what I’ve learned and apply it as much as I can.”
Silence falls in the room, everyone is looking at Edward Newgate, waiting for his decision.
“Alright. I think this concludes the meeting, unless anyone has further questions?” Everyone shook their heads and Ann thought that she failed.
There’s nothing I can do if they do not want what I am offering…
“So, when do you think you can start the transition?”
Ann blinks for several times before she can form a coherent response.
“You mean, you are going to accept the proposal?”
“I do not see why not, but of course, if anyone here is going to object, then please say so. We have to hear it out.”
Everyone in the meeting room shrugged, smiling as they agreed with Whitebeard’s decision.
“Impressive. That’s all I can say. You truly are impressive.” Ann’s heart swell at the compliment coming from Whitebeard himself. She kind of expected to walk away, failing to get the contract, but here she is. “I guess we can settle and finalize the contract in the coming days, don’t you think, Marco?”
“Absolutely, yoi. That can be arranged.” Their eyes met again. She blushed when he smiled at him.
Stop acting like a freaking high school girl! She mentally scolded herself. In a matter of seconds, everyone congratulated her and expressed how they are looking forward to working with her in the next several months.
Congratulations comes with shaking hands, making Ann winced again. Some of the officers bid them goodbye as they have meetings to attend to. Whitebeard also left, but congratulated Ann once again.
The only ones left are Thatch and Marco. The red-haired man enthusiastically shook Ann’s hands, expressing how he will love working with her.
Ann is grateful, but she wishes he lets her hand go and not to shake it violently.
“Alright, that’s enough Thatch, yoi. You have meetings to attend as well. Izou will not be happy seeing her fiancé being irresponsible.”
“Alright, alright. But! Let’s all celebrate when the time comes, Ann! I just have this feeling that you and I will get along just fine.” After saying that, he also left the meeting room.
Thatch leaving means that she will be left alone with Marco. After what happened earlier, she wished to run and hide somewhere.
“You need to get that wrist checked. It’s sprained, isn’t it?” Marco stood in front of her, eyeing her wrist.
“Err, yeah, I guess.”
A sigh left his lips before making an eye contact with her. “Come on. Let’s get that checked in the clinic, yoi.”
“No, no! That’s ok. Please don’t bother. I will have my sister looked into it when I get home.”
“By the time you get home, that wrist will turn worse than it already is, yoi.” He looks concerned and her stupid heard can’t stop beating fast and loud.
“It’s not that bad - ” she stopped upon seeing the look on Marco’s eyes. “Alright. I will have it checked. I will go straight to the hospital.”
“Good. I thought you would be stubborn and run away, yoi.” He smiled teasingly, making Ann blush in embarrassment.
“I was embarrassed, okay?” She turned her back on him to gather her stuff and get ready to leave. “And I will not run away without paying what I owe you.” She turned back to him once again when she had all of her stuff gathered. “I’m really sorry about your side mirror. I swear I did not mean to damage it.”
“You can think about that after you get that wrist checked.” Ann nodded at him. “Which hospital are you planning to go, yoi?”
“Revolutionary Grandline Hospital.”
“That’s a 15-minute drive from here.”
“Yes, but it is not that far.”
“And you plan to drive in that condition, yoi?” Marco asks.
“What? No. My sister dropped me by earlier, so I will just take a taxi going to the hospital. My sister is going to scold me for sure.” Ann was about to get her piled up stuff using her left hand when Marco took it from her, wrists touching, and she almost felt the burning sensation.
“I will take you there since you do not want to have that wrist checked in our clinic, yoi.”
“Uh, what? No! I don’t want to be a bother. I can go to the hospital alone.”
“You are not a bother. Come on. I also have somewhere I need to be near the hospital, so treat this as me dropping you by, alright?” She was about to protest again, but he spoke first. “If you still plan to say No, I will quadruple the amount you are paying for that broken side mirror.”
She pouts. “That’s extortion.”
“Which is why, let me drop you by in the hospital.” He reasoned out.
“Fine. Since you insist and it will make me look bad if I continue to refuse your kind offer.” They smiled at each other before walking out of the meeting room.
As soon as they got inside the elevator, Ann asked about the car he will be driving. “Since I broke the side mirror of your car, what will you be using?”
“I have my other car parked in the basement, yoi. That’s where we will be heading.” Ann just nodded.
Pretty soon, they were out of the building. During the ride, Ann decided to call Sab. She hopes her twin sister is not in a meeting.
“Hey Ann! What’s up? Everything okay?” Sab’s tone sounds worried because Ann never calls her, unless it is an emergency. The twins usually send text messages first to inquire if the other is in a meeting before calling.
“Yes. Everything is fine, but uh, I’m gonna be dropping by the hospital.”
Ann can faintly hear a sigh from Sab on the other side of the line.
“What happened to you this time?”
“I kind of sprained my wrist?”
“Kind of?! Really? How did that even happen?” Just remembering how it happened made Ann blush in embarrassment again.
“I will explain to you when I arrive, ok? I will be there in less than 10 minutes.”
“Ok, fine. I will be waiting for you at the front entrance of the hospital.”
The call ended and Marco remained silent while driving. It’s really awkward when Ann does not know if she should talk or not.
“Your sister?” He simply asks.
“Yes. She works in the hospital.”
“Yes, by an hour. We are twins.”
“Really, yoi? That’s pretty cool.”
They remained silent after that as the hospital is just 3 minutes away. Marco pulled over to the main entrance. Ann was about to get her stuff and get out, but Marco asked her to stay so he can open the door for her, same thing when she got into his car.
Afterwards, he took her stuff from the passenger’s seat at the back. Ann wishes that he should be less of a gentleman – it makes her like him more than she already has.
“You don’t have to walk me to the entrance. I can take it from here.”
“Where’s your sister, yoi? You shouldn’t be carrying these.” He was referring to her laptop and documents she has carried since this morning.
“Ann!” Both she and Marco looked at the person who called her name. Ann was afraid of this scenario. A scenario wherein Sab will see Marco dropping her by and carrying her stuff.
And she is right, the moment Sab saw Marco, her eyes started sparkling and looking at Ann with a meaningful smile. The older twin hates how her sister is being annoying.
When Sab arrived right in front of them, Ann has no choice but to make a small introduction.
“Um, this is my twin sister, Sab. Sab, this is Marco Newgate, COO of WGC.”
“Hi! Nice to meet you Marco. Did you drive my sister here? Sorry for the bother.”
“Pleased to meet you Sab. And no, it’s not a bother dropping her by. These stuff is hers. Do you mind carrying them? Her wrists are sprained, yoi.”
“Oh, not at all!” Sab took Ann’s stuff from Marco.
“Thanks again, Marco. Sorry for the trouble.” Ann said before Marco leaves.
“Don’t worry about it. Just take a break and take care not making that sprain worse, yoi.” He smiled at her.
“Don’t worry, Marco. I will take care of this careless sister of mine. You know what? You should drop by sometime. Ann will treat you to a coffee or lunch as thanks for dropping her by.” Hearing these words, Ann looked at her sister, wide eyed and glared at her to stop.
“Marco needs to be somewhere. We shouldn’t be wasting his time now. Bye Marco! Thanks again!” Ann has to drag Sab away before she will say something too embarrassing.
Looks like Marco is not bothered at what Sab said and also bid his goodbye.
Once he’s gone, Ann smacked Sab’s head. “Ouch!”
“Serves you right!” And she walked towards the hospital entrance.
“I want details.” Sab shouted at her sister who promptly ignored her.
(AN: A continuation of Sab and Kidd’s encounter)
Kidd stared at his suit for who knows how many times today. He is not worried about the price of the suit, he can afford to buy a new one. What he is pissed at is the fact that he is running late for the meeting and has no time to change his suit.
He vaguely senses the feeling of disturbance upon remembering why and how his suit got stained in the first place.
In his defense, he was also busy fixing the goddamn tie while walking to get his coffee before this important meeting, which results in him not noticing the woman walking by.
He snapped at her, which he thinks he has the right to do so. His suit is ruined and he will look like an idiot while talking to a very important client.
It might also have been a defense mechanism, because Kidd may never admit this, but he was shocked the moment he saw the woman. He will never admit this, ever, that the woman has the most angelic face he has ever seen in his entire life.
Sure, he had seen many gorgeous and beautiful women out there, but her face, her eyes, everything looked like an angel – except for her mouth that is. She has a sharp tongue, which pissed Kidd off, especially when she shoved that money on his chest. She has a lot of nerve doing that to him!
“Damn, what happened to you?” Killer, his best friend, asks while looking at the stained suit.
“Don’t ask. Shit happened.” He grumbled. Killer kept his mouth shut as they both walked towards the entrance of Oro Jackson Building.
Kidd is scheduled to meet Gol D. Roger and Silvers Rayleigh for a contract in renovating an amusement park. They need a Metallurgical Engineer in making sure that the additional part of the amusement park will be safe and sturdy.
Kidd is a freelancer and this is one of his biggest clients. He has clients line up, as his expertise is rare nowadays. There are only a few experts in terms of Metallurgical engineering, which is why real estate, manufacturing and other big establishments want his services.
Right now, Gol D. Roger personally reached out to him to schedule a meeting, something he is interested as well. And today is that meeting. Just his luck that his suit was stained by some woman passing by. (And no, she is not a drop dead gorgeous woman, he refuses to admit this)
Walking to the building, he earns quite a lot of stares from employees, most likely because of the stain on his suit, but he promptly ignored them and went straight to the receptionist.
The CEO/Owner is expecting them, so they were directed to use the VIP elevator going straight to the Owner’s office.
The office building is spacious. The designs are meticulous, not overly luxurious at all – opposed to what other buildings are. This building has a homey vibe.
Upon entering the office of the owner, Kidd and Killer are expecting to see a very luxurious office, but they were proven wrong. Just like the designs from the lobby of the building, this one feels like he is lounging in his house.
“There you are! Come, have a sit.” A tall man urged Kidd and Killer to take a seat. He is wearing a simple polo shirt and jeans. He doesn’t look like the owner of the building at all.
“Thank you, sir.” Kidd said. This is not like any of the business meetings he attended before. This feels like a casual meeting with an uncle.
Most of his business meetings before, he needs to wear a formal suit, which he hates, mind you.
“Did I forget to tell you that it’s okay not to wear a suit? I must have forgotten, but never mind that.”
“You must really have forgotten. Anyway, gentlemen, my name is Rayleigh. Pleased to meet you.” The well known Dark King of the business world is also wearing a simple jeans and a polo shirt. Very casual indeed.
“Pleasure’s all ours, sir.”
“Just call me Rayleigh.” He is welcoming and smiling at Kidd and Killer. Which kind of surprises them. Amongst those Kidd worked with before, the owners and the officials are uptight and demanding assholes. This is the first time he had seen someone acts casual.
But Kidd won’t let their appearance and attitude fool them. These two stood at the top of the business world, storming economy and earning money anyone can’t imagine how much. They built an empire. For that alone, they should be respected and not be underestimated.
“Right. Call me Roger as well. Have you all eaten breakfast? I ordered some sandwich, bagels and coffee for us.” Roger enthusiastically brought the take outs from a coffee shop nearby and offered them to Kidd and Killer.
“Uh - ”
“Come on. Eat first and we can talk while eating. It’s not good when starting a meeting with an empty stomach.”
Kidd was about to decline, but Killer did otherwise. He reached for a sandwich and a coffee for himself, which leaves Kidd with no choice but to do the same thing.
While eating, Roger talked about casual things like the current criminal records stated in news, or a good spot for vacations as well as restaurants that serves great meals. Kidd also added a few comments, especially regarding Resto-bars as he owns a chain of them.
“Yes, I’ve been to one of your Resto-bars! They served one of the best vodkas there is as well as cocktails. That’s a nice place. I even took my wife with me during a date night. Hahaha.” Roger commented. “She loves the choice of music. It was fantastic.”
“Glad you enjoyed your time there.”
“Absolutely! We will come back sometime soon, maybe for a double date with Rayleigh and Shakky.”
“As long as you don’t get drunk, that’s okay. I don’t want Rouge glaring at the two of us.” Rayleigh commented.
The casual talk finished as soon as they finished the food in front of them. Rayleigh brought up the idea of what they want in the amusement park as well as asks about Kidd’s opinions in the list of materials that the Engineers proposed.
This is when Kidd pointed out the materials needed and the supplies that need to be replaced.
“You owned a steel manufacturing, don’t you? Do you think you can arrange the needed supplies to the construction will start next month?” Roger asks.
“With how many materials you needed, it may take one and a half month to two months before the needed steels will be ready.” Kidd said. This is a sort of test that he gives to his clients. Their answer will tell them if they are demanding to have the materials done in the timeline that they want to.
“That should be fine. We can re-adjust the plans accordingly.” Roger said which surprises Kidd at all. Another month of delay means losing a few million. Time is very important in businesses, which is why he is surprised how easy-going Roger is. “Oh, we may need your expertise as well when we start our plans for a new hotel and wildlife sanctuary. It won’t be in the next 3 months as there are paperworks we need to do, but the plans are there.”
“Are you sure you want me to handle those projects as well?” Kidd is used to people testing his capabilities before giving him more projects, especially if these people are high up in the business ranking.
“That should be fine. You’ve explained quite a great detail about the construction of the amusement park and we can see how much knowledge you have in what you do.” Rayleigh said. “I know a thing or two in regards to Metallurgical engineering, and you clearly know your stuff.”
“What he said…” Roger agreed on.
Kidd smiles, proud of himself. This may not be a bad day after all…