Swan Nature Reserve, Rozdolne Raion of Crimea
Cassandra was walking with two more people including Lizabeta. At the end moment she decided to join. Swan Natural Reserve is strictly prohibited for public access. Swan Island’s primary purpose is protection of nature and scientific study. To get inside the Natural Reserve they really had to bring a lot of permission and papers. But in a nutshell that overall experience was always thrilling for her. Overall 255 species of birds have been recorded in the territory. Cassandra got more than hundred perfect photos altogether. Following which she took some important notes on their habitat also. With the current on going global warming scenario and other evolving pollution, a lot of species started suffering.
It took almost two days to cover seventy to eighty percent of the major Island. The documentary she filmed needed some editing too. Within a week she would be submitting all her hard work to Nat Geo.
“So girl, what’s next?” Lizabeta asked her friend who was still going through all those pictures she had taken. As per Liza’s thoughts, Cassandra no doubt had some OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) with her photos. Every time she would be searching some minute mistake and would run again to reshoot. The girl had never learnt to chill.
“Nothing much. Would be waiting to see my Documentary getting aired on Nat Geo soon.” Cassandra replied with her joyous eyes.
“I don’t think you do watch your own work. I have seen you going through the feedback sections more prominently.” Liza poker her elbow.
“Yes, because until your work is being criticized, you won’t be able to learn. Rather the hunger of doing something better or best won’t come from inside.” Cassandra replied back while standing up.
She started dusting her pants as both were sitting on the ground without caring much. After a small walk they packed their stuffs and decided to move out of the reserve to reach back to their city.
Though Cassandra was paid by Nat Geo for the assignment but Alaric got no chill. He himself arranged her return journey followed by her full protection. The man always had a separate care for her since past six months. After all, their first encounter was also different than any normal one. Even today also if the moment flashed upon her eyes, she couldn’t stop her laugh.
Cassandra was walking down the city with her small backpack. It’s been almost two years she was studying the bachelor degree in Economics from South Ural State University. As her passion never allowed her to enclose herself inside the four walls of her apartment, her instincts would always pull her out. She was going through different alleys while capturing the moments of the city. A lone road or an old couple with their yearlong love, she had different emotions captured in digital form.
“Street photography.” It was never easy, as the people would be busy in their actions and movements. They won’t know if she was taking that moment in her count to capture. After a certain time she entered in Kirov Street. A Street that held emotions and life in every corner. She was so engrossed in taking pictures that she didn’t notice when she stepped openly on the main road. While she was fixing the aperture to keep her focus she took some back steps without noticing that her steps were leading her to the busy street.
One screech sound and her sensory nerves got too much activated to send an alert signal. Immediately she turned her face aside moving her eyes away from view finder and withdrawing her finger from the shutter button.
Seeing the danger, she closed her eyes immediately clutching her camera tightly to accept the aftermath that was about to hit her hard. Seconds had passed but no aftermath was sensed by her. She hadn’t felt the hard impact that she had expected before closing her eyes. Slowly she opened her left eye first followed by her right eye to find the black BMW stopped just inches away from her petite.
Her heaving chest found its natural rhythm to follow. A small gasped left her mouth when her eyes noticed a man coming out from the car dressed in an expensive Gucci suit. She was standing silently without moving an inch as the man’s gaze made her feet glued to the ground. The chauffeur came out too to escort him towards her.
“Lypámai pragmatiká gia tin anastátosi.” (I am really sorry for the inconvenience).
Her mouth opened to roll out those words without her own intimation.
The man’s eyebrows creased hearing her speaking in such foreign language. Before he could scold or say something she herself stated her part but in a different language.
“Are you from Greece?” The man spoke in plain English though the Russian accent was prominent in his tone.
“Yes, Sir. I am really sorry for my heedlessness. I was just taking some photographs.” She raised her Nikon digital camera to support her already stated fact.
“Did you have a plan to come up in tomorrow’s newspaper as a picture while capturing some pictures in the busy streets?” His voice was firm but the way he mocked her, made the chauffeur also laugh a bit.
Cassandra rolled her eyes without even knowing about the man who was standing in front of her. On the other hand he was irritated seeing such careless girl.
If it was not his well-trained chauffeur the girl might have admitted to hospital by then followed by her death photography. He was peacefully going through his office files sitting inside, when his chauffeur pulled the brake harshly making the car stopped with a loud screech sound. Even few passer-by were stopped due to the sound. And looking at the content creator his blood boiled like lava. The kid was so engrossed in taking pictures that she happily stepped on the busy street with her back steps without even bothering to spare a glance at the right or left.
“Stop rolling your eyes. The fault is yours kid.” He spoke harshly looking at her. No way would she be an adult. Definitely she would be some school student roaming around the city like lost teenager.
“I am sorry sir. But I am not a kid. I am a student from South Ural State University.” Cassandra gulped down her anger hearing his word kid. “Why on earth people does think me a kid?” She spoke inwardly.
“But your actions are far away from what you try to pretend.” He was on fire god knows why.
“Fine, sir. I have accepted my mistake. Would you forgive me now?” She spoke with a sullen face. Scrutinizing her from top to bottom he waved his hand and spoke.
“It’s fine. Anyhow you might be our guest who came for studies.” He understood that she was not Russian so there was a high chance of her being Greek.
“Thank you sir. By the way, I am Cassandra. Cassandra Christodoulopoulos.” She pronounced her name with her Greek accent making the man a bit confused.
“Cassandra what?” He immediately snapped his words.
“Umm well. Just call me Sandra. I am Cassandra.” She gave a warm smile. There was something in her smile that made him to return her another small smile..
“Hi, I am Alaric Zeitsov. I am....”
“Industrialist of Russia. The most famous and important businessman who is currently holding rank five in top billionaire list.” She spoke in one go making him gawk at her feature.
“Are you Wikipedia?”
“No. Actually who doesn’t know your name tell me? And I loved your office buildings. I mean those architecture, they are so mesmerizing. I would love to take some snaps someday in wide angle.” Cassandra scolded herself again mentally for blurting out such stuffs on the very first meeting. But she couldn’t control her thirst of passion.
“Seems like you are more interested in those things that can give you nice photographs. Jokes apart, so what do you? Should I drop you somewhere?”
Cassandra thought for a second. Definitely she didn’t bring her rented car so it won’t be a big fuss to accept his help. Rather she should feel lucky that a business tycoon like Alaric Zeitsov decided to help her even after her stupidity.
“Well, I am from Economics department. As I have mentioned I am enlisted under bachelor’s degree in South Ural State University. And apart from that I am a Nat Geo photographer, precisely a wild life photographer.” She walked towards him gesturing her willingness to accept his offer of dropping her near her apartment.
“So being a wild life photographer you preferred to do wild stuff on streets, like coming suddenly in front of moving car.” Alaric didn’t leave single stone unturned to taunt her.
“No, that was a mistake.” She made a foul face at that time.
“By the way, are you Cassandra the young photographer who got global recognition last year for capturing the night vision photography somewhere near..........?” He stopped in between his words in order to remember the name of the place where she took that picture.
“Savanna.” Cassandra replied back.
“Yeah. So are you that?”
“Yes. I mean do I need to show my id or anything?” She giggled while speaking but inside her mind she was feeling embarrassed. She was shocked knowing that a business tycoon like him would spare a glance on her work. Her flushed cheeks spoke the rest of her stories.
“Nope. Actually, there was less information about yourself. Rather it was hard to find out your real pictures. But why? People say rarely they have seen your pictures on different articles.”
“Why do I need to put my pictures up, when my captured pictures are more beautiful and better to conquer people’s heart?” Her words hit him hard. The kid had really got some guts in her.
“Nice thought.” He replied keeping a straight face.
The ride went normal while both engaged themselves into some nominal conversation. He asked her to show those recent photographs that she was capturing being so engrossed. The ride was something different for both of them.
Once she was about to reach her apartment Alaric offered her a sudden proposal.
“As you are already in the economics department, how about doing an internship in my company?”
She was first astonished hearing that later she was overwhelmed.
“I wish to opt but my sudden assignments from Nat Geo might create hindrance in my work. I can’t opt for long term commitment.” She spoke her genuine concerns.
“It’s fine. We can think of six month internship right now.”
He assured her with his words. And thus the assurance turned into something else with time. She didn’t join as his PA as he knew appointing someone like for the post of PA would be a disgrace. She joined his marketing team to work on business analysis part and none could deny her contribution. She was a quick learner and a nice team player. The only thought that used to eat his head was her involvement with the NGO. She started making herself vulnerable and open for those vultures who were really pissed off because of her beautifully crafted photos and real videos on the reality of their dark world.
“Hey, think tank, where have you gone?” Lizabeta’s light smack on Cassandra’s head pulled her back in reality. She was still smiling looking at the passing tress and roads through the window of the car.
“Nowhere my dear Liza.” Cassandra smiled turning her face.
“Why on earth I am getting a vibe that you are thinking about Alaric only. Damn girl, do you miss him so much?” Lizabeta’s words were too much to the point. She kept on raising her eyes until Cassandra gave in.
“Fine I was thinking about our first meeting. Now spare me my Queen.”
“By the way, I remember something from your word first meeting.” Liza drew her attention back.
“Tomorrow we would be having our first interview session with a girl for our documentary.”
“Wow. Great. So finally someone took the courage to open up. Something is wrong here Liza. For past few months a lot of girls stopped coming to share her pains to our NGO. Even if the people from your sister’s NGO move to some club with information, they are returning empty handed. Seems like those people who are involved with girls’ abduction or further process are getting alerted beforehand only.” Cassandra finally spoke another part of her concerns.
Previously they had actually found a bunch of people who were involved with the human trafficking and government got a hold of them. Since then a lot of girls were rescued. Now the situation got changed and seemed like those men got alerted. Cassandra was calculating all such things when Liza poked her again.
“Sugar Mama or Sugar Daddy, what would you choose to look forward????”
Without blinking she replied “Let’s dig up Sugar Daddy first.”