1 It Was A Small World
In the office of the Caswell Industries building.
Leo Caswell stood in front of the French window and took in the panoramic view of Washington as if he was a king surveying his domain.
He was well dressed in a navy suit, and his short brown hair was slicked back. His smooth and chiseled features were alluring, and he had a pair of large dark green eyes that felt like they could see into your very soul.
He would have stayed there for a little longer if it wasn't for hearing the new email notification from his computer. Leo left the window and sat down at his desk and opened the email from his little brother, Adam Caswell.
Name: Rena Marsh
Age: Nineteen and a half
Height: 5' 6''
Weight: 120 lbs
Education: Fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Journalism degree at Fairfax University. Currently an intern for Weekender Magazine.
Hobbies: Reading, writing, and dancing
Place of Birth: Savannah, Georgia
It seems that the little girl has grown up, Leo thought. She's only nineteen, but she is set to graduate university soon, which means that she started her university course when she was only fifteen.
She was a prodigy, Leo thought.
When he thought about everything that had gone down at the cafe yesterday, he smiled a little as his interest grew more substantial.
Leo read the rest of the report, and his initial feelings morphed into something else that he couldn't identify. It took him a while to figure out that the sinking feeling in his heart was a pity for Rena, which was a first for him.
The Marsh's family business was wood manufacturing, which wasn't a significant industry in Savannah. It was enough to keep the family in stable living conditions, but all of that changed when a massive fire destroyed their home four years ago. The Marsh's never managed to recover from it.
Leo rolled up his sleeves and took a sip of his coffee, which he discovered was now cold. He wondered why there was no history of past relationships in Rena's report. Based on her looks alone, he thought that she would have been popular in high school for sure. So, why did no one try to enter a relationship with her?
Lost in thought, Leo took out the necklace he kept in his back pocket to stare at it. There was a gentle look in his eye as the image of a little girl from his past entered his mind.
During the summertime thirteen years ago, Leo was sixteen-year-old and he rode his motorcycle down a dirt road in Savannah. Behind him was a six-year-old girl who clung to him while giggling with glee.
After she climbed off the back of his bike, the girl reached up to tie a necklace around his handlebar.
"My momma made this for me," the girl said sweetly as she stroked the large pearl pendant. "She opened up a clam and found this inside. She said that it would keep me safe, so now I'm giving it to you to keep you safe."
Leo remembered how the little girl wore a pure-white dress, with her dark-red hair in pigtails. Her cheeks were a bit chubby, and her eyes were bright. Now that Rena was fully grown, she had transitioned from being cute to being beautiful. Even when she wore a simple white blouse and purple skirt combination, it could not hinder her radiance.
The most significant difference was her attitude. She had long since learned how to fight back in the face of malice with caution in her eyes.
At this time, Rena Marsh had no idea that someone was investigating her. Her Monday morning was busy as usual with checking emails, reviewing articles, and updating the magazine's website.
The woman who sat in the desk across from her was named Tara. She had short black hair and a long, elegant neck. Though her appearance was graceful, Rena knew that she was cold and stand-offish.
Tara always carried a video camera with her when she went to various events, and in an industry where most of the reporters and camera operators were male, she stood out from the crowd. Because of this, she was recognizable to a few celebrities who appeared at multiple events.
When the other interns talked about Tara, they all complained about her amongst themselves. It was because she would ridicule them and constantly give them the cold shoulder.
Rena was the only intern who learned how to work with her peacefully and chalked it up to her ability to remain calm and not react.
Tara didn't pay much attention to the young intern in the beginning, until Ian, their editor in chief, assigned Rena to be her assistant for a project. From carrying equipment and snapping critical pictures to proofreading drafts and checking sources, Rena did it all, and her performance impressed Tara.
To be part of Weekender Magazine was a dream for many graduates, but only a handful of them are recruited every year. Even Tara herself, who was now one of the top ten journalists of this year, didn't earn a position here right after she graduated. She had to take on job after job to work her way up and build a strong portfolio to apply.
"Tara, the new intern is here. Please show her around."
Rena's thoughts were interrupted by Ian's voice, and when she looked up, she found the editor in chief with a woman at his side. Suddenly, Rena recognized that the girl with the straight brown hair and full lips of none other than the woman she met yesterday.
"This is Gina Fuller," Ian introduced. "She is the new intern. And Gina, this is Tara Armstrong, and she is our senior reporter."
"Nice to meet you, Tara," Gina said politely, with a modest smile.
If she hadn't seen Gina's shrewish behavior at the cafe yesterday, Rena knew she would have been convinced by this "nice girl act" that was on display before her.
Tara nodded stiffly in acknowledgment as Ian's phone rang.
"I'm sorry, I have to take this. Tara, I trust that you will be able to handle it," he said as he walked away.
"This is Rena, by the way. She is my other intern," Tara said as she gestured to Rena.
Rena had no choice but to stand up and plaster a smile on her face. When she finally met Gina's eyes, she saw them widen with recognition, before they narrowed slightly with thinly-veiled hatred.
"Hello," Gina said calmly as she offered her hand.
When she gave her hand, their difference in skin tone contrasted against one another greatly. Rena's porcelain complexion against Gina's tan made her look more delicate in comparison.
Suddenly, Gina tightened her grip and squeezed Rena's hand hard.
So that is how we are going to play, huh? You aren't the only one with a hand - Rena thought. After she squeezed back even harder, she suppressed a smile when Gina briefly yelled out in pain.
The sound caused everyone in the office to turn in the direction of the sound, which made Gina want to die on the spot.
Satisfied, Rena let go and excused herself to go to the washroom while Gina rubbed her hand in pain.
Although Rena was not overly strong, she knew martial arts and had concentred all of her strength into her hand, and the results were what she expected.