The Qilin gang whom they rely on to oppress several political rivals suddenly turned its back. With this, the Police and Crime Commissioner began his full rectification of those small groups and illegal businesses all over the city. Sena thinks it will only be a matter of time before they are beaten.
Sophie once invited her to join in the fun but fortunately, she knew firsthand it was a trap so she did not come. Asha and Zhang Min who unknowingly joined such a club got unlucky on the next race and were taken along. The youths who were captured squatted in the precinct overnight. Worse, the media came spreading their faces all over the headlines the day after. Perhaps Sophie did not expect that it would blow up out of proportion.
It was a pity Sophie was slick enough to avoid the catastrophe that night.
It was bad news for the mayor's son though.
Unfortunately for Asha and Zhang Min who was still trying to regain their internet fame suffered a severe backlash. All the dirty things they did behind were dredged up including the fake social media persona they created. As everyone knows, Zhang Min was slowly gaining fame by posting her luxurious lifestyle which was a growing trend nowadays but when her followers found out that her family were not rich, all the fairy tales she made burst into a bubble of confusion.
Now that they are in a quagmire, seeing Sena go on with her life without trouble made the trio feel acidic.
When they were still friends, Sena was aware that most of the things Zhang Min, Asha and their friends boasted online were either borrowed or rented. Some were due to her credits. It was also the main reason why they befriended her so they could have easy access to many places such as high-end restaurants, bars and extravagant shopping. Although Asha and Zhang Min’s father works at the Tang Group, their living isn’t enough to afford these kinds of luxurious lifestyles. Since she withdrew from their plastic friendship, their content thinned a lot.
She hasn't heard of Sophie recently but she knew that the cunning witch is very careful and she wouldn’t risk dipping into Zhang Min and Asha’s problem no matter how close they were.
“I’m glad that you finally realized those three were nothing good.” Linda patted her back. When she was to grab a chicken leg she saw both were gone. “Where are my legs?”
Sena pointed her stomach cheekily.
“Oh my young miss, you are at the critical age of beauty, can you treat your figure better?”
“Pig.” Linda squinted, pulling the plate away.
The two ladies were idly talking about the topic and soon the poor chicken did not even get to hear the end of their conversation. When Leo came down from the stairs he only saw a plate of bones.
“Hello President Tang, I came to disturb your peaceful holiday.” Sena greeted with a wave of her oily hand.
“Disturb all you want princess, your big sister is about to go mad from facing me all day. I’m afraid I might get bitten soon.”
“See?” Leo winked.
“Why? She wasn’t allowed to eat chocolates again?” Sena looked at the two of them, then her eyes went beyond the formal dining area towards the kitchen unknowingly. It seems that she was right.
Aside from this roasted chicken, Linda has a special fondness for sweets, but Leo is limiting her intake because she was prone to a sore throat. She guessed that big brother might have confiscated the ones in the fridges including her illegal stash hidden somewhere in this house. No wonder Linda was irritable.
Guess someone is going to become vegetarian and sleep on the floor for a month. Poor Leo.
“By the way kid, didn’t you say you wanted to raise a dog some time ago?”
Sena nodded her head. She instantly imagines a cute and playful beagle or a lovely little spaniel.
“A friend of mine recently had a litter in their farm. I asked him if he could give us one because our baby sister is lonely…” Leonard said with a mysterious light flickering in his eyes.
Linda looked puzzled. What is he on about?
“Yes, yes please, what kind of puppy?” Sena clapped excitedly.
Her smile faltered a little. “O-Oh, it’s a big doggie.”
“It’s fine, they are still fluffy. Very nice docile and friendly. Helpful too.” Leo smiled from ear to ear.
“Okay…” Sena agreed.
They can help their baby sister in case of emergencies like fire. St. Bernards are also good watchdogs that can guard against thieves and suspicious people like Nicholas Aiguille.
Linda finally caught the meaning of her stupid husband and felt he was being a big obstacle to the girl’s great romantic adventure. “Leonard Tang…” she called softly, making the hairs on Leo’s back stand.
“You take your pillow and blanket to the study room tonight.”
Ah, he made the dragon angry.
After laughing over the couple’s cold war, Sena drove back home humming a tune. She must seize this holiday to have a long nap but hell wasn't being nice and is not going to let her rest.
Apple called telling her to run into the gym to meet him and finish a set of exercises. The reason was that Linda tattled on her eating most of the roasted chicken! Her heart instantly turned into ash.
“Why do I have to train so hard? You’re here to protect me.” She snorted facing the full-length mirror.
Apple in his grey gym clothes looked very handsome and filled with male pheromones that women who came in to exercise cast several admiring glances on him. Sena playfully poked his biceps and winked at him.
He slapped her dirty paws off, “Darling, don’t be deceived by these muscles they cannot protect you. These are for decorations!”
Sena: “I feel so unloved.”
Apple: “Unloved people don't even have chicken to eat.”
Poor Sena had no choice but to drag her reluctant self towards her professional trainer who was also ogling Apple. She was half dead when the two-hour session ended.
April returned at five o’clock in the afternoon after spending her rest day outside to meet with a relative who was also working in Capital City.
“I’m back boss!” The girl greeted.
Sena noticed she looked wrong and her eyes lacked energy. She knitted her eyebrows.
April stiffened. “Just a little misunderstanding with friends...”
A few minutes later, Sena found out the whole story despite April’s evasiveness.
“Your cousin told your friends that you are being kept and they think it was true because of the sudden rise in your pay?”
Once a month, their people usually gather around in Bay Garden to meet up, eat good food and hang out. It seems April got a nasty experience because of a relative. Everyone back in their hometown thinks she is working abroad and doing a shameless sideline, her old parents do not believe this of course knowing their child very well but the neighbours are gossiping.
Their family was the poorest in their hometown, April being able to fly abroad despite her low education has made others bitter and jealous. Seeing that their life is getting better and better, her cousin’s family who invested so much in their daughter could not bear to watch it.
Sena sighed angrily.
“You’re stupid, why didn’t you tell me you had this problem earlier?!”
April shrunk her neck. Although she is four years older than Sena, she dare not retort. She had been trained by Apple vigorously but deep within her she was still that dark-skinned bumpkin who came to this country for employment and was fortunate enough to find a good employer.
The reason she did not tell her parents about her new employer was that she was afraid the boss would mind having her information leaked even to her family.
“When your parents call later, let me talk to them,” Sena said simply.
April’s eyes almost jumped out. “B-Boss, don't!”
What's with this big reaction? She doesn't eat people!
Sena pretended to be deaf. “We are eight hours ahead, perhaps they will call this evening. Your aunt’s birthday is in the afternoon right?”
Dare to touch people under her? Humph! She is fuming now.
That vicious cousin said they need to make a phone call later to make sure April is doing alright. April may not know it but she does. It was a disguised act of revealing her real job to everyone back home. April’s reluctance to admit it thoroughly convinced them that she was prostituting herself to some rich and ugly bastard. They wanted to let her parents see it.
Country P, Banig Village
The cemented two-storey traditional house is halfway finished but the overall look can already be seen and appreciated. Surrounding it are tall fruit trees, some bromeliads, ferns and birds of paradise grew on the side of the path walk and behind is four-acre wide farmland now lush in green. The trickle of water from the stream gave the quiet environment another touch of freshness.
Connected by a bamboo bridge on the other side of the stream is a yellow bungalow with a red roof. Chairs and tables were set up covered with pink cloths waiting for the celebration to begin. The pink and white balloons hung on the fence and trees were being poked by some naughty children. Adults would constantly chase them away to not destroy the overall look.
Sitting in one of the brightly coloured tables is a middle-aged couple with a kind smile then a fat woman with short permed hair in red clothes came to them.
“Sister and brother-in-law, thank you for coming to my birthday.” She said, her smile getting deeper. “My daughter Jean just called and wanted to say hello to you too. She said she will connect the call to April later so we can have a group chat.”
People are born and grew up in this village, most of the residents are family, that is why they can talk familiarly with one another. However, despite being connected by blood some conflicts still occur inevitably as personal interest and disagreements get mixed in.
April’s papa is a typical simple man. He works hard to raise his family and has no great ambition except for his child to live a happy and fulfilling life after they retire. He responded to his sister-in-law with a nod and smile, “Thank you, thank you. April had been busy with work lately and had little time to call, I’m glad she remembered your birthday.”
“Your house is almost finished, April also sent in a lot of boxes the other day.” The woman said sourly. Her daughter only sent boxes twice a year, but April sends in things every month which made her feel jealous. “I say brother-in-law, you are very lucky.”
Unaware of some people laughing, the couple waited for the woman to get the tablet. April’s mama was taken aback, she thought they would be using a phone. That is where their baby daughter always calls. So this thing can be used like this as well? It looks bigger and much more convenient.
Their niece Jean was already on the line waving her hand to them and to the guests. She was still in Bay Garden with the others enjoying a picnic. While doing so she was also pretending to talk to her colleagues.
“It’s too bad that April came home early. We could have gone to the mall nearby.” Jean said.
April’s aunt asked, “I thought she was with you.”
“No, she said she needs to go home.” Meaning her employer might be very strict.
“Isn’t it too early? Your employers usually allow you to go out until ten right?” Her mother whined.
“Um, it’s only seven o’clock in the evening here.”
April’s papa sighed. Their child works too hard.
“Uncle,” Jean smiled sweetly. “Do you know what April's work is now? She said she left the mountain spa for nearly half a year already…”
If she left work, where could she get the money she sent to build their old house and buy good things for her parents? There must be something shady!
April’s mama smiled back, “She is working in the office now.”
Office? Nobody believes it. Someone snorted, then another laughed. How can a high school graduate work in the office? Are they dreaming?
Jean pretended to understand. “Anyway, she’s back at her place. Let’s call her now?”
This is a great chance to see what kind of life she is living. Jean thought maliciously and began dialling.
Some people watching the show felt sorry for the old couple. Even if their daughter is doing something inappropriate abroad, this is still not a good way to tell them. This mother and daughter pair are heartless to do this to their relatives.
“Maybe April is busy, let’s not bother her.” An aunt who owns a little grocery store outside said then glared at Jean’s fat mother.
Everyone in the village has heard of the ugly gossip, only the couple has no idea about it.
“Uncle, maybe auntie was right. April might be busy.” April’s elementary classmate who is now a mother said. She came here to enjoy a birthday not to watch the old couple get heartbroken.
Some said not to call as well because they cannot bear to hurt April’s parents. They are genuinely kind people.
“Ah, come on. What are you afraid of?” Jean’s lazy and drunkard brother smirked. “It’s just a video call.”
Finally, the call connected and April’s hasty voice sounded. “I’m sorry, the phone was silent.”
The video turned for a few dizzying angles then focused on April’s healthy face. But people were not looking at her but in the background.
Where is this? It’s so huge! The ceiling is too high and the windows are massive.
Jean frowned. It looks like April’s sugar daddy is super-rich.
“Hello?” April’s voice echoed. “Papa! Mama! How are you?”
The couple told her they were fine, checked the health of their daughter and chattered about her aunt’s birthday.
“Oh, by the way. Didn't my cousin say she’s working in the office?” Jean interrupted. “Who’s house is this?”
April paused for a moment and looked elsewhere, “W-Well I do work in the office. This is my boss’s house.”
“How is that possible?”
They can see her hesitate. Jean continued to press. April sighed and stood up.
“Wait, a minute.”
She walked slowly from the main living room to the corridor with an indoor fountain, then a corridor leading to the library turned right and pushed a wooden pivot door of the study room.
The front camera was switched on the back showing a young woman sitting behind an antique wooden table. She wore a white chiffon blouse and an A-line floral skirt but that’s just her clothes. The demeanour of the person looking at them through the camera made several people feel breathless.
Soft black hair, a creamy pinkish complexion, plump lips, deep eyes and long eyelashes, above the perfectly trimmed nose.
Is this the boss? She looks like a living doll!
Where is the ugly old man Jean told them before?
“This is my new boss, Miss Sena Erde. She owns this house and I now work as her assistant.” April introduced then switched the camera back to her. “As you can see I cannot easily disclose her identity.”
Her mother and father were surprised. Jean and her mother were shocked.
April held the phone in her sweaty hand but Sena gestured for her to put it on her table leaning beside a gem-encrusted egg. It frightened her to death. This egg is worth more than her entire life’s salary, how can this become a hapless phone stand?
“Hello everyone, I am April’s new boss.” Sena greeted taking a good look at people’s faces on the screen. But she mainly looked at April’s parents more. “Uncle, my name is Sena.”
“H-Hello madam.” April’s papa was instantly tensed.
“Sena is fine, after all, you are my elder.” To put him at ease, she softened her tone.
April felt flustered for her friendliness to her parents.
Sena leaned back, put her hands on top of the desk with ten exquisite fingers interlaced. The boss lady is taking this conversation seriously. April swallowed.
“Some time ago, I was having trouble with my work. It so happened that I met April at the spa and hired her. Don’t worry, I have arranged all her papers accordingly and will not meet any trouble here. She wasn’t able to contact you before because of her busy schedule. I apologize for worrying you.”
“Oh, no, no problem.” April’s mama waved her hand. “April said that her Miss is very nice and told us not to worry so we put our hearts to rest.”
“This girl has always been easy to read. She will have a long face all day facing us if she is having difficulties. But since she said everything is alright, we know she is speaking the truth.”
Sena smiled. This couple is really like the ones she met before. Although April does not explicitly say her problems, they can still notice them.
April often called home before she was killed in her last life, her parents always convinced her to return since she is no longer happy working abroad but because she did not want to implicate them, she made different kinds of excuses. At that time, her cousin had happily spread the rumour about her being kept by a man making her family the laughingstock and object of ridicule in their hometown. The couple found out and could not take the blow, their health began to deteriorate.
April wasn’t able to take care of her parents because of the trouble with the mayor’s son and Sena also lost any news about them.
“I hired her as my secretary--”
There was a fat and stingy looking woman who suddenly popped up, “Hello, hello Miss. I am April’s aunt. I heard you hired April in the office? Is this true?”
Sena did not speak, she sat there silently looking at the person than at her daughter. She must say, even if Jean’s looks are a few points less than April, her white complexion made up for it. It’s obvious that she had grown more pampered than the latter. What she did not have were April’s body ratio and natural softness.
“I hired her, yes. Why?”
Jean noticed that April’s boss didn’t smile when facing her mother.
“April has been good at chores ever since young and she’s very diligent. Works fast too. Unfortunately, she did not graduate high school. I can see that your house is big, April is good at cleaning and she can help you around… you see my daughter is a graduate in accounting...”
She began to list her daughter's good points including the awards she received in kindergarten but Sena did not change face. April felt embarrassed by her aunt’s audacity. What if the boss got offended and fired her? Jean on the other hand was bleeding with jealousy, she wanted a job like this so bad but her mother’s chattering was irritating!
How could April be so lucky?!
“I think you got the wrong impression.” Sena’s clear feminine voice cut in stopping the women’s chatter.
Finally, a sudden stillness.
“I have people doing the housework as for others, my executive assistant and a professional team are already handling most of the workload.”
Sena reached for black marble and rolled in her palm lazily. Her gaze went to Jean and stayed on her for a few seconds. “I hired April intending to train her as another secretary, not a housekeeper.”
“I have no plans of adding anyone else. April is enough.” Sena looked at April’s parents and said her goodbyes politely. “Please excuse me, I still have a job to do.”
Jean felt her cheeks burn. Everyone in their hometown heard the rejection! Not only that, when April’s boss looked at her a while ago she felt frightened all of a sudden. Far from the warm smile, she put on when talking to her uncle, her gaze to her was sharp. As if it could cut her to pieces.
The birthday party went on but not as lively as it should be. After having a meal, the couple went home in a good mood and began sorting the packages their daughter sent. No wonder April said she is much better now, it turns out that her little boss is such a nice person.
As for the gossip, it eventually died down, not disturbing their quiet and leisurely life.
Back in the apartment, April massaged her little boss’s shoulders happily. “Boss, my little missy, you were very cool back there!”
“Is that the cousin who always snatches your things?”
April paused, “How did you know?” She hasn't told her anything about Jean before. This is also the first time she opened up about her family.
Oops! Realizing her mistake, Sena corrected herself. “Taken from experience based on the way she treated you. I have one myself.”
“So that’s the reason.”
Sena was relieved.
“That’s her, she often makes trouble. I’m not sure of the reason though.”
“Probably because boys like you more and she looks like a shrimp,” Sena murmured.