- POV Switch -
“Tonight’s the night, my dear,” Serizawa announced. “Where we watch as Renkai topples from his throne.”
A malicious gleeful cackle erupted from between his lips and his daughter watched on, confused. Her eyes flashed over to her father in concern. The door opened and the butler herded in a hunched over figure.
“The boy is here,” he announced, shoving the person harshly into the room.
“Ah, thank you, you may leave now,” Serizawa said, waving his hands dismissively and chuckling still.
Sashen looked over at the figure and gasped in surprise. The figure looked up at her and the light from the lamp on Serizawa’s desk fell upon him.
“P-President Kei!” she exclaimed in surprise, her hand shot up to cover her mouth in her astonishment.
He looked at her unseeingly and kept silent. The butler shut the door behind him as he left, sealing the room to its secrets and schemes.
“Father, what is the meaning of this?” she questioned, turning to face her father, her eyes wide with shock.
“Your one true wish is about to come true,” he responded, grinning wickedly.
“What do you mean?” she asked, shivering at Kei’s strange behavior.
“Ask her boy, go on!” Serizawa prompted, barely able to contain the sick humor only he understood.
With blank eyes and a monotone voice, Kei turned to Sashen and asked, “Will you go out with me, be my girlfriend?”
“Ha?” she exclaimed. “W-what do you mean?”
“He means exactly what he means, my lovely daughter,” he proclaimed, walking around his desk to clap Kei upon the back. “What do you say, daughter, is that a yes or no?”
“Well, yes, but-”
“That’s final then! Prepare yourselves for the dinner party tonight, we have some pieces to knock off the board.”
“Wait! Father! I don’t understand!!” she shouted, rising from her seats to clutch at her father’s sleeves as he stepped toward the door with Kei to leave the room.
“What is there you do not understand? This boy here professed his love to you and asked you to be his girlfriend, what is it that you do not understand?” he asked, turning to face his daughter, his face covered by the shadows.
“How could this have happened? I’m thrilled that he chose me, but I don’t believe it’s truly what he wants. This isn’t love.”
“True love, my dear, does not exist. No two people can truly love each other. There will always be deceit and jealousy there to cloud the minds and corrupt those that believe in ‘true love,’” he told her, stepping backward toward the door. “Besides, as you continue to date the boy, he’ll slowly start to fall for you.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Some people start off a relationship hating each other, but they eventually adapt to each other and find that some of their faults are actually points that they can relate to each other. It’s a part of life, my precious, to find each other’s mistakes and build from it.”
“Is that what happened between you and mother?”
He didn’t say anything. Serizawa turned from his daughter and with Kei in tow, left the room.
“My lady,” the butler called to her from the doorway. “Let’s get you prepared for the evening gala.”
She nodded her head dazedly and followed the butler out of the office and into her room. As the butler took his leave, Sashen’s personal maids helped her out of her dress and into a tub of steaming hot water. Rose petals lay floating and scattered across the top of the water, adding the gentle fragrance to the water like a perfume. The maids gathered Sashen’s long hair and shampooed it with an ointment and rinsed it clean with the rose water from the basin beside the tub.
One of the maids handed Sashen a bar of scented soap and with that, she stood up and lathered it across her body as the water dripped off of her. The water drained from the tub as she soaped herself. Another one of the maids plugged the drain and began to refill the tub with fresh steaming water. As Sashen sank back into the filling tub with a sigh, two more maids came to her side and began to throw in rose petals. Sashen rubbed her skin with a small towel handed to her by the first maid, staring at the petals in the water silently as she did.
“I wonder what’s happening. Why was father laughing, he never does that. And why did President Kei suddenly ask me out like that, we’ve never even spoke to each other before,” she muttered to herself.
“Madam?” one of the maids inquired.
“None of your business,” she snapped. “It’s none of your concern, so mind your own business.”
The maid clamped her mouth shut immediately and kept silent. Once Sashen’s bath was completed, she stood up and held her hands out to the side. The maids covered her body with a towel and draped a large and fluffy bath robe over her. Stepping out of the tub, she wiped her feet upon the square of soft carpet and stepped into the living room of her suite. Sitting before the cosmetic desk and mirror, she closed her eyes and allowed for the maids to pamper her. She felt the soft tug of the brush as it swept through her wet hair. The hairdryer was turned on and blew hotly against her scalp as the maids began to dry her hair. The hot iron of the curler was used upon her hair once it was dry enough.
As her hair was being nicely fixed up, the maids split into groups: one pair knelt and began to work on her nails and another rose to a stand to apply the makeup to her face.
After a long moment, Sashen’s appearance was finally finished and she opened her eyes. Her eyes sparkled as she squealed in delight. The maids surrounding her flashed triumphant smiles at each other.
“Because I’m in a good mood, I won’t point out all the faults you made,” Sashen sniffed haughtily and held out her hands so that the maids could help her up.
They led her to the center of the room and removed the robe and towel, quickly helping Sashen step into her evening gown. The velvety red dress hugged her waist and gave a perfect outline of her curves. They tightened the corset and laced the ribbons in the back, making her waist a bit smaller. She gasped for air but insisted that her maids tighten it just a little bit more.
A maid came up to her with a pair of high heeled shoes atop a fluffed pillow. The maid knelt and placed the shoes on the ground, raising a steady hand to help Sashen as she slipped her feet into them. She stood up tall and looked into the body length mirror. She was at least three inches taller with the shoes on.
A knock came at the door and a voice called, “Are you finished yet, madam?”
Sashen took another good long look at herself in the mirror and turned her head to the door, calling to the butler outside. The door clicked open and to her surprise, before her stood Kei, all dolled up in an evening tuxedo. His maroon tie matched the color of her dress. Kei extended his arm out to her, which she took timidly, holding her breath as he led her out into the hallway.
As they walked down to the main foyer, Sashen couldn’t help but ask, “Did my father put you up to this? If you don’t like it, please tell me. I don’t want you to be forced into something you don’t want to do.”
In her mind and heart, she secretly hoped he would deny it and stay with her. She glanced sidelong at his face and waited for his response. His eyebrows arched in hesitation but after a moment, he shook his head and looked her in the eye. His dark brown, chocolaty eyes kept her captivated. She was so thrilled she nearly toppled over when her knees gave way to the excitement she felt at having Kei’s eyes fall upon her.
“Are you alright?” he asked softly, his arm circling around to clutch at her waist to steady her.
She nodded her head, smiling from ear to ear. Sashen knew she looked goofy, but she couldn’t help but be overjoyed at having Kei touch her. It was like a dream come true! Her heart was beating so fast it was starting to get hard to breath. As the two approached the foyer, Sashen’s father looked up from talking to his accountant and appraised his daughter and her escort with approval.
“We will discuss this later,” he muttered to his accountant, and turn to Sashen. “Are you ready, my dear?”
“Yes Father, I am,” she replied, smiling widely.
He smirked and turned on his heels.
“Let us depart then.”
Together, the three of them left through the large oak doors held wide open by extravagant butlers dressed in black. They all ducked into a limousine and settled down for the ride to Renkai’s.
Upon arriving at the mansion, Renkai’s men opened the doors to the limousine and stepped aside for Serizawa and Kei to step out. The one that opened the back door bent forward to give his hand to Sashen to help her out. Kei waved the man away and held his own hand out to her. She took his hand and stepped out of the car, nose held high in the air in contempt. She sniffed arrogantly and looked at the man out of the corner of her eyes.
“Don’t touch me with your filthy hands,” she snapped.
“Yes ma’am!” the man responded, cheerfully.
The festive mood of the evening party was infectious and nothing was going to ruin the night, especially for the workers. Sashen snorted in contempt and allowed herself to be led away by Kei. Climbing up the steps to the door, butlers dressed in elegant white tailcoats held bouquets of flowers and rushed hither tither to deliver them to needed flowerpots or vases. A few stopped before Sashen and offered her lilies to be pinned up in her hair. Caught by the exhilaration in the air, she allowed for a young butler to slip a flower into the side of her head. He smiled at her, bowed, and continued on to another young lady behind her.
“It looks good,” Kei complimented, smoothing a strand of hair behind her ear.
Sashen felt her cheeks burn up at his touch and looked away, her smile as big as ever. Serizawa looked at his daughter and pursed his lips in thought.
The doors opened at the sight of the incoming party and immediately, they were swept into the excitement by the crowds of people already there. By this time, there were people dancing, twirling and prancing upon the dance floor, some already red from too much booze.
The drastic change from the quiet entrance to the loud, chattering of the interior was overwhelming. Before they could step foot into the room, a maid stepped in front of them and curtsied.
“If you would follow me this way,” she motioned to a hallway to the side of her. “I will take you to Sir Renkai’s reception.”
The maid led the way down the hallway and at the end of it, she turned into a room filled with tall ceiling windows. The evening sun poured in through the windows on one side of the room and lit up the chandelier, which sent millions of yellow, orange, and red rays bouncing across the room. This room was more formal and less rowdy than the previous room. A butler came by and offered them glasses of champagne from one tray and a selection of small delicacies from another.
Serizawa took a glass for himself and sniffed it suspiciously.
“It’s authentic, sir,” the butler said, bowing and taking his leave.
As soon as he left, another came with refreshments for Sashen and Kei. They took their drinks and stood by Serizawa, observing as more prominent families stepped into the room and loitered about into collective groups. Every family seemed to have another family to talk to, except the Serizawa’s.
“Well well, glad you can make it!” a voice called out behind the trio.
Turning around, Sashen and Kei’s eyes widened in shock and they shouted simultaneously, “Principal?”
Several conversations stopped as heads turned their way.
Renkai laughed and clapped the two on the back, replying, “The very same.”
Serizawa leaned forward on his cane and drawled, “What a pleasant surprise.”
“Hardly,” Renkai replied. “If you’d please come with me, we have much to discuss, Sir Serizawa. Oh, Sashen and Kei, there’s a table right over there for you two to wait at. Go on.”
As the two men left, Sashen and Kei made their way over to the table indicated by Renkai. Looking at the table’s occupants as she got closer, Sashen stopped in her tracks.
The figure at the table looked away from her companion and returned Sashen’s stare blankly.