4 In the Middle of the Ocean

SIMONNE AINSLEY

"Monmon, do you believe in mermaids?" Mother asked with her gentle voice after closing the book she just finished reading. It's my favorite storybook about a mermaid who gave up her voice to have legs so she could meet with the prince. Before I go to sleep, mom always read it to me.

I nodded my head in an aggressive manner while smiling widely. "Yes, mama! Mermaids are real! They're pretty and can swim around the ocean really fast and they also have a beautiful voice!"

"I know, I know," she chuckled, patting my head softly. "Then, do you believe in mermen?"

This time, I looked at my mother in confusion. "Mermen? What's that mama?"

"Mermen, you see, are the boy version of mermaids. They're boys with tails and they can swim really fast, even faster than mermaids."

My brows arched in confusion. I shifted my body and faced my mother with a quizzical look on my face. "But I read that they don't have tails! They only have gills and duck feet and blue-ish skin," I said, matching my gestures with what I'm talking about.

Mother let out an airy chuckle as she stroked my hair. "No, Monmon, they have tails too and a beautiful tanned skin."

"Have you seen one, mama?"

"I had once. He was pretty but he disappeared into the waves before I could say hi to him," she said as she stared out of the painting inside my room. It was a painting of sunlight in the ocean that my mother gave me on my 5th birthday.

I wonder what my mother saw in the ocean. It must've been a trick of the light or she must've been hallucinating. Either way, I didn't believe what she said that night. As I've grown older, I didn't believe in such beings anymore. They're only a product of our imagination, they can't be real.

Why am I remembering that night now? How random.

I shrugged the thought off my mind as I reached the ground floor where the CEO's office is situated. I hurried over to his office, not minding the stares I got. They must think about how disgraceful I look running in a dress with my heels on my hands. But it didn't matter to me. I don't want to lose my job.

Taking a deep breath, I knocked on the mahogany door twice. "Sir Hisashi? The directors are waiting for you."

I stood for 2 whole minutes waiting for his response but I heard no noise inside his office, so I knocked and called him once more. "Sir? Mr. Hisashi?"

'What the hell?! Why is he making my life miserable?'

This is my last chance. I have no other choice. I can't make the directors wait any longer.

I took a deep breath as I held the doorknob, turning it slowly. "Sir? Are you here?"

The sound of waves splashing and the familiar scent of the sea greeted me before I could pop my head in and look inside. I quickly opened the door, curious about what it might be. But instead of getting answers to my questions, I was met with the sharp gaze of my boss.

"I told you not to get inside at this hour," he said, voice filled with authority. "You never listen, Miss Ainsley."

I gulped the lump forming in my throat, pinching my thigh to calm down my nerves. "The meeting is about to start, s-sir."

'Shit, I stuttered!'

"That so? Tell those geezers I'll be there in a minute," he said before turning his back against me. "Leave."

What the hell is that kind of attitude? Ungrateful bastard. "Yes, sir."

I closed his office and went back to the meeting room.

Why was that bastard wet though? He had a towel wrapped on his arm and his hair is dripping wet. Was that my imagination or another trick of the light? I wasn't sure. I was too busy getting intimidated, scared, and angry at him that I didn't care about anything else.

But I am sure of the scent that I smelled in there, the salty smell of the ocean.

-

ADIEL HISASHI

I plopped down to my couch, sighing in relief as Simonne Ainsley finally left the room. I was so close to getting caught, good thing I made it back in time.

"You should be careful, Adi. What took you so long anyway?" Finley, a black widow tetra, inquired.

I continued to dry off my arm to completely erase the scales off my skin. "Something happened in Azuran. Accidents like last time kept on happening these days so it's hard to get back on time."

Finley narrowed his gaze to the artificial coral reef inside his aquarium. His expression turned grim upon hearing the news. "I see. They're more active nowadays. Did you find out their motive?"

"Unfortunately, no," I frowned, clenching my towel in anger.

"Calm down, Adi. You can't think and act using your emotions. It'll affect the waves."

I wiped the tears that had escaped from my eyes due to frustration. "You're right, Finley. Thank you," I muttered, smiling at my friend who gave me a nod.

Just like what he said, I could hear the waves crashing harshly from a distance. I have the ability to control the waves with my emotions just like my mother. That had been my problem ever since. Mother was fairly good at controlling her emotions, while I am bad at it. Although, being at the surface and interacting with humans allowed me to have better control.

But still, whenever I'm alone, my emotions flow easily like water and I can't control them.

"Mermen has it tough," I sighed. "I wish I could just be a fish like you, Finley."

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"Trust me, mate. You'll hate it inside the tank."

I stood up from the couch and dressed up after finally drying myself. The scales aren't visible anymore and I'm back to having fair skin. I slapped my cheeks lightly multiple times before I left the room, maintaining a stoic expression.

'Ah, should I apologize to Miss Ainsley for being so rude?' I thought to myself, feeling guilty about what happened awhile ago. Since yesterday, I've been mean to her and I could see the displeasure in her eyes. But I really needed a secretary so I accepted her, not minding the glares he gave me.

Mother will be so mad if she'll know about this. She hates it when I'm being mean to my employees and always reprimands me to be kind and gentle to them. But what can I do? I have to live up to the rumors, and rule by fear or they'll mock me if they'll see my true colors.

'What should I do? The board of directors must be angry at me right now and Miss Ainsley is there. She'll surely be cursed by them."

I can't stop myself from overthinking as I walked briskly to the conference room. 'Nah, I should maintain my facade,' I thought, shaking my head.

I could hear the inaudible, loud arguing voices from a distance. For sure, Miss Ainsley must be having a hard time. Those directors aren't that patient. As soon as I reached the conference room, I slammed the door open and the room fell silent. I head to my chair and plopped down.

'They're all looking at me! This is embarrassing.'

"Start," I motioned my secretary to begin the report. She gave me a nod and the lights went off and the curtains went down.

"Good afternoon, I am Simonne Ainsley, the new secretary of CEO Adiel Hisashi."

I leaned my back against the backrest of my swivel chair as I watched Miss Ainsley carefully along with the directors' facial expressions. 'I must apologize to her later,' I thought once more.