Tanaga’s loud laughter astounded the secretaries in his office. While Ashley woke up from her stupor with her face as red as an apple due to the stolen kiss. At first, she was uneasy to follow him but changed her mind when she saw there was no one else in the conference room.
Ashley walked out with bowed head to keep the rumormonger secretaries from seeing her blushing face. However, she met Tanaga at the door, ready to leave.
“What took you so long? I have been waiting for you,” said Tanaga with his voice a pitch higher and pulled her hand on the way out. The secretaries overheard it and gave them satisfaction. Ashley yanked her hand from his hold, but Tanaga wouldn’t let her go.
However, Tanaga cared less. For him, everything he did was normal, not knowing Ashley felt ashamed with the employees’ stares. Whereas, the secretaries’ eyes lit up when Tanaga shouted at Ashley.
“Oh, I thought she’s special, but she’s no different than us. I was only overthinking for nothing.” said one to her companion beside her with a smug face.
“Haha, you’re right. I’m not sure which nook and cranny did CEO Jones picked her up for a low price. She couldn’t come from any high-end nightclubs with the way she dressed. Even my housemaid wore better clothes than her,” replied the other secretary with her chin high.
Tanaga’s ears stood straight hearing their conversation and faced them with piercing eyes like a tiger pinning his prey and pointed at them one by one. “You! You! And You are fired!!!” And left them with their mouths agape while tugging Ashley toward his private elevator.
At that moment, Ashley was slowly adjusting to the accent of the Japanese and began to remember her Niponggo. She actually knew the language since it was one of the requirements before the agency accepted her. That’s why she slowly understood what the other people and Tanaga said when they spoke in Japanese.
The secretaries’ words sunk in like a dart pin hitting its target. She became self-conscious with the employees’ malicious stares as they passed by. She wished to remove his hold but afraid he would get angry again. So, she let him until they reached the vehicle. Then she whisked her hand away from him but, instead of loosening, Tanaga’s hold got firmer. This made her felt helpless against him and obeyed as Tanaga let her in the car first.
Inside the car, Ashley sat very far from him and Tanaga noticed it but didn’t care. The whole travel was prolonged and silent, making the driver think they were heading to the cemetery and he was driving a funeral car and not a billionaire’s luxurious Mercedes Benz.
Ashley kept her head down while Tanaga’s face was fierce and his fist clenched. His grim countenance made the lady misunderstood him. She thought he was angry at her, but in truth, his anger was directed against his employees on the way they ridiculed the woman he chose. That’s right, and this was the woman their CEO decided to marry and yet they had the guts to disrespect her. He gritted his teeth with their unfounded assumptions.
Then Tanaga wondered why the car ran very slow and glanced at the puzzled driver looking back at him in the rearview mirror. Ah, Tanaga realized his mistake. He didn’t say their destination. “Driver, to the boutique!”
Ashley heard the word boutique, and shamefully stared down at her clothes. She slumped and turned her back on him, concluding he would buy her something expensive to wear for the wedding. She wanted to ask if her guess was right and wished to refuse his offer, but after much thought, she kept her silence.
As the driver stepped on the break, Ashley peered out expecting a typical boutique shop but… her jaw dropped as her eyes laid on the clothes displayed at the glass window. “Wow!” The clothes were those only the rich and famous wore. No doubt, this was an exclusive boutique. Ordinary people like her wouldn’t dare set afoot in this type of store. She believed only a handful could afford these elegant clothes.
Then she looked down at her cheap clothes again and got embarrassed to leave the car and go in. “Do you want me to carry you? Just say so, and I’ll be obliged,” teased Tanaga. He thought of joking about making her at ease after what the employees did. Unfortunately, it was an insult in Ashley’s ears.
Ashley left the car in complete silence and straightened her clothes before stepping in the boutique. She breathed deep and stood with her spine erect, preparing herself to hear more insults inside. ‘I’m already here. Better make the best of it.’
As Tanaga strolled in, a pretty Japanese lady greeted Tanaga with her pleasant smile and model-like gait. “Tanaga, welcome!” said Kazuma, the boutique’s manager, and tried to peck his cheek but her kiss went on air. Tanaga totally ignored her and sat on a comfy couch prepared for the clients.
Kazuma was indignant with the humiliation she received but didn’t give up. Instead, she showed her alluring smile with her straight white teeth exposed and sat beside Tanaga, while Ashley remained standing. No one invited or even offered a seat. Ashley had prepared her heart for this, but her ego still hurting.
‘Bear with it, Ashley. Be brave. This will be over soon,’ said Ashley to herself while wringing her hands together.
“This is a pleasant surprise. You seldom come here, and it makes me sad. Anyway, what can I do for you?” said Kazuma, trying to entice Tanaga.
“It’s not for me. Do something for her,” Tanaga said, looking at Ashley.
Kazuma followed his eyes and saw Ashley. She gave the Filipina a swift once-over and ignored her again, yet deep within her, she hated this girl to whom Tanaga gave his attention. “What do you think I can do for her? Are you expecting me to make her look human?” she said while covering her sarcastic smile. “Oh my, I’m not a goddess who can make a miracle.”
‘What?’ Ashley’s eyes went red, her ears stood upright, and she opened her mouth ready for a rebuttal, but Tanaga was ahead of her.
“Well, if you can’t make a miracle, then I don’t need you anymore. You’re fired! Get out of my sight now!” And his eyes scanned the shop but saw no one else. “Do you still want your job? Come out here this instant and serve my wife!”
Kazuma’s eyes went round hearing Tanaga called Ashley his wife. ‘No!’ This was all surreal. How could this unassuming girl stole her man and now bore the title Mrs. Jones of which she had longed for years? “Tanaga… I’m sorry!” she pleaded while clinging on Tanaga’s arm.
Tanaga disdained anyone holding his arm, so he yanked her away, sending her prostrated at Ashley’s feet.
“Don’t ask for my forgiveness, ask her,” he yelled and then looked at Ashley. “I don’t care if you’ll forgive her or not, but don’t you ever forget, no one is allowed to look down on you. Do you understand?”
Ashley stood astounded while staring at him. “OMG!” she whispered to herself. ‘Wife?’ He couldn’t believe what Tanaga called her. Well, she couldn’t deny they were on their way to the Philippine Embassy to get married today, but it didn’t mean he had to shout and announce it to the masses…
She was utterly speechless and gazed down at this disheveled woman at her feet… It took a while before Ashley bent and extended a hand at the lying Kazuma, making the other employees gasped.
“Wow, madame is very kind. If I were her, I will kick that contemptuous woman’s face and leave a mark so she won’t act this way again,” said one of the girl employees who suffered being called ugly by Kazuma before.
“Only a kick? If I’m madame, I will hire hooligans to make her suffer. She is so assuming, thinking she was really very beautiful when everything in that body was the results of plastic surgery. Whatever!” said another girl and looked away laughing when Kazuma turned her head at them.
Kazuma’s pride was drastically stepped upon and shamed overwhelmed her being. She suddenly shoved Ashley’s hand away, saying, “I don’t need any help from trash like you.” And pulled her things and sneered at Ashley as she left.