18 | beneath the surface

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A I D E N

When I step out of my room this morning, I'm already dressed in my office suit and ready to go to work. I find the maids still looking for Nevaeh's earring in the living room. Some others look in different areas of the house.

"Still haven't found it?" I ask, and they all give me a negative answer.

I've instructed everyone to look for it, but finding a small earring isn't an easy task.

The image of Nevaeh almost crying flashes in my mind, and I urge, "Look thoroughly. Every spot."

They nod, and Ian steps into the site.

"Where's Nevaeh?" I ask.

I haven't seen her this morning, even during breakfast time. She has never skipped her breakfast before.

"She has a morning class today, but she said that she wanted to check the pool first," Ian says.

"The pool?" I frown.

"Yes. She might have dropped the earring there, since she went swimming yesterday. She spent a long time looking for it in her bedroom this morning, but she hasn't found it," Ian says sadly.

I stride across the living room and head to the swimming pool. When I step into the area, I find Nevaeh standing near the water.

She's already dressed in her smart casual attire to go to college, her bag on her shoulder and her back facing me.

She turns around just as I walk closer to her. She's surprised to find me here, but I'm even more taken aback when I look at her.

Tears are streaming down her face. Her hand clutches her bag tightly.

"Aiden--" She chokes between her sobs.

I've never seen her so devastated, not even when she'd just been attacked by the security guard.

"What should I do?" Her voice is barely a whisper, filled with so much sadness. "I can't find it. I think I lost it in the pool."

"Are you sure about that?"

"I don't know." She shakes her head desperately.

She takes a deep breath, turns around, and drops her bag onto the ground. I quickly catch her arm before she can get closer to the pool.

"What are you doing?" I warn. "Are you thinking about jumping into the pool right now?"

She struggles, but I pull her closer to me and turn her around. I grab her shoulders firmly while she's shaking in my arms, probably due to the emotions eating her.

"You don't understand," she cries. "I have to find it no matter what. This earring can't lose its pair. It's nothing without the other."

Now that I stare at her condition, I realize even more how serious this matter is to her. There's a history about these earrings, a reason why they're so important to her parents and Nevaeh herself.

"Can't you wait?" I ask. "You can't just jump into the pool right now, in these clothes. You have a class, remember?"

She shakes her head wildly. "But what if--"

"I'll handle it. You don't have to deal with it right now. I'm not letting you jump in this condition."

"But--"

"Nevaeh," I insist, holding her shoulders even more firmly.

She freezes as I lock my eyes with hers.

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