Summary: Keely Marks is the adopted daughter of a multibillionaire businesswoman. Clever, brilliant and unmatched, at the young age of fourteen and despite her blindness, she has been assigned to manage the charity projects of her mother. Almost four years later, she meets one of her past charity cases. Is he the only guy her age who can match her stride?
Losing Sight of the Charity Case (temporarily)
Keely Marks. I've had that name ever since I was seven. I had been chosen out of millions of orphaned kids in the world to be the successor of one of the most powerful women in the world, Karen St. Johns-Marks. For a while, I was the sole heir to the St. Johns-Marks fortune. But all that changed when I reached the age of eight.
First of all, let me tell you a bit about Karen St. Johns-Marks. Karen is the daughter of a real-life duchess and Roger St. Johns, a wealthy business tycoon. Being the only daughter of two very renowned people, Karen got used to fame and money. But when she was fourteen, her father took a huge risk and they fell bankrupt. Karen spent most of her teen-age life in near poverty. But being from a proud bloodline, Karen held her head up high and worked much harder than most of her peers. Fortunately, Karen had brains on her side. She was brilliant and charismatic. She was a born leader. At the early age of twenty-five, she had already risen through the ranks and was able to get at least half of her family's money back. By the time she turned twenty-eight, she had gotten the amount her father had lost and money still kept pouring in. She was already a multibillionaire in her own right. In the same year, she married her high school sweetheart, Bartholomew Marks.
Alas, her luck ran out when she discovered that she was barren. No matter how much she tried, she could not get a child. A child was one of the things Karen wanted the most. After so many inquiries, she and her husband finally decided to adopt. It was a poor substitute for a blood child but it was a child nonetheless. At that time, Karen wanted nothing more but a child. That is where I got lucky.
Like many others, I had been left at the front porch of the orphanage. To those who worked in the orphanage, I was just like everybody else - abandoned and helpless. But as I grew older, they discovered that I had a defect with my eyesight. By the tender age of five, I was completely blind.
I had always loved color. I cried so much after I realized that I had lost the ability to see those colors. But a kind woman from the mission, a nun, told me that I should not let the loss of my eyesight be a hindrance from trying my best. Of course, I had not really taken very deep into heart what she said at the time. But the fact that she treated me just like the rest of the kids was a comfort. Within a year, I was already accustomed to my blindness. My luck changed when, while conducting charity work, Karen St. Johns-Marks entered my orphanage and met me.
The first emotion people usually feel upon seeing me for the first time was pity. Being the stubborn girl that I was, I never let those people feel pity for too long. Those who knew me often told me that they saw me as far too clever and sharp for my age. After all, I was only six years old and I could hold a conversation with an adult. It wasn't that I had vast knowledge that would keep them interested. Not at all. My ideas and the way I thought were the things that made me unique. Some have even praised me on being magnetic. From the moment I heard of Karen's arrival, my instincts told me that my life was going to change forever.
I was right.
There were other older kids in the orphanage - as old as fifteen. But as soon as they reached sixteen years of age, they could start working. Of course, the orphanage makes sure that the workplace and employers are fit for the child. The older kids also knew about the possibilities that came with Karen St. John-Marks' arrival. They all ran to her like eager little children as if she were Santa Claus with their early Christmas present. I, however, stayed back and decided to listen intently.
As soon as she presented the other orphans with presents, they ran off to play with them. I, on the other hand, stuck around, listening carefully to the adults. I wanted to impress her and the only way I could have done that was by knowing more about her. But before I could execute my plan, she had already noticed me standing by the doorway leading to the welcoming room. I had been pulled out of my thoughts when I heard Karen's voice coming from right in front of me.
"And who is this?" she asked in a friendly voice. I could almost hear her smile. "She's adorable. What's your name?"
"Keely," I answered politely in a loud, clear voice. I should be confident.
"What a lovely name," said Karen. "How old are you, Keely?"
"Seven years old, Mrs. St. Johns-Marks," I replied just as politely and clearly.
"You don't look like seven," remarked Karen but not in an unkind manner. "You seem younger. I hope you're not offended, I mean upset, at what I said." She sounded sincere in caring about how I felt. I smiled.
"I'm not offended at all, Mrs. St. Johns-Marks," I answered confidently. "Looking younger isn't so bad. Besides, looking younger than my age in the future is considered a blessing, yes?"
There was stunned silence. I then heard Karen laugh delightedly.
"My, she's such a bright child!" Karen exclaimed, obviously impressed. "Even brighter than I at that age!"
"Yes she is," Mrs. Jenkins, one of the orphanage ladies, said, pride in her voice. "Keely is an admirable child despite her blindness."
Karen was even more impressed when she heard of my disability. During her whole stay, her attention had been focused on me. I was proud of my achievement.
Sure enough, a couple of days later, Karen returned with Bartholomew Marks, her husband. He, too, had been impressed by me. The inevitable happened. Less than a month later, I was known as Keely St. Johns-Marks, the luckiest orphan in the world.
Both Karen and Bartholomew lavished me with gifts. For one whole year, their lives revolved around me. But on my eighth birthday, along with almost a hundred gifts came the announcement that I was going to get a brother. Karen St. Johns-Marks had finally fallen pregnant.
Karen and Bartholomew were kind enough not to just cast me away. But I got to see a lot less of them. Still, I was thankful. They sent me to the most expensive schools possible and gave me high-class tutors. Their work was not wasted. My grades were perfect. I was always at the top of my classes. I never let my blindness stop me. Unfortunately for Karen and Bartholomew, their child, Edward St. Johns-Marks was not as brilliant as I but he had an excellent memory. That gift was enough for his parents.
Tragedy then struck when I reached my twelfth year. Bartholomew Marks died in a plane crash. It was a private plane and only he had died. Karen had been devastated. I, who never cried since I realized I lost the ability to see color, cried for him. He was kind. Edward had been too young to be really upset. He only thought that daddy was on a long business trip.
It took Karen almost two years to get over her grief. She had really loved Bart. At the age of thirty-four, she was already a widow. But she finally snapped out of it and came back much stronger. She was convinced to work harder to make sure that everything Bart worked hard for flourished.
Then one day, just a few days after I turned fourteen, Karen had called me over to her office.
"You called for me, Mother?" I inquired politely as usual. I never got around to calling her 'Mom'.
I knew Karen was smiling. "I have taken a look at your school marks and despite being advanced forward two grades, you still rank as top of your class - by a far point. I am very proud of you."
I gave her a small smile. "Everything is for you as a token of my gratitude."
To my surprise, I felt sadness radiate from her. "Oh, Keely. You are too good to be true." I was puzzled.
"This is wrong?" I questioned. In my mind's eye, I could see Karen shake her head.
"It is not wrong, Keely," she answered. "But not right too. You are a teen-age girl. Yet, you act like a businesswoman in her mid-thirties. Even I knew how to have fun at your age."
I was getting more confused. "I don't understand."
I heard the slight roll against a carpet. A few moments later, Karen was standing in front of me. She placed a hand on my cheek and slowly caressed it. I waited patiently.
"You're so pretty, my love," she told me gently. "Clever, brilliant and unmatched. But you are also unreachable... untouchable. Don't close yourself from the rest of the world. You're supposed to be young and feel wonderful."
Despite my superior IQ, I still could not understand what she wanted to say. Maybe I should add psychology to my list of courses I want to take just so I could understand my foster mother.
"But we'll talk about this another time, my dear," said Karen and I was thankful. "Listen carefully. Bart and I were partners. We did our work together so running a business as big as ours is not as stressful and exhausting compared to someone who does it alone. But now that he's..." She drifted off but I waited, not rushing her. "Well. What I'm trying to say is that it is harder for me now. I am getting less and less time for our charity department." She stopped again but I already knew what was coming.
Taking my shoulders gently yet firmly, she said, "I want you, Keely, to run the charity department for me."
I took on the job on the spot. Karen herself trained me for three months and after that time, I became the Head of the St. Johns-Marks Charities.
Now, almost four years later, I was known all throughout the business world as the most powerful teen-age girl alive. I could built futures with a snap of my fingers. I could give charity organizations millions of dollars if they desperately needed it. I was always described with three words: clever, brilliant and unmatched. AND they were accurate. Well, at least it would've remained accurate...
...If only the fruit of my own work, my very first charity case, had never been in the right place at the right time just as I had been.
I had found my match in Sasha Marks.
A/N: Prologue! I think this prologue is better than my other ones. I just hope that people review this. One reviewer of mine had suggested that I should put a complete summary inside the story. I still haven't decided if this story is going to be in first person or third.
Tell me what you people think! Keely is going to be different from my other lead characters, if I do say so myself.
Yram Hael Neeltah