“Good morning, sunshine,” Eva called as I entered the room. “How was the wedding?”
I answered with a halfhearted grumble, sitting myself down on the couch with an undignified flop. I closed my eyes with a quiet groan; the white walls of the facility were aggravating my already aching head.
“It went until three in the morning,” I mumbled. “I’m exhausted.”
“Well, at least Luke and Carina had fun, right?” Eva replied. “I really wish I could have been there, though.”
“You really didn’t miss much.” I attempted to stifle a yawn, but with no success. “The only notable thing that happened was that my aunt Victoria made a fool out of herself. Again.”
“Mhm,” Eva said, sounding farther away. “Well, what about your sisters? Did you have fun with them, at least?”
“Sure,” I mumbled. “That’s a word for it.”
Eva said something in a sympathetic tone, too quiet for me to make out the words. It was silent for a few moments before I heard footsteps approach me, then feeling something something warm nudging my hands.
I opened my eyes. It was a mug, full to the brim with coffee. “Thank you.” I said, shooting Eva a grateful smile.
“You need it, Cassia,” Eva said. “You look awful.”
“I feel awful,” I replied, raising the mug to my lips. The coffee was bit stronger than I would have liked, but I probably needed the extra jolt.
“You should have stayed home,” Eva said.
I shook my head. “I can’t. I barely managed to get yesterday off. There’s no way I could have gotten anything more.”
Eva sighed. “I know. I wish the work we had wasn’t so demanding.”
I shrugged. “It’s important.”
“I know, but our research isn’t all that useful if we’re all dying from exhaustion.” Eva stood up. “I’m going to set up the equipment. You stay here and finish that drink. You’ll need the energy.”
Normally, I would have argued, but I was too tired to do anything else but sit and nod. Still, I didn’t intend on dawdling too long- Dr. Conway was going to kill me if she saw me loafing around. She had little tolerance for laziness, and I had no desire to risk my job over one bad morning.
After placing the mug in the sink, I headed over to lab 3A- the lab I shared with Eva. As promised, the lab equipment was already set up. After giving her my thanks, I sat myself down in my chair to turn on my computer, wincing as the screen flashed to life.
It was that I noticed the small pot of ivy sitting to my left. I glanced backwards, but Eva was staring at her screen, reading an email. Still, it was undoubtedly her handiwork- she was always trying to decorate my work space, as she felt it was far too sterile and impersonal. There were no pictures, quotes, or anything to suggest that anyone occupied my desk, and it drove her nuts.
Unfortunately for her, sterile and impersonal was just how I liked it.
Eva’s space, in contrast, was far more cheery than mine. While she wasn’t a photographer herself, Eva had numerous photos scattered around her desk, mostly pictures of flowers and various plants. Her favorites were displayed on the wall above her computer, but she had a good dozen or so pictures in the drawers of her desk.
I didn’t immediately remove the pot- it was easy enough to ignore for the moment. Besides, it was a tiny little thing, and I did like plants- it reminded me of the outdoors.
Not for the first time, I was quietly wishing that I hadn’t been reassigned to a different department. Initially, my work was mostly conducted outside of the walls of the Conway Research facility, focused on botany and the medicinal properties of various plants. It was where I had met Eva, and the two of us had quickly become friends. It was fitting- becoming close with people because of plants seemed to be something of a family tradition.
Unfortunately, our enthusiasm for our work had apparently backfired. The two of us had been transferred to a new department a few months ago, with our own lab to boot. It was an enviable position to be in- we were paid well and we were mostly left to our devices. Unfortunately, it also meant that I spent every single workday confined to the indoors. I had actually requested to be transferred back to botany a few days after my transfer, but that request had been firmly denied by Dr. Conway, who said that my talents would be wasted in my former department.
Your work is incredibly important, Cassia, she had said. I need the best and brightest of my employees in the labs, and that includes you.
I had never been called anything like that before. The title of “the best and brightest” either went to Ella or William.
She was right, as always. The research that the Conway Research Facility was doing was incredibly important.
The facility was fairly new- it had been established three years ago, during my second year of college, while I was interning at the Laandgrab Industries Science Facility. With my curiosity prompted, I began looking into employment opportunities at Conway, as it became more and more apparent that the Laandgrab facility had no interest in me outside of the free labor I could provide. The response I received was receptive, and by the time I had graduated, I had a job lined up for me at Conway Labs.
While I did miss being outside, the work I did at Conway was more than satisfactory. The facility specialized in medicine and treatments for various illnesses. However, most of our work was poured into cancer prevention and treatment methods. Despite the facility’s short existence, Conway had already introduced multiple medical breakthroughs to the world. I was eager to join them in their success- Eva and I had already formulated several theories that would hopefully aid in the facility’s quest to end cancer.
While I cared deeply about my work and the facility, my drive to succeed was not driven by desire to be successful, like my younger brother. While my family was in relatively good health, I knew far too many people that had been impacted by cancer. If I could do anything to ease the suffering of both cancer patients and their loved ones, I had to do it.
I wasn’t as smart as Ella or William, but I had a chance to do some real good in the world. Something wonderful.
“How are we doing, ladies?”
Dr. Melinda Conway. CEO of Conway Labs. The reason I had decided to major in biomedical science and probably the best boss in existence.
Of course, I was undoubtedly biased, as the scientists at Landgraab had never took much notice of me. Still, I was absolutely certain that Dr. Conway was unique. She took special care to pay close, specific attention to each of her employees and was more than helpful when it came to assisting with research. She was truly dedicated to helping us succeed.
Of course, she was undoubtedly strict. She had to be- there was a lot at stake. Conway Labs was making enormous strides in cancer research, and she couldn’t afford to slow down in the slightest. People’s lives depended on the research conducted at Conway.
“Morning ma’am!” Eva chirped. “I’m looking over Dr. Sterling’s work right now. He asked me to-”
“Toss it out,” Dr. Conway said. Eva immediately complied, deleting the email without question. “I reviewed his work myself this morning. He made several errors when interpreting the DNA.”
“Is his work salvageable?” I asked.
Dr. Conway shook her head. “I’m afraid not. His entire hypothesis depended on his skewed interpretation. His work is completely useless.”
“He spent months of work on this,” Eva said, incredulous. “Is it really all ruined?”
“Unfortunately.” Dr. Conway sighed. “I wish he had let me review his work sooner. It would have saved a lot of time.”
“No kidding.” The thought of wasting that much time on a flawed experiment made me feel physically nauseous.
Dr. Conway smiled. “Well, what’s done is done, I suppose. There’s nothing any of us can do about it.” She glanced up at the clock. “Well, I’ll leave you girls to it. You know where to find me if you need anything.”
“Yes ma’am,” I replied. “Thank you.”
“No need to thank me, Miss Fairwood. Just keep up the fine work.”
I smiled, pride bubbling in my chest. But, as Dr. Conway left the room, the feeling fizzed out, replaced by a quiet feeling of dread.
“Don’t worry, Cas,” Eva said. “We’ve checked over everything a dozen times. Tomorrow is going to go just fine.”
“I hope so,” I murmured. “But, if we missed something-”
“We didn’t,” Eva said firmly. “And, if we did, so what? We’re not anyone important. If we screwed up, nothing’s going to change.”
“I know,” I murmured. “It’s just…”
I let the words trail off, but I had a feeling that Eva knew what I left unspoken.
I don’t want to let her down.
My mother pulled me into a hug the second she saw me.
“Hey mom,” I said, a wide grin on my face. My mother had a way of making people feel better with her mere presence. I had only been with her for a few moments, but I could already feel my worries melting away.
“How was work?” she asked, once she had pulled away.
“Good, as usual. Eva and I reviewed the procedures for tomorrow. It should go off without a hitch.”
Of course, should was the key word in that particular sentence, but I decided not to emphasize that particular point.
“That’s wonderful!” she said. “What happens after the experiment?”
“We’ll run it again with Dr. Conway to make sure it’s accurate. After that, who knows? We might even get a promotion.”
I said it as a joke, but it appeared that my mother took it seriously. However, instead of becoming excited by the news, she instead adopted a look of worry, her mouth curving downwards.
My mother sighed. “Your father and I have been worried about you, Cassia.” she said quietly, biting her lip. “I know you’re a hard worker by nature, but don’t you think it would be good to take it easy for a little while?”
“I had a break yesterday at the wedding.”
“Ah, yes. Because that was a completely stress-free day,” my mother said. “Not to mention that it came after months of wedding planning with Luke and Carina, which definitely wasn’t an enormous headache. And don’t try and deny it- I had to mediate most of the arguments.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at that.
My mother smiled briefly, but her amusement quickly faded. “Seriously Cassia, we’re worried about you. All you do it work these days- you don’t even come home some nights.”
There was certainly some truth to that statement. I usually stayed overnight at the facility at least once a week. Even today, I had been home late- I had stayed behind well past my work hours to complete a few projects and to do some last minute planning with Eva.
“Why don’t you do something fun tomorrow?” Mom asked. “Go out with Eva or something. She seems nice. Or maybe visit Luke and Carina? I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the company.”
I raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Aren’t they busy doing newlywed stuff?”
“I ran into Luke at the grocery store this morning. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe to visit.”
“Alright, fine.” I said, feeling some of my good mood fizz away. “I’ll text Luke and see if they’re busy tomorrow. Will that make you happy?”
My mother frowned. “I just don’t want you to burn out, Cassia. Family’s important too, you know.”
I knew she and my father both missed my presence dearly, but I felt as if there was an underlying message to her words.
I wasn’t just merely Cassia Fairwood. I was Cassia Fairwood, heiress to 15 Summerhill Court. The legacy of the Fairwood family, as minuscule as it currently was, rested on my shoulders.
It was a bit daunting, to say the least, which is why I tried not to think about it.
“Don’t worry about me, Mom.” I smiled again, plastering a smile on my face. “Everything’s just fine.”
A/N: Yeah, this is late. Again. Saturday was busy, so I didn’t get a chance to review the post.
I can’t wait to get back to writing this legacy. I’ve dearly missed writing Cassia.
The Conway Research Facility is a heavily modified version of a science lab I found on the exchange. You can download it in its original form here.