I tap my nails on my desk in agitation as I watch the hands of the clock tick on and on in what feels like slow motion. It feels like this morning is dragging more than a month in a jailhouse, and neither Yoonha nor Jyeon has shown up for work at all yet. I’m listless, I can’t concentrate or focus and nothing I do is easing the tightly wound ball in my abdomen that I know is stress. It’s after ten, and I’m pissed at both of them for this impromptu AWOL behavior when we have so many things going on before lunch.

I have a pile of documents six inches thick that need both of their signatures next to mine, and we’re supposed to have a strategy meeting with senior staff in under an hour. We run our own departments and we need to regularly bring one another up to speed. They never miss them and now, more than ever it’s important we stay on top of it with all the new investments these few months.

I’ve resisted calling Jyeon to find out exactly where he is because, after last night, I don’t have it in me for another emotional battle between us. I don’t trust myself to not bite at him when I’m still this emotionally fragile. My head’s a mess and despite taking one of my mother’s Xanax to calm myself at five am it has done nothing at all for me.

 I never slept and I’m finding it difficult to concentrate or stay neutral today with sheer fatigue. I push everything out of my head, but I don’t know, lately, it feels like all the strings I’m holding tight are starting to slip out of my fingers and the more I try to grab on the more I lose them. My precariously constructed house of cards that keeps everything balanced and in check is starting to wobble and the wind is only just starting to pick up.

I have that same gut heaviness and high anxiety tension that plagued me all hours, coursing through me now. It has me on edge. It stems from the feeling that last night he was behaving out of sorts for the Jyeon I have known all these years. I don’t like it. It’s like I’m losing control and my reality is starting to crumble and crack.

“Has my husband come in yet?” I bark my question via the intercom at my assistant, Valerie, knowing fine well his schedule had nothing out of the office today so he has no excuse for tardiness. I’m hostile today in all ways, something that’s frequent as time goes by, and even came suitably dressed in a black tailored pantsuit and red spike heels, ready for war.

“Yes, Ma’am. He’s only just gone into his office with someone in tow.” She answers sheepishly and I grind my teeth and inhale slowly to cool my inner chaotic energy. I don’t bother thanking her and sweep up without hesitation. Swiping the paperwork into my hands from my polished surface and march with determination to go see him.

Yoonha, I don’t give two rats about showing up late, he’s only a director after all and his presence isn’t a necessity today at our meeting, but the CEO needs to be where the CEO belongs and not fucking around elsewhere. Yoonha could go on vacation for a year and this company would still tick along nicely. If Jyeon took a week off, then it would cease to run at all without everything piling on top of me.

I march on past my receptionist and Yoonha’s without flinching or checking if he’s there and bypass Jyeon’s secretary even though she stands up to try and intervene. Flustered like always at my appearance and it grinds on me that she still tries to stop me.

“Vice president Park, the president has a guest from….” I blank her and open the door without knocking and stroll in. No matter who is in there with him, as VP I have a right to barge in if I feel like it and most companies we deal with already know who I am. It’s usually me who deals with any kind of meet and greet outside of our own company employees so whoever it is, should have come through me first.

I swan in, bristling with attitude, not stopping as my eyes scan his desk and see he’s not there before turning right to his couch area and spotting him and his guest. Cozily in his seated area. I pull on my indifferent mask, my high and mighty posture, and smile politely before heading their way. Acting as though popping in and finding a newcomer is a pleasant surprise.

She’s a tall leggy brunette in a tailored red dress and high-heeled shoes, a fitted jacket, and an air of superiority about her that screams higher position than an assistant. She’s sat on one couch, holding a file, while he’s on the nearby single-seat, leaning towards her and explaining something as he spots me. Nothing registers on his face or changes his demeanor, and he nods my way with a pasted-on half-smile and oozes polite vibes. His dimples barely show face and I know he probably had to force that out with extreme effort.

“This is our Vice President, Sohla Park, my wife.” He stands up to encourage me to come over, all Mr. Business and my eyes stay locked on him as I close the gap and slide in to sit down on the couch opposite whoever this is. Looking her over with interest and nod with a gracious bright smile because she doesn’t have the sense to stand to greet me as she should. She’s attractive, slender, and probably around my age, only she has a much less severe fashion style and seems softer than my ice-cold imposing presence. Her femininity oozes in abundance.

“Ahh, I’ve read a lot about you. I’m Claire White, liaison for Biotech. Your husband has just finished informing me that our investment agreement looks likely to go ahead and I was discussing the fine points in what steps our company has laid out for the next five years of growth.” She doesn’t miss a beat. With a warm silky voice and feathery light lashes, she flickers seductively my may, uncrossing her leg smoothly before crossing it the other way and leaning forward to extend her hand to me. A very precise and elegant mannerism that grates on my nerves for no reason. Her perfume hangs in the air between us, and I can’t help but recognize it as the same one I wear.

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