I stare absentmindedly ahead in the elevator as I travel down to the ground floor to go and meet Yoonha outside for lunch. It’s been a few days since his drunken confession, and two days of his AWOL childish behavior passed before he finally showed face to act like an adult once more. And like every other time, we never mentioned it again because this is what he does. Back into the swing of our ordinary lives, and it’s brushed under the table as though it never happened and became just another absurd ritual in my life.

I’ve barely seen Jyeon all week as we’re all so swamped in work with three new company investments to launch by the end of the month that’s taking all our time. I’ve had an average of two hours sleep a night, missed so many meals from overtime, skipped lunch breaks that I’ve dropped a dress size. Hence my lunch date and making time to hang out with my little brother, forcing me to eat and take a break. He’s the only one who ever seems to put me before everything else.

The noise outside the lobby pulls my attention, and I glance up as I walk towards the wall of glass doors, surprised by the crowds of people that seem to be milling right in front of our building. We’re not a company that gets a lot of foot traffic given our area of expertise, so this is weird. My stomach sinks as I catch sight of some billboards being pulled to hold up, and many turn their backs to face out towards the road to assemble into a long line, spreading the width of our entrance.

It’s a protest. The beginning of one anyway, and something we deal with every so often when a company fails, and we have to pull out our funding and cut our losses. I have a clue who these might be, yet there’s nothing protesting will do for them. Their company went bankrupt, and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t bring it out of the red despite their marketable product. We got in too late and got out just as fast.

They spent too many years concealing their mistakes and pulled in investors dishonestly when they knew they were going under. We uncovered a whole array of problems and pulled out our money before getting caught up in the legalities of many fraudulent practices that went on under the radar with their existing management. OLO wasn’t responsible for its demise, but it’s not what their factory workers were told. They publicly lied and tried to smear OLO in a campaign that we breached our contract and pulled funding because we merely changed our mind. We’re still dealing with it via our legal department as we speak.

I push my hand into my pocket, put my car keys back, and march outside, signaling for security to follow me with a click of the fingers. Dressed in my cream wool overcoat, over a dark grey pantsuit and black boots, I stand tall and make my way right for the center men who seem to be directing the crowd. I have no patience for this shit, and it looks terrible for us to have any kind of protest on our own doorstep. The scandals can harm our stocks even if they're unfounded.

My burly band of black-suited security flank me and quickly and quietly spread behind the line of men while I tap an exceptionally well-built, lumberjack shirt-wearing man in a black beanie on the back. Lifting my chin, tucking my handbag under my arm, and putting on my business-like persona and stern expression.

“Can I help you? You’re obstructing the main door of my company, and I can have you removed if you don’t do so immediately.” I point out, my tone is frosty with no intimidation whatsoever from dealing with these types of people. He towers over me, even facing the other way, smells like cigarettes and damp, pretty disgusting fabric.

He spins on me, and I’m faced with a bearded, giant bear of a man who looks down at me and sneers. His whole aura suggests he’s the type to spend his private life in bars, playing pool, and shooting innocent wildlife in the name of fun. A typical low pay grade laborer with a lack of IQ who thinks this is how to save his job.

“And who are you?” He spits, eyeing me up and down as though I’m a secretary or someone unimportant because I’m female, and I take a moment to scan my eyes over the billboard sign he’s holding against his lower body. I was right, and it’s Futuro Cosmetica that went under two weeks ago due to their own internal issues. I exhale heavily and check my wristwatch to check how late I’m going to be to meet Yoonha. Sighing that this may take a while and traffic will also delay me.

“I’m the vice president of OLO, and this is my footpath. I suggest you all move along and find a nice field somewhere to whinge about the unfairness of your company but be warned that anything slandering OLO and we’ll take legal action. Consider this a polite request for you to up and move, and we won’t do anything about this today.” I sound as disinterested as I feel. We don’t need to be courteous when it’s this kind of protest. They’re already breaching the law by obstructing a business.

“We ain’t moving, girly. Not until your high and mighty pretty boy President Jyeon Park shows face and tells us how he’s going to get our jobs back.” He spits at his feet, vile thick phlegm that turns my stomach, missing my shoes by an inch, and I don’t react even though I’m disgusted and grit my teeth at his show of disrespect.

“He’ll say the exact same things I am, and he has no more ability to get your job back than I do. This is not an OLO issue; it’s an FC issue, and your fight is with them. I suggest you go stand outside their HQ and not ours.”

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