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.”
He starts laughing at me waves his hand in my face as though I’m talking another language, and he isn’t interested in anything I have to say. He lifts his arm and waves it around to get the attention of fellow protestors, and I’m aware of some turning this way and pushing in slightly to form more of an arc facing our building instead of away. Eyes are coming my way, and some quiet down to listen.“She says it’s not their problem!” he yells out loud for them all to hear in a snarly tone and thumps his board on the ground so that I flinch. Many more of them follow suit and pound their boards too, creating a buzz of bangs and murmurs as their voices blend into one. I catch more security filing outside from the doors in my right line of vision and know that upstairs will have been notified of this going on by now.“Bullshit!” he leans into my face and spits it out, s
“Jyeon? Are you okay?” I reach up for his face to turn him to me, catching his jaw in my fingers and pulling him down. My insides are aching, and genuine fear is gripping my soul as I try to inspect him for wounds. My body shakes all over as adrenalin kicks in, and he pulls me with him away from the doors at speed.“Are you hurt? Did anything hit you? Are you cut anywhere?” Jyeon slices through my question with his own. Pulling me into the elevator and letting go of me before sliding his hands over my head, brushing back my hair, searching through my scalp with his fingertips, and frantically searching over my body and face, for any damage. His eyes narrow, and his breathing labors as he pulls my jacket open and skims every inch of my shoulders and neck, and face to see if I have even a tiny scratch. His warm, firm hands skim my skin, leaving a burning path wherever they touch, even through the fabric of my cloth
“Mrs. Park is in the games room with guests. She asked you to come in when you arrive home.” The housekeeper greets me with kind eyes and a gentle voice as I wander in, heavy with the tiredness of the day and home late. Dealing with the protest fallout on top of so much else these past few days has me exhausted. My shoulders ache, my neck is stiff, and I have a headache coming on. I’m nowhere near in the mood to entertain her guests, but I’m obedient to a fault. I was raised in the good old ‘thou shall obey my parents’ of my culture, and I grimace and paste on a fake smile. Sighing and knowing I should get it over and done with. It’s a show-off move to remind her friends how magnificent her family is.“Where’s Yoonie? Is he home?” I ask with a raised brow, seeing as he left the office hours ago. I already know it’s pointless to ask about Jyeon, who was still burning the o
“Ask his wife. No one knows better than her what he’s doing or where he is. They have an excellent relationship.” She chimes back without a heartbeat of hesitation, and my face numbs with this pasted expression that churns my stomach up. I feel Yoonah tense beside me.My sweet, big brown-eyed puppy dog, boy, cuts in by pulling a card from my hand and tuts loudly. My savior.“Play this one, and you’ll win. How can someone so smart and observant suck this much at a card game? Why did you throw that one, you empty head.” He grins, patting me on the shoulder, and retrieves the card I had put down to switch it out.“I know, right. I guess I can’t be talented in all areas of life.” I softly smile his way, catching his eye and meeting the warmth always there in him. The complete opposite to his emotionless brother, who serves me only ice
“Here, Vice President Park. These are all the current files needing a signature.” I sit back and let my new assistant Veronica lay them out for me. In a fit of rage two days ago for a missed document and a lax attitude to timekeeping, I finally cut loose the girl of five years. I have no patience for people who waste my precious time and make mistakes, and this one has all the new and shiny enthusiasm to do a good job. I know it won’t last.“Did you archive all last month’s?” I lift a brow and pull the first black folder on top over, flicking it open.“Yes, Ma’am. I sorted through, copied, and saved digital files to the central server and then organized the paper copies in the building file room.“Why is this missing President Park’s signature?” I pause my pen over the budget request for one of our sub-companies. Irritated for the oversight. The very first one I open, and it’s not even compl
“This is new, right?” I walk forward, pasting on a smile, and pull at his collar as though it’s twisted and I’m being helpful while it’s an excuse to drag out this conversation. Checking closer that I genuinely have never seen this jacket.“Hmmm” He pulls the fabric out of my hands, shrugging me away as though he can’t stand my closeness, and fixes it himself, stepping away from me. The wall is going up, and his signals are screaming that he wants space.“When did you pick it up. It’s not a brand you normally shop for.” I eye up the branded bag, not recognizing it at all, but the quality seems high-end and not high street.“It was a gift. Nothing wrong with trying something different for a change.” He turns and throws me a brief, strange look. A weird glance as though telling me something but not committing to look at me and then walks off. Leaving me in here as he goes back into his o
I watch Jyeon from my seat at the board meeting. Sitting next to his chair at the head, he’s up and walking around as he talks out what he has on the projector, yet I can’t focus on what he’s saying. All day it’s been eating away at me, ripping me into pieces, and I can’t think of anything else no matter how I try. I’m distraught inside.I watch him closely for signs, changes, and anything to help clear this muddy mess out of my brain and find myself hating him for making me feel this way. Despising the very ground he walks on.He came back around two, and I happened to be in the parking garage when he pulled in. I wish I hadn’t been, but it was a coincidence as I was returning from an onsite inspection.I saw them. Together. That b
The heavy silence is, of course, I know, all men turning to look Jyeon’s way in question that he would act so personally with a spokesperson of a company we haven’t yet taken control of. There’s a process to things, and it’s known that my job as VP is that I should be the one taking her to lunch when the time is right. This raises so many questions for him.“Claire White? Why is that name familiar?” Yoonha forgets this is a board meeting and verbalizes his thoughts. It's a bad habit he’s had since he was a kid, and it’s why he’s unable ever to keep himself in his own lane when it comes to Jyeon’s and my problems. “Let’s call it a day and reconvene when we have more definite answers. Sohla, my office. We need to talk about this.”