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3

On the top floor of the office building. Under the starry sky, Twila and Astrid stood beside the parapet and enjoyed the view of the city. The wind gently moved around their hair while the cold tingled their skin. 

“It took you two years… Do you still plan on continuing or do you have other plans?” Astris asked as she looked down at the cars rushing around on the road. Twila sipped the coffee in her hand and nodded.

“I will not give up! Not that easily.” Her tone was filled with seriousness. “Everything will go to waste if I stop now! I have to prove myself, I have to prove my worth to someone,” She pressed her lips together after saying those words. “But I am glad you are by my side… Or I would have felt like I had been abandoned completely.” She looked at Astrid from the corner of her eye, she cherished her a lot and it was visible in her eyes. 

“Don’t say it like that, It will make me feel guilty if I ever decide to deceive you for my gains.” She gave her a half-smile, but her tone was filled with.

“Hah!!” Twila clenched her fingers around her cup tightly and chuckled. “Well...In that case, I am still happy you are by my side…”

Astrid pressed her lips together and placed her hand on Twila’s shoulder. “What about the clients? Are you ready to meet them?”

“Honestly speaking… I am quite nervous. I mean we have put our heart into making the project but what if we fail? Don’t know what would happen if I mess things up!” She looked at Astrid with a heavy heart.

“Let us hope for the best,” she patted her back and spoke. 

                          ………………………………………………

As the night turned to dawn, Twila sat at her desk, surrounded by the dim light filtering in through the window. Her hair was tied up and a pair of glasses rested on the bridge of her nose as she focused intently on her laptop, trying to eliminate any errors from the project she had been working on for months.

A sigh escaped her lips as she realized the time, "It's already 5 a.m... I didn't even get a wink of sleep." She removed her glasses, rubbed her eyes and stretched her aching back before getting up to walk into the kitchen.

Twila's studio was spacious with a great view of the shore from her window. A comfortable single bed sat on one side and a walk-in wardrobe on the other. The kitchen counter was open to the living room, with a terrace beside it that offered a view of nature.

She toasted some bread and boiled water for tea before sitting on a bean bag on the terrace to have a quick snack before getting ready for work. After sorting through her files and selecting her dress for the meeting, she left her apartment and took a taxi to work at 7 a.m.

As she arrived at the grandiose building where she worked, she saw that everyone was already hard at work, trying to make a great impression on clients. But as she entered her cabin, she found her colleague Astrid with a perplexed expression.

"What happened?" Twila asked, her unease growing.

Astrid walked towards her, took the files out of her hand, and threw them in the trash. "We won't be needing them anymore," she said, her tone depressed.

"What are you talking about?" Twila asked, trying to hide her unease with a smile.

"They called... The clients said they won't be meeting with us," Astrid replied, her tone severe.

Twila's face froze as she tried to process the news. For a moment, she didn't move, but then she pulled out her phone and dialed the client's number. The phone rang a few times before someone picked up.

"Mr. Ben?" Twila asked, her voice shaking.

"Yes," came the reply.

"I presume we were supposed to meet today to discuss the international hotel branch project," she continued, trying to keep her composure.

"Oh yes, I already informed your team beforehand. We won't be continuing the talks as we've found a suitable partner already," Mr. Ben replied, nonchalantly.

Twila took a deep breath, trying to keep her cool. "May I know the reason? Why all of a sudden?"

"We found a partner quite recently and we think they're the best for our business," Mr. Ben explained.

"But you haven't given us a chance..." Twila protested.

"Maybe next time things can work out between our companies," Mr. Ben excused himself before ending the call.

 Twila called him again and asked. 

"Wait! Can you tell us who you're collaborating with?" Twila's voice was filled with frustration as she tried to hold back her anger. Her face had already dropped, her skin pale from the two days of restlessness and now this bad news had pushed her to the brink of collapse.

"I can't reveal their identity... Now then," Mr. Ben replied before ending the call. Twila fell into her chair, her phone slipping to the floor as her hand began to tremble and her breath became uneasy. "Failure... once again," she muttered breathlessly.

Astrid poured her a glass of water and crouched beside her. "We'll find another opportunity," she said, trying to comfort her.

But Twila shook her head in disappointment. "These types of opportunities don't come again! They're a once-in-a-lifetime chance," she said, cupping her face in her hand and looking defeated.

Astrid stood up and placed the glass back beside the water dispenser. "Then can we reverse it somehow? I mean, if it's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you shouldn't just let it slide like that," she suggested.

Twila's head turned towards her, her eyes filled with hope as she nodded violently, as if Astrid had come up with a wonderful idea. "Only if we know who they're partnering with," she said.

Astrid hesitated, trying to take a guess, and suddenly a name came to her mind. Her eyes lit up before dropping again. "I don't know for sure, but what if it's..." she reluctantly looked at Twila, her gaze sending a meaningful message.

"No! He wouldn't do something like that!" Twila exclaimed, shaking her head in disbelief.

"Why not? There's no reason not to. He's always looking for opportunities to make you suffer, so why not this time? Who do you think is free enough to mess up your months of hard work?" Astrid added confidently.

Twila sat in her chair for a while, pondering over Astrid's words. They did make sense to her. She got up from her seat, grabbed her phone, and raced towards the door. "I'll be right back!" she called out, waving her hand before exiting the room and the office. She ran down the pavement like a headless chicken as she dialed a number, determined to find out the truth.

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