Foto bij Remember me | Chapter twenty

The following week, there was no message back. Krystal's heart had ached when she had sent the good-bye message, but she knew it was for the best. They'd never see each other again, and she could live a happy life. Well, it wouldn't be as happy as it could have been if she had just chosen for love instead of the company, but she was willing to sacrifice that piece of her for the company.
Krystal had actually already found piece with her decision. It was easy to pretend there had nothing been going on between them, that their one night stand was just a fling and that it had been a desperate need for love. But they both had someone else who loved them. Kai and Luna deserved their love and Krystal perhaps was ready to give it him now.

With an eased mind and heart, she had walked into Jung Internationals that morning. With her favourite mug filled with steaming coffee, she walked up towards the meeting room. Today was Liu Economics and Jung Internationals' monthly meeting. Jackie would be coming t discuss any problems. The whole conversation would probably be about her father and Krystal's future.
Usually the meetings were quite casual. Jackie often brought her two seconds in lead and her father brought Krystal. Because Krystal was still the vice president, she'd be alone now, meeting the others by herself. She didn't mind much. Jackie was a gift and she was one of the nicest persons she knew in this industry. More than often her father was silenced by the two eagerly discussing ladies. So why couldn't she do it on her own now?
Without a thing on her mind, she entered the meeting room. Eloisa had already put a bowl with good-smelling buns on the table, together with a few small plates. There were five glasses with water with icecubes. Krystal didn't even realize that there was one too many.
She sat down in her father's spot, at the head of the table. Until Jackie arrived, she played on her phone. Today she didn't have any appointments but Jackie, so she'd have a 'chill day' for once. Other problems could wait.
A quarter passed by, and Krystal was just about to take a look on her watch what time it was, when she saw people enter. With Eloisa on front to guide the small group of people — even though Jackie would probably know the way by now — they entered the meeting room. Krystal put her phone away and stood up to invite them all. Jackie immediately walked over to her, shaking her hand like they always did. Krystal smiled widely.
"It's good to see you again, I hope you have been well?" Jackie asked her. Krystal nodded.
"Of course. I hope you have been well too?" she asked. Jackie chuckled in response.
Jack sat down at Krystal's right hand. In the mean while, she shook the hands of the other people who came in; Jackie's two vice presidents. One was an older, Afro-American man with a skin that seemed to be made of ebony. His temples had already turned grey, but his eyes were still lively and bore this playful glitter.
"Nice to see you again, Jackson," Krystal said. Jackson smiled and nodded.
"You get prettier every time I see you, Miss Jung."
Krystal gave him a soft slap on the shoulder, and Jackson chuckled. He sat down next to Jackie. Behind him came a tiny latina, with black hair reaching all the way 'till her butt. She had a clapboard in her arms and a pen between her fingers. Her eyes were almond shaped and friendly, with some light make-up. She was younger than Krystal, some sort of apprentice. Jackson was momentarily Jackie's second hand, but if there was something to happen to Jackson, she was going to take over.
"Hello, Valentina," Krystal greeted. The girl smiled back widely, showing her white teeth.
"How's it going, Krystal?" Valentina asked, as she sat down. Krystal chuckled.
"I'm fine, thank you" she replied. "Shall we start then?"
Jackie coughed to clear her throat.
"Actually, I'm still waiting for someone, but I'm sure she'll arrive in a few moments."
Krystal raised her eyebrows. Normally, Jackie didn't bring anymore people than Jackson and Valentina.
"Well, if she'll arrive soon, we can just start, can't we?" Krystal said, smiling kindly. The other agreed by slowly nodding their heads.
Eloisa took the small plates and handed them out to the four people at the table. They all took a small roll. Jackson immediately took a bite and so did Jackie.

An hour passed and Krystal doubted whether the extra guest Jackie had invited was still to come.
So she had eventually just begun with the meeting. As predicted, it was all about her father and the future of Jung Internationals. Krystal told them all about her father, how he was in the hospital at the moment because his blood pressure was extremely high, causing him not to be able to be the Chairman of Jung Internationals anymore. Instead, he would pass his title to his daughter in a few months. Krystal didn't tell Jackie that she would get the company as a wedding gift. Even though she and Jackie were rather close — as close as you could be as collegues — it was weird to talk with her about Kai and her upcoming wedding. Jackie was still Amber's sister, and if she told Amber anything about her wedding and the overlapping handover of the company, would she be able to make up that Krystal had chosen the company over her? And otherwise, it'd still be awkward. Work and private life were best lived separated.
Even though Jackie Liu couldn't directly make decision in Jung Internationals, Krystall still valued her opinion more than everything. The two women were much alike, but Jackie had a few years extra in age on her, meaning she also had a few extra years experience in business. She had become a CEO one year ago, so she'd be the perfect person to judge her and the situation.
"I think you'll do well, Krystal," Jackie said, after Krystal was done telling her story. "You have the same intelligence and insight level as your father and with a fresh dose of feminism, I think you can take Jung Internationals to a whole new level."
Jackson and Valentina immediately agreed loudly. Krystal noticed from the corner of her eyes someone coming at the meeting room through the glass door, but she didn't pay any attention to it. It was probably Eloisa.
"Yes, I think that-" Jackson started.
The door opened, someone stepped in. Valentina gasped.
"What do you think, Jackson?" a familiar voice said. Krystal froze in her seat. Her breath got caught in her thoat. Her nails digged into the soft wood of the table, leaving marks. All the colour drained from her face. Her body almost seemed to be in shock.
Amber stepped into the meeting room, a half-grin on her face. Krystal didn't dare to look behind her, hoping that if she didn't see her, that she wouldn't be there.
"You didn't forget that I'd come, did you?" she asked. Krystal winced at her voice.
Jackie sighed and looked at her sister.
"Like we could ever forget you. You're too present. Sit down, please. I brought my little sister, because she wanted to see what my average day looked like, she asked me to. I hope you don't mind, Krystal?" Jackie asked. Krystal opened her mouth to say something, but her throat had become so dry that it was hard to speak. Her tongue felt like sandpaper in her mouth.
"N-no," she eventually managed to get out, in a voice that was suddenly too hoarse to be normal. Krystal sat down across from Jackie, on Krystal's left side, immediately taking one of the buns and taking a bite. She immediately sunk down into her chair, with her legs spread and a piece of bread sticking out of her mouth.
"Great," Amber said enthustiastically. "Then, ladies, don't be bothered by me, continue with your conversation. I'll just listen and observe."
Krystal still didn't dare to look at her. She was so close, close enough that Krystal could smell her parfume. A summer breeze... She almost could feel herself loose consciousness because of that.
Krystal hadn't expected that she'd see Amber anymore. It wasn't like they were in the same industry, or that they had communual friends or that they lived near each other. They would only see each other if one of them made an effort...
Amber made an effort, she realized. She came here on purpose. There was no way that Amber Josephine Liu, who had turned her father down several times when he asked her if she wanted to work at the company, suddenly was interested in Liu Economics, let alone wanted to attend the meeting with Jung Internationals. Amber was here for Krystal, no doubt.
"I-I have to use the bathroom" Krystal stuttered. With her teeth sank deep in her lower lip, she quickly stood up, with shaky legs, and walked as fast as possible about of the meeting room. Almost tripping over her feet, Krystal eventually found the bathroom. She immediately opened the tap and splashed some cold water in her face. Her arms shook when she held herself up against the sink, looking in the mirror, seeing how the drips of water ran from her face into her neck and over her back. She felt like throwing up. Even though she was shivering, her cheeks were burning hot, scorching almost.
"Fuck..." she breathed. She placed one hand on her forehead and closed her eyes for a moment. "Fuck, fuck fuck..."
She had never known that Amber would do this. In fact, she would've expected her to move on quickly too, because she hadn't heard anything of her anymore. But now that she was here, it was obvious she was angry, really, really angry. And there was no way to avoid a confrontation.
Would she have the guts to tell Amber what she had done? Krystal knew she didn't. But she needed to go back into that meeting room, she could not stay away forever. Even though she'd rather dissapear right now and never come back...

Krystal dried her face, fixed her hair and walked back. Amber and Jackie were chatting up, just like Jackson and Valentina. Only now she got a good look of the woman. Her lower lip contained several old wounds, little cuts that had just begun to heal. Her right eye looked like it had been blue for the last couple of days, but that it was healing now too and the skin had almost returned to the previous colour. She wore her leather jacket, a black, tight fitting t-shirt and dark grey jeans with open knees. Her hair fell casually across her forehead, probably to reveal her eye.
Jackie and Amber both looked up to her as soon as she came in, although only Jackie had a smile on her face. Krystal sat down at the head of the table again and cleared her throat.
"Is it necessary to discuss more, Jackie? I told you everything about my father and-"
"You wouldn't want us to leave, now, do you?"
Amber interrupted, chuckling softly. It wasn't the light chuckle she usually let people hear. It was a bit dark, with a hidden undertone that she actually didn't mean well. Krystal froze. That was exactly what she wanted, for them to leave, but it wasn't supposed to be so obvious. Jackie shot her younger sister a foul look.
"I'm sure Krystal has much more to do than talk with us all day now that her father is in the hospital. I think we're all through for today," Jacke hissed, more to Amber than to Krystal. The woman packed her stuff.
"My apologies for neglecting you and Liu Economics. Expect better communication in the coming few days," Krystal quickly said. Jackie turned to her and smiled warmly.
"Don't worry about it. Just keep me updated on your father, it's such a shame the old boss is having so much trouble with his health."
Krystal nodded. Jackie was the first to get up. Jackson and Valentina followed. Amber looked at them for a moment, probably weighing her options, but eventually got up too. They all shook her hand, showed her a smile or nodded... except for Amber. She just walked past her without saying a word. Krystal could feel the ice beaming off of her. Her throat was swollen with sadness.

The group of people left. Eloisa led them downstairs again and Krystal quickly dissapeared into her office. With a sigh she let herself fall onto her leather couch, immediately burying her face into the soft pillows. God, how she felt horrible. The look on Amber's face had cut right through her heart. Betrayal and sadness and anger all piled up into one horrifying look that made her tear up too.
She laid there for perhaps five minutes when her body grew restless and she got up from the couch. Krystal was about to walk back to her desk and start up her laptop — a good dose of work always did her well when her mind was troubled — when she heard the door open.
"I don't need coffee yet, thanks Eloisa," Krystal said, without looking up.
"I'm not your cheap coffee lady."
Krystal almost choked on her own spit. She stopped, frozed right where she was. The door fell shut, she heard footsteps coming closer. Her cheeks burned like they were on fire. Her hands formed fists and she pinched so hard that she felt her nails dig painfully in the skin of her hand.
Amber's hand grabbed her wrist, turned her around so that they were facing each other. Krystal couldn't help to look at her eye immediately, her bashed lip that was still dark purple. She had to suppress the urge to touch her face with the tips of her fingers.
Her voice was tiny, barely hearable, but Amber chuckled mischievous anyway. She rolled her eyes and let Krystal's wrist go. Her smile dissapeared from her face, and suddenly it turned annoyed, angry. Her frown caused her whole forehead to wrinkle.
"Are you not going to ask me why I'm here? Or perhaps... do you already know?" she added, as she pulled up one eyebrow. Krystal shook her head.
"How did you know where my office was?" she asked her. Amber chuckled and rolled her eyes again.
"You know, it's not more than child's play to break into here. Chumming up to your personal assistant who's so clearly into girls — and probably into you too — stealing her key card in a hug and getting in here was too easy. You should change your security system to the new face recognision system like we have, much more diffecult to get into."
Krystal frowned. She was a tad disturbed by the fact that Amber had just chatted up Eloisa just to break into her office. Incredibly smart, of course, something she could've expected from Amber but she couldn't help to be a little bit jealous. Focus, Soojung, she thought. You let her go. You shouldn't be jealous. You're being ridiculous.
"Why are you here?" she asked icily. Amber huffed.
"Because we had something, Krystal. And it mightn't have been much, but it was something and you shut me out without a reason. I want to know why so I can decide whether you're just a bitch playing with people's hearts or a sad, misunderstood girl who's having a hard time."
Krystal blinked a few times with her eyes, completely taken back by Amber's words.
"I don't know what you're trying to accomplish here, Amber. Fact is that we can't be together. I only just was the first one to end our fling."
Amber's eyes squinted together.
"Fling?" she spoke the word with care. "That's what I am to you? A fling? Someone you can replace at any given moment?"
Krystal opened her mouth, at first to say something to calm her down, to tell her that she wasn't just a fling. But she closed it again and looked down. She'd only make it worse.
Amber was rigid.
"I think I was wrong about you then. I thought you hadn't changed a single bit, that you were still the same girl I knew eight years ago. But this shit company changed you for the worse. I didn't know you'd be as stupid as this," Amber spat. Krystal stepped back, but Amber just stepped foreward so they stayed close. Krystal's heart beated fast in her chest, pumping adrenaline through her body.
"I have not changed... that's why I did it... I chose the company over you just like I chose my father over you when we were eightteen..." Krystal said softly. Amber huffed.
"That's bullshit. Back then at least you had a valid reason. Your parents are assholes and they'd be rude to us if we went on. Your father wouldn't have taken you in in his company et cetera, et cetera. But this time, Krystal, you do it because you're too lazy to face whatever concequences there are to be. Has it ever occured to you that you can have both and that you don't have to choose between a good career and a miserable life or no career and a good life. You can have both but I don't think you can even see that far. You choose the path that is the least trouble to you so you cut me off. Why on fucking earth-"
Krystal blurted out in pure desperation. Amber fell silent. Her lower lip quivered and she started at the other woman with tears in her eyes.
"Because you ruined me..." she repeated, softer. "I could have lived a troubleless life, you know? If I had never met you, I would've never goten into this mess. I could have loved Kai with all of my heart and I would not have to choose between my heart or my brain. We'd both be happy... and the worst part is that I wouldn't want it to be that way. I loved us, I loved what we had. I love the thrill of cheating on someone whom I don't love, I love loving you because it makes me feel alive in this dead world. But if I don't see you anymore, I thought, my life would be okay. Not as good as it would be if I had both you and the company, but it would be okay. And i'm okay with living an 'okay' life. It's enough for me, I can handle that...
But when you're around I feel like giving up everything I've worked so hard for. and if I be with you now, then the sacrifice we made when we were eightteen would be in vain too. You make me want to do things I would never do if it was someone else and I hate myself for it. I hate myself for being in love with you, Amber, don't you understand?"

Tears were now freely running over her face, and she didn't even try to hide them. Let Amber see how much in conflict she was, let her see how much she hated this situation and how much she wanted her. She looked down to her shoes, sobbing soflty. Amber stayed silent for a moment, then started to talk. Her voice was softer now, but still angry.
"I won't let myself be pushed aside like that anymore, do you hear me? I won't be treated like some piece of old garbage. So I'm asking you right now, Krystal Jung, if all you feel about me is a fling. And if it was just a one time thing. I will go. I will leave and you'll have your happy perfect little life with your boring Prince Charming. But if I'm not, then I'm going to do everything in my power to stay and I won't be pushed over anymore. But you have to tell me. Am I just a fling to you?"
Amber was out of breath when she ended her talk. Going from almost screaming to almost crying had exhausted her and Krystal knew how she felt. Holding in your emotions took every muscle of your body to keep everything inside. Krystal sniffled, looking back up to her. She smiled apologetically.
"I can't tell you you're a fling.. because you are not," she said, in a broken voice. "We both know it."
"Then act like it. Act like I'm the only person you will ever love."

Krystal sniffled again.
"You know I cannot do that," she said softly.
"Then what are you willing to do for me, Krystal? Because all you have done is take little parts of me and there's nothing more you can take because you already own me. You already have everything. But there's still a whole lot of you that I have never seen before."
Amber's voice had turned darker. Her gaze had deepened even more. By the look of her body language — her formed fists, her tense shoulders, her fastened breathing that idicated her troubled emotions — Krystal knew she almost lost her. It hit her like a truck that Amber was physically so close, but mentally so far away. And perhaps, that was the last straw that broke the camel's back.
Krystal stepped foreward those last few centimeters and without even fully thinking through, she grabbed Amber's jacket firmly and placed her lips upon hers. It was supposed to be a soft kiss, but Amber's hand immediately shot up to her neck to cup her face and deepen the kiss passionately. They turned into a mess of rough kisses and panting against each other's lips. Krystal let herself be pushed against the desk, willingly let Amber do whatever she wanted because she knew this might as well be the last time. Tears streamed over both of their cheeks.
When Amber pulled back, Krystal sought with her lips after hers, not wanting it to end. But Amber placed her hand upon Krystal's shoulder to keep her on a distance. Amber stayed close though, breathing hard and fast. Krystal was dazed on the scent of her parfume. It was enough to make her faint.
"I'm giving you one last chance, Krystal Jung. Third time lucky," Amber whispered. Her voice was hoarse and husky, causing a shiver to run over her back and her belly to twist with lust.
"Decide what you want. Two days. I won't receive any cowardy texts of yours anymore. You'll come to my apartment to tell me your answer, face to face. If you're only one minute late, it'll be over, even if you answer was to choose for me."
And suddenly, she was gone. Amber had let her go, turned her back and walked with big strikes towards the door. Without saying anything more or looking over her shoulder, Amber left her office, whiping her cheeks right before she stepped around the corner and out of Krystal's sight.
Still not being able to breathe properly, Krystal could only just stare at the spot Amber left, her mind still blank and her heart still racing. Eventually she calmed down a little, but with the calmness, the realization what had happened also came. With a grown she hid her face in her hands and cursed at herself.
She heard a door open and a chuckle to fill the room.
"Really, Miss, one hot husband on one side and fierce rebel like her on the other side? I'd be having a midlife crisis too."
Krystal quickly whiped the tears off of her face and ran with her hand through her ruined hair. She looked up to her personal assistant and managed to place a weak smile on her face.
"Oh, Eloisa, you don't know half of it..."

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