Foto bij Remember me | Chapter twenty-four

Krystal closed her eyes. Concentrating on her breathing, she focussed herself on achieving the goal she had set for herself: a happy life with Amber and Jung Internationals. Her father wasn't going to hand over the company easily but she was not going home with anything less.
She closed her hand around the door knob. The cold iron numbed her hand but she kept squeezing. Next to her, she heard Amber breathe hard. Or perhaps it just seemed hard because all of her senses were so much stronger now.
She took another deep breath, then turned the door knob and opened the door. Krystal opened her eyes.

The first thing she saw was her father laying in bed. The colour had returned to his cheeks, but now he laid there in his pyjamas with her mother sitting on a chair next to the bed, she noticed how old he actually looked. The enormous ammount of wrinkles and the dark circles under his eyes made him look fragile. The once so ever grand CEO of Jung Internationals had aged and become incompetent to rule.
Her parents looked up, at first with a smile on their faces when they saw Krystal come in. But the two women still held hands and Amber followed her in. The presence of Amber whiped the smiles off of her parents' faces immediately. Her mother stared at them in disbelief whilst her father preferred to stare angrily in Amber's direction.
"Mom.. dad.. there is something I need to tell you," Krystal forced out of her mouth. Her voice was as frail as she felt now.
There was a silence, in which the four people in the room could only look at each other whilst they were studying their own feelings.
"I hope you have a good reason for bringing Jacob's daughter here, Krystal. Your father doesn't receive visitors if they're not close friends or family."
Her mother was the first one who spoke. Krystal swallowed audibly. She felt Amber pinch in her hand, and that caused her to take a deep breath, collect her thoughts and blurt out:
"I do, in fact," she said a bit more confident. "We are dating, again. Today you will receive a message that the wedding is off."
Another silence, this one seemed to last longer. Minutes perhaps. Her father and mother looked at each other. They just plainly looked, they didn't move a muscle. It felt like they had known all along that this day would come.
"Say something, Charles.." her mother urged eventually. Her father grimaced and grumbled something that Krystal couldn't quite catch, although it seemed a lot like a curse word.
"Why would I? She knows damn well what this means. She's not dumb-"
"Yes, but you're the one who made them broke up the first time and hooked her up to that Kai!"
her mother hissed. "This is your responsiblity and you should handle it."
Her father shot her mother an angry look, before he straightened his back — as far as he could in bed — and lifted his chin as his eyes found Krystal's. They eventually turned to Amber's.
"Why is it that whenever something goes wrong, you're always present?" he said softly. Amber blinked with her eyes and sighed.
"I don't know, sir, perhaps it's because you're blaming me for everything that goes wrong?" she replied. Krystal shot her a warning gaze; they had agreed that she would handle her father and Amber would just be here for moral support.
"Well, can't I? You deceived my daughter — again. Tricked her into loving you, blowing off the marriage. Did you know she was finally getting the company? Her life long dream would have come true and you ruined it. How can you stand so proudly by her side, knowing you ruined her future?" Mr. Jung breathed. His voice had grown even softer, but more dangerous too. It felt like he could jump out of bed at any second to strangle her.
Before Amber could say anything, Krystal did.
"Amber never deceived me. If someone deceived anyone, then I have deceived myself. I tricked myself into loving Kai, knowing that if I would just push through the bad times, I would be rewarded. You can compare it to smiling to someone you don't like; you'll manage it the first time, and the second, but at the third time a bitter taste will have entered your mouth that cause the corners of your mouth to drop faster every following time.
I thought I loved him because I lied to myself. And you are wrong, father. My future isn't ruined, because I will
still be Jung Internationals' CEO. Nothing will have change, I will only have Amber by my side instead of Kai."
Her father stared at her in the same disbelief her mother had looked at her when they had entered the room. With an open mouth, he gazed at her. It took him a few moments, but then he started to laugh. A low laugh that eventually developped into a heavy coughing. Her mother handed him a paper towel to whipe his mouth after he was done.
"You think you'll get Jung Internationals after this kind of trick you pulled on me? Forget it. You can work there as long as you like as Vice President, but you'll never ever will become the CEO. Not while I'm still alive," he said, still smirking.
And Krystal had known this would happen. She had known that her father would never ever hand over his title as CEO to her when she refused to marry Kai and dated Amber instead. He hated Amber so much that he declined the happiness of his own daughter. As if Amber had corrupted her, making her ruin the company as soon as she got in charge.
When Krystal stayed silent, her father continued.
"Don't you know how poisonous this will be if I let you be CEO? In your first week, the media will do a background check on you. Of course they'll won't find anything interesting but good grades but they will find Amber. They will find her and they will know better than to assume she's a boy. They will know she's Jacob's daughter and they will have dirt on you. You'll get exposed in front of everybody and who do you think the employees rather would want to follow? Their boss, whom they have worked with love for, for many years? Or a young woman who could easily be overthrown by other companies if they knew she was dating a woman. Even nowadays that's not good for your image. Don't be a martyr, Krystal, and choose what's best for you. Go back to Kai. Our conversation is over. We will talk after you have made the right choice."
Her father smiled at her like he really meant it, as if he really wanted the best for his daughter. But Krystal knew he didn't; he wanted to save Jung Internationals. He acted out of fear. The media might discover her relationship with Amber. Other companies might want to publish the dirt they had on her. Jung Internationals might loose profit in the years to come when she became CEO and she was exposed.
Her father did the exact same thing Krystal had done eight years ago. Back then, she had also acted out of fear. Suddenly, she understood more than ever why she had made that choice and why she chose differently now.
Krystal had still been a teenager back then, hopeless for the approval of her father. But now, now she was a woman. She had achieved every goal she had set for herself and only needed to complete the final task: become a CEO. And she would do this with Amber at her side. She didn't need her father's approval anymore because she had gained enough experience and power to stand on her own feet. And that was exactly what she was going to do.
To her father's surprise, Krystal smiled back.
"I'm sorry, father, I won't go back to Kai," she said.
"Then it's very simple, Krystal. You won't become a CEO," her father replied nonchalantly. But this didn't whipe the smile off of Krystal's face, which made him frown.
"I will become the CEO of Jung Internationals. And I will keep dating Amber. But you are right. This is the last time we talk. Next time, I will take it to court if I have to. Who do you think they'll hand over the company to? An old, sick man who is prone to injury and has to take off so many sick days that the employees barely even know you anymore... or a young and talented woman who was raised by you yourself, knows all the tricks and tactics you have only learned on an old age and has proved to be succesful during your absence. I advice you, father, to accept me and Amber for who we are. Otherwise this whole situation might get ugly."
Her voice had stayed low and soft the whole time. She didn't need to raise it to make her point, nor did she lay in any emotion. It was cold and icy; it was the same voice she used when she announced bad news that wouldn't suit her and needed changing. Her eyes had not left her father's, not even when her mother screeched her name, yelling at her to not talk to her father like that and to rescind her promise to take it to court.
Her father stared at her with the same stone cold expression.
"I will see you in court, then. Good luck, Krystal."
"I don't need luck. I know I will succeed. And if I don't, I will do everything in my power to succeed anyway, with Amber by my side."
And with those words, she turned away and left the room, dragging Amber with her.

"You can't be serious," Amber exclaimed, as soon as they were back on the road. Krystal looked at her with a huge smile.
"I am, I really am. Gosh, that felt so good, to finally stand up against him! Did you see the look on his face when I said I would take the matter to court? Priceless!" she beamed. But Amber didn't smile back. In fact, she looked like she'd almost faint.
"There's a very small chance that they'll hand over the company to you, right? He has his signature under everything."
Krystal still chuckled and shook her head.
"You don't understand. He already signed the transferring documents too! And I have a copy of that. So it won't matter if he deletes the document from his laptop or tears the paper apart: I still have it. And in the document it says I will become automatically CEO on the 3rd of June, which would've been my wedding. He cannot do anything," she laughed.
Amber sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, taking a deep breath to calm herself.
"Krystal, you told me that you wanted to rebuild your relationship with your father. No matter the result of this power match, you will lose his love, you do realize that, right?" she said eventually. This made Krystal look up curiously. Her wide grin slowly faded.
"Do you think he'll hate me?"
"I personally wouldn't like it if my young unexperienced daughter drags my ass to court, actually. And whether he or you will get the company, I still would be offended. Even more if the judge takes your side."

Krystal bit down on her lower lip; her happy mood immediately fading. She had been so focussed on paying back the pain she had endured as a child because of her father, that she hadn't thought of the concequences... at least, not on longer terms. It hadn't at all occured to her that her father could hate her, nevertheless the outcome. She wanted to tell Amber that he would never do something like that, but she wasn't sure. In fact, he was the kind of man would indeed could shut his own child out. He had kept the CEO position from her when she started dating Amber again and would rather want his child to choose for the company than for her own happiness. Her father would have no trouble disowning her.
And her mother was too weak to even bring in anything against him. She was just the house wife, replacable if had to. There was no way she could keep him from disowning her. She would be all by herself...
"Amber, you'll stay with me, right?" Krystal asked softly, suddenly insecure.
"What, do you mean in court?" her girlfriend replied, not taking her eyes off of the road.
"No. Forever. If my family abandons me, I will have no one left."
Amber frowned and the car slowed down unexpectedly with a short 'hmmpff' of the engine, causing Krystal to shoot foreward until her belt caught her. A bit confused she turned her head. There was a focussed expression on the other woman's face.
Amber turned off the highway, onto the parking lot of a McDonald's. At first, Krystal wanted to ask if they were going to get some food or something. She was ready to protest because she didn't eat fatty foods anymore. But the determined expression hadn't left her eyes yet and Krystal knew her well enough to know that they weren't here to eat.
The car stopped, but Amber let the engine on. She unbuckled her belt and twisted her body in Krystal's direction.
And with no warning or whatsoever, she bowed down and pressed her lips fiercely upon hers. Overwhelmed by the suddenness, it took Krystal a few moments to close her eyes and place her hands in Amber's neck. She kissed back, but Amber's body weight pressed her against the car window, and that was the moment she slightly pushed her back, chuckling softly.
"Slow down, tiger. What's up?" she asked, still snickering. Amber opened her eyes, still dead serious.
"I can't believe you had to ask me if I would stay with you," she said, almost hurt. Krystal blinked a few times and tilted her head slightly.
"Can't a girl doubt in a moment of weakness?" she asked. Amber shook her head.
"No. Not you. Not after everything we've been through. I don't want you to ever doubt me again when it comes to loving you, Krystal," she huffed. Krystal smiled.
"Forever it is, then?"
"Forever it is."

"You must be crazy."
Jessica stared at the both of them in utter disbelief.
Her sister had urged to come over as soon as Krystal was free to take a look at her new apartment. To kill two birds with one stone; Krystal had also invited Amber over so her sister could get used to her new girlfriend. Or old girlfriend, whatever.
As soon as she had opened the door, Jessica had flown her around the neck, hugging her tightly. The two sisters were entangled when Amber came from the kitchen, still wearing the apron with "Kiss the cook" in big red letters on the front Krystal had made her wear to avoid spilling on her new floor. Jessica had immediately let her go and scoffed:
"So you left Kai for this?"
Krystal had poked her hard in her side and Amber had stuck out her tongue.
"If you have to know, I also made Kai wear that thing," Krystal hissed.
"Oh so it's second-hand rubbish? Let's buy a new one that doesn't smell like expensive cologne," Amber had immediately commented, making the two girls laugh instantly.

After they had eaten the terrible food Amber had made — okay, she kind of had to admit that she missed the way Kai cooked, but she guessed this was an opportunity to learn a new skill because Amber sure as hell wasn't going to — they sat down on the couch. The Jung sisters each with a glass with white wine and Amber a little bit of liquor.
"So you approve of us?" Krystal eventually asked, when the small talk was over. Jessica put her index finger against her lips and let her gaze go from her little sister to her girlfriend and back.
"You know, I really liked Kai. You could've had a perfect life with him. But the heart cannot be changed, so I suppose that you wouldn't have gotten happy even if you tried. I'm glad you found Amber again, to make you happy. But rationally speaking.. Kai outshines her on every aspect."
"Oh no, there's one thing I'm better at,"
Amber immediately butted in. She grinned mischievously and winked at Krystal very obviously. It caused her cheeks to grow red immediately and Jessica to burst out in laughter.
"Hmm, okay, perhaps she has better humour than him. But really, I'm not the one you need to convince. I think dad will be a lot harder to make you accept this new.. development," Jessica said.
Her little sister sighed and ran with her slender fingers through her hair. Jessica squinted her eyes at her deep sigh.
"You already told him.. did you?" she asked cautiously. Krystal tried to turn away her gaze to avoid being caught looking guilty, but Jessica didn't need something like a gaze to tell her her sister was lying to her; she could just see that from the way her shoulders slumped down.
"Oh God, what did they say?" Jessica asked immediately forcefully. Krystal and Amber exchanged a look and a sigh, before they eventually turned towards the other woman. Krystal told her the whole story, until the very details. Some words from her father had been grifted into her memory and came out easily. It didn't take longer than five minutes to tell what had happened, but during those five minutes Jessica had grown five shades paler.
When Krystal was finished she turned her head away and it stayed silent for a long time.
"You do realize that I cannot help you now, right?" Jessica eventually managed to get out, making her look back up again. "I cannot pick either yours or dad's side, not even if I wanted to. You'll have to sort this out yourself."
"I know.."
Krystal muttered. "Do you think I can win, though?"
Krystal had grown more scared over the course of the hours that passed. Back then it had been an impulsion to dare her father to come and meet her at court, but she wasn't at all sure of her case.
"If you really have those papers and they're valid, I think you can. With a little persuation you'll be able to get a firm share of Jung Internationals. But it's not unreasonable to choose for dad. He still has his name under everything and has more power than you. If he wants, he can fire you now."
"But that wouldn't make a difference if Krystal has those documents,"
Amber butted in. Sometimes, she forgot that Amber knew a lot of the business world too, because she had grown up in it as well. Jacob Liu had perhaps not been as bad as her father had been during her childhood, but Amber had known all the nights alone in her elderly house because her father had to stay over at work. She knew the loneliness that came with having rich parents. And being the cheeky girl she was, it wouldn't surprise her that she had eavesdropped on her parents often, just to get some sight into the business world. Now she knew a fair share as well, despite never even having been interested to follow her father's footsteps.
"Indeed, it wouldn't. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have power anymore. And he will probably have the company behind him," Jessica replied, causing Krystal and Amber to frown.
"How's that possible? Krystal worked her way up to CEO. She was an intern, an personal assistant, she was the coffee lady who brought everyone their coffee until she proved what she was worth. How can the employees like Mr. Jung more than her?" Amber grumbled.
"You're getting it wrong. Sure, the average desk lady might like Krystal more, but you forget that Jung Internationals only exists for 25 years. The people who were there, the first employees ever, were employeed by our father. He single-handedly turned Jung Internationals to what it is now. The board, all the important people in the company, are old white men who are father's friends. They will support him no matter what. It'd be a miracle if they were open-minded enough to choose for Krystal. And even if they secretly thought Krystal would do better than her father, they'd still choose for him because they fear loosing their well-paid jobs. And she needs to have the board behind her if she wants to make a difference. All those interns who love her can't change a thing."
Amber huffed and crossed her arms in front of her chest.
"She can just fire them all after she has won."
Jessica shook her head.
"There's one thing that father made sure of when he started Jung Internationals. The board consists of 5 people, excluding the CEO and the Vice-President. If they are very discontent with the way the CEO leads the company, they can decide together to put he or she off. That has to be, if every single one agrees that there has to get a new CEO. If Krystal eventually takes the company by force, she could loose it right at the second she sets a foot in the building. They had the right to do that. She won't be able to gather all of their hearts but she needs to at least have on friend who won't leave her side, otherwise she's done for. But then again, that will be very hard."
Amber sighed excessively and ran roughly with her hand through her short hair, grunting softly. Even Krystal bit down on her lip. It indeed was going to become a rough battle, she realized. Her father would pull out every trick he had to get out of the documents she had and because of that, she might indeed loose her whole career.
"Who're on the board?" Amber eventually asked.
"Jasper Watson, Toby Young, Raphael Mitchell, Cooper Jackson and Parker Evans. The dispicable five," Krystal sighed bitterly. "There's no way we can convince them. They're dad's lap dogs. No way to beat them."
Amber shook her head refusingly.
"There must be someone who can help you."
Krystal sighed and ran with her hand through her hair, hopelessly trying to find a solution. Watson and Young are family friends and the closests out of the whole board with her father. There was no way she could recruit them. Jackson was the youngest of all five — only thirty, a few years older than her — and she would've expected him to be the most open-minded, but he walked after her father like a lost puppy. His father had saved him from poverty by recognising his qualities which were excellently fit for the business life and for that he had always stayed so grateful to him that it was sickening to the stomach. That left Mitchell and Evans. She didn't know much about them, to be honest. Mitchell was the most quiet one during presentations and Evans had the biggest mouth. He liked to contradict her father when he was opposing new plans and pointed out flaws with a sharp eye. She'd like to have Evans in her team but she was afraid that she'd be overthrown. He was precious but therefor also very egocentric. He liked to climb up even farther. Nevertheless, Mitchell was too shy and toned down, plus the eldest of the five. His hair had grown white already and he honestly was the wisest out of all of them.
But she didn't need an advisor but someone who could speak up for her.
"I know what I'm going to do," Krystal murmured softly.

The following day, Krystal made sure she stayed at the office late.
Even though she and her father had had a fight, she was still left in charge of the company. Even her father knew it was better to stay in bed the next few days and prepare himself for the exhausting fight that was going to come instead of already tiring himself with needless work. He let Krystal be in charge for a few more days, and she pretended that nothing had happened.
She knew Parker Evans liked to work extra hours. He was the kind of person who liked to show off and brag about all the extra hours he made. Those who knew him better knew he did it for a promotion. But because there was no status he was able to get promoted to, it was in vain. Even if Krystal was to become the CEO, she would not choose him as her Vice-President. He was too eager to raise higher.
Krystal was ready to leave; she had her bag already packed, but she waited for Evans to enter her office. She had told him she wanted to have a small talk with him. A man like Evans, who was craving to get a higher position, would never refuse a talk with the next CEO, and so he didn't.
She was just filling two cups of coffee when he entered the office.
"Good evening, Krystal," he greeted her.
"Likewise, Mr. Evans," she replied. "Please, take a seat."
Evans took off the jacket of his suit and hung it over the back of his chair. He let himself fall in the leather chair, across from Krystal's desk, immediately spreading his legs and making himself comfertable. Krystal lifted her chin as she had to keep herself from looking disgusted. Evans was sometimes too much of a man for her; at least Kai crossed his legs.
Krystal shoved the second cup of coffee in his direction. Evans took it in his right hand, took a sip and licked his lips afterwards, still trailing the taste of the strong drink. As he put the cup back on the desk, he pulled his tie a little looser.
"I'm curious why you asked me to meet you, Ms Jung. It doesn't happen often that I get called in by the Vice-President. I hope it's only to discuss positive things?"
Evans rose his grey eyebrows. They had recently turned grey, Krystal had noticed. He wasn't really old but his dark hair had grown into salt and pepper hair. His temples had turned grey whilst the top remained still sort of darker. Despite the greyness in his hair, his face was barely wrinkled, causing him to still look young.
"Of course it is," Krystal smiled sourly. "Although... I am asking you for a favour. It's a proposal that only counts once. It lasts only this conversation and I will have to know your answer at the end of our talk."
Evans squinted his eyes. He reseated himself, bowing a little bit foreward to her, softening and lowering his voice as if only she was supposed to hear this, despite them being the only one in the office.
"Ms Jung.. whenever someone introduces a proposition like this to me like you just did, makes me wonder if what you're asking from me is really positive. You make it seem like it's secretive."
Krystal chuckled.
"I am proposing this to do you because you were selected because of your sharp eye. I wouldn't have expected anything less. You are right, to be clear. It is secretive."
Evans took another sip of his coffee.
"You make me curious, Krystal. An ambitious man like myself is easily tempted by gamling and I have a feeling that this proposition is something that will catch my attention."
In fact, Krystal didn't like it much to be called by her first name by this man. The more often he opened his mouth, the bigger grew her dislike for him. But she needed him, she knew. And he was the one most likely to grab the bait, if only... she had something to trap him with.
"Let's keep it to formalities, Mr Evans," Krystal said gruffly, which caused Evans to chuckle.
"If we are going to be allies, we can at least call each other by our first name, can't we? And haven't we worked together for years already? But sure, if you prefer to. Just tell me what you're planning to do and... if it's tempting enough, I might give in to your wishes."
"Of course. I'm sure you're aware that the board is able to fire a CEO if the job is not done properly," she started. Evans immediately frowned.
"You're planning to overthrow your father? That's very risky, Krystal," he immediately warned. She almost wanted to correct him on her name, but she just had enough self-control to keep herself from doing that.
"Let me finish, please, Mr Evans. I am not planning on overthrowing my father, I will overthrow my father, no matter what. But how I am going to do that, will be between me and my father. I will not ask the board for any help at court. But when I am CEO, I would prefer to stay in that position and not be kicked out the moment I begin my first day as leader of Jung Internationals. I want you to be the one who pleads for my case when one of the other board members is planning to overthrow me. It needs all five board members to make a decision like that. I want you to stand and stay by my side when one of them might want my father back. I am not planning on letting my effort go to waste."
Evans started to chuckle. He looked at her with a certain interest that was hard to see through; she didn't know whether he was really interested in her deal or if he was just laughing at her because her plan was hopeless. But it was of utter importance that he accepted her conditions, otherwise he might start talking.
When he was done laughing, Evans sat up straighter in his chair.
"I never expected us to resemble each other so much, Ms Jung," he smiled. "I knew you're a hard working woman, but to see that your ambition matches mine surprises me. I never expected you to pull out such a filthy trick."
Krystal cleared her throat and let out a nervous breath she hadn't known she had been holding.
"Whether it's filthy or not, it's justified. You understand why I need your help, Mr Evans," she said. Evans nodded.
"I obviously do understand. And I have to say, that it sure is interesting what you're offering me here. Of course, if you fail, I will loose my job as well because I turned against your father. It's a great risk. So I'm asking you, what are you offering me?" he asked.
Krystal pressed her lips firmly upon each other. With diffeculty, she kept her voice from becoming annoyed. She could've known that he would want something in return.
"I understand it's a risk for you, but I will not fail. Nevertheless, I will garantee you a large sum of money if you help me out," she said.
"Money? But my dear Krystal, I already have money! Why would I want any of that?" Evans replied. Krystal frowned for a moment, but fixed the troubled expression in her eyes almost immediately when she realized what he was after.
"You will become my VP, if that it what you want," she eventually said. She didn't even try to hide the forced undertone in her voice. Evans didn't seem to hear it though and otherwise didn't care, because he started to grin broadly.
"You understand me, Ms Jung. I think we will be good partners," he said, as he stack out his hand, so she could shake it. Krystal took it and shook, but pulled her hand back quickly.
Even though he had agreed to help her, her mood hadn't improved. She had known that he would try to get as much out of this deal as possible, but it nevertheless annoyed her.
Evans stood up from his chair and so did Krystal. He took his jacket agan and put it back on, fastening one of the two button.
"Good evening, Ms Jung," he smiled. As he turned around, he seemed to remember something, and turned back towards her. "Oh, and I need a document with your signature about our deal. Wouldn't want you to pull back when it doesn't suit you anymore, do we?"
With a final smile, he turned around and left the office, leaving Krystal alone with herself and her thoughts.

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