Foto bij Remember me | Chapter thirty

Krystal went by Victoria’s office the following day. It would be best to actually go there, she had reckoned, because if she didn’t there always was a chance that Eloisa might accidentally betray her by selling her off to her father.
The trip to Song Software took a little less than an hour, since it was just located in the outskirts of the city. On the road, she called her partner in crime to enlighten her that she’d be paying a short visit. It would be good to catch up on the situation together, since Victoria didn’t know anything yet about the meeting today, and whether she talked to her by phone or in face-to-face, it wouldn’t matter.

The Headquarters of Song Software was built in an abandoned factory and the interior was styled that way. It carried the company’s motto very well: “We can create something new from something old!”. The company’s specialty was programming old computers with new operating systems, slightly alternating the exterior and creating that vintage look that many people like nowadays. Together with selling their high-tech software to Apple as well as Microsoft, they make great money.
The walls were still made of old bricks without a lick of paint and the floors of grey concrete, giving it that urban style that was very popular nowadays. In spite of the old bricks, the rest of the company was high-tech, probably even more advanced than Jung Internationals. The furniture was made of simple light wood and there were a lot of windows, making the rooms very light. It vibrated off a warm feeling.

Victoria’s PA let her into the office. It was styled the same way as the rest of the building, which surprised Krystal. She had pictured Victoria as the kind of woman who liked the black-and-white theme, with little windows and the newest of the newest furniture and a real Piet Mondrian painting on the wall. She noticed that she had been wrong all along.
Victoria’s office was exactly like the rest of the company. The only thing that was different was that there were also windows in the ceiling, which was possible because her office was located on the upper level. She sat behind her desk, a large oak-wood desk on a leather chair, typing quickly on her MacBook. Behind her was another door, that lead to a small balcony.
Victoria looked up and smiled, signing that she should sit. Krystal sat down on the comfortable designer chair, coated with dim apple green fabric. She crossed her legs over each other again.
Victoria typed a few final words on her laptop, only to close it after so she could look at Krystal. Her PA came in with two steamy mugs of coffee, Krystal’s identical to Victoria’s. She thankfully took it in her hand and tried to take a sip, only to burn her tongue. She pulled a face. Victoria chuckled softly.
“Well, what did they think of my e-mail? Pretty good right?” she asked her proudly. Krystal put her cup away and nodded as a big smile grew on her face.
“I loved how you flat out told them that you didn’t want to work with my father,” she chuckled. Victoria snickered as well.
“I thought I’d better tell them the truth. And if they won’t believe me, it contains just enough mysteriousness that they get suspicious. If Jackie and Amy pull out too, they may think I have set it all up. They’ll blame me, not you. It’s ideal! And since there’s no proof I have set them up, they won’t be able to harm me.”
Krystal grinned, loving it how they were on the same page. It surprised her how well they worked together. Only a few months ago they were sworn enemies. Now they worked together like they don't know any better. They didn't even need to deliberate for them to understand each other.
“And the best thing is that father put you on the case, he wanted you to find out what was wrong. We can make up anything we want and he won’t even know,” Victoria chuckled softly. Krystal laughed along.
Did she feel bad for lauhghing? Perhaps a little – he was still her father. But she remembered she did this for the greater good. She wanted Jung Internationals, even if it was just a matter of principles. She wanted her father to see that she was ready to become the company’s CEO and she wanted to be happy with Amber too.

They discussed the last half hour what Krystal would say to her father before she left. Since the board was already expecting that there was something more going on, they had decided to make up the story that Victoria believed Song Software was treated unfairly in the absence of the CEO due to his illness. She wanted Krystal to say that the communication was poorly and that audited her decision to sign the contract with Jung Internationals. So, little benefits were too little to make her stay with a company that didn’t even know how to run itself.

As soon as Krystal delivered the message, her father called together another meeting with the board. He made Krystal tell the whole story again. Near the end her voice couldn’t even be heard anymore over the loud voices of the arguing men.
“Is there nothing we can do to make Ms. Song stay? Song Software is a dangerous opponent to have,” Mitchell said, still trying to be at least a bit objective, unlike the others whom were already cursing at Victoria.
“Didn’t her company take part in the design of iOS Sierra? And after it launched, she helped Microsoft with his counter attack on Apple?” Evans said. Krystal chuckled softly, causing the others to look at her weirdly. She immediately controlled her facial expressions again, but inside she was still laughing. Only Victoria was able to make up such a plan: set up the two leading electronical companies up against each other by designing new, advanced software for both of them. Victoria would get paid double, since both companies used her software. It was the work of a mastermind.
“To get back at you, Mitchell,” she started,“-Ms. Song told me she didn’t want to negotiate with a Chairman that was born in the Jurassic period, nor a ‘baby who had just outgrown diapers’. I think she’s pretty done.”
“Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why it matters that Song Software abandoned us? It’s not like Ms. Song can harm us in any way,”
Toby Young asked. Her father hadn’t said anything at all during the meeting, but now banged on the table with his hand. The board and Krystal alike looked up, startled.
Of course she can harm us! Do you think Victoria Song is just some average woman? If she is wronged, whether we think it’s just, she will want revenge. And Song Software has as much connections as we do, as well with Liu Economics, Lee Electronics and the Empire Group, three of our biggest partners. If she gets them at her side, our whole company will be ruined!”
For a moment, it was completely silent in the meeting room. Her father had six pairs of eyes on him and he stared back at each and every one of them, one by one.
Krystal was surprised he had figured it out as quickly as that.
“Liu Economics won’t leave us. Jacob Liu is your friend. They have been with us from the start,” Jackson Cooper quietly hinted.
“But Jacob Liu isn’t CEO of Liu Economics anymore. And his daughter is a lot more incalculable than her father. She has something that all of the Liu children have-” her father shot Krystal a look as he said this, and she pressed her lips tightly upon each other, “- which is great recklessness. And that can either be good or bad for the company. There is no insurance that Liu Economics will stay with Jung Internationals.
As for Lee Electronics and The Empire Group; they’re too small of an investment to decide such a big thing on their own. They will either need Song Software or Jung Internationals to suck onto to make a living, and they will choose the company who will have the upper hand.
If Victoria is going to play this game, it can get ugly. Krystal, I want an official apology from Jung Internationals as fast as possible to Ms. Song. Also send her something... a fruit basket or something, or chocolate muffins. Whatever she likes best.
We cannot stop Song Software from leaving us, but I want Victoria Song eliminated as an enemy right away. We can’t give her the opportunity to stab us in the back.”

Krystal wrote the letter her father asked her to, just for the sake to make Victoria laugh. She also chose a little basket filled with chocolate truffles, bonbons and macarons for her, with the most expensive products she could find.
As soon as she had enlightened her father, he gave her another assignment: he wanted her to keep an eye on the other companies, to look if they were showing any signs from breaking the contract with Jung Internationals any time soon.
Little did he know that Krystal already knew.

And even though Krystal was on the booking process when it came to carrying out her plan, she was losing that week when it came to her relationship. Amber was leaving for Korea that weekend and she had a hard time letting go.

She laid in Amber’s bed. Nowadays, they spent a lot of time in Krystal’s apartment, because she often was too tired to go to Amber’s place after work. Amber didn’t mind coming to Krystal and she liked it that she always had her girlfriend with her to cuddle with but she would be lying if she said she hadn’t missed the smell of Amber’s pillow. Whenever they laid in bed together, only part of Amber’s scent got through and she had forgotten how drenched Amber’s stuff were of that free, summer breeze scent. It was so strong that it made her dizzy.
The apartment, the bed, the soft sound of Jack Jack scurrying in the living room made her feel safe even though there was nothing to be afraid of. Later that day she would need to leave – it had been in Krystal’s diary for weeks – and she didn’t at all want to let her go yet.
Amber had explained that she needed to go to Korea for a week or two, perhaps three, because of the album she was currently working at. Normally, she created overall new songs, that she sold to SM Entertainment and that they used in different albums for different artists. But they had asked her to compose a full album, featuring thirteen songs, for Luna’s comeback. And most of the writing and composing had been done at home, but Luna – who had left the US a week earlier than Amber – still needed to record the songs, and they wanted Amber to be there, to optimize the songs.
Krystal had been understanding; these kinds of things just came with the job. It was the same with Krystal’s job. She couldn’t help it either that she was home late often and that she had to get up early in the morning.
That didn’t mean she had to like it though…

Krystal had always found it funny how practically all the songs Luna sang were about her and Amber. All the sad love songs she had produced in those eight years they had been apart had been about her and all the cute ‘I’m-so-happy-to-be-in-love’ kind of songs were about her too. The fact that Luna and Amber used to sleep together didn’t bother Krystal anymore since she knew that every song Luna had sung had been produced by Amber. That album was going to be a token of her love and Krystal was sure to get a copy of it as soon as it came out.

That didn’t take away that she was jealous of Luna that she was able to spend so much time with Amber. She didn’t doubt that they would almost spent every day in the week together. That she and Krystal were dating now, didn’t take away that Amber and Luna were still friends and they’d probably go out together, head out to some clubs or just stay at home to watch a movie. Krystal knew Amber well enough that she knew for sure that nothing would happen, but she still was a bit jealous. She wanted to go out with Amber too without feeling tired. The weekends weren’t long enough to catch up all their wasted time. Most of the time, they stayed in bed to cuddle, but Krystal had come to a point in their relationship now in which she wanted to scream off the rooftops that Amber was her girlfriend, and she hated how her work made it almost impossible to do that.

“Your plane leaves at six, right?” Krystal mumbled into the pillows, still sleep drunk. Yesterday they had fallen asleep late and Amber had been packing her suitcase since early in the morning. Without a solid 8 hours of sleep, Krystal was rather tired and as Amber packed her stuff, she didn’t bother to get up from the bed filled with pillows that smelled so good.
“Yeah. Want to come and drop me off?” she asked, without looking up at her girlfriend. She just turned around to her closet to take more clothes out. She recognized the sweater with R2-D2. That sweater was and still is her favorite. Krystal had worn it the night she had come home from Amber’s place, after they had made up after Krystal had wanted to break off their secret relationship. Amber had told her back then that she had never forgotten her and that she had been on her mind constantly those past eight years. She had just budged and at the end of the evening, she hadn’t even noticed she had gone home whilst still wearing Amber’s sweater.
“Don’t you think that’ll be a bit too emotional? I mean, I might cry,” Krystal chuckled. She heard Amber snicker too.
“I’m only leaving for three weeks, just see it as a holiday. We’ll face-time every day, I promise.”
“Yes, finally I’ll be able to rest!”
Krystal joked. “I don’t want to think of it as a holiday, though. If I picture you on a holiday, then it is with me, holding my hand whilst we stroll down a beach of some inhabited island together.”
Amber looked up and started to laugh. Krystal looked back at her from the bed, only with one eye open since the other was squeezed shut by the pillow.
“You want to go on a holiday with me to the jungle? We have to hunt and collect for our food, distillate sea water so we can use it to drink. In no time we’ll just be two female versions of Tarzan. Both running around in nothing more than-”
Krystal pouted.
“I forgot to mention there’s a five-star hotel in the background,” she added innocently. Amber chuckled and shook her head as she went on with packing.

Krystal propped herself up, laying her arm underneath her pillow so she was able to look better at Amber. With half of a smile on her face, she watched her girlfriend pack her suitcase. She only wore a sweater and shorts, but even then, Krystal was so attracted to her that it almost hurt.
Amber either didn’t notice her watching her or she just let her, because she didn’t respond. It was about 11 PM and Krystal had no intention of getting up yet.
“Is Jack Jack coming with you? And Tuna?”
Amber scratched the back of her neck.
“I used to take them but I was wondering if you could drop by to take care of them? Tuna will be okay if you just feed her but Jack Jack has to be let out so if it’s too much trouble I can take him to-”
“No, no, I can make it work,”
Krystal chuckled. “I’ll just take him to the office. As long as he doesn’t drool in my coffee I think it’ll be okay.”
Amber smiled widely to her and blew her a hand-kiss.
“You’re amazing, you know that, right?”
Krystal chuckled.
Amber laughed too and ran with her hand through her messy bed-hair. Krystal’s smile stayed on her face as she went on watching her.

After a while, she got up from the bed. With only wearing her lingerie and a shirt of her girlfriend’s, she immediately sought warmth by wrapping her arms around Amber’s waist. Amber, surprised by the sudden cuddle attack, dropped the thing she was holding. Krystal nuzzled her face in Amber’s neck, pressing feather light kisses on the sensitive skin. Amber chuckled and titled her head, so her neck was more accessible to Krystal’s kisses.
“I know most girlfriends would say the opposite but… miss me a lot when I’m gone,” Krystal muttered in her ear. “I want you to miss me.”
“Those three weeks will be unbearable. I already have trouble being without you for more than a day,”
Amber sighed.
“Miss me, then make it up to me afterwards.”
Krystal pressed another kiss in her neck before Amber turned around in her arms, placing her hands on Krystal’s cheeks and softly caressing the skin with her thumbs. Amber bowed down and kissed her deeply. It was a kiss that made Krystal’s head spin and her heart beat faster making her feel like she was flying like only people who were deeply in love could feel.
When Krystal bowed back to end the kiss, they stayed close together.
“Is this our good-bye already?”
Krystal smiled. She still had her eyes closed. Their foreheads leaned against each other.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to drop you off at the airport. I’ll spontaneously buy a plane ticket to go with you.”
Amber chuckled and opened her eyes. She kissed her forehead.
“Then what about Jack Jack, he relies on you,” she smiled. Krystal opened her eyes too and rolled her eyes.

They shared one last kiss before Krystal started to get dressed. She took her time because she wanted to stay as long as she could with Amber. Still, she stayed with her decision not to take her to the airport because she knew she wouldn’t be able to control herself otherwise.
As Amber packed the last few things she needed, Krystal showered, dried her hair, applied a thin layer of make-up and took her favorite dress she had taken from home on.
As she slipped into her heels, Amber closed her bulging suitcase. She sighed and let herself fall onto the bed. Krystal watched her, leaning against the doorframe, smiling. She slowly walked towards the bed and sat down next to her.
“Come on, get dressed. I’ll take you out for lunch.”
Amber opened one of her eyes.
“Only if we don’t go to such a fancy place you always like to go. Something cozy.”
Krystal chuckled. The five-star places she liked to lunch at when Amber came to pick her up at work weren’t the places Amber liked to go. She still felt a little out of place in such restaurants, since most of the time she was either wearing a hoodie or a simple t-shirt and a snapback, whilst Krystal sometimes wore an outfit that was over 500 dollars. On weekends, Amber usually decided where they were going to eat and she preferred the tiny cozy cafés who were run by old, lovely women. Krystal loved the vibe and she immediately agreed.
“Deal. Now get dressed.”

Amber’s idea of ‘getting dressed’ was a bit different from Krystal. She simply exchanged her shorts for skinny jeans, put on her sneakers and placed her hair underneath a cap. She couldn’t blame her though. Even Krystal didn’t dress up if she had a long plane flight: you simply wanted to get as comfortable as possible.
They headed out to Amber’s favorite place, a tiny place called The Blooming Rose, run by an old acquaintance of the Liu family who actually was called Rose too. Amber had told her that she was a widow, because her husband died of cancer when he was about forty. She has raised all five of her children all by herself and still managed to get around. As soon as they were all living on their own, she had opened The Blooming Rose, mainly to keep herself busy.
The café could only house about 20 people. Rose did the waiting and cooking all by herself. The best thing was that whenever it was a busy day, the clients didn’t even get angry. They were really polite to Rose and waited on their turn, in the meantime chatting happily.

They had lunched there before, so Rose greeted them happily when they stepped in. She already knew Amber’s name and welcomed Krystal by asking her ‘how Amber’s girlfriend was doing’.
“I don’t think I ever mentioned to her that I’m your girlfriend?” Krystal wondered, as soon as they sat down at their usual table, close to the window. Amber chuckled awkwardly and avoided her gaze. Krystal squinted her eyes suspiciously.
“I might have mentioned something…”
Krystal crossed her arms in front of her body and sighed.
“What did you tell her?”
“Well, I sort of come here often for coffee, if I have to go somewhere for a meeting or something. She kind of asked me if I would bring over ‘my friend’ again and I told her you were my girlfriend instead,”
Amber quietly admitted. Krystal rolled her eyes.
“How did she take it?”
Her girlfriend’s eyes lighted up.
“Very open-minded, it surprised me! ‘As long as you’re happy and in love, I don’t think any kind of love could be wrong’, she was so sweet. She said she was happy for us and that she liked to see us around more often.”
Krystal nodded and ran with her hand through her hair, letting out a relieved sigh. She still is a little bit tense when it comes to coming out to strangers. Amber was open with her sexuality since she was sixteen, and had used it in college to get a lot of girls. Krystal only started now to be proud of who she was and she still worried a bit about what other people were going to think of her. Especially the older generation was more judgmental towards the newer generation. They were brought up thinking that homosexuality was something wrong, something to be ashamed of, something you could cure, whilst nowadays people simply thought differently. But if you have been living your entire life thinking that homosexuality was a sin, then it was difficult to suddenly change opinions.
Perhaps Rose was not brought up so strictly religious or perhaps she had found out on her own that homosexuality isn’t a sin and she is really open-minded, either way, Krystal is glad she was able to accept them. It always settled her heart to know that one more person was on their side.

They ate their lunch – Amber had a hamburger and Krystal a wrap – and afterwards they walked back home. Krystal’s car was still there and Amber would take a cab to the airport.
“So, you’re really not going to drop me off?” she asked, as they entered the apartment again. As Amber took her suitcase to the hall, Krystal packed her stuff she had left here and there during the course of the night – like her charger and brush.
“If you want me to come to Korea then I’ll be dropping you off but otherwise I prefer going home,” she chuckled.
“What if I want you to come?” Amber asked.
“I can’t, not right now,” she sighed. “You know I’m-”
Amber sighed and waved her words away with a single move of her hand.
“I know, I know. Couldn’t help to ask though,” she chuckled. “I would love to show you Seoul, though. It’s an amazing city.”
“Let’s go on our honeymoon there,”
Krystal jokingly said. And even though she said it with a chuckle, Amber jerked her head up in surprise. For a moment, all they could do was stare at each other, as Krystal’s grin slowly faded from her face. Amber let out a nervous chuckle.
“Honeymoon? You’re already thinking about that?” she said, as she looked away. Krystal realized her mistake and even though it hadn’t been her intention to bring it up like that, she still was ashamed of herself.
In fact, she hadn’t thought about marrying Amber just yet. A few months ago, same sex marriage was legalized in the United States, but the idea of being able to even marry Amber hadn’t settled in her mind yet.
But perhaps she had been unconsciously thinking about it, she wondered. What she had thought about was moving in together. Even though they were only dating for half a year again, it felt like they had for years and she knew that Amber would be the only one for her. Moving in would be something good to start with.
But she had moved in together with Kai the moment he had asked her to marry him. Perhaps she linked marriage with living together and had her mind tricked her into thinking about marriage in another way?
“I-I’m sorry,” she stuttered.
“For what? Don’t you think it has never crossed my mind?”
Krystal looked up in surprise.
Amber laughed uncomfortably and scratched the back of her neck.
“Doesn’t everyone think about that once in a while? Especially after all we’ve been through.”
“I never thought of marrying Kai until he asked me to..”
Krystal said softly. Amber frowned her eyebrows. They looked at each other, with a knowing gaze. Then Krystal turned around and pressed her lips hard upon each other, having already revealed too much.

They didn’t say much after that, both of their heads filled with the fantasies what could be.
Krystal called for a cab soon after that, hoping to try and clear her buzzing mind and get rid of the guilt in her stomach. As soon as she had ended the call, it suddenly felt very final that Amber was going, and she didn’t like one bit of it.

Twenty minutes later the cab arrived. They had managed to get Amber’s incredibly heavy suitcase down from her apartment and into the lobby. The moment the yellow cab stopped in front of the building, Amber stepped outside to talk to the driver. Krystal followed her, but didn’t join the conversation. She kept her distance and watched her girlfriend longingly. Eventually, the driver nodded, took the suitcase and put it in the trunk. Amber walked back to her and grabbed her hand, taking her back inside.
“Go and catch your plane,” Krystal said, smiling sourly. She couldn’t pretend well that she was glad for Amber that she was able to work on her album in Korea. Sure, her songs would be listened to by millions of people but still… she didn’t want her to leave. And perhaps that was really selfish to think, but she couldn’t help herself.
“Yeah, I will. The meter is running already but I don’t mind paying a few extra dollars if I can say goodbye to you.”
Spontaneously, Amber pulled her closer, wrapping her arms around her waist and pressing her lips onto hers. It took Krystal, who was overwhelmed by the suddenness, a few seconds to place her arms on her shoulders, but eventually her eyes fell shut.
The kiss wasn’t as tender and loving as the last few kisses they had shared, when their sadness had influenced actions, turning them softer. It was a bit sloppy, full of need for the other. It never took them long to adjust to each other, but even then, their teeth clinked together every now and then. Amber was just a tad smaller than she was, now she wore her heels, and she felt her lips push upwards, wanting to kiss deepen the kiss, wanting to taste more of Krystal. And even though Krystal was supposed to be the bigger one now – that small voice in her head told her to stop and bow back because it was only going to be harder to say goodbye – but she couldn’t set herself to it. It didn’t happen that Amber was so needy. Needy in another way, perhaps, but never like this.
They kissed each other like they were never going to see each other again.

When they let each other go and they opened their eyes again, Amber’s lips were swollen and slightly pinker than they had been before the kiss. They were panting and both were a bit confused about their sudden need for each other. Krystal bowed down to hug her and wrapped her arms around Amber’s waist again. Amber did the same, letting out a sigh.
“I’ll miss you…” the other woman muttered.
“I know,” Krystal answered. For a moment, there was a silence, in which they could both hear their own deep breaths.
“Are you not going to say it back?”
“I’ll miss you too,”
Krystal said softly. Amber chuckled.
“I know.”
“Then why did you want me to say it?”
she asked.
“I just wanted to hear you say it.”
Krystal bowed back, just to roll her eyes at her girlfriend. Amber grinned.
They heard the car honk outside. The driver ticked annoyed on his watch. Both of the women chuckled softly, suddenly very embarrassed about their burst of lust just a few seconds ago.
“Tell Luna I said hi,” Krystal smiled. Amber smiled back to her and nodded.
“Take care of Jack Jack for me, okay?”
“Of course.”

Amber quickly pecked her cheek one last time, before she turned around and ran back to the car. She opened the door and sat down on the back seat. The driver immediately started the car and rushed away. Krystal could just lift her hand to wave at her before she was gone.

A feeling of emptiness rushed over her.

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