Chapter 15

The Absence

Ji Ah waved at a passing taxi. She was about to get in when a middle aged lady with two kids brushed past her into the waiting vehicle. Ji Ah was about to say something when the lady gave her a harried and apologetic look. "I'm sorry…" One of the kids started bawling, and lady lifted him into her lap, "My Simon has a very high fever, and I have to take him to the emergency room.

Ji Ah just nodded, and retreated back onto the sidewalk. She looked at her cell phone, she was already ten minutes late. There was no time to go home and change, and it was lunch hour rush at the lounge too. Maybe she should have gotten that ride from Eric , but she didn't want to see him right now because she had a urge to either give him smirk or good smack in the head.

Ji Ah gave a yelp as 'her' taxi tore off into the busy streets, and into a puddle created by hose running from the nearby aquamarine store. She looked down to find that the spray from the car tires had caused the entire lower right helm of her dress to be decorated with black splotches. She'd usually would have settled for a few vulgar words after the cab driver.

Today, however…if it wasn't for the endless crowd of people that kept pushing past her stationary form, she would have screamed to high heaven, ripped the dress apart, and chased after the perpetrator with the steel bar she had been eyeing by the public waste bin. Instead, she had to settle for giving the bin a resounding kick, setting off the hollow metal container like a huge metal bell, yell her few vulgar words, and stare darkly at passer-bys- creating a little eddy around herself in the endless stream of people.

For the next ten minutes, Ji Ah multi- tasked- trying to figure out a way to hide the unexpected decoration on her dress, still staring, and waving like mad to catch the attention of any passing cabs- cabs that numbered ZERO. It was fortunate for those males that had the guts to whistle or give her a second glance that Ji Ah was so absorbed, she was oblivious because the steel bar was in still in good reaching distance.

Ji Ah tilted her head back in weariness and more frustration. When she had woke up this morning, she had not expected lunch to end like this- in fact, she was feeling so generous, she was even willing to forgive Eric for phoning in an absentia at the lounge without telling her. "Can anything worse happen?" Ji Ah groaned.

Just then, a familiar black Ferrari pulled in at the valet area in front of the luxurious hotel she had had lunch in. Two just as familiar individuals emerged from the hotel entrance. She saw Eric and MinHoon give the doorman who had pulled opened the door a friendly nod. Was it just her or was the doorman just a fraction quicker, and more polite when Eric , and MinHoon walked up? "Rich people," Ji Ah shook her head at the thought that Eric probably frequented restaurant like this one; high-classed restaurants that she would not have even dreamed of visiting- well, maybe in her dreams.

Ji Ah continued to watch as the two tall men, deep in conversation, walk towards the car. MinHoon went into the car first- on the driver's side, while Eric paused by the passenger's side. Even from this distance, Ji Ah could see, and feel the striking appearance that Eric emulated. He looks tired, came unbidden in her head. All thoughts of violence disappeared, and all she wanted to do right now was to touch those tense shoulders, and tell him to relax.

Ji Ah took a foot in Eric's direction. "What am I doing?!" she asked out loud in exasperation- inevitably attracting more attention than she already was. Despite the obvious exhaustion on his face, Eric still looked too good- as was evident by the blushing and giggling going on between the female employees, guests, and her fellow pedestrians. She watched as he raised the hand of a woman in a beige form fitting dress suit, and kissed it. She could she that the woman and Eric were laughing, and blushing.

"If he can flirt- he can't be that tired," Ji Ah muttered, once again attracting more attention. "Well, he seems to be his normal self…" For inexplicable reasons, Ji Ah felt angry rather than happy at the thought. Unconsciously, she crossed her arms, and gave her left foot a good stomp. Well, as far as she was concerned- as long as she wasn't working for him, anything she did, or he did was their own business.

The black Ferrari was pulling out of the circular driveway in front of the hotel, and something dawned on Ji Ah, I can't let him see me, I was supposed to be at work by now. Damn myself for being an idiot. She gave herself a little slap, "Stop cursing yourself, Kim Ji Ah." Ji Ah looked around, and spotted the alleyway that led to the back of the hotel, and decided to take sanctuary there.

Ji Ah breathed a sigh of relief as the black car passed her by without pausing. "I better phone Michelle, and get her to tell Andy that I'm going to be late for work." She pulled out her cell phone. Something was definitely smiling down on her, but it was definitely not Lady Fortune. Yes, the cell was low on battery. Ji Ah sighed and decided to go borrow the phone at the hotel. She looked down at her splattered dress. "I guess I have to do something about this first." Looking at the delicate material, even Ji Ah knew that any amount of scrubbing would permanently ruined the dress- and she didn't even own it. Ji Ah looked around for inspiration, and landed on her light yellow shawl. She grinned.

The doorman watched with renew interest as a young lady walked towards him, and he wasn't the only one. Auburn curls framed ivory skin, and her dress framed every curve- hiding enough to make her every movement tantalizing. The white top of her dress rippled down in waves, narrowing at the waist, and ended at mid thigh. The most attractive thing about her attire was the light yellow tail of her dress- the thin, lacey yellow material was tailored to the waist, not unlike the swimming slips that woman tied to their waist at the beach. The tail gave just the slightest lilt at the light breathe of air- revealing long legs, and hiding them again.

Ji Ah gave the doorman a smile as he tipped his cap at her. She grinned at her own ingenious- she had tied her shawl to her waist, and it hid the splotches remarkably well.

Ji Ah headed straight towards a young man, who appeared free, at the front desk. "Excuse me."

The young man looked up, and blushed. "Yes, can I help you, Miss?"

"I don't know if you recognize me, but I was here a little while ago?"

"Of course, you are the Vice-CEO's girlfriend." he grinned proudly at his deduction.

"Vice-CEO's?" Ji Ah frowned, she didn't know anyone who owned such a large and grand hotel.

"Of…of course. Mr. Im …we were told…that…," the young man hesitated, a little worried that he may have offended the customer.

The though struck Ji Ah , as rich as Eric was, he might as well own such a hotel- what had she gotten herself into? "Oh…him…Eric …Vice-CEO…of course. I'm his…." Ji Ah paused, what was she to him? She wouldn't call herself his friend- she'd probably call him the same thing that the young man just did. "I'm his …girlfriend." It felt weird to say that, she'd barely caught herself from adding a question mark to the statement- it was almost embarrassing. Ji Ah couldn't help, but feel that she was lying. She felt rather guilty, she was never a good liar, or so she was told. "My cell just ran out of batteries, can I borrow yours?"

The young man looked at her a little strangely, but smiled and handed her a phone.

Dialing, dialing, dialing. There was no answer. Ji Ah frowned, why was there no answer. She decided to try Michelle's cell instead.

The young man watched as the pretty, no… beautiful woman frown at the phone in frustration. Finally, at the ninth try she seemed to be connected.

"Hey, Mich. How come no one is picking up at the restaurant? I…why are you crying…what's wrong. Michelle, calm down, and tell me what happened?"

The young man watched as the woman's eyes began to redden, and sob- she was attracting a lot of attention. She was on the phone for another few minutes, when she calmly placed the phone back in its cradle. She raised her tear-stained face, and turned to face the open lobby, "Can anyone give me a ride to the Hopewell Hospital Emergency room?" She asked loudly between sobs. "Please," she added softly.

The young man glanced at the manager at the front desk, and the old man gave him a nod. "I can, miss, come with me." He offered her a hand because she looked like she was about to faint.

Where was she? It was four in the morning. He had tried calling, his secretaries have tried calling. Damn, he had even asked the maid that cleaned his bathroom to try calling. Was she avoiding him on purpose?

Wait till I get my hands on her. She was supposed to be at training tomorrow morning. Whatever, I'll call her tomorrow- need some sleep.

But he didn't sleep, he just kept thinking of her. In his frustration to call her, to hear her voice, and that he could not reach her when he wanted to- it never occurred for him that he was worried. He just knew what he needed.