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Chapter 1

Penny stood by the sidewalk waiting for her driver to come around. She stared at couples and families passing by her. She stayed at one spot to observe pedestrians pouring all over. It was raining. It was still raining. She did not understand why they still find the joy to smile at such a time. The musky air reached her nose, raising her annoyance level to another notch.
“Sorry, Ms. Lin,” Amber – her assistant – apologized, pushing the door out to receive her.
Penny handed Amber the portfolio before getting in herself.
“Sorry, Ms. Lin,” Luke – the driver – mumbled as she closed the door.
Penny stayed silent.
Ten minutes later, they arrived at their company. Penny stepped out before Amber or Luke was able to help her. She grabbed the portfolio and made her way to the elevators. She knew she had to move fast. Today just had to be the day when rain decided to hit hard. It was as if it was testing her. Testing her limits, testing her patience. She no longer practiced patience. She only mastered tolerance. Only tolerance became her drive. Tolerance pushed forth her ambition.
She pressed on the keypad and stepped back to wait. Her tolerance came into mind again. She needed to focus. She did not have time to lose concentration. Only one distraction. Only one distraction would drive her to the end.
Five minutes later, she reached the top. She walked briskly to the conference room after a quick glance at her watch. She knew she was on time. However, it also meant that she was not prepared enough. She had lost cushion time. She did not want to lose her nerves either.
“Ms. Lin,” The boss’ secretary greeted her.
She nodded.
“Mr. Ren is inside,” The secretary informed her – though unnecessary.
Penny nodded again.
The secretary finally stepped out of the way.
Penny reached for the door handle and pushed it in. This was it.
Upon her presence, everyone in the room got up. There were only five in the room.
Penny knew there was supposed to be four. Before she was able to investigate, the gentleman sitting next to the boss pulled off his sunglasses and stared at her. She stopped in her own tracks, her portfolio almost abandoning her yet she was able to regain herself in time. She returned his stare with a cold, passive one.
“Penny,” The boss called to her. “This is Xu Shao Yang, our new Director of Operations.”
“Nice to see you again, Ms. Lin,” Ambrose said, extending his right hand out to her with a bright smile.
“You two know each other?” The boss asked, looking from Ambrose to Penny.
“Yes, we do,” Penny replied coldly, returning the handshake.
Then they withdrew their hands as fast as they had once a long time ago. But it was not out of nervousness this time.
“If you both know each other, then this will be better since you two will work together quite well in the future,” The boss continued, his face lighting up with much enthusiasm. It was as if he had lifted some major stress off his chest upon knowing that little fact.
“I’m sure we will,” Ambrose reassured the boss, his smile matching the boss’ high spirits.
Penny did not care to reply. She only knew that it was just another beginning. Or perhaps it was another ending.
It had been ten years since that rainy day. Yet they met again on a rainy day just like that one. Such a day to deliver bad news. He was there once again to end her life. This time, it was not her love life, but her professional life.
© Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Posted: Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

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