Van was wrong. The “old man” wasn’t as old fashioned or hard-headed as they had expected. Somehow, the big man had sent words through Megan that he had approved Chun’s proposal. He had also assigned Chun as the photographer for the new promotional event with Enson overseeing the entire process. That had surprised Wallace when Megan came back several days later to make the announcement.
“Why Enson?” Wallace asked, staring at Megan with his usual stern expression.
“Enson came with me when I presented Chun’s proposal to the boss,” Megan answered. “He had some very strong arguments about the current business approach and how we should be moving forward in the industry, not staying at a standstill and following the same routine.”
Wallace looked unimpressed. “That’s it? It’s not like it’s the first time someone decided to use internal resources for an AD.”
“The boss didn’t want to lose Enson so he accepted.”
That was what got Wallace’s attention. “What?”
Megan nodded to validate her words. “Enson wanted to quit. He said the reason why he chose our company in the first place was because he’d seen potential and future development. But after five years, he said he was wrong.”
“If he wants to leave, he could go ahead,” Wallace argued. “We could hire a much more cooperative employee.”
“Enson’s our Creative Director,” Megan reminded Wallace. “We can’t afford to lose him.”
Wallace scoffed, but kept his professionalism. “He’s not the only creative mind around. There are plenty.”
“Unless you want to argue with the boss.”
Wallace’s eyes wandered around the room as he slammed the binder in front of him shut. He got up seconds later, facing Megan again. “Fine. I’ll announce the news to them.”
The following days didn’t allow Wallace to draw up a plan to sabotage Enson. Instead, he had to take care of the auditing process along with Megan. Because Megan wasn’t familiar with the company’s operations, Wallace had to assist her in that area while Penny was occupied with helping Enson and Chun. During that time, Brad–their other photographer–took over all the photo shoots for the weddings that they already had in line. However, their little project with the photo shoot only took a week–more or less, so Penny was able to return to her duties by the end of the week as Enson and Chun continued with the project. Chun had to develop the photos and do touch ups while Enson forged ahead with organizing their campaign. As for Van and the others, they still continued on with their regular business operations within the shops.
“This side, adjust the light a little more,” Enson instructed Chun as he was hovering over Chun’s shoulder while Chun was doing touchups for the new collection.
“How about this?” Chun asked, having performed the task already.
As Chun and Enson continued on in that same manner, Penny walked into the room–without them noticing her presence.
“Lunch time,” Penny rattled out, her smile teasing them.
“In a bit,” Enson said, his eyes still glued to the screen.
“You don’t have to eat, but Chun does,” Penny reminded Enson, giving him a chastising glare.
Enson returned her stare with a smile–although his eyes were still following Chun’s movements on the screen. Penny had stopped her footsteps because she had arrived at the spot next to Enson. She placed a bowl of food in front of Chun before turning to Enson.
“If Chun has to wait for you to be done, he might as well starve,” Penny chided Enson again, handing him a bowl of food as well. “And so will you.”
Enson took the bowl of food from her and started eating. She had started eating her own bowl also after setting the tray aside. Chun didn’t touch his yet since he was still fixing the areas Enson motioned to seconds before.
“I think it’s good enough,” Penny commented as her eyes returned to the monitor. “Come on, Chun, go ahead and eat.”
“Just a little more,” Chun returned, still not giving up.
Penny used her left hand to hit Enson’s right shoulder then. “It’s all your fault. You’re setting bad examples around here.”
“It’s called hardworking, Miss Lin,” Enson returned, his teasing smile on.
It wasn’t until a few more minutes that Chun finished and Enson finally let him off. They actually made their way to the break room and ended up eating together.
“I’m going to drop the disc off at the print shop later,” Chun said as they settled down at the table in the center of the room.
Enson nodded. He scanned the room before getting up to get water for them all. They’d been eating together since they were involved in the new project.
“Penny,” Wallace’s voice called out at that time. He sounded urgent.
Penny exchanged a look with Enson before walking out to the main area of the shop to check it out. Some disagreements were heard between the two yet Enson didn’t walk out to intercept them. He knew Penny could take care of herself. He returned to the table, handing Chun a cup of water.
“You think we should check it out?” Chun whispered to Enson.
Enson shook his head. Although his expression had said otherwise. Chun had continued eating after that question, but Enson had stopped and was waiting for Penny’s return. It took Penny five minutes. She didn’t look too happy when they saw her entered. After that argument, both didn’t blame her for it. Enson got up the moment he saw Penny.
“What did he do this time?” Enson asked, looking at Penny cautiously as she snatched up her bowl of food.
“He wanted me to go check out this one location,” Penny answered. “It’s not like he can’t go. Or just send one of the other girls. He’s just punishing me for going along with your plan.”
Enson’s eyebrows came together. “He can’t do that. Even the big boss agreed.”
“Well, tell him.”
Enson reached for Penny’s hand to stop her from leaving. “I will.”
Penny yanked her hand back and turned to leave. She didn’t mean to take it out on Enson, but her anger had risen to the top.
“I’ll go with you.”
Upon hearing that, Penny turned back to face Enson. “You have to meet with a new client this afternoon. Don’t give him a reason to fire you.”
“He can’t do that.”
After that, Penny turned to leave again. This time, she succeeded.
That afternoon, Penny was seen walking out of a shopping center. She was finally finished with all the tasks that Wallace gave her. Just as she was stepping out to haul a Taxi, there was someone coming toward her. Or more like a group of four or five coming crashing toward her. She tried to dodge but it seemed impossible. Because the group wasn’t just crowding the street on some careless impulse, but they were aiming for her. Then a pair of hands reached out for her and she was pulled back to safety.
“Wa…” She managed yet stopped short. “Enson…”
“Watch where you’re going!” Enson yelled at that small group as he was still having a strong grip on Penny.
“Mind your own business!” One of the guys from that group shot back, waving the stick in his hand at Enson.
“Leave now or I’ll call the cops,” Enson warned, not threatened because he and Penny were both outnumbered.
A crowd had formed by that time. It was a larger crowd than that group of troublemakers. They seemed to notice that too, so they finally scoffed at Enson and left. It wasn’t until the large crowd dispersed that Enson finally let go of Penny.
“You all right?” Enson asked, his face full of concern.
Penny nodded. She checked her bag to make sure the important papers were still there.
Enson still had on his worried look. “You know them?”
Penny–seeming like she had already recovered from the recent shock–turned to give Enson a sharp glare. “Do I look like I know those type of people?”
“I’m just worried they might try it again, that’s all.”
Penny could see that Enson meant just that, so she turned off her fierce expression. “Well, I don’t know what their problem is but I’m not going to hide from them, if that’s what you mean.”
“Maybe we should report them.”
“Waste of time,” Penny mumbled and proceeded with hauling a Taxi instead.
Enson followed Penny into the Taxi, considering how they were both heading back to the shop anyway.
“Why are you here anyway?” Penny asked when she had already given the driver the directions.
“I had to go meet up with one of our clients,” Enson answered, playing with the phone in his hand. He actually had it in his hand the whole time when he had to step in and interfere with the other situation to save Penny. “Then Chun called me.”
Penny was studying Enson’s face the whole time, so she wasn’t so stern with him anymore. Her expression actually softened. “I’m sorry.”
Enson shook his head. “You were upset.”
Penny smiled then, one of her sweet smiles. “Are you always so forgiving?”
Enson returned the smile before saying, “Only if it’s you.”
Penny turned to look straight ahead then, shaking her head at Enson’s attempt to joke.
Both were so busy handling the situation and interacting with one another that they didn’t realize Wallace was also there. In fact, he had spotted the scene with Penny being attacked by that strange group around the same time as Enson. His only disadvantage was distance. Enson had leaped to action first and had successfully saved Penny from harm. That was when Wallace stepped back into hiding to watch their movements. It wasn’t until Enson and Penny’s Taxi already pulled away that Wallace stepped out of the shadow. He watched until the Taxi turned at the intersection before hauling his own.
That night, the four conspirators were meeting in the woods again. That same dark, isolated area beyond civilization that no one cared to check on.
“What have you got to say for yourself?” Wallace asked, his cold eyes directed at Penny.
“It was out in the daylight,” Penny returned, not threatened by Wallace’s attitude. “What was I supposed to do? You were supposed to cover me, remember?”
Wallace had on his mocking smile then. “If you haven’t contacted your boyfriend at the most crucial point, it wouldn’t happen.”
Penny’s passive expression turned into anger. “I didn’t call him!”
“You both were on the phone at that time before it happened.”
Yes, Penny was also talking on the phone while she was waiting for a Taxi that afternoon. Wallace must have saw Enson lurking around hence the misunderstanding.
“Just because you miscalculated doesn’t mean it was my fault!” Penny shouted and advanced toward Wallace.
“Enough already!” Van’s voice interfered at that time. “Next time, be careful.”
“You have one last chance,” Wallace said, his eyes still on Penny.
Penny, like their last meeting days ago, turned and walked back to civilization, not answering or acknowledging of Wallace’s words. Her footsteps echoed in the night, reflecting her mood.
© Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Posted: Wednesday, August 27th, 2014