Tall. Very tall. Like a skyscraper sticking out from a cluster of low rise buildings. Thick black hair and bushy black eyebrows. Like a patch of black weeds grown wild. But the most striking and also disturbing feature is his pair of black soulless eyes. They give away nothing. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s really good at putting on a poker face or because he truly has no soul.
“State your special permission.”
Qas stares directly into Ms Pink’s flaming pink eyes without as much as a flinch. “As the new head of Parliament, I have issued the permission,” he replies in one of the deepest voices I have ever heard.
Ms Pink takes her seat without extending the offer to Qas but he requires no such thing, simply sitting on the chair on the other side of Ms Pink’s desk. As for me? I try to sit unobtrusively on the couch at the side but Qas notices me anyway.
“This human is not authorized to be here.”
“This human is with me. She has signed the NDA.”
“This information is new to me. I was not told. But if that’s the case, I would like to see the contract.”
“Is my word not enough.”
“I am only going by the books.”
As little as I know about Qas, something tells me the last thing he goes by are the books.
Ms Pink takes her tablet out from her drawer and slides it across the table to Qas. He picks it up and from behind, I manage to catch a glimpse of the NDA I had signed long ago, on the screen. Qas looks at the tablet for a moment. Then, without saying a word more, slides it across the table back to Ms Pink.
“What are you here for, Qas?”
“It seems strange to me, the power you wield without being a Sovereign or Federation. But I have never cared about appointments. Titles are but names if without power. So I would like to propose an alliance.”
“Why should I agree?”
“It will benefit us both.”
“I fail to see the benefit.”
“You will have the power,” Qas casts a glance at me, “to keep your human your by side.”
“That is not a benefit I am looking for.”
Qas chuckles and his thick black hair flops down the side of his face. “I may be new to the Parliament but I have my information. If we are to form an alliance, you should not lie as blatantly as this.”
“It is not a benefit large enough to move me.” Ms Pink then folds her arms, showing no other sign of nerves or anger, as she asks, “What benefit would you gain from proposing this?”
Qas chuckles again and I don’t like it one bit. I wish I could slap the floppy black fringe off his face. “Your help. My sources have identified you as the most resourceful of all Royals and some say the power you wield in your hands is arguably more than that of a Sovereign. A few Sovereigns, in fact.”
Ms Pink barks a short laugh. “If I am as powerful as your sources claim I am, I would not require your alliance. My human sits in this room with me as we speak.”
Making the most obnoxious sound with his tongue against his teeth, Qas shakes his head. “There is no need to keep up your pretence. You know that I know a lot about the Sovereigns and Royals. And I know that you know about my ambitions and the lengths I am willing to go to achieve my goals. I am here to skip the part where we dodge in the shadows. It will only hurt us both, and the Sovereigns and Federation will enjoy the show.”
“You know wrong. I do not know about your ambitions and the exact length you are willing to go. What I do know is how you ascended to the Parliament and how you have gained the influence necessary to command the other Parliament members.”
With his head thrown back, Qas laughs like a steam engine starting up. “They were right about you. You are very hard to crack.” His grin is wide but menacing to me. I think it has something to do with his black soulless eyes. “But I value the hard shell.” He sits up and leans his elbows on Ms Pink’s desk. “I know you know who the mastermind behind the series of murders is. In fact, you have the proof of my guilt. But you are withholding it. Why?”
Ms Pink has proof of Qas Sogok’s guilt? What?
“I have no such thing.”
Qas waggles his finger. “You are waiting to use the proof against me. To make me do your bidding. But I am offering you more than what you can get with the proof. With an alliance, you can get more.”
“You have yet to elaborate on the ‘more’. What I’m hearing now is an empty promise.”
“You do not trust me.”
“I have no reason to.”
“The act of coming here should inspire some trust.”
Ms Pink almost smiles. “How would you explain this visit?”
“Business, of course.”
“It will fool neither the Sovereigns nor the Feds. Your visit today will cause me trouble.”
“And when has the Sovereign or Fed been able to stop you from doing what you want?”
Ms Pink betrays no expression.
“I can see us working well together. We both have the ambition to rule the world. With the power in our hands, yours” Qas points to Ms Pink then himself, “and mine, you will be able to construct a new treaty between supers and humans.” Qas leans back in his seat. “As. You. See. Fit. Think about the possibilities.”
“I am more interested in the business you are here to discuss.”
“You will not be convinced with one visit. That is to be expected.” Qas rubs his chin and purses his lips. “Fine. We will talk shop now.”
“Are you really thinking about working with Qas Sogok?”
Ms Pink barely even looks up from her computer screen. “It is worth consideration.”
“But he’s the one who has been murdering vampires, right? He’s a murderer.”
Without as much as a falter, Ms Pink replies, “So am I.”
“Y-You—You don’t really buy in to his benefit crap, do you?”
“I don’t trust him.”
“Yeah, you shouldn’t.”
“You don’t know enough about him to tell me what to do.”
“I’m not trying to tell you what to do.”
“Good.” Ms Pink’s fingers fly across the keyboard as she speaks. “Have you submitted your final assignment?”
“Yes. I submitted it yesterday.”
“So you have officially completed your university education.”
“Well, I haven’t actually graduated yet but—”
The way Ms Pink says my pet name throws me off. It’s a little too stiff. It lacks affection. And it sounds like Ms Pink actually means what she says. I stare at her, looking into her deep pink eyes and shudder a little. Why does it suddenly feel so cold in here?
“You will start work next week.”
“S-Start work? Next week? Why?”
“We have talked about this. You will work in my company.”
I rise to my feet. “No. We have not talked about this. You have stated what you want and I have said that I want to work at a company of my choice.”
“You don’t get a choice in this matter, Taeyeon. You will do as I say.”
“Why? Why can’t I get a choice?”
Ms Pink stops typing and stands, rising to meet my eyes. She steps towards me, closing the distance between us and grabs my neck. “You are a target,” she growls, her words hitting me in the face.
“So send Yoona to guard me as you’ve always done.”
“And who will guard you when Yoona is not available?”
“I can guard myself.” I frown when Ms Pink opens her mouth again, clearly to dispute me. “Or I can call in sick and stay home.”
“I don’t approve.”
“You’re not my mum.”
“Your mum wouldn’t approve either.”
I slump in Ms Pink’s arms. “Why are we fighting all the time? Why can’t we just agree on something for once?”
“You are a stubborn stupid human.”
I look into Ms Pink’s smouldering pink eyes. “You are a stubborn princess vampire.”
Lips crash onto mine and we end up kissing like kiss deprived souls until Ms Pink’s secretary beeps her. Ms Pink pulls back and presses the button. “What is it?”
“Your conference call with the designers is due in ten minutes, Ms Pink.”
“I know that.”
“The call has been set up and the link is in your e-mail.”
“Thank you.” Ms Pink releases the button and turns back to me. “If you don’t like working with pink, you can have your own department to work in.” She steps back behind her desk and sits. “I am opening a new line. It will be based on the concept of a rainbow so you have seven colours to work with. We need a logo and prints. You can be in-charge of designing everything.”
“I don’t think you need to start a whole new business just to give me a job.”
“Don’t flatter yourself too much. This business has been in the pipeline for months.”
“That’s when we first met,” I say pointedly. “About five and a half months ago.”
“Rainbow was first conceptualized six months ago. Just before we met.”
“You could say any month you want and I wouldn’t be able to refute you.”
“Are you saying I am lying?”
“No. No, I’m not.” I sigh. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean that at all.”
“You are not a charity case. I have seen your art work. It will suit Rainbow’s concept.”
“I just—” Flapping my arms listlessly, I sigh again. “I just really want to get my own job, you know. It’ll be my first job ever. I want to go through interviews and negotiate salary and do all the things that fresh grads do.”
Ms Pink turns around on her swivel chair to face the pink wall behind her. “We can’t always get what we want.”
Frankly, I am surprised to hear Ms Pink saying it. A princess vampire like her . . . is there anything she can’t have? But I recall the sufferings she had to go through to get here, and I understand. She never chose to become a vampire. She never chose to become a princess who would lose her entire family to an assassination. In this world that has given her so much to grieve, she never did have a choice in the things that really matter to her, did she?
Ms Pink turns back around to face me again. “Okay?”
Casting my eyes down on the pink marble floor, I say, “I will consider the job offer. But I will need to know more.”
“Secretary Seo will supply you with the dossier.”
The days go by as I study the inches-thick dossier delivered to me by Seo. As Ms Pink said, the documents date back to a little over six months ago and I have to sweep the guilt I feel aside while reading them. I will make it up to Ms Pink somehow.
My interest in Ms Pink’s new line of apparel deepens as I learn more about the concept of Rainbow. Rain symbolizes the clothes while Bow symbolizes the accessories. It is interesting to see how Ms Pink visualizes her concepts in complete sets, from earrings right down to socks and shoes. And if I take on the job, I will be designing the icon, the accessories tags, clothes tags, footwear tags, boutique displays and more. I will have the power to design the font, choose the various colours to denote each fashion line and formulate concepts that make each line unique and distinct.
It is not unlike doing a ginormous project for university, only this pays real money and would be a major boost to my portfolio. In fact, I can think of many people in my class who would leap at the opportunity if it were offered to them. With that thought, I decide to give it a try. It would make Ms Pink happy, thereby ending at least one of our quarrels and I would gain good experience for my career. It’s a win-win decision, really.
Coincidentally, Ms Pink walks into the bedroom as I nod to myself. “What have you decided?” she asks.
Holding her gaze with my eyes, I smile. “I have decided to make you my boss. Even if it means you have even more control over me.”
Ms Pink sits on the couch next to me. “Is that the reason why you have been resisting my job offer?”
“In a way, yes,” I admit with a sigh. “You dominate me in bed, you hold the upper hand in our relationship, and now, you’re going to be my boss. You’re going to pay me my salary. Every aspect of me is owned by you.”
“Is that a bad thing.”
“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I just wish there’s some part of me that’s independent. I really wanted to go out there and make my own money. To have something that’s really mine.”
“The money you earn will still yours. You will earn it fair and square.”
“But you’re the boss. They will know.”
“They won’t. You won’t be working in PINK. Rainbow has its own office in a separate building. It is a subsidiary of PINK so I will only oversee its operations. Somebody else will run the company.”
I sit up as an idea strikes. “Let me get the job on my own.”
“What do you mean.”
“Job applications. I will apply for the job and go for the interviews like any ordinary person. No one in Rainbow will know who I am. If I get the job, I’ll work for Rainbow willingly. If I don’t, and I promise I will try my best to get the job, but if I don’t get the job, you won’t force me to work for you. Fair enough?”
“You already agreed to take the job.”
“Yes, but this would make me feel so much better about it. Please?”
“Fine.” Ms Pink frowns. “As you wish.”
I throw my arms around Ms Pink and grin as I hug my dearest princess vampire. “Thank you. Thank you so much.” I dig my nose into Ms Pink’s curls and inhale the sweet scent, suddenly remembering one of Ms Pink’s recent confessions. “Thank you, Tiffany,” I add, smiling when Ms Pink makes a funny snorting sound and puts her arms around my waist to hug me back.
Have a very Happy New Year everyone 🙂