Seven fifty-five, in the evening
My finger trembled slightly, as I kept it on the phone reading the message. I wanted to throw the phone away and announce, I didn’t get the message. I had no wish to meet Veronica and I had no idea why.
Her penthouse was just on the top of the building of the same building. It would take only three minutes, to reach her floor, still I looked at the watch on my desk as I stood up holding my suit on my hand.
She said she only talks business. Well then!
Eight, in the evening
Pursing my lips, I pressed her doorbell and soon after a second as if she was already standing behind the door, it opened and there she was. With a smile on her face as she opened the door wide open for me to enter.
The penthouse was a modern duplex one.
The penthouse had retrofitted glass ceiling in the living room with water flowing over it. The room was large and spacious with all the furniture and things kept neatly and the black wooden floor complimented the whole interior. The brick wall had some paintings hung and moreover, there was a slow music playing somewhere which made the penthouse, worth living.
“Not really a punctual person, are you?” I heard her speak and turn around to find her closing the door as she crossed her arms across over her chest.
She had changed into a beige coloured sweater and loose pant and tied her hair into a bun, sans of makeup as she smiled at me and guided me to her living room on a couch.
“Coffee?” she offered and I nodded.
I looked at the fireplace and thankfully it generated enough heat to seat without my suit on. It was already late November in New York and it was freezing outside, but no snowfall.
Minutes later, a cup was before and I took it gratefully as I held the cup between my hands, liking the warmth.
“Ace,” I heard her speak which made me look up at her.
“How have you been?” she asked and that made me sip from my cup as I nodded.
“Good. I thought we are here to talk about business, Ms. Sullivan” I said and watched as she furrowed her eyebrows, closing her eyes. “It’s also called catching up,” she clarified and even though I wanted to scoff at her, I refrained myself from doing such act as I kept the cup down on the coffee table and looked up at her.
She was sitting right before me on her couch with her legs up, comfortable, red sparkly toenails and an anklet.
“I already have talked to my dad. He said he will be assisting you with your investment in our company,” I said changing the topic as she angled her head to a side, with challenging eyes as she took a sip from cup the whole while staring at me.
“Why he? Why can’t you?” she asked and that made me sigh.
“It’s his wish, not mine,”
“Well, I would like to inform Mr. Knights that I would only be investing under the assistance of his son. Ace,” she smiled at the end.
“Not possible,” I told her and that made her squint here eyes.
“My father is overseas. By the time, he returns, I will be back to the headquarters. This investment thing will take a long period with you inspecting about the policies and terms of the company. Knowing its, production and then thinking whether to invest or not, keeping an eye on the profit and loss. So, I believe as you have to look after you own company too, the time will be expanding. So, my father will be assisting you with this Ms. Sullivan,” I told her and this time she slammed the cup on her table as I clasped my finger together and watched her getting up and leave.
“Dinner is ready,” she told me and I kept my suit on the couch as I walked to the dining area, which had an open kitchen room. A cook was preparing the food while Veronica put the plates on the table. I thought of helping her but she stopped me and made me seat on the chair as she kept the plate before me and the cook served me the food.
I recognised one dish which was undoubtedly, Chicken Apple Pasta Primavera and a dish which I had never seen. A dish made with cabbage.
“It’s called Sarmale. A traditional Romanian dish, made with cabbage stuffed with spiced pork and rice,” Veronica said as she had probably read my acts of thinking what it was.
I picked up the fork and took a bite. The first thing that came flooded to my mind was tomato and spicy, but it was delicious. Something different to my taste buds as I dig into my food, completely forgetting about the chicken apple pasta primavera.
"How is it?" I heard her and I nodded replying a quiet "Nice," which made her smile.
"Thanks, I made it," she replied and that made me stop as I forwarded my hand for the glass of water but she was fast as she handed me the glass and picked up the fork to eat her food.
"Is that the only things that made you call me up for dinner?" I asked which made her look up as she picked up the tissue and wiped her mouth.
"No, of course not! I told you, I wanted to catch up," she said and all I did was let out a sigh as I got up.
"You know it's rude getting up like this. I haven't finished my food yet," she said and as I stared back at her, she shrugged and picked up her fork, only playing with her food.
"Ace, sit down," she spoke softly.
There was a minute of silence prevailing between us but none of us chose to break as I chose to sit down, waiting for her to finish her food.
"Thank you," she whispered as she took a bite from her Saramale.
"I know it's been so many years. I know you must be angry with me for disappearing all of a sudden bu-"
"Ms. Sullivan, I would like to clarify something between us," I spoke cutting her off in the middle and I noticed as the middle aged cook looked back at us, stirring something in the pot, before minding her business, probably keeping her ears open.
"If there should be anything between us then I expect it to be professionalism. I hope you being a businesswoman know this and respect this too," I told her and that made her keep her fork down as she clasped her fingers together keeping her elbows on the table.
"Yes, vent your anger out. I won't mind. In fact, I'm letting you vent your anger. I know you are angry-"
"I am leaving. Thank you for having me for the dinner," I said as I got up and made my way towards the living room to fetch my suit.
"Ace!" she was behind me and all of a sudden she held my hand as she turned me around.
"That's really unprofe-"
"To hell with your professionalism. I saw there was no professionalism between you and that girl from school. Ace what is your problem? I thought we were best friends. If you could forgive the one who used to bully you then why can't me? I'm sorry. But I can expl-"
"That's right Veronica. I was your best friend. You were the one who mean something to me back then, she didn't. It is why I forgive her but no matter what, I can't forget how my best friend ditched me when I needed her the most. You were not there for me when I needed you, so please!" I had to yank my hands away from her hold as I turned around to leave.
"Okay. Ace! Relax," she was again right before me as she stopped me from leaving and I inhaled deeply stopping myself from yelling at her.
This is why I had no wish to meet her. I knew this would happen. This woman affected me so much that I lose my mind, the control on myself and be the one who I'm not. I have never ever yelled at anyone, but talking to her makes me yell at the top of my lungs.
"See. I understand everything. But I told you I can explain. Ace, you were and are my only best friend. I don't really have any friend close to me as much as you were. You knew so muc-"
"Really?" I snapped as I held my suit tightly.
"Can you enlighten me about what do I exactly know about you? I don't even know where you live apart from the fact that you are from Romania, but trust me Veronica, Romania is a very big country. I don't even know who are there in your family.But you know everything about me. Can you justify how much did I know you now?" I asked as I looked at her face. She bit down on her lips and for the first time ever, I saw her upset. Her eyes were glistening as she held my hand, tightly.
"Veronica, fourteen years. It took you fourteen years to come back and out of all of a sudden, I am your best friend? Is fourteen years alright for people who were never in contact to be called best friends?" I asked as my voice lower down in the end and I removed her hand from mine.
"You can get angry as much as you want. I promise you, I will make it up to you," she spoke more like mumbled and I inhaled deeply. The same woody fragrance, that I couldn't forget hit my nostrils and I closed my eyes for a bit, calming my nerves.
"How are you so tall now?" she whispered and looked up at me. Truthfully, I was hovering her height this time.
"We have really grown ups now. Aren't we?" her voice broke in the end but she chose to the other way as she wiped her eyes and then stared back at me, with a smile.
"Let's fix this like grown ups?"
"Ace please," she asked softly.
But it was not enough. I had no idea why I was so upset with her. She made me feel like a loser and I had no idea why I was feeling such things even after meeting her after so many years. Honestly, it was not really easy for me to go through such things. I have been suppressing everything from fourteen years, even though my friend Jung who is now settled in Korea, managing his father's business meets me often and try to force me to throw everything out of me.
It is just not easy. And Veronica showing up all of a sudden is hard for me and I knew I needed time to adjust my feelings with the pressure of coping up with Knights Corp.
Just nothing was going according to what I had always dreamt of. Neither could I live my dreams nor could I achieve the person I loved.
"Please Ms. Sullivan, I hope you understand," I said as I walked past her and out of the room and this time, she didn't follow me to stop me for which I was grateful of. Because god only knew what I might have done if she came after me any more.
She still had that effect on me.
My phone buzzed in my pocket as I waited for the elevator and I took it out to find two text messages.
CK: How was your dinner date? ;)
VS: Ace, please forgive me.