Monthly Archives: September 2015

By Design – Chapter 37

The bar where they first met had become the designated meeting place for Colleen and Jeff. They didn’t meet too frequently, and every time they did, Gracie was their main topic of discussion, but Colleen enjoyed their meeting all the same. Each time she met with Jeff, she found herself more and more attracted to him. He was a better man than he gave himself credit for, and Colleen frequently found herself wishing she could see more of him under different circumstances.

Tonight, Colleen found herself telling Jeff about the fundraiser that Randall Chen had hosted. She told Jeff about Eli and Gracie standing up to Mei Chen in front of the entire guest list, and Gracie subsequently being forced by their boss to take some time off. Gracie had never told Colleen the whole story, but Colleen had managed to piece it together after talking to a few people. She had to admit that she had been quite impressed by her friend’s courage.

Jeff, on the other hand, seemed much less excited by this play of events. He mentioned that he hadn’t heard from Gracie in a while. “I just figured she was busy with work,” he said. “Do you think I should try to go by her apartment and check on her?”

“No,” Colleen said after thinking about it for a moment. “Gracie will let us know if she wants our company. Until then, I think it’s best if we give her some space. She seemed pretty upset when she left the office last week. Better give her some time to cool down.” What she didn’t mention was she didn’t want to see Jeff throwing himself at her friend all over again. He should just stay here with me instead.

Jeff took a sip of his beer. “I can’t believe she’s letting herself get into trouble like this over someone like Eli Walker,” he said. “I just don’t understand what she sees in him.”

Colleen couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s probably his looks, his money, his demeanor. Take your pick. That guy has got everything going for him.”

Jeff wrinkled his nose in response to Colleen’s statement.

“It doesn’t mean other guys don’t have things going for them too,” Colleen assured him, realizing her words had probably been a bit insensitive.

They both drank in silence for a moment. Though Colleen came here under the pretense that she would keep Jeff updated on Gracie in the hopes of getting the two of them together eventually, Gracie was not what Colleen was interested in talking with him about. Her motives had changed, and what she was interested in now was knowing more about Jeff.

“So what are your plans for the weekend?” Colleen asked him.

Jeff raised an eyebrow at her. “Why?” he asked.

Colleen shrugged and took another drink, trying to look as nonchalant as possible. “Just curious,” she said. “I was thinking of going to the shore on Saturday. Would you be interested?”

Jeff just stared at her a moment, as if trying to decide if it was a serious offer.  When he realized it was, he stumbled over his response. “Uh, I, um, I don’t know…”

“Oh, come on,” Colleen said. “It’s just an afternoon. Surely I’m not so unbearable that you can’t spend even that much time in my company.”

Jeff’s face went red, obviously embarrassed that he had given off the impression that he didn’t like her. “Sure,” he agreed. “I’ll go.”

“Great!” Colleen said, perking up a bit at his words.

It was weird how she looked forward to seeing him again already when she hadn’t even left his side tonight. She tried to think back, but she couldn’t ever remember feeling this way about a guy before. Usually her interest in guys was only surface level interest. Jeff was the first guy she had ever met that had given her a desire to dig deeper. She just hoped that she could eventually convince him to feel the same way about her.

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The Admiral (Roaring Currents)

The Admiral (Roaring Currents) is a Korean film depicting an epic battle of Admiral Yi Sunshin, a famous war admiral in Korean history. The film follows the story of the Battle of Myeongnyang, where Admiral Yi defeated a Japanese fleet of over 300 ships with only 13 ships of his own. Based on this unreal story from Korean history, the film is exciting and incredibly entertaining… once the action actually starts. Unfortunately, it takes a while to get there.

The Admiral (from IMDB)

The Admiral (from IMDB)

When I was talking to a family member about this film, I advised them that if they watch it, they should probably fast forward through the first hour or so. I understand that the information relayed to the audience throughout this section of the film is important for character development and foreshadowing and whatnot. But seriously, nothing happens. It was bad enough that I completely tuned out and would have turned the film off if it had been just me watching it.

However, if you make it through the first hour, to when the battle starts, you are in for a trip. The film really shows off not only Admiral Yi’s intelligence and understanding of the sea he found himself fighting in, as well as his enemy’s mindset, but it also shows off some really cool battle technology of the day (1597). The coolest of this technology: Admiral Y’s turtle ship, a battle ship with a covered deck which made it impossible for enemies to shoot the men standing on the deck with arrow. The ship was also near impossible for an enemy to board.

The battle scenes are definitely worth the watch. The hour leading up to those scenes is just something the viewer has to suffer through.

 

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By Design – Chapter 36

“Gracie Parker. A word.”

Gracie was surprised to find herself being beckoned into her boss’ office. This had never happened before, Gracie realized, not like this, not with that tone in her boss’ voice. Gracie suddenly had the feeling she got when her mother was scolding her as a child and wondered what she possibly could have done wrong now.

Gracie entered the office and shut the door behind her when she was asked to.

“I hear you were involved in an incident at Ronald Chen’s fundraiser last weekend,” her boss said, cutting straight to the point as soon as Gracie had taken a seat.

Gracie was confused. How did her boss even know she had been at that event? It wasn’t like she had been on assignment. “I was there,” Gracie admitted, though she wasn’t quite sure how it was any of this woman’s business what she did in her personal time. “But I wouldn’t say there was any incident. I didn’t even stay the whole time.”

“A reporter who was there for us stated that you got into a fight with Miss Chen, the heir to the company.”

Fight was a pretty strong word for what had actually occurred, Gracie thought. It was more of juts a verbal disagreement. But she knew better than to say as much to her boss.

“I know Miss Chen,” Gracie said. “We don’t exactly see eye to eye on a lot of things—“

“Then you had no business being at the fundraiser,” he boss said, cutting her off.

Gracie was taken aback by the other woman’s curtness. How could she tell her what she has the right to do in her own time? It wasn’t like she had been reporting on the event.

“I didn’t attend the fundraiser as a reporter,” Gracie said in her own defense. “I went to that event as a guest.” She wasn’t quite sure why she was being forced to explain herself. It was making her angry. She had the right to attend any event she wanted to in her free time.

“Let me be very clear,” her boss said, leaning across the desk. “Whether you are on assignment or not, you are always representing this company. Many people in this city know that you are a reporter for our magazine. I don’t want them to be getting a poor image about how we treat people whose events we have been invited to cover. Once that happens, we will stop getting invited to anything. And how are we supposed to do business once that happens?”

Gracie was pretty sure her boss was going a bit overboard with this. One incident was not the end of the world. It wasn’t like a reporter had never lost her temper with her host before. But, again, she knew better than to voice these sentiments aloud.

“I’m sorry for acting poorly,” Gracie said. “I won’t let it happen again.”

Her boss sighed. “I plan to ensure it doesn’t,” she said. “I think it might be best for you to take some time off, let your temper cool a bit. Perhaps once you’ve had some time to yourself, you will be able to come back to work for us again.”

It took a moment for Gracie to register her words. “Are you firing me?” She asked.

“Not yet,” her boss said. “Not if you show you can gather some composure. But I am requesting you take some time off. Let’s say in a month we can reassess your situation and see if you are able to come back to work.”

Gracie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. But right now, she wasn’t in a mood to fight it either. She was afraid if she were to open her mouth again she would only succeed at making things worse. Instead, she left the office and headed to her desk. As she was packing up the few things at her desk that were of importance to her, Colleen came by to check on her.

“Is everything OK?” Colleen asked.

“Does it look like everything is OK?” Gracie’s words were bitter, causing Colleen to cringe.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Well, I’ve not been fired. Yet.” Gracie finished packing her things and grabbed her purse out of her desk drawer. “Perhaps I’ll see you in a month or so,” she told her friend.

She left the office without uttering another word to anybody. She was so irritated by the way her day turned out that she wasn’t sure she ever wanted to come back to this place, even if she was given the opportunity.

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By Design – Chapter 35

Russ Walker watched the whole scene between his brother and Mei unfold from where he stood outside on the balcony. It was obvious that Mei was not happy with Gracie’s being there. As cool and collected as she tended to be when doing business, in this instance she had been unable to hide her emotions from her face. Eli played his part really well, showing off just how much he cared about his girlfriend, selling the relationship with hardly any effort at all. Russ was impressed—impressed that Gracie had come up with such a plan and impressed that Eli had been able to pull it off. Perhaps they really were meant for each other.

Mei left them in a huff. Russ watched her until she made her way through the doors that lead onto the balcony. She went straight to the rail and was forcing herself to take deep breaths.

The excitement Russ had felt at his brother’s victory fled. He couldn’t be certain from this distance, but it looked like Mei was crying. That hadn’t been something he had expected to see from her.

Could it be that a thorn as sharp as her can also feel the needle when it pricks? Russ made his way over to her, not quite sure what he would say when he got there.

“I wouldn’t worry myself too much over Eli if I were you,” he said, doing his best to sound friendly, a smile spread across his face.

Mei started at the sound of his voice. She looked up at him with the look of a deer caught in the headlights.

“To be completely honest, I don’t think he’s really the kind of guy you would want to spend the rest of your life with,” Russ continued when she said nothing. “He’s not the family corporation loving man you might have hoped him to be when he grew up.”

Mei’s eyes narrowed. It wasn’t suspicion so much as contempt that settled onto her face. “Are you mocking me?” she asked.

Russ threw up his hands in his own defense. “In no way,” he assured her. “I’m just saying, he’s probably not worth getting this upset about. I mean, when it comes right down to it, it was just a business arrangement. It’s not like you’ve lost your only chance for love in this life.”

Mei scoffed. “Don’t tell me what this was or wasn’t, Russell Walker. Nobody asked for your opinion.” Her voice was bitter when she spoke, and for the first time, Russ considered the fact that she lost something more than just a portion of shares in his father’s company.

Could it be possible that Mei had actually liked Eli? Russ tried to think back to when they were kids. He tried to remember the way Mei had acted around Eli at that time. He couldn’t seem to recall. He had been too young to notice those kinds of things.  But heartache was something he had become familiar with as he had grown into an adult, and he recognized that look on Mei’s face as she glared at him.

He lowered his gaze from hers. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to be smart about it or anything.”

“Then what are you doing here?” Mei’s voice was cold. She was annoyed by his presence.

“I was just trying to help,” Russ said. “I was just trying to make you feel better. I can’t help it. It’s in my nature to try to help pretty girls when they look down.”

Mei snorted at him. “Are you trying to hit on me after what your brother just did?”

Russ couldn’t help himself; he threw his head back and let out a deep laugh. “Sorry to disappoint you, Miss Chen, but you are definitely not my type.” And with that Russ walked back inside to rejoin the party and let Mei work out her own problems.

 

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Good Omens

Good Omens is an older book written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. If you are a fan of these authors’ styles, then this book is definitely entertaining. However, if you’re not big on British sarcasm and wit, you’ll probably find yourself completely unamused.

The book follows two supernatural beings: Aziraphale (an angel) and Crowley (a demon). Each is the representative on Earth for Heaven and Hell. Their jobs: bring about the Apocalypse without any snags along the way. The only problem is that after a couple thousand years on Earth, they have both grown to like the place and hate the idea of seeing it destroyed.

British wit is something I find highly entertaining. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors (and the reason I pick up this book in the first place). I was not disappointed. Good Omens was everything I had hoped it would be. And it was refreshing for me as well. It had been a while since I had read something written in this vein—sarcastic, witty, humorous—and it was just what I needed after dealing with some heavier texts.

Though the book is around 400 pages, I would say it’s a light read. It has uncomplicated prose and you can move through it pretty quickly. So if you are looking for something to give you a good laugh and be entertaining, Good Omens is definitely a good choice.

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By Design – Chapter 34

Gracie took a deep breath and ran her hands along the front of her dress, smoothing the lines in the skirt. She had to make an impression tonight. Her relationship depended on it.

“You look beautiful,” Eli said beside her. She was dressed in a deep red dress, her hair collected onto the top of her head, stray ringlets coming down here and there to frame her face.  She felt very much not like herself.

Still, it was nice to hear Eli compliment her. In all honesty, she was surprised he had agreed to this scheme of hers. Granted their relationship wasn’t the most pressing of Eli’s problems at the moment, but it was the one that most directly affected Gracie, and therefore, it was the one she was most concerned with resolving. Besides, having one less thing to worry about would allow Eli to focus his attention elsewhere.

While going through some recent clips of upcoming social events at the office, Gracie had found one for the Chen family’s business. They were holding a fundraiser. Based on her knowledge of the Chen family’s relationship with the Walkers, Gracie could only assume that Eli and his family had been invited to attend the event.

“Of course we have been,” Eli said. “But I wasn’t planning on actually going. It might give Mei the wrong idea.”

“I think we should go,” Gracie said. “It would help Walk on Design’s image. Plus, I think it could give Mei exactly the right idea.”

“We?” It had taken Eli a moment to grab Gracie’s intent. Once he had, he was willing to hop on board with the plan almost immediately.

“Do you really think this is going to work?” he asked as they pulled up to the front door of the event hall.

“If nothing else, it will piss her off,” Gracie said. “And honestly, at this point I would call that a win.”

As they entered the building, Gracie had to admit it was a nice place. The social reporter in her was already taking notes. Even though she wasn’t on assignment here, it was like she couldn’t turn it off. Still, under these circumstances, it might be a bit unprofessional of her to submit a report; her personal biases might get in the way of her professional judgements.

The first half hour at the party was fantastic. Gracie had never been to an event like this where she could act as just a guest. She decided she liked it. There was something nice about eating fancy hors d’oeuvre and sipping on wine that made one feel important. No wonder the wealthy went around holding their heads above everyone else.

It wasn’t long before they ran into Russ Walker who was there to represent his father’s company. Russ just shook his head at them. “You guys are so lucky our father didn’t change his mind about coming. Still, you know when he finds out about this he is going to be irate.”

“Yeah, I know,” Eli said. “We’ll just blame this one,” he added, gesturing to Gracie.

Russ looked her over. “Looking good, Miss Parker.”

Gracie smiled at him. “Why thank you, Mr. Walker.

Eli frowned. “Alright, that’s enough flirting between the two of you,” he said, moving to stand between them. Gracie and Russ simply laughed. Eli was still having a hard time figuring out just when his little brother and girlfriend had become such good friends.

It wasn’t long after their chat with Russ that they were spotted by Mei. Gracie’s back was toward her, so only Eli saw her at first.

“Incoming,” he said. He put down the drink he had been sipping on a nearby table just as Mei was approaching.

“Mr. Walker,” she addressed him, bright and confidently. “I didn’t know to expect you this evening.”

When Gracie turned around to face her, Mei’s smile fled from her face. “What is she doing here?” she asked Eli, her tone now completely deflated.

“Miss Parker is here as my date,” Eli said. He didn’t hedge or stutter or beat around it. He said it with conviction, straightforward. To emphasize the point, he slid his arm around Gracie’s waist and pulled her closer to him. His gesture did not go unnoticed.

Mei’s frown deepened. “She wasn’t invited,” she said. Even from her elegant mouth it sounded petty and childish.

“She’s here with me,” Eli said again. He leaned forward toward Mei. “You should watch your demeanor. Your clients are watching you. You wouldn’t want to give them the wrong idea about how you treat your guests.” There was a smugness in his voice that Gracie couldn’t help but find adorable when he spoke to Mei.

Mei only leaned in closer. “All of these clients know I am promised to marry Eli Walker, son of Russell Walker. Do you really think they haven’t noticed this thing hanging on your arm? Your bringing her here is embarrassing me.”

Eli shrugged. “Then you should have specified on the invitation that I was only supposed to come if I was prepared to be shown off as your future husband. I would have stayed at home.”

Mei closed her eyes. Gracie imagined she could see her counting to ten, trying to keep her anger in check. “Just leave,” she said. She reopened her eyes to glare at both of them. “If your only purpose in being here is to cause a scene and make my life difficult, then just leave. I don’t have time for this.”

Before either of them could say anything in response, Mei turned on her heel and walked away from them, vanishing into the crowd.

“I think we’ve just been kicked out,” Eli said.

“Leave it to me to crash a party this upscale,” Gracie added.

“Eh. Don’t worry about it,” Eli told her. “I can think of a few things I’d rather be doing right now anyway.” He took her hand in his and led her toward the exit.

 

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