Chapter 1

“Boss! Green suits you very well. You look just like your Peas-in-the-pod soft toy at home,” Sooyoung joked as she looked at the figure who was sitting upright on the bed, dressed in the light green clothes issued by the hospital.

The Boss looked up from her phone and shot Sooyoung a killer stare. Just then, another visitor strolled into the ward and stood beside Sooyoung.

“I brought your favourite gummy bears. Had a hard time smuggling them into the room,” Sooyoung whispered and handed her boss a small Ziploc bag filled with multi-coloured gummy bears. The Boss’s face instantly lit up at the sight of her favourite snacks. She opened the Ziploc bag excitedly and threw a few gummy bears into her mouth.

“Does the hospital issue you a stamp for each time you visit them or are you trying to become a mayor of this hospital on Foursquares?” said the second visitor sarcastically.

“Kyu, you must be a psychic! I’m only 7 days away from being a mayor here!” the Boss joked, beaming brightly at the short visitor.

The Boss continued in a chirpy voice, “Guess what, I got my favourite number again, the number nine! The ward’s number nine and my bed’s number nine too!” However, the visitor was clearly not amused.

“Kim Taeyeon, I’m glad to know your sense of humour is still alive. One of the basic conditions for any human beings to survive is food. Taeng, you need to eat proper meals to survive. Drinking coffee and eating gummy bears all day aren’t exactly proper meals. I’m surprised this shikshin here didn’t teach you a thing or two about eating since you work with each other all the time.”

“Ya Shhort…Sunny, I did offer my sandwiches and snacks to Boss but she refused to take any of them.” Sooyoung quickly defended herself. Sunny glared at the tall skinny girl who was retreating towards the door.

Taeyeon threw a couple more gummy bears into her mouth and said gently, “Kyu, you should know me well enough. My work is my greatest passion in life. Without it, life is an aimless journey. Morever, Clean and Brite is a very important client to us.”

Sunny frowned and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Taeng, I’m just being concerned about you. Your health is more important than any major campaigns. Lately you’ve been having frequent fainting spells from over-exhaustion. Your gastric problem seems to be worsening as well. I don’t want the ECD name plate outside your door to represent Ex-Creative Director instead of Executive Creative Director.”

“Both of us worked hard to put Page9 into the advertising world. Page9 is my heart and soul and I can’t imagine living a day without it,” said Taeyeon firmly.

Just then, a tall bespectacled doctor strolled into the ward. Taeyeon stuffed the bag of gummy bears into Sooyoung’s palm and tried to act innocent as the doctor approached her bed.

“Good morning Miss Kim. Are you feeling better? I’m going to take your blood pressure now,” the doctor asked with a warm smile as she prepared the mercury blood pressure gauge.

“Yes, feeling better today,” replied Taeyeon. She stuck her left arm out for the doctor to secure the cuff around it.

“Miss Kim, your blood pressure’s still a bit low. We need to keep you under observation for a day before we can discharge you. You need plenty of rest as your body is quite weak. Have you been skipping meals again?” the doctor asked after removing the stethoscope from her ears.

Taeyeon pulled the blanket up to her chin and nodded meekly as she could feel the dagger-like stares from Sunny.

“You need to take regular meals and cut down on your coffee consumption, else your gastric problem is going to worsen, and it might lead to more serious problems such as stomach ulcers. By then, it would be too late. I’ll need to take some more tests to ensure you’re fine before I can discharge you. If nothing goes wrong, you can be discharged tomorrow.”

“Thanks Doctor.” Taeyeon nodded her head again and leaned back onto the bed.

“Make sure I don’t see you back here again,” said the doctor in a gentle but firm voice before she left the room.

“Whoa Boss, your condition sounds pretty bad this time! You should have taken that ham sandwich I offered you this afternoon,” Sooyoung said once the doctor was out of the room. She opened a bag of fish crackers and started munching on them.

“Eating that one sandwich today won’t help. This stubborn person has been ignoring the doctor’s advice for the longest time. If you really care about the company, you should stay alive to make sure we appear in the top ten most influential local advertising companies!” Sunny reprimanded in a stern manner.

Taeyeon sighed and replied, “Okay, I promise. After this project, I’ll go on a day’s leave to chill out and relax.”

Sunny glared at Taeyeon and took a deep breath before speaking. “Taeng, you’ve been telling me the same thing every time you get admitted to the hospital. Each time, you never fulfill your promise at all. You’ve been slogging day and night for the past three years and you need a proper rest before you kill yourself. By proper rest, I mean taking your mind and soul off work completely. Not checking your emails and messages while you are on leave.”

“But I…” Taeyeon wanted to defend herself but was interrupted by Sunny.

“The dictionary defines rest as ceasing work in order to relax or refresh oneself. After you get discharged from the hospital, I’m ordering you to stay away from work for one month,” commanded Sunny.

“What?!” Both Taeyeon and Sooyoung exclaimed simultaneously.

Sunny ignored the both of them and continued, “Your access card would be temporarily suspended since you would be barred from entering the office. Most of the major projects are near completion and I’m sure this Art Director over here would be able to tie up the loose ends. Moreover the peak period for our retail accounts are almost over. I’ll get IT to divert all your emails to Sooyoung’s mailbox instead.”

Sooyoung almost choked on the fish crackers she was eating as she listened to Sunny rattle a whole list of instructions. Sunny shot an icy glare at Sooyoung before returning her gaze to Taeyeon. Taeyeon gulped and wanted to say something but decided to keep quiet.

“Don’t worry about the clients. I have my way to explain to them about your situation. Afterall having good public relation skills is my forte. I’m sure most of them would agree you need a break too. No buts, my decision is final since I’m also the co-founder of the agency.”

Taeyeon sighed and slid lower under the covers. She knew it was futile to argue with Sunny as she always had the last say. The two of them knew each other during their university days and even joined the same advertising company when they first started work. After saving up for a few years, they decided to start their own agency in order to follow their dreams.

Sunny, being  a social butterfly, was naturally heading the account servicing team. She was persuasive yet firm, refusing to let others take advantage of her due to her small built. On the other hand, Taeyeon was better at expressing herself visually through drawing. Being a highly focused person, Taeyeon was often mistaken as being somewhat aloof. When she had a goal in mind, she was persistent in its accomplishment.


2 days later

Buzz buzz…buzz buzz…

The figure lying on a queen sized bed stuck a hand out from the quilt and pressed the snooze button on the alarm clock.

Buzz buzz…buzz buzz…

“Is my stupid alarm clock spoilt?!” grumbled the person under the quilt.

(Sound of main door being unlocked. Quick footsteps approaching the bedroom)

“Kim Taeyeon!” a loud voice bellowed.

(Sound of someone rummaging through wardrobe)

“Get up this instant!” the same voice hollered.

“What the hell!” Taeyeon cursed, irritated. She was still hiding in the comfort of her quilt.

Suddenly the quilt was whipped off the bed, exposing Taeyeon’s small body.

“What’s going on?!” Taeyeon groaned, using her arm to cover her eyes.

“Boss! You’re going on a holiday!” another loud voice chirped.

“I am…going….on a what?!” Taeyeon exclaimed, sitting up almost immediately.

“You heard that shikshin right. You’re going on a holiday right now. Quick, wash up,” commanded Sunny.

Reluctantly, Taeyeon dragged herself off the bed and into the washroom.  She stood by the bedroom door, brushing her teeth as she watched Sooyoung picking clothes from her wardrobe and placing them into a brown suitcase. On the other hand, Sunny had disappeared from the bedroom.

A few minutes later, Taeyeon was sitting at the bar counter in the kitchen watching her best friend prepare a ham and cheese sandwich.

“Here you go,” said Sunny as she placed the sandwich and a cup of thick black coffee in front of Taeyeon.

Just then, Sooyoung dragged the brown suitcase out to the living room and placed it by the main door.

“Hang on, hang on. Kyu, what’s this all about? Who am I going on a holiday with? The both of you?” Taeyeon asked, pointing to the two people who barged into her house unannounced.

“Boss, Sunny has booked a special holiday for you in the countryside! You need a break from work remember?” Sooyoung said excitedly.

“I’m going nowhere. I’m staying put here,” Taeyeon protested, swinging her short legs while sitting on the high chair.

“It’s for your own good. I don’t wanna deal with anymore fainting spells or hospital trips. The fresh air in the countryside will do you good,” Sunny insisted.

“Boss, don’t worry, it’s only a three weeks trip just to clear your mind. Maybe you’ll return with new inspirations!” Sooyoung said happily.

“If you’re so keen on travelling, why don’t you go instead? I can stay here and do the work,” Taeyeon whined.

“Stop being such a kid. Looking like one doesn’t give you the privilege of acting like one, Taeng.”

“Awwww….” Taeyeon pouted.

In the next instant, Taeyeon received a smack on the head from Sunny.

“Give that place a try. If you’re still not happy after a week there, I’ll personally go and pick you up. Is that a deal?” Sunny asked.

“One week? One week in the countryside is gonna be hell, Kyu. There’s nothing to do there. No nightlife, no Starbucks, no car to zip around, no internet… ahhh! I don’t even wanna think about it!” Taeyeon complained.

“Taeng, don’t judge the place even before seeing it. I’ll do you a small favour by dropping you off at the bus terminal. Let’s go,” Sunny said. She grabbed Taeyeon by the collar and shoved her out of the door, with Sooyoung pulling the suitcase close behind.


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