Song-ho was incredibly fascinating to Jenna; his family, their history, their culture. The fact that the story started from his grandparents coffeeshop in Korea nearly a century ago; how he had managed to migrate to the United States and why. His rise to success, and the struggle and discrimination he faced. The adversity he had overcome was nothing short of admirable, and the woman’s fingers typed relentlessly. It was interesting to her and was far more than she had ever hoped. She had talked to Kate about this long before and had discussed her anxiety regarding them choosing such a stereotypical theme. They desperately wanted to not be just an average travel magazine, but something more dynamic, with depth and personality, and unique, too.
Jenna mentally noted that Song-Ho and his restaurant may potentially be the front cover of the magazine and the highlight of the article. It was doubtful that the other two could hold a candle to the dynamic, charismatic man sitting across from her and after she shut her computer he thanked her for their magazine selecting his business as one of the chosen restaurants. He urged her to come back often, stating that he would gladly provide a meal for her here-and-there at no cost and Jenna beamed back. His cheeks were rosy but the sweat had long dried. He had taken his apron off and surprised her by the formal, professionally dressed owner beneath the kitchen that blanketed him when they’d first arrived.
Chris met Jenna as he was exiting the back, assuming he’d finished his photography side of things. Song-Ho gave them a last wave after offering them a free to-go meal that she had inquired about for Kate. She couldn’t forget the ravenous woman, she’d never let her hear the end of it. They returned the way they had come, filing into the bus emptier than it had been when they had arrived. This time Jenna found a seat at the edge toward the front and held her bag close to her side, already imagining how she would summarize the interview and the restaurant, and note what she wanted highlighted in the main article. Jenna looked over and caught Chris’ camera in her peripheral vision, and had the strange urge to steal it. He had caught a photo of her earlier, something that vividly reminded her of their days in Seattle. He had a knack for doing it, just like the day at the park when he took the photo that she had seen in his portfolio. She pushed away the thought though, and left the bus with Chris in tow.
When they returned to the office and rounded off the elevator area into the hallway, Kate saw them from her office at the back. She had one of the only ones encompassed in glass and she looked giddy as she walked out and strode toward us. Kate’s hands grabbed the extended box Jenna carried and then she held it close to her like it was fragile or could be taken at any moment. She was a strange one but Jenna loved her more for it.
“How’d it go?”
“I think it went well,” Jenna spoke softly and peeked over at Chris. Kate nodded and stepped toward Chris.
“Let’s get you to your office,” she guided him and Jenna turned away to head to her office situated near Kate’s. She took her seat and looked out over the rows of low cubicles, her office also encased in glass, where she could easily still see heads popping up over the partitions. She tore her eyes away from Kate and Chris, her heart finally slowing after the past few tense hours. No, it was time for a thorough distraction. Her only relief was the thought that she maybe wouldn’t have to work closely with him again for a couple of days, although she figured there’d be an editing day and they did have yet to discuss when that would take place. She sighed heavily and open her computer to drowned herself in her work for the last hour or so of the shift.
Finally, she decided to call it a night after her eyes began to feel heavy and painful. She closed the laptop and slid it into her bag, slinging it over her shoulder and heading out of the building. Anxiety prickled her still, her stomach still rolling, continuing to grapple with the fact that she needed to find some way to forget it all. But yet, behind some of the uneasiness and shock, there was a brooding resentment that was becoming more and more apparent. Jenna didn’t know why but many painful emotions started to well inside her. They had all day but still the stupor of seeing him had negated the pain and now it was roaring back to her. There still seemed to be remnants of the broken heart she’d experienced deep within her bones and she was rattled.
It didn’t help that as she rounded the corner to the elevator, Chris was waiting, too, and she nearly stopped and turned around. Instead she finessed with her sweater and repositioned her bag on her shoulder to muster up the strength to approach him. She wasn’t sure how to greet someone in this scenario, so she opted not to. She stopped beside him and flashed him an awkward smile in greeting instead, but suddenly she heard a ringing in her purse. Her hands worked tirelessly in her bag to find her phone and when she did she stumbled to answer it, finally holding it to her ear awkwardly as she also held her bag open.
“Hey babe,” Levi said into the phone.
“Hey,” she responded, slightly out of breath from the commotion of answering the phone. The elevator dinged then and Chris and Jenna entered the elevator.
“How’s you day been?”
“Oh, it’s been good, I guess. I got a really cool interview so I’m pretty excited!” Her voice was elevated and excited. She was bent over and finally managed to maneuver the phone between her ear and shoulder so she could free her hands and readjust the bag.
“Nice job, babe!”
“Thanks!” She paused for a moment and took a breath, “So.. Uhm…” She wanted to ask about the weekend but it felt strange to bring it up; she missed him and wanted him here but knew his work came with some obstacles. Jenna had been willing to do it to support him, something she’d learned from her previous fiancé who happened to be standing beside her. She heard Levi make a strange sound, almost like a deep sigh and Jenna’s heart lurched.
“So, yeah, I’m sorry babe but we booked a show last minute and I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it back this weekend,” he explained and Jenna held back the tears that threatened to break from her desolate azure eyes.
“Yeah, no, I mean I get it, that’s great!” She tried to sound supportive and enthusiastic, lacing her defeated words with fake saccharine. “I guess, uh, I guess I will see you next weekend, right?”
“Of course, I’ll try to call you later tomorrow,” he tried to make up for his previous bad news but Jenna had learned not to rely on his promises.
[i “Promise?”] I asked in a whisper, turning my head slightly away from Chris for some semblance of privacy.
“Course. Love you, babe.”
“Love you t—,” she heard the call drop and realized he had hung up. She pulled the phone away shakily and slid the phone back into her purse before flashing Chris another awkward smile. [i Well, that was awkward. ]