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"Without you, can't stop the pain inside when love and hate collide." ~Def Leppard


Since I slept late last night, I woke up pretty late too. It was already five in the morning when I finally stopped snoozing my alarm. Five! I scurried to the bathroom. Our call time was 5am and here I was waking up at five. My Goodness! I went to my parents' room and kissed them goodbye as soon as I was ready to leave. I will be seeing them more frequently nowadays because I was already reassigned to the new company branch near this town. It was only now at an hour travel from here. But no matter how near, I was still late and would be more late if Jade was still not ready to go.

Her house was only a block away from mine so it only took a minute to be here. She didn't answer when I called her phone and rang the doorbell so I went in since the gate was not locked. Her door wasn't either. I went to her room and saw her asleep on her bed. Good thing she packed her things already.

"Jade, Jade!" I tapped her shoulder. "Jade, it's time! C'mon, wake up! Jade!" I shook her.

"Victorique?" she asked with sleepy eyes. "How did you get in?"

"You're door's not locked, sleepyhead. C'mon, get up now!" I shoved her toothbrush to her hand.

She went out of bed and to her bathroom while I brought her bag to my car. She was taking a bath when I came in again.

"Hurry up!" I urged, knocking on her bathroom door. "I'll wait for you in the car, okay?"

"Yeah, sure!" I heard her answer.

We were silent on our way to the new building of Flamel's. Jade was half asleep on her seat and I was half worried of my tardiness. In my one year of experience working in this company as the Marketing Supervisor, I never got late in any appointment. Well, except that day of the Branch Opening. It wasn't counted since I was not yet officially on the list of staff. Our new manager, Reymond Baltazar, was a close friend of mine when we were still in the main branch. We were so happy when we knew that we would be the new teammates in the new branch. Perhaps he wouldn't reprimand me.

There were five buses aligned inside the company grounds. I didn't expect this much number of people to attend. I scurried to bus number 1.

"I'm sorry for being late," I apologized to Rey as soon as I spotted him.

"It's okay," Rey beamed. "Glad you made it. There is still a vacant seat at the back," he said, helping me load my luggage.

"How about my friend?" I asked when I saw Jade nearing the bus.

"Over here!" I heard someone said.

"Good morning, sir," I nearly lost my balance when I recognize the man seated behind the driver's seat. "He will travel with us?" I asked Rey in whispers.

"Anything new with that? You know him. He prefers to be with his employees than being alone in a limousine. Now, c'mon. I think you can survive the journey without sitting together with your friend, anyway."

"Of course. . . It's just that. . ."

I began but didn't continue my sentence since Jade was already behind me. I didn't want to ruin her day but I thought this was a great chance for her to get to know Sir Ence. So, although I really wanted to take that seat, I lent it to her and proceeded at the vacant seat at the back.

"Lookin' great, eh?" a man grinned at me.

"Aldrin! Long time no see! How are you doin'?" I smiled as I took the seat beside him.

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