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Top Management Chapter 162

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Chapter 162: Celebrities Live Off their Image (5)

TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir

"Chief! Are you planning on ruining your life?!"

Lee Suji's eyes were burning. She forcefully shook Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n as she shouted about what he was going to do if he actually went to jail or how did he hope to survive in this cruel world when he was so inflexible and foolish.

I wholeheartedly agreed. Even the cameraman nodded his head.

Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n was being scolded by a girl who didn't even reach his shoulders as he kept glancing at me. I signaled to him, telling him to keep his mouth shut if he couldn't act since Lee Suji's reaction was unusual.

Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n seemed to have noticed the same thing as me as he added,

"How can I just think of my own life when I have no idea where she is?"

"Then you should have thought about the younger ones! We believed that you…!"

Lee Suji stopped mid-shout.

She looked in our direction with an uneasy expression before sighing.

"Ah, G.o.d d.a.m.n it. Wait here for a bit."

As though she was wary of us, Lee Suji took a few steps back and took out her phone.

So I was right. My tensed shoulders soon relaxed.

Just then, two paths naturally opened up in my mind.

While Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n was going around like a puppy who had to go, Lee Suji was definitely talking to Jung Jae. After telling her that Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n could go to jail if the program falls through, Lee Suji paused.

Then she hung up and said,

"Follow me."

They say that you can't see what's under your nose. Jung Jae was living in the apartment next to Lee Suji. She rented it from the owner, who went to the same school as Lee Suji and had gone home for a while, by paying a portion of the rent. That was why she was there whenever Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n came looking for her.

What a mess.

I followed behind Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n, who was rus.h.i.+ng forward, when the cameraman came over.

It seemed his 6mm camera was still recording as the light was on.

"We got nothing while running around looking for her like mad, yet it's smooth sailing as soon as you join. Even I would have been frightened if you said that I could go to jail. No, how can you adapt to the situation so quickly? How is it possible?"

It's because threatening people is my talent. Should I say that, in this industry, I was a rising specialist in that regard?

It was the same when I faced Yoon Bora and Park Hyojin. I didn't have to think much for these words to come out. At this point, it seemed like I was meant for it. A hobby in recording others with a talent in threatening people. Maybe I could use these talents to achieve great success if I hadn't become self-conscious about my actions after seeing the future.

"Well, I guess I simply said whatever out of urgency."

"It didn't seem like you said whatever. I think I understand why people bring you up so much. But what would you have done if Ms. Jae was silent after receiving Ms. Lee Suji's call?"

"I don't know."

The cameraman seemed to want to know more details, but I simply smiled.

I had already been thinking about it inwardly. Although I believed Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n had some circ.u.mstances of his own, he was like that with Park Hyojin and Yoon Bora as well. Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n was the type of guy who would be playing pattycake with Tinkerbell in Neverland.

As someone who had an innate distrust in others, Jung Jae was a bit unsatisfactory. She tried to get my favor, but she apologized, though I didn't know whether it was due to her conscious or just shame. Seeing as she hadn't appeared afterwards made me think she was at least better than the other two, but that was all.

But to ignore her group members who were about to lose their chance and her manager who was about to go to jail and just hide?

If she really was like that, then all the concern and time I spent today would have been a waste. I might have just stopped looking and left, thinking that I did enough by sealing Yoon Bora and Park Hyojin's lips.

Well, seeing as we were going to meet her right away, I guess it was a relief that she didn't seem to be that kind of girl.

"We're here. She's probably in my friend's room…"

The hallway was narrow and packed with doors like a live-in study hall.

Lee Suji stood in front of the door of unit 602.

I suddenly recalled the one time I saw Jung Jae. Although the details were hazy, I remembered a few thoughts I had. She gave off a somewhat lonely and pitiful feeling like she was drenched in rain without an umbrella. Like someone who would cry at the slightest nudge.

What kind of expression would she have right now?

I peered into the slight opening in the door.

"I think it'll be best if Chief Lee went in on his own."

Lee Suji said as she closed the door again.

Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n, who looked like he was almost out of breath, paused.

"Is it because of the camera? It's off right now…"

"No, rather than the camera, it's because of Chief Jung Sunwoo."

Me?

"I think her condition might worsen if she saw you."

Her condition might worsen?

When I tilted my head slightly, Lee Suji added with a gloomy expression,

"She has depression."

"D-depression? Jae does?"

"Yes, she also has a bit of insomnia as well. She's been going to the hospital."

I had antic.i.p.ated that she might have a mental problem considering her life ended in a suicide, but to have depression. Had Park Hyojin and Yoon Bora poured oil into an already blazing flame?

After letting the anxious Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n and Lee Suji go in on their own, the cameraman and I decided to wait in Lee Suji's currently empty room. However, there was no need to wonder about what was going on in the next room.

-Jae, why is your face so haggard?!

His p.r.o.nunciation was horrible.

Exaggerating a little, it was like I could almost hear them breathing. Jung Jae's voice was gloomy like a wind sweeping through a barren wasteland, and Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n sounded impatient. He asked about why she didn't call him until now and whether she decided to quit because of the president.

I glanced at the cameraman, thinking that the conversation would be delicate.

"Director, I think they'll discuss some sensitive matters…"{1}

"I'll be having a smoke outside."

The cameraman left his camera and took his cigarette pack and lighter. Now I was the only one remaining in this cramped apartment. I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall. Behind it, Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n was apologizing for not knowing about it beforehand.

Lee Suji would occasionally get a word in as well. Jung Jae's voice could be heard once in a long while.

-If you hid because of that, you don't have to. The president ordered you to. It wasn't because you wanted to. I know you're not that type of person. You'll never be in that sort of situation again.

-Chief.

-You can come back. None of the members blame or hate you. Rather, they are very sorry. They are anxiously waiting for your return.

-Forget me and think of them now, chief.

-You're just exhausted right now. You'll regret giving up now when you put ten years into this.

I didn't know what I was doing here. Maybe I should have sniffed some cigarette smoke with the cameraman. I felt like it would have been more productive to discuss how we could enhance the footage we took today.

-Or, is it because you're too embarra.s.sed to see Chief Jung? Because of that phone call? It's alright. We understand you were desperate, and Chief Jung was the one who approved us looking for you…!

-I was going to sleep with him.

What?

-Wh-what?

-I was going to sleep with Chief Jung Sunwoo.

What sort of nonsense was this?

Instead of being depressed, was she a mythomaniac?{2}

Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n spoke the exact words I wanted to say.

-What are you saying?! You called him believing the rumor that he accepted bribes! You asked how much he wanted…!

-I told him I'd do anything he wanted. If he asked me to sleep with him, I would have.

-Jae!

-I fled because I was terrified by the person the president introduced me to. I told myself I would never do something like this even if I died. But I was the one who brought it up to Chief Jung. I had mistakenly thought he was interested in. Perhaps he thought I had potential. But I was wrong. Wrong.

Her laugh was tinted with shame.

-I should have taken the hint and gave up then, but I couldn't. I thought, 'Maybe if he saw me in a more positive light, so if I got him to like me more… maybe he'll make me like Lee Songha or Nam Joyoon.'"

Oh, yeah. She did say something like that.

That she would do anything I said even if it wasn't money. So to help her succeed like Lee Songha or Nam Joyoon. I was so caught up in events that came after, like how she left Pretty Girls and Pretty Girls disbanded, that I never had the chance to think about it.

-Rather than being paid for sleeping with him, I thought that I could believe he was helping me because he saw potential in me. I was still selling my body regardless.

Jung Jae didn't cry nor did she seem like she was suppressing her surging emotions.

She seemed to crumble like ashes after a fire.

-I'm now 'that' type of girl. One that uses her body because her talent isn't enough. It's disgusting, isn't it?

-Jung Jae!

-This is an opportunity that could change the other girls and your life. I'll only be a hindrance if I join. I plan on giving up on becoming a singer. So don't concern yourself with me and go to them.

-Are you being serious?

-If it'll be helpful if I did an interview, I'll do it.

So the short call with me burned up the past ten years of her life? Her confidence in her talent and potential all burned away. Her pride was the next to burn.

If I went back a bit further, all this happened because of the few seconds I stared at her. d.a.m.n it. For some eye contact to end in suicide. How could I walk around with my eyes open from now on?

Anyways, she wasn't hateful like Park Hyojin and Yoon Bora.

Should I go in and face her rather than listening to them like this?

I rubbed my stiff neck and was about to get up.

-Jae. Was my belief in you nothing to you?

Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n said in a teary voice.

-I always thought you were overflowing with talent and potential. I thought that you would one day stand on the big stage and on the red carpet. I still believe that. Does my belief mean nothing to you now?

-Chief, that's not it…

-To be honest, I thought about quitting after working with Chief Jung.

Now, what was he saying?

-I understand from working alongside him. I really was incompetent. You all had such potential but couldn't s.h.i.+ne because you met me.

-That's not it. It's all thanks to you that the group lasted two years.

-Since the girls would be on their own if I left, I believed that Chief Jung might take them all in. Bora and Hyojin found their own paths. But I couldn't quit because I was worried about you.

I crossed my arms again and leaned against the wall.

Well, Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n was so softhearted and kind that he was frustrating, but I had thought that it would be good to have people like him rather than a team full of coldhearted people since there were things he could do that they couldn't.

Did I not communicate very well after becoming a temporary team leader?

-It was my fault you went to those drinking parties on your own, and it's also my fault as your manager that you had such extreme thoughts. So I'll learn a lot while working with Chief Jung. Let's work together once more, Jae.

-Chief…

-If you really hate working with me, I'll quit too.

That man was doing something similar to a threat.

I unintentionally laughed.

Then I began hearing the three of them cry behind me.

I knocked on the apartment next door.

The door opened after a few knocks. Their sobs became even louder. Seeing me, Lee Suji's teary eyes trembled.

"I think I unintendedly hammered a nail in Ms. Jung Jae's heart, so I came to take it out with my own hands."

The first person I saw when I entered was Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n, whose eyes were all red.

Jung Jae was standing behind him. The hazy image in my mind grew clearer. Maybe it was because she lost a lot of weight, but she looked even more delicate. Even in a moment like this, I thought that her crying face especially suited her.

There were now four goldfish.

Jung Jae was taken aback when she saw me as she retreated a few steps. She looked like she wanted to escape into an aquarium if there was one, no, I was worried she might fall out the window. I steadfastly walked through the room and stood in front of the window.

"I have the same thoughts as Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n."

"P-pardon?"

"I stared at you before because I thought you had potential. I only acted that way on the phone because I believed that it would be better if you stayed in the group rather than going solo."

I wasn't lying.

Would her crumbled pride revive with this? When I glanced at her, she seemed to be in a daze, unsure whether this was a dream or reality. She blankly looked up at me with a confused expression.

"Also, please forget all of those thoughts. It's not like it actually happened, so there's no need loathe yourself. Everyone struggles with thoughts like that. I struggle with them all the time. 'Should I be tempted or not? d.a.m.n it, I'm going crazy!' That's just life."

I wasn't lying about this either.

As I continued to speak like it was nothing, Jung Jae's red eyes welled with tears. Her already soaked, trembling lashes were wet with tears once more as they dripped. Her trembling hands covered her face. She erupted into tears that made even the hearts of people hearing her sobs ache.

Yes, I hoped that having a good cry would lighten the heart.

Teary-eyed, Chief Lee Taes.h.i.+n patted her back.

I should talk with him after all this crying. Thinking this, I took a step back. Then I smiled as I leaned against the wall.

It was a leisurely smile that I have finally recovered after a long, hectic 12 hours.

The elevator opened. A dim orange light lit up the dark hallway. Coming to Neptune's residence after being busy with Pretty Girls the entire day felt like I was returning to my hometown. All my anxiety relaxed.

I picked up the convenience store bags and went over to the door like normal.

Then I almost died of a heart attack.

A woman with long, unraveled hair was crouching in front of the door.

"Songha, what are you doing here? Were you chased out?"

"No, I saw you coming so I decided to wait outside. I wanted to talk."

"We can talk inside, why are you sitting here in the dark?"

"There are cameras inside. It's a bit too personal to be talking about it inside."

Too personal, huh?

I placed the plastic bags on the floor and stood next to Lee Songha.

"What is it?"

"The Pretty Girls member you have your business card to last time."

Did she hear something?

The light turned off as we stood still. Our surroundings went so dark I couldn't see anything. I could hear Lee Songha breathing next to me. It was ticklish. Soon, she spoke in her sweet voice,

"I heard that you personally went to find her and bring her back. The unnis said that there was no doubt that you fell for her the moment you saw her and was obsessing over her, so I'm here as the representative to ask you about it."

"Don't ask about it. I haven't fallen for her."

"Really?"

"Really. How could I fall for someone at a glance? When I see you all the time."

I could sense her surprise. The light turned back on when I turned to look at her.

The orange light s.h.i.+ned on Lee Songha's face as she looked at me.

{1} Jung Sunwoo calls the cameraman director because he's a 'camera director'.

{2} Mythomaniac - Someone who lies or exaggerates to an abnormal degree

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