Fifth

Old Blood New Money
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She had been sitting at her desk with her fingers twisting together for about an hour, it was unlike her. 

Any minute now, the representative at Samsung that she had been meeting with regularly was going to call her, probably angrily considering how many times she rescheduled this call, and all she could do was stare at the phone. She really didn't want to do this. 

Heiran let her eyes dart to the sleek clock hanging over the door of her office. 

3 minutes. 

Taking a deep breath, she slapped on the plastered smile she always used when talking to investors or businessmen, even though they couldn’t see it, she learned that even the sound of a smile made men far easier to deal with.

She lifted the phone and pressed it to her ear, “Kevin, hi, how are you?”

“Not good, to be honest.” The dry voice said, “It’s been 3 days Heiran, 3 days of radio silence from you. We shouldn‘t have to reschedule phone calls this many times just to touch base.”

She clenched her jaw as her grip on the phone tightened. She never let anyone talk to her like that, like she was incompetent at her job. But she didn’t have much choice now, did she?

“I have to apologize, I’ve had a bit of a personal emergency and only managed to get into the office today.”

His sigh was scathing, “Listen, I just wanted to call to make sure everything is moving according to plan and that there’s nothing new that I need to bring to my executive meeting.”

She chewed the remaining bits of lipstick off her lips, “Nothing new to report. Although I should mention that I had a meeting with SmartLogic a few days ago and they are now more resistant to being bought out. They might run if they think a giant is trying to buy them.”

“Wait, what are you implying? I thought you said they’d agree with a hefty enough cheque from us. Do you think they want more?” He asked.

“The opposite actually. I don’t think they care about the money. I think they might be a moot point. I, instead, have a long list of new start-ups that we are looking to invest in who are way more receptive to having their technology bought.”

A beat passed.

“What the are you playing at Heiran? This entire merger is so we can acquire SmartLogic. That was your bargaining chip. Now you’re saying that they’re not even on the table with it? Then why are we even talking about a merger? You think we want some random tech nobody? SmartLogic is going to blow up and we want them. We want them even more now that they’re not in it for the money because that means they know how valuable they are.” He boomed.

She winced, she shouldn’t have banked everything on SmartLogic so early on, but how was she supposed to know they’d be bogus?

“No one is saying that SmartLogic is out of the picture, I just think they just need more convincing to fully trust this process.” 

“That’s your job, you need to sort that out and get them on board. I don’t want problems, Heiran. I want solutions.” He barked.

“Absolutely. I just want to keep you in the loop on their status.” She said weakly. How was she supposed to get them back on board when they weren't even real?

God, she wasn’t sure how she used to do this so easily.

“Jesus Christ.” He muttered, “Okay, I need to hop off, let’s touch base again next week. I want updates on SmartLogic, maybe even have a sit down with one of their reps.”

That would not and could not happen. 

“I’ll see what I can do. Speak soon, Kevin.” She said, ending the call before he could reply.

She pressed her fingers against her temples. There was no way she’d ween Samsung off of SmartLgoic without blowing the entire merger.

“Knock, knock. Am I interrupting?”

She lifted her head and saw the CEO standing by her door. She shot up, straightening herself out, “Sir, what brings you here?”

“Thought I’d check in on you. I’ve noticed that you’ve been stressed lately, I know you have a lot on your plate with SmartLogic and with the VP of HR gone, it’s a lot. I want to make sure you’re handling it okay.” He said gently. 

She smiled, he might have impeccable standards and be a pain in the with deadlines, but she thoroughly respected and admitted the CEO. “It’s a lot but I’m used to it by now. I just want things to go well.”

He nodded, pleased, “You’ve been doing well, I’m very happy with your work. Oh! And I met that gentleman of yours on my way in.”

Her eye twitched, “You met Mark?”

“Your personal assistant, right? Jeez, Heiran, you’d think he was a bodyguard with the tattoos and the glare.” He said with a joyful laugh.

Her face flared, “I’m so sorry sir, he’s not the most polite.”

“Oh, I don’t know, I kind of like it, adds something new to the boring faces I see here.” He teased.

She jumped topics, not wanting to dwell on him for too long, “Things are looking good with my contact Samsung.”

If looking good meant a true dumpster fire.

“And I’m sure they will with you in charge. I always knew you had it in you, Heiran. I saw it when you first joined us as a financial analyst, you had drive, passion, intelligence and of course, I needed a Dragon on my team. You have worked hard, with more integrity than most people in this industry will show in their entire lives. Hiring you will always be the best decisions I ever made in.” He said with the kind of smile that normally warmed her up, but not this time.

Her heart was pounding so hard that she could hear it in her ears. Her mentor, the only person who believed in her and gave her a chance amongst an ocean of over-privileged men in boring plain suits.

He trusted her with his business.

He believed in her integrity.

What a joke. 

She gave him a tight-lipped smile as he stood from his chair and headed to the door before looking over his shoulder with a smile, “You’ve never let me down, I can’t wait to see all the places you’ll go.” 

“Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.” She said softly.

“You’re like a daughter to me, Heiran, I will always have your back.”

-----

Mark was walking up the stairs to his apartment when his phone rang. 

He had just come from dropping Heiran off at her house and collecting an overdue payment from one of GOT7’s clients when he wedged his phone between his ear and his shoulder while digging his keys outs. 

“Yeah.” No one responded and he was about to hang up, thinking it was a misdial.

But then he heard it. 

Soft at first.

And then a lot clearer.

The sound of clicking. 

Like the click of a pen, repetitive, annoying, and a sound that he recognized. 

The phone slipped from between his shoulder but he caught it before it shattered against the floor. His eyes were wide, his body tensed in the way it does when an animal is deciding between fight or flight. He lifted the phone back to his ear, to hear more, but he was met with a dead line, he glanced at the number and saw it listed as Blocked.

His arm dropped lifelessly.

.

-----

It was 2am when something jolted Heiran awake.

For a second she thought it was morning and that the alarm on her phone was waking her up when she realized that the alarm on her phone never echoed through the entire house.

It was pitch black outside her windows and her heart lurched as it dawned on her that it was the dead of night. Nothing ever good happened at night. The sound was still echoing at an ear-piercing decibel and she wondered how long it was ringing for before she had woken up.

Those were the alarms Mark had set up. 

It was like someone flicked a switch when she jumped into action, moving before her mind could catch up with her. Ripping her covers off, she ignored the chill pricking her skin and raced out to her door, her hand trembling as she cracked it open. Her eyes scanned the long dark hallway. Her house never felt so sinister before, she never felt so unsafe. 

Stepping out, she leaned over the banister and felt horror rush through her veins when she saw her front door wide open.

Someone had broken in. 

Someone was in her house. 

“What’s going on?"

Heiran snapped her head over at Lucy who was rubbing her eyes with a pout. Heiran looked back over the banister and felt her heart leap up when she saw a shadow fill her front door.

Someone was coming.

Urgency filled her as she grabbed Lucy, hushing her protests and ran into her room, barricading the both of them into her closet. She couldn’t stop trembling as she pressed the two of them behind her clothes, trying to blend as best as she could. Her brain was already racing, cursing her for leaving her phone behind and not having any sort of a weapon, even a frying pan, with her.

They were sitting ducks.

Heiran could hear footsteps moving downstairs and it took everything in her not to start crying in fear. But that must not have been enough to fool Lucy who was whimpering against her neck when she sensed that something wasn't right. 

“Mommy, what’s happening?” She whispered, scared.

Heiran’s started shaking violently when she heard someone come up the stairs. The noise grew, as the doors to the rooms adjacent to hers were being swung open and slammed shut. It was only a matter of time until they got to her room. 

She could feel dizziness wash over her as she tightened her grip on Lucy, holding her tight to her chest as footsteps thundered towards them. Heiran held her breath when she heard the door to her bedroom opened and someone enter.

She slowly lowered Lucy to the ground, as the doors to the rooms adjacent to hers were being swung open and slammed shut. 

She pushed Lucy behind a row of pants, her tiny stature perfect for hiding out of view. She held up a finger to her lips and she quickly understood that her mother was scared, which meant she had to be too. The fear in her eyes crushed her heart as she nodded grimly. Someone so young shouldn’t be able to look so accustomed to pain.

Heiran rose, standing in front of where Lucy was hiding, bracing herself for being discovered when she saw the shadow stop in front of the closet. The doors opened and she flinched, a scream lodged in until her eyes adjusted to the man standing in front of her. 

“ing hell, duchess.”

A gust of air escaped her lungs in what sounded like a scream and groan when Mark rested his hand against the frame of her closet, catching his breath. “You really know how to keep a man on his toes.”

She was going to pass out, whether from relief or delayed fear, she wasn’t sure.

She didn’t think she would ever be so happy to see one of her father’s men in her life. She was lightheaded, as reality rushed back to her, she was okay, there was no threat. It didn’t matter if someone had tried to break-in now, at least Mark was here. 

Wait. 

He was here. 

How?

Her eyes ran down the length of his body, frowning at the plaid cotton pants and disheveled black hoodie and his tattooed hand gripping his gun. He ran his fingers through his mused hair as he straightened up. 

This didn’t make sense, “What are you doing here?”

He looked incredulous as his eyes skimmed over her in search of injuries, “What kind of question is that? Your alarms went off.”

“You--You---” She stuttered as everything clicked into place.

The alarms were sent to him too, they woke him up in the middle of the night just like they did her and he raced over. Her eyes ran over his face before she reached out to grab his collar. He looked startled as she stepped towards him, eyes wide and a little bit frantic when she tried to tug on him. 

“Wh--”

She stepped closer and he tensed when she leaned forward and rested her forehead against his chest. He looked down at the top of her head and watched her shoulders rise and fall with each heavy labored breath. She shut her eyes for a moment, calming herself down as his scent trapped her against him. 

All she could hear was the sound of her breathing, her heart pounding in her head and his heart beating against her ears in a calming rhythm. Unlike the breakneck pace of her own, she matched her breaths to the steady thudding in his chest, "It's you."

His arms hovered over her, unsure if she wanted a hug or to be touched by him at all.

“Mom?”

Mark stiffened, his eyes darting over Heiran’s shoulder at the little girl with messy hair wearing a cotton dress staring up at him in confusion between racks of her pants. He slowly moved the gun in his hand into the waistband of his pants and out of her view.

“Who’s that?” She asked, her eyes surveying him up and down. 

Heiran pulled away from him and he wanted to grab her, use her as a human shield against the tiny thing whose gaze was penetrating him. 

She crouched down next to Lucy, pulling her curious gaze off of him, “He’s...one of Mommy’s co-workers. We need to talk so why don’t you go back to bed?”

“Bu--”

She smoothed her hands over the top of her hair, “Everything’s okay, sunshine. Mommy was a little surprised at the alarm, but we’re totally fine. See? Nothing bad happened.”

Lucy frowned and pushed herself up on her tippy toes to stare at Mark from over Heiran’s shoulder. He narrowed his eyes at her, nearly glaring as if challenging her to do something, despite being a child. 

“Okay.” Lucy said, after having determined Mark to not be an enemy. She kissed Heiran quickly on the cheek before racing off to her room. Heiran stayed still until she heard Lucy’s door close and the squeaking of her settling into bed. 

Mark matched her silence, pulling his phone out while waiting for her to turn, hugging herself for the chill. 

“What happened? What triggered the alarms? Why were my doors open?” She fired off, the shock freezing into a burning rage.

Mark shook his head, staring at his phone before tilting it towards her, “Someone tried to break in and got spooked by the alarms.”

She felt her stomach drop and her blood run cold as she watched the playback footage of the security cameras showing someone scaling up her front gates and dropping down the one side before creeping up to her door. 

The intruder was dressed in all black, his face masked and a hood pulled over his head as he knelt by her locked, pulling equipment out of his pocket before fiddling with it. A few minutes passed before he pushed her door opens. On cue, the alarms had started blaring and he took off running. 

It was like a scene out of a horror movie.

“How did he even get the door open? You said it was high security, that it was what you used.” She snapped. 

Her gratitude had vaporized as she glared up at him accusingly, but his gaze was even and unbothered, “Clearly it wasn’t

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