Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Chapter one (segment three), 2016, December, Christina

You really did it this time!

Within minutes Ulf would knock on her door, but that was only part of her desperate plans to save whatever could be saved from the mess she ended up in.

You really, really did it this time!

Three weeks earlier Christina flat out rejected her agency's demand that she break up with her boyfriend. They tried to threaten her with cancelled shoots, but with her foreign looks she commanded just as much attraction as a femme fatale as the pure high school girl usually preferred here.

Christina checked the food on the stove one last time. Another five minutes or so.

You really, really, really did it this time!

Then her agency found out just who her boyfriend was. Not that she had tried to keep it a secret. Most of the freshmen at Himekaizen already knew. This time, however, someone fed the rumour mill that the assault on Ulf really was an eternal triangle gone horribly wrong.

In the bathroom two fresh towels had replaced the one she normally used. After a moment's afterthought Christina covered her laundry basket with a third towel and cleaned up the bathroom cabinet for the third time.

That rumour could as well have been the last nail in the coffin. Somehow she salvaged her relationship with Ulf, but from now on she had to keep it a secret.

Keeping it a secret. Ha! I'm screwed!

She had been forced to sign a contract which she doubted conformed to any decent international law. The contract was a minor problem since Christina's citizenship was unclear enough for Japanese authorities to refuse issuing her a passport.

The wardrobe was closed and in difference from any other day no underwear littered her desk. While practical she doubted it was a sight Ulf would find especially adoring.

If there was a chance she had been assigned a Swedish citizenship she could abuse laws against unfair child labour and force her agency into bankruptcy. At least that was what her contacts at Vogue Magazine promised her should she chose to change employer.

Those contacts were her golden secret, her emergency exit if things really went south. They were utterly ruthless people she knew from her former life, people who couldn't understand how she managed to play them just the way she had played them as the billion dollar empress.

Ulf I need you! Without you I'll break apart. Without you I'll become a monster.

Then whoever lay behind the latest rumours started attacking Ulf's business with disastrous results. As far as she knew he hadn't had a single job for a couple of weeks.

A last look in the mirror confirmed that both make-up and clothes were perfect. Not too showy, but also not so professionally perfect that he wouldn't notice she had made an effort.

That they went for him instead of her made her livid with rage, but her wrath was nothing compared to the calm hatred the Wakayama parents expressed during a panicked visit she paid them a day earlier.

I hate this crap! I hate this kind of puny power struggle. And that was the problem. With back-alley companies involved in a corporate shoot-out stupid mistakes and chance played too much of a role.

It was nothing like when she manipulated the behemoth Chag into wars of her choosing. Chag alone had been worth over a hundred billion dollars when she vanished, and through contracts and contacts it controlled a global empire worth yet another quarter of a trillion dollars. With Christina Agerman, the billion dollar empress, sitting solidly in the middle of the spider's net.

Looking at her desk she decided against cleaning away all her homework. Nowadays when she didn't cheat with her studies there was no reason to further enhance any idea Ulf might harbour that she was an illiterate moron only interested in fashion.

In her old world she had already made plans to gobble up Uniclo like the small snack it was in global fashion. And then she vanished and arrived in this world. And then she experienced shared happiness for the first time in her life. And then someone dared threaten to take away what was more important to her than Chag had ever been. Christina intended to retaliate proportionately.

When the doorbell rang Christina regretted the thought about Ulf's seeing her as an idiot. He respected her and had proven it time and time again.

Do I look my best? She shook the thought away, rubbed her face and dressed up in the most radiant smile she knew. Then she opened the door.

Outside a heavy drizzle framed Ulf's body in water, and as he usually did he had discarded his umbrella in favour of one of his horrendously expensive rain-suits.

Welcome Ulf, you're just in time,” Christina greeted him in Swedish. Crap! You look awful!

Because he did. For some unknown reason he'd kept his hood flipped onto his back and as a result his hair was glued to his head and raindrops ran freely down his face.

Then her breath caught in her throat when she met his eyes. She saw her own beauty reflected in a way that no mirror or camera could ever do. She saw herself sketched in lines of brilliant awe and jubilation where every contour and charcoal shadow was drawn with love and tender care.

You look stunning,” he said in a voice thick with emotion.

Her chest constricted at that sound, and leaving any rational thought behind her she stepped out into the rain and melted into Ulf's icy cold, dripping rain coat. She only felt a wave of heat radiating through her body when she hugged him to herself in an embrace she never wanted to step out of.

She felt Ulf's face move and his nose burrow into her hair, and when she looked up he met her with a kiss, and another one, and yet another, lingering one she allowed herself to drown in.

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