Playing the Bosses

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The day had finally arrived for Justin’s meeting with the executives from the Tokyo-based fashion line. Eva came into the office two hours early to ensure the conference room was properly setup, reserve one of the elevators for the day, and confirm that lunch was set to be delivered on time.

Justin also arrived early, but still about an hour after Eva and he was pleased to see that everything already appeared to be in order. With pursed lips and nodding approvingly, his eyes scanned over the conference room that was perfectly set up for the meeting. He’d been impressed with Eva’s work for the past two months she’d been working at PMC Group and she was the longest he’d gone without having any complaints about an assistant.

“This looks good, Eva,” he commented. “I’m going to do some last minute prep up until time for our meeting. Ben should be getting here not long before our guests arrive, so you just have to greet them and hand them over to him.”

“Easy enough,” Eva replied calmly before heading back to her desk. Given that she was so early for work and had essentially finished her morning tasks other than meeting with Adrian who hadn’t arrived yet. She scrolled through her missed texts from the night before.

Alexis: Hey sis, how’s that thing I asked you to work on going?

Eva rolled her eyes at the vagueness of her sister’s message. Alexis would often speak in code in any written correspondence about Eva working at PMC Group to avoid creating any proof of what they were doing.

Unknown number: Did you get the roses I sent? Can we please talk sometime soon? I really want to reconnect.

Again, Eva rolled her eyes. After she rejected Eric’s proposal, the two of them broke up and that was it for her. She didn’t know what else there was to discuss. They simply were not a good match and Eric seemed oblivious to that. In fact, Eva had been planning to dump him right around the time that he proposed and in the back of her mind, she wondered if it was some strong-arm attempt to save their failing relationship.

Logan: I’m back in town next week. What do you think?

Eva released an entertained huff and shook her head. Logan was a bold man who’d made it very clear to Eva that he wanted to please her, but he was too easy. She enjoyed a bit of a game beforehand, but she still kept in contact with him in case she was in the mood some day.

Jade: Hey girl! Have you heard of this sex club called The Scarlet Lounge? It’s the most exclusive one in the city and I just got an invite. I know you haven’t been on the scene as much since you’ve been back, but do you wanna come?

Eva pondered Jade’s offer for a few minutes. She used to be more involved with the community, attending sex clubs or parties and playing with various partners, but she’d lost interest. It was fun and she’d often encourage her other friends to get involved, which is why Jade had entered the scene, but Eva’s sex drive was oddly out of wack over the past year. She still had a roster of men she’d some times hook up with, but she was able to go weeks or even months without having sex. She enjoyed it when she did it, but there always seemed to be something missing that she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

Eva: How about you go a few times with Greg or someone else and get a good read on the energy and let me know?

After finishing her text messages, Eva turned her attention back to her computer and scrolled aimlessly through emails as people entered the office for work. Ben had arrived and surprisingly didn’t meet with Justin. Eva was surprised that a type-A micromanager like Justin didn’t want to meet with Ben every day leading up to the meeting, but she also recognized why that was probably the case.

Finally, Eva got the call that she’d been waiting for notifying her that the Japanese guests were downstairs and sent Justin an email that she was going to retrieve them.

As soon as he received Eva’s email, Justin shot to his feet, put on his suit jacket, and straightened himself up before calling Ben to meet with him in PMC Group’s lobby and be ready to receive their guests from Eva.

The elevator they’d rented for the day chimed and the doors opened to Eva and the three executives chatting it up — much to Justin’s surprised. From what he could overhear, Eva was speaking Japanese almost without accent, and he was impressed that she did the homework of learning a few phrases of small talk in the language. He guessed that she probably watched a lot of videos to make herself sound so fluent.

After handing the guests off to Ben, Eva returned to her desk while he, Justin, and their Japanese visitors went into the conference room to start their meeting.

Eva exhaled as soon as the door shut on the highly-anticipated meeting. And she’d plan to take another long exhale along with a stiff drink whenever the meeting finished and she would be completely free of the stressful task.

“Good morning, Eva,” Adrian greeted with a warm smile when he came in. “How are you?”

“Good morning, Mr. Collins. I’m doing much better now that Mr. Matsuda is in his meeting with his guests from Japan.”

“Oh! He’s been so on edge about that the past several weeks and he already puts too much pressure on himself as it is. Hopefully all goes well… That reminds me: We won’t be able to have our morning meeting.”

“Why not?”

“Justin asked me to skip it today so that you’re at your desk in case they need anything. Is that alright with you?”

“I guess it makes sense,” Eva sighed. “I’ll just type up a quick email for you with your schedule and a summary of what your day should look like.”

“You are perfect,” Adrian complimented and Eva looked up at him with a smirk.

“Thanks, Adrian. I get that a lot,” she quipped.

Adrian smiled and shook his head. A few minutes of awkward silence ensued while he hovered around Eva’s desk before finally asking the question that had been on his mind for weeks.

“So, how did your lunch a couple weeks back go?”

“It was alright,” Eva shrugged. “At least the food was good.”

“Oh, you didn’t enjoy your company?”

“He referred to himself as an ‘alpha male’ and that was my cue to not go on another date with him.”

Adrian raised a curious brow and tilted his head. “Why not?”

“The whole ‘alpha male’ thing is a myth, first of all. And besides, I much prefer men who know how to… behave.”

The way Eva’s voice smoothed out at that last word in a manner that sounded suggestive caused Adrian to gulp as he wondered if it was on purpose.

“What do you mean by th—“

Adrian was cut off at the sound of the conference room door opening and a furious Justin scolding Ben.

“What the fuck was that?! You offended our guests and embarrassed me and this company. Did you seriously lie about being fluent in Japanese just to get in on this meeting?! It sounds like you did two weeks of Duolingo or some shit and thought it would fly.”

Eva and Adrian exchanged a wide-eyed glance before their gazes returned to the scene.

“Mr. Matsuda,” Ben chuckled nervously as he tried to recover. “I’m just a bit rusty is all—“

“No, that wasn’t ‘rusty,’” Justin cut him off, still speaking sharply. “That was shit and you insulted their CEO. Get out of here… And don’t expect us to let you back in.”

“But sir—“

“I told you to get the fuck out!” Justin snapped.

Heeding the anger in his tone, Ben quickly scurried away and made a path straight for the elevators.

Justin muttered something under his breath and rolled his eyes as he ran his fingers through his hair. Eva audibly gasped when she noticed the disgruntled guests leaving the conference room as Justin turned back to them, bowing and apologizing profusely in Japanese.

Right when Adrian looked like he was going to jump in to help, Eva raised her hand to signal to him to stand down.

“I got it,” she assured before getting up to help the guests gather their coats.

With his jaw tensed and swallowing several times a mix of his anger and regret, Justin watched as Eva assisted the guest. He noticed that she continued to speak with them in perfect Japanese and came to the conclusion that perhaps she didn’t just pick up a few terms. Suddenly, his hope started to return when he noticed the CEO that had just been offended by Ben was conversing with Eva and had a big smile on his face — he even started laughing about something she’d said.

When he heard Eva ask that the executives at least stay for lunch and they agreed, Justin pulled her to the side while they again removed their coats.

“You speak Japanese?” he questioned, the surprise clear in his face.

“Yeah, I studied Japanese for like five years and then I lived in Japan,” Eva replied without thinking about it. “And it turns out that the small, rural Japanese town where the CEO is from just so happens to be where I lived for 18 months while I rounded out my Japanese studies.”

“Really? That wasn’t in your resume.”

“Oh, um… I didn’t think it’d be that helpful for an assistant job,” Eva chuckled innocently and rubbed the back of her neck. “My parents always told me that Spanish or Mandarin would’ve been more beneficial.”

Justin pursed his lips thoughtfully, looking between Eva and their guests before grabbing Eva’s tablet off of her desk and pushing it into her hands.

“Well, it’s extremely beneficial now because you may have saved us from completely fumbling this business opportunity. Please, join us for the lunch meeting you just secured and take thorough notes.”

“I owe you one, Eva,” Justin added with a whisper.

+++

A/N: Thanks for reading! I kind of want this to be the only book I’m working on rn bc it’s the only one I’m currently enjoying and I’m ready to get to the point where we really see Eva in action. I also don’t want to rush through it because building out these characters and their dynamics is important to the experience of this story. As much as I wish I could be one of those writers who does 4hr-long books, I can’t.

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