“Ah,” Eva nodded approvingly as she and Adrian sat down in the restaurant. “It looks like you remembered when I told you about the pho spot that I love so much here in the East Village.”
Eva had been with PMC Group for six months and it was the longest anyone had lasted as an assistant to the Big Three. To celebrate her breaking the record, Adrian decided to take Eva out for lunch at one of his favorite spots.
In hopes to make it look less like a date, he had invited Caleb and Justin, but Caleb declined, still feeling bitter that Eva wasn’t receptive to any of his advances, and Justin had a scheduling conflict that prevented him from joining.
“Of course I remembered,” Adrian chimed. “How could I forget considering it’s one of my favorites as well?”
“You did tell me that, didn’t you?” Eva replied with a smile. “Well, it looks like this celebratory lunch is off to a good start already.”
It didn’t take long for the pair to be served and as lunch went on, they lost track of time as their conversation flowed naturally. Also, with the change of setting, Eva and Adrian spoke even more casually than usual.
“So…” Adrian leaned in toward Eva and rested his chin on his hand. “I do have a question for you and I want you to be as honest as possible.”
“Go for it,” Eva said calmly before taking a sip of her tea.
“What are your goals with PMC Group? Why did you decide to work for us?”
“I’ve got bills,” she shrugged. “And PMC Group had an opening.”
Adrian tilted his head with tensed brows. “That’s it?”
When he noticed Eva cut her eyes at him with a slight glare, he tried to quickly recover. “I-I just mean… You work so hard that it doesn’t seem like you see this as just a way to pay bills.”
“What is it that you want me to say, Mr. Collins?” she questioned. “This sounds more like you’re digging for something else.”
After several moments of pausing while locking eyes with Eva, Adrian finally asked. “What are your dreams, Ms. Eva? I’m sure you’re passionate about something.”
“I don’t have dreams. I simply live my life and take whatever pleasure from it that I can.”
“C’mon,” he urged. “There’s got to be something.”
Eva released an entertained scoff at his stubbornness and shook her head. “I guess I’d say something I’m passionate about is empowering women, particularly fat women.”
Adrian’s eyes went wide at Eva’s casual use of the word ‘fat.’
“I use ‘fat’ as simply a descriptor, Mr. Collins,” she clarified when she saw his reaction. “As a fat woman, that’s how I view and use the word, though other people prefer different terms and I don’t blame them. Especially considering how the word has become synonymous with ugly in this bullshit society we live in… It’s so fucking dumb.”
Adrian couldn’t help the small smile that came to his face. While he and Eva had spoken plenty and were very friendly with each other, it was his first time seeing her show any passion while talking about something.
“What?” she asked.
“I see that you do have something you’re passionate about,” he replied as his soft brown eyes bore into hers.
“Oh…” Eva broke eye contact when she noticed an unfamiliar feeling in her stomach. “I guess I am… I mean, it’s just so ridiculous how poorly people are treated over something like that.”
“I agree with you 100 percent. It’s something I’ve never understood either — the same way I’ve never understood why we tie the value of individuals to their looks. I know it’s an ironic thing to say considering I’m an executive and co-founder of a firm that owns fashion companies.”
“Well, it also puts you in a position to change things for the better. Why be the problem when you have the option of being a solution?”
“You make a great point,” Adrian agreed. “I’ll be sure to work on that.”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” she teased.
“What? I’ve thought about it before and I already have a few ideas in mind on what we could do to support more initiatives that empower everyone to feel good about themselves and maybe undo some of the damage that the fashion industry has done.”
A smirk flashed across Eva’s face, impressed with his response.
“Good boy,” she cooed softly without even thinking about it.
Adrian’s immediate reaction was a gulp and he scanned over Eva’s face wondering if he heard correctly.
“W-what was that?”
Eva realized what she had done as soon as he asked, but she didn’t care.
“I said, ‘good boy,’” she replied casually. “I just mean it’s good of you to take such initiative. I hope you go through with it.”
“Oh uh…” Adrian cleared his throat. “T-thanks, I gu— Er… I mean… The ‘boy’ part kinda threw me for a loop,” he chuckled nervously.
“Oh, that?” Eva’s tongue slightly peeked through her lips and retreated before she went as far as licking them. “Force of habit… Anyway, you were talking earlier about your hobby of building furniture? Tell me more about that.”
“R-right… I um…” Adrian was still trying to recover from his reaction to what Eva said about the use of ‘good boy’ being out of habit. He wondered in which context she may have meant it.
“Go on,” Eva urged.
“Y-yeah. It’s just that I um… I really enjoy doing things with my hands, so building furniture is very satisfying, ya know? Creating something of your own? Also, it’s just a nice skill to have generally. Whenever I want a very specific piece of furniture that I may not be able to find, I can just make it on my own.”
“That is a useful skill. Do you have pictures of anything you’ve built? I’d love to see it.”
“I do,” Adrian replied as he pulled his phone from his pocket and went to his photos. “This is my most recent piece. A couch with a bookshelf attached on the back and at the sides.”
When he turned his phone to face Eva so she could look at the piece, she scanned over the image with admiration. “This is petty cool. I don’t use social media like that, but I imagine this is something that’d be popular on Pinterest.”
“I guess I’ll take that as a compliment, Ms. Eva.”
“As you should,” she said with a nod.
Eva and Justin had just finished a call with a fashion executive based in California. Since her note-taking had been so well in their Japanese meetings, Justin began pulling her into other ones from time-to-time.
Although they’d usually go over their notes following a meeting, Justin had something else he wanted to discuss with Eva, though he wasn’t sure if he should jump into it too quickly.
“Nice work on making it through this first six months. Have you been able to make friends in the office okay?” Justin asked, trying to open up a casual conversation.
“Yeah, everyone has been nice for the most part and I get approached a lot. I mean, I guess a big part of that is because I’m the assistant for you three and they know if they get in good with me, scheduling a time to kiss your ass might be easier.”
Justin bursted out laughing at Eva’s response. “Well, I’d appreciate if you keep us from too many of those. I’d much rather spend my time making deals.”
“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that. Not many people come asking for you,” Eva replied frankly.
“What?” Justin questioned with a gasp.
“I just mean that everyone knows you’re all about business. You’re pretty curt with most of the staff if they try to speak with you on anything unrelated to business.”
“Wait, do I really do that?”
“Yes, you’ve never noticed?”
“But you and I talk about non-business stuff, just like we’re doing right now.”
“Mhmm,” Eva hummed. “But this is right after a meeting and before you found out that I speak Japanese and could be helpful as you try to expand PMC Group, you were the same way with me.”
“Mr. Matsuda, when you first gave me the assignment to prepare for the Japanese executives, you said, and I quote: ‘I won’t have time to hand-hold you through it all and you need to take care not to offend our guests.’” Eva mocked his tone and intonation perfectly.
“Wow,” Justin gasped softly. “I didn’t even realize…”
The room fell silent after that, as Eva had nothing more to say and instead read through her notes to see if she could find anything of value from the meeting to share with Alexis.
“Hey Eva,” Justin said, breaking the silence. “Can I ask you for some advice?”
“Go for it.”
“I noticed that you wear heels every day and I’ve been thinking about buying a pair for Ashley. She wears them sometimes, like for special occasions and stuff, but she always complains about them hurting. I’m hoping to find her some that she can wear for longer periods of time.”
“I see…” Eva looked up with her finger to her chin as she thought about which brands had the most comfortable heels. “Oh!” she exclaimed with a snap before rapidly typing something on her tablet and going to the website.
“Take a look at this…” Eva handed the device to Justin and showed him the website. “This is one of the best brands for comfort and I buy from them often. They have a wide range of sizes and styles, and even price ranges. What style do you have in mind for Ashley? What does she like?”
“Well…” Justin rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m not totally sure. I know I want to see her in high heels and I like the platform look…”
“So, this is for you to look at? Not for Ashley?”
Justin was caught off guard by Eva’s questions. “What? I mean, I was just thinking that she might li—“
He was interrupted when Caleb walked into the office and the CEO’s glare was immediate when he saw Eva sitting across from Justin and leaned in toward him with tablet in her hand. The two of them appeared too friendly for Caleb’s taste.
“Justin, did you forget that we have a 3:00PM meeting? Isn’t it the assistant’s job to remind you—“ Caleb caught himself before changing his tone, hoping if maybe he was nice for just a bit longer, Eva would give in to his efforts to charm her. “Er, I mean… It looks like you and Eva got a bit carried away in your conversation. It’s time for our meeting.”
“R-right…” Justin’s brows tensed with confusion at Caleb’s friendly façade despite the fact that he was obviously agitated at first. “We’ll chat later, Eva.”
“Alright,” she replied before getting up to leave the room.
Caleb’s eyes unabashedly scanned over her as she walked toward the door and passed by him while scrolling through her phone. She wore a form-fitting purple dress with a black belt that accentuated her waist and matching black peep-toe pumps. “You look nice today, Eva.”
Ignoring him, Eva turned back to Justin. “I’ll send you some links to my favorite stores, Mr. Matsuda.”
She gave him a small smile before finally leaving the room, all without acknowledging Caleb.
“You’re best friends with the assistant now, too?” Caleb asked Justin as soon as Eva left. “You and Adrian are so soft.”
“Oh please,” Justin replied through his chuckles. “You’re just mad because she’s so uninterested in you, that you don’t even exist to her outside of her normal work duties.”
“Whatever. Let’s just talk about this goddamn California meeting next month… And where the fuck is Adrian? He’s always disappearing lately.”
A/N: Thank you for reading! Imma give y’all a heads up/reminder now (and again in the next chapter). This book is all fun and games and I’m not going for much realism, so… Let the ridiculousness begin!