Lovely Liaison

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“Spill the beans, damn it! Tell me everything! How the hell did you get this job? And will you be working for Julian?” Though Kathy wasn’t physically in the room with us, her voice on loudspeaker made her presence palpable.

“I don’t really know about whether I’ll be working with him. I’ve just got the job, Kathy. My training doesn’t start until next week.” I informed.

“Oh my god! I can’t believe I’m getting closer to my imaginary boyfriend. This is surreal!” She muttered in dazed out loud.

“Do you think your husband would have any thought and opinion on that matter?” Mateo butted in, snapping Kathy out of her dream state.

“Jeremy wouldn’t mind. He already knows about this obsession.” Kathy confidently argued.

“Still, don’t you feel bad for him? This could be considered as cheating, you know.” Mateo pressed, trying to break Kathy’s resolved, which never really works. It makes me wonder why he still tried.

“Shut up, Mateo! You don’t know the very definition of that word with a married couple. A slob and wimp like you who runs at a sight of commitment should keep your opinion to yourself.” She fought back.

“Well, at least I know my limits!” He spat in rage.

“And… that’s the end of the conversation.” I interjected, grabbing the phone out of Mateo’s hand and quickly ending the call before the mood died.

“Well, seeing as Kathy have a good impression of this guy, I think it’s time I get to know what he looks like…” I swiftly declared the change the conversation. Since I already had Mateo’s phone in my hand, I used his phone to do a bit of research.

“Hey! Don’t use my phone to find a picture of this guy… It’ll start suggesting stuff about him on my news thread.” Mateo was about to reach out and grab it out of my hand, but I was quick on my feet and moved away from his reach.

“Just delete the search history,” I suggested to ease up his concern while I waited for the images to load.

Once it came up, my eyes twitched and I slowly covered my mouth. “Good god,” I whispered in awe.

“Let me see, dear,” mom finally spoke up after our call with Kathy. Since I hadn’t responded and continued looking through the image thread, she stood up and peered over. “Is that your new boss?”

Not sure if I could speak, I nodded my head in response.

“Well, I raised you, girls, right. And that’s some vitamins for the eyes.”

Over the weekend, I had another girl’s weekend with April, which started becoming a thing after I quit my previous job. We’ve binged watched at least two seasons of one of the shows in Netflix I hadn’t touched. By Sunday evening, in our comfy pajamas and cozy blanket, we’ve finally addressed the most important reason why we’re celebrating – in our own way. After opening the search engine on my laptop, April didn’t think twice going through the search thread with his name on it.

“Okay, what topic should we cover first? His family background? Or the list of ex-girlfriend this guy has?” How she addressed the question, it was like we were doing criminal profiling.

“His family background is always on top of the list,” I informed before I sat down beside her with a bowl of chips in hand.

April quickly followed and typed into the search bar. Along with the list of biography in wiki results, it was a profile picture of him in a three-piece gray suit. In unison, April and I gasped.

“How can someone look that beddable in a suit? Is that even possible?” April muttered as I licked my damped lips. As she clicked on for more images, I heard her gasp again. “God! Even in clothes, this guy looks naked!”

“I second that,” I muttered.

After a few more minutes of ogling at the picture, we finally got through his bio. Julian Hawksley, the eldest son of James and Emma Hawksley, is currently the CEO of Hawksley Holding in the Chicago branch. Before taking the position, he was the CEO of the branch in England and VP of Operation in Australia. He graduated Business Management in Oxford with honors. He currently handles two charities, focusing on renewable energy and waste management. During his younger years, he was a youth ambassador for goodwill. He has also an active lifestyle and used to be a soccer player in high school.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they put in a picture of him being prom king in high school as well.” I snorted.

“Well, he seems perfect… but let’s see his track record with women.” April stated before exiting the site and type in his dating history.

When the search appeared, we didn’t go through the text list and decided to go through the images. And I’ve never been impressed and disgusted towards a man. However, he got some good, high-class taste. Most of the girls in the list were business moguls, models, and from silver spoon backgrounds.

“Well, at least he knows how to pick them,” April remarked before scrolling through the image list.

“Wow! He even dated an actress.” I pointed out towards the photo.

“Damn! Is that the girl who was nominated for an Oscar two years ago?”

“Yup! That’s her! I loved that movie she was in.”

“Did your employer, that Rufus guy, said anything about you working directly with him? Because, damn, I’m not so sure I’ll be able to work properly with his presence so close.” April fanned her slightly flushed face.

“No. He didn’t say. The job only said I was applying for a secretarial job. Maybe I’ll be thrown for a generic one and help around the office. He did say they were just starting up.” I answered.

“But what if? You know.”

“I don’t really know how I’m going to react when I see this guy, but I hope I won’t do something idiotic.”

“Don’t jinx it,” April smirked.

I rolled my eyes but otherwise didn’t comment further. We continued scrolling through the list and found some more interesting new article about him. By the time we were gone through every gossip he had, I felt like I’ve known him inside out already. Even as I drifted off to sleep, in my mind, all I could see was his charming smile.

When Monday came around, even though it’s almost fall, I felt a bead of sweat forming on my forehead as I marched back to the hotel where I was interviewed. Knowing where to go, I headed straight to the reception area above the flight of stairs. It didn’t take much to get the receptionist’s attention since her eyes were quickly looking at me the moment I reached the top of the stairs. I gave her a warm greeting.

“Good morning. I’m here for my training under Mr. Rufus Fletcher. He informed me to meet here today.” I informed.

“Yes, of course. Congratulations on getting the job, by the way,” Sarah stated before opening the top drawer on her desk. “He’s currently running a few minutes late, but he told me to tell you to wait in the general manager’s office. And here,” she paused and handed a folder to me. “He told me to read through those while you wait.”

“Thank you,” I said and took the folder from her. “May I ask where the office is?” I timidly inquired.

“Same way as the conference room, but at the end of the hallway.”

“Thank you, again.”

“No problem, dear. Good luck.”

I walked further down the hallway, walking pass the conference room where I had my interview. When I reached the end of the line, there was another woman station in front of a door, which had a sign that said, ′general manager’. The woman didn’t look up to my arrival until I cleared my throat.

“Oh dear! How long have you been standing there?” She looked surprised.

“I’ve just arrived, sorry for startling you.” I sheepishly apologize. “Good morning. I’m Zoey Curtis, Mr. Fletcher asked me to wait for him here. The receptionist informed me.”

“Ah, yes. Please head inside. The office is empty, so you can relax a bit while you wait.” She informed and gestured towards the door.

“Thank you. And may I ask your name, miss?” I asked out of courtesy.

“Oh, sorry. I’m Kim. I’m the general manager’s secretary.” She held out a hand towards me.

I shook her hand briefly and smiled. “Nice to meet you, Ms. Kim.”

“You too, Ms. Zoey.” She beamed.

“Is the manager in today? It would be rude going to his office…”

She interjected before I could finish my sentence. “He's usually out on most days. He takes turn taking care of his first daughter with his wife.”

“Oh, that’s lovely.”

I nodded and entered with a thank you.

As I walked in, I found a comfy seat by a huge ten seated conference table on the right corner of the room. I took the seat by the edge that had the limited view of the floor to ceiling glass wall, overlooking the busy street below. Per Sarah’s instruction, I’ve gone through the contents of the paper inside the folder and shockingly found out it wasn’t the company’s manual or anything. It was a contract stating about the confidentiality about my job. The further I got through the nearly twenty-page report, the more questions I have. It was the first time I’ve seen this kind of paperwork for a secretarial job. Then, suddenly, I recalled April’s teasing words. But what if?

I wasn’t able to contemplate when I heard and saw the door opened. I jerked up and stood while I waited for the person to enter the room. Like the world suddenly moved in slow motion, the man in my dreams – literally – walked in the room with such grace and poise I wasn’t sure it was possible with a man his physique. And my goodness, he was beyond your average men. His blond hair was neatly done, his blue eyes piercing as he peered in my direction with interest. The suit he wore fitted like it was made for him – and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. It was him. Julian Hawksley in the flesh. So help me god don’t make my mouth hang wide open.

Following closely behind him was Rufus, who was the first to speak up, bringing me out of my trance.

“Ms. Curtis, sorry for making you wait. We didn’t expect the traffic on the way here,” he started and walked around Julian, blocking a bit of his view from me. It was then I peered away from Michael Angelo’s David reincarnate.

“It’s okay, Mr. Fletcher. I hadn’t waited long.” I finally breathe out a word, surprised I was capable of talking in the first place.

“Good,” he paused and smiled before turning around towards Julian. “Sir, I’d like you to meet Ms. Curtis. She’s the one I’ve told you last week. Amy had recommended her.”

Julian remained by the door, his eyes were still on me. When I met his piercing blue eyes again, I’m surprised my knees didn’t buckle under the weight of his gaze. The look was so sexual and heart-stopping it could melt the remaining iceberg in the Antarctic. Unable to look away, I felt my face heat up.

It wasn’t until my breath started getting chocked he finally spoke. “It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Curtis. Rufus hadn’t told me you were a lovely woman.” He paused and coyly peered at Rufus. “You picked quite a woman here, old man. I didn’t know you have nice taste.” He smirked.

And like I’ve been drenched with cold water, the feeling of awe and admiration was gone. From the words coming out of his mouth, the near immaculate image I had of him turned sour. I also pictured him having the same face as my old boss.

Rufus scuffed, understanding the undertone of Julian’s words. “Sir, please try and be professional. I didn’t hire her for any reason but help you in your daily task. I’m already knee deep with lending you a hand with business meetings and catering to your father’s order. You’ve told me yourself I’ll need to hire someone to handle some of the menial tasks concerning your daily routine.”

I felt my face returned back to its normal shade as I watched their exchange.

“Of course, Rufus. But you can’t possibly have hired this girl from a recommendation of one person. She doesn’t look like she could handle the legwork.” Julian informed, peering back in my direction and giving me a flirty wink.

Oh, god no. I didn’t wait for Rufus to call him out of his remark. I picked up my stuff, leaving the folder on the table.

“Mr. Fletcher, I apologize for inconveniencing you. I had thought you’re hiring me for a secretarial position for someone dignified. So, if you’ll excuse me, I would like to decline for the position now I’ve seen who I’ll be working for… and I’ve already had enough shitty boss in my lifetime.” I muttered the last words mostly to myself. “If you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, have a good day.”

Without looking at the dumbfounded look on their faces, I headed towards the exit. Kim was surprised to see me already out when those two have entered the room not only a few minutes ago. When she saw my grim expression, she didn’t ask and expertly put on a smile while sending me off with a lovely ‘good day’. I mimicked her expression with ease. For what it was worth, I did learn a thing or two working as a secretary with my old sleazy bosses.

I didn’t make it far when I heard someone calling out my name behind me.

“Ms. Curtis! Ms. Curtis! Please wait! I apologize for his comment. Mr. Hawksley isn’t the kind of person you think of him. He might sound arrogant and he can be a pain sometimes, but he is a good man. He just doesn’t filter that mouth of his sometimes… It’s been a problem … and he’s not charming at all. He’s…” Rufus trailed off and sighed in defeat as he finally stopped following.

Hearing his words, my curiosity got the better of me. I turned and found the man in the middle of the hallway, looking a bit beaten. As our eyes met, he gave me a sad smile. “On his behalf, Ms. Curtis, I apologize for the rude behavior. Julian is a lovely man underneath his pretentious façade. You have my word.”

“How can you be so sure, Mr. Fletcher?” I kept my demeanor calm, but I’m amazed at his familiarity with him. Regarding the look on his face, he wasn’t using any flowery words to change my mind. He truly meant what he said.

“Because I’ve known Julian since he was young. And hearing from Amy what kind of person you are, you’ll do some good for him.”

My eyebrow creased in his response. “And what did Amy say about me?”

“That you’re tenacious and not pretentious. And I need someone who can speak their mind with Julian. Now I’ve seen how easily you're put out by his advances, which I apologize in his behalf. I knew you are the woman for the job. It’s about time someone shut down his flirty remarks.” He pointed with a smile.

For some unknown reason, I found myself smiling as well. “May I asked you something before we go back, Mr. Fletcher?”

“Of course, anything, Ms. Curtis.”

“Have you always won arguments easily?”

With a smile, he replied. “Always.”

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