With a new job came new colleagues and new opportunities for love. That’s what Junming always thought. From his years of experience watching romance dramas and movies, he knew it was one of the perfect ways to meet someone.
Picture it. Sparks in the eyes, the corner of his lips would curl upwards in a shy or confident smile. Hands would be shaken. In that moment of skin contact, electricity would burn through his veins and jumpstart his heart.
The thought of it already sent his nerves into overdrive as he walked beside Valerie. He had always been in and out of love since he was a teen but it had been different these past few years. He was determined to find that someone. Someone to spend his life with. He owed it to his parents.
He fidgeted with the worn strap of his satchel bag and gulped. Down the corridor from the meeting room that he was in earlier, Valerie had taken a sharp left. She mentioned that the CEO and CTO’s officers were to the right but he didn’t even get a glimpse of those.
Romance movie posters decorated the bland walls as Valerie led him down the corridor. A smile danced on his lips when he recognized the pivotal moments portrayed in each poster. He lived up to his reputation as a romance movie enthusiast after all.
Coming to a branch, Valerie pointed to the left. “Those are the bathrooms. And to the right is the pantry. You’ll find the fridge stocked high with comfort food. Feel free to take anything you want.”
“Ice cream included?” Junming’s eyes sparkled, his tongue yearning for that cold, sweet taste.
“Yes, that too. We have many flavors if you’re into that.”
“Cool!” Grinning, Junming couldn’t help the small skip in his step.
Valerie chuckled and gave a small flourish of her hand. “Well, here we are. This is where the main work gets done.”
Sucking in a breath, Junming felt his heart skip a beat as they entered the main office space. His eyes wandered around the small area, taking in everything from the decorated cubicle partitions and the vines encircling the floor-to-ceiling glass windows to the large whiteboard wall filled with naughty doodles and lists of assignments.
The whole ambiance in the office soothed him. He could smell a nice, tangy fragrance that reminded him of the Lover’s Embrace line of perfumes. In the background, he heard faint music that sounded like the instrumental score of a romance drama. Soft voices floated over the sound of clacking keys.
“Okay, let me introduce you to our two ConDuit engineers,” Valerie said as she led him to the first set of cubicles on the right. “They’re in charge of everything from app development to system maintenance.”
Poking her head around the partition, she let out a huff and turned back to Junming. “Looks like they’re in a meeting. You’ll get a chance to meet them later.”
“Oh, alright.” Slightly disappointed at the missed opportunity, Junming’s smile faltered.
Valerie gestured to the room opposite the cubicle. “That’s the server room. Nothing much to see except a bunch of cables and servers. I’m sure the engineers will beg to differ.”
She led him to the cubicles clustered on the other end. A soft feminine voice grew louder as Valerie rounded the partition. She rapped her knuckles on the wall. “Kyler, you free?”
Junming bit his lips as anxiety shot through his veins. Meeting new people was exciting and nerve-wracking in equal amounts for him. His toes curled up subconsciously in his new dress shoes. He checked his sleeves, making sure they were neatly folded up to the same height near his elbow.
A shy voice drew his gaze back up to a sweet-looking woman. “Hi, I’m Kyler.”
Dressed in a simple blouse and skirt, she held her delicate hand out for him to shake. He took it, his lips cracking into a shaky smile. “H-Hi. I’m the new ConCoct agent, Junming. You can call me Junming or Jun or Yu if you want. Yu’s my surname. Yeah. Umm, right.”
Kyler’s stifled giggles made Junming blush furious pink with embarrassment. She flashed him a comforting smile that soothed his nerves and said, “I’m so glad to meet you, Junming.”
Valerie cleared her throat. Mild annoyance crossed her features as she gave a pointed look at Junming’s clasped hands with Kyler. Red bloomed across Junming’s cheeks. His hand shot out of Kyler’s grasp.
“Yes, Kyler has been an agent here for a while,” Valerie said in a clipped tone. She draped a protective hand over Kyler’s shoulders. “She’s my sister. That means she’s off-limits.”
The obvious warning in her tone drew a shuddering breath from Junming. He hurriedly allayed her concerns with a frantic wave of his hands. “Oh, no, no, no. You don’t need to worry about that. I-I normally lean more the other way.”
“Really? That’s good to know.” A curious voice from behind Junming piped up, causing him to startle.
Spinning around, Junming’s eyes widened at the sight of an attractive guy around his age looking him up and down. His cheeks colored for the millionth time in the day. It certainly didn’t help that this hot guy was the spitting image of how he imagined his favorite character in the book “Love Everywhere”. Stunned to silence, Junming’s lips opened and closed like a dying fish out of water.
Valerie scoffed, her eyes rolling until the whites could be seen. Her voice took on an annoyed cadence. “Junming, this is Jamal. He’s the other ConCoct agent you’ll be working with.”
Recognizing the name that Valerie mentioned earlier, Junming hurriedly extended his hand. “N-Nice to meet you, Jamal.”
Hopeless romantic Yu Junming is over the moon when he lands a job at the RomCon startup as a ConCoct agent. From meet-cutes to ultimate airport runs, he must re-enact surreal romantic scenes to fit a client’s dreams. Sadly, he botches his assignments and learns the hard way that romance needs a dash of practicality.
Despite his track record, he’s soon tasked to help his boss, Grayson Black - a die-hard cynic who dislikes him at first sight - to find love. Through disastrous dates, the two men grow closer and realize there’s more to each other than meets the eye.
Junming fantasizes of seeing even more of Grayson but he also finds himself drawn to Fernanda Morales, a spunky and eccentric undercover reporter who masquerades as a RomCon client. When Fernanda unexpectedly ends up heartbroken after an awful date, she falls for Junming. Pitiably ignorant of her mission to dig up dirt on RomCon, Junming is stuck between two people and a hard place called reality.
(Book cover done by Joanne Kwan: https://tapas.io/dashalutris
Banner done by Frappe7: https://www.instagram.com/frappitto/?hl=en)