Junming cracked his knuckles. Time to get down to work.
First things first, he needed flowers. Specifically, petals on the floor. Next, the balloon arch. The client’s budget wasn’t much, so he couldn’t go too wild. He assumed he would need to buy the dinner as well. Adding that to his list, he did a mental calculation. He could give the client one or two options depending on whether the client wanted to splurge more on the dinner or the little details for the apology.
With that in mind, he clicked open a browser and navigated to the RomCon app. A light pink background greeted him when he keyed in the login details that Valerie provided yesterday. As a ConCoct agent, his view of the app was different from the client’s. He could see the list of assignments that were under him - currently, there was one on the panel.
When he clicked it, a big button labeled “Start” appeared at the bottom of the window. Clicking it opened a step-by-step wizard to guide him through the process of creating a contract.
As Valerie’s slides indicated, the crowdsourced volunteers were grouped into four large categories - each category went by the name ConGroup and provided a specific type of service.
In his case, he only needed to enlist the help of the Procurement ConGroup who would source for the petals, balloon arch, and the dinner options. When he keyed in his client’s address, he found only one Procurement volunteer listed.
Frowning, he leaned back in his seat and craned his neck to see whether Jamal was busy. He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Jamal?”
“Is it normal that there’s only one volunteer listed in the app under Procurement?”
Jamal tilted his head back and nodded. “Yup. Ritesh Ghosh, right? He’s our go-to guy for jobs in the city.”
“Ah, I see. Cool.” Relieved that he was on the right track, Junming grinned. “Thanks.”
“No problemo,” Jamal chirped.
Turning back to his screen, Junming clicked on Ritesh’s name which opened up a chatbox. He sucked in a breath and typed his first message as a ConCoct agent.
Hi, I’m Junming, the new ConCoct agent. Pleased to be working with you! I have a new assignment that needs to be completed by today evening. And I would like to know how much the following would cost (I have a negotiable budget of $30):
1. A balloon arch
2. A large bottle of petals - I need quite a lot.
3. Steak dinner for two
4. Three LED candles
Junming sat back, his jittery nerves causing him to fidget uncomfortably. It took all of three minutes before he saw Ritesh reply:
Nice to meet you, Junming. The deadline is a bit tight but I would recommend getting the set meal from All Steaks restaurant and I have three used LED candles that I can provide to you at a discounted price. That would pretty much eat up all your budget.
His heart dipped. Biting his lip, he brainstormed other options. Steak dinners were expensive, so the recommended one by Ritesh was probably the most reasonable. But if he removed the balloon arch and petals, there wouldn’t be much of anything to scrap together a decent ceremony.
Unless he got it free somewhere. His eyes darted around his table in search of a solution. The answer hit him when his gaze fell on the calendar taped to the partition. He grinned. One thing was settled at least. He replied to Ritesh.
Thanks, Ritesh! Could you help procure those items then? And how would I pick them up?
The answer was almost immediate.
Sure, I’ll add the items to the bill. Don’t worry about picking them up. All items are either sent to the RomCon office or directly to where you want me to send them.
Junming felt a rush of excitement. This process was so simple! He sent a message off to Ritesh detailing the client’s address. After Junming confirmed the list of items, the contract was automatically pieced together into a file.
To finalize the contract, Junming sent it off to the client. He received a confirmation reply within minutes. Junming chuckled. The client must be desperate.
He forwarded the signed contract to Valerie who approved it. Junming leaned back in his seat and did a mental checklist of what he needed to do. First, collect some free petals on his way to the client’s apartment. Then, set up the petals, and candles, and make sure dinner is on its way soon. Check that the client is properly attired and groomed. Next, set up a vantage point in the client’s spare bedroom or bathroom and ensure that everything goes smoothly. Once the client is satisfied, try to sneak out.
A satisfied smile crept across his face. Everything was going to go great. He knew it in his bones.
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)