Heavy rain hammered down on Junming’s lean body as he raced to his client’s apartment. He was running late and he still had one more item to collect on his way there. At this time of the year, there were lovely blossoms in the park whose petals would litter the sidewalks. Colorful, natural, and completely free of charge petals.
As Junming stooped to collect the wet petals that hadn’t been trampled or sullied with mud, he cursed the weather. Of all the times it had to rain, it had to be now. Then again, maybe it was the street food that he should blame for this unfortunate turn of events.
Jamal and Kyler had brought him to their favourite food place, which turned out to be street vendors. He liked street food but on rare occasions like today, his stomach would be at odds with it. Between training sessions, he had run to the toilet more times than he could count.
He had taken medicine to counteract some of the effects but it had eaten into his planned travel time all the same. Grumbling to himself, he picked up more petals and placed them into his plastic baggie. He didn’t like being late. That wasn’t the Yu family way.
He checked his worn watch, a relic passed down from his father. It would be faster to run the whole way there instead of taking public transport. His baggie of petals was substantial enough. He stuffed the baggie into his satchel and broke into a fast-paced run.
His client’s apartment was located in a nice neighborhood, complete with quaint stores and daycare centers in the vicinity. As he jogged past families and children going home, he wondered what it would be like to have his own family here.
A lopsided grin spread across his cheeks. Wouldn’t it be lovely? Coming home to a loving spouse, playing with his kid by the fireplace. His imagination ran wild right until he reached his client’s apartment building. There was no security in place, so he pulled the door open and rushed in.
His client’s apartment was on the second floor. He didn’t waste time on the lift, bounding up the stairs two at a time. At the landing, he turned right and ran down the corridor. He read each doorplate, counting in his head until he reached door number 8. His chest heaved as he pressed the doorbell.
Not more than two seconds passed before the door was flung open. A blonde guy about college-going age stared at Junming’s drenched state. “Are you from-”
“RomCon, yes.” Junming flashed a wry smile. “I’m Junming. Sorry for the lateness.”
“Oh my god, come in. She’ll be here any second now.”
Junming hurried in. “Thank you, Mr. Smith. So sorry again. Have the candles and the steak meal arrived?”
“Yes, I’ve set that one up.” Closing the door, the client strode towards the dining table. “Oh, and just call me Andy.”
Junming surveyed the apartment. It was small, a little untidy, but clean. The living room was to his left. A small TV sat on the console, together with a Bluetooth speaker whispering sensuous music. There were two bedrooms, one on each side in a butterfly layout. At the back was the open kitchen. The dining table was smack dab in the middle, between the two bedrooms.
He noted the neatly arranged candles and the steak meal laid out nicely on two plates. The candles were already lit. He exhaled a short breath of relief.
“I’ve got the petals. But first, I need to set up an observation point. Where’s the best place I should be to keep an eye on proceedings?” he asked Andy.
Andy waved a hand at the bedroom on the right. “You can take that one. She won’t go in there. That’s my roommate’s. He’s gone for the week.”
“Thank you.” Junming padded over to the room and shrugged off his jacket. He placed his wet jacket and shoes on the floor, took out his baggie of petals, and rushed back out. “Okay, I’m going to set the petals.”
Junming dropped to his knees. He shook out a bunch of the petals and laid them out over the polished wooden floor. Starting from the kitchen table, he focused on creating a beautiful path to the front door.
As he carefully arranged the petals, Andy said, “Are those real petals?”
“Yeah.” Junming looked up. “I thought it would be more natural. Life-like.”
“They look good.” Smiling, Andy darted his gaze over the flower path and to the set dining table. He chewed on his bottom lip, his arms folding and unfolding across his chest.
Junming cocked his head at the guy. He could feel Andy’s nervousness roll off him in waves. It made Junming smile. Here was a guy who sincerely wanted his girlfriend’s love back and Junming played a crucial part in making that happen. A flutter of pride tickled Junming’s chest. He said, “Hey, Andy. It’ll be okay.”
The young man searched Junming’s eyes for a flicker of doubt and found none. His lips curled up in a coy grin. “Thank you for helping me out with this.”
“It’s my honor,” Junming said with a chuckle.
He shook out the last few petals onto the floor, arranged them, and then stood up. With his hands on his hips, he appraised his work. Not to sound smug but he thought he had done a great job with so little time.
I’m certain it’s going to go wrong soon…but he’s doing a good job so far.
And I have the same question as Audahlys. Does RomCon take people’s preferences into consideration? What if the client never specified their partner’s preferences? Would RomCon just make a guess based on the partner’s demographic data (age, etc.)?
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)