Less is more - a hard lesson learned for Junming. He found Grayson’s curt note on the fridge that morning. Needless to say, his apology hadn’t gone too well. Junming looked at the dustbin where a pile of ice cream tubs sat discarded. Not to mention, quite a dent in his pocket.
Cringing, he shook his head in disappointment at himself. He really should have read that Romance Uncliched manual first. The only good news out of this disaster was that Grayson had started eating one of the tubs.
Junming shut the fridge door with a sigh. He rested his head on the cool surface. Maybe ex-girlfriend number four was right in saying that he always took it too far at the beginning of a relationship. He headbutted the door as lightly as possible to prevent the fridge from being damaged.
“What in God’s name are you doing there?” A curious laugh came from the hallway.
Spinning on his heels, Junming let out a sharp breath of relief. “Kyler, you scared me.”
“Sorry, but it’s a weird scene to see first thing in the morning,” Kyler giggled as she entered the pantry with a cup in her hand.
“Believe me, this is not something I do all the time.”
“I’ll trust you on that.” Kyler’s smile waned. “I heard from Val that your assignment yesterday didn’t go well.”
Embarrassment washed over Junming. He bit down on his bottom lip, his eyes squeezing shut. “It was terrible. The client’s girlfriend eventually made up with him but she had to go to the hospital.”
“Oh my god,” Kyler gasped.
“Yeah, it was that bad.”
“So I’m guessing the client is not paying the last installment?”
Junming dragged a hand down his cheek. “Yeah. It’s stipulated in the contract under Notice of Damages. I learned that yesterday.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that, Junming.” Kyler rubbed a comforting hand down his arm. “It’ll get better, I promise.”
“It had better.” A voice from behind them caused Junming to startle.
He spun around, Kyler following suit. Valerie stood with one hand on her hip, her eyebrow raised at Junming. “We can’t afford to lose more money.”
“I know. I’ll try my best to make sure it won’t happen again,” Junming hurriedly said, his hand almost shooting up to his forehead in a salute. Talking to Valerie always felt like he was speaking with a military commander.
Kyler clicked her tongue and gave her sister a reproachful look. “Val, don’t be so hard on him.”
“My point is-” Valerie shot a glare at Kyler. “I report our numbers to the bosses every day. So they know about your little problem yesterday.”
Terror shot down Junming’s veins. He blanched. “Y-You mean Mr. Black knows too?”
“Yeah.” Shrugging, Valerie lifted an eyebrow. “Why?”
“N-Nothing. He’s a little scary.” Junming rubbed the back of his neck nervously. He wasn’t lying but for some reason, he didn’t want to disclose his close encounters with the man. That felt private, personal, and embarrassing.
Kyler bobbed her head, her short hair bouncing with the movement. “I find him scary too. Scarier than Val and that’s saying a lot.”
Junming stifled a chuckle as Valerie dealt a playful smack on Kyler’s head.
“You traitor,” Valerie growled at Kyler who giggled.
Seeing the two sisters’ playful attitude amongst themselves made Junming forget all about Mr. Black. His optimism came rushing back like a tsunami. After all, his father had always said that the most important thing was to learn from mistakes and not to ruminate on what-ifs.
So it was time to dish out the game plan. And that was to nail the next assignment and figure out the blueberry ice cream problem. He puffed out his chest, feeling rejuvenated at having a sense of purpose now.
“Why are you grinning like that?” Valerie dead-panned.
Junming blushed, flustered at being caught in his thoughts. Somehow, this place constantly made his cheeks turn a frustrating shade of red. He blamed the sun streaking in from the windows. “I was just thinking of what I should do to make sure I pull off the next assignment.”
“Good. Because I have your next assignment lined up.”
“Really?” Junming beamed.
“Yes, it’s sitting in your inbox now. This one should be even easier. The budget is lower too.”
“Thank you, Valerie. I won’t disappoint you and the bosses this time. I know it.” Brimming with confidence, Junming gave two thumbs up like a poster boy. It was corny but he was too happy to care.
Kyler chimed in, “We believe in you, Junming!”
Warmth bloomed in his chest like fireworks. Her words lent him even more strength than he could have imagined. Perhaps this was the power of friendship and-
“God, this is getting too cheesy,” Valerie cut in with a groan. “Just go and do your job, will you?”
Junming held up a hand, laughing. “Okay, okay. I’ll start on it right away, boss.”
“You bet your ass I’m the boss,” Valerie sniped although the corner of her lips curled upwards in good nature.
“Oh wait, let me get my hot tea first,” Kyler said, holding back her giggles.
Leaning back on the counter, Junming shrugged. “Sure, I’ll wait.”
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)