Chapter 2

Wallace picked Cyndi up around six.
“When we get there and I start talking to others, don’t contradict me,” Wallace instructed as he was driving thru traffic.
“What are you going to say then?” Cyndi asked, giving him her attention still.
“A bunch of nonsense,” Wallace replied, not flinching or showing any trace that he was joking. “Socializing bluffs. Don’t need to think much about it. After we’re gone from their sight, they won’t even remember what I said anyway.” He paused briefly as they were waiting for the light to turn. “No need to bring your writing utensils. I got a gift for you.” He reached toward the compartment under the radio and took out a small box, wrapped with a bow on top. He tugged it into her hand before proceeding past the intersection.
“What is it?” Cyndi asked – though she was in the process of opening it.
“First meeting gift.”
Cyndi gasped as the item revealed. “An mp3 player?”
“I prefer Sansa. It hides better than an iPod I’m telling you. You can hold it in your hand like a cell phone and no one knows you’re recording their conversation. The one you’re holding is a Sansa Fuze+. I had it especially made in silver. Like it?”
“That was fast!”
Wallace let out a chuckle. “It was a coincidence. It was for me. But I thought since I just hired an assistant that I actually like, a gift wouldn’t hurt.”
“Am I supposed to use this to record everything and write a report for you tomorrow?”
“What for?”
“Well…”
“Oh…I get it. You think I’m one of those bosses that have nothing to do but make you type up something that I already remember? Nah, I won’t do that. The point of a report is to inform. If I’m there and you’re there, why do you need to type up one? Unless if we want to keep it for future reference. In tonight’s case, I don’t think so.” He gave her a quick side glance. “I thought you want to keep track of some information so you could learn better. Know more people in this whole business, the better.”
Cyndi smiled. She was not able to stop her fascination. It was amazing how he was able to guess her every move.
“I looked you up, so of course I know who you are. And what your goals are. But don’t worry, no personal life. That is off-work. I’m not going to violate your privacy. Only checked your past work experience.”
They finally arrived at their destination. Wallace waited for her to turn on the mp3 player before entering. He was prepared. He had already peeled off the package and charged the battery for her. She did not have to worry. After they passed the gate with the security check, Wallace realized something. He reached over and yanked her hairpin and hairclips off. He made sure to fix her hair so it was not in a mess anymore.
“What are you doing?” She had reacted too late. In fact, she did not even know why he would do such a bizarre thing.
“Don’t ever let me see you wear your hair up again or I’ll fire you.” Then he continued down the path leading to the building where they were supposed to meet the host.
She looked at him, more puzzled than ever. It was only a small matter so she did not want to argue with him. But while she was walking by his side down the hall, heading toward the ballroom, she kept tugging at her hair, like she wasn’t used to it being down.
He noticed it immediately. It was hard to miss. “You can perm it, highlight it any shade of brown or auburn, but don’t cut it or put it up.”
“Your requests are so detailed,” She finally spoke up again.
His expression was still passive. “Your voice said somewhere along the line of weird.”
They quieted down since they had arrived at the ballroom. After a brief exchange with the person in front, Wallace guided Cyndi around the room, introducing her to various parties. They finally stopped by the door leading out to the garden after half an hour.
“So, what do you think?” Wallace asked after taking a sip of apple cider.
“These people sure are…”
“They sure know how to exaggerate, right?”
“How come you never let anyone finish a sentence?”
“That’s because I could already guess what they’re saying, so what’s the point of wasting time?”
Cyndi found that utterly weird – since she thought he would want to get along well with the people in his field. She was going to say something but spotted a familiar silhouette outside. He had his back to her but he sure looked familiar.
“Don’t want to know him,” Wallace spoke up, breaking through her thoughts. “He’s just one lucky guy.”
“Oh?” Cyndi turned to him, waiting for him to elaborate.
“He won the recognition award last week.”
Upon hearing that, Cyndi turned her attention to the silhouette again. “Nic?”
Wallace tensed up. “You know him?”
Cyndi smiled a secretive smile, not wanting to answer him right away. She found it fun to observe Wallace’s reaction toward Nic. Would it be the same as Nic’s when she told him earlier of what had happened? “You could say that.”
“Don’t tell me you have a silly crush on him. Not worth it. He’s just one of those hotshots that wouldn’t care to acknowledge anyone but himself.”
Cyndi’s smile widened. This was getting even more interesting than she had predicted. “You sound like you know him.”
“Know him? Everyone in the field knows him and can’t do anything about him because he knows some other hotshot out there and that was his ticket around.”
“I thought you don’t like to gossip.”
“That’s not gossiping. I’m providing you with some valuable information here.”
“Hey Cyndi!” Someone called from inside the room.
Cyndi turned around to see a girl in a red dress walked toward her. She barely remembered the girl. “Hi, how have you been?” It sounded too casual. But she had to make sure it was on the border of general in this case.
“You just came? Nic’s outside. He said you couldn’t make it. I knew he was putting us on.”
Wallace was just standing aside, sipping his drink while waiting for Cyndi to be done socializing with her friend. But it was hard to just stand at the sideline. He approached both girls. “Dorothy, you know him?”
“Hey, Wallace,” The girl in the red dress answered. “Nic, right? Of course, who doesn’t? He was the guy who robbed you of the award last week after all. He’s out in the garden, want to meet him?”
“No, thanks,” Wallace said crisply. “I think I’m close enough. Too close even.”
Dorothy chuckled. “Stop acting hostile.” She placed a hand on his shoulder. “Try harder next year.”
Wallace grunted, not wanting to input anymore about the matter. Instead, he turned to Cyndi. “You have to know him, right? ‘Fess up before I fire you.”
Dorothy uttered out an amused laugh at that time. “I can’t believe you don’t know who Cyndi is. Nic’s girlfriend.”
Clank!
That was Wallace’s glass hitting the floor. Dorothy had jumped out of the way in time to not get splashed. Wallace’s suit was wet. He did not care. He turned on Cyndi.
“It’s not what you think,” Cyndi said before Wallace could say anything.
“What am I thinking then? You’re Zhang Dong Liang’s girlfriend and you didn’t tell?”
“I thought we’re not mixing professional and personal.” She was not going to back down. Even if he was the boss, he was going back on his words.
“Anything relating to him is my business.” Wallace pointed at Nic without turning in that direction. He only needed to point in the general direction for emphasis.
“What’s going on here?” Dorothy asked, looking from Wallace to Cyndi.
“Nothing,” Wallace said. He grabbed a hold of Cyndi’s hand and dragged her back down the hall to the front entrance.
Cyndi yanked her hand back, not letting him being the one in control. “What are you doing? Trying to make a scene?”
“Because I don’t want to make one so that’s why we’re getting out of here before we talk.”
“Talk about what? Nic?”
Wallace did not reply. He continued down the hall and waited until they were a distance from the main building. His face was still maintaining the stern look.
“If you want to fire me, just fire me,” Cyndi spoke up first when they stopped. “Stop playing these weird games. No wonder your previous assistants didn’t stick around. It wasn’t because they were fired but they couldn’t stand you.”
“Like you’re anymore innocent than me. What was that? Posing as the innocent weakling on your first day to get in and spy for your boyfriend?”
Cyndi’s anger had flared up a few notches already. She was not going to let him accused her like that. “I was showing manners and the appropriate courtesy at work! It’s called professionalism! Ever heard of it?” Her face was changing color as well while she was blurting those words out.
“Obviously more than you!”
“How dared you?” Her hand went swinging before she could control her frustration.
Wallace caught it in time – just inches before it reached his face. “So we’re using violence to solve this now? How convincing is that? Getting angry so I would back down? Or trying to put up a show that you’re the victim? Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean I won’t…”
Cyndi yanked her hand back. “You’re just plain paranoid! You’re the one who needs to work on your trust!”
“How nice of you to analyze me!” The sarcasm was dripping, still dripping actually. “Why don’t you make a career change and go be a shrink instead? You’ll make a wonderful one! All you need is a pair of glasses!”
“That was uncalled for!”
“And your words justify anything?”
“What is going on here?” A voice spoke up to interrupt their heated discussion.
They both turned to see Nic walking up to them.
“Nic!” Cyndi called out, walking toward him.
“What are you doing here?” Wallace asked, hostility present in his voice. It was a different type of hostility from the one he had used on Cyndi.
Nic ignored Wallace completely. “I told you not to work for such an arrogant ass. This is what you get for not taking my advice.”
“Oh, so I’m an arrogant ass, huh?” Wallace was making his way over to them. “What should I expect of such a sinister person like you, right?”
“Why are you here?” Cyndi asked, oblivious to both guys’ attacks of one another.
“Dorothy came and told me that you were being dragged away by some barbarian,” Nic replied, his eyes on Wallace.
“I’ll bet that’s your words and not hers!” Wallace shot back.
“Would both of you stop?” Cyndi was standing between both guys, using herself as shield. Yet it looked like she wasn’t going to sacrifice herself, but wanting to be the referee for this particular situation. “It’s all about winning and losing, right? What’s with you men anyway?”
“I don’t care if I lose,” Wallace jumped in. He sounded a tad defensive. “I only care if anyone played fair or not.”
“What?” Nic blurted out, taking a step forward and slightly pushing Cyndi aside. “I didn’t play fair? What gossip source did you hear it from then? You’re probably the one feeding all those tabloids and putting their kids through college!”
Wallace advanced toward Nic, ready to strike.
Cyndi stepped in between them once again, her hands pointing at both guys. “You’re both out of line. We’re talking about my job here!”
“I told you to not work for him and that’s final!” Nic rattled out.
“Big ego!” Wallace retorted.
“And yours is any smaller?”
“Well, she’s going to work for me and that’s final!” He grabbed Cyndi’s hand and pulled her to him, making his point.
Nic pulled her back to his side. “She’s my girlfriend!”
“Control freak!”
“Knock it off already!” Cyndi shouted above their voices, freeing herself from both guys’ grasps. “I think I have a say in this. Don’t make me resort to violence!”
Nic seemed to soften upon hearing that. “Calm down. I’m sorry, okay? Let’s talk it out.”
Wallace went hysterical – almost. “This is just too much. A guy scared of his girlfriend.”
Nic sneered. “You just don’t know half of it. If you get her worked up, you’ll pay!”
“Still arguing?” Cyndi prompted.
Nic toned down his voice at that time. “I’m just explaining things to him.”
“If you’re both done, then I like to talk without interruptions here.”
For some reason, Wallace was not about all talk at that moment. He waited – just like Nic.
“I want to stay at this place for the time being and learn. If I don’t like it, I can move on, unless someone decides to fire me right here and now, that’s my decision.”
“I wouldn’t even fire you if you begged me to,” Wallace jumped in. “In fact, I plan to have a raise for you like tomorrow.”
“Cyndi, you can’t be serious.” Nic was not able to keep quiet anymore. Not after seeing Wallace’s challenging look. “Look at him!”
Cyndi turned on Nic. “You can’t expect him to be like a little rabbit, can you?”
“Hey!” Wallace protested.
Cyndi ignored that comment. “And you, no raise yet. You think just because you’re fighting with him, I have to be in the way? I’m here to get some experiences in, not become a tool for your games. Clear?”
Wallace put on a smart-aleck smirk. “Crystal.”
Cyndi then turned to Nic. “Let’s go.”
“Bye, Cowardly Lion,” Wallace shot Nic’s way as the two made their way to Nic’s car.
Nic looked like he wanted to turn around and continue the argument but Cyndi had nudged him.
© Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Posted: Sunday, March 6th, 2011

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