Vic smiled at Ken.
“That is a really… really… I don’t know, BAD SMILE. I feel like slapping you,” Ken said at Vic.
“And a bad laugh,” Ken glared at Vic.
Vic’s laughter fades slowly. “Well, Ken. I am glad you felt like this,”
“What? Are you insane? I’m already bothered about this entire thing and you are telling me you are glad with me feeling like this? Oh, come on…”
“No. What I meant was,” Vic said. “You cared for her thoughts about you. You are worried you might give Rainie a bad impression about you. Well, Ken,” he clasped his hands. “You cannot control what she will think about you,”
“I know. But I can control what I do,”
“Ken, you know, when you told me just now that when you see Julia… you felt like nothing?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Any idea why you are feeling like that?”
Ken shook. “But I guess it’s because it’s been 3 years…”
“That would be part of the reason. But what I truly believe is that you already give all of your feelings away… that is why you don’t care about your feelings with regards to Julia. And I mean, those negative feelings,”
“What give all of my feelings away, what are you talking about?”
“Because you already give them to Rainie,” Vic smiled.
Ken looked at Vic. “Oh, that…”
“Yeah. Because you love Rainie,”
Ken just smiled.
“I am happy that you found love again. And I know something too,” Vic said.
“Which is?” Ken asked.
“You hope that this will not turn out like the same case you had with Julia. So you are trying your best to do as perfect as you could for Rainie. You do not want to make a mistake or even give a chance to let mistakes happen,”
Ken bites his lips.
“I guess I was right about it,” Vic said, slightly tilted his head as his eyes stared straight at Ken. “Tell me. What kind of damaged impression can you give to a FRIEND?”
“I am just trying to be as perfect as I could,”
“Ken, life is not perfect. You are a human and you will make mistakes along the way. Your imperfection is what making you; you,” Vic looked at Ken lowering his head. “In fact, there will be no damaged impression of you to Rainie. A meeting between you and Julia does not mean anything. Meeting with ex does not mean it is going to be a bad thing. Maybe it is something that you need to fix,”
“But still,” Ken said.
“Let me get the facts straight. Have you expressed your feelings to Rainie?”
“NO! Of course not!” Ken said.
“Since she is just a friend, then please don’t over-think about this,”
“Dude, this is not a secret meeting between you and Julia in a hotel. If that happens then you better be worried. In fact, your situation with Julia has already obtained a closure back then; it’s just that the meeting happens today because she wants to get back to you, which is something out of question, and you have already reject her,”
Ken did not respond.
“You don’t even know if Rainie likes you. Julia said she felt Rainie likes you, it doesn’t mean Rainie really likes you. Maybe Rainie didn’t feel anything at all about you meeting with ex. Who knows?” Vic asked. “If you are afraid about giving bad impression to her, then just go back and explain,”
“I think I’ll do that…”
“Rainie will not look at your imperfection; point at you and say ‘you are not good enough for me’. Just so you know, Rainie is not some spoilt brat growing up in some rich and perfect family to tell you that every single thing you do is wrong. She is actually matured for her age, and of course, allow her to be childish some time which is normal for everyone and I believe you have too. So do you think just one tiny meeting you had with Julia will eventually gives her bad impression about you? And I believe Rainie knows about your ex cheated on you. If you had told me before that you will not get back with Julia I hope you told Rainie the same thing,”
“Yes, I told her the same thing,”
“Then that’s better. And I think it’s settled,”
“Look, Ken,” Vic said, causing Ken to stop. Vic took a deep breath. “I don’t understand why you have to make things so complicated. Okay, fine, I get it why you are so bothered. First, your ex is trying to get back to you because she craves for the attention and life that you managed to give her that her current husband can’t, and what bothers you more is because Rainie saw you with Julia. So what? Number one, Rainie is NOT your special someone. Number two, it is just meeting an ex in a coffee house; a public place. So tell me, what kind of impressions do you think you have damaged for meeting Julia? Do you want this to happen, let’s say, when you are in a relationship with Rainie?”
“Relationship? I didn’t even…”
“Fine, just a statement,” Vic interrupted. “If you are in a relationship with Rainie and you went to meet Julia without informing Rainie, that WILL damage your impression along with the relationship,”
And Ken quiets.
“Ken, I don’t understand why you need to be bothered so much about this. She is not your girlfriend. Your problem will be solved when you meet Rainie later at home and explain to her what is happening. In fact, you are not obligated to tell her because this is your personal life, which, is none of Rainie’s business as she is not your significant other, but I know you will tell her after all. Next, why are you trying so hard to be a perfect person? Can you actually control what she is thinking?”
“But Rainie can choose not to trust me if she saw me…”
“Ken,” Vic took a deep breath. “You really want me to say this though I tried hard not to. Fine. This problem lies in you, and not Rainie. That is what I noticed,”
“Maybe Julia caused you to be like this. You have to learn to trust again; regardless to trust someone else, or trust yourself. You have to learn that you are not perfect. And we have already said it. It wasn’t your fault Julia cheated on you. I know, some part of you would blame yourself for that to happen, but it is not. The truth is it wasn’t your fault. NOT AT ALL. I know you are worried for you didn’t want the history to repeat again. You tried hard to not let mistakes happen but you know what? The more you control, the more it will happen. You felt that you are not compatible for Rainie that is why you did not pursue her but kept your feelings well hidden inside. Yes, Rainie is a supermodel. She has a reputation. Very kind of you to think for her reputation. But did you think for yourself, or for Rainie herself? You want to keep the boundary as friends, but you do not want to ruin your reputation, and then you want this and that. Come on, Ken! You can’t take everything into your hands and hope everything will go your way. Ken, please, learn to see things from a different perspective. Please accept who you are and what you can do. You are actually man enough. You are actually a guy that every woman wants. That is why Julia is coming back to you. Whatever that might happen to you and Rainie, I don’t know. But, do yourself a favour,”
“What favour?” Ken asked.
“Set yourself free from those guards you have placed yourself into. Open up your heart. Trust yourself. Love yourself. Look in front of you and accept things that come your way. Do not control everything. That is what made you who you are. In short… I want you to lead your life the same way you have always did. Accept that Julia is past. If you want to get Rainie, do not worry too much about what you can and what you can’t do. Just worry about how she felt for you,” Vic said. “Just worry about HOW she felt for you,” he repeated.
Ken looked at Vic. “Just worry about how she felt for me?”
Vic smiled. “Love is a very powerful tool. Love will make you do stupid things. Love will set you free. Don’t try to change love because love will change you instead. So…” he leaned forward. “Just do your part. And you will be alright,”
Ken smiled. “I get what you mean,”
“You’re done with Julia. Just tell Rainie the truth. She will be fine,”
“Well, unless she has trust issues too. Otherwise she will be alright,” Vic smiled. “Just don’t place the pressure of what you had encountered with Julia to Rainie for it will be unfair for her, and that time… you won’ be able to fix the damages you have done,”
Ken smiled, “You are right,”
“I can see how you feel for Rainie though,”
Ken took a deep, satisfying breath. “I admit we have a lot of chemistry,”
“You do. And at least, I think both of you won’t cheat on each other,”
Ken glared at Vic. “Of all things, you have to say that,”
Vic laughed. “Come on. You threw Julia out of house when she admits she cheats on you after you put up with her for a long time. Rainie dumped Scott on spot because he was with another girl and after putting up with him for months. Both of you had the same cases. Cheating partner and you both cannot accept it. So… what makes you think that both of you will cheat on each other?”
“OH MY GOODNESS!” Ken panicked.
Seeing Ken’s expression, “What? What? What?” Vic asked, also panicked.
“She dumped Scott when she saw him with another girl! I am a gone case!” Ken said. “I was with Julia!”
“HEY! Yours is a different case!” Vic said. “She is not your girlfriend. And your hand is not on Julia’s shoulder or walking hand in hand with her,”
“Oh,” Ken said.
“Why do you have to panic,” Vic shook his head.
“Heh, sorry,” Ken embarrassedly said as he scratched his head.
Vic sighed and shook his head, while Ken smiled and remained embarrassed.
“So… you’re not as bothered now?” Vic asked.
“I think I’m okay. Thanks, dude,” Ken smiled.
“Well, okay. Since you are in better mood,” Vic smiled. “I want to ask you…”
“What is it?” Ken asked.
“What do you think about modeling?”
Ken looked at him. “What do you want?”
“Just saying. Just reply me what do you think about modeling,”
“I don’t know. I just took the job and… that’s it? I have no feeling whatsoever,” Ken said.
“How do you feel about your performance? Are you comfortable in front of the camera?” Vic asked.
“I think it’s okay… but Rainie made things easier for me,” Ken smiled.
“So you mean she calmed you down?”
“You can say like that,”
“Whoa… calming effect. You really love her that much, huh,” Vic said. “Power of love already hit you, dude,”
Ken smiled. “Anyway… why do you ask?”
Vic smiled as he dives his hand into his back pocket and took out an envelope. “This is for you,”
“Me?” Ken asked as he took the envelope from Vic. “What is this?”
“Well, it is yours. So, you can open it up and see,”
Ken frowned at Vic who is smiling, and then he opened the envelope to retrieve the letter inside.
First of all, we would like to thank you for your prompt action to fill in for a male model in a recent photo shoot. Thank you very much.
We assumed you have seen the outcome of the photos and with this, we would like to let you know that the result produced from the photo shoot is beyond excellent and you have also made our customer happy during the entire photo shoot. Our customer has praised you endlessly for your creativity, capability and natural talent.
Not only our customer, but we are too. We appreciate your effort and we are impressed with your performance on this photo shoot.
With this, we would like extend an offer to you to pursue a career in this industry. Remuneration, benefits and working hours are discussable to fit your requirement.
We look forward to work with you in the near future. Thank you.
The Modeling Academy.
Ken stared at the letter with awe. “I’m offered a job?” he said. “And I am even privilege to negotiate almost everything with them…?”
“Salary, benefits and working hours,”
“Really?” Vic asked Ken, trying to take a glimpse of the letter in his hand.
“Heh? I thought you already know about this?” Ken asked, passes the letter to Vic instead.
“I was only told to pass you this, I didn’t know you can negotiate everything,” Vic said, grabbing the letter. “But remuneration is always variable. If you get hired for fashion shows or photo shoots, you will get more. And if you are not hired for that month, you will just get basic salary. At least you will not be penniless,” he said. “But geez… you can negotiate benefits and working hours! Lucky you!”
“But…” Ken said, looking at Vic. “I am really… offered a modeling job?”
Vic smiled at him. “Yes,”
“But why? Why are you doing this to me?” Ken asked.
“Me?” Vic asked. “Of course it’s not me! I don’t have such privilege to do this. Remember when you arrived just now and I told you I was talking to big boss? He came to look for me, apparently to ask me to pass you this. He knows we’re best friends. He is the one who wants to hire you. So, go back and think about it. Since you need a job now, and if you find it okay to take this job up, why not?” Vic passes the letter back to Ken.
“But this is a change of career…” Ken scratched his head and the other free hand took the letter from Vic’s hand.
“Indeed. It is a totally new career for you. But, think about it. For now, you are limited to tenders. You haven’t figure out what you want to do, you haven’t got a new job. If you didn’t want to take this modeling job permanently, you can take it as part time. As you have said, you are free to negotiate everything with Mr. Xavier,”
Ken bites his upper lip as he looked at the letter.
“Whether you want to take this job or not… please revert to Mr. Xavier in 3 days,”
Ken looked at Vic. “3 days?”
“That’s what he said,” Vic smiled.
“I only have 3 days to think…”
“To be honest, Ken…” Vic said, and Ken lifted his head up and looked at Vic from the letter. “Your photo shoot with Rainie is a huge success. You don’t know how famous you are right now,”
Ken gaped. “Are you serious?”
“Well at least to our customers,” Vic said.
Vic smiled. “You are not my colleague yet. So, what I know right now remains private and confidential to my company’s employees only,”
“Oh,” Ken said.
“And I can only tell you this much. So… go back and think about it. Within 3 days. Anytime you are ready, come to my office and meet Mr. Xavier,” Vic said.
“Your tone sounds like I will be taking the job,” Ken said.
Vic smiled as he tilted his head. “I think you will. I just have a feeling. I can’t wait to be your colleague,”
Rainie entered the house. She finds that the house is eerily quiet. No sight of Ken in the living room or his computer table.
“Ken?” she called.
She looked around, headed to Ken’s room and knocked on the door. “Ken?”
CLACK (from the main entrance).
Rainie quickly turned to look at the main door.
“Rainie?” Ken called as he enters the house and closed the door.
“Ken?” Rainie called again as she was about to walk to the living room, when Ken saw her at the corridor, standing in front of his room.
“Hi, I’m home,” Ken said. He looked at her from top to toe. She didn’t change?
“I just got back too,” Rainie smiled, seemingly know that’s the question playing in his mind.
“Oh,” now that’s why she didn’t change. “I see,” he smiled.
“Yeah… I thought you were in your room so I was knocking on it,” Rainie smiled.
He smiled. “Okay,”
Both of them looked at each other for a while and not talking.
“I… I go… shower,” Rainie said, lowered her head and she slowly turned to walk to her room.
“Rainie,” Ken called, as he threw the house key onto the dining table.
Rainie lifted her head, turned back and looked at Ken.
“Can I talk to you…?” Ken asked, meeting her in the eyes.
Rainie looked at him, smiled a bit and replied, “Sure,”
Ken headed to her and extends his hand for her to grip on. She looked at him, for still being so gentleman despite her condition is way better right now.
Couldn’t afford to say no, she placed her hand on his hand and gripped on it, and both of them walked to the living room.
Both of them sit next to each other on the couch.
“How was your meeting with Winnie?” Ken asked.
“Oh, it was okay,” Rainie replied.
How is she supposed to ask about his meeting with Julia? She is curious, but… how?
“Did you meet Scott in the office?” he asked casually just to continue the conversation.
Ken immediately turned looking at her, “Did he hurt you? Did he do anything to you?” he lifted her hands and looked around them.
“No, he didn’t, I make him stay away,” Rainie said.
“Oh… that’s great,” he said, placing her hands down.
Why… suddenly both of them feel so awkward around each other?
“Oh, there is something… I need your opinion on,” Ken said.
“What is it?” Rainie asked, as she looked at him taking an envelope out from his pants’ back pocket.
“Take a look,” Ken smiled, as he passed it to Rainie.
Rainie looked at him, and then she opened the envelope, and reads the letter. Her eyes grew bigger. “You are offered a job?”
“Wow… how… and when did you get this?”
“Your big boss passed this to Vic, and then Vic passed it to me,” Ken smiled. “I don’t know if I should take it,”
“Well, what do you think about modeling?” Rainie asked. “Comfortable?”
“Yes…” he said, looking at her and thought, ‘with you, it is comfortable’.
“Well… if this is okay with you… why not?”
“Do you want me to be a model, Rainie?”
Rainie looked at Ken for the weird question; she then lowered her head and smiled, suddenly feeling shy to even look into his eyes. “If you are good in that… I think it is good for you to venture into modeling too. Who knows… you might do better than doing your normal desk job. You might earn more money too. But… you need to be aware that you will be getting this with exchanging of your privacy,”
Ken looked at her. “You are right,”
“Well… that will only be your concern, it seems,” Rainie said.
“But I look at you… it looks like… you are okay,” Ken said. “Your privacy seems to be maintained, well, asides from your relationship…”
She smiled. “Yeah, besides from my relationship… I am a very private person. I valued my privacy,”
“How do you juggle between both? And how do you manage… to not be ambushed by the media?”
“It happens occasionally. I am not really, really THAT popular until they have to ambush me. I am good in my job, but I do not reveal anything about my private life unless necessary. When media came to you, just tell what is necessary. Feed them what they need, then they will leave you alone,”
“Ah, I get what you mean,” Ken said.
“So… think wisely about your decision. But… I can tell you, you are good,” Rainie smiled.
“Do you want to work with me?” Ken asked.
“If given a choice, do you want to work with me? Or am I a terrible person that…”
“Of course I want to work with you,” Rainie smiled. “I enjoyed working with you,”
He smiled upon hearing the answer.
She smiled contently, back at him.
“Rainie…” he looked down.
“Hmm?” she clasped her hands together.
“If I became a model…” he turned and looked at Rainie, “How will you feel?”
“I feel? Why?”
He clasped his hands together and then he bites his upper lip. “I do not want you to think that I am doing this and gaining popularity via you,”
“It is your own effort, it has nothing to do with me,” Rainie said, patting on his shoulder.
Rainie nodded. “Yes,”
“Then… I’ll think about it,” he holds the letter.
Rainie smiled slightly.
And it’s silence again.
‘Julia. Julia. Julia…’ Rainie thought at the back of her mind. ‘You don’t want to tell me about Julia?’
Ken swallowed the lump in his throat, and he finally takes the courage to break the silence. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about me meeting Julia,”
Her eyes immediately strayed.