“Rainie… let me ask you…” Winnie said as she clasped her hands on the table of Vic’s.
“Sure, Winnie,” Rainie responded.
“What do you feel about Ken, being a model?”
“What is there to feel about, Winnie?”
“Do you think… he is using you to be a model?”
Rainie looked at Winnie. “History to repeat itself? Like… Scott?”
“Something like that,” Winnie said. “Just that the difference is Scott is already in the industry and he just need to stick with you to be famous, while Ken… is practically… nobody,”
“Well,” Rainie lowered her head slightly. “Ken is actually getting this all with his effort. I didn’t do anything,” she raised her head up. “It is not like I recommend him to do the photo shoot,”
“But you persuade him to do it, right?” Winnie asked.
“That’s because Brandon is not showing up. Or rather… choose to be fashionably late. Everybody has a tight deadline and needs to get their work done. Mr. Ying was utterly pissed with Brandon. He even asked Brandon not to come when he learnt that Brandon will be late. They only needed a guy to do it. They needed a replacement at the moment. And then, Andy instantly recommended Ken, and everybody was ready for him, Mr. Ying persuades him, and yet Ken didn’t want to be a part of it. He rejected it. And after considering that Scott is most likely the next person they are going to call if Ken refused, I persuade Ken to do it. If Ken is using me to be a model, he would have accepted it at the first place without hesitation when he was first offered that. But instead, he rejects it, and requests me to help him to say NO to Mr. Ying,”
“Thing is, Scott is not the only model in this industry,” Winnie said. “They might call someone else too,”
“To be free of any appointment at the last minute? To call one to come NOW for the photo shoot, exactly how many male models can do that?”
“Hmmm…there could be few since not all models worked everyday but… you are right,” Winnie said. “Scott didn’t have any jobs nowadays so that means he can come immediately…”
“So… to sum it all up, what Ken has and gets today, it was all by himself. I did not play a role in anything,” Rainie said.
“Anyhow… it was your involvement to make him agree, and he gets what he is today. You may not have played a role directly, but you did help him,” Winnie looked at Rainie and then suddenly Winnie tilts her head. “Rainie, why do I have a feeling you are scared of Scott? Though I know, none of us likes to meet with an ex, but… he is your colleague, you can’t stay away from him all the time, you know? I mean… even if he is going to be called over that time, you should be professional,”
“I can be a professional. But I know he couldn’t, or rather, he will not,” Rainie said, leaning back on the chair. “And Winnie, the wound is still fresh. And you know how badly he wanted me back. It is best not to give him any opportunity to let that happen,”
“But you are like…”
“Winnie,” Rainie said as she closed her eyes, then she placed her hand on her forehead. “Do you know how upset I was when I was in the partition with Scott after the fashion show?”
“I did not want to talk to him at all,”
“You didn’t want to talk to him? Then, why did you…”
“Scott starts dragging Ken into the situation. In order to push Ken out of this thing between me and Scott, I had to let that talk to happen,”
Winnie gaped. “You mean…”
“Yes, I am actually saving Ken from the entire thing,”
“You know you don’t have to do that…”
“I really hate that Scott has to drag someone and starts blaming the other person for whatever had happened. When he begins dragging Ken into the situation, I know I have to let that talk happen,” Rainie said. “I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to talk to him. I know how unprofessional he can be. I am actually offended when he hugged me. And because of that, a part of me regrets giving him the chance to talk but I know I am doing it for Ken,”
Winnie looked at Rainie and didn’t reply a thing.
“Ken has done a lot of things for me. He is always there for me. He allows me to depend on him when I needed help… or even when I don’t need any help. And to be honest, I find myself very weak without Ken,” she took a deep breath. “This is between me and Scott, so I really didn’t want to drag Ken in. The only thing I can do for Ken is to save him from all the craps Scott might give him. I have no choice but to let Scott talk to me in private. But I know one thing…”
“Scott will not hurt me. And if that was to happen, I will call out for Ken because I know Ken will be there and there is never a chance Scott can ever hurt me… just as long as Ken is nearby,” Rainie said. “That is how much I trust and depend on Ken,”
Winnie looked at her, and then took a deep breath.
“If Scott can do things professionally as a model and ONLY modeling on his job, I have no problems having him as the male model and you know me very well, Winnie. You know I am a professional. But I know Scott is not. I rather give someone else a chance in the photo shoot than Scott to come and harass me,” she bites her lips and looked at Winnie.
“I understand, Rainie,” Winnie said. “I really understand now,”
“Ken accepted the photo shoot because of me,” Rainie said. “He really didn’t want to. But… he does it anyway, because I asked him to help me… in fact… it is my fault that I have dragged him…” she gradually smiles, “But I can see he enjoys it too,”
“He enjoys it because it is you he is doing the photo shoot with,” Winnie said. “Do you know why your photo shoot is a huge success?”
Rainie looked at Winnie, “Why?”
“The theme of the photo shoot; comfortable. And that is what you both showed: comfortable WITH EACH OTHER. Not only the shoes. It’s both of you,” Winnie said. “Never two models in a photo shoot can show that chemistry. Even how you fake it, people know it’s just a photo shoot. But you should see yours. It is effortlessly shown,”
“Mr. Xavier,” Ken shook his hand with the big boss. “Thank you for the opportunity,”
“No problem, Ken, have a seat,” Mr. Xavier pointed as he himself takes a seat.
“I hope you don’t mind that I asked Vic to join us,” Ken said, looking at Vic.
“I’ll just sit there and not going to talk,” Vic said, looking at Mr. Xavier.
Mr. Xavier smiled. “Definitely,”
Vic smiled as he sat next to Ken. Ken wanted Vic to give an idea, and to Mr. Xavier, Vic is of course going to help him (Mr. Xavier). Definitely a good idea for Vic to sit in.
“I come to discuss the offer… as I am not sure if it is a good idea,” Ken said.
Mr. Xavier’s smile on the face fades. He turned to look at Vic, and Vic nodded.
Mr. Xavier then looked at Ken, “What is it, Ken? Maybe I can know what your concerns are?”
“Sir,” Ken placed the envelope on the table. “I wasn’t sure if this is a right thing to do; by offering me the job,”
“What do you mean, Ken?” Mr. Xavier asked.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t find myself really performing well in this industry,” Ken said.
“Well, Ken,” Mr. Xavier clasped his hands on the table. “Every single model that will be employed in this company needs my verification and my approval to be hired… or fired,” he said. “Actually, you’ve done a very good job. If you are not doing well, I will not offer you this,”
Ken looked at Mr. Xavier. “I…”
“Actually, I am very impressed with you, and by you,”
Mr. Xavier said as he took out the magazine with the advertisement already bare open. “There is never one person that I know, could do things like this, and giving such impression,” he looked at Ken. “I know what you can do, Ken. I will not offer you this if I knew you couldn’t. Yes, you are probably lack in confidence thinking that you can’t do this, but everyone is given a chance to learn. People came to us and plead us to give them a job as a model needs to go thru all the modeling tasks before we actually give them this offer. Do you know how many people out there want this envelope that you are holding? And I am offering you this, personally, without you needed to go thru all the weird interviews that other people has to go thru, because you managed to show us what you can do. You can always learn on the job,”
Ken looked at Mr. Xavier before he turned to look at Vic.
“Did Rainie and Winnie go thru all these weird interviews in the past?” Ken asked.
“Well there is always an exception. Winnie and Rainie only have to do a photo shoot and they are hired because they are really good,” Mr. Xavier said, leading Ken to turn and look at him. “And you; don’t have to do anything because you went straight to the photo shoot for our customer and do it. Our customer praises you, and Andy is happy to work with you. Knowing that you can…”
“I get what you mean, sir,” Ken said, swallowing a lump in his throat.
“Then?” Mr. Xavier asked.
“I’m sorry,” Ken lowered his head down. “I think it is unfair for me to accept this offer,”
Vic looked at Ken. “Huh?”
“Why?” Mr. Xavier asked.
“Rainie helped me a lot at the set,” Ken said. “She should get the compliments. Not me,”
“Rainie is already a model, Ken,” Mr. Xavier said.
“I know. I mean…” Ken said, he turned and looked at Vic, taking a deep breath, “I didn’t want to do anything that will… hurt Rainie,”
“Hurt?” Vic asked. “What are you talking about?”
Ken turned and looked at Mr. Xavier. “I do not want to do anything that can relate to Scott,”
“What do you mean by relating to Scott?” Vic himself is confused.
“Are you saying you want me to fire Scott?” Mr. Xavier asked.
“No, I don’t mean that,” Ken said, almost panicked with that statement. “First, I do not want to make Scott lost his job, so, I don’t mean in that sense,”
“Then?” Mr. Xavier asked.
Ken’s eyes looked down a bit, “I wasn’t as good as you think. Rainie is the one that helped me in the set. And Scott is her ex, and as claimed by many, he is using her to be famous. I do not want to be in the same position, same style, to get a job because I took the photo shoots with her,” he turned and looked at Vic. “I do not want to accept this job and make her think that I am accepting this because I get this from her,”
“Are you JUST friends with Rainie?” Mr. Xavier asked.
Both Ken and Vic turned to look at Mr. Xavier.
Ken is finding it strange that all of sudden such question is popped out from Mr. Xavier’s mouth.
“Vic told me both of you are just friends,” Mr. Xavier said.
“Yes, if you are not, you better tell me, and big boss,” Vic said looking at Ken.
“Sir, we are friends. But I am concerned about her as well. She had already encountered all of these with Scott. I believe news about these is mountain-high,” Ken said. “I do not want another to come crashing onto her like this,”
“So you are saying… you do not want to take this job because of Rainie?” Vic asked. “Because of how the news might evolve and affect Rainie?”
Ken looked at Vic, and then he nodded briefly, before he turned to look at Mr. Xavier.
Mr. Xavier smiled.
“Sir?” Ken asked, upon seeing that smile on Mr. Xavier’s face.
“Let me be honest with you, Ken,” Mr. Xavier said, sitting up straight. “I would admit this as well. You gained half of what you are today because of her. Rainie is our top model. Whoever she is with, will eventually be highlighted, and even if he is a nobody, he will be noticed. Your photo shoot with her did bring you partial fame. Your photo shoot displays a sense of comfort that when people look at it, they feel the compatibility between you and Rainie and the comfort both of you had shown. This is not something that every model can do. If Brandon is the one that came to work that day, this kind of feelings and impressions will not exist and he will just remained as another model. And you are not. You are basically pulled from the crowd and gained fame,”
Ken looked at Mr. Xavier before he lowered his head again.
“But the reason you are hired has nothing to do with the comfort you AND Rainie had. It is about your performance. This is all you, and only you. I am offering you this not because of Rainie. You only get partial fame because of her, but the rests is up to you. Mr. Ying was praising you NOT because you are Rainie’s friend, but because of your creativity and performance. Andy was praising you NOT because of Rainie, but because it is who you are and how well you communicate and interacted with everybody else on the set,” Mr. Xavier said. “So, this is why I want to hire you. It has nothing to do with Rainie, and you don’t have to think that you are getting all of these solely from Rainie,”
Ken looked at Vic. Vic just smiled at him.
“Ken,” Mr. Xavier called and Ken looked at him. “We have a couple of jobs waiting for you already,”
Ken opened his eyes big. “Waiting for me?”
“Yes,” Vic chipped in.
Ken turned to look at Vic. “You mean you know this?”
“Remember I said, ‘I cannot share with you because you are not my colleague’?” Vic smiled.
“Oh…” Ken turned and looked at Mr. Xavier. “I… I…”
“These customers mentioned specifically that they want you to be the male model,” Mr. Xavier said. “I could not reject them. So I could only make them wait, hoping that you will accept my job offer. As stated, you are free to discuss and negotiate anything with me. Anything that is to your concern, you can tell it to me and I’ll fix for you,”
Ken took a deep breath, unsure what to think or what to say.
“Ken, there are 4 jobs waiting for you now,” Vic said, to which Ken lifted up his head, turned and looked at Vic, shocked with the number of jobs he was offered.
“5,” Mr. Xavier said, interrupting Vic and Ken.
“5?” Ken asked.
“Yes, another one shows his interest in having you for his project earlier today,” Mr. Xavier said.
“It shows how much people want you to do this,” Vic said.
“But… it feels so unfair,” Ken said. “It really isn’t me…”
“Ken, I have arranged for you, to have Rainie with you in those projects,” Vic said. “So both of you can work together,”
“Ah?” Ken responded.
Mr. Xavier smiled and nodded. “Even before Vic asked me for it, I told him that it will happen. The prospects saw the output of the photo shoots. They feel that both of you have a kind of chemistry or connection that they couldn’t really explained in detail. So, they wanted both of you and Rainie in their projects. So, in some way… if you reject this offer, Rainie might not get these projects,”
Vic smiled. “So you know how big impact you are, right now?”
Ken turned and leaned closer to Vic, “Is this some sort of scam, that if I am not accepting the job, she is going to lose hers?” he whispered.
“Ken, it is not a scam. It’s just that people want to have both of you in their projects. If you refused, then they are going to select someone else. Mr. Xavier didn’t say that Rainie will definitely lose the projects, but if the prospects want a compatible couple to do it, then they might find someone better in that sense like another two models, or they might retain Rainie and then pair her up with someone else like…Scott,” Vic responded before he slowly leaned back.
Ken immediately looked at Vic. Luckily Vic leaned back, or else the speed of Ken looking up might end up kissing Vic.
“I am not going to lie to you, and you know I don’t. But please think carefully. You are not exactly taking advantage of her fame. But you are giving her more jobs,” Vic smiled.
“That sounds like gaining benefits,” Ken said.
“Sometimes it happens,” Mr. Xavier said.
Ken and Vic looked at Mr. Xavier again.
“In fact it happens all the time, depending on situation. In your case, you were noticed in this industry from Rainie, but if you take it, Rainie is definitely going to get a few more jobs from you,” Mr. Xavier said. “I think it’s pretty fair between both of you,”
Ken bites his lower lip. “I…”
“You will be fine, Ken. Don’t worry about this so much,” Mr. Xavier said. “I will make sure you have the best package and feel utmost comfort while you are attached to our company,”
“I am afraid of what media might write actually…” Ken said.
“You can’t stop them from writing anything,” Vic said. “Hey, why not take this job as part time if you can’t accept it for now?” he slapped his hand on Ken’s back.
“That will be doable,” Mr. Xavier said. “Or do you still want to think about this and get back to me within the next two days?”
Ken looked at Mr. Xavier. “My concern is only for Rainie, though I am fine with accepting this job because… I do enjoy doing it with Rainie and I actually have fun at the set,”
“Looks like your ‘fun’ at work really depends on Rainie,” Vic said.
Ken gave Vic a sidelong look.
Mr. Xavier smiled. “If you find that you are more comfortable with Rainie around, I can work on it, to package you and Rainie when prospects want you for their projects. I can say that if they want you then they need to take Rainie as well, or something like that,”
“No, sir. It is not necessary,” Ken said.
“Really? Because I feel that your concern isn’t all about you, which is… is a little bit of yourself, and most of them is because of Rainie,” Mr. Xavier said. “And I seriously think you care for her a lot,”
“I wish I can do things on my own, and by any means, I hope not to drag her along, but I know the condition this is going and there is no way she is not involved. Right now I could only wish for her involvement at the very minimal level,” Ken said.
“I can do something for you, Ken, if this concerns you so much,”
“What is it, sir?”
“If you need it, I can hold you a press conference,”
“Press conference?” Ken asked.
“You are worried the media will drag Rainie. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. I don’t know. I don’t do press conference for hiring a model, but if this is a huge concern for you, then I will do it for you if you need me to clarify to the media for you. That is the most I can do for you,” Mr. Xavier said.
Ken turned to look at Vic who is still very much stunned.
“Why?” Ken asked Vic.
“Big boss wants to hire you… by hook or by crook…” Vic mumbled.
“So?” Mr. Xavier asked Ken. “How?”
Ken sat there deep in his thought. “Errr…”
“You don’t have to accept all the jobs if you don’t like them. You have the option to pick whichever you want,” Mr. Xavier said. “And you have Vic. He is our best styling designer. He will make sure you wear the best thing out. Just the same as he did to Winnie and Rainie,”
“Ah?” Vic asked.
“Vic will not let you wear something hideous. And he has his way to make a hideous outfit into a glamorous outfit. But anyway, he will make sure you wear the best thing,” Mr. Xavier smiled. “Vic has two female models to wear the best outfits, so he will surely pass you the best of men’s,” he smiled at Vic. “Vic, I know. I always noticed Winnie and Rainie’s outfit are the best for the fashion show,”
“Sir, I treat everybody the same. All the models wore the best outfit that will flaunt on them. And you will definitely see and feel that Winnie and Rainie wearing the best because they are the top models,” Vic said.
“Are you sure?” Mr. Xavier asked. “I always feel they are prettier compared to others,”
“Of course I am sure, sir!” Vic said.
Ken and Mr. Xavier looked at Vic.
“Errr…” Vic looked at Mr. Xavier, and then Ken.
“You don’t have to react like that…” Ken said.
Mr. Xavier smiled. “Whether it happens or not, I am glad that Vic did his job well, and he knows how to ‘sell’ Winnie and Rainie as our top models,”
“Sir… I really didn’t…”
“Okay, okay, I trust you,” Mr. Xavier said to Vic. He then turned to look at Ken. “So? It’s all in your hands,”
Ken turned and looked at Vic.
“Why not?” Vic smiled. “Come, be my colleague,”
Ken smiled. “Alright,”
“Great! Thanks Vic for helping me! Increment of 30% to you!” Mr. Xavier yelled as he pointed at Vic.
Vic is shocked, and then turned to look at Ken, “WOW! You are my lucky star!”
Ken smiled at Vic. “Now, you owe me a meal,”
“A few meals wouldn’t be a problem!” Vic said.
Ken frowned. “I think… you still owe me a breakfast…right?” he looked at Vic, “You know, when Rainie is still at the hospital…”
Vic eyed him, “Fine, if you want me to pay for your breakfast, just add that in,”
Ken laughed and then gently punched Vic’s chest. “Just kidding, bro. Not gonna be calculative about a meal with you,”
Vic laughed back. “I know that,”
“Right… I know both of you are best friends, and have a lot of good things to share and talk… but maybe you can reserve it for later… as right now we need to discuss about the benefits and the rest of the stuffs…” Mr. Xavier said as he run through his stuffs.
“Oh, yeah, you need that discussion definitely,” Vic smiled.
“Sure,” Ken smiled.
Ken, even though smiling in response to both cheerful Mr. Xavier and Vic; he is in deep thought, “I hope I make the right choice…”