"Why isn't she a fan of office romance, by the way?"
Tohru James looked up from the sofa towards the speaker. He was a man in his late twenties with a playful demeanor. Alex Li, Hong Kong's business king grinned at him as he stood behind Kang Jinho with his cue stick, waiting for his turn.
"They're a natural phenomenon, aren't they?" he added with a wink.
"Well, not all are office playboys like you, you know?" their eldest, Park Yushin, a handsome man in his late thirties teased.
"That's right big bro Alex. An ultimate playboy like you can't understand," Michael Chen, another hunk in his late twenties teased.
The others in their group, Liam Kang, Alvin So, Jason Tan, Peter Choi, Henry Song, and Jung Yunho, all dashing and successful young men joined in on the bullying. After all, among all of them, Alex was the Casanova with a reputation – but that was before he met and married his wife.
"Hey, stop ganging up on me and just answer the question," Alex countered as he pointed at Tohru. "We're trying to help you out here, Little Brother. But we can't do that if we don't know the history."
With that kind of reasoning, of course, nobody would try and tease him anymore. Tohru James, on the other hand, sighed heavily, and so the others' interest in knowing the story became stronger. All eyes were on their youngest, waiting for him to speak. They all knew that after Yanee Lee did her interview, Tohru immediately had someone investigate her background to know more about her. Why?
The lovesick fool couldn't ask the girl about herself in the entire week they spent time together during the interview…
"Well?" Peter prompted, and Tohru sighed again.
They were right anyway. He couldn't keep things from them since they'd literally crossed continents to help him out. Most of these men were abroad on their business trips when their wives called and asked them to give their youngest the "godly assist". Well, Tohru also knew they mostly got threatened by their wives too if they didn't cooperate, but nevertheless, he appreciated them.
All ten men were his big brothers – close friends he treated like family.
"Bad experience," Tohru James answered blandly.
When they talked about relationships during the interview, Yanee had immediately unknowingly shot his plans of normal courtship. The moment she said she's not interested in romance – most especially the ones at the workplace, Tohru got curious as to why. To understand her better, he had resorted to a security agency to check her background.
Lo and behold, the girl he had taken an interest in was highly allergic to romantic relations due to a jerk at her former office. She had been green in the field of work and romance then. She had started working at a small publishing company in Nagoya and was assigned to help out at an editor's office for her training.
"A former superior took advantage of her naivety in her former work. She fell in love but realized too late she was nothing but a game to him,"Tohru told his friends with a grim expression.
"What a jerk," Henry commented with a scowl.
"The guy flirted shamelessly but he was already engaged to be married," Tohru continued the story blandly.
"Death," Peter announced. "Do you want us to kill the jerk?"
"Why would you bother?" Jinho countered. "If the guy wasn't a jerk then Yanee would have been with him and our Little Brother's love life would be nonexistent."
Tohru sighed. He already thought about that. He initially wanted to hunt down the guy and punish him on Yanee's behalf, but didn't because if he was a nice guy then she wouldn't have transferred to Tokyo where they met.
And she would have been another man's girl right now.
Tohru read in the report that Yanee was obviously taken with the guy and worked really hard for his sake. He also read that she fell into depression when he got married.
"Anyway, what are we going to do again?" Alvin asked.
Among all the guys, he was the only one whose wife was not able to explain things well. He just knew that Tohru needed help, but as to why and how, he had no idea.
"Yunjae and the girls will be doing interviews with Yanee for the book anthology. It's called Office Diaries," Yushin explained.
"And the book is for?"
"It's to make Yanee realize that Office Romance can be real by sharing our stories," Jason quipped as he popped a cracker in his mouth and chewed. "We're going to be characters in a book."
Alvin was amazed as he looked at Tohru. "You really are publishing this book?"
Tohru snorted and nodded his head. "It's going to be a secret project, alright? Can you imagine my name having to do with anything romantic?"
All men in the room shook their heads. Tohru James was a celebrity editor, but he had never, ever made a project related to romance before. His cool image would be forever shattered.
"Poor girl. She'd be mad when she realizes what she's working hard for," Alvin commented.
Kang Jinho, however, had a different take on the situation. "She's working hard to realize that happiness can be found with her boss – the boss who's crazy in love with her."
"Not bad," Alvin remarked afterwards. "What else do you need Little Brother?"
With this Tohru smiled. "Your wives already arranged for everything. All I need is for that woman to notice me," he said sulkily, making everyone laugh.
"Well, good luck on that," Jason stated, just as Tohru's phone rang.
Tohru saw Yanee's name on the caller ID and he signaled for the guys to be quiet. "Yes?"
"Boss, is there some kind of a mistake here?"
Yanee's voice sounded confused, making Tohru smile. By now, she's already at the hotel, and she's probably wondering why she's being treated, first class.
"What mistake?" He kept his tone casual and cool, making his big brothers smile.
"The accommodations are over the top. I feel like Cinderella here," she confessed, making his smile bigger as he continued to listen to her story about the manager personally picking her up from the airport and so on.
"Don't worry. The accommodation's all from our sponsor. They're eager for this project so you have to work hard in return," he added as he gave a salute to Yushin, the sponsor who owned Grand Blue Hotels.
After that, Yanee seemed to calm down and said goodbye.
"She's freaking out?"Yushin asked with amusement dancing in his eyes.
"Big Sis Jisoo gave her the presidential suite. Who wouldn't freak out?"Tohru laughed as he reached for his drink and raised his glass.
The others followed suit. "To the greatest project of Tohru James," Kang Jinho announced, and they all clinked their glasses for the toast.