"How's your project going?"
Tohru James looked up from the billiards table to his friend, sent him a mischievous grin before leaning over with his cue stick. He squinted as he calculated the ball's trajectory before he pulled the stick back and then hit the cue ball hard.
The other balls scattered in different directions, some even going into the holes, making Tohru's face light up with a boyish grin. He then moved to the side to let another man take his place to continue the game as he joined the man on the couch.
"It just started," he answered afterwards as he grabbed some crackers and turned to watch the other men play.
It was half-past three in the afternoon. Normally, people would still be at work. But this one particular editor-in-chief was at home entertaining his friends whom he picked up at the airport earlier after taking Yanee there.
"Oh – you mean she still hasn't done an interview?" the man who lounged at the sofa with a glass of amber liquid in his hand asked again.
"Not yet. She'll be interviewing my wife later," the man who had his turn with the billiards answered for Tohru before striking the ball.
"Your wife?" all nine men, except for Tohru asked the man who just spoke.
"Yes. Yunjae will meet her later at the café, then take her back home to chat," the man, a handsome man in his thirties answered.
Like the rest of the men in the room, he had a very commanding presence. His almond eyes, however, were gentler than the rest of the people present. After all, he was a loving father of two children.
"I will fly back to Korea later little brother. Are you coming with me?" Kang Jinho asked.
Tohru shook his head. "I will let Yanee do her job for a while," he answered, but the others gave him a teasing grin.
"Are you sure? You're not going to complain to us, your big brothers, like you did when the girl went on a holiday?" they teased.
"Give me a break,"Tohru complained as he drank, but his red face told everyone how embarrassed he really was.
"Of course we won't give you a break. It's very rare we get to tease you. This is revenge from all the nagging we got from our wives who decided to help you out with your love life."
That's right. In this room were a group of friends whose wives were also close. The youngest among them, Tohru, was the only one who remained unmarried. But now that he finally showed interest in someone, all the women were elated and decided to give the youngest member a helping hand.
It began months ago when an editor friend begged Tohru for an interview. Usually, the young man was low-profile. He didn't bother much with media exposure even if he was very popular in his circle because of his achievements. But this was also because of other things related to his family and his real identity. If he wanted to continue working in peace, he couldn't be exposed much to the public. However, he eventually gave in as long as the interview wouldn't be too personal.
But then again Yanee Lee arrived and he was dumbstruck.
Compared to the other men in the room, Tohru was very shy. He could do his job very well, but when it came to people he's attracted to, he suddenly turned into a clam – and this was what happened with the interview.
Yanee Lee was totally his type.
It was why he couldn't deal with her properly when he first saw her. He barely answered questions as his brain was already figuring out how to get close to the girl without alarming her. He was however alert when the questions turned a little personal.
He had seen the set of questions beforehand, and knew that there was a question about his relationship with the opposite sex and another about his thoughts on romance. He had even prepared to answer it with "not interested in any relationship and romance at the moment," as he was focused on his final months in his beloved job. His father had retired, and as the only son, he was to take over their family business.
This was why he also had agreed to the interview. At least, he had something to remember being an editor-in-chief by. At that time, he was also still unsure if he was just simply attracted to her or he's in love. He'd never felt anything like that, and so, instead of answering, he had thrown the question back at her.
He was already expecting her to stammer or blush and be cute when answering the question out of the blue like any normal woman would be, but instead, the lady had smiled and answered as if it was nothing.
Huh? Being in love or in a relationship was... nice?
When he asked her to elaborate, she just shrugged her shoulders. "Many people I know are happily married," she added, but it was barely the answer he wanted to hear.
"When you talk, you sounded so detached like it doesn't have anything to do with you," he commented and Yanee smiled again.
"Because it has nothing to do with me," she answered simply. "Romance is all good, but it's not for all. As there are many fish in the sea, the world has lots of people. But what works for others doesn't necessarily have to work for everyone."
Remembering her thoughts, he frowned. "She's so complicated," he sighed heavily.
He had no idea why he was attracted to her in the first place, but he did know that if he finally liked someone, she'd be someone different, and he frowned. "But this one's too different, no?"
"What did you say?" the man sitting next to Tohru asked and he sighed again, making them laugh.
"Are you by any chance already having difficulties?" another teased, and the laughter increased.
"Well, how do you woo someone who didn't believe in romance?" he countered, feeling dejected. Yanee had plainly told him she didn't care for romance, most especially the one at the workplace.
"But isn't that the purpose of the project? If she gets to know our stories, then she'd maybe get influenced by them. Don't lose hope. You've already gotten this far. Give it all you've got," the others cheered him up, and Tohru James smiled finally.
"You're right," he commented. After all the trouble he had to arrange for this project, and buying her company, he couldn't back down now.
Yes, Tohru James was the celebrated editor of Niji International. But what others didn't know was that he was Niji International himself. He's the only son of the owner of Arcus Iris International, the mother company of Niji, the huge company involved in academics and technology. Arcus Iris meant rainbow in Latin, while the Japanese version was Niji, thus Tohru named his company such.
Before returning to his family to take over their business, this project was his last attempt to convince one difficult woman that romance was not that bad and that he was a good candidate to own her heart.