“Is the HR OPEX report ready?”
“The what sir?” I was confused with the term.
“H R OPEX.” Minhyun said. “The operating expense for the Human Resource team, Jonghyun. Please. Keep up with me.” He started his nagging. “Do I have to teach you everything? It’s already the third day you’re here.”
“It’s only the third day” I muttered.
“What was that?”
“Oh, nothing sir. I was just wondering how to get you that report.” I escaped from his gaze and question.
“Call the head of HR. Aaron. Remember? Your favorite guy during the interview.” He said.
“Oh yes, I like him. I think Mr. Kwak is the kindest man in this company.”
Hwang Minhyun squinted his already narrow eyes at me like he’s about to spit more fire. I caught his scary expression, I quickly placed the cup of tea on his desk and hurried up to my desk outside to make a call to Aaron’s office.
“Hey, Jonghyun. Whaddup my favorite guy?” Aaron’s bright crisp voice was heard from the line. It was so reassuring.
“Hi, good morning, Aaron. So… Mr. Hwang was asking me about the HR OPEX, I was wondering if you could help me with that?”
“I’ve sent it to him yesterday evening. Did he not check his email again?”
“I believe he didn’t.” I sighed, realizing that I just got scolded for nothing.
“Cheer up Jonghyun, it’s only your third day here.”
“Right, it’s only my third day, isn’t it? But Mr. Hwang said I was stupid for not be able to keep up with him. It’s already the third day he said.” I poured it all to Aaron.
“He’s a bit of a dick. But don’t make yourself small in front of him. Stand tall. We can’t be just good at everything in the beginning, can we? There is process.”
“Yes, I agree with you, Aaron. Especially the dick part.” I scoffed. Chatting with Aaron was always fun. Until I saw a pair of cold scary eyes that were looking down on me from above.
“Oh, Mr. Hwang!” I jolted off my seat. "Aaron, I’ll talk to you later okay?” and hung up the phone.
“I see, you two are getting very close.” He said. “How about the report?”
“Mr. Kwak said he had emailed them to you yesterday evening, sir.”
Minhyun took out his phone to check it. “Hmmm…” he hummed while busily scrolling on his phone before leaving to his office. "That’s it?!” I complained inside my brain. He didn’t even say anything to me.
“Yes, sir?” I was expecting something. Like a sorry maybe, but I was hoping too much.
“Get my suit at the laundry now. I need it for the lunch meeting.” Mr. Mighty gave his order before closing his door again. Aaron’s voice was replayed inside my head,
“He’s a dick.”
“Good afternoon. Kim Jonghyun, finance director secretary speaking. May I help you?” I picked up the phone.
“Yes, Mr. Hwang?”
“You don’t have to recite your greeting every time there’s a call. Especially if you could see on the phone that it’s from me. Save my time, Jonghyun.”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry. Anything I can help for you sir?”
“Do you know how to tie a necktie?”
“Yes, sir. Of course. I read a lot in the books and sometimes I help Dongho with it.”
“Do I need to know who this Dongho is?”
“Oh, no sir. But he’s my flatmate sir. We live together.”
“Good to know Jonghyun. Now come here to my office.”
I stepped in to Minhyun’s office, he sat on the edge of his desk. A trace of annoyance can be seen on his face. His hair is a bit of a mess. He's not wearing his suit, just his usual white shirt attire and the first two buttons was opened. I approached him and he handed me the expensive looking navy coloured necktie that’s just freshly unboxed from its packaging. The box and the papers were scattered on his desk.
“Tie this on my neck.” He ordered.
“What?” I was flustered.
“The tie, Jonghyun. Put the tie on my neck.”
“Oh, right. Yes, sir.” I snapped back to my senses. I held the necktie and stared at him, wondering how I should put it for him. First I fixed the two buttons on his shirt so I can put the necktie neatly. He flinched a little when my finger tips brushed on his neck when I was buttoning his shirt up. He stared at me closely but I couldn't read his expression.
“Can you lower your head a little, sir? Or do you want to sit? Or should I get a chair from outside?” I stuttered.
He sighed in his signature grumpy tone. He put his hands in his pockets and ducked his head a little so he could match my height. I gasped when he did it suddenly. His face was now right in front of my face. We were too close. I’d never seen him this close. He got sharp features and a very intimidating pair of eyes I must say.
“Can you close your eyes? I found your eyes very intimidating, sir.”
“Oh just put it on me, Jonghyun! I won’t eat you.” He grumbled at the too many requests.
I couldn’t help and started putting the necktie around his neck, I accidentally pulled it too hard when I tried to balance the necktie's length. He lost his balance a little and got dragged even closer into my personal space, until our noses brushed onto each other a little in a split second.
He seemed surprised and widened his eyes. I was surprised too, but I broke into giggles when I saw his face. Unlike his usual image, he looked very innocent when he’s surprised.
“Why? What’s so funny?” asked Minhyun, he’s chasing my answer and the look in my eyes as I was trying to avoid his gaze.
“Nothing, sir. I was just surprised that you could be a little cute sometimes.” I blurted out the words in my mind before I couldn’t even stop them.
“I appreciate your compliment, but really, you could save it for yourself.” He said. I giggled. “Stop it. You shouldn’t laugh at your boss.”
"I’m sorry, sir.” I kept slipping a giggle while my both hands were busy making the perfect knot for his necktie.
“Stop giggling, Jonghyun. You sound silly.” Minhyun warned me. I held my laughter and we fell into silence again. Minhyun kept shifting his eyes from my face to my hands, watching my every move in tying his necktie.
“I am quite surprised you don’t know how to tie a necktie.” I said. “Do you perhaps want to learn how to do it sir?”
“Why? Are you planning to quit your job?” He asked sarcastically.
“Oh? How did you know?”
“You are?” He widened his eyes again.
I couldn’t help but to burst into laughter again when I saw his expression. “I’m sorry... I was just kidding, sir. I’m… just..”
“Ha ha.. Very funny, Jonghyun.” He sounded unamused.
The fact that I was his 5th secretary in just a span of a month must be bothering him. From what Aaron told me over lunch before, there was time when the whole HR department avoided his call. Everyone got so tired in looking for another new employee that would fit the secretary position for this finance director.
The first secretary was quite potential until she accidentally put Minhyun's valuable document in a shredder due to exhaustion for being overworked, so he heartlessly fired her. The second secretary resigned by himself for personal health reason — which everyone knew that was a lie.
The third secretary actually had a good chemistry with Minhyun, until he accidentally caught her having an affair with his married client. He couldn’t tolerate any indecency — I agree on this one. The fourth secretary resigned on her third day after she cried in the office for being called stupid by Minhyun.
“And so now I’m the lucky number 5?” I asked him. “Should I be proud that I stay the longest here so far?”
“You should. Not everyone has the luxury to assist me this long, Jonghyun.”
“Well then I am honored, sir. Though I should keep another record for being called stupid by you on my first day.” I recalled.
“Did I?” He looked at me in denial. I wanted to slap.. or maybe more like pinched his cheek, but I held myself of course. I must stay professional.
“Jonghyun, where’s my caramel macchiato?!” Minhyun asked me on the phone.
“I’m on my way, sir. The cafe was a bit crowded. I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
“Hurry, Jonghyun. I don’t have all day!”
“You could have told me yesterday! Dammit.” I cursed unintentionally, thinking he already hung up the phone. He used to do that.
“What was that?”
“Oh I’m sorry, sir. I was talking to the… sandwich guy, sir. The sandwich guy. He didn’t tell me he closed for business today.” I almost choked on my own spit.
“Hmm.. 8 minutes left, Jonghyun. Just hurry.”
Beep beep. Beep beep. Beep. Beep.
“Ugh. Alright alright…” I groaned, tossing from my bed. Reaching my hand to find my phone at the bedside table. Incoming multiple kakaotalk messages from Hwang Minhyun woke me up on this beautiful Saturday morning.
[Jonghyun, get me a new pair of sneakers. Preferably black or navy, size 275.]
[Bring them to my apartment before 11 am.]
[You said I’m off duty this Saturday. I have made an appointment…]
[Change of plan. What appointment?]
[I promised Dongho to go to his gym this morning.]
[This Dongho guy has a gym? What’s the name?]
[Yes, he was a fitness trainer and now a baker. Tiger Gym.]
[So could I just send the sneakers by courier service, sir?]
[You can’t. Come.]
[Hey. I’m sorry. Apparently this prick wants me to work on Saturday or I’m deaddd]
[I really miss you tho]
[I want to play with our baby]
[Yes sir? I’m on my way.]
[I mean. I’m sorry sir.]
[I meant to send it to Dongho..]
[but I just woke up so I wasn't myself]
[I think you were very yourself just now.]
[On the side note, you have a baby?]
[No, sir. It was Dongho’s puppy. But I helped to raise it for a while when it was little. He named it Baby.]
[Hey. I’m sorry. Apparently this prick wants me to work on Saturday or I’m deaddd]
[I accidentally send that to my boss instead of to our group chat. fml]
[Anyway, sorry guys]
[He deserved it.]
[Oh fuck him Jonghyun! I never met him but I hate him already]
[What about our plannnnn]
[I’ll call you soon when I’m done with him.]
I arrived at Minhyun’s apartment at 10:45 AM with a big Nike shopping bag in my hand. I rang the bell and he came out in a training suit. He brought his car key.
“Let’s go.” He said.
“Where to sir? I was just about to drop your shoes and leave.”
“Leave where, Jonghyun? I’m still not done with you.”
[I won’t make it today.]
[Bye, Jonghyun. Have fun with your boss.]
[Dongho and I will just cuddle in front of TV]
“Congratulations, Jonghyun. You made it to the first year working under Director Hwang Minhyun.” Aaron said while touched my cheek with the cold can of coffee from the vending machine. I jumped a little from the bench outside the office.
“Thank you, Aaron. I couldn’t have done it without you though.”
“So how was it?”
“Well, he’s still a dick but he’s softened a little.”
“A soft dick?” Aaron scoffed. I did too.
“He’s quite chatty actually. Like when I drove him to the conference yesterday, he talked almost non-stop along the journey.”
“Glad you've met that side of him now. Minhyun is really talkative. Especially during school he would make a comment about everything. He wouldn’t shut up until the girls hated him.” Aaron told me. “I’m quite surprised that he would open up to you this quickly.”
“Really?” I was quite surprised.
"Yeah! You’re the first secretary who dared to talk back to him. At first I was afraid that you two would fight.”
“I think he’s funny when he’s angry. You know his ears will turn very red and he becomes more clumsy.” I added.
“He’s cute right, Jonghyun?” Aaron asked.
“I have to say... he is actually.”
[Jonghyun, join me for lunch.]
“Speak about the devil…” I showed my phone to Aaron to see the message I got from Minhyun. “I gotta go now. He asked me for lunch.”
“Be nice, Jonghyun. See ya around. And congratulation on your first anniversary working here.” Aaron waved at me.
“What were you two talking about?” Minhyun asked the moment I stepped into his office.
“Sorry, sir?” I was confused.
“Aaron. What are you talking about with Aaron?” He made his question clearer.
“Oh it’s just about my career as your secretary. Since I've finally reached my first year working here.”
“Hmmm… Is it?”
“Wait, how did you know that I was with Aaron? Did you spy on me?”
“That is so stupid, Jonghyun.” He squinted his eyes. "I saw you when I was getting a drink from the vending machine.”
“Vending machine? You, sir? How?” I asked. Hwang Minhyun never drank anything from the vending machine. I had to run every morning to the cafe across the company to get his favorite coffee, milk tea or even grapefruit ade.
“I was just curious about how it tasted since you seemed to like it so much.”
“I don't like it that much but it's more like I don’t have a choice. But, do you like it?”
“No, I don’t.” He walked to grab his coat and impatiently gestured me to follow him. “Let’s go grab some burger. I’m starving.”
[Guyssss. I’m in Paris!]
[Shut up Jonghyun. Don’t show off.]
[Heuheuheuheu. You’re gonna love it here Minki.]
[Are the breads good?]
[Dongho please. But yes actually.]
[Take Minki here with you]
“Jonghyun, what are you doing? Let’s go.” Minhyun snapped me off my phone screen. I had to join him for two exhibitions and one seminar where he would do his presentation there.
“The file is all ready on the desktop, sir. I’ve arranged everything according to your request.” I handed him the laptop. We’re sitting at an outdoor cafe across the hotel where we stayed during in Paris. The cafe was very calm, the breeze was good and kinda romantic at the same time.
“What are you thinking?” Minhyun woke me from my daydream.
“Hmm it’s just I’m very thankful to be in Paris. The city is really beautiful, the food and the coffee are very good, the air is very pleasant. I wish I could enjoy this moment with the person I love someday.” I said.
“I see.” Minhyun stared at me like he took my words very seriously.
“But... it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy this time, sir. For now, I am content with you.” I stuttered, I wanted to slap my own face sometimes for blabbering such nonsense.
“Sir? Good morning.”
Minhyun turned under his blanket. “Jonghyun… hug me.” He whispered, it’s heavy and hoarse.
“Hug me… I’m cold.”
“Is he crazy?”
— to be continued.