“Arthit, get in here!”
Arthit’s heart sinks as his boss calls for him. What on earth could he have done wrong now? It is barely 9am on a Friday and he has been working his butt off all week.
Arthit slinks into Earth’s office, head down, hands fiddling with his fried egg print tie. “Yes Earth?” He tries to keep his voice calm, but his hunched back speaks volumes to his employer.
“Arthit Rojnapat, head writer of Cassette Magazine, how long have you been working for me?” Earth has a soft voice when she is happy, or just being polite, but it turns fierce when she wants your attention or is just plain angry.
As Arthit tries to formulate the correct response, she raises one perfectly plucked eyebrow.
Another thing about his boss - she always expects you to answer.. and your answer better be accurate.
“I suppose, two years, four months, one hour and about..” He checks his watch, “Six minutes?”
Earth nods quickly, checking the paper in her hand.
Arthit’s heart twists in his chest as he considers all the possible outcomes of this conversation.
Is she sacking him? Giving him notice? Unhappy that he has been here over two years and hasn’t done anything particularly amazing?
No.. that isn’t it.
“And, Arthit, how long, exactly, have you been in love with Kongpob Sutthiluk, our enigmatic chief photographer?”
Arthit stares at her, heart beating so fast it feels like it’s about to burst out of his chest.
How does she know?
Instead of her fierce glare, she’s giving him a soft and open look. The one she reserves for celebrities and authors and designers that she’s trying to sweet talk. The one she gives her father when he visits to check on the progress of the magazine at the monthly budget meeting.
“Oh..” Arthit coughs as he feels his cheeks heat up.
“Exactly.” She says, firmly.
“I guess, two years, four months, one hour and about 5 minutes.” Arthit answers, stones in his stomach.
“Right!” Earth claps her hands together thrice and gives him the look she gave Som-oh when the intern had tried to pretend she had personally whipped up the Starbucks coffee that she had poured secretly into Earth’s special mug. “And when exactly are you going to tell Kongpob?”
Panicked butterflies start to circle Arthit’s lower intestines and his heart threatens to leap through his mouth, “What do you mean? Tell him?”
“When are you going to tell Kongpob you like him? Love him? Are In Love with him?” She calmly crosses one endless leg over the other and lowers her glasses with a finger as she scrutinises him.
Arthit wishes he was anywhere but here.
“Umm.. never?” He squeaks out, trying to avoid her piercing gaze.
“Are you sure about that?”
Now she sounds like a psychotherapist, and Arthit would know, he’s met a few in his time.
“Why would I tell him? He has a girlfriend.”
Earth shakes her head.
“He doesn’t have a girlfriend?”
“Oh, but I thought he and Prae…”
Earth starts to laugh heartily and then reaches out to pivot one of her photo frames with one fingertip. The picture is Earth in a long white gown, Prae in a similar one pressed at her side. There’s a blazing sun sinking into the sea behind them, and they are kissing.
“Yes, Arthit, Oh! I thought you knew.. but then, we aren’t exactly demonstrative at work.. it would be a little out of context for the boss to go around kissing our fashion expert.”
“Yes, quite. But..”
“But nothing. Kongpob is single. You are single?”
“Yes..” Arthit is beginning to wonder if his boss is planning to play Cupid, and if so, how he can escape her presence because he is definitely not ready for that.
But then she continues to speak. And what she says has him desperate for her help.
“You’re in love with Kongpob?” He nods, bashfully. “Kongpob is in love with you. Therefore…”
“What? You didn’t know that either?”
“Umm..” Arthit shakes his head, then twists his chair to look behind him, jaw dropping open when he spots the magazine’s gorgeous, dark-haired photographer hurriedly glancing away from Earth’s office and picking up one of his many cameras, bringing it to his eye… the lens poking him in the face.
Kongpob blushes and quickly flips the camera, looking deliberately away from where Arthit’s jaw has dropped.
“See?” Earth asks pointedly.
Arthit turns back, missing the way Kongpob’s eyes quickly flick back to the office and follow him.
“Does he.. know?”
Earth laughs gently. “In all your conversations with Kongpob has he ever dropped even the tiniest hint that he might like you?”
“I.. umm.. no.. I’m sure he hasn’t.” Arthit has quickly run through their hundreds of interactions in his memory.. wondering. But all he can see is himself making heart eyes at Kong, mostly from a distance, often involving fumbling with some piece of stationary or a desk or a person or a door between them.
“Then.. he’s obviously unaware that you like him. If he knew, he would surely make it clear that he likes you. Kongpob is a gentleman, he would never force his confession on someone if he thought they didn’t want it.” Earth is still smiling and even reaches over to pat his arm gently.
“So.. why are you telling me? Why didn’t you tell him that I like him?”
“I’m not sure if you are ready for Kongpob’s brand of flirting Arthit. You blush like a tomato when you accidentally spill something or say the wrong name in a meeting or are two minutes late for work. I thought if you knew, then you could decide yourself how to go about getting his attention. If you want to?”
Arthit takes a moment to process her words, feeling grateful that she has given him this chance to decide what to do about it. Naturally shy, he’s hesitant to share any feelings unless he knows they are returned.
And now he knows that the most attractive, kindest and friendliest guy he’s ever met likes him back.. well, perhaps he feels ready to do something about it!
“I’m going to ask him out!”
Earth steeples her fingers, then drops her chin on top of her clasped hands, “You are? How?”
Arthit grins at her, “How could a head writer ask out the chief photographer?”
Then he stands, offers her his hand in thanks and marches out of her office head held high.
On his way past Kongpob’s desk, he even manages to give him one of his blinding grins, missing the way the photographer fumbles and almost drops his Leica.
The next day, he puts the finishing touch to his article and then hits print. Sliding it from his printer and into a plastic wallet, he heads for Earth’s office, knocking gently.
When she calls out for him to come in, he finds Prae seated opposite his boss, holding up a creamy pastry.
“Oh, Arthit, how are you?” She asks him, standing up to offer him the seat.
But he shakes his head, “No, no, it’s fine, I’m just here to ask Earth to check my work, quickly. Then I’ll leave you to your breakfast.”
Prae nods and goes back to slicing the food into pieces, separating the piles of pastry and cream onto two plates then sliding one over towards Earth who lightly squeezes her fingers as she accepts it.
“Come on then, I don’t have all day,” she barks at Arthit, who fumbles the plastic wallet into her hand.
She scans it quickly, a smile spreading over her face.
“Perfect! Yes! This is just right. I think it’s ready.”
“What are you working on?” Prae asks through a mouthful of food.
“Don’t do that, P, please!” Earth moans lightly and Prae covers her mouth, giggles and apologises politely. “It’s Arthit’s proposition for Kongpob!”
“Hey!” Arthit protests, “It was supposed to be a secret!”
“Your feelings were supposed to be a secret? In this office?” Prae asks, covering her hand with her mouth and giggling again.
“You mean, you know?” Arthit asks.
Prae laughs even more until Earth has to lean over and tap her on the back and offer her a drink of her juice to help her clear her throat.
“I know. Earth knows. Bright knows.. heck I think almost the whole office aside from you and Kong are aware of your feelings for each other.. we might have a betting pool running and everything…”
“You weren’t supposed to tell him that Prae!” Earth scolds and then turns to Arthit who might be, sort of, hyperventilating quietly beside them.
“Look,” she continues, “We all just wanted one of you to finally step up and confess! You guys would be so lovely together. We think you’d be perfect for one another and it’s been more than two years.. we just want you to be happy.”
He looks between the two women. Prae is nodding her head and smiling sweetly, Earth looks more serious but also pretty certain.
“Will you two win then, if I confess today?”
“No, actually, it’ll be our cleaner, Miss Lee.” Prae says, smiling. “I think it’s a good day to do it, she deserves a little treat.”
Arthit smiles at the thought. She’s a sweet little lady who always takes care of him by bringing him tea when he’s tired. It would be nice for her to win the bet, even if he’s a bit mad that the whole office has been betting on him in the first place.
“Right. Well, I have to do it today anyway.. because of the date on the article..”
“Exactly!” Prae says enthusiastically.
“Now?” Earth asks and Arthit nods firmly.
“Can we watch?” Prae asks, grinning.
“No! I’ll take him in the break room.. can you.. maybe, dissuade people from coming in?”
Prae and Earth share a look then offer him identical smiles, “We can try!”
So that’s how Arthit ends up nervously pacing the small break room, wondering if he should just stand still and maybe make a coffee for something to do with his shaking hands, when Kongpob bursts in.
“Hey Arthit.” He gives him the same grin he gives everyone and Arthit feels sweat pooling in the crevice of his collarbones. Maybe Earth and Prae are wrong and Kongpob has no special feelings for him after all?
“Earth said you have a story for me to photograph?”
“Oh,” Arthit has stopped pacing and is standing by his bag. Hesitantly, he reaches for his article. “I wasn’t sure if.. I mean I.. I think..”
Before he can formulate a full sentence, Kongpob has already taken the file from him and Arthit watches with baited breath as the photographer scans the page.
“Arthit?” He asks, eyes on him, voice hopeful, “Is this true?”
“I.. it’s just.. I mean you don’t have to...If you don’t feel..”
This time, Kongpob cuts him off by stepping right into his personal space. His eyes are lit up, there’s a smirk curling his lips and he’s breathing deeply.
He raises one large hand and Arthit tracks its movement as it comes to hover next to his cheek.
Kongpob looks at him, eyes asking for his permission.
Arthit nods once and Kongpob’s fingertips lightly brush his reddening skin, “So beautiful.” Kong breathes out.
“I’m not beautiful.. I’m handsome.” Arthit whispers and Kong’s smile stretches impossibly wide, his eyes disappearing into his eyelids.
“Yes, you are. Very, very handsome.” He replies. “So handsome that I’ve wanted to photograph you for a long time.”
“How long?” Arthit asks, feeling brave as his own hand lifts to rest on one broad shoulder, Kongpob’s muscles flexing slightly under his fingers.
“About.. two years, four months, one hour and five minutes. Ever since your cheeks dimpled as you smiled at me for the first time.”
“Oh.” Arthit says, cheeks dimpling as his smile takes over.
“Yes,” Kongpob’s whispers, “That smile, those dimples.”
Arthit knows he’s never going to recover from this moment as Kongpob’s fingers dip into the dimples of his cheek, “Right.. well I.. feel the same.” He says, trying to make his confession.
“You do, do you?” Kong asks, eyes even brighter as he grins wildly, “That’s good to know. A very passionate declaration!” Arthit lifts his other arm and hits his chest lightly.
But Kongpob just lifts his free hand to trap Arthit’s, splayed over his chest. It feels so good to have their hands caressing each other, that Arthit shivers.
“I’m going to kiss you now, okay?” Kongpob says, eyes locked on Arthit’s.
“Okay. I..” but the rest of Arthit’s sentence is swallowed by warm lips and then by a firm tongue.
His article drops to the floor, face up.
Head Writer Secretly In Love with Chief Photographer.
Arthit Rojnapat, twenty-six, admitted yesterday that his passion for chief photographer of Cassette Magazine, Kongpob Sutthiluk, twenty-four, began from the second minute that he knew him. His desire to watch him in action, photographing his models, grew from their first meeting, where Kongpob managed to make Arthit smile for the first ever time in a security photo.
However, when interviewed, Mr Rojnapat admitted that he had kept his desires a secret due to his extreme timidity when it comes to matters of the heart. Mr Rojnapat (pictured, top left) has suffered from crippling shyness since he was a young man and fears that any relationship would have a difficult beginning because of it. His tendency to babble when attempting to discuss his feelings is an ongoing challenge that he would like to overcome.
Specifically, he would like to overcome it with the support of Mr Sutthiluk (pictured, top right) with whom, despite his overwhelming feelings of love, he has always felt comfortable.
Arthit told Cassette Magazine that he would particularly like to declare his feelings today due to an ongoing bet that his co-workers are participating in. He said, “If I manage to confess today, then the beneficiary will be the most deserving of all our colleagues, Miss Lee, who does a marvellous job of looking after us all.”
When asked how he planned to confess, Arthit admitted, “I have no idea.. I mean, I plan to give him this article and then.. wing it, I guess?”
We wish Mr Rojnapat all the best as he pursues the greatest story of all.. his Love Story!
“Did I win?” Bright yells, bursting through the break room door just as Arthit and Kongpob draw back.
“No,” Kongpob grins, lacing his fingers with Arthit’s, “I did!”