Mew Suppasit rolled his shoulders, his fingers automatically rising to massage the aching spot near his neck. He has been standing in front of the white board for hours, eyes glued to the blue lines of the value chain analysis he has drawn up. But he felt like something, something was missing and he hasn’t been able to point out what exactly. He could almost taste the opportunity that this project could present but identifying it was proving to be more and more difficult with each passing hour. He unbuttoned the top button of his crisp white shirt, turning around to grab the glass of water from his desk and take a sip.
At that exact moment, someone knocked on his door. Mew raised an eyebrow. Without his secretary notifying him, it could be only one person who dared to enter his office like that. Without waiting for a reply, the dark mahogany door was pushed open to reveal Ohm Thitiwat. The man was sporting a soft smile, greeting the CEO with a small wai before his eyes were drawn to the white board.
“I see you already started the preparations for the NF project. That explain why you didn’t see my email.” He hummed, picking up the marker and twirling it around his fingers.
Mew rubbed his neck, feeling the exhaustion down to his bones as he leaned against his desk, his eyes on his employee turned best friend.
“I feel like something is missing, something that could give us a direction for the project but even though I combed through all the reports, I came up empty handed. It’s frustrating.” He admitted it. “I assume your email was important if you came to me by yourself to tell me about it?”
“Not so much, just some insights and ROI on the triple bottom line from the project we closed last week.” He turned around with a wave of his hand, approaching his senior. “With all due respect Mew, you look like shit. When was the last time you slept more than 4 hours?”
“I needed to go through some files and internal affair reports last night.” Mew knew he was dodging the real problem, avoiding the steady gaze of the other man.
“And last week?”
“We were closing the project you just mentioned.”
“And the week before?”
“We needed to finish the pitch for NF.”
“Mew.” The calm voice of Ohm made shame rise within him but he clamped down the ugly feeling. “You are burning yourself out. Next year you are turning 30 and what can you say about your achievements? Yes, you’ve established your own company, MSJ and drove it to success within the industrial engineering field. You’ve been recognized by investors and clients for your creativity and critical thinking. From a college student through hard work you became a wealthy businessman, all before turning 30. But what about your personal relationships?”
Mew’s fingers tightened at the edge of the desk which he was gripping. This was definitely a topic that he wanted to avoid.
“When was the last time you’ve been on a date? When was the last time you took the chance to get to know someone more than just a hook up?” Ohm’s tone was tinged with concern for his friend. “Whatever you do on the business field is fantastic but you are seriously lacking in your personal life.”
“I have you as my best friend for more than 10 years now.” Mew mumbled but the words sounded childish even to his own ears.
“Yes and ever since we started working together, you barely hang out with me outside of the office. You need to socialize outside of your business circles, Mew.” Ohm fished his phone out of his dark blue suit pants, swiftly unlocking it. “I have two tickets for a charity event that a major clothing brand is organizing, tonight at 10pm. Let’s attend and talk to people outside of the industrial engineering field for a change.” His lips pulled into a small smile as he wiggled his eyebrows. “I’ve heard the models of the brand will be attending too.”
“Models. Entitled and arrogant, just because they have pretty faces.” Mew rolled his eyes before letting out a sigh, his posture relaxing as all the fight went out of him. “But alright, I accept your invitation to the charity event, maybe it will be refreshing to experience a different atmosphere.”
“Maybe it will be a good change for you.” Ohm winked, pocketing his phone and turning on his heel to exit the office. “Don’t forget to look at your emails!”
“Raise your chin up a bit.” Gulf distantly registered the instruction, his head automatically moving to obey. After more than 5 years in the modeling industry, he did most of his photoshoots on autopilot, his body attuned to the camera and his usual poses. His eyes were aching and dry from the bright lights and constant flashing, his back stiff from standing in various ‘cool’ positions in the last hour but he knew he was close to finishing for tonight. He just needed to survive a couple more minutes.
“Turn and look over your shoulder, head tilted backwards.” The photographer instructed and Gulf followed his words.
He wondered when he became like this, distancing himself mentally from his daily work and soldering through the day without much emotions. He used to thrive on praises, the awe-struct gazes at his professionalism, the excited clapping for his next creative work from big brand names. He guessed it all faded when he realized that all of this was a shiny facade with nothing substantial behind it. They didn’t need him per say. They needed a mannequin, a bio decor to stand there and do as he was told. As long as he was young and pretty, work kept pouring in, his manager could barely handle it. But what will happen when he will turn 30? That was still 7 years away but he doubted he would be able to last that long in the modeling industry, even with a cherubic face like his.
“Done, thank you.” The monotone words pulled him out of his musings as the photographer let down his camera, turning the the crew.
Gulf made a wai, his joints dully aching from all the posing and headed toward his changing room to change into his everyday clothes and wrap up the day.
He was already envisioning drawing a soothing bubble bath with his new lilac-scented bath cream when he heard footsteps behind him. He whirled around, panic rising in his throat.
“Guuuulf!” It was just Fluke, his fellow model who proclaimed himself his best friend the first day they met.
“You scared me.” Gulf patted his chest for a second before pulling his shirt over his head, happy to be finally free from the itchy material.
“Sorry, I wanted to surprise you.” Fluke giggled, his whole face lighting up and Gulf knew that he could never be mad at his friend, he was too cute for words. “Are you coming to the party tonight?”
“Party?” Gulf raised one of his full eyebrows. As far as he knew, there was no party taking place tonight that he was invited to.
“Charity event, almost a party.” Fluke plopped down in his makeup chair, twisting from side to side in excitement. “I’ve heard we will have people from our partner network attending! Imagine all the businessmen in perfect suits!” He let out a soft groan at the mental image which drew a chuckle from Gulf.
“Leave me alone with your office sex fantasies, I don’t care much for that. Businesspeople are as boring and fake as models, if not more. They usually don’t even have the looks that we have at least.” He shrugged his shoulders, shimmying into his pants and pulling on his jacket.
“What if I tell you…” Fluke eyes glittered with mischief which was never a good sign. “... that this event will be attended by people from MSJ?”
“As if Mew Suppasit would attend an event like that.” Gulf tamped down his kindling excitement. “That man is more jaded than your grandma. He doesn’t care about fashion nor the models who will be attending. Besides, where did you get that info from?” He regarded the shorter man with narrowed eyes.
“From a very trusted source.” Fluke beamed, getting up from the makeup chair. “I am 100% sure that Mew Suppasit will attend tonight’s event which we are also invited to. It’s on you to find out if I’m right or not.”
Gulf sighed, unable to deny his interest in the event after this revelation.
“Alright Fluke, which suit of mine should I wear tonight?”