"Now, Mr. Alan. I would like to be frank with you. What's the catch?"
Alan was organizing his thoughts while eating. The waiter was fast. He had brought Arash’s orders immediately.
The waiter filled up Arash's glass with plain water after passing a bowl of edamame and a complementary chawaimushi to him, on the house. The waiter walked away with a smile while both Arash and Alan made a surprised expression. In Alan’s heart, he wondered why wasn't he being given a free gift before although he frequented the restaurant heavily? This guy only complimented the food on the menu once, and he was already being given one for free?
However, he understood the waiter's sentiment. This person's vibe was so compelling; one couldn't help but feel only goodwill towards him.
Anyone who didn't meet Arash in person wouldn't understand this enigma.
He wasn't cool, charming, or extremely good looking. He was just another average Joe.
This was also the reason why Alan chose to extend an olive branch to him. A small part of it was due to being satisfied with his work ethics, while the other was due to his deep curiosity towards this unknown man. He knew himself well. Regardless of how excellent someone's records were, and how they brought themselves in front of him, he will never be moved. Zero empathy.
The biggest question was, why did the previous department manager wasn’t affected by this person? Even viewing him like an arch enemy?
Arash was patiently waiting for Mr. Alan's reply. He needed to know the consequences. Nothing was a free lunch in this world. There must be something the other party hoped to obtain from him. He needed to gauge whether he could accommodate Mr. Alan's request, or to just resign and be free from any entanglements. It was better to come clean now rather than later. He already learned his lesson with Mr. Rama. Because he delayed too long, and maybe didn't sound too sincere, ultimately, Mr. Rama viewed him as an enemy to be exterminated.
However, God still pitied him and sent him this second chance to keep his job.
Nonetheless, if Mr. Alan wants him to do something illegal or things that will affect his conscience, he’d rather quit as early as possible. He felt that he didn’t cross that bridge yet.
It seemed that Mr. Alan was in deep thoughts as he kept on spooning some salmon roe into his mouth elegantly. He finally looked up after a while and said, "From now onwards, you will be my people."
Arash blanked out for a second. After adjusting his mind and took a deep breath, he nodded. "I see. Noted."
Even without Mr. Alan stating it out, everyone already viewed Arash as Mr. Alan's subordinate, though it wasn't true. Him moving up without obvious reasons made quite a spectacle these two-three days. Everyone was gossiping about his connection to the devilish VP, Mr. Alan, whispering with each other that he was a long-time spy. He had been feeling so helpless about it.
"Anything else that I need to do?" Arash queried calmly.
"Climb to the highest as fast as possible." Mr. Alan added nonchalantly while eating another tastefully decorated wagyu beef strip.
"Impossible. Mr. Alan should know the GfE Inc. is a multinational company own by a single family, the Godfreys. No one could hold the position of a head branch of a country without being a kin of the family." Arash already did his revision well. He also heard that Mr. Alan was a kin from a Godfrey's branch family. That was why he was so powerful. He heard the mother company had around thirty over subsidiary companies in multiple countries around the world. Besides being asked to become a 'close friend', this was the more logical explanation. But for what reason, it was still a mystery to him.
"As long as you have the will and your work continues to be the crème de la crème amongst the rest, I will make it happen."
It was Arash's turn to show an incredulous look. "Seriously?"
"Yes. Oh, and you can call me Alan. No need to add 'Mister' to it."
Not knowing the significance of removing a 'Mister' from Alan's name, Arash brushed it off and asked hurriedly, "Could I know what is your aim to do this?" He was already sweating. It turned out Mr. Alan was planning something big. He wasn't sure he would be able to be a part of it. Feeling slightly cold feet, he really needed time to think this through.
"It's a secret. Just climb fast through the corporate ladder, and the answer will be revealed to you." Mr. Alan gave him a charming smile. If ladies were to see it, they would have difficulty sleeping for several nights. But, our uncle here was immune to it since he was only thinking of Hana's smile day and night. Additionally, his boss was a male, and he was straight.
"Can I think about it?"
"Oh, and let's meet up at least once a week outside the office. How about next Saturday?"
"No. I'm going trekking." Arash refused automatically.
"Great. Then, I'll come along."
"Seriously?!" Arash was seriously astonished this time.
This! What was the problem with this shameless young man?! Why was he desperately wanting to cling to him?! So awkward! He was going to the settlement again to discuss with Tok Silihan and Elder Jaya about Hana's whereabouts. It wasn't for fun. At this moment, he really wanted to slap his own mouth for accidentally slipping his tongue and letting this curious young man know about his activities.
His impression of the young protégé came crashing down, giving him quite the headache. It was such a rollercoaster. In the office, this Mr. Alan was someone who wouldn't talk unless there was something important. He was famed for his ruthless actions for the benefit of the company. He had never heard of Mr. Alan's outdoor activities. In fact, he heard that Mr. Alan had a mini gym within his personal office space. He had nearly never gone out unless to eat, and Mr. Tze was always accompanying him everywhere.
"Send me the details, the route, and all other necessary information. I can do trekking. I'm fitter than you are." Seeing Arash made a wide O mouth until he could see the partially crushed edamame, he explained curtly.
Returning Arash's wave with an acknowledging nod as he excused himself, Alan chuckled lightly. Surprisingly, his new subordinate was quite funny in some sense. He found that he liked to tease the guy and see him all flustered.
With an obvious helpless expression etched on his face, the guy walked away with two sets of kid's meal, paid by him. After being bribed with food for his kids, at least he stayed and listened to the end to what he had to say. For a second there, Alan could see that Arash was considering to back off. If it happens, that would be bad. He had offended the Sullivans to put the guy there. That Ramanathan guy had quite the connection.
Now, he needed to know Arash better to see whether the man's charisma was just a fluke or was it real.
After that, he would be one step closer to his final goal.