When the capable, do it all secretary of a narcissistic entrepreneur decides to quit, chaos ensues.
James wants to leave his job of 7 years to pursue a career in writing, but his boss finds it hard to let him go.
It’s 6am in the morning as James Lim parked the company car in the driveway of one of the luxury bungalows at Sentosa.
While most of the people who work in an office are still asleep, James is already up and ready to start his day by 5am. On paper he works from 9am to 6pm but in reality he’s clocking between 16 to 18 hours a day.
Entering the password to the 20 Million dollar bungalow with its private berth for a yacht, he switched on the lights in the living room and removed his leather shoes. Slipping into his pair of bedroom slippers, he walked quickly to the kitchen and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt.
After donning an apron, he put the water to boil and checked the menu on the fridge. 5 minutes later he has eggs and bacon sizzling on the stove while he brews a pot of fresh coffee.
Popping a slice of sourdough bread into the toaster, he begins to arrange the breakfast onto the serving tray, plating the food alongside with yogurt, fresh fruits and salad.
After he is done with breakfast preparations, he looks at his Casio watch and nods, satisfied that he is on schedule.
James brings the food up to the second floor of the large bungalow. He can see the light spilling out from under the door of the master bedroom.
She is already awake.
I’m sure you would have guessed by now that James is not the owner of this luxury bungalow. It belongs to his boss, Elene.
At 28 years old, Elene is the CEO of the company she founded.
A multi-million dollar company that specialises in women’s clothing and accessories with factories in China, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Her brand is carried internationally and she employs close to 300 employees in 8 cities.
She started it all when she was just 21. Within a short span of 7 years, she has achieved much more than what the average girl her age does in a lifetime.
Of course having a dad who is one of the few billionaires in Singapore helped too.
Besides owning her own company, Elene is slated to take over the conglomerate from her father when he retires in less than 2 years’ time. In fact, she has already started to take on some of the responsibilities that her father threw to her.
The bedroom door opened and Elene stepped out in her silk pyjamas. The expression on her face told James that the day is going to be a long one.
Elene is one who would turn heads if you see her along the road. With sharp features that would put most modern day actresses to shame, Elene has that ice queen look that stabs shards of ice into men’s hearts when she stares at them.
She hardly smiles but when she does, hearts melt and deals are quickly concluded.
At 1.63m tall, Elene is blessed with an hourglass figure. She hardly works out but seems to always be able to keep herself looking fabulous through what others say is black magic.
Elene has a nice pair of legs that when paired with a stunning pair of heels, belong on the runway at the top fashion capitals of the world.
Everything about her is perfect. She can choose not to put on makeup and still knock the wind out of your lungs.
Some people think she is a vase. Other people think she is nothing without her billionaire father.
There’s nothing of that sort though. James knows.
He knows how hard she works.
Everyone sees only the glam on the outside. But how many people actually know that Elene keeps 18 hour days, 7 days a week?
You can say all you like about Elene being a rich daddy’s girl without substance of her own but there is no way she could have come this far on just parental support alone. Besides there is only so much hand holding that your daddy can do.
James knows that Elene has everything she has today purely through her sheer determination and hard work. He knows that because he was her first employee. The only one that stuck through with her despite her impossible to please attitude and unreasonable demands.
Elene is well known in the industry to be difficult to work with.
And for employees like James, she is impossible to work for.
“JAMES!” Elene shouts as he sets the tray down at the balcony overlooking the infinity pool.
“What time is my meeting with the board?“ She asked without looking up from her phone.
“9.30am, in their office.”
“Where is the file with the agenda? What did my father throw to me this time round?” She demanded as she bit into the toasted bread and dusted crumbs off her manicured fingers.
“You brought it back from office last night; you said you want to read it before you sleep. It’s about the hotel site he bought at Orchard road..”
“I didn’t have time to read it. Can you bring it to me?”
“Right away.” James replied.
Walking to Elene’s bedroom, James opened the door and fought back a sigh.
How can such a beautiful woman live with such a mess in her room?
From the entrance, he saw the file on her study table. But instead of charting a straight course to the table, he took a longer route, picking up worn underwear, damp sports bras, worn socks and workout tights from the floor before depositing them in the laundry basket.
This is nothing new to James. He has grown accustomed to seeing the slob in Elene.
3 years older than Elene, James has seen it all.
He took the job because it offered him the highest pay back then. With only a diploma under his belt, this was the only job that was willing to pay him more than $2000 a month.
He needed the money for his grandmother’s medical bills.
When he first started working for Elene, he thought that she was a mad woman. On top of the verbal abuse, the long working hours and the crude comments and insults, James had to take care of Elene’s every need.
From making coffee and tea, to making sure her clothes come back on time from the dry cleaners, to making reservation for her travel plans. Basically every damn thing that a secretary does.
Initially, people eyed with him with curiosity. Why would a guy choose to do all that for Elene? Some think that he likes Elene and he wanted a shot at becoming the prospective son in law of a billionaire. But that could not be further from the truth.
Some think that he’s sick, mentally that is. Some think that he is Elene’s boy toy, kept especially for when it comes to satisfying her needs, if you get what I mean.
However, over time, everyone has come to respect him.
This includes Elene’s billionaire father George.
No one except James can put up with her shit.
No one except James can put up with her narcissistic behaviour.
No one except James can endure her verbal abuse, her insults, put on a straight face and still get things done.
Not even Elene’s father.
No one except James has access to Elene’s schedule and he is the one to look for if you want to meet Elene. He is slated to become the 2nd most powerful person in the company when Elene takes over in entirety.
James finds it amusing that George has to call him in order to remind Elene to go home for reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s eve.
It was not all a bed of roses for James.
The 1st two years were especially hard for James when he needed to juggle between work and taking care of his grandmother. She has since passed on but James still held on to his position.
Why you ask?
Because of the hospital bills chalked up over the years. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. He has to pay it all off in order for him to truly be free.
Picking up the file, he notices that Elene’s phone is plugged in but is not charging. He switches on the power and walks to her walk-in wardrobe. The lights came on automatically as he approaches and he opens her drawer of lingerie.
“Monday… Board meeting…. Grumpy mood… Black it is.” He mumbles.
Picking out a set of matching lace lingerie, James sets it down on the bench and selects 2 pant suits for Elene, hanging them up within her line of sight.
Choosing and buying lingerie may not have been part of his job scope when James first started but over time his job scope gradually expended.
Sure he’s getting a higher pay now, not to mention having a charge all you want credit card courtesy of the company but with great power, comes great responsibilities. Or in this case, great ‘shit taking’ capabilities.
He hands the file to Elene who was biting down on a piece of papaya.
“Shall I ask the day helper to come over today?“ James asks.
“Ok.” Elene answered while flipping through the file.
“I picked out your clothes in the walk in. Do you want me to run your bath?“
“Alright, I’ll clean up after you are done eating and wait for you by the car.“ He replies.
Removing the apron, James brings the dishes to the sink and sends a text to the cleaning agency. They will have their staff come over in the afternoon for a few hours and the place will be as good as new when Elene comes back in the evening.
After a 30 minutes wait, Elene walks out with her Himalayan Birkin purse and a pair of shades from Gucci.
“How do I look?“ Elene asks, twirling around to show off the clothes that James had picked.
“Absolutely amazing.” He answers with a straight face.
“The Wraith or the Phantom?“ James asked.
Without bothering to reply James, Elene walks over to the Phantom.
Getting into the driver’s seat, James starts the engine and within minutes, they were cruising down the expressway towards the board meeting.
James parked at a dedicated lot in front of the office tower before opening the door for Elene. The guards and doormen upon seeing the heiress of the empire, all scrambled to look sharp.
Elene had fired a guard just because his shirt was a little crumpled and had retired a director because he talked back to her.
James put on his coat and walked 2 steps behind Elene with his tablet in hand and 3 phones in his pocket.
One personal phone and 2 work phones. As he walked, he used his phone to place an order for a soy milk latte with an extra shot, topped with cinnamon powder to be delivered immediately. After sending the order, he looks toward the café that is attached to the office like a tumour that does not belong, catching the eye of the staff.
The staff immediately started their preparations, knowing fully well that the subsidised rent they are receiving came from the grace of the princess that reigns here.
A bronze letter E the size of a car hung embossed in the opulent lobby of the family’s building. E for the Eng family.
Receptionists stood up and security uncles cleared the way for Elene as if the prime minister himself had just arrived in the building.
Stepping into a private lift, James hit the button for the top floor after scanning his access card.
“I want my coffee James.” Elene warned.
“It will be on your table before the meeting starts.”
When the private lift opened, the receptionists were on their feet.
The managers stood by in case she needed anything.
Elene walked straight into her father’s office. Without wasting a single second, she switched on his computer and immediately started replying the hundreds of emails she gets when she sleeps.
James shut the door and he could feel everyone in the office heave a sigh of relief.
No massive tantrum from the princess today.
Turning to see the line of people coming towards him, he started with the operations director of EbrandX.
“James, I need the operating budget for the new department Elene wanted signed off by today.” He said.
“It’s done. I have sent the documents to finance.”
“Oh thank you so much brother.“ He gave James a hug and promised to buy him lunch.
Next in line was Brenda, the product manager who looked like she did not sleep the whole night.
“James, James, there is an issue with the factory in Cambodia. Their output dropped 50% due to a fire in the warehouse. We cannot…”
“Brenda… don’t tell her something like that, she will flip…” James said. “Send the orders to Vietnam and give Ngyuen a call.”
James pulled up a contact card from his tablet and Brenda quickly took a photo.
“Ngyuen’s team can do miracles….” James said.
“What about the increase in cost?“ Brenda asked. “We’re looking at another 20% increase for this if Ngyuen does it.”
“I’ll talk to Elene when she is in a good mood; just make sure her new line ships out on time.”
“Brenda, look at me.” James said. “The new line…. Ships on time. Period. I’ll talk to Elene about the money.”
“Oh thank you so much James!” Brenda said before giving him a tight hug.
After fending off a few other colleagues demanding for Elene’s attention, James was surprised to see Nicole walking over to him. It’s not often that the COO, (Chief Operating Officer) of EbrandX has a favour to ask from him.
Especially when Nicole is Elene’s BFF since Primary school.
“James… how is she today? She in a good mood?“ Nicole asked.
“George dumped a hotel on her and she is going to meet the board in 10 minutes.“ James said professionally. “She’s not in the best of moods today for bad news.”
“Oh fuck this. Then I won’t tell her yet… Is her weekly spa appointment still on?“
“Yes, tomorrow at 3pm. I suggest you meet her at the spa at 5pm if it’s bad news, at least she can take it after her massage.“ James offered.
“Ok. sounds good. I’ll see you tomorrow at the spa James…. it’s a bit of a bad news.“ Nicole said.
“A hiccup I would say.”
James waited to hear more. With Nicole, there is always more.
“The CFO (Chief Finance Officer) just tendered her resignation.” Nicole said. “I was at HR within minutes but there’s no stopping her.”
“Megan is leaving? Why?“ James asked in shock.
“Her husband was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor gave him one year at the most.”
“Oh my god.”
“Yeah, I have a massive headache now and the last thing I need is for Elene to freak out on me when I break the news to her.” Nicole said as she started waving her hands in the air, asking aloud if anyone has stashed whisky secretly at their desk because she needs a drink.
“Anyway, nevermind. I’ll do it after her spa tomorrow.” Nicole said as the lift door opened and James saw the café staff bringing in Elene’s coffee.
It’s time for the board meeting. The board members are arriving and filing into the board room.
James knocked on Elene’s door and she knew it’s time.
Getting up from her seat, she walked over to James, took her coffee and entered the board room without a word.
The heavy wooden door shut and James exhaled, thinking of how to bring up the conversation with Elene.
After a bit of deliberation, James walked over to the HR department.
He knocked on the door and saw Nicole speaking in a hushed voice to the HR director Cindy.
“Yes James? Can I help you?” Cindy asked.
“Yeah… you can.” He said.
Pulling out an envelope from his coat jacket, James handed it to Cindy.
“I’m tendering my resignation.”
There was a moment of silence around the room.
Then Nicole fainted, Cindy fell off her chair and the remaining HR staff in the office started screaming.
“Fuck…” James mumbled under his breath.
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