Collaboration

    Emmi nervously walks into the restaurant kitchen apprehensive after her disastrous first night at work. She notices two servers by the lockers looking in her direction. Emmi decides to ignore the awkward atmosphere as she puts her purse into her assigned locker. While bending down to pick up a pen she dropped she hears Mrs. Huang’s stern voice, “Chen Emmi, come to my office.” Emmi hurries behind her thinking she sounds irritated. Is she upset about last night?

   When they enter the office Mrs. Huang says, “Sit.”

   Emmi sits down and Mrs. Huang paces around the small room, “Are you still going to say you don’t know the CEO?”

   “I really don’t…honestly.”

  Mrs. Huang has had several servers complain about the situation last night. She likes to treat all the workers fairly to avoid jealousy among the employees. It disrupts the flow in the kitchen and restaurant when there are conflicts. “Then how do you explain the fact that last night the CEO requested your service then excused you from work. Now tonight the CEO instructed you to serve his brother in the CEO’s private room.”

  “What? I thought tonight I would train with a server in the main room.”

  “I can’t refuse a request from the CEO of the hotel.” She sighs, “I will be honest if I knew you had a connection to the Han Family I wouldn’t have hired you. Coming in the back door causes disharmony among the staff. Ming’s cousin Peng said you are a struggling student which is why we hired you.”

  “Mrs. Huang I am a struggling student! Until last night I never met CEO Han or his brother.”

    Mrs. Huang studies Emmi’s reaction,“I believe you. Anyway, he won’t be arriving until seven so until then stay by the food line and study the dishes. Help any server that needs help.”

  “I will.”

   Mrs. Huang rubs her temple and takes her anti anxiety medication, “Go.” Ming better come back from Catang City soon!

   Emmi leaves the office, What is going on? Wang Hao was with CEO Han, maybe he knows something. She takes her phone out of her pocket. She sends a WeChat message then quickly deletes it. No… I should just do my job.

  Zhen Sihao [Something?]

  [No. Wrong person.]

  He puts down his phone and looks at his watch, the little girl should be at work. Who was she messaging?

    Emmi hangs out in the kitchen studying the dishes and helping servers carry out food. She ignores the mutterings of the other servers and quietly works as her coworkers resentfully glare at her. At seven o’clock she warily walks to CEO Han’s private room holding some menus. Han Chao gets up from the couch and takes the menus from her hand. “Didn’t Mrs Huang tell you that you are my dinner guest tonight?”

  “No. What is going on?”

  “Do you want a glass of wine?”

  “No.” Emmi turns to leave, “ I think I need to go talk to Mrs. Huang.” 

   When she reaches the door a server comes into the room. He is the server who was looking at the calendar last night when I first arrived at work. “Chen Emmi I will be the server Mrs. Huang said for you to accompany Mr. Han to eat.”

   “What?” This is too weird! 

  The server gently pulls her to the side, “Chen Emmi, don’t make problems. Last night you made me lose money…just do it. I need the money and Han Chao is a big tipper.”

   She looks up at him, “What are the other servers going to think?” 

   “They don’t know, Mrs. Huang said I am training you.”

   Emmi glances over at Han Chao who has an expectant look on his face, does he like me? No..I heard he is dating Lili. Well, it is just dinner.. “Okay.”

   The server breathes a sigh of relief, last night was not profitable and he only succeeded in drawing the attention of a drunk middle aged agent. He shivers thinking about the obese woman stumbling into him while trying to shove her room card into his hand. The thought of her fleshy hand on his makes him feel sick.

   Han Chao walks over and tells the server, “Zongmeng bring two bottles of 1985 Lafite Bordeaux.”

   After he leaves Han Chao blurts out, “Chen Emmi, I want to collaborate with you on the theme song for ‘The General’s Secret Lover’.

   “No. If this is why you asked me here well I should go.” She turns to leave. I guess I won’t be working at Ming’s any longer. 

   “Wait! Hear me out.”

  Emmi  stops, “Mr. Han I told you last night I am not a professional singer nor do I want to be one.”

   He takes out his phone, “Last night someone on the next balcony took a video of us singing then uploaded it. The video is trending.. the number one top search.”

   Emmi’s face pales and she purses her lips, “Can you get rid of it?!?” She looks at his phone and her heart starts racing thinking the worst. After seeing the angle she pats her chest, because of how tall Han Chao is and the way I am standing my face isn’t exposed. It says a mystery woman with Kang Jin. “You need to get this taken down!”

  Han Chao looks at her worried expression, “I thought you would be excited. This could be a big break for you. Look at all the positive comments and reposts.”

  Emmi’s green eyes turn dark with a fire burning in them as she watches the video, “Mr. Kang, not everyone wants to be in the Entertainment business! If my name is attached to the video it will cause me a lot of trouble! A LOT OF TROUBLE! You need to get your people to take it down!” Oh my God, Cousin Chloe and Uncle Yihong will throw a fit! They are already angry about the Art Studio deed and this well…I don’t want to think of the consequences. They have been doing everything in their power for Cousin Chloe to debut..why..why…

  Han Chao has an idea to coerce Emmi, his eyes light up, “I can have it taken down immediately if you do me a favor.”

  “What favor?”

  The server comes in with the wine and Han Chao says, “Have a glass of wine and listen to my proposal.”

   Emmi nervously gulps down the wine, “What?”

  “Sit down and relax. If you don’t want your identity exposed it can easily be taken care of by my people.”

   She sits at the table and the server refills Emmi’s wine glass. Nie Zongmeng lips curl up, drink up this wine is 50,000 yuan a bottle. Han Chao tells him to leave and come back in ten minutes for their dinner order.

    Emmi clenches her fists on her lap,“Then hurry and tell me so you can delete the video and anything related to it.’

   “Simple… record the theme song with me.”

   Emmi slams her hand on the table. She angrily raises her voice “Do you not speak human language! Forget it! I will figure out a way.” 

   Han Chao’s musician friend who is sitting quietly on the couch spits out his beer, “Holy Shit!” I have never heard a chick talk to Chao like that!

  Emmi hadn’t noticed the man until he started laughing. She finishes her wine and stands up cursing under her breath at the two men.

   Han Chao grabs her hand, “Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions! I promise I have a way no one will know the singer is you and I will pay you 50,000 USD… cash.”

    Emmi can’t resist the lure of money, she shakes off his hand, “No one will know it is me and I get 50,000 not yuan but dollars?”

  “Yes.”

  “I agree if what you promised is true. Now, remove the video and all traces from the internet. Hurry.”

  He takes out his phone calling his assistant, “Remove the video from the balcony at Ming’s. Get rid of all traces.” He hands his phone across the table, “Give it a minute.”

  Emmi stares at the phone then looks up at Han Chao who has a devilish grin on his face. She hands him back the phone, “Wow… how did.. nevermind..what is your plan?”

    “You can use the name you used at the Black Dragon Club, Fang Jiao. All you need to do is come to my recording studio probably about six times. It is a private studio attached to my villa, my security is extremely tight. The only people present will be..” He points towards the couch, “Dong He.” Dong He tips his cap. “Miss Chen.” 

   Han Chao continues, “And two sound engineers who are very discreet.”

   Emmi drinks her wine, “What about public appearances? I won’t participate.”

  “I have that covered. I will say you are an artist borrowed from a company abroad and you went back to England. I have a girl in mind to pose as Fang Jiao if needed.”

   Emmi runs her slender finger around the rim of the wine glass. Curious about his motive she says,“Mr. Han I have to ask, why go to so much trouble. There are so many singers better than I am who would love to sing with you. Aren’t you dating Lili ? She has a beautiful voice.”

   “I have my reasons…and Lili and I are are only friends.”

   “Well, I don’t want to sound pretentious, but am very busy. I have school, a fashion design presentation due soon and I am working on a business venture. When did you want to schedule the sessions?”

   “I am flexible I will be in Bashu City for the next month. The theme song needs to be completed during this time before the movie goes into production. I have the score finished and am completing the lyrics. I brought it with me if you would like to take a look. We could eat then go over the song together.”

   “Sounds good.”$50,00 yeah! So much money just to sing one song!




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