Darren visited once when he was younger with his mother but throughout his adult life, his money and time never seemed to come together in order to make another visit happen.
Though he was glad to be visiting again, he wasn’t in San Myshuno for any of the festivals or food or to do anything fun. He was in San Myshuno for business: to meet Cassia Rivers, a publicist who could hopefully help him develop a marketing strategy for his restaurants.
Darren glanced up at Cassia’s apartment building. For her to be so big why on earth did she work from her apartment?
The building was nice enough but Darren still didn’t understand why she worked from home. For her to be one of her company’s top agents and not work in the shiny building downtown where she would have tons of interns and assistants at her beck and call to fetch her coffee, dry cleaning, or whatever, didn’t make sense.
“She’s on the top floor, huh,” he muttered, knocking on the door. “The woman must be loaded.”
The first thing he noticed when the door opened was the beautiful, modern living room. It was pristine. Darren was quite sure if he was working from home, his living room would be a hot mess. In fact, Darren spends no more than seven hours a day at home- five of those sleeping- and his living room is a hot mess.
“Darren Royale?” A blue-haired woman pushed the front door open, snapping Darren back into reality.
“Yes, hi,” Darren greeted and held out his hand. “Are you Cassia?”
The girl let out a sharp snort. “No. I’m her assistant, Tessa. Ms. Rivers is in her office. Let me just tell her you’re here. The waiting area is downstairs. Follow me.”
He nodded and followed Tessa down the stairs.
Instead of sitting in the waiting area (he didn’t want to have the slightest chance of messing up Cassia’s pristine couches), Darren wandered over to the window. The view was breathtaking and a far cry from the view back home in Oasis Springs. All he could see from his house was Pit Stop out the front and some dusty fields and cacti out back.
Tessa caught his attention. “She’s ready. Just follow me.”
Darren followed her into Cassia’s office. The room wasn’t too large, but, much like the waiting area, various knick-knacks received from previous clients decorated the walls of her office.
Suddenly Darren’s apparent inadequacy overwhelmed him. He could barely afford this woman’s services- he surely didn’t have anything to give her in thanks for her them!
“Ms. Rivers, this is Mr. Royale,” Tessa introduced before closing the door behind him. Cassia looked up from her computer screen to stand and reach her hand across the table.
“Thanks for agreeing to meet with me,” Darren said as their hands met. A friendly smile broke out on Cassia’s face.
“Well, Ivan and Ashleigh said you’re good people.”
Darren nodded, chuckling, and glanced around the office. It let in a lot of natural light and the windows behind Cassia had a fantastic view of the city much like the windows in the waiting area.
“Wow, the skyline is beautiful. Does this whole place has a great view?”
“It does. It’s why I bought the place. Cost of living here is so expensive, but the view makes it worth it.”
“So, let’s get down to business. My three o’clock canceled, and he was my last appointment of the day, so we can take as much time as we need.” She typed something on her computer and then cleared her throat. After she made eye contact with Darren again, she smiled professionally. “You ready?”
“Mhm.” Darren hummed confidently. Suddenly Cassia’s smile dropped from her face and she began to fire off questions.
“What are you selling? Who is the face? Who’s the audience? What’s the impact? Why should we care?”
Darren was caught off guard but quickly tried to lighten the mood with a joke. “Heh, I don’t really know. I guess there was no need for your three o’clock to cancel. It doesn’t seem like I’ll be taking up much time.” The grin adorning Darren’s face quickly faded when he noticed that not a muscle on Cassia’s face indicated amusement.
“I’m glad he did because clearly…” She paused briefly to raise her eyebrows ever so slightly. “…we have a lot of work to do.” Cassia’s fingers once again flew across her keyboard.
Darren could feel his throat start to dry and heat rise to his face. How was he so unprepared? Why was Cassia not laughing at his jokes? Everybody laughs at his jokes. Everybody.
“I’ll help you work through the questions. It’s a process, it might take a while and you will absolutely need to be thinking about the answers to these questions nonstop. How do the answers change as you do? As your business does?” After picking up her tablet, she stood and gestured to the door. Darren obediently followed Cassia out of her office. “Let’s brainstorm over lunch. Do you eat Mexican?” With no time for Darren to answer she stilled by Tessa’s desk. “Tess, will you order Mexican for lunch and can you brew a fresh pot of coffee for us?”
“Mexican and coffee? Girl, you’re trying to tear my stomach up.” The words left Darren’s mouth before he could stop himself. Cassia’s body twisted sharply towards him, almost defensively.
Darren flinched instinctively, assuming she was about to berate him, but instead, Cassia’s pursed lips gave way to laughter.
He wasn’t joking that time but she laughed anyway. If he drank coffee and ate Mexican, he would probably blow up the apartment. Gas is no joke. Why else wouldn’t he regularly take part in the free food he receives at Bongo Bowl? Because bubble guts, that’s why.
“So… no Mexican?”
“Mexican’s cool, but only if you’re fine with me stinkin’ up the place.”
Stuck between suppressing more laughter and lingering on her disbelief, it took Cassia a long minute to respond coherently. “Okay, we won’t do Mexican. Any suggestions?”
“…I could really go for a burger.”
“A burger?” Her inquiry was brimming with amusement.
Darren assessed her. Her tidy hair… her pristine dress. He thought about her white furniture and organized rooms. Honestly, the woman seemed more than a little siddity… “Oh, you’re not the burger type, are you?” He sucked in a long breath of air, feigning a look of pity. “I take it you’d prefer something like sushi?”
“Burgers are fine.” Cassia laughed, guiding Darren around the corner.
“Good. Cause what I don’t do is eat raw fish.”
Carpe Diem | next