Chapter 6 – Team Lead

Previous Chapter: Chapter 5 – Meeting

Nathaniel Cowell was wearing a suit on the first day of the project.

His messy hair was combed. His blaring head phone was nonexistent. He wore shiny black shoes. His neck tie was sleek. He wore an aftershave. Basically, his general impression was pristine. He didn’t slack nor looked unconcerned. He was present and involved. And he seemingly turned on and tuned up his charm to an unearthly level.

The change sparked new buzz amongst the gossipers. Alisa loudly professed she wanted to devour him. Olivia, on the other hand, kept her rekindled feelings to herself.

“Hi everyone! I officially welcome you all to the LeeHo Motors Account. So, for this project, we need to meet the client today… I expect the Art Director and Account Planner to attend the meeting with me…” Nathaniel was in command.

“…Chloe? Gabriel? ” Nathaniel turned his head, waiting for a response. Every member in the team was in a trance. They were too surprised to answer. They were somewhat impressed and confused with his transition.

“Oh yes… Right! Olivia should also be in that meeting, Sir” Gabriel snapped out of his trance and reply in a formal tone.

“Olivia?” Nat frowned as he quickly glanced at Olivia.

“She’s.. The Digital Artist..?”  Nat checked his notes to make sure he had mapped out his teams’ job roles correctly.

“Olivia and I usually brainstorm on the advertisement’s artistic concepts,” Chloe answered.

“As an Art Director, aren’t you solely responsible for that?” Nat asked.

“I need her creative input…” Chloe hesitated. “Sir…”

“OK. Well… Then, the initial meet up will be at Daniels by 7pm tonight. It will be a formal dinner.  Dress accordingly and be prompt.”

After disclosing that info, Nathaniel handed out materials and information about the project. He then prepped the 3 members who were expected to face the client later that night. After the meeting was adjourned, Nat came back to his desk busily typing on his laptop.

The eager gossipers took their break and indulged in the cafeteria.


Chapter 5 – Meeting

Previous Chapter: Chapter 4 – Gossips

“Hello everyone. I’m Nathaniel Cowell”.

This was the first time Nat interacted with anybody in the office. Well, the insistence from his father forced him to be in this position. He would have been comfortable assuming that “executive assistant” role for the VP in Business Development but his father changed his mind. Instead of assuming a job that only required him to “attend” meetings; his father assigned this temporary managerial task to him out of the blue. Despite his protest, he really didn’t have any choice. So he had to endure this setback from his initial plan of avoiding any interaction with this company.

“I was newly appointed to be an acting team lead for this account while James Johnson fulfills his duty in Bangkok. Once he gets back, he will resume his position in this team,” Nat licked his lips. Most of the time, he addressed the floor or the table. His voice was low, controlled and polite.

“… So for the mean time, I’d like to get oriented with the members of the project…”

Olivia frowned. It seemed to her that Nat’s diffident projection in that meeting was a contrast to his cool and unconcerned behavior for the past month.

Nat turned his head to Olivia. He was facing her general direction but he didn’t meet her eye.

“May we start our introductions..?” He smiled.

“Olivia Holmes – Digital Artist,” Olivia started. The introductions continued until everyone had spoken their roles.

“Thank you… Thank you all for that. So, the project is scheduled to start next week…” Nat continued.

“I…  Aside from the orientation, I called this meeting to prep you up. Hopefully by that time, you are all finished with your tasks from the other projects you are currently assigned. So this coming Monday, expect that we will have our first official meeting once the project starts, “A long pause ensued.

Nathaniel cleared his throat as if remembering the next thing to say. “That is all for now….,” He blurted. “Thank you… Thank you all…”

He stood up to adjourn the meeting and allowed his colleagues to say their thank you’s as they exited the conference room. Once no one else was left, he combed his messy hair and sighed. He zipped his hooded sweat shirt then wore his headphones with blaring music. He then massaged his temples, lowered his head and walked out of the office, looking more tortured and agitated than before.

Next Chapter: Chapter 6 – Team Lead

Chapter 4 – Gossips

Previous Chapter: Chapter 3 – Nonchalance

“What did he say to you?”

Alisa snapped Olivia out of her concentration. It was crunch time and she was beating a deadline. Mouth gaped; she frowned irritably at Alisa, puzzled to what she was referring to.

“We saw you talking to each other on the balcony at the party…”  Her big eyes and intolerable need for gossip was incredibly testing Olivia’s patience. She was also too near for her comfort.

Olivia inhaled and responded: “He told me the balcony was occupied and when I was about to leave he said it was OK and left the party,” Olivia’s intentional dry and concise delivery did the trick. The lack-luster discouraged Alisa to fuel this gossip as Monday’s sensational news. In defeat, she relaxed her eager composure and drew herself out of Olivia’s personal space. The crazy look in her eyes subsided. She stood up and got back to work. Olivia rolled her eyes.

A notification beep from her computer caught Olivia’s attention. She clicked on the new email.


You will be on boarded to a new team that will handle the LeeHo Motors account. Kindly attend the meeting by 3PM today. Please be prompt.


Nathaniel Cowell
Team Lead

Cowell & Co. Advertising Firm

Nathaniel Cowell.. Nathaniel Cowell… Olivia’s mind drifted between her task and her curiosity. She tried recalling her past leads but she didn’t recognize the name. She resolved that maybe the company outsourced a new team lead for this new project.

Time dissolved as Olivia concentrated on finishing her task. By 2:45pm, she stood from her chair then walked towards the conference room. As she approached the conference, she noticed the new guy was sitting at the head of the table.

“Of course, Olivia finally realized.
He’s Nathaniel Cowell.

Next Chapter: Chapter 5 – Meeting

Chapter 3 – Nonchalance

Previous Chapter: Chapter 2 – Rainy Days & Bad Eggs

Nat was slick at avoiding people.

He leaned on the door frame staring blankly at nothing while people pass by. His father’s party bore him to death. This company, these talks about his glorified accomplishments made his insides reject the very thought of adulthood. He ran his hand through his hair as he let out an exhausted sigh. He likes to think that his silent presence on the least crowded corner would be enough to discourage curious gaze. He hoped it was enough to discourage any form of opening. Generally, he didn’t like to talk or connect with this company. This was another phase he had to go through to appease the ever daunting figure in their family: his bully father and his narcissistic indulgence on his image.

But people were not polite that night. They had been curious for a month. From that very day he walked into the office with his air of nonchalance, it seemed he owed them an explanation. People could not contain their curiosity about his disposition. They could not keep their question. They were curious with his anguish that he somehow constantly carries on his shoulder. Or so they assumed.

Nat licked his lips as he senses this curiosity. He looked down, picked his cigarette from his pocket and silently walks out of the room to the balcony, effortlessly sticking to his unconcerned composure.

Minutes later, Olivia walked into the room. This kind of gathering was not here scene. She scanned through the sea of faces and concluded these were the same people she saw five times a week. Maybe because she had a bleak week or maybe because she grew frustrated with the new guy’s general lack of interest to anything, Olivia, for that night, was in a certain state of funk. She wished she could spare them the weekend.

Minutes after trying to change her mood, she gave up on her efforts at socializing. She scanned the place and darted to the balcony.

”It’s already occupied…” a polite voice from the dark greeted her when she stepped into the balcony.
Startled, she fumbled and apologized. She was about to turn around and go back when Nat emerged from the darkness.

”It’s alright… I’m done…” He threw his stub into the dark while walking back to the party.  He didn’t even bother on lingering around and went straight to the main door, curious gaze following him.

Olivia’s funk worsened and her frustration boiled to an intolerable degree.

Why did I even bother…? It was all Olivia could think of. The night was young but any hopes of enjoyment were futile for her.

Next Chapter: Chapter 4 – Gossips

Chapter 2 – Rainy Days & Bad Eggs

Previous Chapter: Chapter 1 – New Guy

The rain didn’t bother Olivia.

Despite the cold drenched inconvenience it causes, she found warmth looking at droplets falling from the sky. She was standing in front of their office building, waiting for the heavy down pour to slow down. A small smile had spread on her face while she observed the enticing scene of crystal waters dropping from her lavender umbrella. A tingling sensation of infinite happiness caused her to long for her warm pillows. She imagined burying herself in the sea of thick duvets. A hot coffee, a cozy bed, all these heavenly comforts were waiting for her in her empty apartment. But she was standing in the rain, half of her body soaked. She exhaled a deep sigh. She tried checking if the down pour slowed but it was eminent that there were no changes.

Sweater Weather. She mused while longing. She tried to distract herself by thinking of other things. Her smile grew bigger when her thoughts wandered back to that new guy who came into the office today. Despite being incredibly curious, she didn’t try to ask around for his details. She’s trying to change her mind about it anyway. He isn’t exceptionally attractive. She started. I mean there isn’t ANYTHING exceptional about him, really. That was her attempts of discouraging herself. But those rumors she heard about him, though. Definitely, those were awfully curious.

It started few weeks ago. Olivia noticed that the office was in frenzy. She didn’t bother listening as to what the fuzz was all about but Alisa, the loudest mouth in the office, felt obligated to announce any exciting bits her claws grabbed on. She graciously shared that the president’s son (a college dropout) was about to intern as one of the executives these coming weeks. Base on the whispers Alisa heard, this guy bares the typical bad egg reputation. What separates him from the stereo typical bad egg though was that he didn’t possess any obvious self destructive vice. He wasn’t a big spender or a party whore. He wasn’t a drug addict or an alcoholic. He was just those disappointing sons who performed poorly as Alisa loudly asserted. Maybe, Alisa speculated, this delinquent is an introvert with a low IQ and a low self esteem who is intimidated by his dad’s shadows. Everyone devoured this speculation and made theories of their own. Olivia rolled her eyes at the vicious and disgusting ordeal.

Eventually, the day that he must come into the office arrived. Everyone’s eyes peered and necks crooked when he walked the hallway. Olivia was curious of how indifferent he took the attention. Maybe, he expected it that’s why he was a standoffish. Or maybe, he generally doesn’t give a fuck. Either way, despite his efforts of a nonchalant facade, his eyes to her held an untold truth.

Maybe, she started to feel defensive for him because she dejected on how nasty the rumors has gone despite not knowing him properly. Maybe, she rooted for him because she hated his father.

Either way, up to this point, Olivia doesn’t even know his name. And despite her efforts of discouraging her interest, this guy was consistently filling her day dreams.

Next Chapter: Chapter 3 – Nonchalance

Chapter 1 – New Guy

Olivia’s sincerity and lack of experience made her vulnerable. And when their eyes met, she already knew she would be teased.


That new guy silently came in. He carried his bag with one sling and walked to his desk. He licked his lips as he sense he was getting everyone’s attention. But who could blame him. His casual clothing stood out a midst the sea of slacks, neck ties, pencils and blouses. With his hooded sweatshirt, plain jeans, rough dirty hair and music booming over his head phone, you could tell he’d like to be left alone. But people tried to pry in a subtle way. His nonchalance stirred their curiosity. His strong light brown eyes that pierced through anyone made them follow his every move.

That split moment when their eyes met placed her in a trance. He blinked and cast his eyes down immediately. It took her a moment to realize what happened. She snapped back to reality with a startled upright bolt. Her noisy fumbling broke everyone’s curious gaze and gossips. Everyone then casually hushed and settled back to their work as if nothing had happened.  Like the rest, she faced her screen while recalling where she had left off.

He’s not even that attractive… the cue to her new day dreaming began. I mean come on, why wear those clothes to work.. The tone of revolt in her head made her less convinced. She knew it was a bit too late especially when she saw the way his eyes lit up with curiosity when it met hers.

Hence, in between sipping her coffee and the silent clacking of her keyboard, she was beginning to float into a date in a coffee shop.. Giggling and playfully teasing that new guy 5 cubicles away from her.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2- Rainy Days & Bad Eggs