Jazz really came to like Long Island. She could never set a foot inside without thinking about Kunihiko hoisting her up and pressing her against the wall, kissing and touching, but that was only another perk of this place. But it was also homey, had a relaxed atmosphere and friendly regulars. A couple of days after coming back to Japan Jazz had already met most of Kunihiko’s friends.
Tonight the bar was almost empty, though. Jazz sipped from a delicious cocktail Kuni had made for her and chatted with Takao and Yamato.
“I’m not staying long today,” the teacher just said. “We’re going on a trip with the students tomorrow. I have to be well rested and sharp to prevent them from doing stupid stuff.”
Jazz chuckled. “Being a teacher is hard, huh?”
Yamato rolled his eyes. “You have no idea.”
It was at that point that the infamous womanizer and script writer, Saeki, entered the bar. But, what drew his attention this time wasn’t exactly his aura, but the woman he brought in with him.
“So, this is the bar I was telling you about.”
“Ah, you’re right, very quiet and cozy,” the woman smiled.
“Is Saeki really bringing a date here?” Yamato whispered and Jazz turned around a bit to examine the couple that had just entered.
“That’s new,” Takao confirmed.
“Why not?” Kunihiko asked in a hushed whisper. “This is a nice bar after all. Perfect for dates.” The way he looked at Jazz would have made her blush if she still had an ounce of modesty left. But she didn’t so she simply smiled at him and winked.
“You are right. Perfect place for dates.” She turned even further on her bar stool. “Saeki, nice to see you again. And with company.” She hopped off the stool and nodded towards the other woman.
“Hi, I’m Jazz.”
“Always a pleasure, Jazz,” he winked, even if Kuni gave him a little glare.
“Nice to meet you. H.”
Saeki smiled as the girls introduced themselves.
“H is the woman who’s been helping me with my script ideas,” Saeki explained. “Plot holes can sometimes only be seen by others.”
“Yeah, and you suck at seeing them,” H laughed.
“Oh, so you are working together,” Yamato stated, almost a bit disappointed.
“Well, I’m glad that Saeki brings another girl here. It’s a bit lonely with all you guys around.” Jazz smiled at H and took a seat. Not that she was complaining, bantering and chatting with the guys was fun after all. And for girl talk she still had Miho and Selina. But it was indeed nice to see another girl in the bar.
“H, I hope Saeki is nice to you. If not just tell us, we give him a stern scolding then,” she teased.
“He can be a bit – inappropriate sometimes,” Takao admitted and Kuni snorted in laughter.
“Ah, don’t I know it! Don’t worry, been at the brunt of it for a little while now, I’m used it,” H grinned.
“I’m nice! I’m being nice to her, did date for a while after all,” he explained, but when he was met with a lot of confused and surprised looks he continued: “Yeah, we dated but decided it wasn’t going to work, right?” he asked H, who happily nodded in response.
“Yep, as per usual, I lost interest in dating, nothing wrong with him of course!” she defended him and added: “Sex was good.”
Takao blushed and almost chocked on his beer while Yamato cleared his throat. Jazz chuckled, this candor something she was used to, but in Japan it was still rare.
“You guys dated?” Kunihiko slid a glass of wine over the bar towards Saeki and gave H a questioning look.
“Dating? Doesn’t sound like Saeki at all,” Yamato chimed in.
“What’s wrong, Kougami-sensei? Jealous?” Jazz asked. “I mean, how is it possible that no one of you has a girlfriend? And now Saeki says he’s at least dating and you aren’t even happy for him? Shame on you.” She clicked her tongue and took another sip of her cocktail.
“See what I have to put up with? All the guys here are acting like high schoolers.”
“Hey!” Kunihiko feigned indignation just for Jazz to blow him a kiss.
Saeki thanked Kuni for the wine and took a sip, smirking at the reactions.
“Dated, mind you. We were not together or anything, both agreed to it.” Saeki explained.
H couldn’t help but laugh at the reaction, realizing she was in Japan so it was more conservative.
“Ah my bad, sorry, I keep forgetting how different Japan is. I mean, to me sex is sex, but I guess you guys don’t see it that way,” she said, feeling a little embarrassed.
“Don’t worry about it, honestly, as long as you enjoyed yourself,” Saeki said.
“Oh I did, don’t you worry, good sex is good after all.”
Saeki spat his drink out a little.
“Ok then,” he chuckled.
Jazz laughed. It was a happy, genuine laughter, something that bubbled out of her without the chance to hold it back.
“I like this girl,” she stated and handed H a menu. “Get what you like, drink’s on me.”
“You mean you will actually pay for your drink this time?” Yamato teased her.
“Nope. Gonna pay in kind. I have a good connection to the barkeeper after all.” She winked at Kunihiko who chuckled lowly and shook his head, slightly embarrassed but mostly amused.
Takao blushed even more. “Can you please not do this all the time?”
“What?” Jazz asked and looked at the lawyer.
“He’s talking about your shameless flirting. One of these days you will openly make out here, right in the bar.” Yamato furrowed his brow and glared at her.
Jazz snickered. If only he knew how close he was to the truth. “Okay, okay, I try to keep it down. But it’s not my fault that my boyfriend is such a hottie. You can’t blame a girl for enjoying the honeymoon stage of a relationship.” She turned back towards H and waited for her to decide on a drink.
“Wow thanks, but I don’t mind paying. Or Saeki can, he lost a bet on erm… our last time together,” H chuckled and happily asked for a rum and coke, Saeki spitting his drink again.
“Fine, I guess I do still owe you,” he sighed.
“So you guys are together? Oh that’s so awesome, you’re really cute together, honestly!” H said with genuine happiness for them. “Don’t hold back on my account, or theirs. If you guys are happy you should show it,” H said, thanking Kuni for the drink.
“Now I would love to hear about that bet but I guess the prudes over there won’t even let me ask,” Jazz said, looking back and forth between Saeki and H. “By the way, have you guys introduced yourselves already?”
Jazz clicked her tongue again. “So, the tall one is Takao, he’s a lawyer.” In a whisper/yell she added: “A sweetheart and gentleman. Just in case you’re interested.” She winked at Takao who blushed again.
“Kuni, I think your woman had enough to drink already.” Yamato glared disapprovingly.
“The redhead over there is Yamato. He’s a spoilsport obviously. And a teacher. Which is basically the same.” Again Jazz leaned closer to H. “But he can cook.”
She pointed at Kunihiko. “That’s the owner of this bar, Kunihiko. But as you already know he’s taken.”
“Yamato is right, maybe she really had enough,” Takao muttered, but Jazz ignored him.
“Pleasure to meet you all. I’m sure Takao is a lovely guy but I’m not interested in any relationships right now,” H smiled apologetically towards the lawyer. “No offence at all!”
“She’s only looking for sex,” Saeki said so H whacked his head, making him spill his drink.
“Oh look at that, such a shame…” she cooed but grinned.
“Anyway H!” Saeki changed the subject. “Found any jobs yet?”
“Nah, interview sucked yesterday so I declined the offer, the whole office seemed… clinical,” she explained, sipping her drink.
“So, you are looking for a job? That’s not that easy here, especially for Europeans. What kind of job?” Jazz couldn’t help but being curious.
“Anything really, as long as it’s a nice environment and nice people to work with, I’m not too bothered. I’ve done admin, retail and customer service roles so I’m up for anything,” she explained, casually giving Saeki a napkin as she talked since he was still cleaning himself up.
And she genuinely didn’t mind what she had, she wanted to try something new and since writing was out of the question here due to translation and her not really knowing the industry, she was more than happy to try something she’d never done before. Or maybe even something she had done before. End of the day, a job was a job.
Jazz hesitated. She couldn’t just ask H, could she? But she could talk a bit more to her and try to find out if she would really do ANYTHING. Ever since coming back to Japan she was thinking about her problem. She didn’t want to leave MJS but if she couldn’t provide the full service she couldn’t make client profiles. And without profiles no matchmaking. And without matchmaking no job.
Miho was engaged and Selina – well, Selina never tried the test driving anyway. She rather stayed in the office. For now they still had enough clients with finished profiles, but there were appointments for new clients and some older ones who still had to get tested.
Jazz needed a substitute. And Japanese women weren’t exactly the most sexually adventurous.
“H, how about we ditch the guys and have a nice girl talk? I’d love to know more about you. What part of Europe do you come from? How long are you here already?” She leaned closer and gave her a conspirative wink. “And how is Saeki between the sheets?”
“Hey!” Kuni and Saeki almost simultaneously cried out.
“You can keep talking about baseball, gentlemen. We are talking about other things.” She hopped from her stool and grabbed her drink, motioned towards a table in the back invitingly and waited for H to follow her.
Intrigued, H decided to follow Jazz, answering her questions as she went. She did laugh at Saeki’s reaction, always self conscious, he always asked how he was afterwards. Maybe should could tell Jazz that for a laugh.
“Britain, I’m come from Britain, been here for about a month now, or just under. Only a few weeks. As for Saeki…” she smirked and winked as she took a seat away from the guys. “He knows his way around a woman.”
“A few weeks? But you have a place to stay, right?” Jazz remembered her first weeks in Japan. Her company had taken care of housing and everything, she only had to board a plane. Still, it was a completely different country after all.
“Oh yeah, I have a place, used some of my savings to get a little flat, so I’m all good,” H smiled. Jazz seemed nice and genuine, well from what she has heard about Kuni from Saeki, she already believed he would pick someone good as his girlfriend.
“Britain sure is another world in comparison. I’ve been there a couple of times. I feel like unexpectedly running into a neighbor while being out of town,” Jazz laughed. Although she had been in Japan for a while now it was always nice meeting someone from Europe.
“So, you are not into relationships? Did I get that right? Sorry, I don’t want to pry, it’s just unusual.”
“Ah, no I’m not. I’ve come to the realization I can’t seem to get past the third date without losing interest, so I’ve decided not to date anymore. It’s easier that way, less arguments and drama from the men,” she explained.
Third date? Now that piqued Jazz’s interest. She bit her bottom lip and cursed the cocktail inwardly. Should she just ask?
“That is really unusual. But I can totally understand that. Actually before I met Kuni I was rather – flighty. It didn’t help that I am working in a marriage matchmaking agency. All the nice men you meet there – they can be a bit distracting.”
Jazz was simply putting this out there, waiting how H would react.
“Yeah, not sure why but never seem to keep interest, it’s annoying but what can you do?” H shrugged. “But wow, matchmaking, how does that work with Kuni? If you don’t mind asking, I mean, seeing eligible men day in and out, he must get jealous. But hey each to their own, think it’s cool you work in a place like that,” she sipped her drink happily.
Taking a sip from her own drink Jazz still observed H over the rim of her glass.
“Just between you and me? I met him there. He was – a client and when I noticed that I actually like him I asked my coworker to take over his case.”
She sighed and put her glass down. “But you know how it is, the heart wants what it wants. So here we are now. He’s actually fine with me doing the job, although there are some aspects he doesn’t really like. But we worked that out.” She glanced over to the counter and smiled.
“Loves never planned, always pops up when you least expect it,” H chuckled.
“I’m changing jobs now anyway. We are broadening our services and start offering planned weddings. I have been an event planner before, so that’s really close to my original job.” Jazz looked back at H.
“And that brings me back to you. I need someone to take over parts of my work. My coworkers and I have split up the responsibilities but when I start working as a wedding planner it will get tough. You seem like an open, dedicated woman. I can imagine you would fit right in with us. So, would you like to visit us some day? Get to know the others? Get to know more about the job? I can’t promise you anything yet, but if everything goes well…” She shrugged and smiled again.
H almost dropped her glass at the sudden job opportunity.
“Huh? I mean, yeah, I’ll come for a look around but…I mean….what does the job entail? I’ve not exactly worked in the matchmaking business before… I’m up for it but yeah, I need to know a bit more about what I’m meant to do.”
“Of course,” Jazz agreed and nodded. “But I hope you understand that we are working in field that requires confidentiality and discretion. Nothing I would want to discuss in a bar. But it’s not that complicated and I guess you would find it more than enjoyable. I surely did. Oh, and I guess you would have to sign a confidentiality agreement. We are having some very high class clients and we have to ensure the safety of their personal information.”
She took her purse and handed H a business card.
“Call me when you have time. We can make a spontaneous appointment, don’t worry. But the pay is good, it’s all completely legal and not shady at all. We are legit, not some rip-off. You can ask our lawyer, he’s standing over there.” Jazz pointed towards the bar. “Oh, or at least he had been standing there. Looks as if Takao has left already. Anyway, the pay is good and the other two members of the team are wonderful women. You would love it there.”
H looked at the business card, glancing at the place Takao used to stand, then back to the card. She knew it wasn’t shady, having a lawyer involved and Kunihiko even being involved too in some way, she kind of trusted what Jazz was saying. Even if H was a little reserved as to what was going on at that moment in time. To be suddenly offered something out of the blue was always a shock, but, hey, she wasn’t going to let this slide. She was willing to see what the job was at least.
“Sure, I’ll come check it out. And I can do confidential, I’ve done that before so I understand, especially if you have high class clients so not a problem. Thanks.”
Two days later Jazz opened the door of the office to invite H in.
“Great that you could make it. Take a seat. Can I offer you something? Water? Coffee? Tea?”
She had told Miho and Selina about H and even if the others were a bit reluctant they agreed that Jazz could at least have another talk with H about a possible job in MJS. And it wasn’t as if they could just place an advertisement somewhere.
“I’m ok actually, I had something on the way over, thanks for having me,” H said, perching herself on the chair Jazz had offered.
“Nice office, and I mean in general too, the buildings a nice building…sorry I’m rambling,” she chuckled. “So tell me more about the job.”
Jazz smiled. There was nothing wrong with the nervousness H was showing, after all she had no real idea yet of what Jazz was offering.
“Sure. So, actually we need someone who helps us with some – let’s call it background check. The actual matchmaking process is something that my coworker will do, so don’t worry about that. But to be able to find the perfect match we need a lot of personal information about our clients. We want to provide impeccable service after all.”
She slid a sheet of paper over her desk towards H. A confidentiality agreement.
“If you are interested so far I would like you to sign this so I can tell you a bit more about the job.”
“So, in essence I’d be finding out about the client, like what they like and dislike and so on? I’m guessing because of this agreement, the personal information can get quite… in depth?” H asked as she looked over the agreement.
Of course, everything was in check and completely legal. H had seen scamming documents before in one of her old jobs, never again, so her trust in this company increased slightly and she signed.
“Great.” Jazz grinned and took the paper back before she took a deep breath.
“So… we would like you to go on some dates, to see how our male clients behave in that situation. There is no judging involved, just observation. You have to be able to give us an objective report afterwards. And… it’s not only a date. Actually it involves having sex, too. If you are not comfortable with that it’s okay, no hard feelings. But after our first meeting I had the impression you would enjoy sex and this way it would always be the first date – never the third. There are some rules of course and you can make clear what you are willing to do and what not. Everything is completely consensual. And I know how it sounds but this is not prostitution. It’s more…” Jazz sighed and leaned forwards, resting her hands on her desk.
“Have you ever had a really bad date? And wished someone had told you before that the guy sucked? Or really bad sex? We want to make sure that our clients don’t have to experience that. And we are very thorough.”
H couldn’t help but laugh a little. That was it? She had been nervous about absolutely nothing! She smiled at Jazz.
“Oh yeah I believe that. It kind of annoys me when people say: ‘no sex before marriage’. I mean, how do you know if you guys are compatible in bed? As long as it’s consensual and I can have ground rules and such… and of course the guy knows it means nothing, I’m completely fine with it,” she explained, visibly relaxing.
Jazz smiled widely, obviously relieved. That could have gone into the completely different direction and she was glad that H didn’t feel offended.
“Oh good. You can just make a list of things that are okay for you and some absolute dealbreakers. The most important thing for us is that you give a really objective report. Pay attention to the details, what he likes and what not, how he reacts in certain situations. You get to read their self-assessment so you already get an idea in what direction things might go. We need you to rate that self-assessment afterwards, to tell us how much of it is real and where he’s just off.”
Feeling better not that the most important thing was taken care of Jazz leaned back in her chair.
“Every single one of our clients gets checked by a physician. The medical report is part of the info we are giving you before you start. On the other hand we also need a medical report of you. Condoms are mandatory and not negotiable, but I think I don’t have to tell you. Clients are bound by a confidentiality agreement as well and you probably won’t even see them again afterwards, except for maybe coincidental run ins here in the office.” Jazz had considered some kind of trial run but since time was getting short she would rather grill Saeki for details about H in bed.
“To be honest, I never do it without a condom. I’m on the pill but even then I’d still say condom. But thank you for giving me that run down, I’m totally up for going ahead,” she grinned, feeling a lot more relaxed.
“I’m sure if there’s anything you need to know you’ll ask and I’m guessing we can work out contract and stuff soon. Thanks for the opportunity, I look forward to working with you, Jazz!”
Jazz smiled and offered H her hand. A typical European way of sealing a deal.
“I would like to introduce Miho and Selina to you so you all know each other. If they have no objections I would say you simply try it out. Afterwards you can still decided if it’s okay for you or not.”
She got up from her chair and motioned for H to follow her. Jazz had the feeling this would become a really great cooperation.