A big thanks to CRYSTAL13 who gave me the idea and helped read and give me feedback on this chapter...thank you so much!
Hope you all like it!
Chapter 1: Mornings
Rachel liked to start her day early. She was up before the sun. She was always very busy being the head of a publishing firm. She was allowed to select what books went into publishing and which ones were not. So each morning, she began her day by biking. She had her exercise machine facing the television so that as she biked she could play scenes of nature and, theoretically, pretend she was there instead of in her New York flat. After a while, she wasn't sure why she bothered with the television, after all, she was too busy reading manuscripts during her morning exercises that she barely noticed the scenery anymore.
Rachel was very uptight and strict. Each morning she woke up at 6:30 went through this routine of exercise for an hour before getting ready for work. She was always at the office by 8:30 sharp, somehow managing to pull herself together and look professional in a short time. Years of practice she thought wryly. Looking at her watch, which read 7:28, Rachel stopped her work out and turned off her t.v., leaving to begin getting ready.
Garfield Logan woke up to the sun in his face. He hadn't shut the blinds the night before and so now the sun was streaming in at full blast through his large window, enveloping him in its orange glow. Garfield opened his eyes lethargically and lay in bed.
Why haven't I heard my alarm yet? He thought in a panic. He never got up before his alarm. Worriedly, Gar looked over at his alarm clock to see it flashing the time 12:00 over and over. Shit, it reset itself! Gar then grabbed his brown leather watch, which was just in front of his alarm clock, and the time read 7:46.
"Shit!" said Gar groggily before scrambling out of bed to get ready. He had just 44 minutes to get ready and grab her tea. Plus, it was always a good idea to get there about 5 minutes before her, just to look prepared. Doing the math in his head, Gar calculated that he had 39 minutes to get ready and pick up her coffee and get to the office.
Normally, Gar hated doing math in his head, especially in the morning. Hell, he hated doing math at all. At any of the previous jobs he worked at, he would just throw something on and show up, possibly 5 minutes late, and apologize profusely. Most of his bosses had been understanding about such situations. But his current boss, Ms. Rachel Roth, was completely different.
She had a schedule and threatened anyone who disturbed it. As it was, being her personal assistant, if he was late, that threw off her entire day and put her in an even worse mood than usual. And he was trying to get her to publish a manuscript he wrote, so he was trying to stay on her good side.
To be honest, Rachel terrified Gar. She was very intimidating despite her short size and petite features. And she had dark, dark brown hair and deep eyes that Gar could swear turned black when she was angry. Cold, harsh and black. Her glares were just as terrifying as her threats, but what made her worse was that she would follow up on her threats. If she threatened to fire you, unless you groveled and begged for forgiveness, you were gone. And he had put up with this demon for 2 years, Gar was not about to about to let all that effort go to waste.
This was the sole reason that he was running down the streets like a maniac, nearly being ran over twice, to reach the starbucks. He needed to get her tea and he needed to be at the office. He only had about 10, maybe 12 minutes if he was lucky.
She finished showering and got dressed in her usual attire, a dark jacket-black today- over a long pencil skirt that cut off a bit past her knees. She also wore tall black pumps several inches high to make herself taller.
She then grabbed a quick bowl of cereal, frosted cheerios to be exact, and ate as she continued to read over this manuscript. It was good so far and held her attention, which was fairly difficult to do. She was impressed, a word she rarely used.
Once he arrived at the coffee shop, he could already see the crowd of people waiting in line. He hoped that Jessica, the pretty girl with the brown and cotton candy pink hair who worked the morning shifts, had already made his drinks. He ordered the same drinks each morning, which was one time he thanked himself for Rachel's strict routine, and when he was running late she usually took the liberty of making them for him, which was always greatly appreciated.
As Gar got in the back of the line he heard Jessica call out, "Garfield!"
He saw her holding out two teas and grinned. As he passed the line to get his teas, he could hear the groans of several customers who had to wait in line, but he didn't care that he annoyed them at this point, his ass was on the line.
"Thank-you, you literally saved my ass," Gar told Jessica. She just laughed at him as he dashed out of the coffee place and sprinted to the office. He wove through cars and shoved many people, a fact that he wasn't proud of, but he had made it to the building with 6 minutes to spare. He spotted an elevator that had almost closed, but he was able to slip on by turning sideways and quickly shuffling through the closing doors.
He felt the lurch of the elevator as the doors paused, sensing something-in this case, Gar- between them. The 5 second pause annoyed several of the passengers on the elevator.
"Everyone okay?" Gar asked out of obligation. He received a few grunts. Considering he had almost died to get on that elevator- okay not died but almost lost a limb at the very least- he figured someone on that damn elevator would ask how he was, even just out of politeness.
When they didn't, Gar added "Me too." I'm making all kinds of enemies today and its only the morning mused Gar. While on the elevator, he used the time it took to ascend to the 26th floor to breathe and recompose himself.
On her pleasant, yet determined, walk to work Rachel called Frank. He was a well-known writer of novels and books in New York and internationally. She was calling to confirm his attendance as a guest on Oprah's show. Rachel hated this part of her job, calling and schmoozing with the writers, who acted like celebrities. And in her circle, they were. But still, they were annoying to deal with because she always had to stroke their egos.
So today she called Frank and began the conversation by saying in a happy (but still restrained, basically she wasn't bubbling over with enthusiasm but still sounded pleased) tone:
"Frank! How's my favorite writer?"
She listened to his noncommittal tone as he mentioned he had been thinking of the previous conversation they had had.
"Well of course you've been thinking about our talk because you know I'm right," Rachel said confidently. With this writer, she knew she had to be tough.
He kept saying wishy-washy things, which aggravated Rachel but she managed to keep her composure.
"Frank, people in this world are busy and broke and they hate to read, they need someone they can trust to say 'Don't watch CSI…Indianapolis or something tonight, instead, read a book. Read Frank's book.' And that person is Oprah," reasoned Rachel.
Damn, can't wait until I get my tea, I need it this morning.
Gar quickly exited the elevator.
"Cutting it close!" called the receptionist. Yes on this floor, everyone was acquainted with the menace of Rachel Roth.
"One of those mornings…" he replied then added, "thank-you Captain Obvious." Yes, he was having a bad morning. One which only got worse.
While talking to the receptionist, Gar accidentally ran into Xander, one of the members of the office. Xander was nice enough, but this morning Gar didn't have a lot of time, or patience.
"SWEET JEEEZ-US!" Yelled Gar, he didn't have a lot of time until Rachel got there and now he looked like shit with tea covering his shirt and two wet, spilled cups of tea in his hands. Thankfully, he had enough left in both where if he poured them both into one of the cups he should have enough to give her. Thank God. He could hear Xander mumble an apology before slinking off, but Gar wasn't concerned with him now.
Desperately, Gar dashed over to Victor Stone, a tall coworker who worked on repairing any damaged technology and kept the software updated on the computers of all the employees on the floor. Vic happened to be his best office friend.
"Frank, the truth is all A+ novelists do publicity…Ross, McCourt, Russo," Said Rachel sternly and sensing he was about to cut her off, she quickly continued, "Frank, can I tell you what else they had in common? A Pulitzer."
Rachel was tired of trying to sway this guy into showing up on Oprah. Of all of the five people on the planet who didn't want to end up on Oprah's show, Rachel had to somehow work with one of them. It was maddening, she had already spoken to him for about 10 minutes and he still hadn't confirmed, despite her solid arguments. She needed this guy to appear on Oprah, for the safety of her job. Well, she wouldn't be fired if he decided not to, but she'd look like a miracle worker if she got him on the show.
And in this company, image was everything. Which is why she also demanded that her assistant, who represented her, always look pristine.
Rachel made her way over to the elevator nonchalantly, she still had 3 minutes to spare.
Gar saw Vic at his cubicle, already chatting away on his computer. Lucky bastard thought Gar He gets to chat pretty much all day while I have to work directly for Ms. Roth. And that often meant he was doing her dirty work. Like picking up tea.
"The shirt off your back, literally." Said Gar, sounding desperate and covered in tea.
Vic looked uncertain as he asked, "You're kidding, right?"
"Yankees-Boston this Tuesday. Two company seats for your shirt. You have 5 seconds to decide. 5-4-3-2-1." Gar was dead serious, and spoke quickly-when he made this request. And I was really looking forward to that game too. But Gar knew sacrifices had to be made.
Actually that was something he knew all too well, working with Rachel.
As Rachel got off the elevator, everyone got to work. They stopped socializing, hell they stopped smiling.
What Rachel didn't know was that several of the employees sent chat messages to one another, sending warnings that 'its here!'. So when Rachel stepped out of the elevator, everyone looked like they were working and had been for the past half an hour.
Several employees also changed their course when they saw Rachel walking determinedly to her office. Many stood by the wall until she passed, a fact that made Rachel very happy. It was by these small things that she knew she was still feared on her floor, a fact that made her job easier.
Gar was straightening out his- well actually Vic's- red tie with seconds to spare. He could hear the blips on some of the computers, announcing the monster's arrival. He owed Vic BIG. Because Vic had traded both shirt AND tie with Gar. Now Gar looked as immaculate as expected and would not be shot. At least not right away he thought. Gar also had in his hand the cup of hot tea, thankfully there was enough left between the two cups to provide for a full cup.
He looked as ready as he did every other day, despite the close call. How he made it, he had no idea, but he was grateful nonetheless.
"Morning boss," Gar greeted as Rachel entered and handed her the tea, "you have a call in half an hour-"
"-yes, about the marketing and book signing, I know," interrupted Rachel.
"… and a staff meeting at 9:30," continued Gar. He was used to being cut off by Rachel.
"Did you call…ugh, what's her name?...The one with the ugly hands," she asked while mimicking the lady's twisted hands, the concern about the call evident in her voice.
"Janet," supplied Gar.
"Janet, yes, Janet."
"I did call her," said Gar, thankful that he had remembered to do so yesterday, "I told her if she doesn't get her manuscript in on time, you won't give her a release date. Also the immigration office called and said it was imperative-"
Again, Rachel interrupted, "Cancel the call, push the meeting off to tomorrow, and keep the lawyer on the sheets. Oh, and get ahold of PR and have them start drafting a press release. Frank is doing Oprah."
The whole time she was giving orders, Rachel was, thankfully, looking at the papers on her desk and missed Gar's eyerolls.
All Gar actually said to her, though, was, "Wow. Nicely done."
"If I want your praise, I'll ask for it," snapped Rachel as she turned to her computer, ready to get to work.
Gar was almost out of the office unscathed when Rachel turned back around and stopped him.
"Um," started Rachel, causing Gar's body to tense up, "who is, uh who is Jessica and why does she want me to call her?"
Rachel held the cup up so that Gar could see the call me note along with the number underneath it.
"Well…," Gar decided to tell the truth, "that was originally my cup."
"And I'm drinking your tea, why?" asked Rachel coolly.
"Because your coffee spilled," answered Gar. He was so unnerved by the way she was assessing him with her gaze.
Rachel frowned but nodded, as if she finally understood. She took another sip of the tea, noticing the uncertainty and fear present on Gar's face.
"So, you drink unsweetened green tea too, huh?" Rachel inquired.
"I do," replied Gar, "it's like comfort in a cup."
"Is that a coincidence?" she pressed, a knowing smirk forming on her lips.
"Incredibly, it is," answered Gar sarcastically (but without any malice in his voice), "I wouldn't possibly drink the same thing you drink just in case your's spilled, that would be, uh, pathetic."
Gar answered the phone in the corner of the office that had started to ring. He was grateful it decided to ring at that moment, sparing him from seeing the amusement on Rachel's face.
"Morning, Ms. Roth's office," greeted Gar politely.
"Hey Bob," remarked Gar, surprised the man had called. This wasn't in the day's schedule. Upon seeing Rachel wave her hand at him in a dismissive gesture and turn around, he told the guy, "yea, we're actually headed to your office right now."
Gar then hung up the phone and turned to Rachel. "Why are we headed to Bob's office?"
Rachel just made a tsk noise instead of answering the question, a sound that Gar mimicked before quickly exiting the office. He then dashed to his cubicle and IMed the office that 'THE WITCH IS ON HER BROOM,' before Rachel left the office. He could already see everyone pretending to do work again.
He then rejoined Rachel when she exited the office and followed her to Bob's office.
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