Disclaimer: This story is based on characters created by L.J. Smith, as portrayed in the TV series created by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. All rights to their respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: New story. I know, crazy, right? Anyways… this is based on the movie The Proposal. If you haven't seen it, you definitely should. One word to describe Ryan Reynolds? Yum! : ) I'm switching the roles to fit the TVD characters, and changing the setting…ok, just basically taking some inspiration from the movie… but I think you'll recognize some of it, at least. Enjoy!
~ I ~
Three years. Three long years she had worked for Damon Salvatore. Every year he promised her that come next year, she would be promoted. Then when the time came to make good on his promises, he would say "I'm sorry, Elena, you're just too good of an assistant. I can't lose you." She should have learned by now. She should have quit three years ago.
"He's coming, he's coming!" the buzz started around the office.
Elena feverishly gathered the papers on his desk into a neat pile, fluffed the throw pillow on the couch in his meeting room and grabbed his double espresso from her own desk. A high-strung secretary, Rose, flittered past her, causing the hot liquid to spill on her white blouse.
"Damn it," Elena groaned and dumped the Styrofoam cup in the nearest trash can, grabbing a second cup off her desk.
"Morning," he greeted her briefly and took the cup she was holding out for him. He took a sip while glancing over her soiled attire. "Busy morning?"
"I had a little accident, sir."
"I can see that," he noted dryly and sipped his coffee. "Good coffee. But who's Mark and why does he want me to call him?" he raised his eyebrows, an amused look on his face.
Elena frowned. "Sorry?"
He turned the cup for her to read. Scribbled on the Styrofoam cup in permanent marker was the name Mark, followed by a cell-phone number and the words Call me.
Elena felt a blush creep up. The Starbucks guy was always flirting with her.
"You wouldn't happen to order the same type of coffee as me just in case you spill one of them, would you?" he eyed her curiously, suspecting that was exactly what she did.
"No, not at all. I love strong coffee." Right. She would much prefer a mocha latte, but she refused to let him know that. When she got promoted to editor, she would order whatever coffee she liked.
"I have a meeting with the suits upstairs in 30 minutes," he said casually. "Why don't you go down to the fashion department and get a change of clothes while I'm gone? I can't have my staff looking like something the cat dragged in, now can I? How would that make me look, hm?"
"Excellent. Bring me the Saltzman file, will you? Oh, and come up and get me from Smith's office in say 45 minutes. I have a videoconference in an hour."
"Certainly, sir. Oh, did you get a chance to look over the manuscript I left for you last week?"
"I did. I didn't see the potential," Damon said in a bored tone, looking through his papers.
"All right. I was also wondering…"
"Well, my brother's wedding's this weekend, and I asked for time off… I didn't hear back."
"I can't spare you. We have the Martin book tour kick-off this weekend. I need you there."
"Elena… if you're serious about your promotion, you'll show me that you have your priorities in order. That will be all," he shooed her away without taking his eyes off the papers on his desk.
"Ugh, how do you stand working for him?" Caroline Forbes, the junior fashion editor of the Smith Media Group's top selling fashion magazine Flare, said as Elena was looking through their closet.
Elena Gilbert and Caroline Forbes had started working for the Smith Media Group at the same time, but while Caroline had advanced to junior editor, Elena was still stuck in an assistant position in Smith Publishing, reading through a dozen admissions a day, trying to sort out the potentials from the immediate refusals.
"I just keep telling myself that one of these days, he will recognize my potential and promote me," Elena said while trying on a dove grey silk blouse.
"Have you slept with him?"
"Caroline! God, no! Ew!"
"What? He's hot!"
"That's not how I want to get ahead in this world."
"I'm just saying… he might notice you more if you put some effort into your appearance. Wear a push-up bra on occasion, for example," she shrugged.
"I'm not slutting it up to get a promotion, Caroline. Is that what you did?"
"No. But it's different for me. For one, my boss is a woman."
"Forget it. No way in hell will I ever hook up with Damon Salvatore."
"You wanted to see me, sir?" Damon said as he entered Elijah Smith's office.
"I did, Salvatore. Come in and shut the door, will you?"
"I take it you wish to congratulate me in person on the success with the Saltzman account. I admit, it was a bit of a challenge to get that first book on the shelves, given the content and the genre, but I'm happy to say we pulled it off."
"That's not what we wanted to talk to you about, Damon," Elijah said, a serious tone in his voice.
"Do you by any chance remember the London Book Fair you were not supposed to attend? As your visa application was pending and you were not allowed to leave the country?" Elijah's second-in-command Klaus Schneider drawled.
"I do… but there was an emergency. I had to fly out."
"I'm afraid the US government disagrees. We spoke with your immigration lawyer and you are being deported. Now, we can re-apply, but you will have to leave the country for at least a year."
"A year? You're kidding me, right? I haven't lived it Italy since I was a little boy! I went to college in the States, for crying out loud."
"Times have changed, Damon. I'm afraid we have no other option but to let you go."
"Let me go? I'm your editor-in-chief. You can't fire me! I can work from the Rome office."
"We can certainly find a place for you there, as an assistant."
"An assistant?" Damon couldn't believe his ears. For ten years he had worked his way up in the publishing world, created a name for himself, and now, because of some stupid paperwork, he was going to lose everything he worked for? "No, there has to be some other way…"
Suddenly, there was a light knock on the door.
"Yes?" Elijah said, annoyed at the interruption.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, Mr. Smith. Mr. Salvatore, Luka Martin is on the phone for you, I told him you were otherwise engaged, but he insisted he speak with you before your videoconference."
"Actually…" Damon turned around to look at the vision that was Elena Gilbert, an idea forming in his head as she spoke in her soft, melodious voice. "Please come in, Elena."
Elena frowned but did as he asked and closed the door behind her.
Damon turned to Elijah and Klaus with newfound confidence. "Gentlemen. I understand how my immigration status may be an issue, but there is something you should know…" he walked over to Elena and took her hand in his. "We're engaged."
Elena opened her mouth to protest, but Damon put a finger to her lips. "We were thinking a June wedding."
"Uh… well… isn't this highly inappropriate?" Elijah said. "She's your secretary, after all."
"Assistant, actually. Executive assistant. And can we really help who we fall in love with?" Damon said, giving the two men a look that said he knew exactly what went on behind closed doors.
"Miss Gilbert, are you a willing participant in this?"
A look from Damon said that it was best to play along.
"Well, then, just make it legal and I don't suppose we'll have a problem," Elijah said.
"Right. We'll get right on that," Damon said quickly, pulling Elena with him out of the office.
"What the hell, Damon?" she hissed when they got in the elevator.
"I have a proposal for you."
"What was that about?"
"Sch, we'll talk in my office."
"Don't freaking shush me, Damon," Elena growled. "Tell me what's going on."
"I'm being deported. If we get married, I can stay as editor-in-chief at Smith Publishing while my visa application is re-evaluated."
"I'm not marrying you!"
"Let's talk in my office."
"Fine. I'll wait until we get into your office to yell at you," Elena huffed and crossed her arms in annoyance.
"I'm not marrying you," Elena repeated when she had closed the door behind them. "You can't make me. This is sexual harassment," she said with her hands on her hips.
"I'm not forcing you to sleep with me, Elena. I'm forcing you to tell the immigration office that we're getting married."
"What if I promise you'll get that promotion you're so desperate for? We'll have a quickie wedding and an equally painless divorce, and you will have everything you've worked for."
"Fine. You won't last two minutes after I'm gone. I know who my replacement would be, and she'll have your job like that," he snapped his fingers.
"Think about it, Elena. All those nights at the office, the missed weekends, the spilled coffees… are you just going to throw all that hard work away?"
"You guarantee I will have my promotion?" Elena looked at him with narrowed eyes.
"Absolutely. By this time next year, you'll be a junior editor."
"No. You make me an editor today, and we have a deal."
"Then forget it," she shrugged and moved to leave.
"Yes?" she turned around.
"One month after we're married, I'll make you editor. It will look suspicious otherwise."
"So you're on board?"
"Great. Now we just have to get through this meeting at the immigration office and this whole mess will sort itself out."