I didn't plan on putting a note to this chapter so I'll keep it short. I just wanted to thank everyone for their responses to the first two chapters, I didn't expect your response to be so massive, especially on tumblr. So thanks to everyone who took the time to write me a message on tumblr/write a review, you have no idea how much I appreciate it! Having that said, here's the third chapter. Hope it won't disappoint.
December 31, 10:30 AM – 1475 Broadway
Unwrinkled dress? Check. The required paper files? Check. Two medium decaf lattes? Check. No leftovers between her teeth? Check.
With one last look at my own reflection in the mirror, I let out a deep, shaky sigh. There were only a few more hours left to survive, pretty reasonable, right? At least I survived the busiest morning of the year until lunch break, and to me, that seemed like an accomplishment in itself.
I remove the last few crumbs of my breakfast from the corner of my mouth and clamp my briefcase between my arm and my upper body, then making my way through the crowded corridors, holding the coffees in my left hand and a pile of folders in my right hand. It was still a mystery to me how I survived the obstacles which led to my desk every day without knocking somebody over.
''Bianca,'' I hiss at my neighbor who occupies the desk in front of mine when something hits my head for the fifth time, ''stop throwing pencils at my head. I'm busy.''
Bianca doesn't respond but ducks away behind her computer and points with a pencil towards something behind me, the expression on her face not predicting anything good.
''Frank wants to see you.''
I roll my eyes while I stand up and grab the coffees to make my way to my boss's office. Bianca is such a drama queen, sure, Frank is the notorious boss, but Bianca always pulls the long bow.
I put one of the coffees on Frank's office and sit down on the chair in front of him. ''You wanted to see me?''
My grumpy boss briefly glances at me from under his monobrow and folds his hands over his pot belly. I always wonder how much money he spent on growing that gross thing. A fortune probably, since the amount of sausages that disappear under his mustage all day long are near to uncountable.
''Nina,'' Frank takes a swig from his coffee, leaving a coffee mustache above his lips, which curl into an unsatisfied grimace. He abruptly cuts off his story. ''This,'' he points at the paper mug with his chubby finger, pinched by his rusted ring, ''is not soy milk.''
Shit. I ignore the fact that he called my name wrong and shove one of the files I took with me away under my legs. Today isn't a good time to show him the column I wrote myself.
''S-sorry,'' I stutter, offering Frank mine. ''I must've swapped them.''
Frank shakes his head. ''No I don't want yours.'' He presses one of the buttons of his intercom and leans closer to the thing. ''Bianca. Coffee. My office,'' he barks at the possibly very scared girl at the other side of the phone.
''Nina,'' Frank starts over, ''I need you to work tonight. It's a goddamn madhouse. The ball that's supposed to drop tonight isn't working and therewithal we don't have anyone to speak to the press, so, Nina, I need you to take care of the press tonight.''
He pulls a questioning facial expression when I don't respond at first, after that, impatiently waves with his hands. ''You can leave Asia, I'm wasting my valuable time here.''
''B-but,'' I utter, mentally face-palming myself. I hate the stutter. Sure, in the beginning of high school I laid my stutter on thick, but I hadn't been completely faking it. Every time I get in a critical situation, my stutter shows up again. And it isn't something I can use right now.
''But,'' I recover myself, inhaling deeply, and getting an amused yet bored glance from Frank, who had leaned back, put his feet on his desk and had a ridiculous thick cigar clenched between his yellow teeth. As if he was in a mafia film.
''I can't work tonight. I'm meeting friends. Oh, and you can't smoke inside.''
Frank bursts out one of his donkey noises, as I call them. In general that noise was called 'laughter' but I can't quite figure in which way that sound would possibly be close to laughter.
''At least you're funny, Nina,'' Frank shakes his head while he starts rummaging between the organized clutter that was spread onto his desk.
''My name is Tina.''
Frank pauses from his rant to take a deep inhale from his cigar and, thereafter, exhale it right into my face without noticing.
I can see Frank's mouth moving but his words don't reach me. This was exactly how high school had been for me. For years I sat on the back row in glee club, not getting any attention or recognition because there was always Rachel Berry to take away the solos, Kurt to look more fashionable than I did, or Santana to get all of the –negative- attention with her insults. But, attention was attention after all. And I am done with it. I'm not going to let anyone belittle me anymore.
''…The secretary also fucked us up because that twat from the second floor had a stroke yesterday and now claims to be needing time to recover, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the advice she took from the other cow, now, I need you to…''
Frank stops in the middle of his sentence, his eyeballs almost popping out as he stares at me. I have unconsciously put up my hand to cut him off and now realize I have to speak up.
''What now, Brina?''
And with that, something inside me snaps.
''My name is Tina, Frank. Tina Cohen-Chang,'' I hiss while I slam the paper Frank just gave me onto the table and scribble my name onto it, while Frank's eyes almost bulge.
''T.I.N.A. You see? I impatiently point at the paper. ''And also, Tina fucking quits. You can find someone else do drop your lame ball tonight.''
I grab the coffee Frank had rejected –very childish, I know, but it is on principal-, and dramatically make my way to the door. Shall I slam the door loudly or would that also be childish? I don't know.
''Tina,'' a voice behind me blurts, and I stop walking in front of the door, ''you walk out that door and I swear to my unborn grandchildren, you won't ever find another job in the city.''
I don't turn around but put one foot on the doorstep, getting ready to leave the door.
''Don't you dare,'' Frank huffs in a warning tone of voice from his seat, still being badass with his cigar, based on the smell that still dominated the room
Smiling, I put my other foot on the doorstep, leaning a little forward. By now, at least twenty people were inquisitively staring at the going-on, safe from behind their desks. The fact that Frank's office was made of glass always yielded hilarious situations, when you weren't the person that had ended up in the situation, of course.
Success. He finally knows my name.
Without looking back at Frank, I stride along the other desks, feeling every single eye in the room burning into my back as I pass my –now ex- colleagues. It is kind of sad, that all the time I worked here, nobody really noticed me or knew my name, but after this incident, they suddenly would. Thrill seekers.
I push the big, red button next to the elevator before I leave the building, sniggering at myself. I have always wanted to push that button, and wow, it felt so good. I should've done that way earlier.
I push my way through the crowd that had gathered around the building, all dying to catch a glimpse from what was going on inside. Loud sirens come closer as the crowd parts to create a path for the firemen.
''Sir,'' I pat a fireman's shoulder, ''I believe I saw smoke coming from the third floor, the boss's office.''