Trying something a little bit different... for me anyway :)
The click, click, click of stilettos on the pristine shiny floors did not help my lingering headache but it did give me hope that finally Their Lordships were ready for me.
I cringed. Her high-pitched, nasal voice was just as irritating as it had been over the phone. Or perhaps my very mild hangover was making me just a little grouchy? "Actually, it's Swan," I corrected her as politely as I could.
"I'm so sorry," she said quickly, as if she feared for her job.
I smiled sweetly, trying to reassure her. "It happens a lot, don't worry about it."
"I'll make sure your details are correct in your personnel file," she continued to say and I simply nodded. "We'll head straight up to the conference room, the senior partners are waiting to introduce you to-"
"I know," I interrupted. "Phil's already told me."
"Phil?" she cocked her head and I sighed.
"Oh yeah, sorry."
I watched her as she walked ahead of me in her off the rack, badly-fitting jacket and skirt which was just too short to be considered professional. She was struggling to walk in a pair of Christian Louboutin pumps which I knew to be fake—I knew this because I owned a pair myself, only mine were the real deal. She was obviously trying to impress someone, because as we neared the conference room she opened, closed, and then opened the top button on her blouse, and her walk—or should I say her ass gained a noticeable swagger. I tried not to judge this bottle-blonde, Botox-enhanced airhead who was probably only working here while she searched for her ticket to a lifetime supply of real Louboutin shoes…
Oops, too late.
I, of all people should know better than to judge a book by its cover. I'd faced that sort of judgement for the past fifteen years. Right now, for example, I would guess about three hundred people in this building assumed I was only here because of my connections—in my case however, they were right to assume that. I knew I had the sideward glances and snide comments to come, but right now that was the least of my concerns.
We stopped outside a pair of frosted glass doors. "If you would take a seat," she pointed to a black-leather couch in the corner of the lobby area, "I'll just check they're ready for you."
I didn't point out that she had already been sent downstairs to retrieve me in the first place and did as she asked and sat down with a frustrated sigh. She knocked twice on the door and went inside.
I mean, in reality, none of this was even necessary. I knew three of the four people present in the room, I'd spent most of my life being forced to socialise with them. Denali, Dwyer, and Hale (D.D.H) was a successful publishing house in Seattle and had been for almost twenty years. Phillip Dwyer, along with Irina Denali and Peter Hale had started the company and built it from a small business printing school yearbooks and newsletters to a respected brand with some of the bestselling authors on its books. And how do I fit into all of this? Well, we have the aforementioned Phillip Dwyer, my mother Renee, my father and moral guidance counsellor, Charlie Swan to thank for that.
Up until three weeks ago, I was living a life that most girls dream about. I lived rent-free in a fabulous apartment with my two best friends, Carmen and Amber. I drove a Mercedes, vacationed several times a year all over the world, and got to shop whenever and wherever the hell I liked. I had no bills to worry about, no job to get up to each morning and not a care in the world.
I hadn't always lived this way, far from it actually, and I think that was part of the reason why I made the most of it now. I was born about three hours form Seattle in a small, podunk town called Forks. My dad was a cop, my mom worked nights in the local bar, and money was tight.
Unfortunately, life in Forks was not something my mother could stand and my parents divorced when I was eight. She met Phillip Dwyer a year or so later and so began a life where money was really no object.
Phil was in no way a bad step-father, quite the opposite really. He and my mother were unable to have any more children and they literally gave me everything a young girl could ever ask for, and that trend continued until recently.
I maintained a close relationship with my father and it was after a visit back to forks where I rolled up in my brand spanking new car that he'd really gone to town about my lifestyle. He gave me the lecture about earning a living, respecting money, and understanding that life was all about taking responsibilities. I laughed him off and thought little of it, but he wasn't so quick to let the issue go.
Several weeks after my trip home, I met my mother and step-father for our standing lunch reservation at the Four Seasons. This time, however, there was a fourth guest in the shape of Charlie Swan. Whatever concerns he'd raised about me making a life for myself had rubbed off on my mother and Phil, because it was at this lunch date that they told me all about their plan.
Gone were my credit cards that Phil paid for, gone was my Mercedes and rent-free apartment. If I wanted to carry on driving the car and living with Amber and Carmen I would have to pay my own way without any sort of allowance from either of my parents. The only way to do that was to get a job, and that's where my step-father came in.
Apparently Phil understood it was going to be a difficult transition and set me up with a position within his company. My father, who I was highly pissed at, agreed that I at least should get a month's wage in advance before I was thrown to the wolves and left to fend for myself.
Living with the girls, even if I paid for it myself was not going to be easy, we lived in a penthouse apartment in Belltown, which cost our parents a fair few dollars. My mother told me that I had six months left on the lease which had been paid in advance and then it was up to me. I did, however, have to cover my share of the utilities and any grocery shopping I needed.
When the lease was up, I would either have to pay it myself or find somewhere else to live… I was hoping and praying that in six months my parents would be over this independent phase and things could just go back to the way they were.
My friends found the whole situation hilarious and told me to play nicely and I'd be back to vacationing in Monaco before I knew it. I wasn't holding my breath!
So, with my just my one month allowance and nothing else sitting in my newly-opened bank account, my time to earn a living began. I assumed that as I'd never worked a day in my life and was the co-founders step-daughter I would be given a somewhat easier role within the company… that had been my first mistake.
Only yesterday morning, I'd discovered that I was to be an assistant to the newest addition to the company. Although he was happy to get me a job, Phil assumed I would take advantage of the situation if I worked directly for him—he might have been right, but I certainly wasn't going to admit that to him.
So, instead, I was being shipped off to the fifteenth floor to work for the recently recruited, Mr. Cullen.
All I knew about the man was he had been head-hunted from a publishing house in Chicago. Apparently, Mr. Cullen had impressed a lot of people, secured some large contracts with his previous employers and rather than risk going up against him, D. D. H decided to recruit him. Peter Hale had announced his imminent retirement, and I knew Phil wanted to take a step back and enjoy some time away from work. Knowing there was going to be some serious reshuffling, a lot of people had worked hard to be noticed, in the hope they'd be considered for the more senior roles. I also knew that Peter Hale's soon to be son in law, Royce King had been firm favourite to step into his shoes, so the arrival of Mr. Cullen as Publishing Director for the fiction department, had caused quite a turn of heads.
Add all that to the fact Mr. Cullen had the boss' daughter as his personal assistant, didn't you just know we'd be the most hated team in the building.
I'd never met him, and I wholeheartedly believed that Mr. Cullen was going to be just like Phil and Peter. Old, overweight, and just as Peter did when he thought Phil wasn't looking, leering down my blouse at every opportunity… incidentally that assumption had been the second mistake to add to what would become a fast-growing list.
Airhead emerged from the boardroom. "You can go in now," she said, a red tinge to her cheeks.
"Thank you." I smiled and walked confidently into the room.
As I expected, there were four people sitting at the huge, mahogany table—Phil, Irina, and Peter, but as my eyes landed on the man sitting to the right of my step-father, I admitted that letting my friends take me out for one final time had been my third mistake.
And as I thought back to the previous night, I had vivid and stomach-clenching flashbacks of my fourth, fifth, and sixth mistakes.
Obviously I don't own Twilight… nor do I own the ability to summarise or create a title so both of those are subject to change!
Great big sloppy kisses to Kitty & MzPeaches for taking on another of my stories.
Hope you liked it – would love to know what you thought! I will post the next chapter soon and from then on this will post each Sunday as long as my mojo allows!
See you shortly!