All of Me

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Just a Wildcard

Naomi Monroe

Two weeks have passed since I decided to cut off Mr. Laurent and I have thought about him every single day. There are times that I regret my decision, but then I remind myself of two things: One, I don’t want to give someone that much power to hurt me. Two, the man has probably already moved on considering everyone is now obsessed with him after the interview went public.

Everyone has been gawking over this 30-second clip of him in the interview when he gets that adorable fucking twinkle in his eyes as he talks about why he decided to share his wealth rather than achieve the title of ‘billionaire’. I mean, I was also gawking internally when he said it — as I was throughout most of the interview and pretty the entire week we spent— NO. I am not supposed to be thinking about him.

I open up Twitter on my phone and of course I see the thumbnail for the video on my timeline and my attempt to halt my thoughts of him has failed as the ruminating of ‘what ifs’ begin. I shake my head and exit the app to finish packing my bag for the day and make my way toward the door.

“Hey, girl!” Gianni says from the counter and she startles me half to death.

“Jesus!” I reply, trying to catch my breath. “You scared the shit out of me. You’re normally asleep right now. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replies plainly. “Better than you, at least. Are you still moping around about the predicament that you put yourself in?” She raises a challenging brow.

“Bitch, it is 7:15AM and you are starting with me this early?!”

“Yeah, because you’re looking pitiful and you don’t have to be. Saw him in your timeline again, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” I groan. “But stop shaming me for my decision. I need to look out for myself first and I can’t give someone the power to hurt me like that.”

“You do realize that if you ever intend to be in a relationship with anyone, it requires that you do become vulnerable with them and therefore yes, give them the power to hurt you?”

“Well, I decided years ago that I don’t intend to be in a relationship — ever. Mr. Laurent was just a wildcard, that’s all.”

“Or Sebastien was just the right one.”

“Whatever, the man has probably moved on already. Besides, I have more important things to focus on like my app and work. NotionX is going through big changes since the interview went public and there’s a meeting today about the magazine’s plans moving forward. Being the outlet that practically introduced Mr. Laurent to the world really propelled us into the spotlight and now startups are the ones pitching us to cover their big announcements rather than us struggling to even get quotes from them.”

“That’s amazing,” Gianni beams. “And it’s all because of your interview with Sebastien, which also earned you a promotion! It’s not too late to call him about celebrating.”

“Three things: It was actually Nicolas who convinced him to come for the interview, I’ve deleted Mr. Laurent’s number, and yes, it is too late to call him.”

“But—“

“I’m done with this conversation, Gi,” I interrupt as I head toward the door once again. “Have a good day, I’ll talk to you later.”

I should’ve known that forgetting about Sebastien was going to be impossible. I mean, I’m the one who interviewed him and we expected it to get a lot of traction and of course it’s the main topic of conversation at work and among the startup community here.

Whatever, hopefully NotionX’s plans moving forward will allow me to focus on other topics and keep me distracted. I am super excited about my new title. It’s hard to believe that I’m the deputy editor for tech at NotionX. It means I’ll oversee the our coverage of the tech sector. I mean, the staff is still small and there are only two people that I’m managing and they also write for other topics for NotionX. But still, it’s super exciting.

When I arrive, the first thing I notice is that everyone is here on time for once — even Nicolas. It must be because his dad — another Mr. Laurent, but not as alluring — and the magazine’s other investors are here. Again, Mr. Laurent’s interview didn’t exactly meet best journalistic standards considering he’s related to two people associated with this magazine, but hey, it is what it is.

Once it’s clear that everyone has arrived, they call us all into the main conference room and Mr. Laurent — as in Nicolas’ dad — is the first to speak.

“First off, we want to thank you all for your hard work these years. NotionX started off with a staff of just three people — and Katie is the only one who was crazy enough to stick around. And now there are a whole 15 of you! What a massive operation,” he quips and the room fills with fake chuckles before they simmer down for him to continue. “I can’t stay long, but I did want to stop by the office to see everyone’s faces and deliver this news: Thanks to the interview with my bro— Sebastien Laurent and all the traction it’s gained, our popularity has quickly skyrocketed in the startup world and now we have plans to expand!”

We all applaud at the news and whispers ensue on where we might be expanding to. My money is on Austin considering it’s practically the Silicon Valley of the south and would be the most logical next step for a publication like NotionX.

“I’ll allow Katie to do the honors and tell you where our newest office will open up. Bye, everyone, and keep up the great work!”

Almost in unison, everyone bids Mr. Laurent and his investor posse farewell and Katie, our editor, steps up to speak to us. I like Katie a lot, mostly because I find her hilarious. She’s one of those middle-aged white liberal women who are super adamant about being an ally and she gets all worked up when discussing social issues. Also, although she’s still not in a position to fire Nicolas, she is one of the reasons I can occasionally go off on him without getting reprimanded for berating our main investor’s son.

“So,” she begins. “As you all know, with our growing popularity and the fact that we already had quality work to begin with that just needed eyes on it, visits to our website since the Laurent interview have multiplied 12-fold. As a result, we’ve signed more contracts with advertisers and are working with a few companies that want to do sponsored posts on our site… To sum it all up, we’ve come into a lot of money along with much more interest in NotionX, which means we need to sustain and grow our new base!”

“As part of that,” Katie continues. “We’ll be expanding to a new location — San Francisco, California!”

The room goes in an uproar while I am a combination of confused and annoyed. Yes, the startup community is still huge in San Francisco and it is kind of like the motherland of all things tech, but given that NotionX’s focus in Atlanta has been on up-and-coming startups and Austin is much cheaper to rent out space, Austin seems like a better choice. All that being said, San Francisco would be a flashy move and I imagine Nicolas’ dad is part of the reason for the push.

“Since we’re expanding to tech central, it only makes sense for person who now leads our tech coverage and who conducted the interview that put us in the spotlight to be the one who leads our efforts in San Francisco! We’re sending Naomi Monroe along with the two tech writers under her to the city for at least three months to hire new staff and establish our very first branch office!”

Again, the room is in an uproar, but this time, people are turning to me with words of congratulations. I hide the fact that I’m slightly pissed off because who the hell said I was willing to move across the country for three months? My family and friends are all here as well as other obligations. Could she not ask me ahead of time before putting me on the goddamn spot in front of the entire staff? How the hell am I supposed to say no now?

Ugh… And saying no would be a horrible decision. It’s an incredible opportunity and at least while I’m in San Francisco, I can search for potential investors to pitch my app to in addition to more networking… SHIT. That is when it hits me that Sebastien-fucking-Laurent is involved in that scene. Perhaps I should just stay here. I mean, Katie did volunteer me without asking, so it’s not like it would be un reasonable for me to tell her I can’t go stay across the country for three months.

“And…” Katie is still speaking about my new work duties that I never agreed to. “To help us with our launch, we’re going to start an interview series called “5x5” in which we spend time with business leaders throughout the week and provide a five-minute snapshot for each of the five days of the business week. For the inaugural piece, it only makes sense that we do it with Sebastien Laurent! Other news outlets have been chasing him, but he’s refused all interview requests except ours, so once again, we’ll get the exclusivity and it’ll be a great way to establish ourselves in the city!”

Of-fucking-course. Just my fucking luck. Why is this happening?!

The entire room is ecstatic and now I have to pretend to be giddy too. While this should be exciting, all I can think about is the fact that I’m stuck with two choices: Reject this incredible opportunity just because I’m afraid to come face-to-face with the man who I started falling for like an idiot after only a week of knowing him OR accepting the opportunity and just plowing through the inevitable awkwardness and emotional discomfort I’ll feel when I see him again.

I hate it here.

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A/N: Thanks for reading!

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