I stand in my bedroom checking my outfit over in the mirror for the 100th time..."HARPER, ARE YOU READY WE NEED TO LEAVE!"
It will have to do, I think to myself as my dad hollers from downstairs.
"BE DOWN IN A MINUTE DAD!"
I grab my tablet, purse, phone and keys then toss them into my tote before making my way downstairs.
"Wow, You look very professional darling," my dad smiles at me.
"Thank you. So who's driving?" I ask as I walk past him to the door.
"Neither baby, a car is outside waiting for us."
"Oh, OK," I respond, somewhat surprised.
We leave our oversized house and get into the car waiting out front.
"Ok Harper, today is extremely important, I need you to listen to me carefully…"
I stare out the window on our drive. I stopped listening to my father the second he said "extremely important". I can think of a thousand different places I would rather be right now but unfortunately this is my life. My father is an extremely successful business man and is the third generation to carry on the family business. Our company has fingers in a lot of pies including real estate and advertising. My father is very good at what he does, the business is his life literally! When my mother fell pregnant he would constantly tell friends and family that he couldn't wait to have a son to pass the business onto. Needless to say he was shocked and somewhat disappointed when I turned out to be a bouncing baby girl. Not one to shy away from a challenge my father vowed to turn me into the most successful business women the world had seen and immediately started to advertise me as the next CEO when I came of age. My mother, having had enough of fighting with a business for his attention, left him when I was two years old. Now don't get me wrong I don't blame my mother for leaving him however, what I will never forgive her for is leaving me behind as well. Selfish Bitch! Unable and unwilling to be a dependable single father I was shipped off to an all girls boarding school as soon as I was old enough. I excelled in all my classes and on my 16th birthday I was packed up and brought back home to work alongside my father while being homeschooled so I could learn the ways of the Henderson business. I am now in my third year of my business degree and for my 21st birthday last week my father gifted me my own office. That brings us to today where I'm being brought along to my first big competitor meeting to bid for a client.
"Harper, are you listening?"
I sigh before answering, "Yes dad, loud and clear," I feel my phone vibrate in my bag so I pull it out to see a text from my best friend, Victoria.
Victoria: Good luck today gorgeous even though I know you will smash it! Much love Mwah xx
Harper: Thanks babe, will call you after. Mwah xx
Victoria and I were roommates at boarding school, we grew up together and are unbelievably close. Vic knows that I have no interest in taking over the company and has always tried to push me to follow my dreams. She lets me vent my frustrations to her and I love her for it.
"I know this is nerve wracking but this is essentially your unveiling, I need you to bring your A game Harper," my father lectures me.
"Whatever you say," I huff while continuing to look out the window.
I reluctantly look at him.
"You need to take this seriously. You will not embarrass me today, do you hear me?"
"Of course dad," I say with a forced smile.
He lets out a frustrated sigh. My father likes to pretend we have the perfect relationship but in all honesty I can't be arsed with him.
"We're here" He announces as the car stops. I step out of the car and walk alongside my father into an impressive looking building. We are greeted by a pretty young woman whose smile lights up the room. I plaster on my best fake smile like I've done for years now.
"Good afternoon Mr Henderson and Miss Henderson."
The young woman holds out her hand to greet us and both my dad and I shake it.
"I'm Kerry, I'm Mr Simm's PA. I have some name badges for you, visitor lanyards and your briefing packs," she says while handing each of us a large envelope.
"Thank you Kerry," I smile at her.
"You're very welcome ma'am."
"Please call me Harper," I say to her, I like her.
"If you would like to follow me please."
We follow Kerry as requested and my dad leans in to whisper to me.
"We're here to work, Harper not to make friends."
I turn to him and smirk, "That's what you think I'm doing?" I watch as his mouth drops when I challenge his observations. Look out daddy I'm in business mode now, do not presume to know me.
"If you would like to take a seat here please, Mr Simm will be along in a few minutes," Kerry smiles at us and I kindly thank her.
I take a seat and take in my surroundings. I see the Munro's on the other side of the hallway. The Munros are our biggest competitors.
"No surprise to see those two here." My dad scoffs.
They've seen us and are now walking over to where we are sitting with those arrogant grins on their faces. We stand as they approach.
"Henderson! I would say I'm surprised but I would be lying," Mr Munro smirks.
"Munro," dad nods in acknowledgement. Jesus, men and their egos.
Mr Munro gestures next to him, "You know my son Alex."
"Of course, How could we not."
Alexander Junior Munro, 24 year old bachelor who is desperate to take over daddy's business but daddy won't let go.
Alex nods at my dad, "Mr Henderson, I see you've brought your assistant," He smirks at me and I roll my eyes at his originality.
"Gents, you already know my daughter Harper."
Mr Munro Leeds at me, "Wow little Harper, look at you all grown up," his eyes wander up and down my body. He has three seconds to stop before I poke them out his head.
"Alex, you remember Harper, you played together as kids," Mr Munro says without taking his eyes off of me. "You were probably too young to remember Harper."
“There's not much about my childhood that is worth remembering Mr Munro.”
I plaster that fake smile on again. Mr Munro smirks, Alex scoffs and my dad looks like he could burst with anger right about now.
Mr Simm suddenly appears in front of us, “Ok are we ready to get this show on the road?” The three men are still standing measuring their dicks so I approach Mr Simm.
“Of course Mr Simm, would you like to lead the way?”
We are led into a beautifully decorated boardroom that allows plenty of sunlight in which illuminates the art on the walls and the large glass table placed directly in the middle.
“Very impressive Mr Simm.”
“Thank you Miss Henderson.”
My dad does not look amused as he sports his all too familiar scowl and shakes his head at me while the Munro's snigger. Mr Simm sits at the head of the table with his PA at his side to take notes. The Munro's sit at one side of the table while my dad and I sit at the other. I get myself situated with everything I need while everyone just looks at me. I look up and Kerry is the only one smiling at me.
“Ok so you all know why you are here,” Mr Simm starts, “Kerry here sent out what we are looking for which you have a copy of in your packs. The best proposal gets the work. We will start with Munro and then hear from Henderson. Are we ready to start?”
“Ready when you are Mr Simm,” Mrs Munro quickly answers.
“Of course Mr Simm,” I nod politely.
Mr Munro stands and starts his presentation. I lose interest in the first 60 seconds and write my own notes in the pack we have been given but I can't help but feel I'm being watched. I look up to see Alex glaring at me. The dude needs to be finding something else to stare at.
Once the presentation is finished Mrs Sim sits silently for a moment stroking his chin. “This all looks very good Mr Munro but how are we going to fund this?”
I listen intently as he says the dreaded words "staff cuts".
“Well if that is what needs to be done.” Mrs Simm responds and I immediately furrow my brows and Alex jumps on the chance to pull me up.
“You got a problem there Barbie?”
Oh no he didn't!
“I'm not about to interrupt Mr Munro's proposal so I will wait to answer your question until I have the floor.”
“Oh you're alright sweetheart, I'm finished,” Mr Munro smirks at me.
“It's Miss Henderson.”
I stand up and hand a copy of my researched figures and charts to both Kerry and Mr Simm.
“I don't think I need to introduce our company as I believe our name and results speak for themselves…”
“Is this a joke?” Alex snaps.
“You’re letting her make the bid?” Mr Munro asks with wide eyes.
Kerry and I catch each other’s eye and smile at each other
Dad sits with a huge grin on his face, “This is Harper's work, it's only fair she presents it.”
“If you boys don't mind, I didn't interrupt during your proposal therefore I would appreciate the same courtesy.” I'm met with shocked expressions from all the men excluding my smug father.
I continue on with my proposal however, I refuse to look at my dad or the Munro's, focusing all my attention on Mr Simm. Once I'm near the end I decide to get in there before the question is asked.
“If you take a look at the Appendices you will see a list of items you currently use which can be replaced by cheaper items. This will not affect your product quality but it will save you significant money thus allowing you to fund this proposal. Any questions?” I know full well there won't be, I always make sure to address and explain everything throughout the presentation so that there shouldn't be any need for clarification or questions at the end.
Mr Simm looks a little shell shocked. “N...no Miss Henderson, I believe that covers everything.”
I smile politely and take my seat.
“Well, there is certainly a lot to think about. I will be in touch this evening with my decision. Thank you all for your time.”
I smile politely and stand to shake both Mr Simm and Kerry's hand before confidently leaving the room. As soon as I am on the ground floor I immediately phone Vic.
Phone call - Harper: Hey gorgeous, can you pick me up?
Phone call Victoria: Of course, Outside your meeting?
Phone call - Harper: I'll walk along the street. Give me a call when you arrive.
Phone call - Victoria: Will do babe
I’ve only just hung up the phone and put it in my bag when my dad comes up behind me.
“I thought you would've been in the car already.”
“I'm meeting Victoria, I won't be home tonight.”
“I came to the meeting, now I'm going out with my friend. I will see you later.”
With that I walk away from him. I'm not in the mood to argue with him and I'm most definitely not in the mood to spend time with him.
I ignore him making my way to a small coffee shop. I order my coffee and sit by the window so that I can look out for Vic. Thirty minutes later and I see her pull up.
“Well?” She asks with a raised brow and a smile as I jump into her car.
“You aced it didn't you?”
“Dad wanted the deal so I pitched for it best I could.” I shrug.
Vic laughs, “Yep you got it.”
“I don't know why you don't just tell him you’re not interested in the family business.”
I roll my eyes and sigh, “I've tried but he just thinks it's a lack of confidence.”
“Babe, you never do something if you aren't confident.”
"I'm confident I want us to go for drinks and dancing tonight," I smile.
We get back to Vic's two bedroom apartment where I spend most of my time. We order a pizza, open a bottle of wine and blast the music while we get ready.
"Ok will I do?" I put on my best pout as I pose for my best friend.
"Bloody hell Harper!" Vic giggles, "Do you have a licence for those boobs?"
"The men will be crowding you tonight hon," Vic winks at me.
"Here's hoping, I could do with some man candy."
"Speaking of man candy…" I look over at her and see her smirking, "Tell me about Alex Munro."
I let out a groan, "He's a douche."
"A sexy douche though."
"If you say so," I laugh.
"What's his problem anyway?"
"No idea hun, our dads can't stand each other and he obviously feels like I'm trash through association."
We finish off our bottle of wine then call an uber to take us to our favourite club, Double or nothing.
"Wow it's jumping tonight!" Vic yells out as we weave our way through the hoards of people.
"Just the way we like it!" I yell back at her.
We grab ourselves a couple of drinks and make our way to the dance floor.
After an hour or so of drinking and dancing we decide to take a bathroom break however when we get to the ladies we notice some guy harassing a young woman outside the door.
"Leave me alone!"
"Oh come, just a little kiss."
The douchebag leans into her trying to get a kiss.
"Ewww get off me!" The young woman shouts as she tries to push him off.
"HEY! LEAVE HER ALONE!" I shout at the asshole.
He turns and snarls at Vic and I.
"Are you deaf?" Vic yells at him, "She said leave her alone!"
"Look at the way she's dressed! She's begging for it!"
He did not just say that! I clench my fists as he turns back to the girl.
"Now where were we?"
I march towards the asshole, spin him around and knee him in the junk.
I lean into the dickhead's face as he is doubled over in pain, "Now piss off!"
"What the hell is going on here?" Someone shouts from behind me and I quickly turn to see who it is.