1. The Chosen Candidate.
Chapter One - Part One.
“Right, listen up everybody!” my boss calls out to the whole office as she stands hands on hips in front of her glass screened private office.
The office immediately goes quiet and everybody reverts their attention to her.
“I’m sure most of you have heard some rumours about a potential client that is planning to launch a new hotel here in Dalford. An important client. You may have also heard that he plans to visit our company as he is seeking partnership for his new business.”
“So what? How does that make him important? It’s only a hotel,” I mutter under my breath whilst rolling my eyes.
“The fact that he’s one of the wealthiest and most handsome men in this country perhaps, Felicia? That is if the rumours are true and she really does mean Mr. Charlton,” my colleague, Caroline whispers back to me.
My eyes enlighten for a split few seconds, but I quickly shrug off my expression and return my attention to my boss.
“Well, that rumour is not a rumour. It is the truth. The Charlton Group will be coming in this afternoon to look over your portfolios in search of a potential candidate to help launch a partnership together.”
“Eeeek, yaaaay!” Caroline squeals quietly next to me.
“Though they’ll only be selecting a few of you to work as part of a team. I can not yet confirm, but there is a possibility the man himself, Mr. Charlton, may be coming along as he happens to be in town anyway. With all that said, I hope I do not need to remind you that utter professionalism is essential today. There will be no chit chat or gossiping, focus strictly on your work and do not let our company down. We are not the only company the Charlton Group has or will be visiting, we can not afford to lose this client. Should anyone jeopardize that, you will be fired immediately.”
Some colleagues gasp and gossip among themselves at the threat Regina made.
“Now, carry on as you were and get back to work,” Miss. Regina, demands in her usual snobbish tone. “Oh, and Miss. Parks, bring those designs I requested to my office immediately,” she calls out to me before returning to her office.
The office silence lifts upon her exit but the chatter is at a minimum, quiet enough not to disturb Regina.
“Do you have your designs prepared, Felicia? You stayed pretty late last night huh? You were still here after I left an hour after our shift ended,” Caroline asks.
“Yeah, I’ve got them. Though I doubt they’ll get her approval; she’s always got something to moan about,” I say as I pick up my prepared designs.
“Well, good luck,” she teases with a grin.
I roll my eyes at her and then walk towards Miss. Regina’s office, designs propped underneath one arm. I knock lightly with the back of my hand on her glass door as I approach her office.
“Enter,” she calls out from behind the glass.
I enter, closing the door behind me and approach her desk.
“Here are the designs you requested, Miss. Regina. I hope they are what you had in mind.” I pass my designs into her hands, concerned about the opinions I’ll receive from her.
“The Emerald Jewellers new designs, correct?” she asks, staring up at me through the glasses half down the bridge of her nose.
“Yes, that is right. I’ve redesigned everything requested by the client. The logo, storefront sign, in-store catalogue book, posters, business cards and their website.”
“I see. You’re out of the office Thursday for the event planning of the Marston’s restaurant relaunch, do you have everything prepared?” she inquires as she observes my designs.
“Yes. I have an appointment with Mr. Wicks, the new owner, at 9:00 a.m. to go through the final preparations. They will then be put into place during the weekend, ready for the relaunch on Monday evening.”
“Good. Then I’ll expect these Emerald Jewellers designs to be printed and ready to drop off at the store on Wednesday.”
“Wait- you mean these designs? My designs? You don’t want to change anything?” I emphasize, slightly baffled that she’s impressed enough to release them as a final design.
“Yes, did I not make that clear? Oh, and I want the new designs implemented on the website by Wednesday too.”
“As in this Wednesday? Two days away?”
“Is that going to be a problem, Miss. Parks?” she asks, gazing through her glasses at me sternly.
“N-no, not at all. Consider it done.” “You may leave now, and shut the door on your way out.”
“Of course, thank you,” I reply as I gather my designs off her desk and place them back underneath my arm.
I exit the door, closing it behind me and then return to my desk. I place my designs carefully onto my desk, take my seat and let out a big sigh of both relief and stress.
Caroline notices that I’m back and rolls up in her chair next to me.
“How’d it go? That bad huh?” she laughs, peering at my designs.
“I’m not sure- she didn’t ask me to change anything, but instead insisted that I print everything ready to be dropped off to the client by Wednesday. Also, she wants the new designs to be implemented onto the website.”
“Wait, what? She didn’t comment or give any remarks on what to change or do differently?” Cara asks inquisitively.
“Holy crap, Felicia, what did you do to her? Are you Regina’s new pet?” She taunts.
“Yeah, very funny. I have no idea. I’m as shocked as you are, but now also kind of stressing out about getting this all done within two days.”
“You’ll manage it, you always do. Plus, the hard work is complete now. All you have to do is let the machines do most of the work printing their catalogues and stuff.”
“That’s the easy part. The business cards, catalogues, store window and in-store posters. They only need to be printed, and the catalogues stapled. The website I can update at home during the night but it’s all down to the sign fitters to fit the new store sign on the day. It’s pretty short notice, not to mention I’ve still yet to send the sign printers company the design and have them prepare it. Dammit, I need to call Matthew right now!”
“Chill the hell out, Felicia. You know Matthew will set your design as a priority to print as soon as possible. Not only because you’ve known him for a few years, but because he definitely has the hots for you,” she teases.
“Oh, shut up. He does not, he’s just a nice guy who is nice to everyone.”
“Oh, and he does favours and makes everyone else a top priority too, right?” she replies sarcastically with a smirk on her face.
“I’m telling you, you’ve got it wrong,” I insist defensively, “now go away, I’ve got phone calls to make,” I say, gesturing her away with my hands.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” she chuckles whilst wheeling her chair back to her desk.
I pick up the wireless telephone and punch in the number for SignPrinters. It rings about six times when a female voice finally answers.
“Hello, SignPrinters. Amanda speaking, how may I help you?”
“Hello there, it’s Felicia Parks from Rivera Designs, would it be possible to speak to Matthew Barlow, please?”
“One moment, I’ll go check if he’s free to talk. Please hold.”
She places me on hold with the sound of Beethoven playing in my ear for about thirty seconds. The music started to relax me momentarily.
“Hello? Felicia?” Matthew’s voice interrupts as the Beethoven music stops dead.
I snap out of my daydream and answer him.
“Matthew, hey! I’m so sorry to disturb you but I have an urgent favour to ask if possible please?”
“Sure. No problem, what is it?” he asks.
“I need an outdoor store sign printed asap, today if possible and the latest by tomorrow morning. It’s a huge ask I know, but it’s kind of an emergency deadline I’ve got to meet and just had sprung on me. I understand if it’s too short notice, I could try somewhere else if so.”
“Consider it done. It will be ready for the sign fitters to pick up tomorrow morning or whenever they are ready. Email me the documents and designs over as soon as you can.”
“Oh my god, you are a lifesaver, thank you so much! I’ll have the documents sent over in the next half hour. Thank you again, Matthew, I owe you one.”
“You’re welcome, anytime. But as you now owe me one- how about a coffee sometime as a form of repayment?” he asks, lowering his voice as if he doesn’t want anyone on his end to hear the request.
I blush slightly on my end, thankful he can’t see me right now, and a little taken back by his request.
“Umm, sure, we could arrange that. It’s the very least that I owe you.”
“Great. Sounds perfect. I’ll email you my mobile number. Let me know when you’re free.”
“Ok, great. Thank you again, bye Matthew.”
“No problem. Take care, bye Felicia.”
I hang up the phone and place it back on it’s charging dock. I feel a little flustered but quickly get over it and get on with my errands.
It’s nearing the end of my lunch break, around 1:15 p.m. Luckily, I managed to get a booking with the sign fitters as they happened to have a cancellation. I emailed the designs to Matthew, printed off the business cards and catalogues. All I had to do now was print off the posters and staple the printed catalogues together. The catalogues will definitely take a few hours and most likely leave me with blistered callus hands by the end of it. Nevertheless, everything was working out smoothly and I’m still on schedule.
Packing away my food back into my handbag, I sweep the remnant crumbs of my sandwich into the bin beneath my desk. After doing so, I begin to take a sip of my bottled water.
“Holy shit, look!” Caroline squeals, nudging me in the arm and sending the water from the bottle flying everywhere.
“Jesus Cara, what the fuck?” I snap in a temper whilst water drips from my chin and onto my skirt.
“Oh crap,” she laughs. “I’m sorry, but look, he’s here!” she gushes, pointing towards Miss. Regina’s office like an excited little school girl.
As I wipe the water droplets away from my chin, I glance over at Regina’s office. I unintentionally catch a glimpse of who I can only assume is Mr. Charlton as we make eye contact briefly. I turn away and pretend that never happened as I spam random keys on my computer’s keyboard.
That was awkward, he probably thinks I’ve been staring at him now, dammit. Though I can’t argue with how Caroline described him this morning. He really is one of the most handsome guys I’ve ever laid my eyes on, even if it was only for a split second. He has a strong, prominent and masculine jawline, with a nicely trimmed short stubble, very much like the typical ‘hot’ main male character of a movie. His hair is a dark tawny brown colour, a little shorter on the sides and longer on the top where it is swept into a comb-over. I could tell that under his suit, his body is defined, like a man who likes to keep in good shape, but not overly keen.
I wonder though, how come I’ve never heard of or seen anything about this guy? I mean, I’ve heard some things about the Charlton Group, their hotel chains and other stuff, but I didn’t know this guy was the man behind it all. He looks too young to be a millionaire- or a billionaire- or whatever he is. I guess my lack of information comes from being a workaholic, keeping myself to myself, and rarely using any form of social media.
“Isn’t he just insanely gorgeous? Oh, the things I’d love for him to do to me,” Caroline says interrupting my own thoughts.
“Ew, what the hell, Cara?” I reply, repulsed as I wipe the water residue off my skirt.
“Oh come on, like you’re not thinking the same thing?”
“I’m definitely not. I hadn’t even seen him before up until now.”
“But now you are thinking about it, right? Now that you’ve seen him?”
“God, Cara, no! What is wrong with you?” I roll my eyes.I stand up from my chair, make a click on my mouse to confirm prints and begin to head towards the printers at the back of the office. As I pass Cara, she gently grabs my arm and stops me.
“Oh look, they are coming around to check our portfolios. That Vincent and the other guy ain’t half bad on the eye either, are they?” she gushes, biting the corner of her bottom lip as I continue to walk past her towards the printers.
I don’t even answer her, she knows exactly what I’m thinking. That she’s a horny little devil.
Cara has never really had a proper relationship, and she tends to see several guys at the same time without them knowing. She loves partying and getting drunk too. But other than her crazy, carefree and wild lifestyle, she’s a funny and kind-hearted girl and very much like a younger sister to me. I usually end up helping her complete her work deadlines as she slacks so much, and give her advice on the social mayhem she creates when she asks for it. Not that she takes the advice on board, which always makes me wonder why she bothers asking me in the first place. Though, all in all, she’s a good person, and she makes working here a little more fun I suppose.
After approaching the printers, I proceed with printing my work and wait for the machine to do its thing.
End of Chapter One - Part One.