I’m the queen. This is my castle. Give me a throne, and I’ll sit on it.
Tuesday mantra was the best.
It was better than Monday’s ’Do it till you make it.′ It was kind of aggravating when you try to achieve a Monday goal, but end up at the receiving end of a disappointment. That was why when Monday pissed me off, Tuesday’s mantra was always there to set off the fireworks. It was there to stare me in the face and tell me what I needed to hear.
I was like a god on Tuesday, and I made sure I dressed up for it. Maybe someone might look at me and thought I was extra, but I didn’t care. Every day had its own mood. No one got to mess up my Tuesday. Even god’s plans for me were being halted. The dog that constantly barked in my neighbors’ flat gave me a break.
I wore yellow. I didn’t mean a dull yellow. The kind of yellow that would get people staring and cringing. And on top of the yellow dress and heels, my hoops were huge and blue. I threw that look with a curled hair that was so big that I grimaced every time I remembered that I had to go through brushing it. It was worth it. I had learned that you couldn’t live life and keep yourself captivated on who you truly are to please others. If I had learned anything about Americans, it’s they felt the need to give their inputs on what didn’t concern them, so I might as well give them something to talk about at the dinner table.
The roar of the honking traffic filled my ears. It never got better. It only ever got worse, and I should have been used to it. I had been here for over a year, and I still hated it. I missed the cold weather in London. I missed my friends, but I still loved New York. We were like married couples—sometimes we get along, and sometimes we didn’t, like today. New York drivers were a different kind of breeds. They wouldn’t mind running you over if it came to it or soak you with puddle water. They didn’t even mind peeking their heads out of their windows and scream at you. Sometimes, they gave the finger, and other times, I gave them right back.
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you couldn’t imagine not having it? There were two things in my life that I had felt that way about; morning coffee and a day where the CEO of our company got fired. I needed to remember that the day would come. The day would come when he would be kicked out, and I would lick the dirty floors with my tongue. I just had to ignore the fact that the owner of the company was the manager’s brother. That wasn’t a tiny hiccup, is it?
It was all I could think about when I watched his bloated face as he fired nonsense after nonsense, which everyone called Robert free time because what he talked about had nothing to do with the company. I kid you not. We had to patiently wait until he had finished ranting about useless things before the official meeting started, which he barely paid attention to. Seriously, who gave this man a job?
Robert Sinclair stood at the head of the boardroom table and droned on and on about how his friend bought a yacht for the third time because Robert had bought his third one last week. He continued to gloat and brag about how he had competitive friends, and how we were all so lucky to be poor enough not to care about what our poor friends were doing.
I turned down the urge to slam my head against the table because this was not the priority. The priority was the sales that had been going down for weeks, and we needed to find a solution to that. Preferably a brand that could help our company boost our sales and increase our profits. Without money flowing in, I could not get my monthly Fenty shopping that had turned into an addiction.
Sometimes, I wondered about my old job and the what if’s. I think this was my punishment, having to listen to Robert’s brags. Sliding a glance at Ken, the man sitting next to me, I noticed a magazine sitting in front of him. Without asking, I slid it toward me. At least, this would entertain me for a few minutes.
Rogue Slade graced the front cover of the magazine. Shocking. Not. He was on every front page and in every bloody channel. It was annoying and sickening. He was the American royalty, and a year ago, I used to think no one could be as popular and talked about like Mason Campbell, but alas, every country seemed to have its own Campbell, or at least, a different one.
Staring into the face of Rogue Slade gave me the creeps. The expensive Armani suit did nothing but attract eyes to his ripped muscles and wide shoulders. It was difficult not to look at him—a more difficult thing to look away. If someone tells me Rogue was a demon, I will jump to believe it. The way he watches you, even in a stupid magazine or tv, would make the hairs on your back rise a little. The way his gaze burned right through your skull with so much focus and stillness that I had only ever seen in dead people with their eyes opened.
I quickly flipped the magazine over before I could do any more inspection. I could only handle a few seconds of watching him, which felt more like ten minutes. Any more added seconds, I would be possessed. No, seriously. Possession was real. I was not going to take my chances.
My hands were clutched, and I shared a look with Hanna Sinclair, my greatest friend and ally. If zombies overran the world, I knew she would be among the people to make the world feel less dead.
“Did you hear?” she remarked excitedly, pulling me back into the present. Her blue eyes were brighter and sparked with endless excitement. There were only two responses that could lead to that; great, or oh no.
“Hear what?” I asked, realizing the atmosphere in the boardroom was lighter. Faces were glowing. Through the murmurs that circled the space, I could not detect anything from it. I carefully turned my gaze back on Hanna. “What’s everyone so excited about?”
“We’re collaborating with Mogue,” she explained, whirling around to share her excitement with the person sitting beside her. Her dark hair smacked me in the face, and I got a whiff of her shampoo. It tickled my nose.
Mogue was the fastest-selling lingerie in the entire world. Women would chop their arms to get Mogue’s, and men would sell their kidneys to have their women wearing it. As for me, I would rather donate than wear ridiculously expensive lingerie that, in my opinion, wasn’t good. People buy it because of the person selling it. It was a typically strategic move. Get an attractive face on the brand, and stuff would be selling out nonstop.
If you still haven’t put two and two, Rogue Slade owned Mogue and several companies that I didn’t care to know about. I sounded bitter and hateful. Trust me, I wasn’t. I just didn’t believe in buying stuff because a pretty face was telling me to. If it was something shit, you bet your ass I was not going to buy it.
And how the bloody hell did Robert get Mogue to collaborate with our company? Our 500 fortune company, which was suffering a lot right now. We were not the worst, but Sinclair did good before Robert was put in the CEO position that should have gone to Hanna. She was the best person for the job, in my opinion. She loved makeup. Sinclair sells makeup. Check. She loved shopping. Sinclair had a clothing line. Check. She had taste in shoes and bags. Sinclair sells shoes and leather bags. Check. What’s not clicking, Mr. Sinclair?
The meeting concluded with me just giving a slight nod to everything that was said. When everyone gathered their notes, I got out of my chair and prepared to walk out when Robert spoke up from behind, stopping me from leaving.
“Yes, sir?” I turned around and kept my hands on the vacated chair.
Robert smiled at me, looking like the smug man he was. “How are you this morning, Beth?”
His question threw me off guard, and I found myself rolling my head back to grasp on the perfect answer to that question. When I reached a conclusion, I responded, “I’m good, thank you.” And I did mean it. It was Tuesday. I was blessed with excessive happiness on Tuesday.
“Good.” He nodded his head in acceptance. The man was pushing fifty, but he looked old enough to be sixty. “The reason why I stopped you from joining your colleagues is that I needed to talk to you about the collaboration with Mogue. It’s a huge deal for Sinclair.”
I nodded in agreement.
His grinned expanded as if he liked the nonverbal answer. “We can’t afford to blow this off or have any reason to upset Mogue, which is why I carefully arranged for one of my employees to meet with Mogue and go through all the necessary things with them. Meaning, I chose you, Beth, to go over there and make sure we don’t make them regret collaborating with us.”
“What?” I blurted out, tightening my hands around the chair I was gripping. “Why me?”
“Because you’re good at your job, and you know how to please people. I think you’re the perfect candidate.”
I struggled to form coherent words. “B...but, but did you ask Hanna? Maybe she would want to do this? Please, Mr. Sinclair, I don’t think I’m the perfect person for this job.” I was freaking out. Ready to grovel if it came to it. The thought of being in the same proximity with Rogue Slade scared me shitless.
Robert waved my concern away, which upset me even more. “Hanna is actually the one who voted your name, and I agreed with her decision.” My face grew hot, and he laughed at it. “Don’t worry, you’re going to do great. I have faith in you,” his voice brimmed with excitement. “Off you go then. I will have someone send you the file.”
“Thank you.” I turned and kept walking, pausing by the door to breathe in deeply before gaining the courage to walk out.
Hanna was sitting on my chair in my cubicle when I reached her. She was on her phone when she saw me, then laughed at the storm in my face.
“I can’t believe you did that,” I hissed, trying not to speak loud enough for everyone to hear. “Was it on purpose?” I leaned my hip against my desk and glared at her.
She laughed. “Kinda?” It came out while she was trying to hold back another laughter. “I know you have some weird shit against Rogue, so when the opportunity presented itself, I had to volunteer you as a tribute.”
“I have nothing against Rogue!”
Her perfect, curved eyebrows rose. “Then why do you look like you want to battle it out right now?” she demanded with a sly smirk. “You can’t fool me.”
“And you can’t ruin my Tuesday,” I retaliated, tugging her off my chair so I could sit on it. I inhaled and exhaled to calm myself down. Fretting over this new assignment was stupid. I was being stupid.
“Don’t freak out for nothing. Rogue is in Canada right now, returning in four days, and by then, you would have had your meeting with Mogue. So, calm your tits already.” She chuckled when I glared at her. “He has other matters to tend to than waste his time on Mogue issues when he has bazillion people to handle it.”
“How do you know that?” I demanded suspiciously. Hanna just shrugged and grinned, stole my chocolate from my desk, and walked away to get to her office.
“You’re a bitch,” I called out, getting a few looks from the rest of my colleagues, but they didn’t seem to care. They had heard worse come out of my mouth.
“Don’t make me pull ranks,” was her final retort before her head disappeared into the glass-windowed office.
I slouched against my chair.
“Are you up for something spicy?”
I looked up from my computer into Hanna’s blue eyes. For a second, I considered bowing out and eating at my desk to finish up a few more works, but as quickly as the idea came, I knew I couldn’t turn down eating spicy food.
“Always up for it,” I said, closing my computer. My first lunch with Hanna had been a Chinese takeout. The company wanted to build a relationship between all workers, so every new employee got asked out to lunch. When Hanna found out that I shared her love for spicy food, she began asking me out to lunch and trying out new things. We immediately hit it up because she was amazing, but sometimes, she could be a little too much.
Her phone vibrated in her hand, and I watched her read whatever was sent to her. Her face carried a series of emotions, but I couldn’t read any of them because they were there and gone in a flash. Before I could ask her what was wrong, she looked up and smiled at me.
I nodded and smiled. “Sure.”
I watched her leave. Her shoulders were bunched, and her steps were slower than normal. Hanna never rain checked from eating with me. Even when she had been sick, she would call me and ask me to bring takeout. I wasn’t sure what had spooked her, and I wanted to go to her and ask, but I got an email alert that distracted me.
Mogue wanted to meet me tomorrow. I put that on my calendar, so I didn’t forget.
Today seemed to be chaotic. Everyone was breezing with activity. Between team meetings, project deadlines, I barely had a moment to breathe, and I wanted to breathe. I called in the last meeting of the day, and with my team, we went over the ideas and inspiration we were gathering to hand over to Mogue since they wanted our inputs.
Everything had been gathered into a PowerPoint presentation for the meeting tomorrow, but the brainstorming boards were still up in case we needed to make any last-minute changes. Since Robert had chosen to put all the pressure on me, I was the last one to leave. I thought Hanna was still at the office when I finished up, but she had already left. It bothered and confused me that she didn’t say goodbye when she always did. She had been off today. I shot her a text, and she responded with an apology and a chance to make up for me. At least, she was okay.
It was eight-thirty by the time I reached home. Owning a beautiful luxurious flat had its perks. Pro, it was close to the office, a five minutes drive, and con, the rent was crazy. I’d spent the last two weeks answering ads from women looking for a flat to rent. It had been eventful so far. One girl wanted me out so she could rent it, cue my what the fuck face. Another looked like she could be a crack dealer. The fourth girl that I met took one look good at me and said she hated people with green eyes. It reminded her of her dead cat.
I was hoping I could find a roommate to share my space with. I couldn’t afford to live here alone, despite my parents wanting to throw in a few notes for me. I declined, because what kind of person would I be if I took my parents’ money? I would hate to use it unless it was absolutely necessary.
In my apartment, I kicked off my heels and stripped out of my dress, so I was just in my panties before I made my way to the kitchen. I opened the fridge and got myself a soda, grabbing my bag from the counter to make my way into my bedroom.
With the thought of relaxation, I sank deep into the tub and began to doze. It was only the growing chill of the water that nudged me awake. Feeling soothed and as content as I could be, I climbed out of the tub and reached for my towel.
The doorbell was ringing. I moved to open the door but made sure to check who it was before I opened it. My next-door neighbor grinned at me with a small wave. She was in her purple pajamas, and her multicolored hair was in two ponytails. She reminded me so much of Athena.
“Hi, Fallon,” I greeted.
She reached out a shot of vodka to me. I gave her a small wry smile and took the glass from her, tipping it over my mouth. Fallon was a recovering addict. She had been sober for three months now. Every two weeks, she knocked on my door and gave me a shot to continue celebrating her sobriety.
“I saw you when you came home. You looked rough, but you seem better now,” she noted as she took back the glass.
“It’s the job,” I answered.
“And you look skinny. Are you eating?”
The laughter that left me was small. “Like a cow, but I don’t know where the calorie keeps going.” My weight was the last thing I cared about.
She laughed at me. Her golden eyes sparkled. “Wish the rest of us could relate,” she joked. “When are you going to be free? I’ve been trying to get you to go out for lunch, shopping, and whatever, but you’re always so busy.” She tugged at her hair.
I gave her a sheepish smile, feeling ashamed at my neglect. “I’m a shitty neighbor, sorry about that, Fallon. I will make time for you, I swear.” A noise of frustration left me. “I think I’m going to pull my vacation card when we’re done with a project.”
She breathed a sigh of relief. “Good. It’s absolutely crazy sitting at home and doing nothing. And my nut-job mother is forcing me to take yoga and pottery classes with her. Can’t recall the last time I’ve ever wanted to scream.” She grimaced.
“Your mum’s a piece of cake, not going to lie,” I said, remember the first time she had barged into my house uninvited and started to snoop around. Apparently, she was paranoid that I could be dealing and pull her daughter back into the rabbit hole. I was livid, but I understood her concern.
“Tell me about it. Last week, she downloaded a tracking app on my phone and tried to play it cool.”
My eyes widened. “Oh my god.”
“I know, right?” She scoffed. “I threatened her with a restraining order, so now she’s cooled down a bit.”
“I’m glad you handled that well.”
She nodded, then smiled. “I guess I should leave you now. Good night, Beth.” Turning around, she stalked over to her door and started to open it.
“Good night, Fallon,” I called back just as she entered her house and closed the door. When I closed my own door, I made sure I didn’t leave anything on in the kitchen before I went to my room.
I made sure to crosscheck my presentation again.