I lean back in my chair, toss my glasses on the glass desk, and pinch my eyebrow. It’s almost 8PM and I’m still sitting in front of my office computer, researching a potential new client for the marketing firm I work for.
I let out a sigh and run my hands through my red, wavy hair. Yes, I’m a ginger named Ginger, something everyone seems to find very fucking amusing. I do take it upon myself to exceed their fiery expectations by being competitive, self-assured, and cocky which serves me well in the marketing field. I make sure to back it up by putting in long hours of research and continued education so I can walk the walk. As a young female in an aggressive, corporate industry, I consistently feel the need to work twice as hard (or long) to be seen as a worthy colleague to my male counterparts. Of course, I rarely saw them staying late or working weekends as often as I do. They tended to crowd the elevator at 5:01PM with their sports jackets slung over their shoulders so they could file into bars in time for kickoff.
I knew I was meant for great things, that it was a matter of time before I was moving up, so long as I stayed focused and hungry. So long as I worked my ass off.
I move my head side to side to loosen some of my stiff neck muscles. Suddenly my phone vibrates on the desk. I pick it up and see a text from my best friend Nadia.
Let’s grab a drink, you know you aren’t going to get anything done after 8 on a Friday.
I smile to myself, Nadia was only one of two people who knew me so well. I go to tap out an excuse about how I really need to get a few more things done before I delete it and type in a new message.
Fine, I’ll see you at The Tavern in 20.
Ten minutes later, I’m stepping off the elevator of the large building I work in just as Lenny the doorman is putting on his jacket.
“Night Miss Ginger,” he says as he nods at me with a big smile on his face from behind the security desk in the large, empty lobby.
“Night Lenny, have fun at your niece’s birthday party,” I say returning his smile without slowing down, my heels clicking on the white marble.
“I surely will, try not to work too hard this weekend.”
I give him a little shrug without dropping my smile. Lenny was the main doorman of the building, hundreds of people worked here but since I was one of the people who tended to come in early and leave late, we had more face time than other employees.
I pull the collar up on my gray wool coat as I step into the chilly night air. Despite the cold, New York City’s lights are shining bright and people are buzzing around under “open” signs on crowded sidewalks. God I love this city. I look up at the buildings and breathe in the night air. Compared to the tiny town I originally grew up in, NYC was vibrant and alive regardless of the time of day. In fact, Friday nights didn’t really seem to start until 10PM or so.
I start down the sidewalk dodging the crowds of couples, businessmen, and college students before ducking into Finn’s Tavern just a few blocks from my work.
I spot Nadia at our usual spot at the bar. She’s flipping her hair around and fake-laughing/talking to a tall, dark-haired man in a suit. I toss my coat on the back of the barstool next to her and sit down.
“Ey Gigi, whiskey?” Simon, a tall hulk of an Irish man and the owner of the tavern, looks at me from behind the bar where he’s drying pint glasses.
“Yes please, and a beer back, thanks Simon,” I sigh.
“You got it,” as Simon pours my drink I glance sideways at Nadia and the suit she’s chatting up.
“So you have a cabin upstate huh?” Nadia says in her best coy, sexy voice as she flutters her eyelashes at tall, dark, and dull.
“Yeah, with a jacuzzi and everything, you’ll have to come check it out some time, maybe you can bring a hot girlfriend?” He reaches over and strokes her back.
I roll my eyes so hard I’m worried they’re going to fall out of my head before picking up my freshly poured whiskey and taking a generous sip. Simon snickers upon seeing my face as he places a full beer on a napkin in front of me.
“He’s lying,” I say.
“Shush up Ginger,” Nadia says. I can feel the guy look at me with heat and anger.
“Yes I do, you don’t know shit bitch,” he says to me. I put my hand up to let Simon know I’m fine before he jumps over the bar and throttles the guy. Simon just crosses his giant arms across his chest and glares at him. I fully turn to look at the guy and size him up before speaking again.
“Based on your knockoff Rolex and clearance rack Brooks Brothers suit, I’ll bet you $50 you have a college buddy with a timeshare in Poughkeepsie that you use to bag woman who aren’t impressed with your one bedroom apartment in a fifth story walk up in Park Slope,” I say before taking another sip of my whiskey. Then I tilt my head and smile at him.
Nadia looks at him with her eyebrows raised and waits for his response. The guy looks taken aback but tries to flex and recover.
“Nobody ever taught you to keep your mouth shut did they? Probably too late for a man to teach you your place huh little lady?”
He barely finishes the sentence before Nadia tosses her drink in his face and Simon rounds the bar, grabs him and shoves him out the front door.
“And don’t ever come back ya fuckin Jackeen,” Simon growls at him before slamming the bar door closed. As he storms back to his spot behind the bar, he points at Nadia. “Free drink for watering the asshole, what do ya want Nat?”
“Jack and coke, nothing but the classiest for me babe,” Nadia finally turns to me. “I was looking for a good fuck for the night but watching you put guys in their place is my second favorite pastime.”
She shells a peanut and pops it in her mouth with a crunch.
“Trust me Nadia, that guy would be a mediocre fuck at best. All missionary and expecting to give you an orgasm by rubbing your clìt so hard he almost starts a fire on his cheap sheets,” I reply.
Simon snorts so loud he almost spills Nadia’s drink as he puts it down in front of her. Nadia doesn’t miss a beat.
“Eh, I dunno, it looks like he could’ve taken direction plus they don’t get off til I get off, that’s my new policy.”
Now it’s my turn to laugh.
“Since when?” I take a swig of beer. “And...does it work?”
Nadia isn’t phased.
“Most of the time! You just have to tell them exactly what you want, it’s not like there’s a fucking class to take on clitoral stimulation Ginger, we gotta show em the way!”
“That class would be fucking full if there a-was,” Simon says over his shoulder as he crosses the bar to collect some tabs. I shake my head and take another swig of my beer.
“No way, I want a man who has his own money, his own friends, and his own skills on providing female orgasms,” I say as I prop my elbows up on the bar.
“Psh, good luck. And when you find him introduce me to one of his friends,” Nadia says.
“Deal,” I say and we clink glasses in agreement.
“I’d ask how your sexual conquests are going but I know the answer so I’ll just ask about your job again,” Nadia says. I ignore her dig at my lack of a sex life.
“Its fine, I got wind last week that a young business that’s heating up in Europe right now is looking to break into the U.S. market. I’ve been researching knives all week so I can pitch to them.”
Nadia pauses and looks at me with confusion.
“Knives? Like kitchen knives?”
“No they’re a higher end outdoor knife brand, they’ll be the next Yeti or Hydroflask”
“What the fuck is an outdoor knife?”
“Are you talkin bout Adair Knives?” Simon asks approaching us, grabbing my empty glasses and dumping the remnants in the sink.
“How’d you know?!” I almost shout. Simon looks surprised.
“They’re blowin up in the U.K. They’re the swanky, handmade knives everyone’s buyin up over there.” He crosses his arms matter-of-factly. “Popular with folks who do a lot of huntin or backpackin.”
Nadia still looks confused but I’m thrilled.
“That’s exactly right Simon! I’ll have to run some ideas by you before I pitch to them in a few weeks!” He gives me a wide, toothy grin as I reach over the bar and hit his chest with the back of my hand. “This account will be huge for me! If I land it, I could finally get the Senior Account Executive promotion at my work!”
“I’d be happy to help ya, anytime,” Simon replies with a toothy grin.
“Well, count me out babes. I don’t think I’m their target market.” Nadia drains her drink and pushes her cleavage out of her low-cut dress. Then she fluffs up her wavy brown hair. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go seduce that tall, fuckable guy by the bathroom.”
As Nadia struts off towards a blonde guy drinking cheap beers with a few other former frat guys, I snort laugh and shake my head.
“Another beer please Simon,” I say.
“Aye Gigi,” Simon pulls the tap and starts filling a fresh pint glass.
“She invites me out for a drink just so I can watch her sexual conquests all night,”
“Like you’d be anywhere else on a Friday night,” Simon sets the frost-covered pint in front of me and winks. I throw a peanut shell at him.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you are suggesting I don’t have a life,” I say pretending to be offended.
“I mean, you have a life like I have a life, married to the job,” Simon shrugs and dumps the tray from under the taps into the sink. “But ey, just means you will work your arse off and be the new marketing rep for Adair Knives.”
I smile and take a sip of my drink.
“Did you just say Adair Knives?”
I turn to look at the source of the voice only to be severely disappointed.
Jackson Theron’s icy blue eyes are looking back at me, a smirk playing on his smug face. Jackson works at a competing marketing firm, I met him at a networking function five years ago when I was a newbie and I've hated his guts ever since. At the same time, I enjoy competing with him as he has proven himself to be a worthy adversary in the field.
He had super dark hair, almost black. He was perhaps a few years older than me, maybe in his early thirties. His olive skin suggested he was Greek or Italian but his accent was non-existent. He always sported a light stubble and his suits were perfectly pressed. I was convinced his clients were easily seduced by his looks and faux charm but I saw right through him.
His smile widened when he saw the disdain dripping from my eyes.
“What do you want Jackson?”
“It’s nice to see you too Ginger, I can see you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed you,” I so badly want to slap the cocky smile off his face. I can see Simon glaring at him and I nod at him to go away and not beat Jackson to a bloody pulp. After he saunters off, I narrow my eyes at Jackson again. “I just thought I’d let you know that I’ll be pitching to Adair Knives next week so you probably shouldn’t spend too much time preparing a presentation,” Jackson says.
My mouth drops open, I can’t help it. I’ve been reading every single thing that’s ever been written about this company for the last week. They are my ticket to a promotion at my job. Jackson reaches over and places one finger under my chin and closes my mouth for me. I shake off his touch.
“What? How did you even know they were looking?!” I don’t even try to mask my shock and annoyance.
“It’s my job to know Ginger,” Jackson lifts a tumbler of amber liquid to his mouth and takes a sip while casually looking around before his eyes settle back on me again. “Anyway, I doubt a leggy redhead can speak the language of burly Scottish men who sell knives, you should know your demographic babe.”
I feel my face heat up. At this point I stand up and get close to Jackson’s face, glaring straight into his blue orbs. With my towering heels I’m only about 4 or 5 inches shorter than him.
“Oh really? And you, pretty boy, you’re going to speak lumberjack are you? You’ve probably never even seen a fucking tree outside of Central Park, what are you going to do, buy a flannel and a hunting rifle for your presentation? Maybe learn to spit?”
He tilts his head and smirks again, clearly enjoying that he’s riling me up.
“You think I’m pretty eh?”
“I’m going to get that account, I hear leggy redheads are really popular in Scotland,” I emphasize his own description of me back to him.
“Aye, I can vouch for that,” Simon says over his shoulder while making a drink, clearly unashamed that he’s still listening.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get them to engrave a knife just for you, it’ll say 'Frigid Ice Queen,” he laughs, it’s genuine and throaty and I fucking hate it.
“Well well, who is this?” Suddenly Nadia is back and grabbing Jackson’s arm through his suit. Jackson looks down confused at the busty woman now hanging off his bicep.
“This is Jackson, and he was just leaving,” I practically hiss as I take my seat back at the bar and grab a handful of peanuts, shelling them violently.
“Jackson, what a sexy name. Stay for a drink!” Nadia tries to pull him to a chair but Jackson frees his arm from her clutches.
“I should get going. Nice to see you Ginger,” he puts his hand on my shoulder so I will look at him. “Better luck next time.”
He puts his empty glass on the bar next to me and leaves.
I roll my eyes and turn back to the bar. Nadia watches Jackson slip on his coat and leave like she’s a cat hunting a mouse.
“You holding out Ginger?” Nadia says practically licking her lips.
“Fuck no, he’s an asshole Nat. What happened with the Ken Doll over there?”
Nadia sighs and tosses a long strand of her wavy brown hair over her shoulder as she sits down.
“Dedicated to the institution of marriage.”
“Bleh,” I say.
“Cheers to that girl.”
We clink glasses and drain them.