IRIS

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Chapter 31

Amanda woke up the next morning and saw Alex beside her scrolling on his phone.

“Hey,” she said, her voice hoarse. “What are you doing?”

Alex turned to her and kissed her. “Good morning, girlfriend, it’s a new day for you— look… I’ve been checking various social media sites, and the trending topic just turned in your favor.”

“What do you mean?”

“People are defending you. They said Agatha had no right to judge you based on your sexual preferences. Now she’s in a bad light.”

“Really?”

“And people are using a red kiss mark on their profile photos to show their support for you and Aglow. This is amazing. Olivia Pratt did it again. You did it, my love.”

Amanda couldn’t believe what she just heard. “I have to get to the office right away.” She bounded out of bed and into to the shower.

As she walked in to the elevator on her way up to her office, Taylor grabbed her elbow. “Are you all right, Miss Fox?” He asked with furrowed brows.

“Yes, why?”

“You just keeled backwards, ma’am, I thought you were gonna fall. Are you sure, you’re okay?”

Amanda didn’t feel it, but her head swam with fearful thoughts in blind anticipation of what was going on. If people have started defending her on social media, will it snowball into a bigger issue where she’ll be standing smack center of it?

She noticed the suit she wore that morning didn’t match, and her shoes hurt her feet. Maybe she was just tired and needed some good black coffee.

“I’m just a bit light-headed, Taylor, thanks.” She said, then hugged herself to calm her frazzled nerves.

“Everything will turn out fine, ma’am. In good time…” he assured her.

“I just wish I didn’t light a bigger fire that will bring down the company…” she blew out a lung-full of air.

When the elevator doors opened, Joan was already at the foyer waiting for her. “Good morning, Miss Fox,” her face taut and bright. “Miss Wang is waiting for you at your office, and you have some friends waiting at the lounge.”

Curious at who those friends could be, she hastened to get in. Her heart fluttered when she saw Hans, Edward, and Morris seated at the lounge, all eyes on her, and wore big smiles on their faces.

“Oh my gosh, guys, it’s so nice to see you!” she air-kissed them. “I’ll be with you shortly, I just have to talk to my boss for a bit. Please make yourselves comfortable.” She smiled and turned towards her office.

Valerie was on the couch when she entered, her face unreadable.

“Good morning, Val, is everything all right?” she asked.

“We’re in the middle of a storm, Amanda, I just hope the roof over our heads doesn’t get blown away. Sit beside me please.”

She strode toward the couch and sat beside Val, her heart thudded. What could hit her next?

“I know how all of this is taking its toll on you. Your interview with Olivia yesterday got good results, but it’s not over till it’s over. Let’s brace for whatever comes next and face it with courage. You are more powerful than you think, Amanda, I have so much faith in you.”

“Thank you, Val, I just hope I can match your expectations, but right now, all I can do is hope.” Her head fell as tears ran down her cheeks.

“Be strong, dear, hold on to that power in you… which brings me to the next thing I wanted to tell you about. Remember Richard’s accomplices? They were just killed during a riot in jail, and they were the only casualties. It seemed very suspicious though…”

“Oh my goddess, I’m a suspect now? I had nothing to do with it, I swear.” She leaned back and pressed on her temples. “Will this ever end?”

“The cops said three of the inmates admitted to killing them after they’d watched you on television and the two boasted that you were the whore they raped. Maybe the other inmates found it appalling, you know how they can be when enraged.”

“That’s outrageous, how can I make all of this stop, Val?” she sobbed.

Valerie sighed, and reached for her hand. “Morris called me last night and asked if he could come see you. Your friends are here to support you, Amanda, go and make time for them. I’ll take the helm at the meeting this afternoon, you can take the day.”

She hugged Val and kissed her cheek. “You are my rock, Val, thank you.” She stood up and walked out to meet her friends.

“I watched your interview, Iris, and I was quite amazed. You did really well.” Morris said as he rubbed her shoulder.

“Didn’t I sound like a blubbering pot of soup?” she laughed.

“Not at all, dear… you sounded like the guy who started a revolution when he said, ‘I have a dream’… you were that great, Iris.” Hans said.

“Hans, that guy was great indeed, but he was killed for his ideals— I don’t think that’s the kind of thing she wants to hear right now.” Edward said. “Iris, I think you did it in all honesty and grace. Nice dress too.” He teased.

“Aw, thanks guys, I really appreciate the kind words. I feel much better now that you’re here in the flesh and not just in my treasured memories.” She laughed. “Are you going to the Hallow’s Eve party?”

Morris laughed. “There she goes, thinking of the party. That’s a good segue to a serious conversation. Way to go, Iris.” Everyone burst with laughter.

“Oh my,” she said as she tried to stifle her laughter, “I need to spend more time with you, that really felt good. I just needed a few laughs, I guess.”

“I think what you need is to get out of here and get some fresh air, or maybe a few drinks, what do you think?” Hans suggested.

“At nine in the morning? Seriously, Hans?” Morris complained.

Amanda raised her hands to stop the argument. “I think that’s a good idea, Hans. Let me call Alex and tell them you’re here. He might have other ideas.” She pulled out her phone from her jacket pocket and speed-dialed.

“I’ll bet the only idea Alex might have, is to play.” Morris whispered.

Amanda had a big smile when she hung up. “Alex is inviting everyone to his apartment.”

On their way out of her office, Vanessa and Carl rushed in.

“What’s the matter, Vanessa?” Amanda asked, her guts twisted in knots.

“You won’t believe it, Miss Fox.” Vanessa said, as she handed her a print out. “Our sales just shot up beyond our target— overnight!”

She couldn’t believe it. The data indicated increased sales which covered nationwide and international markets.

“This is incredible. How did this happen?”

Vanessa reached for her hand. “You did it. The interview was so powerful, Amanda.”

“Brittany and I rallied our friends on social media too. She actually made the profile frame with a kiss mark to support you, Miss Fox.” Carl beamed.

“Wow, that was really sweet, thanks a lot, Carl. But keep tabs on everything and update me, okay? This is looking good, but we have to stay on our toes until everything is clear,” she said.

Vanessa stepped forward and cleared her throat. “But that’s not the end of my report… as we scanned the news this morning, this one caught our attention.” She tapped on her phone and showed her.

“Vivere released a public apology to the company, to you, and the BDSM community for the remarks made by their director, Agatha Pierce. They also said that her views did not reflect Vivere’s stand on BDSM. She was sacked afterwards.”

Amanda thought that was good news, and perhaps she should celebrate, but something in the pit of her gut tells her it’s not over. She felt bad for Agatha though.

“So I think we need more of those billboards across the states, huh?” she exclaimed.

Everyone in the room jumped and cheered, but Amanda felt something was still amiss. Agatha may be defeated for now, but when will she stop? She can hold that thought for another day…

She turned to Morris and winked. “Shall we play now?”

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