After a long and extraneous search for a decent-paying job, I was excited to have gotten a call back from Roman Industries. It is considered one of the city’s biggest and most prestigious marketing businesses and is owned by Mr. Roman Ortiz. There were many rumors that he had started from nothing at the mere age of eighteen and steadily built his empire since and continued to do so until it became what it is now. He did business for big-name companies like Cobalt Inc., Galaxy Tech., and Xperium United, to the smallest businesses in our city. Anything before then, though, was non-existent. He had no school records, family, or parking ticket. The man was full of mystery.
This was clear to me because I had tried to find out everything about him on Woogle after receiving a call from his company informing me that I was chosen to be his new assistant. It was just my luck. It was a position I hadn’t even thought about applying to due to my lack of experience. From what I could gather from the brief conversation, Mr. Ortiz’s current assistant was on her way to retiring soon, and I was looking for someone younger to take her place. Someone able and willing to be on-call at all hours of the day, with holidays being unclear.
At first, I wasn’t sure about the grueling and demanding position until the woman over the phone mentioned my pay. Not only would I be able to live comfortably, but lavishly. My income would be much more than most assistants would have dreamed. They wanted me to immediately begin working as the old assistant would watch over me for the first few weeks, teaching me about my responsibilities, expectations, and requirements. After that, I’m unsure how much time I’d have to live everyday life. No more guaranteed free weekends, no more late nights out, or any kind of fun. Dating was already hard enough and taking this job would make it nearly impossible.
My options bounced around in my mind as I drove until it was clear what needed to be done and that it nothing else mattered anymore. I was forced to quit my last job as a receptionist after being brave enough to report my disgusting boss, Mr. Devilin. Knowing it was due, he had promised me the pay raise I deserved; my only expectation was to become his new lover. The memory of his beady little eyes staring at my breast as we spoke made my stomach turn and knot. Even worse, the sound of him licking his lips echoed in my mind. The phantom feeling of his knobby, thin, and wrinkled fingers trailing from my hip to my thigh still made me shudder in disgust. Revolted and angry by his advances, I stormed out of his office without giving him an answer. His intentions were too clear to be mistaken.
Without a word to anyone, I marched straight to the top to report him to Ms. Katheryn Avery, CEO of the company, who was also the aunt of my now ex-best friend, Samantha. At the time, I was sure that Ms. Avery would be on my side as she was a woman and would completely understand the severity of the situation. Sexual harassment was a severe offense at work, and I hoped she would handle the situation accordingly. There was nothing for me to do but to pace angrily in the waiting area, ignoring the annoying side eyes her assistant gave me. Still, every time I tried to sit down, my legs would shake with unease, and I would anxiously nibble on my nails. When it was finally time for me to see Ms. Avery, I practically marched right in, and the words poured out of my mouth.
To my surprise, Ms. Avery listened quietly and attentively, sitting in her chair behind her desk, arms crossed, and a smirk laid on her very stretched face. When I had finished, Ms. Avery leaned onto her desk, her fingers interlacing, smirk turning into a condescending smile—capturing my eyes with the bright red lipstick smeared across the woman’s two front teeth.
“Ms. Reyes, I will assume you are done, and I’ll just get to the point. I just got off the phone with Mr. Devilin himself, and the story he has told me is quite different from yours. See, Mr. Devilin says that the two of you have been in an intimate relationship for quite some time and that you knew he would never leave his wife for you. From what he understood, you were fine with the arrangements at first. He also said that after a few months of sneaking off to hotels for your little “rendezvous,” you grew tired and jealous of the time and money he spent with his wife.
“That you threatened to tell her about the two of you if he didn’t leave her for you. When that failed, you stormed into his office and tried to seduce him into, at least, giving you a pay raise. Seeing how you have come dressed today,” I raised an eyebrow as she studied my attire, “it is clear what your intentions were, and it would be wise for you to retract your accusations or….” My body turned instinctively as the woman continued to speak. In a daze, I made my way to my desk, grabbed my belongings, and left. Refusing to look back, refusing to let myself regret my decision. My blood began to boil as the memory of our last encounter swam its way forward in my mind. It might have occurred two months ago, but the wound was still fresh and stung.
At the age of twenty-six, I was financially responsible and able. Still, two months with no decent job took its toll on my savings. Down to my last hundred, if I didn’t secure this job by the month’s end, I’d lose my apartment, and for the first time in my life, there was no one to turn to. Determination coursed through my veins. The sacrifices would be worth it, as being born an orphan didn’t give me many options. My only real friend was Samantha; since she took her aunt’s side, my friendship with her was finished. There was no lucky guy in my life, either. After the heartbreak from my last relationship, love was the last thing on my mind, and at this point, all I wanted to do was concentrate on myself and my future. No one else mattered anymore.
The pictures I had seen of Roman Industries didn’t give the actual building any justice. Pulling into the parking lot across the street, I was awestruck. Holy shit, I thought as I climbed out of my baby. A cherry red-colored 2017 Audi Sport Quatro. From what I could find about the place and now saw, the building had thirty floors, and Mr. Ortiz was right at the top. Each office had wide open windows from floor to ceiling, with silver metal holding it all in place as it shined brightly against the sun as if he had it polished daily. It was beautifully blinding. I made my way to the front desk, straightening my back and lifting my chin slightly higher than usual. I wanted to look as confident as I felt.
“Good morning, and welcome to Roman Industries. Do you have an appointment?” The woman was sitting behind the desk, her fingers hovering over the keyboard, awaiting my answer.
“Yes,” I smiled, “my name is Valencia Reyes, and I have an appointment with Ms. Eliza Medina.” The woman’s acrylic nails typed feverishly as I spoke.
“Ah, yes. Ms. Reyes, you can head right up to the twenty-ninth floor. I will be there waiting.” The woman smiled brightly, pointing at the elevator.
“Thank you so much,” I replied enthusiastically.
The sound of my heels tapped across the gray ceramic floor as I made my way over to the elevator, and sure enough, it only went up to the twenty-ninth floor. I shrugged my shoulders, as odd as it was, and pressed the button that would take me up. I felt nervous, excited, pleased, and even a bit afraid on my ride to the top. I had never been anyone’s assistant before, but I had watched “The Devil Wears Prada” plenty of times, and a part of me was terrified that this new experience would mirror something like it. I questioned my ability to handle someone so demanding.
I held onto my stomach as it turned at the thought of a broody and angry thirty-year-old man that had formed in my mind, barking orders at me day and night—expecting me to bend over backward to his every need and want. Unfortunately, it was too late to turn back. So, when I heard the elevator ding, I pulled all my concerns into the dark corner of my mind and forced my confidence to make its appearance again. Despite my worries, I knew I would take this job head-on and make the best of it. Especially if the pay was going to be as good as they said it would be. With my head held high, I walked out of the elevator and was immediately greeted by an older woman with a significant smile.
“Ms. Reyes, my name is Eliza Medina. Welcome to Roman Industries. Please, follow me.”