The Beauty and The Beast

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2. The Beast

2. The Beast

Isabelle was deep in her work when her co-worker Iris started talking about this man she had met. Iris, like a hopeless romantic she was, was talking about how he might be the one.

Isabelle scoffed inside. She didn't believe in the concept of loving a person for the rest of your life, no matter what. It was rather far-fetched as far as she was concerned.

She was no an idealist and her legs were planted firmly on the ground. No flying in candy colored clouds for Isabelle.

"What do you think, Isabelle? Am I going too fast?" Iris asked, her eyes looking glazed.

Iris was almost Isabelle's friend, only friend, but they were too different to ever really become best of friends.

"I don't believe in useless notions like love." Isabelle said without mincing her words as she typed something furiously in her laptop. "And really, Iris, you should not waste your time with foolish talks if you want to keep your job."

Isabelle worked in the fourth floor of A&D, a multi million dollar company, which dealt in everything big and small.

"I don't know what is wrong with you." Iris shook her head at the beautiful looking woman in front of her. Oh, Isabelle was truly beautiful, but her heart, it was really stunted. Closed off. She shied away from emotions and feelings like it was a terminal illness.

Iris had never seen such a self-absorbed person like Isabelle. Isabelle's only redeeming quality was that she actually worked harder than everyone combined and she didn't want to get a free ride on the back of other people's hard work. But if given a chance, Isabelle would gladly step on every single person to reach her place and everyone knew it, too.

"There is nothing wrong with me. I am perfectly fine the way I am." Isabelle said with a shake of her head.

"Do you really only love money? Money is not everything. It can not keep you company when you are lonely." Iris said in a sigh.

Sometimes Isabelle saw the look on Iris's face, like... Like Isabelle was pitiful. But she wasn't. She didn't need someone to complete her life. She was doing well on her own.

Isabelle shook her head at Iris. Her hair was cropped close to her cheeks, because it was minimal and needed less maintenance. She was practical like that. Growing up with an alcoholic mom and abusive dad had taught her how to be realistic, how to only depend on herself, how to only look after her own interests, first and foremost.

In the grand schemes of life, as far as she was concerned, no one else mattered. Only she did.

"I love myself more. But yes, I do love money. It doesn't hurt to have loads of it." She grinned a wolfish smile. "And I can hire an escort to keep me company, if I have money. A decent looking one at that." Isabelle said as she pushed the files away. "Now, stop bothering me. I have so much to do. But first I have to fire Carly."

"Carly just gave birth. She is-" Iris looked sad. That was Iris for you, full of empathy and concern for others. Isabelle was the polar opposite.

"Not my problem." Isabelle said with a frown. "I need efficiency. I need to get the works done. We are not doing charitable work here. We need someone who doesn't always look too tired. We need someone who is not a new mom smelling of vomit."

"But she needs- she is-"

"Do you want to give your job to her?" Isabelle speared Iris with one of her trademark look. Iris shook her head mutely. "That is what I thought." Isabelle said as she walked away, her heels clicking with every step she took on the polished marble floor.

Isabelle was relentless, ruthless. But she needed to be, she had to be, in order to go up and up in the corporate ladder. There was no cushy mattress waiting for her at the bottom if she fell and there certainly was no helping hand from the top. She had to push, prod and plummet her way through this corporate jungle and she couldn't afford weakness. She couldn't afford mercy or sympathy. She only truly ever cared about four things: herself, money, books and her morning stack of pancakes.

And that had helped her a lot in all of her 25 years. She was only a junior executive for the cosmetics line of A&D -- Radiance, for now, and was still stuck in the fourth floor, but she knew it wouldn't be too long before she found herself in the eighth floor, looking at the perfect view. She was made for bigger, better things and she couldn't let things like kindness or enpathy mess it up for her.

After Isabelle came back from firing a weeping, snivelling Carly-- she hated every moment of it, not because she was sorry, but because it was truly irritating and unamusing-- Iris waved to her and pushed a note to her with a number scribbled on it.

"You just got a call."

Isabelle looked suspicious. No one ever called her here. She had no friends. No social life. Nothing.

"It was from St Mary's hospital. It is your father. He has cancer and he is dying and he- I am so sorry. He asked for-"

Isabelle didn't know how her father got this number. They hadn't stayed in touch. She hadn't seen him in fifteen years. She was just fifteen when she had called a social worker and removed herself from the hellhole she called her home.

Isabelle chuckled. "Poor bastard. Looks like he finally got what he deserved." Isabelle shrugged. "Iris, I need the Marcos file now."

Iris looked at Isabelle and let out a long sigh.

"You are a beast." Iris said under her breath, so that Isabelle wouldn't hear it.

"That I am." Isabelle thought, as she continued her work.

***

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