Getting a job through Beth, her best
friend was starting to look terrible. No, not the job, Zoe King was the one who felt terrible. Beth had connected a lot of dots on her behalf to get it. She had gotten Zoe a job with Victor Baelish, a powerful billionaire and CEO of Vision Technologies.
When Beth had shared the good news yesterday on the phone while vacationing in Fiji, Zoe had been overly excited. That was before she picked up her laptop to do a little research on the internet about her soon-to-be boss and his company.
Her face fell as the excitement drained out from her like rain from the sky. She read up articles, reviews and comments about the CEO and they all said the same thing.
They said he was 28, unquestionably strict and rude for his age, arrogant, cruel and a playboy. Some went as far as describing him as a heartless and meticulous businessman. The descriptions of him were terribly unpleasant but the photos the paparazzi had stolen were eye candy.
He was incredibly hot, deep black eyes, pointed nose, clean shaved chin and a wicked smile. Perfect. Zoe already hated him.
Mr. Baelish had a bad reputation but his company had great reviews. Everyone thought Vision Technologies were trustworthy and reliable which made Zoe think it was probably because the company was run by a control freak CEO who made sure his employees were workaholics.
Zoe was tensed. Beth was from a wealthy family but she wasn't. She didn't socialize much with the elite and neither had she met men like Victor Baelish before.
Also, Zoe wasn't sure Beth knew the CEO personally what she did know was that she had been referred for the job through her best friend's older sister's husband's brother. Complicated right?
She had an idea of what he was like and now all she could do was anticipate the worst. She wondered what he would think of her, What if she made a bad impression?
Zoe was scared and almost certain that she was not going to show up for the interview tomorrow.
She had a choice to refuse and piss off Beth but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Beth had helped out when she needed it the most, she wouldn't repay her by been ungrateful.
Zoe would have felt bad if Beth hadn't put the effort for her but now she felt worse that she actually came through. She had been trying to get a decent paying job on her own for months but none fell through with her art degree.
Zoe was trying to settle the lump of mixed feelings when her mom entered the room. Mrs. King looked miserable. Her eyes were down, the scarf on her head almost loose and she looked like she could use a hug.
Zoe stood up swiftly, her hands working to fix the scarf before wrapping them around her mother.
They miss each other every now and then. Zoe's mother had developed kidney cancer five years ago when her father passed away.
It's progressed to stage two now but they keep fighting, just the two of them.
"I have a surprise for you" she whispered softly to Zoe.
"A gift ‒ Mrs. King said suddenly revealing a shopping bag she'd been hiding behind her ‒ "it's for your interview tomorrow and your first day at work, hopefully"
It was a brand new bag. Zoe loved it but they needed the money on more important things like rent, her mom's medical bills and settling her school loans.
Zoe was 22 years old and fresh off the boat from college and needed a job to earn a steady income for the mean time. She wanted to put her dream of working as an art and comics designer on hold for a while.
It's been a few weeks since her mom resigned from work because of her health, so she had to step up as the breadwinner.
"I don't need a new and expensive bag mom"
"Yes you do. You should show up looking confident, trust me"
"Can an expensive bag do that?" Zoe's eyes widened in disbelief.
"Of course! Why do you think rich people look confident?"
"Because of money?"
"Exactly" she smiled mischievously, patting the handbag sweetly like she did to Zoe when she was little. Sometimes Mrs. King never ceases to amaze. Zoe thought she was too carefree.
She almost wanted to share her burden with her mother but knew what she would say. Mrs. King's life motto was 'never say never until you give it a try'. This was probably why she kept making a lot of careless decisions throughout her life. She ran away at 16, into drugs, alcohol and more drugs. She didn't come home until 24 when she found Zoe's dad, Mr. King who saved her.
She would want Zoe to go to vision technologies no matter how she got in. Zoe knew this very well but still asked.
"Mom do you think it's okay to walk in there tomorrow?"
"That's a stupid question"
"Come on, then why did you ask Elizabeth to help you out?"
"I googled the owner of vision technologies. He's a terrible person and I may have to work in his office"
"And so what? Terrible bosses are everywhere Zoey whether in the business or in the art world. You won't know until you give it a try, like I always say, never say never say"
Zoe rolled her eyes in acknowledgement.
"Let me tell you a secret. After I met your father I worked at Vision Technologies. Back then it was called Alpha Power Corporation"
"Wait, you worked at vision technologies? Why am I just hearing about it now?"
"Dark times" Mrs. King said and heaved a deep sigh.
Anytime she talked about dark times she meant the dark period of her life. Mrs. King stared off into space as if remembering something nostalgic. Zoe only knew a few details of her mother's past, about the drugs and dad the hero and nothing much of anything else. Mrs. King finally realized that she had left her daughter hanging before speaking again.
"Alpha Power Corp had a wonderful CEO back then twenty three years ago and now his son has taken over. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree sweetie"
"What if the apple was plucked from the tree and thrown far away when no one was looking?
Mrs. King bursted out with laughter.
"Your sense of humour is still the best" she said giving her daughter one last hug before leaving the room. Zoe sighed in agony before falling back into bed.
* * *
Zoe woke up feeling recharged the next morning. She made sure to dress the part in a black pant suit, work heels, mom's gift and made it out the door without changing her mind. Mrs. King was still asleep when she left, Zoe never bothered her mother whenever she slept in. She took the train into the heart of New York City where the large skyscraper that was Vision technologies Headquarters stood.
By 8:00 am Zoe arrived at the building, she was going up the stairs when her eyes caught something standing on a precipice ahead of her. A sculpture of the company's name stood at the top of the stairs, VISION TECHNOLOGIES was engraved boldly in bronze. There was a molded human eye embedded in the letter O of the VISION. It blinked at her. Zoe smiled and walked up to the sculpture to admire it closely. It was a beautiful work of art and she couldn't be more proud.
Zoe didn't know how long she stood there with wonder in her eyes but she began to draw attention. She didn't know when someone stopped behind her until the low chuckle of a man brought her back to reality.
"It looks creepy doesn't it? That bastard Victor thought it would be fun" the voice behind her said.
That bastard? Zoe thought and sensed something fishy. Someone had the nerve to call the CEO a bastard. She knew nothing about how things were at the company but she was smart. The stranger may be right about the CEO but Zoe wouldn't badmouth anyone if she knew them or not.
"Uhm, it's fun for sure" Zoe replied and felt the stranger coming closer.
"Oh well, good morning then"
She greeted curtly with a short bow and made her escape.
"Wait!" The stranger called out to her. She halted.
"I've never seen you around"
"I'm new I think" Zoe said unsure.
"Welcome new one, I'm Daniel Khors"
Zoe turned to look at the friendly man. He was quite young, blonde and almost as handsome as the CEO. She slapped herself in her mind for making a comparison. Why was she thinking about the CEO's appearance?
"What about you?" Daniel asked.
She was speaking when a strange man interrupted them. He seemed pretty close with Daniel because as soon as he showed up Zoe was forgotten. She was thankful anyway, she'd wasted time talking to him instead of attending her interview in record time.
Zoe slipped away into the building and headed to the receptionist desk.
The floor tiles were bluish grey in colour and were quite appealing to the eyes. She stared at it until the receptionist dropped the phone to attend to her.
"Miss how may I help you?"
"Hello, I'm here for the interview for the assistant position to the CEO" Zoe said trying her best smile, although the strict face of the receptionist suggested something further.
"HR's been expecting you on. It's on the 20th floor"
"Thank you" she smiled at the receptionist.
That was easy, Zoe thought as she walked away towards the elevator. She got on with a set of employees and realized she was the only one going to the top floor. Someone asked what she came for and when she told them they tried to hide the horror in their eyes while wishing her good luck.
Suddenly Zoe's anxieties came back to haunt her. She had almost forgotten who she was going to meet. She closed her eyes to concentrate as she summoned courage and confidence once more.
She held her mom's generous gift in both hands and thought she almost had it. Her mother was used to only giving her the dismantled pieces to the puzzles of life for her to struggle and fit the pieces all together.
Zoe thought back to the conversation they had the previous day. Her mother had said people were confident because they owned things of value like the rich and she was right. People weren't confident because they were rich or they had money or something expensive. They were confident because they have something of value which could be anything from wealth to knowledge, skills, ideas and impact. But Zoe wasn't sure she had something to give, her true talents lied in drawing, sketching and painting. She prayed that her zeal to take care of her mother was good enough.
She took a deep breath when she was finally alone in the elevator. The other employees had all alighted at their floors. She kept her eyes closed as the elevator chimed its arrival at the top floor.
Her plan was to take a deep breathe, garner more strength and courage and step out but what happened was totally different.
She stepped into the hallway immediately the doors opened, she hadn't taken more than two steps when she closed her eyes again for a momentary short prayer only to open them when her foot landed on something hard.
She heard a cuss and her eyes flew open as she collided into a massive wall of human chest.
She reeled back instantly in shock to look up in horror as a cold stern set of eyes stared back at her.
The figure hit his leg on the floor twice as his deep voice lamented "Damn it! My Italian!"
Zoe couldn't calm her heart from beating loudly as she stared up at Vision Technologies' CEO, Victor Baelish who had murder in his eyes.