A week after her courses were due, she allowed herself the first glimmerings of hope. Her courses had never been perfectly punctual; they could, she reasoned, still arrive at any time. But still, she had never been quite this late…
Never, I say. Never ever.Sam points a finger at me. That’s not love.
I roll my eyes at him. What do you know? You’re gay.Daddy called me his right hand. It should have been considered an honor, but it felt more like I’d pinned a scarlet letter to my dress. Everyone knew his rigid policy on not bringing family into the company, so my sudden appearance was a cold, drizzly raincloud over the other employees. Had my father recruited a spy? Was he downsizing the company, using me to report who was and wasn’t doing their jobs? They shuffled papers when I walked by, pretending to be busier than they were. Some were radically pleasant, hoping to gain my friendship to secure their jobs, while others were openly hostile. The Why is she here? question was the ever-ringing bell that preceded me down the halls. It was miserable. What was more miserable was the size of my office. Other than Daddy’s, mine was the most coveted in the building. One wall made entirely of glass; it offered a view of downtown Ft. Lauderdale. If I stood just right, facing the ocean, I could see Caleb’s building in the distance. Its previous owner, who was well loved by everyone at OPI, was fired a week before I arrived. He’d been with the company for twelve years and had earned the office I’d been handed. My door plaque might have just read Entitled Brat in pink, bubble letters. I was making five times the money I’d made at the bank. On the surface, my already privileged life had just landed down Licorice Lane. On the inside, under the shiny new office and title, I was warping.My father gave me a prestigious job at his company to prove how little he thought of me. My boyfriend gave me smiles that didn’t reach his eyes. My mother gave me love so thin it felt more like sugarcoated contempt. If someone had cared enough to say: Leah, it’s all in your head ... all I would have to do was refer them to the three people in my life who didn’t really want me there.
My assistant peeked her head in. Ms. Smith, everyone is waiting for you in the conference room.Shit. I’d forgotten about that. I grabbed my MacBook and Jamba Juice and bolted out the door. I was so wrapped up in my pity party that I was ten minutes late for an uber important meeting. I hated that. I strolled in casually, avoiding my father’s eyes, and sat down in my seat.
I looked up, expecting to see Bruce Gowin, who normally sat next to me, but instead I was greeted by a blonde with blindingly white teeth.
Where was Bruce? Bruce was my partner in snark. My head swiveled around the table looking for him, until my father caught my eye.We are in the middle of nowhere and there is only trees and road ahead of us. Caleb zooms into the gates of what looks like a park. There are only three parking spaces and they are all deserted. He pulls into one and jerks on the brake. This place is really creepy. I fidget nervously and look at his face.
What are we doing? he asks again.I… I look out of the window desperate for an escape. He’s trying to get me to talk about my feelings, something I can’t do with all of the lying going on. Despite my fear of the dark, I jump out of the car.
Where are you going? he demands, opening his door and following suit. Before I have the door shut, he walks around to where I am and corners me.I try to push past him but he presses me against the door with his body and puts both hands on either side of my head. We are nose to nose, as he seethes at me.