Welcome to the page dedicated to my new serial!
It’s published every Monday in my Facebook reader group, and what’s interesting about it is that I give my readers the power to choose how the story continues. And yes, then I have to write it, even if I don’t like it 😉
If you’d like to take part, join Teodora’s Book Corner.
I never thought I’d be one of those people who lingered by the water cooler at the back of the office and glared daggers at a colleague they disliked..
And yet, here I was, lingering by the damn water cooler – which, by the way, wasn’t even a proper water cooler but some sort of a futuristic invention that dispensed filtered water, organic blueberry juice, and vitamin induced spring water – and glaring daggers at Jordan Bennett.
Jordan fucking Bennett who had just stolen a huge account from right under my team. Jordan fucking Bennett, with his charming smile, and cute dimple on his left cheek, and perfectly styled blonde hair that was never out of shape, not even in the freezing New York wind.
In the dark corners of my mind, I had to admit his ideas had been decent. More than decent, if I was being completely honest. His team had created an ad campaign that would sell. What was more, they’d created one of those campaigns that got people talking. That wasn’t to say our proposition wasn’t good, on the contrary. But last night as I lay awake, I stared at the ceiling, raking my brain for what was missing in our campaign. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was good, but we were short on time and creativity hadn’t exactly flowed. So, we’d submitted what we had, and Jordan had taken full advantage of our less than stellar presentation. I had seen the glint in his eyes as he rolled a pen in his long fingers, watching with interest as I made the presentation. That glint had been lethal. He’d known he’d win this account right then and there.
As I stood there by the water cooler, clutching a glass of blueberry juice, the look in Jordan’s eyes still haunted me. A rich, entitled white boy, Jordan was used to getting what he wanted. His father was one of the best – and richest – lawyers in the country, and had probably gotten him the job at Alpha Dex. I took perverse satisfaction in winning the accounts Jordan really wanted, just to show him that the world didn’t revolve around him. Some of us had to actually work for what we had, and didn’t get anything handed on a silver platter.
“If looks could set people on fire, poor Jordan would be ablaze by now.”
1. “I don’t know what you mean,” I said innocently, raising my eyebrows at my colleague Marissa.
2. I took too long to reply, the image of the burning Jordan Marissa had conjured playing on repeat in my head. Sound effects and all.
3. I ignored Marissa’s comment and took a long sip of my drink, my eyes still lingering on Jordan. And his way too tight slacks.
4. Startled by Marissa’s voice, I spilled my drink on my shirt, gasping in horror as I saw the blue liquid travel down my front and stain every inch of fabric it touched.
Option 4 has won!
Startled by Marissa’s voice, I spilled my drink on my shirt, gasping in horror as I saw the blue liquid travel down my front and stain every inch of fabric it touched.
“Shit!” I cursed, scrambling to find tissues and clean the mess.
Marissa started apologising profusely and handed me a wad of tissues from god knew where. I frantically wiped at the front of my shirt – my brand-new, Tom Ford shirt – but, unfortunately, blueberry juice stained like a bitch. After the longest five minutes of my life, I was still covered in blue stains, but I was a little less wet.
Thank god for small miracles.
Throwing the soaked tissues in the trash, I groaned as I realised the whole office was quiet and every single pair of eyes was glued on me.
“Excuse me,” I said with as much dignity as I could muster, and headed for the bathroom.
Locking myself inside a stall, I waited for the mortification to subside. I had a very important meeting scheduled for later today. I couldn’t go like this, and I didn’t think I’d have time to go back to Queens, change, and then make it to Hell’s Kitchen on time. Looking at the watch on my wrist confirmed my suspicion.
I didn’t have time. And I couldn’t go wearing blueberry juice.
I was just trying to figure out a way out of this and calm my breathing when the door opened and then softly closed. I froze.
“Oliver? You in here?” Jordan’s clear voice rang between the walls and made my insides boil.
1. If he was coming to make fun of me I was going to eviscerate him, and I didn’t even care I’d probably lose my job.
2. “No. Go away,” I said, and winced. Sounding like a petulant child wasn’t a good look on anyone.
3. “Come out, Oliver, I won’t bite.” I could hear the smile in his voice and I wanted to kick him. “I have a spare shirt, you can have it.”
4. “You know, blueberry is really not your color, Oliver. With your dark coloring I’d go for raspberry next time.”
Option 3 has won!
“Come out, Oliver, I won’t bite.” I could hear the smile in his voice and I wanted to kick him.
And then, he said something that made me pause in my stewing anger.
“I have a spare shirt. You can have it.”
I groaned, torn between petulance and the only viable option in this situation.
“Oliver?” He knocked on the closed stall door as if his voice wasn’t loud enough.
“I heard you.”
He sighed, and managed to convey his impatience in the single puff of breath.
“Do you want the shirt, or not?”
“I’m thinking about it.”
“Fine. If you’d rather spend the day covered in blueberry juice, stay in there and soak in your little tantrum.” He paused for effect. If Jordan Bennett knew anything it was how to captivate his audience.
I unlocked the door, pulling it open. Jordan stood right in front of me, tall and polished, not a hair out of place. And here I was – hair dishevelled from running my hands through it in agitation, eyes red from rubbing them and, of course, shirt covered in blue liquid.
“Actually,” Jordan said, a smirk tugging at his lips as he crossed his arms over his chest and gave me a slow once-over. “I think you can pull it off. You’ve got a very…” He paused again, meeting my eyes. His had a twinkle in them I didn’t like. “Alternative look. This can easily pass as a new hipster trend.” He waved his hand at me to emphasise what ‘this’ was.
1. I glowered at him, my fists clenching at my sides. “Do you have a shirt I can borrow or not?”
2. Without saying a word, I started unbuttoning my shirt, my gaze never straying from Jordan’s. His eyes widened.
3. “Fuck you, Jordan,” I said, catching his shoulder as I walked past him and out the door.
4. “Why are you doing this, Jordan? You can’t stand me, but now you’re coming to my rescue? What do you want?”
Option 2 has won!
Without saying a word, I started unbuttoning my shirt, my gaze never straying from Jordan’s. His eyes widened.
“Whoa! What are you doing?” He put a hand in front of his body, probably expecting me to throw myself at him.
“Taking my shirt off,” I said in a silky, low voice, relishing the flustered expression on Jordan’s face. “Isn’t that what you wanted?”
“What? I… What?”
His eyes slid down my body just as the ruined shirt slid off my shoulders. He licked his lips. I grinned.
“You offered me your spare shirt?” I said, letting the shirt fall to the floor. I could feel the sticky juice on my skin, but decided to ignore the uncomfortable feeling. I was too absorbed in making Jordan squirm. “How am I supposed to use it if I still have mine on?”
I folded my arms and raised an eyebrow.
Jordan kept staring at me, looking torn between letting himself ogle my bare chest and running away from me. I smirked, too pleased with myself.
I realised my mistake the moment Jordan steeled himself and his usual mildly amused expression erased the last traces of discomfort.
1. “The shirt is in my office, Oliver. So now, in order to get it, you have to walk half naked through the whole office.”
2. “Are you sure that was the reason, Oliver? Or maybe – just a thought – you were trying to seduce me?”
3. He took a step towards me, making my breathing hitch.
4. Just as he opened his mouth to say something undoubtedly annoying, the door burst open.
Option 1 has won!
“The shirt is in my office, Oliver. So now, in order to get it, you have to walk half naked through the whole office.”
My smirk melted into a glare. I couldn’t let Jordan get the upper hand, not again. It’d felt too good to watch him squirm, even if it’d lasted only a few precious moments.
I bent down, swiped my shirt off the floor, straightened with as much dignity as I could, and headed towards the door.
“Um…” Jordan said behind me.
I threw him a look over my shoulder. “Let’s go, then. I don’t have all day.”
I pulled the door open with more force than was necessary and walked out. I heard footsteps behind me shortly after.
“You’ve proven your point, Oliver. You don’t have to do this.” He was trying to inject his usual mild amusement in his voice, but I could also hear a note of worry.
The moment we walked into the office, the buzz of conversation stopped and everyone turned to stare at me. My stomach clenched unpleasantly as dozens of eyes ogled my bare torso, but I clenched my jaw and walked through the room, head held high. I felt everyone’s eyes shift from me to Jordan as he trailed behind me.
A loud clicking of high heels on wooden flooring claimed my attention just before I reached Jordan’s office. Amanda Fawley, Alpha Dex’s CEO, was walking towards her office, the elevator doors closing behind her with a soft whoosh. Her fast pace wasn’t hindered in the slightest by her ten-inch heels, until her gaze drifted towards me. She slowed down, a frown appearing on her perfectly made-up face.
“What the hell are you doing?” She asked, her blue eyes cold as they moved between me and Jordan who was standing so close to me I could smell his cologne.
I opened my mouth to speak but he was faster.
“It’s a bit of a blueberry emergency,” he said with a cocky smirk and a wave of his hand. “Nothing to worry about. I’m going to sort Oliver out in no time.”
If the whole office, including our boss, wasn’t staring at us I’d have smacked him upside the head.
Amanda rolled her eyes. “I don’t even care. Get dressed and come to my office. Now.” Her eyes swept over the desks around us and without needing to utter a single word, everyone got back to work as if I wasn’t standing in the middle of the room half-naked. “Both of you,” she added over her shoulder.
Jordan and I both groaned. He placed a hand on my back and pushed me forward towards the door of his office.
1. Inside, he closed the door behind him and leaned against it. “This is all your fault. If I get saddled with the Mercier account because of you, I’ll strangle you.”
2. “You just had to make a scene, didn’t you?” Jordan said when he closed the door behind him. He leaned against it, his dark blue eyes glinting with something I couldn’t name.
3. “Fuck,” he said, his voice low as he closed the door and leaned against it. That single word, in that husky voice, made warmth spread from the bottom of my stomach through my whole body.
4. “I read somewhere that pouring blueberry juice all over yourself is a bad omen,” I said when Jordan closed the door behind him.
Option 3 has won!
“Fuck,” he said, his voice low as he closed the door and leaned against it.
That single word, in that husky voice, made warmth spread from the bottom of my stomach through my whole body.
“If I get saddled with the Mercier account because of you, I’ll strangle you,” Jordan said, his gaze like ice underneath hooded lids.
I knew he was upset but I didn’t much care. Even more so now that my body was reacting to him in a way I wasn’t too happy about.
“Whatever, Jordan,” I said, turning my back to him to hide the flush of my skin. “Would you give me the damn shirt already so that we can get this over with?”
With a huff, Jordan pushed himself off the door and headed for the wall of filing cabinets next to his desk. He reappeared in front of me shortly after handing me a neatly folded blue shirt, the colour not unlike the blueberry stain on my own shirt.
“Thanks,” I mumbled, shrugging into the shirt as fast as I could. There was something about Jordan’s eyes on me that made me fidgety, especially when he stood so close to me.
“Alright, then,” he said once I had all the buttons done. “Let’s go see what Amanda wants, shall we?” He strode to the door and opened it, gesturing for me to go through first.
I led the way, knocking on Amanda’s door as we reached it.
“Come in,” she said, her voice sounding distracted.
We walked in. Jordan was fully back to his asshole self, fake smile firmly in place as he said,
“Did you have a good trip, Amanda?”
She waved a hand at the chairs in front of her desk. “I did. Sit.”
She was reading something on her laptop, but as we sat, she closed the lid and aimed an icy stare at me, and then Jordan. When she spoke, her tone matched her cold stare.
1. “I met with Harold Brown and he’s definitely interested in letting Alpha Dex spearhead his new marketing campaign. But there’s a catch.”
2. “You’re both fired.”
3. “I’ll probably regret this for the rest of my life, but I have no choice.”
Option 3 has won!
“I’ll probably regret this for the rest of my life, but I have no choice.”
I frowned, even more confused.
Before I could say anything, she continued. “I managed to get a meeting with Harold Brown and he was really interested in what I had to say. He’s definitely considering letting Alpha Dex spearhead a full media marketing campaign for a new line of eco-friendly homeware he’ll be launching next year.”
I whistled. Harold Brown owned several companies across the world. Snagging him as a client meant Alpha Dex would grow very quickly, and even bigger opportunities would come our way.
“That’s great!” Jordan said. I glanced at him, the dimple in his cheek claiming my attention. “Congratulations!” My eyes slid towards his full lips as he spoke before I could stop myself.
Amanda waved a hand. “We’ll hold off any celebration – and any mention of this conversation,” she looked at us meaningfully, “until the contract is signed.” She pointed at us with a long, manicured finger. “And that’s where you come in.”
I swallowed. “You?”
“Both of us?”
She nodded again.
This can not be happening.
I chanced another glance at Jordan to judge his reaction to her words, but apart from a muscle jumping in his jaw he still had a smile on his face. The dimple wasn’t there anymore, though.
“You’re going to meet with Mr Brown in Minneapolis and convince him Alpha Dex is best suited for the job he’s offering. I’m sure by now whispers have spread and other companies are circling him like goddamn vultures.” She leaned forward placing her forearms on the desk. “I want this account. Do you understand?”
I tried to swallow but my throat was drier than sandpaper.
1. “I’m not going anywhere with him!” I folded my arms, not caring about Amanda’s icy stare or Jordan shifting uncomfortably in the chair next to me.
2. “You’ve got to be kidding!” Jordan said, disbelief and annoyance sneaking into his tone.
3. Jordan shrugged. “Sure. Working with Oliver will be a welcome challenge.”
4. “I’d rather chew my own arm off and beat myself to death with it than work with Jordan!”
Option 3 has won!
I felt the slightest move to my right.
“Sure,” Jordan said with a shrug. “Working with Oliver will be a welcome change.”
I gaped at him.
Playing his role of the perfect employee flawlessly, Jordan turned his head to meet my eyes and smiled.
“Good. Now that’s settled…”
“What!” I exclaimed, whipping my head to glare at Amanda. “Nothing is settled!”
Amanda fixed her icy blue eyes on me, her expression unreadable. Next to me, Jordan shifted in his chair and when I chanced a look at him, he was staring at his hands in his lap with a deep frown.
“I won’t work with him,” I declared, pointing at Jordan. “I’d rather chew my own arm off and beat myself to death with it.”
A headache was starting to pulse around my temples. My stomach squeezed painfully with anger, nerves and hunger. Straining not to show any of that on my face, I met Amanda’s glare with defiance.
“You will do as I say, Oliver. Or you’ll be free to find a job elsewhere.”
I folded my arms over my chest and stared at her. Surely, she wouldn’t fire me for something stupid like this? There were plenty of people in this company who would trip over themselves to work with Jordan, why did it have to be me? I’d love to work on this account, but not like this. Not with him.
“Let me know if you need a recommendation. I’ll make it a glowing one,” Amanda added, leaning back in her chair.
I rubbed a hand over my face. “I don’t need a recommendation,” I mumbled.
“Good.” A smile nudged at her lips as she tapped the pen on her finger, looking at me thoughtfully.
Jordan still hadn’t said anything. As much as I didn’t want to – and I really didn’t want to – I felt a little bad for him. He sat in his chair, head bowed, eyes down, as if deep in thought.
- “As much as I don’t like it, you’re the best I’ve got,” Amanda said.
- “You’re such a dick, Oliver,” Jordan murmured under his breath, just for me to hear.
- “You have 2 days to become best friends and start working together like a well-oiled machine,” Amanda said.
- “You’re not going to say anything?” I said to Jordan, annoyance making my voice rise.
Option 2 has won!
“You’re such a dick, Oliver,” Jordan murmured under his breath, just for me to hear.
I aimed a glare at his profile just as Amanda spoke.
“As much as I don’t like it, you’re the best I’ve got.” She sighed, her gaze shifting between us. “Look, as individuals you’re both very talented. The little rivalry you’ve got going on is acting as a catalyst to your ambition and skill, I get that.” He eyes softened and for a moment she got a far way look in them. It only lasted a second before she blinked it away. “Most of the time, I appreciate it,” she continued. “I don’t need you to like each other, I just need you to do your job. And so far, you’ve been doing a damn good job.”
Jordan shifted again and when I glanced at him his smile had disappeared, a frown forming in its place.
“And right now, I need you to convince Harold Brown that Alpha Dex taking this account is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.”
When neither of us spoke, Amanda puffed a breath out – a gesture so uncharacteristic for her that it made my lips curve unconsciously.
“On your own you’re great,” she said, eyeing each one of us in turn. “Just think about how good you can be if you actually work together for a change.”
I snorted. “I’m not working with him.”
Jordan sighed loudly, the sound so annoying I felt the urge to push him off the chair.
“Stop acting like a child, Oliver,” he snapped, not even turning to me.
I gaped at him. “I’m not acting like a child! I just refuse to work with a…” I cut myself off before I could voice the words.
“With a what?” He turned to look at me, his blue eyes devoid of any humour or charm. They were like two stalactites, sharp and ready to pierce my chest.
“Enough!” Amanda’s voice cut like a diamond through glass. “I don’t think I was clear enough. You’re doing this. It’s not optional.” Her eyes blazed with barely contained anger. “You have two days to find a way to be civil to each other.”
1. “Two days!” Jordan and I exclaimed in unison.
2. “I’m sorry, Amanda, but I can’t do this,” I said, turning on my heel and walking out the door.
3. “We can’t come up with a proposal for such a big campaign in two days!” Jordan said, his voice barely containing his frustration.
4. “Fuck this, I’m out.”
Option 1 has won!
“Two days!” Both Jordan and I exclaimed. I gave him an annoyed look before speaking again. “We can’t come up with a proposal for such a big campaign in two days!”
“Nobody said you need to come up with a proposal. This meeting is preliminary. All you need to do is charm Mr Brown, and secure a proposal meeting in January.”
Jordan rubbed a hand over his face. “So, we leave a week before Christmas? Is that really the best time?”
“Mr Brown is a workaholic. He works seven days a week, all year around. He suggested the date himself.”
The way I saw it, I had two options: agree to this insanity, or be out of a job right before Christmas. Either of these options sucked donkey’s ass.
“You can count on us,” Jordan said.
I gawked at him. But before I could open my mouth to protest, he levelled me with a cold look. “Right, Oliver?”
Fuck, I hated the way he said my name.
I ground my teeth together, the words barely audible as I spoke. “Right.”
“Excellent!” Amanda, clapped her hands together, a satisfied smile on her red lips. “Now, get out of my office. I have actual work to do instead of convincing my employees to do their job.”
I thought my insides were going to burst into an inferno, taking down the whole office with me. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so fucking angry.
“Emily will email you the itinerary, and the flight and hotel reservations,” Amanda said as we shuffled towards the door. “And, boys?” We turned to face her. “Don’t fuck this up.”
1. Out the door – and earshot – I levelled Jordan with a look and said, “What the fuck are we supposed to do now?”
2. Outside, I grabbed Jordan’s elbow and dragged him towards my office.
3. “Just so we’re clear,” I said through gritted teeth. “I don’t like you and I’m only working with you because I have to.”
4. “Can you put your big boy pants on and stop acting like a fucking child, Oliver? Even for a few days?”
Option 3 has won!
“Just so we’re clear,” I said through gritted teeth. “I don’t like you and I’m only working with you because I have to.”
“Oh, it’s perfectly clear,” Jordan said, a muscle jumping in his jaw. “You’re not exactly subtle, Oliver.” He glared at me, pink spots on his cheeks. “But I’m not fucking up my career because of your childish grudges. So buckle up, put your big boy pants on, and get to work.”
“Childish grudges!” My voice rose and I was sure my face was as red as Jordan’s, but I didn’t care. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
Jordan ran a hand through his hair and then rubbed his face. When he spoke again, his voice was resigned.
“Whatever, Oliver.” His arms flapped at his sides and for the first time since this crazy ass day started, he looked tired. “My place, 8 PM. Don’t be late, we have a lot of work to do.” He turned on his heel and walked away.
I gaped after him, so fucking mad I wanted to scream.
Instead, I stomped after him and slammed his office door when we both walked in.
“Why the hell are we meeting at your place?” I demanded.
Jordan sat in his chair. When he lifted his eyes to meet mine, they were red, the lids drooping with exhaustion.
I was taken aback by the vulnerability written all over his face, but I didn’t back off. I kept glaring at him, my jaw clenched tight.
“Where do you want to meet?” He asked, so softly I barely heard him.
“I don’t know…” I said honestly.
It wasn’t like I had a place in mind, I just didn’t want to go to his apartment.
1. He gave me a look, a mix of annoyance, bewilderment, and that soft fucking vulnerability that did my head in.
2. “Are you being difficult on purpose, or does it just come naturally?”
3. Jordan rubbed a hand over his face again, the gesture full of so much annoyance that it felt like he was rubbing an open nerve.
4. “You know what, Oliver? I don’t fucking care where we meet. So when you figure it out, text me the address.” He walked away from me, fists clenched at his sides.