3477 Words
My chest was on fire by the time I got to 9th street. I feel like I’m going to pass out but I couldn’t stop, all my willpower was pushing me forward. What the—why did the ground get so sticky all of a sudden? Wait a minute....please tell me I didn’t just step in gum! I stopped running to looked at my heel, gagging at the sight of a piece of gum clinging to it. That’s so nasty! I peeled it off and immediately tried to get it off my fingers.   After many failed attempts, I finally got it off but I accidentally got it on a woman's pretty, blue blouse. I was about to tell her and apologize but she disappeared into a sea of people before I got the chance. Oh shit. Well, I’m not going to chase her so...lady, I wish you luck. I began running again, and soon Spectrum’s large, iridescent sign came into view. It took me three minutes to get to the concrete stairs and immediately collapsing on the rail, trying to catch my breath. H-holy shit, I haven’t ran that much in....ever! I gazed down at my dirty, bare feet as I panted away. Yuck. I gave myself another minute before I stood up and walked up the steps, ignoring the people staring and whispering about my feet. Michael, the doorman, opened the single glass door as soon as I got to the final step. “Good morning, Ms Cabrera." He said, with a smile. “Late again." He teased, as I walked inside. I grinned, shrugging. Psh, I’m never late. The sunlight shined in through the door and windows, bathing Michael’s dark skin in yellowish tints. He’s a very handsome and well groomed man in his late thirties with tiny eyes hidden by those black-rimmed glass and his hair is cut close to his scalp. He wore his black suit with a powder blue tie and spotless, white gloves. I had a bit of a crush on him when I first began working here, that was short lived when I found out he’s married. I stopped to give him a quick peck on the cheek.  “Morning!” I said, grinning. “And I’m never late...everyone is just always early,” I added, jokingly. He chuckled. “If you say so.” He said. I winked at him. “Enjoy the rest of your day, Michael.” “You too, Ms Cabrera,” Michael said, opening the door for two older women from the Management.  My feet echoed through the lobby as I sluggishly walked to the elevator, annoying the people around me but too bad for them—I’m finally at work and that’s all that matters. When I got to the elevator, it opened, revealing an opulent, large bosomed woman in her late fifties, wearing a red dress and too much silver, shimmer eyeshadow and we’re wearing the same shoes. Well....she’s wearing them—mine are in my bag.  “I like your dress." I said, with a smile. What I also wanted to say was: whoever did your makeup needs a royal ass-kicking. A small smile stretched across her red, Angelina Jolie lips. “Thank you." She said. She’s British.  "Enjoy the rest of your day," I said, as I walked inside. "You too, my dear." She said, as she walked out. I pressed the 15F then let out a harsh breath as the door closed. Looked at my reflection in the door, my low bun wasn’t as messy as I thought it would be. Like the woman earlier...I also look opulent even though I’m not and I hope I’ll never be. Money brings a whole lot of problems that I’d like to stay away from if I could help it. My attire is a white blouse with long, ruffles as sleeves and a black pencil skirt with a small slit on my right thigh. For jewellery, I kept it simple with a gold necklace with a letter ‘A’ pendant.  Three minutes later, I was on my floor. I looked around for any sign of my boss but he is nowhere to be seen and his door is locked. Thank. God. I walked out as quietly as I could, also  taking the time to marvel at my domain.  The white walls were adorned with twelve large, gold framed covers of our magazine for the past two years, six on both walls. The floor are shiny, polished concrete. To my left and right are the white themed setting areas with mint green throw pillows embellished with white, geometric shapes. The sofas formed a semicircle around a large, cherry wood coffee table with a bowl of sweets on it, facing the opposite side. My large desk stood two feet from the far centre of the room while in the centre was taken by my boss’s, opaque glass, double door.  Finally at my desk, I collapsed on my rotating swivel chair with a big huff after I put the drinks on my desk. I turned on my sticky note covered iMac and Canon printer. My gaze shifted to a framed photo of my dad and me at my high school graduation. He was dressed in his military uniform with his arm draped over my shoulders while I stood there in a royal blue gown, awful bangs and puffy eyes from crying. He had been shipped out 9 months prior—when he gets shipped out I’d always stayed with his best godmother, Sandra, who died a month later. I don’t keep photos of her around, except the one in my purse because most photos I have of her, she looked sickly and I didn’t want to remember her like that. I tore my eyes away before the tears began to fall. I sat back in my chair but at least I’m finally here. I threw my fist in the air. “Hallelujah." I whispered. "Hallelujah, indeed." He said. I jumped and damn well almost fell out of my damn chair. I sprung up, smiling at him. He stood in the doorway of his office, arms folded, staring at me. He didn’t look happy. Uh oh. I tried my best to keep my smile big and bright. "Good morning—" "My office, now." He said, cutting me off as grabbed his coffee. He gave me a disappointing look as he took sip then casually walked into his office, leaving the door open. I slumped down onto my chair as soon as he disappeared inside. I swear I can’t catch a break today. I took my heels out of my bag and put them on then opened the bottom drawer in my desk and pulled out a handheld mirror. I stared at my appearance as I tried to flatten my flyaways. It didn’t work but oh well, I’ll fix it later. I got up and walked to his door, holding my breath as I went inside.  I jumped when he closed the door behind me. I looked over my shoulder him. I didn’t even realize he was standing there. I tried to calm my racing heart as I watched him walk to his desk. He looked at me before sitting down. “Have a seat, Ms. Cabrera," he said, in his normal chilled voice. That's good. His eyes never left mine as I took a seat in front of him. He folded his fingers on his desk, studying me. My nervous smile was rewarded by a breathy sigh. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with you, Aubrey.” He said, under his breath. I looked into his chocolate brown eyes, chewing on the inside of my lip.  “I don’t either.” I said, sighing. He ran his fingers through his wavy, salt and pepper hair. “Eleven times in one month.” He said. I shrugged. The sunlight shining made his olive skin glow. His sharp jawline marred by his five o’clock shadow. The slight crookedness of his nose wasn’t noticeable unless you’re up close. He wore a mahogany suit with a white shirt. “Do you know why you're here?" He asked. I shook my head. Of course, I did. “Your tardiness isn’t very becoming—" "I'm sorry, sir. I'm trying my best to be on time...I mean—I’ll try harder next time. Please, don't fire me." I babbled my plead. He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "Do not interrupt me when I'm speaking to you, Aubrey." He gritted through his teeth. I sat back, mouthing my apology. "If I was going to fire you, I would have done it a long time ago," he stated. “Despite your inability to be on’re good employee and it'll break my poor old heart to see you go." He added, holding his heart melodramatically. I giggled. That's my goofy boss, love him to death although he tends to scare the shit out of me. “It's my replacement is who you should be worried about.” I froze. Replacement? Is this a joke?  I laughed but stopped abruptly when he didn't join in. “You can't—I mean—this place wouldn't be the same without you," I said, tears burning my eyes. Aubrey, you fucking crybaby—stop crying! I blinked away the tears. He jogged over and gave me a tight hug. His hug made me feel so much worst, like I was about to lose all sense of security in my life. I had no one in New York besides him right now that makes me feel safe and if I lost him I don’t think I could bare—I bite my lip to mask the sob about to escape my lips. “Sweetheart, it's time for me to retire. The stress is becoming to much for me." He said, using his thumb to wipe away my tears. As I stared into those eyes, my thoughts drifted to the heart attack he had a few months ago, it was terrifying. If I had lost him—I don’t know what I’d do. "Who will replace you?" I asked, softly. "I was thinking of making Dean—" "No! Bad idea!” I protested. He thought about it then mouthed true. “Exactly." He stood up then sat on the edge of his desk, folding his arms. I wiped my face then looked up at him. "Who would you pick for this?" "Jodie," I said, cornered. Jodie is his niece. She is fun....once every blue moon but she has the experience and the skills that this magazine needs. "Sure, if she wasn't in Milan on her next project." He stated. I frowned. "Oh," I started, slouching, “how about one of your sons?" I suggested. He made a face. I almost laughed. Wow, you mean to tell me that you can’t leave Spectrum to none of your eleven sons? Yikes, that isn’t saying anything good about them.  “Oh come on, they can’t be that bad” —with the exception Jose and Jonah....I shouldn’t play favorites so Joey too— “it’s better to give it to one of them than to someone that doesn't know what the hell they're doing. For example: Dean Abbott." "I'll sleep on it and  I'll announce it at the staff meeting tomorrow," He said. I nodded, getting up. “Aubrey?” I looked at him. “Yes?”  “When I do make my decision, please try to prioritize your mornings more efficiently." He began. “I don’t want to leave this place knowing you’re out of a job in less than a week.” Oh right—shit! Oh well, when the time comes I’ll worry about all that. I smiled at him then pulled on his nose. “No promises,” I told him. “But I’ll try my best, sir.” He smiled, shaking his head. “Remember you have a meeting with Marissa Kingsley at 11.” I reminded him, as I walked to the door. “What? That’s today! Why didn’t you remind me earlier?” He questioned. I shrugging.  “You distracted me,” I told him. He groaned in frustration. “Should I push it back?” “No, it’s fine. It’s CD’s conference room right?” He asked. CD is the Creative Department.  I nodded. “Yup,” I replied. As I was about to open the door but someone beat me to it. It's Joey. When he saw me, he smiled. He’s back, finally. I couldn’t hide the smile tucking at the corners of my lips. "Aubrey." He whispered. His low, husky voice made me shiver. Joey got most of his features from his father except for his small, heart-shaped lips and those thick, freshly eyebrows. Joey’s 5’10, 3 inches shorter than Mr. Pereira. He looked smoking in dark jeans, a leather jacket, a white shirt, and black, ankle-high boots. That gorgeous smile grew. I flushed. He took my hand before looking over my head at Mr. Pereira with a cocky smile. Mr. Pereira facepalmed. I giggled. "Get him out of here, Aubrey, or I will fire you." Mr. Pereira said.  “Daddy!” Joey yelled. “Ya miss—“ I pushed Joey outside before he could utter another word. I locked the door behind us. Joey chuckled, pushing his hair out of his eye. I pressed my back against the door, looking up at him. I gasped when he trapped me with both hands beside my face. I looked up into his eyes, my mouth slightly parted. I swear—I’m like a magnet to these brazen guys. Joey’s different from Teals eyes though because Joey and I had history.  We met five years ago when we both attended NYU. He was studying Business of Fashion and Luxury and I was studying Creative Writing, he was on his second year and I was on my first. We met at the cafeteria and bonded over our love for ham sandwiches and were friends ever since. We never dated though, Joey being a well-known player and I was already dating Brandon but one drunken night lead to us skinny dipping and sharing a mind-blowing kiss.  “Still taken?" He whispered, into my ear. I nodded. His smile fell. “Aubrey—" Not this again. “Please.....don't start, Joey." I said, sighing. "I have to." He said, brows furrowed. “He's not good for you. When will you realize that?" He shout whispered. I know, ok! I know. I’m tired of it but what can I do? I desperately want to be taken away from this but....not by you. Brandon knows who you are and I don’t want him coming after you. Which is why I have to convince myself he can change until I find a way to escape. "He can's-it's only a matter of time—" "Until when? Hm?” He questioned. “When you’re hospitalized or he kills you?" His eyes bore holes into my soul.  "He won't!” I argued. “He-he loves me." Joey's face turned blood red. He turned away from me, his hands on his hips. He dropped his head for a moment. “No. He doesn’t—he can’t love you and be doing this to you. I love you, Aubrey.....and I'd never hurt you the way he does." He confessed, looking at me. “I know,” I said, sighing. I’ve known for years but I don’t want anything ruining our relationship. I shuddered at the memories of last night. A tear rolled down my cheek. “What if....I try to leave—" I swallowed a lump in my throat before continuing, “—and he tries to stop me?" "I'll make sure he doesn't." He ensured, wiping away my tears. "What if—" "What if nothing." He said, took my hand in his. “I'm going to make him let you go...even if it's the last thing I do." "Joey...I can’t let you endanger yourself for me—“ “And I can’t let my best friend be some asshole’s punching bag.” He stated. “I can’t rest easy knowing the situation you’re’s killing me.” I sighed. He cupped my face. “Let me help you, Bre.....please.” He whispered. I closed my eyes letting his words and the warmth of his hands engulf me. Joey will protect me, I know he will if I let him. I nodded. “Help me, Joey,” I said, weakly. He kissed my forehead.  “I’m getting you out tonight.” He said, against my forehead. I shuddered against him. I almost couldn’t imagine a life without Brandon and that truly scares me. I held Joey tighter. “How was Milan?” I asked, trying to lighten the mood. “Brutal,” he answered, pulling away and taking my hand. “Jodie was being a nightmare as usual.” I chuckled, he lead me to my chair. I sat down while he sat on the end of my desk. “What was she hounding you about this time?” I asked. “She thinks I’m not serious about Anarchy...I am but—it’s like so much work—I’d just like some time to relax every now and then, you know?” He said. I nodded. Anarchy is a fashion line Joey, Jonah, and Jose, have been trying to get off the ground for two years. Honestly, they haven’t been working as hard as they should have been but Jodie took them under her wing because she had experience, her being the owner Odite cosmetics and Odite designs.  “I understand where you’re coming from but she’s only harping you because she wants you to succeed,” I told him. He sighed, loudly. “I know but she’s so bossy!” He whined. I stood up and cupped his face. “Joey, shut up and do what she says,” I said firmly. He wrapped his arms around me. “Ah fine....only because you told me to.” He said, smiling up at me. I smiled back. I ran my hands through his hair. “Don’t do that if you’re not planning on letting me kiss you.” He whispered. I blushed. Deep down wanted to let him kiss me but I’m not ready. I needed to rid myself of Brandon and find myself before I jump the gun. I mean, I don’t want to start something then hurt him because I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t do that to him. “Aubrey—ow!” “Why are you still here!” Mr. Pereira yelled,  pulling Joey’s ear. “And I thought I told you to keep your hands off of her.” I stood there rolling my eyes. Here we go again “Ow! Ow! Daddy, come’s just a hug!”  “Just a hug my ass!” Mr. Pereira hissed. Joey let go of me and Mr. Pereira pulled me to his side. At this point, I’m absolutely used to this, Mr. Pereira knows about Joey’s—various activities with numerous women and he doesn’t want me to be one of those women and neither do I but I think the look Joey gives  me seems so different from how he looks at other women. It could be it’s the same look but because I’m getting it, it feels different? Whatever I'll find out someday, I guess. Joey pouted, rubbing his ear. I sighed. “Go home!” “No!” Joey yelled.  
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