The Wild West Billionaire Duet(2)

By: Harper Lauren



But my new job was, objectively, awful. It was worse than awful – I was surrounded by patronizing, sexist jerks who thought that staring at my ass all day was appropriate behavior. And to make matters even worse, I hadn’t managed to befriend any of the other women there. They were all in a tight clique…and I was the only one excluded from the party.


By the time I said goodbye to Danielle and left the warmth and safety of our small walk-up, I was feeling nervous and frightened. Would this be the day I got fired, for some random offense I hadn’t even committed? I shuddered as I walked down the street and waited by the bus stop. The Boston streets were filled with brown and grey icy slush – just looking at it made me feel like vomiting – and the air was chilly and dry. I could feel the tip of my nose going numb as I ducked into the bus shelter and wrapped my arms around myself.


When the bus arrived, I awkwardly sat down on a bench as my puffer coat rose to my ears. The bus was scalding hot and steamy, and by the time I got to my office, I was sweating profusely. My brown hair was stuck to my scalp, and my hands were clammy and hot. I tottered off the bus, carefully avoiding the piles of ice and muck, and made my way into the building.


“Morning, Hanna,” my boss, Jim, said. He narrowed his eyes. “Is everything okay?”


I frowned. “Yeah, of course it’s okay,” I said. “Why wouldn’t it be?”


Jim swiped his key card through the security turnstile. I followed behind to the elevator bank.


“Well, because it’s eight-oh-three,” Jim replied.


“Um, I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t quite get what you’re saying.”


“You’re supposed to be here at eight,” Jim informed me. “I’ll have to make a note on your employee file.”


I struggled not to roll my eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, trying to sound as meek and apologetic as possible. “The bus was late this morning.”


“Then perhaps you should have caught an earlier one,” Jim said. “See that it doesn’t happen again.”


The elevator arrived, its doors dinging open. Jim pushed his way through the waiting crowd, into the back of the elevator. By the time it was my turn to enter, the car was full. I groaned as the doors closed.


Today was going to be wonderful.


I could just tell.


***


By mid-morning, I wasn’t feeling much better. Jim had made a huge show of embarrassing me in front of the entire office staff – he’d told everyone that I was “egregiously tardy,” even though we’d shown up to work at the same time! I was angry, but I knew I had to keep my temper under wraps. I wasn’t going to lose this job because of my ego.


“Hanna, I need you to run out and get me some coffee,” Jim said. He leaned over my desk. “You know – cappuccino, with soy milk and a squirt of hazelnut syrup.”


I nodded and forced a smile. “Sure thing. Let me just finish up what I’m working on—”


“Hanna, I have a meeting in twenty minutes, I need the coffee now,” Jim replied tartly. “So, get a move on.”


I glanced over Jim’s shoulder at the brand-new coffee maker. “Would you rather I make you a cup here? And then after your meeting, I can go out and get your cappuccino?”


“Hanna, it’s bad form to talk back to your boss,” Jim said snidely. “Now go. Get that coffee.” His voice was loud and arrogant and I flushed angrily as I reached for my coat and bag. It seemed like everyone in the office had heard Jim as I made my way through the desks and cubicles. I kept my face down, buried in the thick faux-fur collar of my puffer jacket as I left the office.


The elevator was filled with the other girls from the office, all clutching their designer bags. They didn’t even make an effort to smile at me as I stepped inside, and I sighed as I squeezed in right as the doors closed. They lowered their voices, but I could hear them chatting about one of the neighborhood’s hottest new restaurants, a Brazilian steakhouse that had just opened a few blocks from the office.


Forcing myself to smile, I turned and faced them. “Hey,” I said. “My roommate loves that place – she’s already been twice. I hear it’s really good.”