David grumbled, running a hand through his hair. He took off his glasses and used the back of his wrist to wipe in between his eyes and nose. “No, no, no. Again.”
The three of us have been crammed in the conference since the morning and it appeared to David that Brad was getting nowhere. Interview questions are like a box of chocolates. You get the gist. Brad didn’t care too much about over-divulging. He’d sit in a way that didn’t please David; he’d say something that didn’t please David; hell, at one point, he was just trying to get a rise out of David and had to cover his mouth to keep from snickering so obviously. It frustrated the hell out of me because I can’t say anything to David about his precious client; Brad, however, seemed on the right track to digging his grave. If David jumped out of the window right now, gave up on life just to rid himself of Brad, he’d take Brad down with him on that free-fall, just so there’s a satisfactory landing.
“Sit up straight,” David began instructing, “don’t slouch. Don’t mumble when you answer Anna’s questions. And stop your leg from jumping spastically like you have some nervous tick. If the interviewer sidelines you with a question we’re not prepared for, she’ll scribble it down for all to see. This is Stacey Silk, and she can grind a man’s balls if she wants.” David looked at me and caught his breath. “Sorry.”
I closed my eyes and shook my head. “It’s fine.”
David finally sighed and stood up straight. “Anna, will you keep practising with Brad? Make sure to keep him in check. We’ll reconvene tomorrow morning right before the interview. Press release is already out and people are asking a lot of questions.” He said the last few words as a sing-song warning. Beware of the questions!
“Why aren’t you taking this seriously?” I asked once David left.
Brad chuckled. “You can’t ask me if David’s around, can you?”
Fine, if he’s going to ignore my question, then I’ll ignore his. Mostly because I don’t want to be telling him what I can and can’t do.
“Stacey Silk will butcher you,” I warned. “But,” I shrugged, “I guess all you want to do is start charging.”
Brad laughed, his white teeth glistening as the sunlight hit them. “Funny you should say that actually.”
“What do you mean by that?” Ugh, why did I ask?
“Let’s just say Stacey and I have become great acquaintances…a few times.”
I narrowed my eyes, a hot, irritating chill reverberating my body. “That line doesn’t even make sense.”
“Hey, who’s the writer here, you or me?” I remained silent. “Are you the writer?” Brad poked, lifting his brow. The fact that I was unpublished and he was taking a jab at me over it was below low. Unsinkable low. Beyond this floor, there was lava, low.
I sighed and stood. “We should take a break.”
“That’s not a good idea. David said—”
“I say, Brad,” I shot back. “Besides, I’m not David’s slave, I just work under him—zip—zip—zip it,” I ordered when he was about to make yet another sexual innuendo, “he’ll understand if I want a break from you, I’m sure of it.”
Oh, that felt good! Too bad Brad just kept smiling from ear to ear with a strange admiration.
“Hey guys,” I said once I approached Leo and Noelle.
I never understood their relationship. They had all the makings of a couple without the responsibility and loyalty and couple-behaviour. They’d fight, make up, have sex at a point, and go back to being friends who are friendlier than your average friend.
I had to give it to them. Noelle told me a story about how she had a best friend that she thought was her best friend, until said best friend called EVERYONE her best friend. Even the ones she hated. Noelle told me it hit her pretty much in college that this friend treated everyone in a way that made them feel special, but ultimately, complain about them behind their back; divulge their secrets to everyone minutes after knowing said secret. It’s true. One time Noelle told me that said friend was told a secret by her ‘best friend’ (obviously telling her not to tell anyone) and then right after they had their little talk, said friend turned to Noelle (and friends) and couldn’t stop yapping. Is that friendship? Well, to Noelle, not so much.
This is where Noelle and Leo’s friendship blossomed. If it hadn’t been for the fact that Noelle—by Noelle’s standards—had a shitty so-called best friend, then she wouldn’t have known what real friendship was like with Leo. They loved each other. And I could see it radiating out of them. They were real best friends, and it begged the question: do you have to go through the worst, to realise the best?
Do you have to go through the worst friends to realise what is a best friend?
Do you have to go through the worst experiences of sex to realise what is the best?
Do you have to go through the worst boyfriends to realise the best?
“You look haggard,” Leo said.
“Thanks,” I rolled my eyes. He smiled apologetically.
“Rough day?” Noelle asked.
I lifted my brows and nodded.
“What happened to you?” Leo asked, in the same awe tone he had before. More like in awe of a car crash that you can’t take your eyes off of.
“Brad happened to me,” I explained. “He’s like the rash that won’t die down and the headache that won’t quit.”
“Maybe he’s too free-spirited and you don’t necessarily like that because you don’t have that.”
I looked at Noelle quizzically. “I’m not like jealous or anything. He’s just a little too cavalier for something that’s supposed to be serious.”
“You should get out,” Leo suggested, nudging me with his elbow.
“Get out where?” I asked.
“Anywhere,” Noelle shrugged. “The world is yours for the taking.”
“What?” I muttered.
“People are so set in their ways, not realising they’re stuck,” Leo started. “You want to refresh the life you live in you have to get out of it and jump back in another time. Best thing to do for yourself is to take some kind of vacation, if only for the weekend.”
“And you think this will cure whatever it is you think I have?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest and lifting a brow sceptically.
Noelle shrugged. “You’re in a slump. I get it. Leo gets it. We’ve all been there, and we’ll always go there. I can tell though, we both can actually.”
“That you’re finished,” Leo said. Finished? Like, in a mob boss scenario? “In the sense that you believe this is the pinnacle of your life.” Then, Leo jutted his brows and stood up straight. “I know. Noelle and I are setting up a little trip outside of the city. It’s a vacation-slash-work-party for the release of Brad’s book coming up.”
Noelle leaned in. “It’s supposed to be a mini-private release and success party for the company itself before all the parties start hauling in.”
“What do you think?” Leo asked. “Want to come with?”
“I think that’s a fantastic idea,” Brad cut in, phone in hand and a dirty leer on his face. I hope he hasn’t been eavesdropping this whole time. The creep. “You should definitely come. Seeing as how you work under David and all,” he winked.
Shit, I almost gagged in front of everyone.
“Why are you going?” I asked a little too aggressively.
“I’m the life of the party, what can I say,” Brad grinned. “And…David is hosting.”
“David? Is hosting?” I repeated.
Brad nodded. “So he’ll probably expect you to be there. You know, as his assistant and all; so you can work under me over there,” he winked once again.
“What about you’re interview?”
“David’s pushing it back as we speak,” Brad sighed. “He thinks I’m not ready. Whatever.”
Cocky douche. I smiled widely. “Well then, I’m sure David won’t mind that I bring a plus one.”
Brad stepped forward and lowered his head. “A friend?” He asked eagerly.
Gag! “Nope. My boyfriend.”
Brad shot his keen brows down and straightened up, towering over me taller than before. “You won’t be able to, guarantee. Sorry.”
“Mmhmmm, we’ll just see about that.”
It’ll be no fuss. David will approve so long as it’s not an overload of people and it’s not distant friends trying to cash in on the ride. Daniel and I will have a blast on this vacation—an idea Dr. Shaw had actually suggested that we do together—and make us stronger while this prick will finally get the message. Two birds with one stone.
Waiting for David’s return to the office, I sat at my desk quietly, reading through a few manuscripts when my phone chimed.
‘Still waiting on that explanation you owe me,’ it read.