“You don’t want to sit at your desk?” I assumed she’d want to show her power by sitting behind the wide desk while I sat across from her in a smaller chair. The glass table near the windows would be much more personal and intimate.
“I sit behind my desk almost every day for more hours than I can count. My chair has a permanent indentation of my ass imbedded in the seat.”
A laugh erupted from my mouth. “Oh my god, I can’t believe you said that.”
With more refinement than I would ever have, she sat down on one of the chairs facing the room. “Why?”
“Because you’re being too nice to me.” I blurted, wincing as I spoke. Ugh, me and my stupid mouth!
Her eyes widened and she sputtered…or maybe it was a snort. Whatever it was, she held back laughter.
“I’m a nice person most of the time. I’m leery of you because of who you work for.”
“You mean Colette?” I sat and extracted my notepad and recorder from my bag.
She crossed her legs over the other. “Has she told you about her connection to my family?”
“She was once friends with your aunt and uncle, and she met you when you moved in with them after your parents’ death. She said she was like your big sister, but you lost touch after you moved to England.”
“Big sister?” Victoria shook her head and her knuckles whitened as she gripped the chair arms.
“You see it differently?” I cleared my throat, wishing I had changed the direction of the conversation away from Colette. I started to press the record button on the recorder but she set it aside.
“Before we begin, I’m going to establish some rules. Any questions about my former relationship with Colette is off limits. You can ask me anything about my company and my position as CEO, including some personal questions about my likes and dislikes, and mundane things like that. But the years prior to me living in England are something I won’t talk about.”
“Is it because your parents’ death still hurts to talk about?” I asked, trying to ignore the shift in the air. The easygoing atmosphere had been replaced with a stifling tension.
Victoria loosened her grip and folded her hands on her lap. She kept her gaze on my face. “The events surrounding my parents’ death, and the outcome of my life after are common knowledge. If you respect my wishes, I’ll give you new information that should interest your audience.”
“I appreciate that, in light of your…turbulent relationship with Co—”
"That woman and I don’t have a relationship to speak of. She knows why, and using you to find out what I think of her, won’t help her cause.”
“Cause? What do you mean?” I asked, trying not to squirm in my seat.
“You can’t think you’re the first sweet young thing Colette has thrown at me.” Victoria leaned forward with a brittle smile. “Why do you think she sent you to me?”
I refused to back down or submit to this woman with the massive chip on her shoulder. She’d learn I wasn’t a pushover or some silly twit. “She believes in me and wants me to prove I’m worthy—”
Victoria slapped her hands on the table and jumped up from her seat. I jerked back as she leaned in close enough for me to smell her coffee scented breath. “She’s not testing you. She’s testing me, Miss Pinke.” She flicked the tip of my nose and then went over to the windows and stared out of them.
I sat there frozen, other than my chest rising with each inhale and exhale I took. My eyes stung as I held back tears. The worst possible thing would to break down now.
Victoria finally turned back around. The bravado she easily flashed had
“She knows my weaknesses too well. You could end up being one of them,” she whispered.
“Me-me?” My voice came out as a squeak and my throat tightened.
She rolled her head across her shoulders and walked back to the table. Instead of taking her seat, she stood behind me and dropped her hand on my shoulder. I tensed, watching our reflection in the window, paralyzed in my seat. My heart quickened and my stomach reeled.
She tugged on my braid and twisted it around her hand. I bit down on my bottom lip, my breath escaping through my mouth in short pants. Heat spread up from legs and along my sides to my torso, and reddened my face.
She bent down low, her mouth brushing the edge of my ear. “It would be too easy to seduce you right now. But I’m not going to do that.”
Why? I mouthed, barely swallowing back a moan.
“Unlike the others before you, I believe you’re an innocent. Plus.” She pressed her cheek to mine. “I don’t want to be your downfall and ruin your life. Think of it as my birthday gift to you.”
I spun around in my seat, flinching from the hold she had on my hair. “Le-let me go.”
She backed away with her hands raised.
Jumping out of my chair, I snagged my bag, flustered and confused. “How did you know it’s my birthday?
“I had you investigated over the weekend so I knew who I’m dealing with.” She moved behind her desk.
I made my way to the door, trying not to hyperventilate. “You need help.”
She lifted a small remote and the door behind me buzzed. “It’s best if you go now.”
I wrenched open the door. It banged against the wall. I didn’t run but I bolted down the hall and toward the door that would lead me to freedom. Annette, typing on her cell, opened the door.
“I’ll take you back to the elevator,” she said, sympathy lining her voice.
I held a trembling hand to my forehead where it started to pound. “You don’t want to know what happened between me and your boss in her office?”
“Miss Nox’s business is her own and not mine.” She studied my face. “I take it the interview didn’t go as you had planned?”
We reached the elevators, and with a tap of her badge, the doors opened. I marched inside and shot her a look of disgust. “Your boss is a bitch.” I then jabbed the button and the doors shut on Annette’s disbelieving face.
The tears I’d kept in check fell from my eyes. I scrubbed them away from my cheeks, angry at myself. I cursed both Colette and Victoria in my head over their sick game I’d been coerced into.
Hurrying out of the building, no one seemed to notice my tears as I walked down the street, utterly defeated.
Living in Manhattan and working at Virago, one of the most successful women’s magazines in the nation is a dream come true for Lindsay Pinke. After five years of being overworked and underpaid in the research department, she’s finally noticed by Colette Duarte, the provocative executive editor of the magazine. She offers Lindsay the coveted role as her personal assistant, but first she must prove she’s worthy of the position. Lindsay must interview Victoria Nox, the elusive and extremely private CEO of Nox Media Holdings. If Lindsay succeeds, Colette promises her great things for her publishing career. If Lindsay fails, her chance as a respected writer will be cut short.
A chance meeting with Victoria at a high class function puts into motion a series of events that leaves Lindsay blindsided by her strong physical reaction to the magnetic but foreboding woman. When Lindsay unwittingly falls into Victoria’s world of dark temptations and complex entanglements, she leans the shocking truth Victoria hides about Colette that rocks Lindsay to her very core.
Now that Lindsay has become a balm on Victoria’s soul, is she strong enough to help Victoria confront her shameful past, and stop one woman’s sick games once and for all?
(Riverdale Avenue Books. https://ktgrnt.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/50-shades-of-pink/)