*read all of the chapters for Swipe Right – The Chronicles of an Unpaid Prostitute in order here
Monday morning my arms were full with cardboard story boards as I walked into my boss’s office. “Set it up and show me what you came up with.”
I nodded and started setting them up on the tabletop before starting into my presentation. I proposed dutifully what I had slaved over for the entire weekend. I explained with confidence my ideas and plans and after thirty minutes and my final comments, I let out a deep breath and forced myself to stand upright instead of slumping into the chair beside me.
“I’m impressed.” I watched as she steepled her fingers against her lips. “I like it. We’ll move forward with this, you’ll present this exact proposal to Ben Davis on Friday.” And that was it, I was excused. I barely contained my squeal of joy, my every dream coming to fruition in a matter of one sentence. I suddenly became nervous, I had four days to prepare for the biggest presentation of my life and that same day happened to land on the day I was flying home. Damn I was going to be busy.
Monday night was reserved for Adam. Adam was tall and lanky with dark hair and dark glasses with the whitest smile I’d ever seen. Adam had asked me out earlier that morning and on my wave of good news, I rode it all the way to agreeing to meet for drinks after work. I ordered another beverage in hopes that the conversation might get better the more I drank. It didn’t. I put on my best smile as he droned on about himself and his job doing something with a computer or walking a dog, or something.
“So Maddie, tell me a little bit about yourself.” Oh, my turn to add to the conversation! “Tell me, how do you feel about pointed toe cowboy boots?” Check, please!
The next day I spent holed up in my cubicle, running over reports and facts and desperately trying to find perfection in a god damn PowerPoint presentation. Hearing my stomach grumble, I looked behind me through the window wondering when the hell the sun went down and how noon turned into seven o’clock. The office was suddenly eerily quiet as I was the only one left, did I even say goodbye to anyone? I jumped in my chair as my phone started ringing beside me. Recognizing the name on the caller ID I picked up. “Hello?”
“Oh good, I was hoping I would catch you. It’s Val.”
I smiled at her enthusiasm. “Hey Val, how’s it going?”
“Good. I received an email from Ben earlier this afternoon stating that you were the contact for the pitch on Friday. He just called and is requesting that the meeting be moved up an hour if that works for you.” I agreed, not actually hearing anything else she said beyond the fact that I was considered the contact for the pitch. Me. Not my boss, not her assistant, me. Fucking, me! It wasn’t until after I hung up the phone that I realized what she was calling for, the meeting. My stomach dropped; that would be cutting it close to my departure time. I shook my head, I couldn’t complain. It was a non-refundable flight but this was the beginning of my future. I just hoped I wouldn’t have to endure the wrath of an angry mother. And a dent to my bank account.
The day of the presentation I piled on the under eye makeup. I’d been up all night preparing, going over each slide and what I needed to say and now that I stood in the meeting room after dropping my luggage at my desk, I felt it all start to fade away. Damn you, nerves! My phone vibrating in my pocket made me jump.
You’ll do great! Kick some ass today!!!
I smiled at Jamie’s text message. Hers was followed by the rest of the girls in the group chat and damn, I loved my friends. I let out a calming breath.
“Are you ready, Maddie?”
I turned around and smiled at the woman who held my career in the palm of her hand. “Yes, definitely.”
“Good. Let’s go over some of your main points.”
After twenty minutes we both sat in our chairs checking our respective watches. Ben Davis would be arriving any minute. The phone rang in the boardroom and I closed my eyes at the caller ID.
“Hi Maddie, its Val, Ben’s assistant. He just called to tell me he’s running a little late – he should be there shortly though.”
“Okay great, thanks Val.”
“You’ll do great, he’s really looking forward to it,” she told me almost under her breath. That had to be a good thing, right?
“Thanks, Val. We’ll chat soon.” I turned to look at my expectant boss. “He’s running late, should be here soon.” She nodded and went back to whatever business had her attention on the cell phone in her hand – probably Candy Crush or Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. That shit was addicting. I did my best to hide my frustration, apparently I wasn’t so good at hiding the sigh that followed that frustration. She smiled, eyes still on the phone and I only assumed it was an understanding smile directed toward me. It could also have been because she achieved a new level in the game, it was anyone’s guess, really.
Finally, finally, Ben Davis decided to show up. Forty five minutes later. Welcome Ben Davis, thanks for gracing us with your presence. I was overcome with a sudden wave of nerves. I barely shook his hand before I moved to the front of the room and started immediately into my presentation. I could only concentrate on what was coming out of my mouth, making sure the words I was stringing together actually made sense. It was my first major presentation and there was no room for error.
When I finished, I stared at the screen letting out a slow breath. I felt sick with realizing how much was on the line. My boss’s laughter pulled me out of my fog and I watched as she slid her arm through his before staring at their retreating backs. Great. I fell into chair in front of me, looking up to the ceiling. I had no idea what to think, I only knew in that moment, I had to get my ass to the airport.
After cleaning up the meeting room, I went in search of my boss and her new best friend but both were gone. Beyond frustrated; I didn’t even get a ‘good job,’ no feedback, nothing. I felt defeated and I needed a damn drink. Grabbing my luggage, I stormed outside and hailed a cab. “To the airport, please.”
“I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” I asked the woman standing behind the counter. She handed me back my passport and ticket with a sympathetic smile.
“You’ve just missed your flight. But I’ve put you on standby for the next flight out which is in two hours.”
I scrubbed a hand over my face, putting on a fake smile. “Can you tell me where the nearest bar is, please?”
Sipping on my second drink, I pulled out my phone and sent a text message to the group chat explaining everything including my current circumstance. As I pressed send I realized I’d missed an earlier one. Rolling my eyes at the name on the screen, I promptly ignored the text from sexy small dick. I didn’t need that kind of negativity in my life right now.
An hour passed and my frustration was waning in the wake of my inebriation. A little kid sat across from me in the waiting area and continued to stare at me. No smile, no facial gesture whatsoever, just staring. Stone cold. I could smell the stink of his judgement from where I sat. I watched as his mom stood to get them a juice from the nearest concession. I swore I heard the challenge of a staring contest. Bring it on, kid! I stared back at him and like a ninja, he maintained his unyielding expression. I took a daring chance at this stage in the game and crossed my eyes, puffing out my lips at the same time. I watched his smile almost break – yes, I had him, I knew it. I stuck out my tongue and in that moment he knew he’d lost as he silently laughed. Success! I started laughing to myself at how great I felt beating an eight year old at some imaginary game. My phone started to ring from inside my purse. I frowned when I didn’t recognize the phone number. “Hello?”
“Hi, is Madison there please?” Oh no, full name, I should have never picked up. Maybe I could pretend it was the wrong phone number, could I pull off a Spanish accent? Who am I kidding, no, I almost failed Spanish in seventh and tenth grade.
“Hi Madison, its Ben Davis.” Oh shit, Ben Davis, the same Ben Davis I just gave a presentation to. The same Ben Davis that walked out without saying a word. Was he calling to berate me about what I’d put together for him? He sounded young, really young. Now that I’d thought about it, I couldn’t even picture him. I had been so nervous that I’d kept my focus on the screen and what I was saying, I hadn’t actually looked at him. I’d only really looked up and watched his retreating back as my boss threaded her arm through his. I could picture his suit, nice, expensive, fitted. And a head of dark hair.
“Hi Mr. Davis.”
“Oh no, Ben, please.”
This was not the right time to be talking to this man. I was coming off a high from my big staring game victory, plus I was half drunk on watered down vodka tonics. “Ben.” Just then an announcement over the speakers stating it was time to start boarding the next plane. Of course it wasn’t my plane, but a plane just the same.
“You’re at the airport?” Gee Captain Obvious, what gave it away? Okay so maybe I was still harbouring some resentment.
“Picking people up or heading out?”
Not that it’s any of your business, but, “heading out.”
“What time is your flight?”
What was this, twenty questions? “Well, I’m not sure. I’m on standby because I missed my earlier flight?”
I heard him curse under his breath. “Because of me? Shit, now I feel like a complete asshole. I’m so sorry.”
How did I answer and not offend a potential new client? “It happens.” Lame. His voice was warm, commanding but I didn’t think the apology was forced, he sounded genuinely like he felt like shit. Good.
“How about I make it up to you?” If it were anyone else, I would have thought he was flirting with me and I would have come back with some sassy reply. Before I could answer he continued, clearing his throat. “Since we’ll be working together.”
“We will?” I felt my stomach flip flop.
“Yes, no one has told you the news, obviously.”
“Alright, Maddie, I thought your presentation was great and exactly what we are looking for. I was just calling to say thank you and to apologize for monopolizing your afternoon. I also wanted to ensure you had my personal cell phone number.”
I didn’t know what to say. I was over the moon. “I… thank you.”
“No, thank you. And I apologize again for today. We’ll touch base again next week. Have safe flight.”
“Yes, thank you.” Jesus did I not have anything else to say, apparently I only knew two words around this man, thank and you. God, when had I turned into a damn parrot? I needed another drink.
*tomorrow – Chapter Nine