Monthly Archives: January 2015

By Design – Chapter 2

“Sorry. Can you go over that one more time?”

“From the marketing division. It’s a good plan. Affordable too.”

Eli glanced over the form, not really taking much in. His mind was preoccupied with other things at the moment and the letters seemed to blur together on the page. But he trusted Ken’s judgment about these things—that was why he had hired him in the first place—so he picked up his pen and signed his name on the line at the bottom.

“Excellent,” Ken said as he took the form back from Eli and added it to the others that had already been signed that afternoon. Eli hated to admit his head was in such a fog that he couldn’t remember what any of them were about. “Well, that looks to be about it for the moment, I believe.”

“Any word back from the lawyer?” Eli asked.

Ken lowered his gaze, avoiding eye contact. “Not yet,” he said. “But as soon as word comes in, you will be the first to know.”

Eli gave a curt nod of understanding. This was an issue he was ready to have behind him. The whole mess was giving him a headache, and if it continued to hang around, it would reflect poorly on the company. Who would have guessed that his biggest bane in his first year of business would be a bogus charge of copyright infringement? Still, if that was the worst thing he had to deal with—a claim with no evidence to back it up—he assumed he should feel lucky. After all the horror stories he had heard about company start-ups, his own venture had gone relatively smoothly. He just needed to make sure the company name stayed clean into the next year of business.

“Actually, sir…”

Ken’s words brought Eli’s attention back to the present. He was pulling another form from the stack in his arms.

“It looks like there’s one more that got overlooked.” Organization what still something Ken needed to work on. It was dangerous to allow things to get overlooked in any kind of business. Eli would have to have a chat with him about it later.

“What is this one?” Eli asked as he took the form from his assistant.

“It’s about the party next week,” Ken informed him. “There were some changes made with the catering company that need to be signed off on. Something with the delivery, I believe it was. They just need your approval before they can alter the service.”

Eli tried his best to focus on the form in front of him, but it was no use. He couldn’t get himself to concentrate. He felt like his head was swimming. Of course the lawsuit had occurred just after Walk on Design had announced its intention of celebrating their successful first year of business. Trying to keep it all under control without letting the public know his concerns was beginning to take its toll on him. He quit trying to make sense of the page in front of him and simply signed his name.

“How are the preparations coming along?” he asked Ken. Though he wasn’t quite sure why, every time some mention of the celebration came up, his heart started racing and his palms got sweaty. It seemed silly to think he was more anxious about a social party than he was about his company getting sued. Yet for some reason that seemed to be the case.

“Everything’s coming along nicely,” Ken assured him. Then again, Ken would probably have given him the same response regardless of what state the event preparations were in. Ken knew Eli’s habit of worrying over things like this—he had a tendency to overthink his public image—and Ken always did everything he could to try and minimize his boss’s anxiety.

“Good to know,” Eli said only because he felt like he needed to give a response since he was the one who had asked in the first place. When it came right down to it, though, this party was more than just a social event. It was proof. Proof that he had done it, that he had succeeded. It was the first time in his life Eli had earned the right to brag like this, and he wanted everything to be perfect. He didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity not to be impressed by what he had accomplished.

“We’ve already received RSVPs from nearly everyone. Especially the media outlets. They’ve been following your every move so meticulously for the last year that they’re all excited about seeing what you have to offer them in the role of host next week.”

Eli couldn’t help but smile a bit at that. But he didn’t let the expression linger. He had grown so good at keeping his poker face in place while at work over the last year. He didn’t want to break the habit now. The first rule of negotiating the business world was not to let everyone else see what you were thinking.

“Thanks, Ken. That will be all.”

Ken flipped through his papers one last time, making sure he had everything he needed, before exiting Eli’s office, closing the door of Eli’s office behind him.

Left to himself, Eli released a deep sigh. He moved to the window and looked outside. It was a nice day, sunny, not too cold. It was a shame he had to spend it cooped up inside at work. Still, he wasn’t going to complain too much. This was what he had always wanted, after all. This company was his, and it had become so successful so quickly due to his own management. That was something nobody would ever be able to take away from him. Was it extravagant for him to throw a party of this scale to celebrate himself like this? Probably. But who cared? He had the money to do it and then some. He knew serious businessmen like his father wouldn’t approve of such frivolous expenses, but this wasn’t his father’s company. Besides, the older generation was outdated. Young people today relished the chance to party with those who ran the big businesses. It made them hip… and human. He was doing this as much for the publicity as anything else. The whole country would see that he was someone cool and relaxed, someone who liked to have fun and not take life too seriously. They would eat it up and business would only continue to improve.

Another smile crept onto Eli’s face. He really was pretty smart when it came to these things. After all, it had been an idea just as simple that had allowed this company to spring into existence in the first place. He would have them all—the public, clients, investors—wrapped around his finger. Things were done differently now than they had been done in the past, especially in the world of technology. It was something his father still needed to learn. It was something he had figured out long before he had put down the down payment on Walk on Design. People wanted a sensation. And he planned for this party to be sensational if nothing else.

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By Design – Chapter 1

Gracie burst through the front door of her office building and made a beeline for the elevator. She pressed the button roughly fifteen thousand times, hoping to signal to the machine that it needed to hurry up. It didn’t. Gracie glanced at her phone. 8:15am. She had never managed to be quite this late before.

The cheery ding! of the elevator, signaling its arrival, pulled Gracie away from her phone. The doors opened at their own leisurely pace, and Gracie darted inside, frantically pushing the “door close” button as soon as she was inside.

It was amazing how slowly the elevator crept up the building, inching its way from one floor to the next, when she was in a hurry. Yet when I’m alone inside with some cute guy it takes no time at all to move from the first floor to the fifteenth. When the door finally opened on her floor, Gracie took a deep breath and did her best to compose herself. The trick was to look like she was confident she had arrived to work exactly when she was supposed to, and not a moment later. As long as she believed it, others would too… at least she hoped.

When she walked in the office, she was greeted by the typical daily bustle. Writers were typing away on their computers, editors were moving quickly from one desk to the next, picking up pieces that needed working on and chatting with the writers about what corrections needed to be made. And Gracie’s boss seemed securely locked away in her private office at the other end of their building space, which meant she hadn’t seen Gracie walk in almost twenty minutes late.

Allowing herself a sigh of relief, Gracie made her way to her desk, plopped down in her chair, and turned on her computer.

She checked her email first. No new assignments had been sent her way overnight. It was just as well. She was still working on a personal piece that she was dying to finish. She was hopeful that this piece, regarding the culture of the rising young professional class, would be the one that would help her make a name for herself. Though she loved her current job, she didn’t want to remain at the bottom of a long line of writers forever. She wanted to prove she had what it took to write an article that would make some noise in the community. Determined to get some good work in, Gracie pulled up her article and began reading the last few lines where she had left off the night before.

“Don’t think you’re getting out of real work that easily,” a voice said from behind her. Gracie turned in her seat to see Colleen standing casually against the siding of her cubical. Colleen did just about everything casually, so Gracie couldn’t help but be suspicious of the lopsided grin her friend wore as she stared at her.

“How much trouble am I in for being late?” she asked.

“Seriously?” Colleen asked, arching an eyebrow. “I don’t think anybody even noticed. Things have been a bit swamped here this morning with everybody preparing for the new issue to go out tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Gracie said. “Lucky me.”

“Lucky you indeed,” Colleen informed her as she handed Gracie a folder that had been tucked away under her arm.

“What’s this?” Gracie asked, taking the folder from her friend.

“Your new assignment,” Colleen informed her.

So much for working on my own piece. Gracie opened the folder and read the invitation inside. A local web design company was hosting a party to celebrate the success of their first year in business. Gracie didn’t know much about the company, but she had of course heard of them. The owner and founder of the company was on every business magazine’s list of up-and-coming big shots in the business world.

Gracie sighed at the contents of the folder.

“Are you really complaining about getting to go to another black-tie event for free?” Colleen asked. “I would kill to have been assigned that piece.”

“You want it?” Gracie asked. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy the perks of her job—like getting to go to events she would never have dreamed of being invited to otherwise—she just didn’t much like the idea of having to deal with the young male owners that typically hosted these events. They were all the same: entirely convinced that they were the best thing to ever walk the face of the earth.

“I wish,” Colleen said. “Unfortunately I’m already assigned to something that night. But you have to promise to tell me all about Eli Walker when you get back. I saw his picture on the cover of a business magazine last month. So cute!” Colleen’s brow furrowed and her face molded into a frown. “Why is it you always get the good assignments?” She walked off shaking her head, evidently still considering her final statement.

After Colleen was gone, Gracie turned back to her computer and reopened the folder she had been handed. Eli Walker’s web design company was called Walk on Design. She had heard it mentioned again and again over the last few months. They were supposed to be one of the best at what they did. So perhaps throwing themselves a party for being so successful wasn’t completely overdoing it.

Gracie opened her web browser. In one tab she looked up Walk on Design. She wanted to learn everything shoe could about the business before she showed up to celebrate it. In a second tab, she looked up the owner, Eli Walker. The wealth of pictures that the search result returned was overwhelming. Without meaning to, Gracie found herself getting sucked in as she clicked through them. She had to admit, Colleen wasn’t wrong about Walker’s physical appearance. He was tall, lean, had shiny black hair that seemed to always be perfectly set, and deep brown almond-shaped eyes. He seemed practically flawless. Still, his kind had never really been her type. But if I were some other girl…

“Oh, one more thing—”

Gracie scrambled to minimized her search window. She could feel her face growing hot and really hoped Colleen had not just caught her staring at the images on her computer screen like a preteen girl drooling over some boyband heartthrob.

“What is it?” she asked, trying her best not to look embarrassed.

If Colleen noticed anything, at least she had the decency not to mention it. “Does that invite say you can bring a guest?”

“Um…”

“Can I come with you? I’m sure I could get out of my other thing.”

“The date says January 31st. Isn’t that the same night as the fundraiser you were assigned?”

Colleen frowned. “Yeah, but that’s not going to be anywhere near as exciting?”

Colleen made a move to sit down on Gracie’s desk to continue chatting, when her name rang through the office. “COLLEEN!

She was barely able to catch herself before she slid off the side of the desk, startled. “I guess that means the boss lady read my most recent submission. This should be fun.” Colleen walked up to the boss’s office like she owned the place, leaving Gracie to herself, and a bit impressed by her friend’s composure after such a summons. But that was Colleen for you.

After Colleen disappeared behind the boss’s door, Gracie turned back to her computer and restored her search window. Eli Walker’s photograph stared back at her. Gracie narrowed her eyes as she studied his image. “Well, Mr. Walker, you sure do have my attention. Now let’s see what kind of an entertainer you are.”

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