By Design – Chapter 6

Gracie’s concentration shattered as Colleen came barging into her workspace. With no regard for Gracie’s work, Colleen made herself comfortable on the edge of her friend’s desk, her arms folded across her chest, an amused look on her face.

“I can’t believe you actually had the guts to publish that piece!” Colleen said. Gracie could have been wrong, but there seemed to be a hint of admiration in her voice.

“What are you going on about?” Gracie asked as she attempted to push her friend aside. But it was no use. Colleen was firmly planted to her spot with no intention of going anywhere.

“The event review, obviously.” Colleen laughed aloud, as if she’d just recalled some inside joke. “How much you want to bet you are the first person ever to say something bad about Eli Walker in print.” Colleen laughed again. “How much you want to bet he’s freaking out over it right now? From what I’ve heard, he doesn’t take criticism very well.”

Gracie didn’t feel anywhere near as amused about this as Colleen seemed to be. “If he plans to succeed in business, I’m pretty sure criticism is something he’s going to have to get used to.” Gracie reached out and picked up a pile of papers that was about to fall off the desk from where Colleen had moved them aside to take her seat. Gracie didn’t have time to be dealing with this right now. She was behind schedule on her next piece and she hadn’t gotten any time at all to work on her personal article. She was certain Colleen had better things to do at the moment as well. She needed to get to them.

But if Colleen could sense Gracie’s determination to get back to work, she didn’t show it. She simply shrugged at her friend’s comment. “Perhaps that’s the case, but criticism isn’t something most people take lightly, especially in the beginning.”

Gracie just rolled her eyes. “I’m sure Eli Walker is a big boy who can handle it.” However, Colleen was starting to make her feel a bit guilty. So in her defense she added, “Besides, it’s not like I said anything that wasn’t true.”

She immediately hated herself for saying it. Why did she feel the need to defend herself over a stupid review just because Colleen had some obsessive crush over this guy? It wasn’t like she had been overly harsh or anything. She was just writing honestly about her experience. After all, that was her job, wasn’t it? It’s not like she was going to lie about what had happened and how she had been treated at the party.

When Eli Walker hadn’t volunteered an introduction, she had taken it upon herself to make the first move. Even so, as she had approached him, it was as if she was invisible to him. He moved right past her on his way to shake hands with one of the big wigs. He hadn’t even said excuse me when she had to jump back so he didn’t run her over on his way to his target. What else could she say about him after that? And why did she feel the need to justify herself to Colleen?

Colleen sighed. “Whatever,” she said. “I just came in here to warn you to expect to receive some backlash from this. Everybody else in the world is convinced Eli Walker is without fault. The public doesn’t like to see its idols’ images smeared.”

Gracie made a face. She didn’t think that was very fair. Colleen simply shrugged in response. “That’s just the way it is,” she said. “Well, I have to get back to work. If I don’t get my piece in by the end of the day, I’m pretty sure the boss is going to have me fired.”

After Colleen left, Gracie turned back to her work. But it was impossible. Why did Colleen have to do that, come in long enough just to mess with her head and make it impossible for her to concentrate? Was it really possible that she had overreacted at the Walker event and had been overly critical in her review? She had commented on so many of the good qualities of the event specifically so it wouldn’t look like she was venting some personal grudge against Walker. It wasn’t her fault Walker himself had been such a disappointment. If only he hadn’t been such a jerk when she had tried to introduce herself that piece could have been much different. Perhaps Colleen was right and she was going to receive a lot of negativity from Walker’s supporters. She hadn’t actually gathered up the courage to read any of the comments that had been left on the article because she already feared there would be some scathing ones. Still, she had written it and everybody knew it. All she could do now was stand by the words she had written.



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