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* * COLIN * *

It’s the 3rd day of April and the day I’ve been waiting for. I’ve spent my whole life preparing for this job.

Nine months ago, and after far too many years, I graduated from Columbia University, but I walked away with a Master of Business degree, a Master of Marketing degree, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting.

Today’s my first official day at ClarkeCo Enterprise. They’re the largest manufacturing company with creation stations (manufacturing plants) in twenty-three countries. They convert someone’s vision into quality products that are sold all over the world. Manufacturing isn’t the only thing they do, but it’s the reason Clarke & Co has been a Fortune 500 company for the last ten years.

They’re also the largest online printing service, the third largest shipping and delivery service, and the sixth largest distributing service of goods and products. ClarkeCo Enterprise is ranked among the five best companies to work for based on competitive salaries, amazing benefit packages, work environment, and employee value.

The company’s been growing, a lot, during the last six years and they’ve recently expanded several departments, including marketing. I’m good at marketing…very good!

I love the company and I’m passionate about what they do, which makes me really excited to start. I’m also very nervous because I feel an insurmountable pressure to perform.

Shit! I forgot my deodorant and I know my pits are starting to sweat because of nerves! Fuck! There’s not much I can do now.

Well, here I go! I inhale deeply as I prepare to step across the threshold for the first time. Just as I’m about to take my first steps toward my new career, a stranger strides alongside of me. He looks straight at me, hits me full force with his incredible smile, and reaches for the doors.

Please, don’t open them for me! Please, Lord Jesus, let me be invisible!


“Hey! I don’t recognize you. Are you one of the new hires?”

He smiles with a confident smirk…or cocky smirk? I don’t know, but his blue eyes could charm the venom out of a snake.

I finally get a decent look at him. He’s not quite as tall as I am, but almost, maybe five feet, ten inches? He has blonde hair, dark- blue eyes, and appears to have a very nice body under his suit and tie. He’s not unattractive by any means. Actually, I’m sure the general population would be quite taken by him.

He has the look a person gets when they’ve always been attractive and they know it. It comes off as confident, and maybe it is, but it’s confidence that comes from having it easy. People love confidence. They eat that shit up as if it’s Cheerios!

“Yeah, I guess you could call me a new hire.”

I’m not looking directly at him. Instead, I keep my eyes forward and my hands in my pockets because his confidence makes me nervous. He allows the door to close behind us and falls back into step with me as I smile and chance a glance at him.


Damn! He really does have great eyes. Shit.

I quickly break eye contact because I’ve learned you can’t give confident guys an inch. They’ll take you for all your worth and then drop you like a hot potato.

“No problem! I’m Charles Gabett.”

He extends his hand.

Gabett? That name sounds familiar, but I can’t place it. Gabett? Hmmm. I glance up and take his hand.


I hope my hand isn’t too clammy. I quickly realize I should have strategically wiped my hand on my pants before shaking his hand.

“Welcome to ClarkCo! July will be two years for me, but I kind of own the place so I’ll take you under my wing and show you the ropes. I’ll give you a leg up around here.”

His blue eyes are charged with confidence as he winks at me. He kind of owns the place? Seriously? Total eye roll! I’ve seen this before! He’s so special, or at least he thinks he is. He does a sweeping gesture of the area.

“Well, this is the lobby.”

Aw, thank you, Captain Obvious! I’m so glad you’re helping me navigate this vast maze called the open lobby.

As we make our way through the lobby, Charles greets each colleague by name and a handshake and introduces me, if the encounter allows it.

I realize two things about Charles.

Firstly, he’s been doing this longer than two years. He works the lobby with precision and smiles enough to be sincere, but also limits each conversation so it’s short and sweet. He remembers personal anecdotes such as family member’s names, pet names, and sports teams. Things he can use later, such as, how was that game last night! Brutal, right! Or, how’s Spot doing with those obedience lessons? Nothing that will demand too much explanation, but allowing each person to feel special and remembered. I’ll bet Charles has been socializing since he was a child and I’ll bet my life he’s from a wealthy business family.

The second thing I realize is, no one knows my name Betturkey because he’s introducing me as the New Hire Guy. This makes me smile, which he notices and asks.

“What’s so funny?”

He has a curious smirk on his face, which causes me to nervously reply.

“Uh, nothing. It’s stupid.”

I don’t want to start work as the geek or weirdo. I also don’t want to give him too many personal anecdotes that he’ll use against me.

“No, now you have to tell me! You can’t say that and keep it a secret!”

He’s smiles and a small dimple appears on his cheek. He’s charming…and dangerous.

“You’re always calling me New Hire Guy and it reminds me of the television show, The Office.”

I shrug, trying to downplay my obsession, yet I keep talking.

“Ryan starts a fire and everyone ends up calling him The Fire Guy.”

Charles lets out a loud laugh.

“That’s exactly why I started calling you New Hire Guy. Also, The Office is my favorite show!”

He reaches for a high five, which I reciprocate.

He likes The Office? Well, he can’t be all bad.

I see Deb sitting at the same spot as she always does, behind the long, semi-circle, information desk. Charles grabs my elbow and leads me to her as she smiles with a glint in her eye. I mentally cross my fingers.

Please don’t ruin this for me!

She looks at Charles and smiles, most likely expecting his charming ways.

“Hey there, Deb! This is the New Hire Guy.”

He winks at me.

“I mean, Colin, one of the new hires. I’m showing him around and taking him under my wing.”

He appears to be as proud of himself as a kid with a brand new toy. She laughs and reaches for my hand.

“Well, hello, Colin! It’s so nice to meet you.”

She gives me a squeeze and an all knowing look.

“It’s nice to meet you, too.”

I don’t hold back my smile, but I do hold back my laugh, it’s harder than I expected pretending to not know someone.

“Deb is the lifeline of this place so you definitely want to stay on her good side! Remember that!”

Charles winks at Deb and receives her famous eye roll in return, along with her wholesome smile. It doesn’t look like even Debs exempt from his charm, it’s hard not to be hit by his magnetism.

She winks at me as Charles drags me through the lobby to the elevator. Yeah, I’m familiar with this place. I’ve been here a few times before…give or take.

As we wait for the elevator, I take a moment to notice him, again. He’s wearing a dark-grey suit, which he wears very well! I know an expensive suit when I see one and I’m looking at one right now. I look away before he turns around because I don’t want my colleague to see me checking him out, although it’s completely platonic. I’m not interested in him for anything more for several reasons.

“Let me guess.”

He throws me a questioning glance.


I nod the affirmative and he smiles. Awe, swoon.

I mentally cross my fingers behind my back and hope he’s from any other department than Marketing.

Please, please, please? It’s not that he’s tempting or that I’m actually interested in him. I simply don’t need any useless distractions such as his pretty face.

“Me, too! We have a great team up there.”

He pauses for a second to study me.

“And it’s about to get better.”

Another smirk. Is he flirting with me?

He presses five on the panel and leans his shoulder against the wall before he continues to impress himself.

“Marketing’s on level five along with Research and Development. Level two is Accounting and Finance. Level three is Distribution and Production. Level four is Human Resources and Purchasing. Level six houses all of the conference rooms. And level seven is where the offices are for all of the big wigs, including Mr. Clarke, himself.”

Yeah, yeah. You know all the floors. So do I!


I point to the panel on the wall and say.

“I see each floor is labeled. That should make it easy to remember.”

Feeling smug because I’m able to keep his ego in check, I grin and he blushes as the older woman next to him tries to hold back a laugh.

“Man! You know how to knock a guy down, don’t you?”

Quickly recovering from his moment of embarrassment, he laughs and places his palm across his heart and says.

“The elevator might be labeled, but I am very familiar with this place. I promise!”


“I graduated almost two years ago and landed a job here right away. My dad knows Mr. Clarke and was able to get me in the door. Don’t get me wrong, I’m qualified, but my dad loves to use his connections.”

He shrugs as if it’s no big deal.

Oh! He knows Mr. Clarke?

“How does your dad know Mr. Clarke?”

“They’ve done business together in the past. My dad is CEO of Gabett Enterprises and they’ve been pretty Betturkey Giriş close friends ever since they met. Our families get together regularly for dinner and such. I would’ve worked for my dad and started higher than where I started here, but I don’t like Chicago and I wanted to try out the Pacific Northwest.”

Gabett! I knew it sounded familiar! It’s a big East Coast name. Old money and new money combined, this kid’s a total TFB (Trust Fund Baby). Ugh. My nightmare!

“Gabett, huh? That’s a pretty big name. You probably don’t need to work with a trust fund like that.”

I’m not asking, but simply making a statement. I’ll bet his dad makes him work.

“I suppose not.”


“But my dad wants me to work so here I am. I have to keep dad happy!”


I nod.

“So, friends of the family, huh? That’s cool and I’m sure it gets you all kinds of special advantages around here. Is that why you, kind of own the place?”

The elevator door opens to level five and he laughs in amusement as we step out.

“No. I was expecting something, but Mr. Clarke doesn’t roll that way. It’s a bummer, too. He could build future relationships by greasing special wheels, but he doesn’t. Eventually, I’ll be running Gabett Enterprise, but he doesn’t seem to care.”

He sounds annoyed, but I can’t tell for sure.

I’m sure he’s used to being treated above others because he’s a Gabett and has probably has a life of special treatment, especially since he’s a golden child. I’ll bet if and when he ever messed up, it was quickly erased. Money can make that happen. Vamoose!

“I’m sure he has kids you can grease up and prime before a massive coup d’état?”

I laugh and raise a questioning brow.

“I like the way you think! He does have a son. I haven’t met him, but I’ve seen pictures of him all over their house. His parents make him out to be a pretty stand-up guy, though, so I don’t foresee Coup d’état in our future.”

He playfully bumps my shoulder. Suddenly, Brett Marks stops in front of us. He’s a nice guy, in his fifties, six feet tall, all dark features, and average in every sense…except when it comes to work! This guy’s a marketing genius and there’s a reason he runs the department…he’s very good at what he does!

“Hey, Brett. This is Colin, the New Hire Guy in our department.”

I firmly shake hands with Brett while holding eye contact and pleading with my eyes.

Please, don’t!

“Hello, Brett! It’s great to meet you.”

He stares at me for a split second before he recovers.

“Same here. It’s nice to meet you, too. Why don’t you come with me for a minute before you get started?”

He looks at Charles and nods.

“Thanks for bringing in the new guy. Go ahead and finish wrapping up the Steinbrenner project and report to Kevin after you’re done.”

I look at Charles and give him a smile.

“Thanks for the warm welcome and making me feel at home around here. I’ll see you around the office.”

“You’re not off the hook that easy, you’re joining me for lunch today! There’s a great little taco place a few blocks down. Meet me here (he gestures to where we’re standing by the elevator) at twelve sharp and, since it’s your first day, I’m buying.”

He leaves before I can say anything. It’s not that I would’ve said no, but I am feeling somewhat uncomfortable about it.

I enter Brett’s office. It’s the same office he’s had for the past eleven years. The only difference is a few updated pictures of his family and two new black labs.


Brett wraps me in a giant hug. I’m physically larger than he, but he has me feeling like the small shrimp I was the last time I saw him. Brett laughs and points to a chair.

“Sit down. It’s been too long! Seriously, Stan, I’ve been counting down to this day and you’re finally here!”

Brett’s smiling widely at me. He’s always had a way of making me feel good and he’s very much like an uncle to me.

“Yeah, right. I bet you say that to all of your new hires.”

He rolls his eyes.

“No, only to the annoying ones.”

He pauses.

“How long do you think this will last?”

We both know what he’s referencing to. I shrug and palm my lap as my nerves are suddenly on edge, again.

“Hopefully, for a while. I don’t know. It depends on you and all of the old timers. I don’t plan to spoil anything, not for a while anyway, so don’t screw this up! Which you will if you keep calling me Stan! I haven’t gone by Stan since high school! It’s a stupid name anyway.”

Brett raises his arms in surrender.

“Hey, hey! I haven’t messed up, yet, and I only called you Stan in the privacy of my office.”

He shifts and won’t make eye contact with me because he knows he’s likely to mess up, soon.


“We all understand why you want to fly in under the radar. You’ve been around here since you were a kid and we all love and support you. You’re family.”

He’s trying to be understanding, but his reservations are obvious.

“I don’t know. You have so much support here, you could’ve easily come here and be my boss if you’d wanted to. Plus you’d start out with your own parking space!”

I drum my fingers on the desk.

“I don’t have a car so I don’t need a space.”

“Buy a car.”

“Stop! You know me better than that.”

“You’re right. I do.”

“I hate you. You’re an asshole.”

I flip him the bird and we both laugh.

“Anyway, enjoy the anonymity while it lasts. I’ll give it one week because there are too many people here that love you so it’ll be hard for them to let you walk around like a stranger. With a cute face like that, who can blame them?”

He reaches over and pinches my face, as an old bitty at a church bizarre would, and gives me the once over.

“By the way Sta…Colin— What happened to you? You. Look. Great! I haven’t seen you in, what, five years? Maybe six? Puberty finally hit you like a Mack truck, I might add. You were of the small, shrimp variety when you graduated high school!”

He chuckles at the memory.

“To be honest, I didn’t recognize you when you stepped off of the elevator! If Charles hadn’t been so eager to introduce you, I’d still be staring at the elevator door and anxiously awaiting your arrival!”

“So, that’s the real reason you didn’t blow my cover! You’ll mess up before anyone else! I know it!”

“Maybe! We’ll see, but I’m trying my hardest not to, scouts honor!”

He raises two fingers for a salute. I have no clue whether it’s Boy Scouts or not, but it’s funny.

“But seriously, you look great! It’s going to be hard to keep the boys off of you! I don’t know everyone in the office, but if you’re interested, I do know two guys who are gay.”

He looks hopeful that I might accept his offer.

“It’s my first day and you’re trying to set me up with a colleague? Not a chance!”

I fiercely shake my head no.

“No way! Never! I’m not going to date anyone from the office. I only want to work here. I’m not interested in making things complicated.”

Nope. Nope. Nope.

“We’ll see…”

He innocently looks at me and continues.

“Well, you know, Charles is a pretty fun guy. He comes from a similar background so I’m sure you’d have a lot in common.”

“Shut up, you!”

I actually have to laugh at the idea.

“I’m nothing like Charles! He’s everything I can’t stand! Don’t get me wrong, he appears to be nice enough, I guess, but he’s your typical TFB who only knows money, power and privilege. Everything is disposable to him so I’m not interested.”

“He’s not that bad. Maybe he’s entitled and flaunts his money status, but he’s here, he works hard, he’s smart, and he has potential. But you’re right, his biggest downfall is men. Charles appears to get around…a lot.”

We both cringe. I’m not down for any hump and dumps. I don’t want to be a notch on anyone’s belt or a nightcap prize. Brett and I talk for a while longer about family and life before he finally dismisses me. I’m super excited to start something challenging and I’m hoping to prove myself as valuable and gain the respect of my colleagues.

The next three hours fly by and I’m having fun and enjoying the work. Everyone appears to be nice and I feel completely welcome. One of my colleagues, Bethany, is a year older than I and has worked here for three years. Bethany’s five feet, six inches tall, has an athletic build, brown hair and brown eyes. She’s a silent beauty, meaning she doesn’t throw it in your face. In fact, nothing about her is harsh, she’s kind, funny, and humble. Everything I want in a friend.

I’m hoping to work through lunch and coincidentally avoid Charles, but I find out lunch is mandatory unless things are chaotic due to deadlines and such. Unfortunately, for me, today doesn’t qualify so I invite Bethany to lunch as I’m hoping for…I don’t know, an ally? She gives me a serious look as the corner of her mouth curls up before she says.

“Oh, no! You’re on your own with that one. We’ve all had lunch with Charles. He’s a harmless show off. Have lunch with him and get it over with.”

She gives me a good luck smile and walks off.

Bitch. Ugh.

I walk to the elevator and, sure enough, Charles is waiting for me. He looks up from his phone and grins.

“Hey. You’re late. Let’s go.”

I look at my phone, it’s only three minutes after noon! Give me a break!

We make small talk as we walk out of the building and until we arrive at a small Mexican restaurant three blocks down.

Most restaurants in Portland are small, including this one. There’s eight tables and none of them are very big. This isn’t a place for business meetings or groups larger than three people.

As I look around, I notice the atmosphere is very authentic and the food looks amazing!

* * CHARLES * *

“I’m going to order for us today, if that’s okay with you? It’s taco Tuesday, so it’s an…obligation. I’ve been to Mexico, a few times, and these are as real as they come here in Oregon.”

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