(A Steamy BWWM Marriage of Convenience Romance Novel)
My heels clicked on the pavement, my briefcase bouncing lightly with the motion. Suppressing any hesitation, I gave the quickest glance at my wristwatch – good, I’ll be right on time. This was the big one, and I couldn’t afford to screw this up.
Two interviews down. I’m in the zone.
Clinch this last one, Key, and you’re done.
My eyes drifted to one of the store windows on my right. Impulsively, my gaze skated right over clothes I’d never been able to afford, instead catching my reflection. Tastefully, I’d chosen to wear a puff-sleeved, soft aquamarine frill blouse over a dark miniskirt that complimented the tones of my skin. I topped it off with pantyhose and a killer set of black heels. The clothes were courtesy of an apparel warehouse reseller, and the accent purse slung over a shoulder was a clever reproduction, giving me most of the image without the hit against my checking account.
Looking the part was easy, provided sufficient resources. Like a chameleon, I could contort my appearance and demeanor to fit any environment, professional or not. It was the rigorous study that was difficult; learning just enough of the appropriate skills, knowing how to improvise professional answers out of smoke on the spot – that was where things got a little tougher.
But I’d made it so far. The first interview had been with my tired, excitable would-be boss, Larry Higgins. I liked Larry for a number of reasons, primarily that he was on my team from the start. His mistake had been his enthusiasm and personable approach; I’d even managed to get him to talk about his wife and darling pair of kids for a few minutes. There were two questions that I’d fumbled, which should have been dead giveaways. Although ultimately endearing, Larry foolishly glazed over my missteps to get a feel for my personality, and to focus instead on the strengths of my resume.
If you could call that complete and utter fiction a resume…
My second interview had been a little tougher. A man who introduced himself to me only as Coppersmith, he was higher in the chain – the Director of Marketing. He was also an older, crotchety bastard with a harsh disdain for bullshit. Dealing with him had kept me more on my toes, because I couldn’t play a proper angle with him. Instead, I changed tactics, embracing a few illusionary weaknesses to show him how humble and responsible I was.
Honestly, I didn’t think it worked – he looked not only perceptive, but also powerful within the company. If I were going to be a liability, he’d sniff it out at the start. Twenty minutes in I was ready to run and hide, but I forced myself to stay calm and demure, and that’s when I saw him crack just the slightest hint of a smile. His mistake was enjoying my humility, a card I kept on hand at all times. I’d won him over.
Which left my third…
I was at my destination with a few minutes to spare. The building was an impressive piece of architecture, and Andrews Enterprises took the prime real estate at the peak. During the longest elevator ride of my life, I took a deep breath, whipped out my contact mirror, and gave myself a quick, stern glance.
Key, you’ve got this. You’ve spent a month preparing for this next thirty minutes. It’s in the bag.
I slipped it back into my purse, straightened my shoulders, and kept a winning smile on stand-by. When the doors opened, I signed in, sat in reception, and waited with a wide-eyed, sincere grin on my face.
One year here, and everything will fall into place. You can get yourself out of this godforsaken city and never look back. Just act the part and –
“Hi, are you Kiona?” A chipper, lithe, young ginger woman asked politely, brushing her curls aside and extending her small hand.
I stood up and graciously shook it.
Out comes the smile. I know how to play this game.
“Fantastic,” she returned my expression warmly. “You were scheduled to have a dual-interview with our hiring manager and training coordinator, but there’s been a change of plans. I’m Kylie, the executive assistant for Cole Andrews. I’ve been asked to personally interview you for his review myself.”