When I’m finished, I slip on my heels and pull on the matching suit jacket, standing in the mirror to check myself out. I look so grown-up. Before I can stop myself I go over to my bedside table and grab my phone. I send a quick text to Oz.

Me: Thank you. And I’ll consider it.

No sense letting him know I did what he asked. I just agreed with his idea, that’s all.

I grab the last of my things and head out of my bedroom to the kitchen. When I walk in, Paige is holding out a to-go thermos of coffee for me.

“I’m like a proud mom on your first day of kindergarten,” she says, beaming at me.

I can’t help but giggle and shake my head. She’s truly adorable. Taking the coffee from her, I give her a hug and give silent thanks that I have her in my life. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Pulling back, she hands me a brown bag, and I laugh. She packed my lunch?

“You did not.”

“Oh, I did. Peanut butter and strawberry jelly. Doritos and a banana.” She crosses her arms and looks at me with the smuggest face. “I’m the best mom ever.”

“Thank you.” I take the lunch and slip it into my shoulder bag. It’s a designer purse Paige got me for Christmas and wouldn’t let me refuse. She said if I didn’t keep it, she would never speak to me again. It’s nice because it’s big enough for lunch and a couple of necessities, but looks stylish.

“Wish me luck,” I say, heading out the front door. I hear her say it as the door closes behind me. I take the elevator to the first floor. Our building is around ten stories, and we live on the third floor.

We’re three blocks up from Osbourne Corp, and the heat isn’t too crazy this morning. Putting in my headphones, I switch on an audiobook and make the easy walk to work, trying to focus and pump myself up. I’m smart; I’m confident; I can do anything in the world. My superhero underwear cheers me on as I take the final steps toward the building.

I’d timed it once before, just to be on the safe side, but it looks like I’m only about a fifteen-minute walk from work, which is great. The front of the building is a bit intimidating, but I’m about to be a part of this machine, so I try to step through the glass doors with self-assurance.

Once I’m there, I do as instructed in my new-hire email and head to the front security desk. One of the guards at the desk gives me a temporary pass and takes me up to Human Resources, explaining what’s on each floor as we go up.

The building is twenty floors, with the top three floors reserved for the executives of Osbourne Corp. Human Resources is located on the fifth floor, with a cafeteria and company gym located on the floor below. I may have Googled the building just to find this all out. I might have gone a little overboard with studying. I’ll be working on the tenth floor in accounting, and interning with their comptroller on statistical trajectory for the company, along with fulfilling everyday duties.

I’m introduced to Agatha, head of HR, and I like her immediately. She’s like a grandmother with a wicked sense of style in her blue suit and red heels. She has a soft smile, and I want to give her a big hug, but I think it might be inappropriate. Agatha takes her time going over my new-hire paperwork, insurance benefits and my bank account information.

Once Agatha is finished, she introduces me to the two other interns who were hired with me for this program.

“Mallory, this is Eric and Skyler.”

We all say hello, and I stretch out my hand, greeting each of them.

Skyler looks like a cool kid. She’s got on a plum pantsuit with hot-pink heels, and her jet-black hair is stick straight and pulled back in a low ponytail. Her almond eyes are warm, her handshake is firm and her smile is genuine when she greets me. I like her, and I like that there’s another girl in the program with me.

Eric seems normal enough. Average height, dark blond hair and blue eyes. He looks like an all-American Abercrombie boy. Definitely the kind of guy I’ve seen before, and avoided. His eyes move down my body when we shake hands, and I pull my hand back quicker than I intended. He flashes his megasmile at me, which I’m sure has some girls swooning, but I just give him a tight-lipped one in return and pretend nothing happened. I want to make a good first impression, especially with Agatha here, so I keep my mouth shut.

We’re taken to our floor and introduced to our supervisor and head of accounting, Linda Green. She’s short, and well dressed, with a professional smile. She’s enthusiastic about us being on board and welcomes us to the company. Afterward, her assistant shows us to our cubicles, and we all settle in. My desk is between Skyler’s and Eric’s, but thankfully it’s not too cramped.

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