"Can I have everyone's attention please?"
I look at the clock before I settle my gaze on Matthew, our boss, as he calls out across the room. Five past two, just after our staggered lunch breaks have finished - standard time for announcing a promotion. It's happened a lot over the last few months; he seems to be giving out promotions all over the place and it grates me to the bone. Mainly because half of the women, yes women (it's only ever women), are not ready for the responsibility he is giving them. They are usually stuck-up snobs with perfectly slim figures strutting around in their tight little dresses, boobs half hanging out, who cannot possibly know the ins and outs of all our magazines after only being here for a few weeks.
Every time he announces a new member of our team in the head office, it makes me wonder what position they had to get into for him to agree to put them higher up on the team. Here I am busting my arse off every day, near on twelve hours a day, five days a week just to make sure that the layout of every single page of our weekly magazines have been formatted correctly, as well as ironing out any typos and grammar mistakes, only for someone with vastly less experience to go and get a job that I deserve more. Not that I'm jealous, and I'm certainly not desperate enough to do whatever the next blonde bimbo has done to get that promotion. I dread to think how many people Matthew has gotten off with recently.
His life ambition must be to do every single girl on the below floors so he can have a department full of beauties to look at every day, ready to answer his every beck and call.
I secured my job when his dad was in charge, during my first year of university so he couldn't change the ranks of current employees when he had to take over after his dad retired a year later, but he's definitely had a lot of fun hiring new employees and promoting them to make room for other potential lays. The cycle goes on. Maybe it was having to take on the business at a young age that didn't help him get the professionalism right at the beginning. I doubt his dad even realises that he's letting people shag their way to the top. I mean I guess it's easy access to sex whenever he wants with a lot of willing volunteers, but I do wonder what their interviews are like to get into the company to start with. That is something I would love to be privy to. Maybe.
"Please welcome the newest member of the editorial team, Millie." Matthew's voice brings me out of my daydream, and he gestures to the skinny blonde beside him who is fully made up and smiling sheepishly at everyone, seemingly really shy and nervous from all the attention.
I'm not surprised he picked her. Probably saw an easy target and thought he could up her confidence with some deep meaningful, one on one time. Poor Millie. Hope she realises now what she has gotten herself into and who he really is. He is incapable of loving anyone - all he wants is power and money. Annoyingly, he already has both and he sure as hell knows it. Prick!
"I know she's only been here a few weeks, but she has shown real promise and determination to help make this magazine the very best it can be." He grips her shoulders lightly and she seems to blush a little as she gives him a smile.
"Yeah, promise that she will get undressed when he deems it necessary!" Chloe and Kacey, my two best friends and colleagues, snigger beside me.
I do my best to ignore them even though I want to laugh right along with them. I mean, they do have a point there.
I finally glance at them, both of them stifling a smile. "Yes?" I ask, pretty sure I know what they are going to say. It's always the same when someone new gets brought up to our team.
"When are you going to ask about a promotion?" Chloe asks, an eyebrow raised.
"I'm not." I shake my head and give them another glance as Matthew and Millie talk to a few people probably giving their congratulations. "What's the point?" I turn back to them, now both smiling slightly. "I am not stooping that low just for a promotion. Anyway, I dread to think how far I'd have to go to become the lead editor of the entire company."
"But don't you basically do that anyway, just for a lot less than you should be earning? Why doesn't he just give you the job title and pay packet to go with it?" Kacey added. "He must have noticed how much you do for this company."
"Because he's an arsehole who only cares about his pay packet being huge." I look back at my computer and tried to focus on my to do list for the rest of the afternoon, ignoring the congratulations going on behind me, but Chloe and Kacey are a bad influence sometimes. I can't help but crane my neck around to look at Matthew again and he seems to sense my presence. I quickly look away and swear I see a hint of a smirk from him.
"I bet his packet is huge." Chloe glances over at him as Kacey and I share an amused smile. "I mean, you can't deny his looks even if he is a douche who will only promote people if he can get his leg over first."
"And that is the problem with guys like him." I sigh heavily and stare at my computer again. "Maybe we should all quit and start our own magazine." I say it as a joke, but their enthusiasm deviates my gaze from my screen.
"Now, there's an idea." Kacey leans in closer. "Rosie can be the manager, we'll be the lead editors and we will only hire people who are qualified for the job."
"We can still hire three good looking guys though, right, for our own personal use?" Chloe looks between us both and we all start to laugh.
"And what money do we have to start this business venture?" I look up at them and nod when they have no response. "Exactly - none!"
"Just go and talk to him." Chloe wines a little. "Plus, then maybe you can convince him to let you in on the promotions decisions, so we actually give higher paid jobs to people who deserve them." She points at herself and Kacey. "Us." She mouths making us all laugh again.
"Yeah, I bet you could convince him without having to get down and dirty with him. He listens to you." Kacey joins in somewhat less convincingly.
I scoff lightly. "Doubtful. He'll probably just offer me an even bigger position just to get what he wants."
"And that'd be a bad thing? Maybe he'd make you assistant CEO of the entire company. Think of the money you'd get." Chloe stares off in the distance, probably imagining what she'd buy with all that cash.
"And the amazing personal perks from him. No way would he let you keep a job like that without something in return." Kacey joins the dreamland and I know I have to get them out of it quickly.
"I'm not doing this job for the money." They both focus on me again. "And I'm certainly not sleeping with him to get ahead. I actually like my job and finding just the right layout so everything fits perfectly, and believe it or not I like finding typos and spelling mistakes."
"Well, maybe you do need to get laid then." Kacey murmurs and finally looks back at her computer, as does Chloe firmly ending this conversation.
I offer no comment but shake my head with a slight smile. I can't deny though that it hasn't crossed my mind once or twice, maybe more, except it's pretty much a known fact that anyone who has gotten promoted recently is because they slept with the boss. But then that method is usually down to them being new and inexperienced members of staff too. Maybe if I went in for a promotion I would get it just from my work here, and even if I had to resort to more sinful behaviour no one would suspect that I would possibly let myself get a job that way.
I glance over at Matthew's office, now that everyone has settled down and gone back work, not entirely sure what I am thinking, but I know that whatever happens I am getting that promotion one way or another.
At nine o'clock, hours after everyone else has left for the night, I finally switch off my computer and gather my things for the evening. I switch off my desk lamp and glance back to the only light illuminating the place - that coming from Matthew's office.
I spent the rest of the afternoon talking myself in and out of the idea of speaking to him, finally settling on the decision to not stoop so low. I would speak to him in the morning, like a professional about the prospect, not at all thinking that it will be better when other people are around, so I'm not tempted to throw all control out of the window and give myself to him completely.
I jump when his door opens and I appear to look busy with my things as if I am about to leave. As Matthew switches off his light, the office is plunged into darkness, so I flick my lamp back on, illuminating my figure.
"Rosie? You're still here. I thought I was the only one who worked past my hours." Matthew's voice makes me jump and I turn to face him.
"I'm always here this late. Just to make sure everything has been done for tomorrow." I grab my bag from the desk and place it on my shoulder. "Anyway, best be off. Early start tomorrow." I half smile and begin to head out but am quickly pulled back.
"I'm sorry if you feel I am ignoring your potential." Matthew speaks low and it unnerves me a little.
"Excuse me?" I step back away from him, not entirely sure what he is getting at.
"I saw your face earlier when I announced Millie's promotion - it's clear you think I am neglecting you." He moves closer to me. "And I wouldn't want you to think that you're not worthy." He places a hand on my face and smiles, his thumb lightly stroking my cheek.
"Of what? Of sleeping with you to get ahead?" I scoff and move back breaking his contact with me, internally cursing when I hit my desk. "I don't know who you think I am, but I am not someone who will give you sex in exchange for a better position at this firm."
"Rosie, we both know that you've thought about it." He edges closer and runs a hand down my face again. “There was a time long ago when we both thought about it.”
I swallow surprised he even remembers what almost happened years ago, before he became who he is now.
"See the way you tremble. You like that and there's more where that came from." He leans into me, letting me get a taste of just what he has to offer. "Just let this happen. No one has to know." He kisses me on the neck slow and steady, just the once, but it fires me up as if it was a trail of them, sending me back to the past again when this almost happened for the first time.
I fight my urges and thoughts in my head, pushing him back. "But everyone will know - it's all anyone talks about. We all know that these newbies are only coming up to our team because they let you get too close to them all for a job. If you really cared about your staff here - you'd pick the ones that deserve it." I slide past him, widening the distance between us. "If all you care about, is getting laid by desperate people, then you don't know me at all. Maybe it's time I moved on." My own words surprise me as he narrows his eyes in confusion.
"What are you saying?"
I take a deep breath and look him dead in the eye, knowing I will mean every single word, even though I don't want to have to do this. "If you don't give me that promotion fair and square, then I quit!"
Matthew seems to consider my words carefully. "Okay. Have it your way."
I blink several times, not believing my ears. Did I really get the promotion just like that? Was it really that simple after all?
"Okay, then." I nod. "I'll see you tomorrow." I turn on my heel and leave before he can say anything else that might make me reconsider his original proposition.
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