Nathan was not amused.
Even though, rationally, he knew that planning the murder of his boss by an exploding coffee machine was perhaps not the best career move, at the moment he couldn't care less. Because his evil, evil boss was the reason why he was standing in front of this horrid building.
As usual it only took one short ring before the door was opened by a tortured soul. He figured his mother's maid probably preferred being called by her real name, but Nathan had long ago learned that it was no use remembering the names of the people who worked for his mother. She often changed her staff daily. He had no idea how she even found all these people who actually wanted to work for her. Knowing his mother, blackmail was involved.
The girl in front of him gave him a friendly smile and asked him, "Can I help you, sir?"
"I'm afraid at this point I'm beyond help," Nathan sighed dramatically. He always sighed a lot when he entered this building. "But could you please inform my mother that her son is here."
"Of course, sir," the girl answered. Nathan couldn't help but notice that she seemed a bit surprised by the fact that the devil had offspring. Part of him wanted to tell her desperately that he was nothing like his mother, although right now he would be lying. He was thinking of multiple ways to kill his boss after all.
While the girl went off in search of his mother, Nathan got himself comfortable in the living room. The one thing he did have in common with his parents was a love for alcohol. There was always plenty of booze in the Tate house.
He went straight for the wine since he never had the good stuff at his own place.
"Nathan, what a pleasure it is to see you here. I thought Christmas was a couple of weeks ago. Did I miss a holiday?"
Nathan drank the rest of his glass and told himself it was really necessary to be polite today. "Yes, mother, not a holiday in sight. Unless you count Valentine's Day which I'm sure you don't. Not that you should, such an artificial holiday isn't it?"
His mother couldn't look more skeptical if they were currently standing in front of a police line-up. There was something regal about her, she looked like she was born to play a queen in some costume drama. She also didn't look a day over 50, which always pleased Nathan since he had to count on her good genes. His dad was certainly not going to help in that area.
"Is there something you need, money perhaps?"
Nathan bristled. He never asked for money, that was the reason he currently had a sizeable student debt. "Of course not, but you're right that I do need a favor. You may vaguely remember that I'm currently working at a gay magazine and my boss is insisting that I do a profile on the city's most eligiblebachelors," he explained. "And well I thought it was more likely that you knew these people, since you hang out in the same circles."
His mother's face didn't move an inch. Nathan was starting to think she had been too generous with the Botox, when she suddenly said, "That is actually not a terrible idea, Nathan. I am in the process of organizing an auction for a very good cause and this whole eligible bachelor thing might be a good spin."
"Actually, I do have to sit down with these men so could you perhaps glance through your phonebook and give me some numbers?" Nathan asked and he tried to do the whole puppy look thing Allison insisted he was a pro at.
It didn't seem to have an effect on his mother because she was not cooperating. "I actually have a better idea. Since you are turning thirty soon…"
Nathan had to interrupt her, "I'm turning twenty-five."
"Which is nearly thirty," his mother continued undeterred. "I think it is high time that we threw you a coming out party."
Nathan rolled his eyes. "I've been out since I was fourteen, mom, do we really need a party now?"
"Oh, Nathan, you're talking nonsense again. I'm talking about the traditional coming out party which is common for people in our circles. But if you insist on celebrating your homosexuality, I can always throw a party to raise money for LGBT teens in need."
"There's no need for any of that, mother," Nathan said hastily. His mother had already thrown him a birthday party celebrating all the achievements in the gay community. He had always been relieved that his parents had no issue with the fact that he was gay, but the problem was that they tended to go overboard.
"Could you perhaps give me your phone book so I can copy some names?" he pleaded.
"Darling, you don't honestly think I still keep those names in a book?" she smirked, then she went over to a drawer and pulled out an iPad. "Right, let's see, I will send you an email with the thirty names that immediately pop out. But for a list like this, you need at least fifteen names so I will underline the most important names."
"That would be amazing, thanks, mom," Nathan said.
"Not a problem, my dear. Be aware that each name also has some information attached to it. Modern technology has made it so easy to keep up with the latest scandals, hasn't it? I will send you the details about your coming out party later, of course."
"Mom, I already told you that I don't want a party and certainly not one with the most eligible bachelors in the city present. I think I've been embarrassed enough in my life."
"Darling, I think if Clarissa heard about my idea, she would agree with me. You do need a promotion at some point. You can't work as a journalist at a gay magazine forever, it's not exactly the New York Times. And frankly, it get's tiring telling people that my son works for 'Under the sheets.' People make all kinds of assumptions, and they tend to be rather pornographic."
"Mom, I've already told you that this is one of the most popular magazines in the city and Clarissa is one of the best in the business."
Nathan might hate Clarissa at the moment but he still felt the need to defend her against his much more evil mother.
"We'll talk about this later, alright?"
"I'll send you another email," his mother replied. "Until later, darling." And just like that she was out of the room.
Nathan had no illusions, he had lost this conversation as usual.
Back at the office, the first thing he did was check his email and his mother had kept her word. There was a very neatly organized email waiting for him. He was right to follow his instinct, his mother clearly knew what she was doing. Every gay man with a Swiss bank account was on this list.
He scrolled through the names until he saw the reason why he despised this assignment so much: Lucas Barlow.
His name was of course neatly underlined, not that Nathan could blame his mother for this one. The Barlows were billionaires and one of the richest families in the country after all. Still he had hoped beyond hope that his mother would provide him with enough fabulous names that he had the option not to include this one.
Maybe killing Clarissa with the help of the coffee machine wasn't such a bad idea after all, anything to get him out of this assignment. Right on cue, Clarissa walked over to the coffee machine for her fourth cup of the day.
As far as Nathan could tell, his only option right now was to think of an amazing article so that Clarissa would have no choice but to forget about this one. The problem was that he couldn't think of a single thing. He had no inspiration, zilch.
He was the worst writer ever.
Before approaching Clarissa, he decided to pay a visit to his best friend and partner in crime: Allison.
"I'm in deep shit, Allison. Please help me."
Allison didn't look very impressed. "What's wrong this time?"
"It's this stupid eligible bachelor thing. Can't you write it, please? I'll literally do anything."
Her eyebrows went up. "Anything," she repeated, "that does sound interesting. But I'm afraid that I can't help you, I really need to finish this story or Clarissa will end me."
"Oh, please, she loves you. Our staff meetings are practically devoted to watching you two flirt with each other."
"We're not flirting," she denied. "We just get along, that's it. Anyway, you never really told me why you don't want to write this article. What could possibly be so horrible about writing about the richest bachelors in town? You might even find your own husband this way."
"I didn't tell you the whole story," Nate confessed. "I kinda have a history with one of these people."
"Oh my god, which one? I know your parents are loaded but I didn't know they hung out with the kind of rich that's on a list like this. Maybe you should put yourself on the list," she suggested excitedly.
"That won't be necessary since I'm unfortunately not a millionaire myself. Unlike these men, I will have to wait until my parents drop dead."
"I still don't get your problem," Allison said. "So what if you had a fling with one of them? I once had to interview one of my one night stands which was really, really awkward, especially since I didn't call her back afterwards. But whatever, I survived and so will you!"
"There is just a slight difference to your story, it wasn't exactly a fling. We dated for five years."
"What the hell!" Allison was no longer amused. "How come you never told me this, I'm supposed to be your best friend! Ok, we're having an early lunch and you're going to tell me everything. Let's go."
Having a popular lunch bar next to their office building had never been more practical. Only a couple of minutes later, they were sitting at a table.
"Alright, let's start with this story, I'm very interested," Allison said.
"I'd like to start by saying that I've been a very good best friend to you these last three years and I hope you haven't forgotten that," Nathan started saying.
"Duly noted," Allison replied. "Now stop avoiding the issue and start by telling me which of the lucky bachelors is your ex-boyfriend."
"It's Lucas Barlow," he announced.
"Are you kidding right now? Lucas Barlow is like the most perfect human being ever. Billionaire, runs a multinational, ridiculously handsome and popular."
"That is a good recap, but he's also the guy who broke my heart so I would like to add 'complete asshole' to that description if you don't mind."
"Oh, Nathan," Allison said, she took his hand in hers. "I'm sorry, I should have realized. You usually have a very good reason to hate people, I've met your mother after all. Did he cheat on you? Because in that case, I'm going to Clarissa myself to prevent her for from printing this story."
"No, he didn't cheat on me, he's much too honorable for that. He broke up with me first before he started dating Yale's elite. And for your information, I was never part of that elite since I was the only one who was there on a scholarship and wasn't being groomed to take over the family business. Part of me can't even blame him for dumping me, he was way out of my league."
"That's a load of crap," Allison said, sounding quite irritated. "You freaking run the league, there's no need to put yourself down. What you need to do is tell Clarissa the truth, she's quite reasonable. If you come up with a new story, I'm sure she'll run it."
"That's the problem, I've got no inspiration whatsoever. That's the reason she gave me this assignment in the first place. I've got nothing and you know how important it is to our boss that people have their own 'creative input'."
"Hmm, I think it would be rather hard to justify to leave him out. But on the other hand, you could make sure that he's the one who doesn't want to participate. Just tell his assistant or whoever that everyone has to get naked in front of the camera. I'm sure a respected businessman like him will decline."
Nathan smiled. "That is actually rather brilliant, I knew there was a reason why I chose you as my best friend. Seriously, thank you."
Allison grinned victoriously. "You're welcome. Don't worry, I have your back."
Of course his mother had provided him with the name, number and dating history of Lucas' assistant. Nathan decided to be brave and call her immediately after his lunch break/intervention.
"Good afternoon," he said after Mary picked up the phone and introduced herself. "My name is Nathan Tate, I work for a gay magazine called 'Under the sheets'. Our magazine is doing a profile on the city's most eligible bachelors."
"Hmm, I think Mr. Barlow might be interested in that," Mary replied.
"Well, I think I need to be upfront about this. Does Mr. Barlow have a problem with nudity? Because that is what we're looking for here, we're trying to show these men in their most pure form."
Mary coughed a little. "I see." She didn't sound very confident. "I have to admit that I don't know if Mr. Barlow wants to be displayed 'that way' in a nationwide magazine. Can I call you back later, Mr. Tate?"
Nathan was basically cheering his success already. "That's not a problem, Ms. Anderson. You can call this number whenever Mr. Barlow has made up his mind. Bye."
"Bye, Mr. Tate," Mary said dutifully.
Nathan practically had a Cheshire smile face on his face: problem solved.
The next day, it became clear that the problem was not solved. It had in fact become an even bigger problem since apparently Mr. Barlow was now expecting to give a naked interview to Nathan.
Unlike last time, Nathan decided to get straight to the point and talk to his boss who was conveniently standing at the potential crime scene, the coffee machine.
"Clarissa, I kind of need to talk to you about something," he started carefully.
"Oh, Nathan, I was coming over later to discuss your upcoming article. I really think this will be very successful. I did something similar at my last magazine with great results."
"Right, Clarissa, I've actually run into a problem. You see, one of the men on my list happens to be someone I'd rather not talk to. A lot of bad history, you know."
Clarissa looked him over very carefully, probably preparing the lecture she was going to give him. "Listen, Nathan, I really think you're a good writer and a good writer has to be able to separate their own personal issues from their work. Now unless this man has been on trial for your attempted murder, the only thing I can tell you is to deal with it. Professionally. Because I'm going to be honest, I'm going to need proof that I can rely on you. Like I said earlier, I think you're good but you are also terribly inconsistent."
There was no way he could argue with that, she was right. In the four months she'd been here, he hadn't been at his best. So Nathan did the only thing he could do, he nodded to express his agreement with her wise words and went back to his desk.
On the bright side, he was going to interview fourteen really hot, rich bachelors. It could be worse.