Chapter One

Quitter. I couldn't face my parents after this. After paying five semesters tuition at Oxford, how could I go home before the start of semester and tell them that I was just that, a quitter? And on top of that, I was taking the prestigious career they wanted for me and tossing it down the gutter.

My phone buzzed against the wooden table, jolting me back into the reality of the stripped flat, apart from the last few boxes-the others already shipped back to the States. My eyes flicked to the bright screen with dread-How could they know already?

A soft exhale of relief escaped me. "Chance."

"Uh, hey. You okay?" His voice helped more than comfort food. My lack of response prompted: "Well, when you wake up, or escape your drug trip or whatever, give me a-"

It was hard to be annoyed with him. "Ugh, I'm awake. What do you want?"

"How'd it go?" He didn't need to specify.

I wasn't going to talk about it; not before a fifteen hour chain of flights overseas in less than six hours. Talking about it meant thinking about it. "It went."

"Did you even tell them yet?" Chance asked, my silence fueled another question, and he took the hint. "Glad you're coming back home; when's the flight?"


"AM or PM?" He asked, only to annoy me.

Indulging him, "PM."

"So that means you'll be back in the U.S. by...?"

I groaned. "Don't make me do math right now." I said as I aimlessly veered into the kitchen to look for food in an empty fridge.

"Oh, shit- I have to go." His mellow tone converted to panic. I pushed my hair behind my ear; the blonde locks were naturally wavy, but in the humidity sprung into loose curls.

Turning around, the cold air of the fridge reminded me that it was still open. I faked a smile, even though I was alone and unseen. "Yeah, no problem. I'll talk to you later, Chance." My lip trembled, I felt abandoned.

"See you soon." As his words hit me, my face fell: My fake smile faded away. "Josie..." My name on his lips perked the corners of my mouth once more. "...I can't wait to see you."

"Me too." I regretted my instantaneous response when the other end clicked. "I miss you." I said into the speaker to no one in particular. Phone in hand, my arm dropped to my side. The backs of my legs were beginning to freeze, but I tormented myself a bit longer. My thoughts rested on Chance, his messy brown hair, hazel eyes, his guitar, always within a couple feet of him. We'd been best friends since childhood, and it had never become more than that; I wasn't sure if either of us wanted it to.

After a quick stop at the post office, goodbyes were distributed to the few friends I had made while in England. I lingered at the pub, drinking a beer while waiting for a cab. Outside, it was raining. You'd think after almost two years of living there, I would have gotten used to it, yet I thought of my umbrella, sitting at a post office inside a freshly taped box. Sheets of rain pounded onto me as I loaded my own suitcase into the empty back seat, sitting beside it on soaked upholstery.

As the car moved slowly through the traffic toward Heathrow airport, the rain pounded down onto the gray buildings. But it was only once I had checked in, waited, and boarded that I realized something.

The plane lurched up in altitude and my gaze shifted out the window at the shrinking airport. The green countryside littered with dissolving homes, and London in the distance, disappearing beneath me.

I'm actually doing this. I'm quitting and going back to a place I promised I'd never return to.

The criticism hung around in the stuffy airplane, but there was something else: Relief. A wave of harmony passing over me.


My nose alerted me to home, and I glanced up from my phone after the long drive. Paying the cab driver, I lugged my suitcases out after me, hauling it on the wrong side, letting it drag until I stood it up on the sidewalk. Around me, I recognized things I'd forgotten, fondly remembering memories I'd hated. Orange County. Homesickness washed away into bliss.

The cab driver honked his horn, yelling indistinguishable language, but I slammed the door shut and he floored it away from me: Some things never changed.

In front of me, a large apartment building, the puzzle layout tricked me down wrong turns. Finally, the correct combination of letters and numbers appeared on a door.

Hesitation loomed over me, my fist hanging awkwardly, two inches from the door. Before I could talk myself out of it, I knocked loudly. The jostle of life assured me that he was home, and the door burst open.

"Josie. Hold on, I'm in the middle of something." Chance was wearing sweats and a black t-shirt, looking different in person than on video, not that our chats online were often. His hair was a bit shorter maybe, but just as messy. Full-sleeve tattoos covered his arms, much added in the last two years. He left the door open, running back into a dark room down the hallway. I let myself in, closing the door behind me.

The sound of machine guns blasted from his room and I scanned his apartment curiously from the couch. A pile of my boxes in the corner covered much of one of the few windows, the coffee table littered with soda cans and paper plates. Posters wallpapered the walls, equipped with run-down furniture-yet an advanced television.

A minute later, he came out. I stood up as he sauntered over, giving him a quick embrace before we plopped onto the couch. "It's good to see you, Chance."

He smiled, flashing his teeth, his dazzling pools of hazel met mine. "You look good." My tacky patterned leggings and long t-shirt hardly passed as good. My light blonde hair desperately needed a shower and a straighter. "Want me to kick his ass?" He leaned back, putting his spotty white socks onto the glass coffee table, and crossing his inky arms-an intricate collage I could stare at for hours.

"Really? That's the first thing you say to me?" I paused while he eyes glittered in laughter.

"I said you looked good..." He began, but changed topics. "So you're going to avoid your parents until they find out?"

"Just until it's too late to send me back." My hands were folded awkwardly on my lap, twisting around each other as I stared at the boxes in the corner.

Chance's placed his hand on my shoulder, and I realized how tense I was, bolt upright and my shoulders hunched forward. "It's going to be fine, Josie." The light tone of laughter escaped in his voice and I relaxed under his touch.

He meant well, but my hardened shell began to crack. "I'm going to go change outta these clothes." I mused, already grabbing my carry-on and bringing it into the bathroom with me. The steam piled up in the small room, and I ensured I had a towel before I stripped down; the searing hot water rained down on me, exhuming questions I wasn't ready for.


After lounging around in sweats for a week at Chance's apartment, the talk was bound to come. The what-are-you-going-to-do-now conversation, meant to tell me to get a job and help with the rent. It was selfish to wait for it, but anxiety fluttered over me constantly; the break from stress deemed necessary.

The doorknob fumbled, and Chance strode in, his eyes heavy in thought. "Hey," I mumbled, eyes glued to the television. A thud alerted me, and I glanced over to him, frozen by the door, his bag lopsided by his feet. He placed his guitar with more care, rested in its stand, hidden beneath a black sheath.

"So, Josie..." His mouth twitched. "I talked to my boss today, and...well, they're willing to offer you a job."

A groan withheld, I asked anyway, "What could I do at a music studio?"

Chance's hesitation scared me. "Um...receptionist."

As he said it, I chuckled, "Funny." His somber expression halted the laughter. "Oh, you're serious."

"Anyway, you can come in tomorrow to drop off your resume and do the interview-" Now the groan escaped. Chance wasn't discouraged: "You may end up liking it, Josie. It's really a great place to work."

"Are you convincing me or yourself?"

He went into the kitchen, grabbing a beer from the fridge. "It's just been a long day. You want one?" He raised the bottle into the air.

"Sure." Might as well try to have some fun before I had to start working. Chance turned on a game and tossed a controller at me. It was like old times again. By the time I slipped into my makeshift bed on the couch, my cheeks hurt from laughing and my head spun as sleep overcame me.


My pace slowed as Chance and I approached the row of buildings, spotting the music studio immediately. I wasn't sure what I had expected, but the tinted glass building shot up at least four stories. A large dome above the entrance, made of darker glass, dwarfed any who walked through. In polished white letters above the large rotating door: PLATINUM LABEL RECORDS

Chance, unphased by the architecture, expanded the distance between us and I jogged to catch up. The high heels toppled slightly when I slowed, reminding me not only of the stilettos, but of the dark gray pencil skirt, matching jacket, and the forget-me-not blue blouse poking out. It goes with your eyes, Chance had said, but when we walked side-by-side, him wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I realized he'd meant it as a joke and I felt ridiculous.

The rotating doors were automatic, the large triangles able to fit both Chance and I comfortably in one. Once through, we were in the dome, above me I could see the sky, shattered into a mosaic of color as the sun shone through the panels. In the middle of tan and black patterned marble floor, the receptionist's circular desk. Behind it, I could see a row of busy elevators, a staircase and hallway on either side. Ugh...I will have to see everyone that comes into the building.

A step ahead of me, Chance guided the way to the desk. "Molly, this is Josie Davenport, she has an interview with the boss." The brunette glanced up momentarily, a dark pixie haircut framed her round face as she typed something into the computer. A moment later she reached over and slid a badge across to me. It read 'VISITOR' across the bottom in bold blue letters.

The woman began to stand with her body bending backwards, revealing her pregnancy. "Fourth floor, the elevators," she gestured lazily behind her, sitting back down.

Chance smiled, "Thank you, Molly." He flashed a charming smile as we headed toward the elevators. There were masses of people in front of them, waiting for the doors to open.

The crowd thinned and we rushed into an elevator. Chance reached through the bodies to press an unseen number as I leaned against the wall. The employees filtered out until it was just the two of us left in the elevator, climbing to the fourth floor. The doors parted to reveal an exquisite lobby, dark green couches, overflowing bouquets, stained glass lamps, and a secretary behind a dark cherry desk, guarding a glass door into a hallway.

Chance gestured toward the woman at the desk, a petite blonde. "Just stay calm, you're higher qualified than most people that would go for the job." I turned to give him a smile, but he was already making his way to a couch. So I turned back to the secretary, taking calculated steps toward her.

The woman didn't acknowledge me when I approached. I opted to remain silent for a moment as she busily typed, but as it failed, I coughed gently to announce myself. Still no response. "Excuse me, I'm Josephine Davenport, I have an interview with-"

"Take a seat, I'll call you when he's ready." Her eyes remained glued to the screen as her fingers to the keyboard. I bustled to the couch Chance was at, twiddling my thumbs as time passed.

At last, "Miss Davenport, come on in. Mr. Hearst is ready to see you." My body sprung up, following the secretary through a wide hallway, leading to an open room with several secretaries and glass offices. Finally, she stopped in front of the corner office, knocking quietly first. A voice from inside called from inside, and she opened the door, ushering me in.

I glanced around, my eyes resting on the man sitting in front of the wall-sized window behind an old fashioned desk. The man had lighter hair, though from color, aging, or both-I could not tell with the sun threatening to blind me.

Stepping forward, "Hello, I'm Josephine Davenport, applying for the receptionist position."

"Yes, yes, please be seated, lets get right into it." I delicately held my skirt in place behind my knees as I sat, watching him with a smile planted on my face. "I have thoroughly reviewed your resume. May I dare ask, what prompted your leave of Oxford University?"

My face sunk-and this was only the first question. "Personal issues," I finally responded.

"Here at Platinum Label Records, we strive for employees who are committed to our company. Would you consider yourself committed, Miss Davenport?"

"Yes, Mr. Hearst, my heart is in everything I do. Work is no exception." Lie, lie, liar. In fact, I'd never committed myself to anything. Well, anything important.

He continued with more questions, most of which I had anticipated, until the interview began to draw to a close. "Very well. Though you are overqualified for the reception position, I'm going to go through with your application." I smiled and continually nodded. "You must excuse me, my schedule is full today. Orientation is tomorrow, be here at ten am." He passed across a folder, standing up and making his way toward the door.

Mimicking him, I stopped in front of the open door. "Thank you very much, Mr. Hearst." Shaking hands quickly, I strode out as quickly as I could manage without appearing wobbly in the heels. Through the main lobby and down the short hallway, Chance pressed the elevator button, giving me dual questioning brows, Did you get it? I nodded, my smile uncontrollable.

The elevator doors opened and I started toward it, but a warm hand clutched my elbow; I stopped. The doors opened fully, and a man in a dark suit with styled platinum blond hair stepped out, and a pathway formed between us. His dark eyes scanned between us; mine, however, were stuck. He seemed so familiar, his face outrageously handsome, a tall stature, a bulky build from unseen muscles.

The man stepped from the elevator, covering the distance in seconds, stopping in front of Chance. "You two are still bottom-feeding. No surprise there." Brow furrowed, I stared at him, but it was only as his eyes met mine that I recognized him. Time slowed as his gaze bore into me. His bottle-green eyes flicked over to mine, a split second maybe, then hit Chance's shoulder hard with his own as he strode down the hallway.

In the sanctuary of the elevator, clustered into the back corner, even though it was empty, I whispered frantically into Chance's ear. "What the hell is Sebastian Hearst doing here?" Chance's eyes flicked over to mine, keeping the secret for a second longer. "Tell me." The years of friendship with Chance allowed me to read him easily. The twitch of his top lip, the long blinks, the avoidance of the issue. But as the realization collided in my brain, I whispered: "...He's your boss." My jaw dropped when my guess was confirmed, before the laughter paralyzed me.

Even as people filtered into the elevator, my giggle continued, while Chance stared at me, stoic. Chance leaned over, speaking quietly. "He's your boss, too." I regained composure instantly. "Sebastian Hearst is Thomas Hearst's son, Vice President of the company, and heir to it."

As we passed the reception desk near the front entrance, I handed over the 'Visitor' badge. I was speechless. Did I really have to work under Sebastian Hearst? In the car, I used the last of my courage. "He doesn' hate us, does he?" I refused to look at Chance, did I really want to know the answer? High school felt like so long ago...yet, the memories flashed in my mind like it was yesterday, and the emotions rushed from memory into reality.

", definitely not..." Chance mumbled quickly, but his face read something else entirely. How could I believe him with those dodgy eyes?

Grudges weren't typically something I held. However, Sebastian Hearst had taken the gold medal. Everything about him breathed aristocratic arrogance. Somehow, he had followed us from elementary school to high school: Monroe Academy. A private school where polo shirts and khakis were required, and proud assholes like Sebastian were common. The hostility from him only ever grew. If I was holding a grudge, why wouldn't he?


"Oh my gawd, Sebastian is, like, so hot-"

"Ew, Lindsey, spare me." I rolled my eyes and dipped another carrot into ranch, scowling at it until I took the unappetizing bite- the ranch and carrots I had paid almost two dollars for from the cafeteria must have come out of the oven. The half eaten carrot landed back in the thin plastic container. "Absolutely vile."

Lindsey sipped on an orange juice, her dark brown hair in perfect ringlets, her skin flawless, and her curvy body accentuated by her v-neck. "Are you talking about your carrots or Sebastian?" She didn't wait for a response. "Where's Chance, anyway?" Despite sounding polite, Lindsey had an ulterior motive. She never liked Chance, she simply put up with him; Chance agreed with this arrangement; he really was more my friend.

I gave her the answer she wanted. "Probably ditched for the day-"

"More than likely he's down the rabbit hole." Lindsey's blue eyes went wide, her mouth forming a small O as she puffed on an imaginary joint. Laughing quietly, I snagged a branch of her grapes with the distraction. "Hey!"

"Ladies," a voice said smoothly; a hand brushed against my back. In the seat next to me sat none other than Sebastian Hearst himself. His hair uncombed as though he'd just been in P.E. and his eyes glinting with acid. In disgust, I slid over a foot from the smell of his sweat. Sebastian smirked, "It's not like I have cooties, Josie. I was actually going to invite the two of you personally to my party tonight-"

"As if," I rolled my eyes.

Lindsey's lust got the better of her. "Of course, we'll be there."

"Not likely," I mumbled, sure that only Sebastian could hear it.

"You were invited as a courtesy to Lindsey," he snarled, his eyes glimmering with emerald poison. "Obviously, I don't want unpolished society slipping in unnoticed."

I wasn't afraid of him; I lived for this. "I wonder how you will manage to get through then." I said, my voice saturated with sincerity.

"Just remember, that little dweeb isn't invited." Sebastian inched closer to me. "But you could use some fun."

"Chance and I have plenty of fun." The instant it slipped, I regretted it. Lindsey's face turned green at my implication.

Sebastian stood, stepping over the bench easily with his long legs. He nearly marched toward his posse, but passed by them, and like good minions, they trotted after him. It wasn't until I traced his path that I realized why, jumping from the table and striding toward them. But I was too late.

Chance stood by an entrance to the cafeteria, his eyes searching for me or maybe some of his friends, overlooking Sebastian's cult of apes. He noticed them soon though, when two of the minions grabbed hold of him, Sebastian stared at him for a moment, his fist landing in Chance's stomach. He doubled over in pain, no longer held in place. My pace quickened. Sebastian gestured for his posse, who obediently obliged.

I reached Chance, leaning over and placing my hand on his back as he struggled for breath. My eyes moved to the double doors, where Sebastian smirked in triumph, slowing walking backwards. I could almost feel his thoughts, 'That's what you get.'

I knew it was my fault. I had riled Sebastian up.

But it was nothing new, he'd been harassing us since grade school.


Chance's best friend, Ty, sat on the other side of Chance. His real name was Chris Tyson, but I didn't remember when he changed it. Ty had been dying his hair black since high school, and straightening it even longer. His hair matched his clothes, besides the occasional flash of color from a graphic tee. Ty was the only person I knew that had more tattoos than Chance; his neck, arms, and knuckles were the only visible ones, but without a doubt, more were hidden behind the t-shirt and jeans.

My phone buzzed on the table in front of us. All three of us stared awkwardly at the phone, until I realized the other two had turned their attention to me. Chance hit pause as I leaned forward. I froze as I saw the screen. Dad. The vibrations continued in my hand. "Well, are you going to answer it?" Chance urged. When it stopped, I dropped the phone next to me like it was a cockroach. "You can't keep avoiding them, you know."

"They've only called a few times..." I defended.

"Yeah, that explains the ten new voicemails. Josie, you're an adult, you don't have to be afraid of your parents." Chance didn't have the be afraid of his parents, that was not the case for me. My parents had paid for expensive private schools, and eventually, wasted money on me at Oxford. I could envision the conversation with my parents easily, and I cringed. "You don't get it." I mumbled.

"Chance doesn't understand girls, what else is new?" Ty strained uncomfortably.

"Josie, you haven't ever had a job in your life. Maybe it would be a good idea to patch things up with your parents-"

Exhaling loudly, "Are you trying to say I can't handle this job?"

Chance grabbed the controller and hit the start button, ending the conversation and avoiding the argument. I looked at him and Ty for a moment, both slamming buttons on the controllers.

Is that how Chance saw me? As some spoiled brat that hadn't had to work for anything in her life? Pleasing my parents was no walk on the beach, among the other sacrifices I made, like missing out on parties, friends, and boys because of their strict parenting-including a rigid schedule of varsity sports, extra curricular activities, and community service. But a lie is a lie, and I told millions, ensuring I kept a social life. Maybe Chance was right.

"You can't avoid it forever." Chance mumbled again, playing like a broken record. I ignored him, snagging my controller and applying myself to the game to push the thoughts away.


Wednesday arrived too quickly, and I awoke early to get myself ready for my first day of real work. Wearing the same suit I had worn for the interview (as it was my only one), I picked a white blouse from the slim selection. My entire body jittered from nerves and caffeine. Chance dropped me off at work-he didn't have to start until the afternoon. "Don't get fired!" Chance's way of saying, 'have a good day,' before he sped off. I stood there for a long minute, holding a virtually empty briefcase in my left hand.

I began toward the glass building, slowly, because the stilettos provided little support for a shaking ball of nerves. This time, when I approached the reception desk, Molly glanced up at me and a smile crossed her face. "Josephine, right?"

"Josie." I corrected automatically.

"Right, Josie, you'll be shadowing me today, as you'll be working during my maternity leave." I nodded, walking around the desk through a gap that functioned as a doorway. Taking the seat next to Molly, she showed me the basics. The day passed slowly: I'd never seen myself as the type of person to have such an office job...or such a social one for that matter.

Chance passed by a little before one, giving me an encouraging smile. It helped, a little. That was...until I went for lunch, down the street at a small deli. The line was surprisingly short, but then again, it was a late lunch.

"Well, well, well," a voice droned behind me. Sebastian Hearst. I clenched my teeth. "If it isn't little baby Josie..." I kept my back to him, doing my best to ignore him. "All grown up." I stepped forward ordering and rushing away from him. But once waiting for the latte and sandwich-another line appeared, Sebastian this time taking the place at my side. He continued, "I like the suit, where'd you get it, K-Mart?"

The hint of a blush burned, but I didn't let that subdue me. "We're both adults, Hearst, how about you let the past go?" I muttered quietly, though we were drawing attention to ourselves, several eyes flicking our way.

Sebastian laughed, "What fun would that be?" His order came up first, and I was free of him...for now.


"So, how did your first day go?" Chance asked, immediately making his way toward the fridge as he walked through the door.

"Boring, to say the least." My thoughts landed on Sebastian. I knew Chance hated when I brought him up, there was a glint in his eye that I never had the nerve to ask about. But my question was unavoidable. "Chance." My tone turned serious. "How could you not tell me that you work with Sebastian Hearst?" I nearly spat his name out. "This guy has tormented the two of us since I can remember. And now I have to work with him-"

"He's really not that bad, Josie." I could see the anger lingering in his eyes. Chance chugged a good portion of his beer. My silence prompted him, "I mean, yeah, some insults now and then, he's an asshole, but it's not like before."


"Yeah, he's a total nimrod. But he's got to have a heart somewhere...buried deep down-" My voice was quiet.

"How can you defend him?" Chance demanded, contradicting his last statement.

The memory zoomed to the front line.

Rare drops of rain poured down on me, ruining my suede boots and drenching my locks of hair to my socks. Seventy blocks to go, I thought to myself sarcastically. It was Aaron Clark's fault, of course. I'd passed up the ride with Lindsey to go with him. The pretty boy of the school-I didn't usually go for pretty boys. But his charms got the best of me.

Well, until we were in the back of his car, the window blacked out between the driver and us and his hand snaked its way up my skirt. With difficulty, I managed to escape, right into the thick rain. While bolting away, I watched as my phone launched from my lap, the landing silenced by the rain, it bounced and slid right into the unluckiest gutter. "Whatever, go ahead and walk, bitch," Aaron called out from the car and I watched it speed away, ignoring the excess water.

I pushed away the thought of Aaron, continuing to trudge my way through the puddles. Another pair of headlights shone behind me and I moved as close to the brick wall as I could, away from the street and the splashing water. But the headlights remained there and I turned to look. A sleek black car pulled up slowly to the curb, directly in front of me. Was Aaron back?

The dark-tinted window sped down, the rain distorting my view. "Hey, get in!" It was only once I was sure it wasn't Aaron that I ran over, the door opening as I approached. When I closed the door, pushing my hair out of my face, I gazed upon my savior, who had spared me walking miles home in the rain, or at least until I had found a pay phone.

When I saw who it was, I regretted not waiting for that pay phone.

Sebastian Hearst.

I exhaled, unable to answer, so I glued myself to the television and a commercial about some prescription that had a better chance of killing you than curing your problem. Noticing Chance's glare, I realized I should be defending myself, not Sebastian. "You're right, he's heartless and deserves no sympathy whatsoever. He deserves some bad karma." I changed the topic quickly. "Are you really even in production? Can I trust anything you've told me about the job?"

The corner of his mouth lifted slightly, "Don't be so dramatic, Josie. All I do is mix and edit albums, and occasionally help with recording."

My phone buzzed in my purse. Chance glanced over at me. Another lecture was the last thing I wanted to hear. I grabbed my purse, heading out the front door into the cool afternoon breeze. The buzzing stopped as I hastily dug for it in the bag. When I found it a few seconds later, I noticed the voicemails were piling up. The phone beeped, receiving yet another voicemail. Now was just as good of a time as any, so I dialed the voicemail and listened, my back against the brick wall of Chance's apartment.

It started out with short ones, simply asking to call. Until, "Josephine, pick up the phone, young lady. I am not going to stand for this. You throw away your entire life, for what? You'd better call back if you know what's good for you."

It only got worse, my father even going as far as to disown me. They didn't have anything to take away from me anymore. Chance was right: I was an adult. There was no trust fund, merely the payment of my education. After over twenty solid years, I guess it got old, being perfect, overachieving, pleasing them. Deep down, I knew what I was truly sick of: The expectations. I'd been back for almost two weeks, but I still wasn't ready to face them.


Two days until the weekend, I groaned as I woke up before the sun. Half crawling out of bed, I wished I'd gone to sleep earlier, blaming Chance and his endless stream of beers and jokes. There would be training for the rest of the week before Molly went on maternity leave, and starting Monday, I would be the sole weekday receptionist.

The day was mostly uneventful, a few greetings thrown my way, though most directed to Molly. It was a ten-hour shift, with only a thirty minute lunch break, and it dragged. I imagined it didn't get much better once a routine formed. I noticed the sleek blond hair before Molly, shining from the dim light through the ceiling.

"Molly, would you mind calling my secretary and telling her I'm going to be a bit late for my three o'clock."

"Of course, Mr. Hearst." A huge fake smile was plastered on Molly's face as she began to pick up the phone.

"Or, you could have your little servant do it for you." I glanced up just in time to catch his gaze and his smirk. Rolling my eyes, I went back to sorting the filing cabinet. He leaned over to me, "Careful, I'd take a hefty bet that you need this job..." Then he added more loudly as he strode away, "Thanks, Molly."

"Like he doesn't have his secretary's number," Molly grumbled a moment later as she dialed a number. I looked up to see Sebastian across the lobby, heading out the rotating doors. "Hi, it's Molly from reception; Mr. Hearst wanted me to inform you he'll be a bit late for his three o'clock...mhmm..."

When Molly hung up the phone, she explained how to handle important clients, as though Sebastian Hearst qualified as a client. I withheld my laughter as she brought up 'difficult clients' next.

The next day was no better, and Sebastian always managed to come close enough to slip in at least one remark when passing. Including the reminder of old nicknames I had hoped never to hear again: Blowsy Josie and Plateau Joe. I will only say that the first was spread by an ex; the second was a reference to my chest- coined by Sebastian himself.

I tuned out the conversations, ignoring the insults, knowing he had the power to fire me. But by the end of the day, my patience had worn thin. Sebastian started it, of course: "Thank God it's Friday, you can finally do some laundry and wash that horrendous jacket and skirt."

"And you can wash that smirk off your face." My head tilted to the side for a moment with a plastic smile.

"Careful, you don't want to get on my bad side," he growled.

I giggled, "You mean this is your good side?" Then I scoffed, returning to my work.

Is this really what I had left Oxford for? Not only a low paying job, but the resurrection of an old nemesis?