Authors: Kari Wray
FIRE & ICE ~ THE DRAKE LEGACY: BOOK ONE
Copyright © 2013 Kari Wray
All rights reserved.
Cover Image © Konradbak - Fotolia.com
Out of the Frying Pan
“This is useless,” I said, looking myself over in the fitting room mirror.
No matter what I seemed to try on, I just couldn’t escape the feeling that I looked like some stupid kid playing ‘dress up’, rather than a sexy, confident young woman.
I was trying to find an outfit to wear to my latest job interview — a surprisingly high-paying secretarial position for a firm called Glacis Inc. I’d been looking for work ever since leaving college, the previous Fall, and was starting to give up hope of ever finding anything.
Which was why I’d brought my best friend Lauren along with me this time: to try and help me pick out an outfit.
“You look great, Cassie,” she said. “Honestly. I’d kill for those hips.”
“I look like an idiot,” I said, unable to shake the feeling that I was only
to be a
I was twenty-two years old, and still waiting to feel like I’d fully grown up.
“If it was up to you,” Lauren said with a grin, “you’d go along to this interview in jeans and a t-shirt, right?”
“Probably,” I sighed, looking my figure over in the mirror of the fitting room for a final time.
The blouse Lauren had picked out for me was black silk, and I felt a sharp quick twinge of embarrassment as I realized that the points of my nipples were just about visible beneath the flimsy, flouncy fabric.
I turned to look at myself from the side, begrudgingly admitting to myself that she was right: my hips
look pretty good in the figure-hugging pencil skirt she’d picked out. My legs looked okay too in the old-fashioned seamed stockings she’d forced me into (something I’d never have dreamed of wearing), and in a moment of madness I’d agreed to try on six-inch heels too.
I felt myself totter on them for a moment and my stomach lurched at the thought of falling flat on my face in front of a room full of slick executive types.
I glanced at the large curves of my buttocks. I often though that my ass was my only good feature; previous boyfriends always seemed to like it, and I’d often get wolf-whistles on the street,
I’d walked past.
“Your ass is great, Carrie!” Lauren chimed in, as if able to read my thoughts.
“Shut up,” I joked, feeling a blush rise to my cheeks.
“Okay,” she continued, obviously relishing her new role as Personal Shopper. “Next stop make-up counter!”
That evening, I returned home to my cramped, cluttered one-bed apartment and dumped all my new shopping bags on my unmade single bed. All my purchases — clothes and make-up — had come to over five hundred dollars, which I’d added to my poor old credit card (fast approaching its limit).
I hoped Lauren was right — that a make-over like this was just the ticket to break my unlucky streak in job interviews.
“Hell,” she’d joked, digging me in the ribs, “you should wear these things out at night too, bag yourself a fella!”
As I wandered into the kitchen to heat up some leftover pasta, I felt another flutter of nerves as I thought once more about my upcoming job interview, for 9am the following morning.
I’d tried to do as much research as I could about Glacis Inc, but all I’d been able to find out online was that they were some sort of high-end property developers, providing buildings for the rich and famous.
I was just putting a dish into the microwave when my cellphone began buzzing and chirping over on the countertop. I knew who it was before I even picked it up.
“Hello, mother,” I said, lifting the phone to my ear.
“Hi dear,” said the chirpy, English-accented voice on the other end of the line. I could hear her television on in the background, blaring out a quiz show, which was all she ever seemed to do these days - watch endless TV and occasionally call me up to convince me to come back home. “I was just calling to wish you good luck for tomorrow!” she began.
“Thanks mom,” I said, honestly pleased for the support.
“And you know, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always a bed here for you …”
“Mom, we’ve been
this,” I groaned.
“I know, I know. But I miss you, dear. And I just wanted to remind you that you can always come home if you little adventure in the city doesn’t work out.”
I felt that usual angry feeling rising in me as she continued talking. She’d never quite accepted that I’d grown up, either, and I desperately wanted to prove to her that I could make it out here on my own. Since Pop died, I’d spent a long time looking after her, and now I needed to strike out on my own.
“Listen, I’d better go. My food’s burning,” I lied.
“Okay, well, good luck dear. Love you,” she said.
“Love you too, mom.”
I hung up the phone and took another look around my grubby, dingy apartment. In three weeks time, the rent was due and I’d already been late in paying up last month, too. Shit. I
needed this job.
A Friendly Word of Advice
“If you’re feeling nervous, try to picture the interviewer naked.”
That was the handy tip that Lauren gave me, to try and help me out with my interview nerves.
With a nervous gulp I took a final look up at the imposing modernist glass-and-steel structure of the Glacis Incorporated building — it looked like a huge, jagged shard of ice bursting out from the concrete surrounding it, the ominous grey clouds swishing by and the rushing bustle of traffic reflected in its cold, glass exterior — and then strode as purposefully as I could towards the double doors, which swished open onto a sleek, marble-floored lobby area.
As I walked towards the reception desk, I heard my heels clicking loudly, ringing out in the hushed silence, and I felt my nipples stiffening beneath my blouse from the ice-cold air conditioning.
“Can I help you?” the bored-looking blonde girl on reception asked, looking up at me lazily from behind her impossibly large false eyelashes.
She looked about the same age as me, early twenties, except she was almost skeletally thin, her high cheekbones jutting out from her gaunt face like some sort of heroin-chic catwalk model.
Wow, I thought. If
the kind of girl this place normally employs for its secretaries, I
then I’ve got no chance. I might as well pack up and go back to my Mom’s place now.
“My name’s Cassie Lawrence,” I told her, hearing the trembling nerves in my voice as I spoke, “and I’m here for an interview.”
She typed something into her computer, her long red manicured nails clicking coldly against the keys of her keyboard, then looked up at me with a bored, vacant, glassy-eyed stare.
“Take a seat,” she drawled, “and someone will be along for you shortly.”
So I turned and walked over to the plush grey seated area in the corner, tottering a little on my heels and wondering if perhaps they’d been a bad idea after all.
I sat down and tried to breathe deeply. As I sat and waited, I watched the expensively-suited men and women stepping in and out of two large elevators, over in the middle of the polished marble lobby and wondered if I could ever really and truly fit into a slick corporate world like this.
I’d spent the majority of my life in a the world’s most average small town, and while my family had never exactly been hard up, I’d never really known luxury either. The most exotic thing about
was my accent - which hovered in some confusing halfway point between US and English. We’d come over here when I was still just a kid, you see, nine years old, and I hardly remembered any of my early life back there, save from a few scattered, precious memories.
But a polished, swanky building like this was something I’d only ever really seen on TV in those stupid soap operas my mom always tuned in to, and it still seemed kind of unreal to me that places like this actually existed in real life, just a few miles East of the cramped, grotty neighborhood that I currently called home.
And on top of all that, once again I felt like I was playing dress up — that my outfit and make up didn’t look right on me somehow, which was how I felt almost any time I wasn’t wearing my trusty jeans and sneakers and a baggy old t-shirt or sweater.
Today I was wearing one of the two silk blouses Lauren had picked out for me, along with that black pencil skirt and, so that I didn’t have any panty lines showing, she’d convinced me to wear a thong too!
I shifted a little on the chair, unused to the continuous wedgie-like feeling between my butt cheeks. Normally I was much more of a big cotton granny panties kind of a girl, but I guessed that if I got the job, this was more like the kind of underwear I’d have to get used to.
My hair was scraped up in a tight bun, and I’d done my make up as best I could — trying to replicate as much as I could remember of what the over-friendly girl at the make-up counter had done yesterday.
“Cassie Lawrence?” a voice behind me said.
I turned round and looked up at
stick thin girl with big dark eyes, an almost identical duplicate to the brunette over at the reception counter.
“That’s me,” I said, smiling weakly, feeling another flutter of nerves swirl around my empty stomach. Normally I ate a hearty breakfast, but today it was the last thing on my mind.
“Mr Drake is ready for you now. Follow me.”
? I thought. From the little I’d been able to glean from my digging around online, Xander Drake was the freaking
of the company … I’d assumed that the interview would be conducted with someone a little less important than the actual founder and head of Glacis Incorporated!
Keep calm, Cassie, I told myself as I followed the stick-insect girl towards the elevators, noting with a pang of jealousy just how easy she made it look to walk quickly on her huge pink stiletto heels.
We stepped into the elevator and she tapped a number into the keypad with a matching glossy pink nail: floor 26.
And then with a
the elevator shot upwards, and I felt my stomach lurch like I was on some kind of fairground ride.
I gave myself a final quick glance in the reflective surface of the elevator wall, hoping that my make-up was all still in place and that my nipples weren’t
prominent beneath the flimsy black silk of my blouse.
Then the doors swished open and I followed the girl out into a plush-yet-spacious, grey, open-plan office area. There were meetings going on all around me in glass-walled rooms, and people sat in groups in the middle at cubicles, typing away into state of the art computer terminals. We walked past all that noise and chatter to a quieter, separate, walled-off area at the far end, with an empty reception desk stationed just in front of a large, dark wood door.
“Through there,” the girl said. “He’s waiting for you.”
I tried to shoot her a friendly smile, but she ignored me, quickly turning and heading back towards the elevators, navigating the journey perfectly, as if she’d been born with a pair of stilettos strapped to her feet.