Nola hasn’t felt this peaceful in sleep for a long time. A part of her wanted this bliss to last forever, but unfortunately, reality had other plans for her. As she felt the last dregs of her slumber slowly fade, she reluctantly rolled off her bed.
She yawned, stretching her arms over her head and winced when she felt a slight burn on her shoulder.
“Huh,” she mumbled, slowly getting up for her bed to head to the bathroom. She stripped off her pajamas; her eyes widened when she noticed the mark on her shoulder. The red-purple bruise contrasted against her skin and she flushed, feeling embarrassed at having such an obvious mark from her late-night rendezvous.
Unfortunately, she could barely remember the dream she had last night. As she reached over to touch the mark, a soft hiss left her skin.
“It stings,” she grumbled and decided that perhaps a shower would soothe the wound. To some extent, she was right. It did feel a little better but the minute she examined herself in the mirror once more, she noticed the bruise looking more prominent than before.
Whatever, she thought. She brushed her teeth and left the bathroom to go change. After checking her phone and the time, she realized that today was the day she had to meet Mr. Fen and look over their contract together. After receiving multiple offers from other companies, she realized soon enough that working for him was the best choice. Not only did he offered her an impressive salary, but he also guaranteed training, insurance, career growth, and vacation leaves—everything an employee like her could ever want.
She had an hour and thirty minutes left before she had to go to his office, which was a good twenty minutes away from her place. After getting dressed and eating a quick breakfast, she grabbed her bag and left.
As she walked, she checked Google Maps for the directions to Archhold Building. Turns out that Fen’s office was located in a pretty affluent area, where several businesses also take place. The district was teaming with insurance firms, call centers, restaurants, shopping centers, spas, and entertainment centers.
As she continued on her journey, the stark contrast between her humble neighborhood and the financial district became apparent. Unlike her neighborhood, nearly every person in the area looked to be fresh from a runway show. Women of various ages sported the latest fashion trends, their hair shimmering under the sunlight as they went to brunch and work. While several of the men wore tailored suits, Nola noticed them sporting expensive watches and phones as several expensive cars passed by the streets.
Back at home, Nola was used to seeing bodegas, hole-in-wall eateries, old beat-up cars, and a lot of closed-down pawnshops. It wasn’t anything to brag about but she liked the humble situation she was in. Her landlady was nice to her and she didn’t run into any shady people so far, which was something she was eternally grateful for.
“Good morning,” a friendly-looking guard greeted her as she climbed on the granite steps that lead to the entrance of Archhold Building.
“Good morning.” She returned the greeting and fished out her phone. She opened her email and showed the guard the invitation she received from Mr. Fen. “I have an appointment with Mr. Azure Fen for a contract signing. Can you tell me which floor his office is located?”
The guard’s smile slipped away as quickly as it came. His eyes widened and Nola could feel his initial friendliness quickly evaporate. As he surveyed her closer this time, she noticed his hands shaking while he eyed her with a mixture of sympathy and fear.
“Sir, are you alright?” she asked, concerned, as the guard’s face blanched and he looked at her like she was a goner.
“Eleventh floor,” he said curtly after a moment of silence and opened the glass door for her.
“Thank you,” she said. As she stepped inside, she could have sworn she saw a reflection of the guard make a quick sign of the cross over his heart, his lips murmuring under his breath as he did so.
She shook her head and went to the elevators quickly.
The sound of the elevator’s ding brought Nola out of her reverie. Archhold Building was not the biggest building of the area but it had one of the most beautiful designs. Modern, chic, sleek, and spotless, she could tell that only the best of the best could afford to rent an office in this space.
The black carpeted floors complimented the gold and white marble walls perfectly. Modern art paintings hung on the walls, while soft classical music played through the speakers.
Nola entered another glass door. On the wall were the letters, “Xeta Incorporated” in large black stone lettering.
“Can I help you?” a bored-looking receptionist inquired behind her granite desk. Her blonde hair was glossy and perfectly styled, while she wore a jewel-toned silk blouse.
“Yes, I have a contract signing with Mr. Fen,” Nola said, trying her best to sound confident and not at all nervous.
The receptionist raised a brow, then turn to her laptop to check the schedule. “Nola Andrews?”
The brunette nodded. “Yes, that’s me.”
“Alright, please take a seat. I’ll let the owner know you’re here.” She stood up and gestured Nola to take a seat on one of the plush leather seats in the lobby area. Her high heels clicked on the pristine floors as she strutted to a door at the end of the long hallway.
Nola sat down, folding her hands on her lap. At least the receptionist didn’t react in anyway like the security guard did. Maybe Mr. Fen is just a moody sort of character. Nola hoped that if she ever gets hired, she won’t have to deal with Mr. Fen’s outbursts.
“Nola Andrews, follow me.” The receptionist returned, looking at her clipboard then back at her.
Nola stood up at once, her heart racing as she feels her nerves slowly getting the best of her. The leggy blonde receptionist nodded, turned around, and walked down the hallway which led to a lone wooden door at the end.
The receptionist stopped in her tracks. She reached out and rapped on the door three times before letting herself in. Nola waited outside. A few minutes later, the blonde returned, leading a male applicant back to the lobby. The man eyed Nola with curiosity and contempt before he smugly followed the blonde. Based on his demeanor, Nola figured he probably already had the job, which didn’t do much for her confidence at all.
“Come in, Nola,” Fen’s alluring velvety voice made her shift her focus. She sucked in a deep breath and turned the knob before she entered the threshold.