She tosses me the red box, and I place it on the counter.

“You know what?” I say. “Screw takeout. Let’s go run up a huge tab at a five-star restaurant…”

“Don’t you think we should also get him your Secret Santa gift?”

“Would you get your boss a gift if he made you work on your off days?”

“Point taken.”




West Media Internal Memo

Dear Valued Employees,

We’re two weeks away from our prep-ceremony for this year’s office party. As such, I’d like to publicly thank the anonymous group of executive employees who decided to give me an early present: A month’s worth of “psychological therapy” and a full collection of Horrible Boss films with the “This is how you make us feel” note.

I find this revelation quite shocking and unfortunate.

No other boss in this city offers the full range of benefits & high salaries that I do. No other CEO is willing to spend millions of his profit to give his employees a very generous holiday vacation. That said, I’ve decided to make a few changes to our mandatory event this year, so we can perhaps, get on the same page about what your “feelings” mean to me.

This year’s Office Party will span three weeks. No excused absences.

As always, I look forward to seeing you at the prep–ceremony, where our travel partner will reveal this year’s destination for our two-week, all-expenses-paid work retreat.

Be sure to bring along whatever gift you purchased for your coworker(s) via our company’s Secret Santa tradition.


Garrett West

C.E.O., West Media International

P.S.—You did this to yourselves…

~The entertainment industry never sleeps, so neither do we ~



This Christmas

Manhattan, New York

Day of the Pre-Ceremony

Ringggg! Ringggg! Ringggg!

I roll over and hit snooze on my alarm clock for the umpteenth time this morning. I start to pull the covers over my head, but I catch sight of the time.

How the hell is it five forty-five already?

I stumble out of bed and take a quick shower. I pull my hair into a curly bun and put on one of my favorite beige pantsuits. I make sure I have my briefcase and my purse, but then I suddenly feel like I’m forgetting something.

My Secret Santa gift for Garrett.

Ha! The last thing he needs right now is a gift.

He’s worked us ten times harder than ever after that ‘anonymous gift,” and our kiss in the office is long forgotten. So much so that I’ve left work early every day this week.

He’s made every intern break down in tears, brought every senior executive into his office for a brutal evaluation, and told me, “This year may be the first year that I don’t give you a rose at the final ceremony, Miss Grey.”

Fuck that rose.

Rummaging through my closet, I search for a three-wick candle I can spare, but I don’t want to give him one of those. Even though he’s been nice to me lately, he still has a track record that doesn’t make him worthy of one of my favorite things.

I spot my box of ‘Last Minute Gift cards’ and flip through them. The fifty and twenty dollar ones are far too much, so I settle on a ten-dollar Amazon one.

Even that’s too high, though.

I log into Amazon and spend half of it on some new hair conditioner. Then I pick up the gift Georgia brought me and toss it in my bag.

He’ll probably give it back once he opens it, anyway.

I ignore the fact that my neighbors are standing on their stoop in black and red leather Santa costumes and rush to the town car.

Thankfully, the driver already has a bagel and coffee ready for me, and he manages to get me to headquarters with five minutes to spare.

The moment I step inside, one of the other top executives from the message board—Lily, loops her arm in mine.

“You know, I’m kind of excited about this year’s reveal. I heard it’s going to be someplace super luxurious.”

“It’s always someplace super luxurious.”

“Bridget in Accounting said she overheard the travel agent on the phone yesterday morning.” She lowers her voice. “She asked the resort to make sure that all the hot tubs had private access. Oh, and she mentioned some type of carriage ride.”

I tune out her words, smiling and nodding as we step onto the elevator.

When we arrive on the top floor, we find ourselves walking right into a real-life Christmas card. As usual, the professional decorators have gone out of their way to make us forget that we work in the seventh circle of hell.

Every window is dressed in a massive custom wreath with red ribbon. Sixty foot Christmas trees stand guard against the walls, showing off complementing red and gold ornaments with flashing white lights.

There’s a snow machine pumping flakes across the air, and waiters are donning elves’ ears as they carry around trays of beverages.

“I heard that this place is going to have a spa that rivals any of the other ones we’ve been to.” Lily is still babbling. “That means better than Aspen, Miami, Vegas. What do you think about that?”

“I think that I need to hand off my gift,” I say, unable to deal with any more holiday cheer. “I’ll talk to you later.”

I make my way through the crowd in search of Garrett.

Thankfully, he’s standing by the window alone, tapping his phone’s screen.

He looks up at me as I approach. “I was just about to text you, Miss Grey. I thought you were attempting to avoid the party again.”

“I overslept.”

“That’s a first.”

“And a last. Here,” I say, handing him the gift box. “I pulled your name this year.”

“Will I die if I open this?” He raises his eyebrow. “The tech team says someone on my staff has a recent obsession with True Crime: The Boss Gets Murdered stories.”

“I’m sure that person would only kill you if she thought she would get away with it.” I smile. “I got you something that conveys exactly how I feel about you, so I don’t want you to doubt what’s inside.”

Before he can respond to that, Nate from Accounting steps between us.

He holds out a shiny blue box and smiles at me.

“This is for you, Savannah,” he says. “I feel like right now is the best time for me to shoot my shot.”

“In front of the boss?” Garrett asks.

Nate ignores him, clearing his throat. “I feel like you’re the sexiest woman I’ve ever met in my life, the total package.”

Garrett clenches his jaw and gives Nate an “Are you being serious?” look, but Nate remains oblivious.