“Probably.” He laughs. “But for the record, I’ve been in love with you since last year,” he says. “When you spent six months creating a plan to get out of my office party.”

“You never told me exactly how you found out about my plans.”

“I didn’t have to do anything special to figure them out,” he says. “I just thought about what I would do if the roles were reversed. We think a lot alike.”

He helps me stand to me feet and holds me against his side, leading me into the main hall. As we’re walking, we come face to face with a teary-eyed Taryn.

NOPE. Fake tears.

I start to let go of Garett, so I can walk around her, but he holds me still.

“I’m sorry,” she says, stopping right in front of me. “I had no idea you felt that way.”

“Well, now you know.”

“Shhhh!” The sound comes from somewhere down the hall, but I don’t see anyone.

“I want to make this up to you over a dinner or something before you leave, and I want to tell you the truth.” She looks up at Garrett. “If your boyfriend says it’s okay, that is.”

As if she can sense that I’m still uneasy about her presence, that a couple of hours and a weak “I’m sorry,” are not enough to get off my shit list, she grabs my hand.

“I never got into Spelman Grad, because there’s no such thing as Spelman Grad; it’s just Spelman…and it took me six years to finish.” She lets out a breath. “My Maserati and my Benz are leased, and I barely got into Alpha Kappa Alpha. I had to beg half of my teachers to change my grades.”

Garrett presses a kiss atop my head once she pauses, whispering, “Spend some time with your family,” before nodding at Taryn and walking away.

I wait for him to disappear around the corner and squeeze her hand. “Dinner would be nice. Can you show me the best late-night restaurant on the property?”

“Yes.” She swallows. “It’s still Grandma Hattie’s. That hasn’t changed at all in eight years.”

I smile and pull her in for a hug, one that I actually want this time.

“You should’ve made her grovel more!” Georgia calls out from down the hall, laughing. “I made her work for a full hour to get the okay from me. And leased cars or not, she’s still paying for our dinner tonight!”



West Media Internal Memo

Dear Valued Employees,

We’re only a few days into this year’s annual Office Party.

Although this is a tradition, in light of recent circumstances, I have decided to change a few things. If you’d like to go home for the rest of the holidays to spend time with your family and friends, please meet with logistics in the lobby so that they can work on the takeoff schedule with my plane(s).

If you’d like to stay, you are no longer obligated to attend any scheduled meetings.

This year’s Office Party is officially canceled

Still, I look forward to seeing you around the estate, if you choose to stay.

The Rose Ceremony will be held at a later time, in our office in New York.


Garrett West

C.E.O., West Media International

P.S. Next year’s event will proceed as planned.

~ The entertainment industry never sleeps, but we can make an exception this time ~



This Christmas

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Garrett and I are sitting on the enclosed balcony of his Presidential Suite. I’m resting my head on his shoulder, and he’s caressing my back as the company employees lose their shit below.

They’re running across the snowbanks with sparklers, laughing and drinking around bonfires, and I can see a few of them dancing in the carriages before take-off.

“I think I need to rescind my memo,” Garrett says. “There’s too much employee happiness going around, and as ‘Satan in the flesh,’ I’m not sure how it makes me feel.”

I laugh. “How many people took you up on the chartered plane offer?”

“Not a single one.” He smiles. “I think that deep down everyone loves my office party.”

“No, I’m pretty sure they hate it,” I say. “But it is all-expenses-paid, and without time constraints, it’s more than worth it to stay.”

“Good point.”

“I’ve thought of some ‘needs’ that can make this work better for me.” I sit up a bit, watching one of the employees launch fireworks into the sky. “I made a short list.”

“I’m listening.”

“I need you to be done dating other women.”

“That’s a given.” Garrett smiles. “I expect the same for you.”

“I need to be an exception to the “no off days” in December rule.”

“Also a given,” he says. “I gave you three off days this year.”

“Real off days, Garrett.” I shake my head. “Ones where I have a choice in what work I do, if I do any at all.”

“Okay. What else?”

“I need a bigger office, but not just any office. I need it to be significantly bigger than yours, because as your advisor, you need me more than I need you.”

He raises his eyebrow, looking as if he’s about to strike that down and argue with me, but laughs instead. “I’ll have a designer start drafting ideas in the morning. Anything else?”

“Sex in the office.”

“That’s happening the moment we get back.” He smirks. “Good to know your list of needs is rather simple, though. Can I give you mine?”

“I’m listening.”

“I need you to wear more dresses to the office,” he says. “It turns me on.”

“I just bought forty new pantsuits.”

“I’m sure the Salvation Army will love them.” He laughs. “If your office is going to be bigger than mine, I’ll expect an invitation at least seven times a week.”

“For coffee?’

“For fucking.”

I blush. “Is that it?”

“I also need you to take down all of your mean posts about me on that Boss-Snark message board.”

“I have no idea what message board you’re talking about.” No idea you knew it existed.

“I’ll give you seven days.”

“I’ll take them down in six.”

“Thank you.” He tilts his head to the side. “You do know that there's a private employee board where they talk shit about you too, right?”

“What?” I sit up a bit more. “No, there’s not.”

“Oh, there definitely is.” He smiles. “Your coworkers have been playing both sides for quite some time.”