Work In Progress – Chapter 2
Blair stepped out of her boss’s office and closed the door behind her. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She took a breath, her mind reeling. She needed to sit down. She needed a drink. She looked down at her body, she really needed to change out of this stupid dress. She needed to get her act together. First Tony, then waking up in a crappy, random apartment, then meeting her boss looking like a hooker, she needed to grow up. Ryan saw something in her worth promoting, worth encouraging. Blair needed to start acting like someone with potential, and not like someone biding their time. She needed to talk to Taylor.
All those bakery boxes in the car this morning, were stuck in Blair’s mind. The pink ones from Mabel’s that Taylor had made a special trip for. She wanted to impress Ryan, to get the new JAL Cosmetics account, the account that Ryan had just given to Blair. Blair thought about her best friend. Were there people who deserved that account more than Taylor? Without a doubt. She loved Taylor, but a good employee or hard worker she was not. Even in high school Tay was an easy way out kind of girl. She bought term papers, preferring to spend her weekends at the pool or the mall. Blair didn’t know how Taylor had made it through university, but suspected it had a lot to do with her family’s money and her long, lean body.
As she thought about Tay’s expertly smudged eyeliner and perfect red pout she knew her friend would do anything she could to be assigned the cosmetics account. It would be a pay bump and a promotion for anyone who got it, but for Taylor it would have been a dream come true. To play with make up all day, to design ad campaigns and marketing strategy for something that she loved so much would make Taylor so happy. Not to mention it would free her from the drudgery of canned tuna, prune juice, and toothpaste clients.
Blair knew this was not going to go over well, and the last thing that she wanted to do was hurt her friend. She had even unwisely questioned Ryan’s decision to choose her and asked about Taylor instead. She inquired if Taylor could assist or be the second in command. Blair had done everything she could but refuse the promotion, and as she walked down the hall to face her best friend, she knew it wasn’t enough. She folded her arms over her chest as she peeked her head around the corner of Taylor’s cube. Her friend immediately looked up from her fashion magazine.
“Well?” Taylor asked. “Are you fired?”
“No. Which is probably good since my parents would have had a shit fit. Really, they would probably make me go work for my Dad’s company for a year. Can you imagine, that would be even worse than this hell hole—.”
“So? Come on, you’re killing me!”
“I got the account.”
Taylor’s mouth hung open for just a moment before she regained her composure. Blair didn’t know where to look. Perfectly poised Taylor was staring into space, lips parted. Blair could see her tongue, wet and glistening. It was like seeing her best friend naked.
“I didn’t think they were making a decision until next week.” Taylor recovered.
“I guess JAL wants to get a move on. They are very excited.”
Blair tried not to be hurt, but the words stung. She knew that Taylor was in pain, and reaching out for anything that would make her feel better, but Blair still felt the creep of ice emanating from her best friend begin to climb up her legs. She swallowed her pride.
“They wanted to go with a high art concept. They only picked me cause of my degree and knowledge of art history. I’m sorry Tay. I talked to Ryan about you, about how amazing you would be with this account. But the client doesn’t want it to be about make up, they want it to be about art, so they picked me.”
“Well, good for you. It’s their loss.”
Blair felt the chill crawl up her spine and over her shoulders. Taylor turned, re-crossed her long legs and went back to flipping pages in her magazine.
“Thanks Tay. You’re a good friend.”
Blair went back to her desk and collapsed in her chair. She closed her eyes and put her head in her hands. The conversation didn’t go as well as she’d liked. Taylor was hurt and that was exactly what she wanted to avoid. At least I’m the one who told her. She didn’t hear it from the grape-vine. It was of little consolation.
Opening her eyes she discovered she was still wearing the god-damned slut clothes. She grabbed her emergency dress, wrapped in dry cleaner’s plastic, off the coat rack and made a beeline for the bathroom. On her way down the hall, Craig from HR, who was also her best guy friend, and the subject of many inappropriate thoughts, caught her eye. Craig, as into men as he was devastatingly handsome, raised his eyebrows.
Blair had been distracted by his beautiful tie, a masterpiece of hand painted silk she was sure, but was shaken back to reality by his comment.
“Wow. That was really fast.”
“I know everything. How mad is Taylor?”
He really did know everything. She wished she could accuse him of being a gossip but it was more than that. Craig had some sort of innate ability to just know, Blair wished she had that.
“I think she could kill me. But she’s probably trying to figure out how to do it without getting anything on that white blouse she’s wearing.”
“That blouse is killer. Your dress on the other hand…”
“I know, I know, I’m on my way to change.”
Blair waved the back-up dress in the air, the plastic crinkled.
“It gives new meaning to the walk of shame. Aren’t you too old to be clubbing on a Thursday night? Wait! Mr. Conservative took you somewhere in that?”
Craig couldn’t contain his look of surprise.
“I wasn’t with Matt.”
Craig smiled. He knew Blair’s struggle with Matt and had advised her repeatedly to dump him. Craig reached out and put his hand on her forearm, giving it a little squeeze. His brows knit.
“You met with Ryan wearing that? He really must want you for the account. Good for you.”
Blair was on the verge of tears. “I don’t know. I guess so. I just….”
“It’s going to be okay. Taylor will get over it. Really, she’s a big girl.”
Blair flashed Craig a smile that she didn’t feel and raced to the ladies room. She wondered if he knew that Taylor would get over it, or if he was just saying that to make her feel better.
Zipped into a conservative emerald green number that looked amazing with her red hair and hugged her curves but didn’t make her look like she could be bought for two hundred dollars, Blair stared at her face in the mirror. Taking this account was the right thing to do. She still had time she had to put in here. She promised her parents she would work there for a year. She promised she would try, and give it a real shot, but everyday she woke dreading her cubical. She didn’t go to art school to create ad copy or graphic design for diaper commercials.
Maybe this new client was a chance to do something that she liked. The concept sounded amazing and she felt excited about her job for the first time in eight months. She was sorry that her friend was hurt, and she was a little bit scared of what Taylor was going to do. The last thing she needed was Taylor telling Ryan that Blair planned to quit in a few months time, or telling Matt that she was planning to dump him, or telling her parents that she was partying all the time. Taylor had enough information that she could make Blair’s life really hard. She hoped her friend could move on quickly.
Balling the slutty dress up and wrapping it in the cleaner’s bag she spotted a chip in her nail. Oh! Perfect! She headed off to Taylor’s cube to suggest that they do mani’s at lunch, her treat, to celebrate and forget. As she rounded the cube wall she heard Taylor’s voice, low and angry.
“No. It has to be now. Right away. Don’t fuck this up.”
As soon as Blair entered the cube Taylor hung up.
“Is everything ok?” Blair asked.
“Oh yeah, I’m just having trouble with the cable at my apartment. They keep screwing me around and I’m tired of it.”
“Is that a new phone? What happened to your iphone?”
“Oh, I dropped it a couple of days ago. The thing shattered into a million pieces. This is just a cheapie until I can get to Verizon and get a new one. You know what I was thinking? We need to celebrate. I think we should have a party, tomorrow night, at my house. Invite all our friends, drink, dance, it will be fun. I’ll decorate, get some booze, some tapas from that place you like. It will be super fun.”
“Are you sure, Tay? I know this was hard for you. You don’t have to do all this.”
“It’s okay, it will make me feel better. In insist.”
Blair felt a hundred pounds lighter. Her friend was smiling, it was tight and forced, but it was something.
“Great. That will be so much fun. I should probably go do some actual work. But, hey, mani’s at lunch? On me?”
“You bet your ass.”
Blair sat down at her desk and smiled. It was going to be ok. She booted her computer and got ready to check her email. She was behind for the day already, something she wouldn’t have cared about before, but today was different.
The first email was from Taylor, sent at the crack of dawn that morning. The subject was “The account is mine.” Blair opened it to find a picture of Taylor holding a Mabel’s box and awkwardly flipping the bird while trying to take a selfie. She laughed at her friend’s irreverence until she looked down and a frowned tugged at her mouth. At the very bottom of the email, under Taylor’s signature with her name and contact info was “sent from my iphone.”