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Samantha punched the elevator button for the top floor. She’d never been to Mr. Putnam’s office but of course, she’d heard rumors about it, the starkness, the vast size. To be summoned for a meeting first thing Thursday morning made her heart race. After all, he was the boss, CEO of Blake Genetics, a genetics testing firm he’d founded after his college graduation that had become, in just 10 years, a dominant player worldwide. Blake Putnam was the man. Tall, built like Tom Brady with an athletic body that still looked good in the European suits he wore to the office every day. He was sexy, assertive, rich and very, very distant.
By contrast, Samantha felt plain, boring and unaccomplished. She’d just graduated college a year and a half before, and had worked for Blake Genetics since then. She examined her anxious expression in the reflection of the elevator walls and adjusted her simple black shift dress. Then she checked her long blonde hair anchored in a loose knot behind her back. Even though the offices were overly cool, she was perspiring and fanned herself with the white notepad in her hand as the elevator shot up to the top floor.
The doors parted revealing an expansive white marble floor, with an impressively large white desk placed in the exact middle of the space. A severe, elegantly coiffed woman sat behind the desk and seemed to float in the room of white. Samantha shivered as sweat trickled down her back.
She stepped off the elevator, which closed soundlessly behind her. The woman never looked up. This was the infamous Marlene, Mr. Putnam’s personal assistant, who had summoned her. Samantha waited to be acknowledged. Rumors about Marlene’s power were whispered throughout the building. Samantha felt another spurt of panic shoot down her spine.
Am I being fired?
She stared at Marlene mutely. She couldn’t think of anything she’d done to warrant being fired, and she was almost certain they wouldn’t handle such things on the executive floor. Would they? Samantha tried to distract herself by noticing details—Marlene’s timeless face without a single wrinkle, her short, dark, edgy bob, her elegant, black pantsuit and tall stiletto heels that Samantha could barely look at without wincing. No way would she ever be able to walk in those. They looked more like weapons than shoes.
“Have a seat, Ms. Jones,” Marlene said without looking up. Samantha chose one of two white leather chairs with cold metal arms. She shivered, her bare arms exposed.
Her feet began to feel numb inside her sensible black pumps. She wished they’d just fire her. The waiting was more torture than she’d imagined. Breathe, she told herself, and started doodling a daisy on her notepad.
I’m drowning in a sea of quiet white, Samantha thought. No art. No plants. No sound. No smell. Nothing. After a ten-minute wait, spent staring at the wall in front of her while Marlene worked intently at her massive desk, Samantha was about to ask why she was here when Marlene finally spoke.
“Mr. Putnam will see you now.”
Without moving from her seat, Marlene pushed a button and the stainless steel door to his office swung open. Samantha could almost hear the drum beat of doom, and she felt Marlene’s eyes on her back as she entered Mr. Putnam’s office.
Mr. Putnam was seated behind a glass desk, and beyond him, was a glass wall with a commanding view of the city. As she entered, he remained seated and swiveled his chair, turning his back to her. Along the far wall of his office to her left was a large fish tank with spectacularly colored fish. The other two walls were floor to ceiling glass. The air smelled of success and ocean.
Blake Putnam was on the phone. She turned around to leave, but the door had closed tightly behind her. Unsure what to do, Samantha stopped, frozen about five feet from his desk. Breathe, she reminded herself, even as she started to get angry about the situation. Sure, he was the boss but ordering her to what she privately thought of as his lair and then turning his back on her without so much as a nod in her direction? She tried to keep the irritation off her face.
He finished the call, swiveled his chair in her direction and waved her to the white leather chair in front of his desk. He wore a crisp white dress shirt and a black and navy striped tie, the blue matching the color of his deep blue eyes. His black suit jacket hung from the back of his black leather chair. Samantha hurried to the seat.
“Ms. Jones,” Mr. Putnam tilted back in his black leather chair, steepling his hands below his chin.
End of Excerpt