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An Indecent Proposal

By:J.C. Reed

Out of all the dates in my life, Tuesday at 10 a.m. was about the worst time disaster could strike. I was sitting in the waiting area of LiveInvent Designs—the one place where I had been dying to get an interview since finishing college.

Apart from me, nineteen other graduates were waiting for their big chance, all dressed in immaculate, tailored business suits—the kind I couldn’t afford. But what I couldn’t offer in expensive clothes, I knew I could make up in hard work and dedication. I was a professional, and as such I was determined to make a good impression.

“Lauren Hanson?”

I straightened up in my seat and smiled as one of the personal assistants called my name. “Yes.” I stood and took a deep breath, waiting for further instructions.

“Please take the elevator up to the thirtieth floor. Someone will be expecting you.”

The thirtieth floor.

According to LiveInvent’s website, it was the place where the big-shot strategists worked. Los Angeles wasn’t just home to some of the greatest marketing companies in the United States; it was also the best place to get started and to experience an environment of “what if,” not just “if only.”

When I applied for a graduate position as a marketing assistant, I had never even considered the possibility that one of them might like my resume enough to want to meet me personally. But now it was happening.

My dream was coming true.

I brushed my hands over my gray skirt nervously and with measured steps made my way to the elevator area, ignoring the people ambling up and down the corridor in their immaculate expensive clothes, seemingly oblivious to the outside world. They were probably used to their simple yet sophisticated surroundings, with marble floors and beautiful peonies, and calla lilies arranged in crystal centerpieces. The walls were adorned with polished frames displaying awards and the company’s most successful projects showcased like little trophies.

I stopped in front of the elevators, and sighed happily. This wasn’t just any workplace—it was heaven. And I wanted to be a part of it. Whatever it took.

This was my dream.

It had to come true.

A bell chimed, and one of the three elevator doors opened, giving me a view of a small but tastefully decorated space. Soft music was playing in the background at a pleasant volume. As I stepped into the small elevator, I bumped into someone.

It happened so quickly: my CV folder slipped out of my hands and dropped to the floor. I squatted to reach for the folder when I noticed the pair of black, expensive slacks. I raised my eyes slowly, taking in the custom suit. No, it wasn’t so much the suit, but more the tall height, his black hair, his broad shoulders, the sexy male fragrance he was wearing, that drew my attention to him.

His Rolex suggested that he wasn’t an applicant. Probably an executive.

Before I knew it, the bell chimed again. I rose to my feet quickly before the doors closed again.

I pressed the backlit button embossed with the number thirty. No need to check him out, not when I didn’t know if he wasn’t an interviewer. Getting the job was more important than checking out the next hot guy.

I turned my back on him, and mentally recollected my primed answers to possible interview questions.

Breathe in, breathe out.

This was it…my big chance.

All my life I had worked hard for this exact day. Just a few more seconds. And then I would give it all my best, because I just had to have this job.

There was no possibility, no other option, no what-ifs.

If I wanted to make it in the business world and get out of my outstanding debt, I had to go the extra mile. I was ready—more than ever because any other outcome wasn’t an option.

My hands turned clammy from my increasing nervousness, and my mouth went a little dry. I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I didn’t register that the elevator had stopped moving until a little shake told me something was up. I looked up from the floor, only to see we had stopped at the twenty-ninth floor, and the doors had remained closed.

Seriously? Did we have to stop one floor below my destination?

I raised my eyebrows when the guy behind me began to press the buttons on the control panel in an impatient manner. The music was gone, plunging us into eerie silence.

Frowning, I turned to face him, wondering what the heck was going on, but all I caught were blue eyes just before the bulbs started to flicker. The lights flashed once more, then switched off, bathing us in complete darkness.

“What the—” I heard him cussing, his deep voice filled with annoyance.

For a moment, I held my breath, my heart pounding in my chest as I waited for the lights to switch on again. A few seconds passed, which turned into minutes. And still there was no light, no movement—nothing to indicate we even were in an elevator.