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What do you do when your career is stagnant and one of the biggest businessmen in the city offers you the opportunity of a lifetime? To plan a New Year’s Eve party for thousands of his employees. On too short of notice. With no plan. With an almost assured chance of failure?
Well, you take it, of course. Or at least, that is what Sage Walters decides to do, sure that if she could pull it off, this would be the job that would catapult her career to a whole new level that doesn’t involve one gender reveal party after another.
Of course, she’d have to not only contend with the impossibility of pulling off the event on such short of notice, but the overbearing, micromanaging, condescending CEO of Calgary Industries – Grant Calgary himself, their constant bickering, and the completely irrational, unprofessional – yet undeniable – chemistry between them…
* This is a short, light, but sexy New Year’s Eve novella
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If I had to plan one more gender reveal party, I was going to scream.
Cakes colored on the insides only.
Pink or blue smoke grenades.
Mimosas that the mom couldn’t drink.
It was a shower, rinse, repeat each time with only a slight change in decor and menu.
Sure, they paid the bills. They fleshed out my portfolio. But they weren’t challenging. They weren’t what was going to help my business grow, allow me to hire more employees, get an office that wasn’t above a Chinese food restaurant that made me paranoid that I always smelled like onions and soy sauce when I went to meet a new client. They wouldn’t let me get out of my shoebox apartment where the sink dripped no matter how many times the super came to fix it and the radiator had only two settings – summer in Hell or winter in the Arctic.
I didn’t have some grand ideas of becoming a millionaire with my chosen field. I mean, I guess there were a few party planners who gained that distinction, but they were the exceptions to the rule.
I’d learned that life was a heck of a lot more tolerable if you accepted that you were the rule, not the exception.
So I wasn’t going to be sitting in my penthouse counting stacks of money in Louboutins and La Perla lingerie while sipping Dom and looking down on the world.
I would settle for an apartment with an actual bedroom and a couple basic pieces of work attire that didn’t come from the discount rack at Marshalls with little tears or stains that I had to fix myself. And maybe a Sunday that I didn’t have to sit coupon clipping for new craft supplies to make different invitations and centerpiece ideas.
That was the goal.
And that was why I was responding to a message left with Evan – my only employee despite the fact that he was woefully underpaid and needed to work some nights bartending to make his ends meet – for a New Year’s Eve party.
Most people would be flattered.
To get the opportunity to pitch to an ultra-rich CEO who was throwing a big shindig for his entire staff and their spouses.
But the fact of the matter was, the only reason his secretary was even contacting me was likely because it was too short of notice for such a huge gig on one of the biggest holidays for the city. And all of the big name planners either already had parties to do, or knew it was simply a pipe dream to pull of something that huge on such short notice, and didn’t want to put their reputations on the line for a party that could be a massive flop.
So, really, I was simply a name on an internet search, a possibility of a yes.
“You shouldn’t be doing this,” Evan told me from where he was perched at the desk we shared – bought on a Black Friday steal at Target two years before – his legs crossed, filing his left thumbnail with an emery board I knew for sure I didn’t keep laying around.
Evan was a cynic by nature, every ounce of his slight one-hundred-forty frame soaked in sarcasm and suspicion. He was the first person to tell you that your hair looked like crap or you were getting a bit pudgy around the middle or that your dark eye circles were starting to become dark cheek circles. You had to have thick skin to subject yourself to him on a daily basis, but he could always be counted on for an honest, unbiased opinion on an idea or an outfit to go meet a new client in or the possibility of your sort-of-boyfriend being a lying creep that you needed to – and did – dump.
“Ev, it could mean a giant paycheck,” I reasoned, thinking of my back that was in desperate need of an adjustment but our crappy insurance didn’t cover it, and getting office supplies was a tad more important than going to the chiropractor.
“It could mean a giant writeup on page six about the shitshow Sage Walters Designs tried to pull off,” he reminded me of a fact that had been on my mind constantly since the evening before when he’d told me of the message. “It could doom you for any future jobs in this city,” he added with a point of his emery board.
“I see your point,” I agreed, taking a deep breath. “I’m not saying I am going to sign us up for it. I am just going to go see what they have to say. If maybe they have a venue booked. Which would make this tough, but totally possible if we pull in some serious overtime.”
“Girl, you already work sixteen-hour days, seven days a week. How much more overtime can you take before you die of exhaustion? Or, worse yet, get stress wrinkles on that pretty face? And you know that once you get there and see all those zeroes, you are going to take it even if they don’t have anything booked which is going to make this about a million times more difficult. If not impossible. Cancel the appointment.”