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Fortune Favors the Bold (and the Smart) Ch. 2



Chapter 2

June 13, 2011

I woke up early on June 13th. By "early," I mean four in the morning. Yeah, that early. I paced around my studio apartment for the first hour. I tried to be calm but found myself getting more and more stressed. I considered having some coffee, but thought it might be a bad idea, considering that I was already pretty on edge.

At least my apartment was beautiful. To be honest, I didn’t decorate it myself. I went into a display in a furniture store and bought all the furniture and accessories. My apartment was a combination of furniture displays thirty-one, forty-seven, and twenty-four. It was a mix of oak furniture, soft blue hues, fake flowers made of silk, and wicker baskets. It was always immaculate because I only slept there and hosted friends once a month on a Saturday. I lived at the law firm that I worked with, and was expecting to live in my office at the Goodard Corporation.

At five thirty in the morning, I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was not going back to sleep and I decided to get ready. After showering, putting on my makeup, and curling my waist-length platinum blonde hair, I stared at the three different suits that I laid out on the bed. One was a classic black skirt suit with a white blouse and a blazer. The second was a grey pant suit, and the third was a white skirt suit. I hemmed and hawed between the three but eventually I decided on the black skirt suit. I completed my outfit with light beige nylons, a pearl jewelry set, and patent leather high heels.

I looked in the mirror and I looked quite professional but a bit sickly. I wasn’t sure if the combination of my near-white hair and the black suit made me look washed out or if I was sick from nerves. I added an extra layer of blush to my cheeks. It didn’t really work but there was not much I could do at that point. No amount of makeup in the world could hide my jitters.

My alarm clock finally buzzed at me; it was seven o’clock. I was all ready to go with two hours to spare. Rather than wait around at my apartment, I decided to get breakfast at the diner that is near my apartment and where I will be working. I was one of the fortunate people who worked a ten minute distance from where I lived. Yet another perk of changing jobs—get to cut down on the commute.

I managed to kill some time at the local café before arriving to work thirty minutes early. I thought I was going to puke walking into the building but I didn’t. Thank God.

I managed to find the large auditorium and took a seat in the second row. There were some stragglers in the room already seated at various locations. I assumed that I was the only lawyer in this wave of new hires. Eventually, the auditorium filled out and nearly every seat was taken. To my right was an older woman in her forties and to my left was a woman who looked around my age—in her middle-to-late twenties.

I chatted animatedly with both of the women about the weather and various other things. The older woman, I forget her name, had two children and was working in the science division. The younger woman, I also forget her name, was going to start her first job out of college working in public relations.

A short, stout man walked up to the podium. He was wearing a grey suit, also a three-piece suit like the one that Leon was wearing during his interview with me. Leon looked elegant and stately in his three piece suit—this man looked like the Monopoly man, minus the monocle. The man cleared his throat and silence fell upon the room.

The man adjusted the microphone down to his level. “Good morning, everyone,” he began in a deep, jovial voice. “I am proud to be the first one to welcome you to the Goodard Corporation. You have all been selected to work here because you excel in your field; the Goodard Corporation only hires the best of the best.”

I felt blush rise to my face. The best of the best? My ego had been sufficiently stroked.

“The mission of the Goodard Corporation is to develop drugs to eradicate major diseases that are plaguing the world. We’re currently developing drugs to combat Dementia, Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, just to name a few. This company was founded seven years ago by Maxwell Goodard, who was only eighteen at the time. As a child genius, he had already obtained a PhD in chemistry and completed an M.B.A. program by the age of seventeen. The Goodard Corporation has grown from being a small corporation with a staff of thirty to a large corporation with a staff of eight thousand across the country. Here at the corporate headquarters, we employ about five hundred people.”

The man suddenly stopped speaking. His face turned red as he stared at the man in the back of the room.

“And, without any further ado, Maxwell Goodard will make some remarks to you all.”

The man stepped to the side. I, along with the eighty other people in the room, turned around. Maxwell Goodard was standing at the back of the room. I knew his face from the pictures. I mean, who doesn’t know what the Maxwell Goodard looks like. America’s most eligible bachelor. Goodard looked like he could model. He was tall—probably around six-one to six-three—and had a muscular build. By muscular, I mean muscular. You could see his muscles bulge from his suit. He had a square jaw, thick lips, coiffed dark brown hair, a Roman nose, and steely blue eyes.

He walked from the back of the room up to the podium. And suddenly, I felt like I was eleven and awkward with buck teeth, boney knees, and frizzy orange hair. I got that feeling every time I was in the same room as an attractive man. I felt myself blush. I was probably as red as a tomato when he walked by me. I saw him look in my general direction and I immediately averted my eyes to the floor. Once he walked passed me, I looked up again.

My heart was racing a mile a minute. Why are you so awkward, Mel Jones? Why do you fall to pieces every time you see an attractive man?

“Are you alright?” the woman to my right whispered. I nodded my head quickly and looked up to the podium.

Maxwell took his position at the front of the podium. “Good morning,” he said. His voice sounded deep and commanding. “I trust that my colleague, Jonathan, gave you a decent introduction to the company. For those who do not know me, my name is Maxwell Goodard and I am the president and founder of this company. I will keep my remarks brief.”

I shifted my weight in my chair and re-crossed my legs. I need some water. Please don’t faint; that would be so embarrassing…

“This company has a mission and that mission is to eradicate the major diseases in the world. You are all an essential part in executing this mission so please work your hardest. Thank you.” Maxwell nodded curtly and walked back out the way he came. All eyes were on him as he exited the room. He just walked with such elegance and confidence. When he walked by me, I could smell his fine musk. I blushed again and watched him exit the room.

The man from earlier hurried back over to the center of the podium.

“Erm…Maxwell Goodard will be rejoining us at the five o’clock cocktail hour to celebrate your first day here. He would love to meet with each of you.”

He didn’t seem like the social type to me…

“Anyways, let me inform you of company policies…”

I tried my hardest to listen to the man—Jonathan—drone on and on about the company policies. I got the gist of what he was saying; a lot of it was generic information that is applicable to every office. Then a long parade of speakers came in to explain to us various company policies, some of which were more relevant than others.

Eventually, the afternoon started to dwindle away and it was already four-thirty. At this point, I had my fill of hearing about security, I.T. policies, and the like. I’m glad that we had a lunch break at least. If I didn’t have that, I would have lost my damn mind through the sheer boredom of it all. Or I would have died from dehydration. Either way it wouldn’t have been good.

“Alright, thank you for your patience today. You will have a thirty minute break and then you will go over to the auditorium for the cocktail hour with Maxwell Goodard.”

I stood up from my seat and gingerly walked over to the bathroom—my hip hurts whenever I sit down for too long. Fortunately, the pain dispersed when I arrived at the bathroom. I re-applied my lipstick, touched up my hair, and went on my way.

I navigated the maze of the company building and made my way over to the auditorium. The auditorium was decorated beautifully; tables with white linens were scattered throughout the room and there was a bartender wearing a tuxedo in the far corner.

I saw Maxwell standing at the far side of the room with a glass of red wine in hand. He looked trapped in a conversation with a group of five new employees. I gulped, headed over to the bar and grabbed a glass of red wine and jumped into a group of people. There were about three women and two men in this group and they were all chatting animatedly about their roles in the company.

“Uh, orientation was a drag. I’m excited to start doing actual work tomorrow,” one of the people in the group commented.

“Yeah, I know. Those things are always annoying. The food was pretty good, though,” someone else said.

I decided to chime in here. “Yeah, I’d like to start doing work. I feel like that’ll make the ‘new job jitters’ go away. I just want to do something, you know?” I let out a fake laugh.

I heard a strong and authoritative voice from behind me. “I’m glad to hear that you’re eager to start work.” My body shook in a startle, and I spun around quickly. Maxwell Goodard loomed over me. “Maxwell Goodard.” He extended his hand to me. I gave it a firm handshake.

“Mel Jones.”

“What division will you be working for?”

“I will be working as an attorney in the legal division,” I responded. I flashed a wide smile and nodded my head awkwardly.

“Are you interested in having an intern work with you?”

That’s an odd question…

“Of course, I would love to have an intern.”

What, am I really going to say, ‘No, I don’t want an intern’ to the president of the whole company on my first day?

“Alright, great, my sister was interested in interning for the legal division. She’ll be in touch with you in a few days after you get settled. ”

“I’m looking forward to it.” I smiled and nodded curtly.

Great…

Maxwell turned to the young man to my right. He extended his hand out to him. “Maxwell Goodard.” He said to the man. They shook hands and began making small talk.

Alright. That went significantly better than expected. I feel so relieved.

I tuned out the surrounding conversation and sunk in the back of my heels. I wanted to exhale loudly but I didn’t want to show Maxwell and the whole group how relieved I was.

Suddenly, I heard something that piqued my interest.

“I don’t think that you’re a right fit for this company. I believe you should seek employment elsewhere.”

My eyes widened, lips pursed, and I locked eyes with a woman in the group. She also had that look of terror on her face. I had completely tuned out the conversation so I had no idea what this young man said to warrant being fired on his first day. My stomach dropped.

I glanced at the newly fired man from my peripheral vision. He looked devastated. He opened his mouth and then closed it again. He placed his beer glass on the table and started to walk out the door with his head hung low. My heart went out to him; he looked like he was a kid who just graduated from college. That was probably his first real job.

Maxwell moved onto the next person in the circle. “Maxwell Goodard.” He shook her hand. At this point, I thought it would be best if I slunk away from the conversation. I slowly backed away and entered another cluster of people. I spoke with them for about five minutes, put my drink down, and scurried out the auditorium door before he rethought my employment.

As soon as I got outside, I grabbed my phone to call my sister. I had to let someone know that my boss was incredibly sexy and incredibly crazy. Who better to tell than my kid sister Ray? She loved gossip like this. When I was about five minutes away from the building, I whipped out my phone, scanned my surroundings for eavesdroppers, and dialed my kid sister.

I waited patiently for my kid sister to pick up. Eventually, she did.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Ray,” I replied.

“Mel? What happened? How was your day at work?”

“Oh my God. I should have stayed at the firm. The CEO is insane, I think.”

“Maxwell Goodard? No way! How?”

“He fired some poor kid right out of college in his first day.”

“What did the guy do?” my sister asked.

“I don’t know. Just said something rude, I guess. Anyway, how was your first day of summer?”

“Oh, it’s fun. I got to go to the beach today with my friends. Mom, Dad, and I are going out to get ice cream when they get home from work.”

“Really? That sounds like fun,” I said. Talking to my kid sister made me wish I was living closer to home. I kind of wished I was going out to ice cream at night instead of to an empty apartment. Ah, the perks of being young. To be fourteen again…

“But anyways, Maxwell Goodard. Back on track. What’s he like?”

“I don’t know.” I shrugged.

“Did you talk to him?” Ray asked.

“Look, I know you have a big old crush on Maxwell Goodard along with the rest of the female population of this country but he’s not that special. He’s kind of a jerk. And he’s shorter than he is in the magazines. I’m gonna be stuck babysitting his sister too. Apparently she’s gonna be my new intern.”

“You’re watching Harriet Goodard? The Harriet Goodard?”

“Should I know her?”

“You’re so uncool, sis.”

I laughed at that comment. “Seriously, should I know her?”

“She’s on TV all the time. She’s a budding model and a TV personality. She has millions of Twitter followers. She made that weird eyeliner trend.”

“Oh, that girl. Is she nice?”

“Well…” Ray’s voice trailed off. “I’m sure her real personality is different from her internet personality…”

“Oh, I don’t like the sound of that.” I groaned.

Great. I’m stuck babysitting this diva. Well this sucks.

“If you can, can you put in a good word for the Goodards for me? They’re so cool,” Ray said. I knew what that meant. Ray wanted to hang with the celebs. Typical fourteen year old. I would have loved to switch places with her. She could hang with the celebs and I could get ice cream with my parents. That would be nice.

“Will do.” I laughed. “Love you, Ray.”

“Love you too.”

I hung up the phone and sighed. It looks like I was going to have my work cut out for me after all.

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