Your stomach growls as you scurry off the bus, angry at you for not putting any food in it which, you know from experience, is always a huge mistake. But, thanks to an exceptionally tardy slumber, you ended up smacking the snooze button one too many times, almost missing your designated commute, and the last thing on your mind during this morning’s frenzy was breakfast.

You practically run inside the building, looking and feeling crazy with the stack of binders huddled awkwardly between your arms. With dread, you approach the security checkpoint…but are instantly shocked to find only a single screening post in the entryway.

Unlike yesterday.

What the…

It literally got downsized.

By a lot.

A whole lot.

While you find it odd, slightly thrown off by the drastic change, you say a silent thank you for the unexpected mercy as you struggle to maneuver all the bulky items in your possession while racing into the elevator.

A couple dings later and you’re stepping through its doors to get to that of the Wildlife Conservation office.

“Good morning,” you breathe as you walk in, noting that everybody is already here, feeling sheepish that you’re the last one in when it’s your first “official” day of actual work.

“Morning, Myers,” Mario, the assistant project manager and your immediate supervisor replies. He points to the binders, a five o’clock shadow taking up residence along his jaw. “Were you able to go through them all?”

“Yes,” you nod, setting them down at your cubicle, exhaling at the sensation of being physically unencumbered. But, clearly, you’re not the only one having a rough morning. “I was primarily interested in the Steller sea lion rehabilitation case.”

“Oh, good,” is his slightly tapered response, adjusting his computer screen. “I actually had that in mind when I was trying to decide on what to assign you to first. You can start by assisting with preliminary background research. I’ll send you some notes on what I want you to focus on in a little bit.”

“Sounds good,” you smile, carrying the binders back to the resource shelf save for that of the project in question, ecstatic that you get to have a say on your very first assignment.

Not even five minutes in and it’s already a million times better than all of ye—

“Is Constance Myers in?” you hear suddenly.

Your head whips around at the sound of your name, surprised to see Mr. Schapiro in the doorway, his eyes scanning the room.

Everyone else’s instantly fall upon you, as if the silent, collective gesture answers his question. Anxiety swallows you up, your heart dropping to your feet as you set the folders down and raise your hand almost reluctantly.

“Yes, I’m here,” you say, wondering why the hell he’s looking for you first thing in the morning when he couldn’t so much as spare you a glance twenty-four hours ago.

“Mr. Covington would like to see you in his office,” he says.

Your eyes inflate before you can stop them, utter surprise smearing itself all over your face. But, apparently, all who see it share your sentiment, the entire office mirroring your reaction.

Mario’s brow arches as he looks between Schapiro and you, the obvious question burning through his fatigued appearance. But he knows as much as you do on the matter.

“Office 721 on the seventh floor,” Schapiro adds before turning to leave.

You follow after him, unable to shake off this bad feeling you’re getting.

“Do you happen to know what it’s about?” you ask, growing a little queasy, completely dumbfounded by the request.

“Not a clue,” he says, peering at you from behind rounded glasses he momentarily stops to adjust. “He just called and said he wants to see you right away.”

While Schapiro has no reason—and certainly not the temperament—to lie about something like this, you have a very hard time believing the CEO of Earth Capital specifically asked for a brand new, temporary intern when his own board members have to schedule meetings to see him.

“Okay,” you mutter, more to yourself than your department’s middle-aged director.

You ascend inside the lift with slight trepidation, realizing that there can only be one reason the firm’s executive head is summoning you first thing in the morning:

Your blunder from yesterday has gotten you into trouble.

Ugh.

The elevator dings open and it feels like you’re back in junior high, being called to the principal’s office.

Only worse.

You walk up to 721, taking in a deep breath, steeling yourself before you knock. You swallow as you regard the bold letters across the door.

SAMUEL COVINGTON

Chief Executive Officer

A moment later, it swings open…and its bearer appears on the other side.

Earth Capital’s CEO stands before you in the flesh, your stomach dropping like a stone when your eyes meet.

“You must be Myers,” he says, a pert smile gracing his lips. He motions, holding the door open for you. “Come on in.”

You step inside tentatively, the unease in your gut spiking as you walk past him. He closes it and convenes at his desk, gesturing for you to take a seat.

You sit opposite him, clasping your hands in your lap as he settles into his chair.

“You wanted to see me?” you begin, trying to sound comfortable even though you feel anything but.

“Yes,” he nods, maintaining a pragmatic, somewhat erudite gaze. “You were selected for the internship program this year, correct?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

His demeanor is simultaneously friendly and firm, in a way you find a bit confusing, and you’re not quite sure how exactly to interact with him. But, even if your nerves weren’t shot to hell, basic common sense dictates you tread lightly and stick with formality.

You swallow, waiting for him to bring up the catastrophic collision from yesterday.

But, instead, he asks, “How do you like it here so far?”

The inquiry catches you off guard, your brows jumping, but you answer immediately.

“I’m settling in nicely, thank you.”

Even if the actual process of doing so straight up sucked ass.

You keep that little tidbit to yourself because you clearly want to stay despite your not-so-stellar induction.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here,” you continue. “And to actually meet you,” you add before you can stop yourself, your hands moving without your permission, motioning toward him in emphasis. You catch yourself, instantly withdrawing, silently barking at your limbs to reel it in. “I have a lot of admiration for the work you’ve done and followed your career for the past three years.”

“Well, I’m flattered to hear that,” Covington smiles, his eyes contemplative, searching your face in an…odd way. As if he’s trying to find something. Or confirm it.

He nods, leaning away from his desk abruptly. “All right, then. I just wanted to meet and welcome the latest addition to the Earth Capital family. Glad to have you on board. I look forward to working with you.”

“Oh…” is all you can immediately manage, slightly stunned by the brevity of your discussion—if you can even call it that. But you quickly regain your composure. “Thank you,” you add, rising to leave, feeling both relieved and silly for thinking there was any reason for an individual of his position to request an audience beside a routine, official welcome. He probably does it for all the interns every year. Just standard procedure.

You exit the office, closing the door behind you with a long exhale as a blend of reprieve and ecstasy seeps into your bones.

You just met one of your career heroes. And it feels unreal—in more ways than one.

You’re not sure what you expected him to be like but, based on the very short conversation you just had, you don’t have much more insight on the legendary Samuel Covington now than you did before you walked into his office. He was polite, at the very least. Overall, a good first impression. That’s certainly more than you can say for Schapiro.

You make your way back down to your department, heads turning as soon as you walk in, their expressions teeming with interest.

“Hey,” an auburn-haired woman in the cubicle beside yours whispers, leaning over her chair. “What was that about?”

You meet her inquisitive gaze as you settle into yours. “He just wanted to welcome me to the firm.”

“Oh. Was that all?” she blurts loudly, her need to be inconspicuous suddenly vanishing, an almost bored countenance replacing every last bit of curiosity on her face. You resist the urge to roll your eyes at the blatant deflation in hers.

Sheesh. Sorry to disappoint you, ma’am.

Not sure what exactly she or anybody else here was expecting.

 

Without a verbal response, you turn to face your monitor, ignoring her snide reaction.

“Hey, Myers,” Mario calls from the other end, “I just sent you the details. I want you to start off compiling general research today and tomorrow. From there, we’ll start creating segments fo—”

“May I have your attention, everyone,” Schapiro appears before you again, his voice interjecting Mario’s suddenly. “You’re all wanted in the main lobby for an important announcement from the CEO. Each and every one is expected to be there within the next fifteen minutes. Please pass the message along.”

With that, he exits the office. Puzzled looks and inquisitive mutters are exchanged right after, followed by rolls and squeaks of moving swivel chairs as everyone else starts heading out after him. You follow suit, wondering what this announcement could be. Covington never mentioned anything when you were in his office just moments ago.

The corridor’s already crowding when you step out, several people scurrying toward the elevators to join others queued outside them, waiting their turn. You opt to take the stairs without hesitation, the idea of being crammed into a metal box with ten other adults like sardines in a can far from appealing.

The main lobby is almost full when you get there, shuffling bodies abounding, interspersed with the constant hum of murmurs they produce. You spot Covington all the way up ahead, standing on a platform, holding a microphone.

“Can I please have your attention, everyone,” he says into it as the last remnants of employees trickle in.

Whispers dissipate into silence as everyone offers him their undivided attention.

“Thank you all for coming down on such short notice,” he begins, looking into the crowd. “I know this sort of thing is pretty unusual here at Earth Capital, but I felt an exception had to be made for this very special occasion.”

A pause follows, his eyes scanning the audience as a weird tension fills the air, a barely-contained sense of anticipation looming over the open space.

You look between those in your immediate vicinity, trying to catch glimpses of their various expressions, as if doing so will clue you in on what this special occasion is.

“It’s both an honor and privilege to announce that, after a very long time and a lot of effort…Zanergy has decided to partner with us on their most recent flagship project.”

A massive, jarring surge of applause and almost fanatic shouts erupt instantaneously, loud and enthusiastic, drowning out several of Covington’s words as he continues to speak.

“—as you can imagine,” he carries on, “I’m quite excited about this new venture. As I’m sure a lot of you are. Hence, all of this,” he gestures to the brazen cheering with an unfettered smile of his own. “This is a win for every single one of us. However, the executive board and myself have personally hand-picked a select few of our fellow Capitalians who we feel will serve this account best and do us all proud. So, please, join me in congratulating the following people on being part of the Zanergy consultation team:

“Cody Barnes.”

A united, fiery rumble bursts across the lobby, clapping compounded by emphatic whistling as the assumed man in question walks over to the platform and stands next to Covington, getting several pats on the back and ‘Attaboys!’ on his way up, as well as an enthusiastic, “Yeah, Cody!” from someone in the distance.

“Maya Tanish,” Covington continues.

Another eruption of cheers follows.

“Staci Simpson.”

And another.

“Diego Cruz.”

And another.

“Erik Bloomberg.”

“Jamie Chen.”

“Louis Freeman.”

“And, finally…Constance Myers.”

***

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THIS MAKES ME FEEL...
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