My stomach growls as I step off the bus, angry at me for not putting any food in it which I know from experience is always a huge mistake. But thanks to my very late slumber hour, I somehow slept through my alarm, barely making my commute to work on time, and the last thing on my mind during the morning frenzy-rush was breakfast.


I practically run into the building, looking crazy with the stack of binders huddled awkwardly between my arms. I go through security, noticing that there’s only a single checkpoint…unlike yesterday.


It literally got downsized by a factor of at least ten.


While I find it peculiar and get slightly thrown off by the drastic change, I say a silent thank you for the unexpected show of mercy as I struggle to maneuver all the bulky items I’m carrying while racing into the elevator.


A few dings later and I’m stepping through the elevator doors and into that of the Wildlife Conservation office.


“Good morning,” I breathe as I walk in, noting that almost everybody is already here and feeling sheepish that I’m the last one in when it’s my first “official” day of actual work at the unit.


“Morning, Myers. Were you able to go through them all?” Mario, the assistant project manager and my immediate supervisor asks, pointing to the binders.


“Yes,” I nod, setting them down at my cubicle with a sigh of relief before hanging my bag over my chair and taking off my coat. “I was primarily interested in the stellar sea lion rehabilitation case.”


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


“Sounds good,” I smile as I carry the binders back to the resource shelf save for the chosen project, ecstatic that I got to have a say on my very first assignment.


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


“Is Myers in?” I hear from behind me as I slide the last binder in, abruptly interrupting my celebratory thoughts.


My head whips around at the sound of my name, surprised to see Mr. Schapiro in the doorway, his eyes scanning around the room, clearly in search of me.


Everyone else turns to look to me, as if the silent gesture answers his question. Suddenly, anxiety swallows me up, and my heart drops to my feet as I raise my hand almost reluctantly, advancing toward him.


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


“Mr. Covington would like to see you in his office,” he says. My eyes bulge at that statement before I can stop them, utter surprise smearing itself all over my face for all to see. But, apparently, everyone else shares my reaction, because their collective expression becomes just as stunned.


Mario’s brow arches as he looks between Schapiro and I, the burning question on his face clear as day, but he knows as much as I do on the matter. I’m completely dumbfounded by the request.


“Office 721 on the seventh floor,” Schapiro adds before walking out of the office.


I follow after him, unable to shake off this bad feeling I’m getting.


“Do you know what it’s about?” I ask, feeling slightly queasy.


“Not a clue,” he says. “He just called suddenly and wants to see you right away.”


While Schapiro has no reason—and certainly not the temperament—to lie about something like this, I 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,” I mutter, more to myself than Schapiro.


I ascend inside the lift with slight trepidation, realizing that there can only be one reason the firm’s executive head is summoning me first thing in the morning of my second day:


My blunder from yesterday has gotten me into trouble.


The elevator dings open and doors part from each other. I feel as though I’m back in junior high and being called to the principal’s office.


Only worse.


I stand in front of 721 and take a deep breath, steeling myself before I knock on the door, my eyes on the name written boldly across the door.




A moment later, it opens, and its bearer appears on the other side.


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


“You must be Myers,” he says with a pert smile. He motions, holding the door open for me. “Come on in.”


I step inside tentatively, the uneasy feeling in my gut building as I walk past him. He closes it and heads to his desk, gesturing for me to take a seat.


I sit opposite him, clasping my fingers in my lap as he settles into his own chair.


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


“Yes. You were selected for the internship program this year, correct?” he says, interlacing his fingers on his desk as he holds my gaze.


I nod. “Yes, that’s right.”


His demeanor appears both friendly and firm, in a way that I find a bit confusing, and I’m not quite sure how to interact with him. But even if my nerves weren’t shot to hell right now, sheer common sense dictates that I tread lightly and stick to formality.


I swallow, waiting for him to bring up my catastrophic collision from yesterday, but instead he says, “How do you like it here so far?”


The inquiry catches me off guard, my brow arching before I can stop it, but quickly answer.


“I’m settling in nicely, thank you,” I smile.


Even if the actual process of doing so was an absolute nightmare.


I keep that little tidbit to myself because I clearly like it here and want to stay despite my not-so-stellar first impression.


So instead, I grin and say, “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here. And to actually meet you,” I add before I can stop myself, my hands moving without my permission, motioning toward him for emphasis. I catch myself, my hands withdrawing back into my lap as I force them to reel it in. “I have a lot of admiration for the work you’ve done and have followed your career for the past three years.”


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

“All right,” he says, leaning away from his desk abruptly and unclasping his hands. “I just wanted to welcome you on board and meet the latest addition to the Earth Cap family. I look forward to seeing what you have to offer.”


“Oh…” is all I can immediately manage, slightly stunned by the brevity of our discussion—if you can even call it that. But I quickly regain my composure. “Thank you,” I add as I rise from the chair, walking out of his office and feeling a little bit silly for thinking that there would be any reason for a CEO of this caliber to summon me other than a routine, official welcome to his company. He probably does it for all the interns every year. Just standard procedure.


I exit the slightly intimidating space, closing the door behind me with a long exhale as relief seeps into my bones.


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


I’m not sure what I expected him to be like, but based on the brief conversation we just had, I don’t have very much more insight on him now than I did before I walked into his office. He does seem nice enough. At least my first impression of him is much better than the one I had of Schapiro.


I head back down to my department, noticing heads turn my way as I walk in, their expressions teeming with interest.


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


I look over at her as I settle back into my own cubicle. “He just wanted to welcome me to the firm.”


“Oh, was that all?” she says, an almost bored countenance replacing every last bit of curiosity on her face.


I resist the urge to roll my eyes at the blatant—and simply unnecessary—deflation in hers.


Sheesh. Sorry to disappoint you, ma’am.


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


Without a verbal response, I turn to my computer screen, moving my attention away from her.


“Hey, Myers,” Mario calls from the other end, “I just sent you the details. I want you to start off with more general research for today and tomorrow, and from there will get more specific as we g–”


“May I have your attention, everyone,” Schapiro appears before us all again, his voice interjecting Mario’s suddenly. “You are 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 ten minutes. Please pass the message along and I’ll see you all downstairs.”


With that, he exits the office. After exchanging puzzled looks and inquisitive mutters, everyone else rises from their seats, heading out after him. I follow suit, wondering what this announcement could be. Covington never mentioned anything when I was in his office just moments ago.


The corridor is crowded with people all shuffling toward the elevator, queued outside of each one, waiting on them as others pack themselves into them. I opt to take the stairs, the idea of being packed into an elevator like a sardine can far from appealing. When I reach the main lobby, it’s completely full, shuffling bodies interspersed with murmurs and conversation filling the space. I spot Covington at the very center, holding a microphone.


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


The rumbling dies down into whispers which further dissipate into silence as everyone’s attention settles on the CEO as he looks into the crowd.


“Thank you all for coming here on such short notice,” he begins. “I know this sort of thing is quite unusual here at Earth Cap, but I felt that an exception had to be made for this very special occasion.” A pause follows, his eyes scanning the crowd as a weird tension fills the air, a sense of anticipation looming over the open area.


I look around impulsively, my eye flitting between the people around me, taking glimpses of their various expressions, as if doing so will clue me 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 surge of applause and almost fanatic shouts erupt instantly, 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, as well, hence all of this,” he gestures to all the cheering with a smile. “This is a win for us all, 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 account team:


“Cody Barnes.”


A huge burst of claps resound, compounded with whistling as the assumed man in question goes up to the center and stands beside Covington, getting several pats on the back on his way up, as well as an enthusiastic, “Go 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 Reausalind Myers.”



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