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Keep Me Going: An Office Romance by Ford, Mia (1)

Chapter One

Soledad

I relaxed as the panel interview ended, hoping I did well. I was new to Seattle and needed a job. I had experience for this advertising agency and a lot of it. I opened my bottle of water and took a sip, letting the cold water slide down my dry throat.

“Miss Fleury?” I looked up to the man that was seated in between the others. “I am impressed with you and your experience. I am going to make a few calls for references, but I can tell you that you’re our top applicant at this time.” He was older but attractive in that distinguished way. “I expect that we’ll be calling you this week.”

“Thank you. I can’t wait.” I said as I looked at the group that interviewed me. Joy filled me at the chance of a new start as I made a point of thanking each of them. They ranged in age from about thirty to late fifties and the way they described the company made it sound wonderful to build a future there. The youngest was attractive with bright blue eyes and dark tousled hair but I pushed those thoughts aside. I wasn’t here to date. I couldn’t date.

We said our goodbyes and I left the huge conference room. My heels clicked on the marble floor as I made my way to the lobby of the modern building, looking around at the quirky but classy decor. There were couches scattered through the main lobby and each executive appeared to have an assistant in front of their offices. There were also rooms for teams to work together as well as two large and welcoming break rooms that offered all the amenities. It was gorgeous here and I tried to imagine working here as one of the team members, getting all the great benefits and generous pay. I said goodbye to the main receptionist and walked out to the curb, feeling the strong wind blow my dark hair around my shoulders.

Seattle weather was often overcast skies and what some would consider dreary weather. Not me. I enjoyed it and was looking forward to getting a job and finally looking for an apartment. I hurried to my worn blue Rav4 and started the engine, needing to get back to the hotel I was staying at with my daughter. We’d met a fellow resident that instantly took a liking to Lindsay and I grew to trust her within the two weeks we’d known Rosie. I pulled out of the parking lot and headed to the small hotel, picking up a pizza to celebrate the good interview. I knew it might be a little early, but I was happy in this moment. When I walked into the small room, I saw Lindsay and Rosie sitting on the bed with a cartoon on the TV. They were playing dolls and I paused to smile at the sight.

“Hello, ladies.” I greeted them as my daughter turned her big blue eyes towards me. “I have pizza.”

“Yay, Mommy! I’m starving.” She told me as she jumped up, knocking a doll to the floor. I managed to set the pizza down and catch her as she jumped into my arms, laughing as Rosie cleaned up the mess.

“Please stay and eat with us,” I pleaded with her as she took me in with observant eyes.

“It went well?” Rosie’s voice was lightly accented as I nodded.

“I’m not hired yet, but they just have to do the reference checks and I’m in. I am so glad that I finished my degree in ad work. That and Lins are the best choices I ever made.” I said softly as I reached for a plate, so Lindsay could get a slice and sit at the small table to eat. “I feel like everything else has fallen apart around me.”

“There, there. You’ll get this job, Soledad. We can go from there.” Rosie assured me as we got our own pizza and sat down with Lindsay at the table. We talked about light subjects as we ate so Lindsay wouldn’t get too excited about what might not happen. I wanted this job more than anything but refused to get ahead of myself. Rosie went to her own room to get to bed early and I locked my door, giving my daughter a bath in the small, standard tub before tucking her into the bed that we were sharing. I watched TV quietly beside her as my phone charged, glancing over at it. I wanted that call to come through so badly, but it wouldn’t be tonight.

I sent my mother a text on the phone I bought at a convenience store with the money I’d saved. She was in Oregon and sounded happy to hear from me, sending me messages for an hour. I moved to Seattle from a little town in Mendocino where I’d been assisting in the startup of a new ad agency that was going to cater to cities all over the West Coast and beyond. It was my dream with my best friend Michael, but I’d left him in charge and ran away. I had no idea what might happen but trusted that he could handle things.

We woke up in the morning and I got some breakfast for us and walked Lindsay to the park. I couldn’t wait to have a kitchen and cook again. I knew how to make easy food taste delicious and last as well. I’d been a single mother to Lindsay since a couple of months before her birth and learned everything the hard way, since her father abandoned us completely. I was glad that he did because he’d shown me the violent side to him during the pregnancy, terrifying me.

I smiled as Lindsay ran over to the swings, joining another girl around her age. I took a seat at the bench and watched her, exchanging a small smile with the blonde mother that looked like she just left a salon. I ran a nervous hand through my messy hair and swallowed the lump in my throat. I’d need to get a few clothes if I got the job to get me through to my first paycheck when I could purchase some more.

If. I didn’t have it yet.

I found out the following day that I did get the job. I was going to alternate between working on one of the top teams and assisting one of the top managers. I couldn’t remember which one it was having been so nervous at the interview, but I accepted in a trembling voice before I felt the tears stinging my eyes. I had a job, something that I could build a future on. I had the chance to start a new life and give my daughter everything she deserved. Lindsay was sleeping in the small bed, having had a rough night with a slight fever. I cried quietly and prayed for everything to work out for me.

I managed to get to the office to fill everything out while Rosie watched Lindsay, not ready to introduce her to the building yet. I was proud of her but hesitant about bringing her here when there was a chance it wouldn’t work out. I was starting Monday of the following week and Rosie agreed to babysit for me while I was there. I knew how much my daughter adored her and was so grateful to have her in my life.

I spent every moment that I could with her. We went shopping at some thrift stores for work clothes, finding a nice beginning to my wardrobe. I took her for a happy meal for dinner Sunday night and watched her sleep as my nerves caused my stomach to knot up.

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