The Carrero Influence: Redefining Rules
- Genre: Romance
- Age: 18+
- Status: Completed
- Language: English
- Author: L.T.Marshall
The subway to work is crowded as usual, even at this early hour; the smell and noise are overwhelming. I’m overly fragile, and nausea plagues me these days; the stress of moving offices and away from Jake is making me physically ill.
I check my watch for the fiftieth time this morning.
I’m late again. What the hell is wrong with me lately?
I groan inwardly. I can’t seem to get my head together or get back on track with anything. Giovanni Carrero has yelled at me so often these last three weeks that I feel like resigning. He’s demoted me to coffee bearer for now, and I’m slowly losing everything I’ve worked for. My reputation as an efficient PA is shot. I’ve heard the rumors about me circulating the building: that Jake Carrero dismissed me for my incompetence and moved me to his father’s building because he felt sorry for me.
That stings. The lies upset me, but I push them down into the depths of my mind along with everything else about Jake Carrero. It’s better than people knowing the truth: the stupid, naive PA fell in love with her boss, and he didn’t feel the same way.
That truth hurts more than rumors and lies ever could.
His father has more assistants than he needs, but he likes to be surrounded by a swarm of servants; yet still, I am surplus to requirements. Instead, I’ve become a glorified receptionist without a desk, tasks, or responsibilities. I am that person who is asked to do the menial things, like hauling files to the library, making trips to Starbucks, and serving hot drinks to stuffed shirts when a meeting is in full swing. It just adds to the rumors that I am useless.
My life is over.
I’ve thought about leaving many times, scanning the classifieds in the paper almost every chance I get, but something always holds me back.
More like someone!
Somehow, still working for the Carrero Corporation is my link to Jake, and I’m not ready to let him go just yet if I ever will be. Even though I haven’t seen or heard from him, the pain is still too raw. This is the true definition of being frozen out, and even the office gossips don’t seem to know anything about what’s going on in Jake’s life since he dismissed me.
I guess that’s the whole point of keeping his staff small and in his trust. Unlike his father, who has an army of minions, everyone seems to know Senior Carrero’s business. He’s so public about many things, loud and commanding.
He yells at staff frequently and isn’t shy about his movements or dragging an entourage with him wherever he goes. He has a mix of security, assistants, and God knows who else, always crowded around him, pandering to his every whim. I miss Jake’s less inflated, uncomplicated character. He only ever needed me… as ironic as that is.
I walk the last block to my new office building; it stands tall and blindingly bright, another column of pointy glass and harsh edges, just like Executive House, where Jake’s office is. A sharp, knife looking column amid the Manhattan corporates, standing as tall as most. I shudder. I hate working here. I hate everything about this place. I miss what I had at Executive House in so many ways beyond Jake.
The sterile interior is uninviting, and the staff at Carrero Tower are always so afraid to step out of line under the command of Senior. The relaxed aura of Executive House is absent in this building, and I never thought I’d see the day I missed Jake’s laxness and personal touch. The atmospheres between the two are so different.
The receptionist casts me a disapproving look as I shuffle past in a hurry, and I know I look disheveled. I had slept in, rushed about, and practically got dressed while running out the door. This shorter, wavy style of my hair is always doing its own thing nowadays, but I simply don’t care anymore. I glare back at her icily to cut off her stare.
Yes, I’m late… I don’t fucking care.
She glances away fast. She’s met my anger before. On my third day here, she spilled coffee down my cream pencil skirt when passing, so I unleashed teen Emma in a rather grand fashion. I’d been a touchy, aggressive nightmare those first few days, and one wrong word got her the tongue lashing from hell. My face twists into a snarl as I think of the calm and controlled Emma of the past, who was always so poised.
Where is she now?
She’s jumped off a goddamn bridge! I can’t seem to muster her of late, no matter what. I miss her. Jake Carrero killed her; weeks of tears can do that to a person.
I drop my bag and cell on a desk in the office among the sea of temp desks. It’s pretty much a free-for-all where you sit when you need a seat. I miss having my own office and space, but it’s not like I deserve it anymore. The inclination to run and organize my new boss’s life has deserted me. I have zero interest in his calendar or responsibilities. I’m a train wreck nowadays and probably couldn’t organize an alcoholic party in a brewery.
My cell vibrates across the table; Sarah’s name lights up the screen along with her face, brightening it with a grinning selfie. She’s my best friend and roommate, but she knows not to bother me here. She never calls me at work, so concern rises in my stomach as I reach for it.
“Sarah, what is it?” I ask in a clipped tone laced with nervous apprehension, inner dread rising that something is wrong.
At least I still have anxiety by my side.
Nothing changed there, then.
“Emma, I’m sorry to bother you at work. I know you don’t like it. But your mother is here,” she mumbles sheepishly, then silences at my angry gasp of air.
“What the f—?” I cut myself off, glancing around the room for listening ears. There are a couple of assistants milling about, so I lower my voice, bringing my mouth to the receiver to quietly hiss, “What the hell is she doing there?” I know I shouldn’t take this out on Sarah, she’s only the messenger, but I’m seething from every pore at the mere mention of Jocelyn Anderson’s appearance. This weak, pathetic woman chose yet another abusive boyfriend over sense or logic.
She has no right to show up like this! Invading my life after what she’s done.
“She says she came to see you… to talk. What shall I do with her, Ems? I need to leave for work soon; I’m on an early shift today.” She sounds genuinely upset, knowing she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, but my girl knows which side she should be rooting for if she has any sense. I take a steadying breath, pushing down my internal rage to remain calm and adjust my tone to neutral.
“Show her the door,” I reply bluntly. “I need to get back to work, Sarah. Goodbye.”
I hang up quickly. I know Sarah will try to talk me around, but I can’t deal with this right now. I can’t deal with anything lately. I just need everything in my messed up, pitiful life to take ten steps back, give my brain time to stop reeling, and find its feet again. The last few weeks have been one constant headache, and I’m drowning. I can barely breathe with it all.
My cell rings again, but I reject the call. Sarah is persistent, more so of late since the changes in me have hit her hard; I feel like she’s been smothering me with over-protectiveness. She doesn’t know this version of me, this unraveling mess of tears and bad moods, the forgetful behavior, or the chaos I’m leaving in my wake. I think even she longs for a hint of the old Emma to come back, and I’m trying, for both our sakes. Her insecurity over my new persona is evident and upsetting.
Somehow the mention of my mother has flipped a little switch inside me, though, and a wave of numbness seeps in as the icy, controlled part of PA Emma takes hold. I’ll have to deal with my mother at some point, just not right now, and it only angers me further that she thinks she can waltz in unannounced as though I owe her my time. I lift my chin defiantly.
That’s right, use the anger to fuel your return, cling to that tiny piece of defiance, and get your goddamn life back on track!
I am relieved to feel the tiny flicker of fire burning deep down inside my belly once more.
You’re still in there, Emma. You can do this.
Walking into the boardroom, I catch sight of the mess left behind from the breakfast meeting I obviously missed. Not that I care. I sigh heavily since I will have to clear this up; despite this floor paying cleaners to keep the place tidy, but they usually only appear after hours. I pout about the monotonous tasks that have become mine. It’s so deflating, considering I used to travel the world as the right hand of an accomplished CEO.
What the hell happened to me? This time last month, I was PA to Jake Carrero! I was organizing his entire life, sitting in five-star hotels and pouring over contracts with him. We were friends, and the whole time I was trying to ignore the fact I was head over heels in love with him.
I shake my head, discarding the thoughts that come uninvited into my mind, and start picking up the scattered documents and brochures from the table and returning them to the cart to be filed away. I stack the empty mugs and plates on the catering trolley by the door. At least I can lose myself in cleaning up this room and bring some calm back to the chaos in my head. I submerge my brain into the task of deep cleaning the space of the mess made by its previous occupants; hopefully, this focus will rub off on my thoughts and help me get back to myself.