Authors: Christina Ross
For Christopher, who knows why.
For Erika Rhys, in friendship.
For Ann Ross, for your love and support.
Copyright and Legal Notice:
publication is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other
applicable international, federal, state and local laws, and all rights are
reserved, including resale rights.
trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to be
the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There
is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms. No part of this book
may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including
photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without
permission in writing from the author.
ebook edition © 2013.
is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead (unless
explicitly noted) is merely coincidental. Copyright © 2013 Christina Ross. All
rights reserved worldwide.
New York City
my suffocating, one-bedroom, prison camp of an East Village apartment, I stood
in front of the narrow mirror attached to my broken closet door and saw an
older, messier version of myself staring back at me.
I wondered who the hell was she—a
distant relative, a long lost sibling, my ugly stepsister?
All of the above?
But then I was too distracted by the
sweat coming through my white blouse to be sure or to even care.
What am I thinking?
I look ridiculous.
Not even ice in a freezer could keep
cool in this heat.
Call and cancel.
Tell them there has been a death in the
isn’t going to work,” I called out.
“My makeup is running down my face, my hair looks like a hot mess
because of the humidity, and my clothes are starting to make the Hudson look
Why couldn’t I have found a
job in May or June?
I could be in a comfortable,
air-conditioned office right now, doing my work, making light chit-chat with my
elegant co-workers, laugh, laugh, laughing with them over the water cooler, and
getting something I’ll apparently never see in this city—a paycheck.
But, oh no!
For whatever reason, no one wants to
So, today, I’ll go and sit
in front of some other prickly HR professional who will judge me to be unworthy
and send me on my way.”
waited for a response, but none came.
grabbed a magazine off my bed and started to fan myself with it.
I walked to the doorway that entered
into the living room, and found my best friend and roommate, Lisa Ward, typing
at a quick clip on her MacBook Pro.
She was nearing the end of her second novel, which she’d upload to
Amazon in a few weeks.
success she enjoyed with her first book, which was an overall Top 100 best
seller, I knew my time with Lisa might be brief if this book also took
And I hoped it would, if only
Lisa had worked hard and
she deserved it.
At least one of us
could enjoy our lives.
awfully quiet,” I said.
because while you were in a full-on rant, I was taking notes.
I’m going to use that mother of a
tantrum for a scene in the new book.
You were brilliant.”
putting me in your book?”
in the book.”
me I’ll receive a royalty of some kind.”
about dinner out?
Like at a hot dog
We can afford that.”
I’m Raman-noodled out.”
pulled her blonde hair away from her face, wrapped it into a ponytail, and
turned to look at me.
Her skin was
shiny from the heat, but even from where I stood, it appeared poreless.
Lisa was one of those beautiful young
women who could go without makeup and still look chic.
She often said the same about me, though
I never believed it.
I’d never seen
what others saw in me.
wished I had Lisa’s confidence.
where is this interview?”
heard of it, but I’m not the business type.
What’s the job?”
you’ll love this.”
may have my master’s degree in business—you know, the one that has
sucker-punched me with forty thousand dollars’ worth of debt—but because
I’m essentially broke, I’m now going for a secretarial job.”
Wenn Enterprises is a
what I’m thinking.
If I can get my
foot in the door as a secretary, someone might see something in me, and in a
few months, I’ll have the job I’ve been seeking.”
told you I’d give you money.
book is doing well, and this one is better than the first one, so maybe it’ll
appreciate that, Lisa.
But I need
to get out of this mess on my own.
I still have a little left in savings.
Enough to pay for next month’s rent, but
then I don’t know what I’ll do.
I don’t get a job, I might have to go home.”
would you ever leave New York for Bangor, Maine?
Why would you ever go back to your toxic
They just bring you down.”
reality is that there is a bomb attached to my bank account, and it’s about
ready to explode.
I’ve been frugal
ever since we came here in May—no bars, no boys, no eating out, no new
clothes, not even a latte—and it turns out I did the right thing.
Otherwise, I would have been out of here
at the end of June.”
know,” she said, “maybe you should consider a waitressing job at one of the
city’s better restaurants.
could clean up there at night, and then you could look for a job during the day.
It wouldn’t be easy, but if there’s one
thing I know about you, Jennifer, it’s that you’re tireless.
The servers at some of the best
restaurants make serious money.
figures a year isn’t uncommon here—and not many of them look as good as
Stop underestimating your
I think you’re not getting a
job because you intimidate the women who are interviewing you.”
overlooked the comment.
didn’t see in the mirror what others saw in me.
Never had, never would.
“I’ve actually thought about
And I do have
experience, though hardly at a high-end restaurant.
Essentially, I shucked pizzas and beers
to get through college.”
held out her hands.
“What you got
at Pat’s is experience.
hires you will likely train you to serve their customers in the manner they
Think about it.
It would give you the money you need,
and allow you to look for a job during the day.
If this interview doesn’t work out, that
might be the magic bullet.”
“Sorry I freaked out
That shit was good.”
Her face softened, and she looked at me
“I just wish you
weren’t going through this.
it’s been difficult.
I’ve seen how
hard you’ve worked to find something.
It’ll happen at some point, but I’m as frustrated as you are that it
hasn’t happened yet.
You deserve a
a team,” I said.
the book coming?”
actually digging it.
are ferocious in this one.
I might have the first draft done by the end of this week, and then it’s all
about the editing, which is good, because editing is the best part.
You just slice and dice the words,
reassemble them, read and re-read, get the book into its best possible shape,
and put it out there.”