Chapter 1

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I smooth my hands down my pencil skirt and gray tailored, jacket before touching up my dark lipstick in the hall mirror with a look of resignation. My eyes scan and check my tawny hair is neat and sleek in its high bun and I scrutinize my reflection again, to make sure it's precise. Sighing once more, I take a steadying breath trying to ready myself, pushing down the gnawing ache of anxiety and nerves deep inside my gut.

I'll do.

I look as good as I know I'm capable of, and I'm mildly satisfied with what I see before me; a cool, efficient image of cold poise and gray tailoring that exudes authority, with no hint of the turmoil of emotion inside me. I narrow my eyes to look for any flaws to my immaculate armor, any stray hairs, specks of dust, or creased fabric, and find none.

I've never been a lover of my own reflection, with my young appearance, cool blue eyes, and pouting lips, but nothing is out of place and I look right for my new role as personal assistant to my very high-profile boss. Professional and capable on the outside which I guess is what matters, calm and uncompromising with every detail in place and clothes flawlessly neat. I have always been good at shielding the truth about how I feel inside.

I slide on my stilettos with a slow careful motion, keeping my balance with one hand on the wall and hearing the movement in the room behind me, I check the mirror in response.

"Morning, Ems ... God, you look professional as always." Sarah stifles a yawn as she wanders from her room and rubs her eyes with the back of her fist childishly as I watch her in the reflection behind me. It's unusual for her to be up this early on her day off; Sarah's never been a lover of mornings for as long as I've known her.

She's wearing her baggy pink housecoat, and her messy, short, bleached blonde hair is sticking up at all angles from her head; casually loveable as always, and I am warmed with affection for that bundle of happy energy. Her bright blue eyes are heavy with early morning fatigue and she's watching me closely with a silly smile on her face. A little too closely for my liking.

"Good morning, Sarah." I smile lightly, I try to ignore the way she's looking at me and straighten up to stand tall. I turn, lifting my briefcase from the floor in front of me and head forward into our open plan apartment. Ever conscious of my grace and mannerisms under scrutiny, even in front of her, and push out the sense of tightness in my nerves today; swallow down the listlessness and try extremely hard to curb the swirling of my stomach.

"Remember you need to be here for ten o'clock ... the boiler repair." I remind her as she shuffles along behind me to the living room area, trying to distract her from the open gawking she seems to be doing. Running through my schedule in my head like a mental checklist to give me something else to think about, besides my uneasiness today.

"I know. I know! You left me a memo on the fridge remember?" she giggles childishly and throws me a patient look, raising a brow with an almost indulgent expression. She looks much younger than her age and sometimes I forget we went to school together. I'm more like her guardian than her roommate nowadays, but maybe I always did, if I am being honest. I sigh again, pushing down the tight knot of apprehension growing inside and give her a small smile of bravado.

"Don't forget." I sound stern, but she doesn't react, she's used to my serious tone and my endless organization of our lives. She knows this is the way I do things; my need to be in control and have everything just so makes me feel more capable.

"I won't. I swear ... I'm not working until tonight, so I'm going to stick around and chillax ... Watch some back-to-back Netflix." She moves lazily in the bright white and gray kitchen to the side of me and begins making herself a coffee. Lifting the mug I washed earlier this morning from the rack for herself, with another sleepy bright smile. I watch her casual, confident movements around the space; her domain when she's at home, and it gives me a sense of calm.

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