Chapter 1 - It's Almost Fate

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The sun shone brightly through the towering windows, a glare reflecting off Mia's computer screen. The office was quiet in the early morning—an occasional telephone ring here, a sequence of keyboard clicks there. Everyone knew, however, that come twelve o'clock that noon, all hell would break loose: afternoon deadlines threatening the careers of all, especially Mia's.

But the sleepless writer sat at her desk relaxed, her hands around a warm cup of coffee. A teaspoon of brown sugar without any cream—just how she liked it. A plain, whole wheat bagel sat beside her mouse, cream cheese stored in a small plastic container nearby. Mia took a sip of her joe while it was still piping hot, her leg crossed over the other as she watched her co-workers arrive, some later than others.

It was fifteen minutes past nine when a blonde stumbled in, her once crisped, white collared blouse now wrinkled and untucked from her navy blue slacks. She nearly missed her swivel chair to Mia's left, sliding an inch away before recomposing herself and grabbing on to the edge of her desk for support.

"Morning, Ines," Mia greeted. "Woke up late again?"

Ines Lombardi kicked off her sneakers and socks, quickly putting on a tall pair of nude heels afterward. She dumped the items into a large drawer under her desktop and took out a pile of makeup from her bag. With a steady hand, she opened her mascara and compact powder, carefully coating her lashes with the help of the tiny mirror.

"Worse," she replied, her mouth hanging open as she applied the product. "I came all the way from Will's."

Mia furrowed her eyebrows and let out a short gasp. "All the way from Brooklyn?" Her co-worker nodded, violently blinking after she had managed to poke the corner of her eye with the mascara wand. "Sounds like things are getting pretty serious."

"Yup." Grabbing a lipstick tube, Ines rolled it around her pale lips that immediately turned a bright red. "What's up with you, though? You seem chill."

"If chill means sleepy, yes. I stayed up all night finishing that stupid lifestyle article so that I could submit it early. At least I have time for coffee now." Mia took another sip, enjoying the bitter brew off her tongue.

"You hated it that much? You got to go to Chicago for a weekend! That doesn't seem so stupid to me."

"I'm just a little tired of this kind of stuff, you know? I wanna write more adventure. Investigate crevasses unknown, solve a corruption case, I dunno!"

Ines pursed her lips together and looked at Mia disapprovingly. "You're the one who accepted the promotion, sis. Not me."

Mia sighed and put her coffee down, tapping her mauve-painted nails against the surface of her pearly white desk. She rested her head in her hand, her palm securely tucked under her chin. Just as she began to organize her thoughts, the phone on her desk rang, and she waited for it to ring a second time before answering.

"Upper End Magazine," Mia said in a tone that was just a hair short from jolly. "This is Mia Cunningham."

"It's Tanya. I need you in my office right now, please." And the line cut, a dial tone succeeding. Mia hung up and pushed her chair back, standing up and fixing the length of her red pencil skirt. She also pressed down the sleeves of her blush pink blouse and took in a deep breath before leaving.

"Trouble," Ines teased.

"Yeah, yeah." Mia brushed it off and walked towards the glass door at the other end of the office. The frosted design was high enough to challenge Mia's petite stance: high enough that she had to hop on the tips of her toes to check if Tanya was there. Then, she knocked.

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