The playboy's virginBy: Mia Carson
Her hands shook as the elevator rode up from the lobby to the fifth floor, and she gripped the straps of her old, beat up, black leather bag. You can do this, Belle told herself firmly as she nodded at her reflection in the doors. You made it past the hard part. You nailed it. Now’s your chance.
A loud ding echoed around her, and she exhaled loudly. “Don’t blow it.”
The doors opened, and Belle stepped out into the busy stream of workers moving across the office floor. No one stopped to look at her, but most of them smiled when she passed. She recognized some of the faces of people who had interviewed her last week, but the one person she needed to see was not among them.
She glanced at the slip of paper in her hand and looked around the bustling floor. She’d never been here before. When she interviewed, they met at a coffee shop and she was simply told where to report on her first day. No signs pointed towards the HR office, and she tapped her booted foot, worried she’d be late because she couldn’t find the right office. She whipped around and ran straight into a guy wearing an AC/DC t-shirt, black jeans, and holding what had been a cup of coffee, now spilled down the front of his shirt.
“Damn it,” Belle said as she searched in her bag for something to clean his shirt, but the guy was laughing. “Really, I’m sorry. This is my first day interning, and I’m a little lost and nervous. I hope you didn’t really like that t-shirt.”
The white fabric soaked up the coffee, but the guy with the short, curly hair shrugged. “Could be worse. You said you’re lost?”
Belle blushed at his bright, cheery smile and the way his eyes did a quick scan of her body. She wore her best dress slacks that hugged her curves, as well as a blouse. No one had told her the office dress code, though after only a few minutes she’d figured out it was much more casual than she’d expected.
“Yes, I’m the new intern. Supposed to report to HR.”
“I can show you. Going that way myself. Name’s Tim,” he said and held out his hand.
She shook it and smiled. “Belle. What do you do here?”
“I’m one of the designers for the new MMO coming out, if we can ever get our asses in gear,” he muttered as they meandered through the other employees. “Having some technical difficulties with the design again.”
“You’re one of the graphic designers?” she asked excitedly and clutched her bag tighter.
“Yeah, it’s been pretty great the last two years. This company just took off, and we can’t get enough people in here with a lick of talent,” he grumbled. “You design?”
She shrugged. “It's what I’m in school for, but I haven’t really had a chance to showcase anything yet.”
“Well, if I have a few hours where I’m not slammed with work, maybe I can show you a few tricks,” he suggested casually. “And look at your work. Do you know who you’re interning under?”
“No, not yet,” she told him. “They said they would give me all the details here, but I’m getting credit and a small stipend. I’m not going to complain too much.” The stipend meant she could quit one of her two part-time jobs. “There might be a full-time position available when I graduate in May if I impress the right people.”
He grinned and stopped outside an all-glass wall office. “I hope so. You look like a fun person to work with. Well, here’s Kelly’s office,” he said happily. “See you around, Belle, and don’t take it personally if the guys give you a hard time. They do it to all the interns.”
“Even you?” she asked, and he laughed.
“Oh yeah, even me.” He waved and hurried down the hall. Two more guys met him, and they all looked at the tablets in each other’s hands.
Belle bounced on her feet with excitement. This place was crazy, and she loved it. One day, she might be able to help design one of the new MMOs for the fastest growing gaming company in the US, Greystone Games. She’d have a stable job and a stable life, and a career doing something she loved for a change.
After composing herself, she knocked on the door. Kelly called for her to come in. “Ah, Belle, there you are. Find the place alright?”
“Yes, Tim helped me get here,” she said.
Kelly smiled. “He’s a good man. One of our first employees, actually. Come in, sit down, and we’ll get you squared away.”
As she tapped on the keyboard for a few minutes, papers spewed out of the printer behind her desk. Belle glanced around her office, grinning. Posters and printouts of the company’s projects covered the walls, along with pictures of the employees at a costume party of some sort. In the middle of them was a tall man with a full beard and short hair. He grinned like a wolf on the prowl at the camera, and Belle squinted her eyes, studying him.
“Is that Greyson Taylor?” she asked.
Kelly glanced up and nodded with a smirk. “Yeah, that’s the boss man in all his glory, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of him.”
Belle’s head turned so fast, her hair fell loose around her shoulders. “I will? I thought I’d just be working with the techs or something… an underling.”
“You were, but Greyson just put in a request a few days ago for a new personal assistant to help him with his work and such, so you may even get your hands dirty on his latest project. His last one quit unexpectedly,” Kelly muttered as she cringed. “I’m going to murder that man.”
The words were uttered so quietly, Belle had a feeling she wasn’t supposed to hear them. She leaned back in her chair as her hands twisted in her lap. She hadn’t expected to meet the man in charge, at least not until later. She smoothed her blouse and tucked the loose strands of brown hair behind her ears. What would he think of her? Maybe she’d get a chance to show him what she was capable of doing for his company. The idea of presenting her work to the CEO—the man who could make or break her dreams—made her heart pound, and a ringing in her ears wouldn’t go away. She tugged at her blouse again and nodded when Kelly started going over rules of the office and pointed out a few lines where she needed to sign.
“And I’ll need your banking information so we can get you setup for direct deposit,” she explained to Belle, glancing at the computer screen. “Oh, and I meant to tell you, Greyson likes our office to be casual as far as dress. He says everyone works better if they’re wearing what’s comfortable.”
“I wasn’t sure,” Belle said as her lips twisted to the side. She glanced at her professional outfit, too dressy for this office, but Kelly laughed.
“I’m glad to see you taking initiative instead of acting like half the other idiots we deal with.”
“Do you get a lot of interns from Arizona State?”
“A few. The professors know how to pick ’em, usually,” she said with a wink and encouraging smile. “Trust me, you’ll do just fine here, and hopefully, in a few months, I’ll be offering you a full-time job.” She held out her hand, and Belle shook it, smiling. “Welcome to Greystone Games. Now, here’s your badge and parking pass for the garage.”
“Oh, I take the bus,” she said. Her cheeks warmed, and she cringed internally.
“Hold onto it anyway,” Kelly told her. “Standard issue. Greyson should be in his office, so I’ll walk you down there so you can get started.”
Belle picked up her bag and followed Kelly out of the office.
“You’ll have a desk outside his office,” Kelly explained as she walked. “This floor is for designers, marketers, and our legal team, if you can even call them that.” She nodded across the room to where five guys were playing hacky sack and laughing loudly.
Belle laughed. “That’s the legal team?”
“You should go down one floor and see our IT guys,” she grinned, shaking her head. “This place runs like a well-oiled machine, but most days, I can’t figure out how.”
Belle turned when the guys let out a boo as one of them dropped the hacky sack. She was really going to love working here. Everyone had their own space, and Kelly pointed out the section of the floor designated for the designers. Hammocks hung from the ceiling, couches were placed around the room, giant pillows on the floor, and pictures and models of designs everywhere. She spotted Tim chatting with someone, and he waved at Belle as they passed. Kelly told her the conference rooms were all on the next floor up and she didn’t even know why they had them.
“Greyson enjoys calling meetings in the middle of the floor and letting everyone do a free-for-all. There’s a projector hanging from the ceiling over there,” she said, nodding her head. “I hope you weren’t looking for a typical work environment.”
Belle’s cheeks hurt from smiling so much, and her heart fluttered. Finally, she’d found a place she’d be able to fit in and be herself. “No,” she said, “no, this is perfect.”
She’d always been a little odd, seeing things in ways others couldn’t, imagining new worlds and picturing them in her mind. Sketching helped her make it through all the foster homes she’d bounced around in until she was eighteen. When she discovered graphic design and knew she had found what she was meant to do, the competition for jobs was fierce. This was her first real chance to show the world what she could do. Her professors had faith in her. She hoped she wouldn’t lose her nerve and fail. This was her last semester in college, and she needed the internship.