“Raven-Jay get down here now!” my mother’s voice floated up to me where I stood in my bedroom, rifling through the pile of clothes my mother had left out for me for my first day as an intern at the local CC business centre. I couldn’t help from rolling my eyes as my mother kept shouting up at me from the bottom of the stairs. Seriously, it wasn’t as if the world would end if I took 5 more minutes piecing together a suitable outfit from the horrendous shirts, pants and skirts my mother had thought appropriate. I really wanted to make a good impression on my boss. Maybe if he seen that I was eager and willing he would give me a full term job. Wouldn’t that show all the people I went to school with that I wasn’t the loser that they claimed I was for so long? Maybe if I made a success of myself Mark would regret dumping me in front of our entire class and humiliating me completely the week before graduation 5 months ago. I somehow doubted it very much but hey, a girl can dream. I found myself reaching back and touching the small blue heart on the back of my neck. I had gotten it the week after Mark broke up with me to remind myself how damaging love could be. Okay, so I was never really in love with him, I’d tried to convince myself I was on a number of occasions, but I did like him and I had thought that we were going to last. I guess I was stupid and naïve but who can really blame me; he was my first ever boyfriend for crying out loud and we had been dating for almost 3 years.
“Rave-“my mother’s voice came from so much closer this time. It was obvious that she had been in mid-rant when she entered my room but when her eyes fell upon my scantily clad form her words froze. My back was to her so I have no idea what froze her first, it could have been the fact that I was only wearing my underwear while I searched for some work clothes or more likely the fact that my body now had 3 permanent tattoos that my parents had no clue about up until now. My parents really had no idea what happened in my life since they’d stopped using me to try and make a good impression at their church when I was 12. Don’t get me wrong my parents had never been overly involved in my life but at least up until I became too snarky to be of any use to them I still got to see them for at least 3 hours a week. That had been a guarantee that I had always looked forward to when I was younger. I had always thought that there was something wrong with me when they refused to be actively involved in my life but looking back now I’ve realized that there was never anything wrong with me; they were just negligent.
“Can I help you, Mother?” I sneered, deliberately calling her mother instead of mom because I knew that it annoyed her. I was rewarded with an annoyed sigh escaping her lips as I spun around and tried to cover myself and my tattoos at the same time.
The shirt, pants and sweater combination that I had picked out just before my mom walked into my room lay slightly aside on my bed so I made a grab for them. I began trying to pull them on as quickly as I possibly could which was kind of hard because the shirt had lost of tiny little buttons as I waited on my mother’s usual haughty reply. Instead, she surprised me by staying silent until I had fully dressed myself and was straitening my clothes in my tall standing mirror.
“You look very pretty today Raven-Jay” my mother said calmly, her voice sounding almost bored. I was so surprised by her turnaround that I couldn’t make any words come out which was probably a good thing because the next words out of my mother’s mouth completely ruined the good mood she had just put me in.
“Now hurry yourself up or you will be late. It was bad enough that you took that internship against mine and your father’s wishes but I will be damned if I let you this waste this ungodly opportunity” My mother’s voice het up as she spoke as it always did whenever I did something that she viewed that went against her precious church ‘rules’. Suffice to say I had heard that tone from her more times than I cared to remember in my 19 years on this earth.
“It is hardly ungodly” I whispered under my breath hoping that she wouldn’t hear me because I knew if she did it would end up in an argument between us and our arguments could last for several hours which I really didn’t have the time for today.
“Everything that man touches is ungodly, including that business” my mother sneered at me. ‘That man’ as she’d called him was my new boss Cameron Conner, the CC from the name of my new office. As well as being a very successful business tycoon Mr Connors was also a very well-known atheist which was why my parents were so against me taking this internship in the first place; I think they were afraid of me being touched by the ‘evil’ that apparently surrounded Mr Connors. I had only met Mr Connors once when he came to my school when I was a kid but he seemed like a very nice man although I couldn’t really tell because I didn’t know him personally. One thing I did know though is that if he was indeed evil like my parents said he was it certainly wasn’t because he didn’t have god.
“Whatever you say mother” I sighed because I knew that I had no time to get into an argument with her about something as trivial as this. It was only a job! I wasn’t going to change because of it. I could see the wheels turning in my mother’s head as she tried to come up with a suitable retort that would no doubt entice me into an argument with her which would make me late for work which, despite what she had said earlier, was exactly what my mother wanted. She would really do anything to stop me from doing something she didn’t approve of. I rolled my eyes again before I skirted around my mother’s small, but intimidating, frame to get into the hall. I didn’t look back as I walked down the hallway and then down the stairs even though I could hear her following me. The front door was open and I was half out, thinking I had made it through this encounter relatively unscaved when my mother opened her mouth again.
“We will speak about what you have done to your body later” my mother’s voice floated straight into my ear even thought she had spoken so quietly that I shouldn’t have been able to hear her.
I flinched as the full depth of her words hit me but I made myself keep walking until I reached the car my parents had given me as a graduation present. I wasn’t even fair to call this piece of junk a car. It was second hand when my parents bought it for me and it was in a terribly state but I guess that is all they thought I deserved. At least it got me where I wanted to go and offered me an escape if I needed one, although I doubted it would go very far.
Even as I opened the door and slid inside I could hear it beginning to creak like it always had for as long as I’d had it. The drive to my new work place was not a long one and I found myself wishing that it could’ve last a little longer so I had more time to prepare myself for what was to come. Regardless of how I was with my parents I was really, painfully, shy to the point that I could barely even look up at people I didn’t know. I had always been shy but it gotten so much worse when I started getting bullied in school. The bullying was actually so bad that I spent my lunch time hidden in the bathroom where I knew none of the bullies would look for me. It was only when Mark asked me out that I was able to put in place the tough girl persona that I was still, to this very day, hiding behind. That was the real reason I had agreed to go out with Mark in the first place; because he was popular and I knew that if I was with him the bullying would stop. I had never expected to actually start liking Mark as a person rather than a means to an end but it had happened and then he had dumped me like yesterday’s trash. I glanced down quickly at the clock on my dash and found that I still had a whole 20 minutes before I had to be in the office for the first time. My whole body was shaking I was so nervous. Could I really do this? What if I went in there and made a complete fool of myself? All my fears were beginning to pile up inside my head. It was getting so bad that it was almost crippling which I knew would eventually happen if I did not make myself calm down. I had gotten like this when I had gone to speak with the boss’ son after I had gotten the letter offering me the internship in the first place and my dad had been forced to go in with me. I had chosen my dad because he was far less judgemental than my mother and he was better at keeping his thoughts to himself whereas my mother wouldn’t have stopped from going on about how much she hated the Connors family and their whole empire. My dad may have hated them just as much as my mother did but he sat in silence during the whole process and held my hand when I needed him to for extra support. Just thinking about my dad eased the tension in my body enough that I was able to move again.
I could do this! I could so this! I repeated to myself in a repetitive rhythm whilst I began to walk around the block. Walking always calmed me. I wasn’t really sure why it had that effect on me but it just always had. I set a brisk pace for myself and planned my route in minute detail. With every step I took I felt the layers of tension just melt away. It couldn’t be as scary as I was making it out to be! Nothing could! With that in mind I sped up and walked the last couple of feet until I was back in front of the doors of CC Business Centre. I braced myself for a couple of seconds outside of the door. I could do this! I had to be brave and prove everyone wrong about me!
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes briefly in an effort to reassure myself that I could indeed do this but I must have had my eyes closed for too long because I heard light footsteps approaching me followed by a smooth male voice asking if I was okay. My eyes flew open despite myself and I found myself staring directly into the deep brown eyes of Mr Cameron Connor Junior, the owner’s son. I guess the name thing was a tradition or something because Mr Connors Senior had apparently inherited his name from his father too and so on and so forth. My head automatically dropped so that I was staring so hard into the ground that there should have been holes there.
“M…M…Mr Connors sir, I am so sorry” I whispered to the ground. I was unable to lift my head to stare at him but that did not stop me from trying. Years of my parent’s lessons on politeness and manners were instilled within me and I felt horrible to be going against them.
“That’s quite alright. Oh, and please, call me Cameron. Mr Connors is my father”
Mr Connors Junior Cameron spoke softly, quietly laughing at his own joke as he finished. A part of me, probably the part that my parents had drilled into me, urged me to laugh with him so that he didn’t feel awkward but when I did it just came out as a sort of coughing sound because of how nervous I was.
“I just…It’s my first day today and…” I began between coughs. I had planned on saying so much more but Cameron cut me off. I was actually quite glad that he cut in when he did because I had no doubt that I would end up rambling and embarrassed myself further.
“Oh, your first day is it? And what, may I ask, is your name?” Cameron asked softly. His voice was so kind and made me feel slightly more comfortable in his presence than I had been before. He really wasn’t as intimidating as I had always thought him to be; he was just a normal guy.
“I…I’m R…Raven-Jay M…Marone. I’m the new Intern on floor 1” I managed to look up at him as I spoke which surprised me greatly. I had never been able to get this comfortable around a new person as quickly as this before.
“Oh…M…Miss Marone I didn’t…I didn’t recognise you. You look…different than you did last time I saw you” now it was Cameron’s turn to stutter and act all shy which confused me. What did he have to be shy about? He was one of the most eligible bachelors in Redcliff’s. Unless… was he suddenly so shy because he had been caught forgetting an employee’s entire identity, especially one who was going to be working on the same floor as him for at least the next year or so? I really wanted to ask him but I knew that it would be extremely rude to do so instead what slipped out of my mouth was “Yeah, I…um…dyed my hair since then”. It was pathetic and completely stupid but unfortunately that was what I was reduced too when I was out of my comfort zone.
“Shall we head up then?” Cameron’s answer to my stupidity came several long moments later. By this time he sounded back to how he did when this slightly odd conversation first began with no sign of his earlier shyness. For that I was thankful; it was bad enough with my crippling shyness, I didn’t need anyone else having to experience that too because of me.
“I…I…I guess” I tried to say clearly but between the fact that my voice was shaking so badly and that my stutter that stemmed from my shyness had returned it was really hard to make out what I was saying. I really needed to get a handle on this shyness before it destroyed my life even more than it already had but my parents refused to let me go and get professional help. They said that there was nothing wrong with me because if there were God would have fixed it. I was seriously cursed to live like this because my stupid parents were too idiotic to realize that I actually did need professional help and not just help from God.
“It’s okay RJ you don’t have to be nervous about it. There are only 3 people, 4 including yourself, working on our floor. Your dad spoke with me about how shy you were so I made sure my dad put you to work on the quietest floor there is. It also doesn’t hurt that I coincidently happen to be placed on that floor too” Cameron smirked down at me, his eyes alive with humour. I didn’t know what I was more surprised with, the fact that he’d called me RJ without any prompting or the fact that my dad had went against his beliefs (and my mother’s wishes) and spoke to one of the Connors for me. At that moment I wanted to call my dad up and tell him I loved him. He may have been negligent and distant most of the time but he certainly did pull through in situations where he figured I wouldn’t be able to cope. In that respect my dad was a much better parent than my mother.
“You called me RJ?” I finally asked.
“Yeah, I hope that’s okay? It’s just that your full name is kind of a mouthful and shortening it to just Raven or Jay didn’t feel right” Cameron gave me a sheepish smile that I just couldn’t resist. I felt slightly giddy from his new nickname for me. I had never had a nick-name before; I’d always been just Raven-Jay. I was sort of refreshing and nice.
“I’ll make you a deal, you can call me RJ if I can call you Cam” my voice came out sounding stronger and more like how it had sounded with my mother this morning. That would have shocked me normally but so many things had already shocked me so much today that I was in a constant state of disbelief now.
“Deal” Cameron replied happily. He stuck his hand out so that we could shake on it. Without hesitation I grabbed his outstretched hand and shook it firmly. I really like this guy already. There was just something really likeable and trustworthy about him.
Still holding onto my hand, Cameron began pulling me towards the office and I found that I didn’t resist. He started talking as we walked along the hallway but I didn’t hear a single word that came out if his mouth. The hallway was a fairly normal one with beige walls and carpeted floors in a dark shade of blue-grey.
“-that’s old Ronny for you, although you should probably call him Ronald to his face, and last but not least is Corrin. I would suggest not pushing any of her buttons because she is very dedicated to her job and I’ve heard she has a real bad temper” Cameron laughed to himself at some private joke that only he knew. I had finally tuned into what he was saying as we approached the door leading into our new office but I wish I hadn’t because now I was feeling more confused than I had been before.
“Um…what? Sorry I wasn’t really paying attention” I mumbled as quietly as I could possibly be. I felt myself beginning to blush at my own stupidity so I lowered my head again in hopes that he wouldn’t see.
“Oh, I was just saying that on this floor is me, who you have already met of course, old Ronald who has been working for my dad since the very beginning and Corrin. Unfortunately you’ll only get to meet Ronny today because dad’s got Corrie upstairs working on his floor this week. She’s the best so she gets moved around quite a lot” Cameron replied steadily without missing a beat. He was using that same soothing tone that he’d used on me earlier which made me wonder how much my dad had actually told him about me. How much did my dad actually see that I didn’t know about?
“Corrie and Ronny?” I asked in disbelief. I’d never pegged this as a place where people gave their co-workers nicknames. Maybe I was wrong.
“I give everyone I work with a nickname- even if they don’t like it or want me too” Cameron’s answer was accompanied by a school boyish grin. How could be completely serious and soothing in one second and the next be joking around? I had never been around someone who could switch emotions so quickly before.
“You are such a kid” I found myself giggling. It wasn’t long before my normal senses kicked in reminded me that this was my boss’ son and I shouldn’t be making fun of him whether he wanted me too or not. I mentally chastised myself whilst I waited for Cameron to tell me off out loud. Instead he feigned a hurt look before he too burst into laughter.
“You and I are gonna get on great RJ, I can just tell” he spoke as his laughter finally died off. His voice was still filled with humour though.
He gave me a huge grin and it looked like he was going to same something else but before he could his phone began ringing. He answered it after a split second hesitation. I couldn’t really tell what the conversation was about but from Cameron’s tone it sounded very formal. Finally Cameron was finished but he still had the serious look that he’d had whilst he was on the phone.
“I’m really sorry RJ but I’ve been called upstairs. My dad has to step out for a few hours so I have to fill in for him. I’ll be back at lunch so just wait here and I’ll come and get you.” His voice was rushed and I could tell how desperate he was to get going so I just nodded my head and pretended I was okay with being left on my own down here. Cameron made it to the office door before he turned back around and spoke to me a final time.
“Have fun” he said, and then he was gone. Yeah, have fun. I very much doubted that was a serious possibility but I would try.