All About Them/C1 Chapter 01
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All About Them/C1 Chapter 01
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C1 Chapter 01


I’m lying again. It’s not the first time and it’s certainly not going to be the last time. This is wrong, so wrong, but I so can’t help myself. Lindsey and I have always been close, and now I’m treating her like she doesn’t mean anything to me, as if she suddenly turned into a distant acquaintance, just a coworker.

After all, she is a very good secretary and I respect her, but my father is standing right in front of me and the lies are necessary to save my own arse. She can always get a new job, but I can’t lose my father’s respect. He is a cold hard man who is al-ways so overbearing, treating me like I’m beneath him.

“I don’t know anything about that meeting, Mr. Harrison. I have no knowledge of this client. I’m sorry if I missed putting him on your daughter’s schedule,” Lindsey mumbles, looking at me with those large brown eyes. The truth is that I’m a coward; I’m willing to sacrifice this friendship for some semblance of respect. I’m like a dog begging for scraps; I’ll do anything for one tiny morsel.

This is my only chance to tell Dad what happened. I did have a meeting with George Wilkinson penciled in for this morning. I promised to discuss his case over breakfast, but I was out partying the night before and I completely forgot about it. There was just no way I could have attended, not after I woke up with the nastiest hangover I have ever had in my entire life.

Lindsey is going to hate me for what I’m going to say next.

“No, I specifically told you to put it in my calendar. This is one of our most im-portant clients,” I say, feeling shitty about this whole thing. “Dad, you know that yes-terday evening I was working on Singh’s case, and things got out of control. If I had known about the meeting, this whole thing could have been easily avoided.”

Lindsey opens her mouth, probably to argue with me, but no sound comes out. She pales, but I ignore her, pretending that she is the only person that my father should blame. That tiny voice in my head is screaming at me to tell the truth, to save her job. This isn’t a joke. George Wilkinson was Dad’s most significant client, and when I didn’t show up this morning to discuss his divorce case, he was furious and threatened to take his business elsewhere.

My father exhales sharply and the muscles around his jaw begin to throb. He built his law practise from scratch, even when he had to sacrifice time with his family. When I was younger he barely noticed me. He and Mum were divorced for years, but I always hoped that he would come around and start giving her some of his valuable time.

“Lindsey, you can pack your stuff. You’re fired. George is one of our most im-portant clients and if you think that being forgetful is acceptable in this practice, then you can find a job elsewhere,” he states, obviously forcing himself to remain calm, but I know that deep down he’s ready to explode. Crap, this is all my fault. At least I should attempt to defuse the situation.

“Dad, no, come on. Isn’t that a bit harsh? Lindsey is a fantastic paralegal. It’s a simple mistake,” I say. Panic seizes my lungs. I can’t lose Lindsey, not when I’m in the middle of this big case. I need to show her that I’m still willing to fight for her.

“No, Dora, you need to find yourself someone else and I have to try to repair the damage. I’m disappointed, Miss Connelly. I’ve always believed that you showed tre-mendous potential,” Dad adds, shaking his head, totally unaware that it’s not Lind-sey’s fault, but mine. He shoots me an angry look and storms away, walking towards his corridor, leaving Lindsey and me alone.

This is going to be awkward.

“Dora, we both know that you didn’t tell me about the appointment. You know that I wouldn’t dare to forget something so important. Why did you just lie to your father?” she asks with an icy cold tone of voice. I look away, wanting to close my eyes and imagine that I’m on a sunny beach somewhere in the Bahamas. Oh God, I’m such a bad person.

“I did tell you, Lindsey, and these accusations are terrible. I would never lie to my father,” I say, feigning annoyance in my high-pitched tone. The guilt bruises my in-tegrity, but I always keep my head high. I find it easy to lie; in fact, I rarely tell the truth, and I know I will have to change that someday.

“Stop it, Dora, stop lying. You do that all the time—make stuff up, lie until you can’t remember your own story,” she hisses, stepping closer and grabbing my elbow, so this time I can’t do anything but look directly into her eyes. “I thought that we were friends, not just coworkers. This isn’t a joke. This is my life. If you have even a shred of integrity left in you, then you’ll go to your father right now and tell him the truth.”

Her words are hurtful, but I’m panicking, even now, at the thought of facing my father again. I’m too weak for the truth.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Lindsey. We were never friends. I need to go and find a new paralegal, so please leave me alone,” I tell her, pulling away from her grip.

“The lies will catch up with you eventually, Dora, but by then it will be too late,” she calls after me as I walk to my office, trying to hide.

My breathing becomes short and shallow and my palms are sweaty. What if she’s right? What if there is a place in hell for me already, and the devil is waiting? I need to let this go, not get into my head. She stares at me for a while, then vanishes into the bathroom, probably to cry a little. A cold shiver runs down my spine. It’s a shame that all the offices on this floor have glass doors. I can’t even escape my father’s an-gry stare. He is watching me from the other side of the floor and I have a feeling he knows that I lied to him. This isn’t the worst day in my life, but I’d say it’s in the top ten. Word about Lindsey will spread fast and by this afternoon people will know that I didn’t even try to save her job.

I shuffle the papers on my desk trying to appear busy, trying to push away the panic attack that is building, the fact that I can’t take being the bad person. Something has to change. It’s not easy to keep going the way I am.

Lindsey appears half an hour later, with puffy eyes. Another secretary helps her pack while I work. They whisper solemnly to each other, glancing at me from time to time. At least I should try to talk to her, but I’m a coward. I can’t even give her five minutes. An hour later, all her stuff is gone, and I know that the next few days with-out her will be manic. I have so many cases that need to be prepared and without her I’ll get lost.

Years ago when Dad decided to remarry after he divorced Mum, he moved to London. When I graduated from Braxton University he asked me to work for him. I had just ended things with Jacob, the man that I loved, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Things were difficult, and I was drowning. My depression hit its lowest point, and I needed a change. I hated Dad’s second wife, I hated the fact that he paid more attention to her than he ever did to me, but in the end I took his offer.

Many people in his practise thought my job was handed to me on a silver platter. It took me a while to prove to them that I was a good solicitor, that I hadn’t wasted my time at University. Real life was hard, though, and I knew I would disappoint my Dad if I sometimes made mistakes, and so it was easy to lie, to make stuff up to cover my failings. When I wasn’t telling the truth, Dad paid attention and he interacted with me more, and I felt like we finally had a connection. The truth was too raw, too real, too much of an embarrassment to him. The fake me was better than the real me.

“Hey, loser, there’s a party in Chelsea tonight. You coming?” Mike, one of the as-sociates asks, popping his head into my office several hours later, after I have recov-ered from the Lindsey debacle and am much calmer. I had been working solid since Lindsey’s departure, hoping to get stuff done.

“Of course, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. What time can you get us out of here?” I ask, beaming, already forgetting about the work that I have to go through to-night. The responsible thing to do would be to stay late and prepare for tomorrow. I have a few meetings with new clients and I should be going over their files. Normally Lindsey would help me out, but now that my father got rid of her, I’m on my own.

Mike, who is also my good friend, looks at me intensely. He must already know that Lindsey was sacked earlier on.

“Fabulous. Rumour has it that there will be a few hot rugby players out tonight too,” he adds, with a wink. “Jessica told me that you shagged Robin Teddly the other night. Please tell me it’s true!”

I shift in my seat, remembering that I made up that lie to impress some rich girl the other day. If I want to keep my reputation I need to keep going with this story.

“Oh yes, totally, but between you and me, he quickly turned into a possessive needy idiot,” I say, aware that the urge to press something sharp over my skin is fad-ing slowly. Mike looks impressed and my pulse stops racing all of a sudden. For some reason the lies heal me. I find validation in the fake me, the popular smart and funny me, the me that my dad likes.

“Lucky you. Well, I told Paul earlier on that you wouldn’t miss this kind of party for the world. Someday you need to introduce me to a fabulously hot guy. I’ve been single for too long,” Mike continues saying, with that familiar gleam in his eye. Mike doesn’t know that the only hot rugby player I ever dated was Jacob Radcliffe. He was the only person that ever kept me on my toes. I know he has done well for himself. Jacob attracted media attention as a part of the England national rugby team. I haven’t seen him for five years, and I often wonder how it would be if we were still together.

“Stick with me, and I’m sure that I can hook you up,” I tell him. I clear my throat loudly when one of the biggest gossiping bitches in the company passes through my door. Laura Jones. I fucking hate her face. She is so far up my father’s arse that she is licking his tonsils. She’s most likely trying to find out what happened to Lindsey.

Mike nods and tells me he will pick me up later. He knows that I’m going to tell him everything once I’ve had a few glasses of wine. We’ve been friends since he joined my father’s practise. As I predicted, the news about Lindsey’s departure has spread around the office pretty quickly. By late afternoon everyone seems to know that Lindsey made a mistake and got let go, because of me.

The gut-wrenching guilt hangs over me when I rush home at bang on six, not wanting to stay a minute longer in the office. The constant itch that lingers under my skin got worse as the day went on and the need to cut my skin and purge myself of the guilt has been hanging over my head. I’m in one of those moods today, wanting to release the tension, to get rid of the guilt. Sometimes I wonder why I’m even in this world. No one cares about me. My father treats me like I don’t exist most of the time, and most men only call when they want to get laid. My life is empty and sad, but on the surface all my friends think that I’m rich, happy and very much in love with life. Yeah, I’m that pathetic sometimes.

I rent an apartment in a decent part of London on the top floor. I used to live in Essex, but when Mum convinced me to take the job with Dad, that part of my life was over. She wanted to move on too. She started seeing this guy that worked with insur-ance, so in the end I have to do something with my own life. I graduated and then completed my law practise course and started a new life in London.

After I get home, I strip, run a bath and push the bad memories away. When the water is warm enough, I slide in, relaxing. My head throbs with pain.

For a moment I stare at the small red marks on my thighs that show my release. I am careful with my punishment. I make sure I use a clean razor blade to deal with my pain when I can’t take the pressure or when everything is falling apart.

Do I wish I didn’t do it? Absolutely, but I just can’t seem to stop.

At around half seven I’m ready to hit the city, dressed in a short white dress with lace that covers part of my cleavage. My head is still all over the place and I keep thinking of Lindsey. There is no doubt that she will find another job; she’s smart enough, but I have lost not only a great secretary, but also a person that I used to con-fide in. We bonded, and she was always there for me.

Half an hour later I’m out the door, telling myself that after tonight she will be just a distant memory. It’s eight o’clock and the taxi driver drops me outside the large townhouse somewhere in Chelsea. When I’m around people, I never show any weakness. I’m always confident, bubbly, and opinionated. It’s not the real me; the re-al me isn’t good enough for these people so I don my mask and pretend to be what they want me to be.

Mike and Lucy are already waiting for me outside. I texted them five minutes ago. Lucy is a girl that I met on one of the house parties a while ago. She knows pretty much everyone in this area, so she’s a good person to be hanging out with.

“Wow, check you out, that dress is hot, hot, hot, girl. You need to show me this posh boutique that we were talking about the other day,” Lucy shouts, hugging me enthusiastically. Nature has blessed her with long legs and beautiful skin, whereas I needed a few hours to look amazing tonight.

“Yeah, I would love to. Maybe add some cheeky cocktails to that,” I say, when she finally lets go of me.

“Mmmm, I like the sound of that. Mike, you in?” she asks, turning to face Mike who is rolling his eyes.

“Yes, I’m in, but we can discuss this later. Right now I want to know if you ladies are ready to rock this party?”

“Hell yeah, I need to get laid tonight,” Lucy says, and then we all enter the build-ing. The porter in concierge directs us to the lift. It looks like the rugby player that lives here is loaded. He seems to have the entire top floor for himself.

Mike knocks and a moment later a hot guy in a white T-shirt lets us inside the par-ty. We are bang on time. Men and women are standing in the living room chatting. The music is playing and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. My social anxie-ty kicks me right in the chest, but I put the brave face on and head straight to the kitchen to get some alcohol into me. The apartment is spacious, every detail finished to the highest standard exuding luxury; large windows show the cityscape in all its glory. Lucy starts greeting some blonde bimbos by hugging them over by the fire-place, shouting and screaming. Mike disappears somewhere, probably hunting for his next date. I feel so out of place here. I am a complete fraud, from the fake smile on my face to the attitude that these people expect me to have.

In the kitchen, spirits bottles are set on the massive breakfast bar and people help themselves to everything. An Asian guy with a cute smile asks me if I fancy some shots. I nod, knowing that I’ll be much more relaxed if I have a few. We have a laugh, talk about the latest gossip in the city, and I quickly forget that I had a shitty day.

Someone has set up a DJ mix desk in the corner of the room and starts mixing some great tunes. As I head back to the living room I start to feel braver, the shots settling in my system making me feel good about this whole evening. After half an hour and a few more shots of tequila, it seems my empty stomach is no longer agree-ing with the liquor, so I wander further into the house searching for a bathroom be-fore I embarrass myself. I should have eaten something before I left. Now I’m paying the price.

I finally find Mike in the living room and ask him to point me to the bathroom. Apparently he has been at this apartment before, for another party.

“The last door on the right, and OMG … your jaw will drop when you see it. Even the toilet looks amazing. I’m telling you, the owner has to be gay; there is no way he has such a good taste being straight,” he says. “Make sure to introduce me if you find him. I want a sugar daddy!” Throwing his head back, he laughs at his own joke.

I roll my eyes and head down the long corridor. I wander for some time, getting a bit dizzy. My stomach revolts, so I rush through the bathroom door on my right, hop-ing not to throw up. I stop frozen when I realise that I’m in someone’s bedroom, not the bathroom. There is a couple on the large bed, tangled up together, sheets mussed and clothes half removed, obviously about to have sex. She’s on top of him, still in her bra and his hands are on her hips.

“What the hell? Can’t you see I’m busy? Get the fuck out!” shouts the voice that I instantly recognise. My heart flips, and then all the old memories come crashing down on me, forming a ball of sadness when I realise that it’s Jacob, my Jacob. The man I pushed away five years ago—the man I will always love.

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