Authors: Melody Banks
Naughty Little Secrets
By Melody Banks
All Rights Reserved
Are you in – or are you out?
The terms were simple. I had to go all-in, or the game was over.
I’d never played at anything like this before – did I have the nerve?
I wasn’t like the girls he normally dated. Nicholas Colby could have his pick of women – and he usually picked the ones who looked like they belonged on a catwalk, or in the pages of a
catalog. Not girls like me – ordinary girls who didn’t always have the best hair day or say the right thing. And I was reasonably sure I was the only woman he’d ever pursued who had a Weight Watchers membership.
He said he liked my curves. Wanted to trace every inch of them…
But should I let him? I had never done anything like this before. Never been with a man like him. And as much as I was thrilled, I was also terrified. Because Nick Colby was the kind of man who played for keeps – in the boardroom
And this was the kind of game that could only have one winner.
Should I risk it all and go for broke? Or would the game be over before it even started?
And if I risked it all, would I be the one to lose?
One week earlier)
“Sorry to make you work on your day off,” my boss, Mariah said, shutting the door to her office with a loud thud. “But two people called in sick
and everyone else was busy. You know how it is.”
Boy, did I ever.
This was the third time she’d done this to me in two weeks. When I would I learn to stop answering the phone when work called? Never mind. It wasn’t like I had any exciting plans. Besides, I could use the extra money.
Working the night shift at
Brown-Eyed Girl Magazine
was easy, if incredibly dull. We were an online publication, our new content went up every night on our popular website between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m.
I’d been working here for three years, and I’d still yet to move up the ranks. I
wasn’t a “guest columnist” like my best friend, Katie. Despite taking on several voluntary (read: unpaid) assignments, and turning in various test articles, Mariah had yet to give me a chance to write for the magazine.
t sucked, because I had a degree in journalism, a filing cabinet full of old clips, and here I was stuck managing the website. Point, click, copy, past. That was what my job came down to. If I was lucky, I got to play editor for the night and read an article or two for content. Usually, though, I was stuck uploading text files into little boxes, hitting spell check, making sure the fonts all looked correct, and then pressing “publish” with my mouse.
It was exciting work, if you could get it.
So why did I stay here?
It was a good question, one I asked myself often.
In truth, it all goes back to the statement I just made: not the “exciting work” part, the “if you could get it” thing. Believe it or not, a position at
Magazine was not easy to come by. We were one of the hottest webzines around – owned by a man who’d just been ranked the most influential businessmen on the planet, in addition to being named one of
magazines 50 Most Beautiful People for three years running – Nicholas Colby.
Not only was
a terrific stepping stone for budding journalists (our writers often went on to high profile gigs at places like
after putting in a few years here), but the chance to work for any of Nicholas Colby’s business ventures was too good to pass up. The man was a living legend – a self-made billionaire before the age of 30 years old – and having an association with him anywhere on your resume could only lead to bigger and better things.
Not that you could even call what
I had to be an “association.” Mr. Colby and I have only met once, when he gave the keynote speech at an event the magazine hosted two years ago. After captivating the room with a speech that was equal parts inspiring and funny, Nicholas had briefly worked the room introducing himself to everyone (as if he needed an introduction!) and before ducking out with a girl, I’m pretty sure, was one of the models on that season of
Nicholas is known for his playboy ways, and he is routinely spotted with a different woman on his arm. He’s even dated a few staffers from
in the past, although, trust me, I have no illusions that I’m ever going to wind up on that list. Mr. Colby tends to prefer models. And at a size 16/18, I’m hardly the model type. (Even for the plus-size scene. Last I checked most of those “larger” model girls were still way smaller than I was.)
It’s not that I’m not pretty. It’s just, I’ve always been the type of girl who tended to win a guy over with her personality. But since moving to
New York a few years ago, I hadn’t been winning over
In fact, my social life has
become downright pathetic as of late. If I’m not spending my nights here at the office, making sure our articles go up on the website in time, then I’m usually at home across the East River in my tiny Brooklyn walk-up watching
Law & Order
reruns. In my dream life, I would be out exploring The City. That’s what you do when you move to New York, right? Especially when you move to New York from a place like rural Missouri. That’s how I always imagined my life unfolding. But I’m 27 – I’ll be 28 in a month – and my life is less exciting now than it’s ever been.
The reality check
kicked in pretty soon after I moved to the Big Apple. That’s when all the sad facts about life here really started to hit me. Such as: everything costs three times what you think it should; no matter how hard you try you
have the right outfit to wear and; what looks like a relatively short distance on a map will require a shocking amount of time, effort, and coordination navigate. By the time I’ve taken a train, a bus, and then another train to get home (with a few short walks in-between) I’m usually too tired to do anything but plop down on the couch and order take-out.
Oh, and blog. Did I forget to mention that I blog?
It’s kind of the highlight of my day, which I suppose tells you something. My blog is called Big Girl in Brooklyn. Creative title, eh? But, hey, at least I’m being honest. Every day I write a short (or long, depending if the mood strikes) vignette about a day in the life of a big girl in the City. I try to make them witty and interesting, so people will want to pop in and read them. Hopefully, I’m successful. I have a decent number of regular readers and commenters. And I enjoy it regardless – it gives me an outlet for my writing, since Mariah has yet to let me do any pieces for
Speaking of which….
“The Naughty Little Secrets column isn’t in yet,” my boss said, interrupting my reverie. “I called the freelancer and left a message, so she should be sending it in any time now. Never the less, if you don’t have it soon you might want to give her a call yourself. Okay, Violet?”
If you don’t have it soon?
Mariah’s words played over in my mind. I looked at my watch. It was nearly 8 o’clock. All of our columns had to be in by 2 p.m. at the latest, so they could be read and approved – or sent back for changes – by the senior editors. Revised versions had to be in by 6 p.m. so they could go to copyediting (where they’d be proofed for grammar, spelling, and style). By the time I sat down to work, all the final articles were supposed to completed and saved to a folder on the network so whoever was doing layout could easily access them and upload them to the site. This was
“What do you mean it hasn’t come in yet?” I asked nervously. I had a sick feeling I knew where this was heading.
“The girl who’s writing it – a freelancer named Samantha – hasn’t been answering her phone today,” Mariah said, waving her hand in the air as if this was no big deal. “She’s probably working on it now. You’ll have it soon, I’m sure.”
But I wasn’t so sure. This had happened before, and Mariah never seemed to care, always leaving the responsibility of coming up with a last-minute article to whoever happened to be working that night.
“And if I don’t?” I countered.
“You’ll have it,” Mariah said. “If not, call her.”
“Oh, yeah, I’m sure she’ll pick up,” I muttered under my breath. “If she isn’t answering phone calls from the Editor-in-Chief, if that title’s not scaring her into picking up the phone, I’m sure she’ll rush into action when the webmaster calls.”
“What’s that?” Mariah asked, cocking her head.
“I just asked why we keep using these freelancers,” I lied. I wasn’t going to say any more, then a moment of boldness hit me and I decided to speak up. I chose my words carefully, “I don’t understand why you keep giving assignments to freelancers when so many of them seem to be unreliable.”
And when we have so many writers on staff who would kill for the chance to do articles for
. And who, you know, would actually turn them in.
Of course, I didn’t say this part, though.
“They’re not unreliable,” Mariah said, fixing me with a look that clearly said,
“And Samantha’s a friend of mine – friend of a friend,” Mariah amended. “She’s ultra talented. She’ll come through.” She broke into a smile. “But if for some reason she isn’t able to, you know how to handle it, Violet.”
I sure did. I knew because this exact same thing had happened two weeks ago. We’d been promised an article on “Vegan Cooking on a Dime” from some freelancer Mariah had met a bar – from the way she described it, it sounded like she was more interested in dating the guy than in having him write for us, and had only thrown him the assignment as a means of getting
She did that kind of thing from time to time. Okay,
the time. Mariah was always out on the prowl, picking up different guys in bars, throwing her title around in an attempt to impress them with her money and power.
But Samantha was a girl, so unless Mariah had decided to start playing for the other team, I couldn’t figure out what the deal with this chick was.
Why was she covering for her?
Either way, I had a bad feeling about this. If the article didn’t come in – and things weren’t looking so great – then I’d be screwed. Just like last time.
And it would be all Mariah’s fault – Mariah and her crappy decision-making.
You see, at most online publications if an article doesn’t
get written in time, then you replace it with another article – a substitute, as it were. Simple, right? And these substitute articles come what’s called the magazine’s “articles’ bank.” The articles bank is basically just a folder with a stockpile of articles that aren’t time-sensitive that can be run at the last minute if you get in a bind.
Mariah does not believe in having an article
s’ bank. As a result we’re basically flying by the seat of our pants – if an article doesn’t come in, we’re screwed. Because we have paid ads that run on our site, it’s not like we can let a column slide for a week – we have to produce new content on a regular basis or else we’ll have to refund our advertisers their money. This does not sit well with a man like Nicholas Colby. As busy as he is, he still makes it a point to check in on our magazine on a regular basis to make sure we’re not losing money.