Hazel Pierce

Chapter 4

Once I reach the edge of the sidewalk, preparing to step off the curb, someone grabs my arm, and the tight grip sends my heart racing. ”Where do you think you
e going? ”……..

”Spencer let go. I almost hit you. ”. I yank my arm away, cooling my heart rate.

”Spencer? Who is this? Someone finally replacing Len? ”…….

I shake my head to Faye. ”This old man plays for the other team. ”.

Spencer pinches my arm before pulling on me again. I groan and then laugh at his pouty lips. ”The party isn starting until later, so lets change and get dolled up. ” – Spencer pauses, narrowing his eyes at me. – ”Who are you talking to? ”.

”Put me on speaker! ”.

I do before giving Spencer my attention. ”Its an office party, Spence. Why would you want to get dolled up. Got those dead eyes on someone? ”. I smile when he smirks at me. He doesn answer, making me wonder if he does. I don hang around our coworkers much, so I can even guess.

”Probably someone he couldn get in a million years. ”.

Spencer releases me as Carla joins us. ”Trust me, I can get any man I want, but this one is committed to a magnificent man already. ” – Spencer raises his hand, flashing off his precious wedding band, as his thin lips do that try not to smile thing. – ”Hows your dating life going, Carla? ”.

I laugh when she flips him off. Carla never appreciates being teased about her non-dating. I think itll be funny if she ever did. She and I fall into step behind Spencer as he starts moving.

”I want to meet them! ” – Fayes excitement makes me laugh harder. – ”And you don want Hazel to get all dolled up. Her look is more…edgy than you think. ”.

Carla and Spencer look at me as though they don believe Faye. Im…slightly, maybe moderately offended.

”Well then, that Ill have to see. ”….. Spencer sounding…unconvinced is definitely offending me. It almost makes me want to show them up. I was a part-time model at one point in my life…

”Shes on social media. Just search anyone of them for Pierce pot…don ask why the name. ”…….

”Dooonnn ! ” – I reach for them, but they move out of my range, already flipping through their phones…… I raise mine up. – ”Faaayyyye, I didn want that to follow me here. ”.

Faye clicks her tongue. ”Stop that pouting, Haze. Someone was bound to recognize you sooner or later…no matter how plain you dress. ”.

I stop dead in my tracks, looking down at my outfit. Your pretty standard navy blue office skirt and white blouse combo. Compared to the things Spencer wears, Id be considered invisible. ”Howd you know? ”. Faye burst out laughing, making me shake my head. I didn want those social media accounts to come up at work.

Four years ago, Faye made…forced me to take pictures for them. She runs every last profile…I have zero control over it. Since I quit modeling with her, I made the tradeoff to keep her from being too hurt. Faye had taken me leaving personally, but it had nothing to do with her. I model for her as long as she makes me unrecognizable. That was my only stipulation, which worked out back then, but here lately…Im scared Ill be recognized.

I can barely handle regular attention, but if someone connected to my parents shows up one day….thatll force me to have to deal with…that name…and all the pain and pressure associated with it. The older Ive grown, the more I noticed my appearance taking shape. I favor Mother, but only slightly more than Father. With Johnathans eyes and coloring, Mirandas physical build, I see them both when I look in a mirror….. Favoring either of them doesn sit well with me. Its done a number to my head. I don want to resemble them in any way, but when I see them in me, I get that terrible longing…for approval…… If Im being honest, its what made me enroll in college.

”Oh my gosh, you look sooooo good! ”……

That squeal…I didn need to hear. Its weird hearing Spencer with so much energy.

Carla turns to me, looking just as pumped. ”He is not lying. You look like a celebrity, and look at how popular you are! ”.

That part I don get. Somehow Faye has gotten those accounts to gain attention on an alarming scale. If I did walk around dressed like that, Id be recognized instantly. Collectively those numbers border the billion range.

”Yes yes, thats all my handy work. ”…

Why does Faye have to sound so proud? I know shes a model, but her ego is astronomical. Between her and Noah…I don know whos worse. Ive never seen two people fight so much to prove they
e more appealing. I smile. They
e funny when they
e not fighting. I bet that cocky smile of Fayes is on full display. Needless to say, shes on the ego bus.

”Wait, you called her Faye, is she that model gaining – Its her! You have a picture here with Faye! ”….. Spencer squeals again, turning to me. I will point out that his eyes…are…glimmering….. There are signs of life there, and it makes me shudder. Carla snickers catching my drift.

e definitely meeting! ” – Faye is just as loud as them…and her eyes are probably sparkling too. The three of them meeting would be something…a headache, I know for sure. – ”Ahhh! No, Tom! Im talking to my child. Give me ten more minutes. ”.

I can hear Tom going back and forth with her as I switch the phone off the speaker. ”Faye, go. I have an after-work thing anyway. ”.

”Awwww, noooo, this wasn enough time. ”. No matter how popular she gets, she never changes.

Her whining makes me smile. ”Well hang out once you
e back in town. ”.

”Fine, youll be staying at my place. Len won be interrupting this time. ”.

I ignored the tone when she said Lens name…thats an argument in the making. ”Fine, fine, now go before you give Tom another headache. ”.

”Kay, kisses. ”.

I kiss at the phone and then hang up.

”I can believe…you
e like a mini-celebrity. ”. Spencer is still flipping through the pictures…..

I sigh, catching up to them. ”Can we…keep this between us. Im trying to stay out of the spotlight at work. ”.

e failing at that already. ”.

I look over at Carla, knowing I haven especially done anything. ”Why? ”.

Spencer smirks, lowering his phone. ”You and the Department Head are quite…friendly. ”.

”That, and you work like a veteran. ”…….

Oh. I see where my mistake was. With me being fresh out of college, I probably shouldn be able to keep up with the others, but I…can help that. Business…is in my blood…no, more like its embedded in my brain. The reason behind my messed-up schooling is because of it.

A mandated schooling system doesn exist in my…the country Im from. Schools exist, but you aren forced to attend. In my case, my parents hired a teacher, and I was homeschooled during the duration of…my time there. Math and English…basically, that business sense was drilled into me at a very young age… With Mother…every day…was a lesson of something for other things….. I shake my head, willing myself not to mentally go back there. Ive been thinking about the past too much today. Its bound to have a negative result…somewhere.

Carla rests her arm across my shoulders, pulling me closer to her. ”At least its good attention. ” – She stealthily tilts her head in Spencers direction. – ”Unlike some others. ”.

We snicker when Spencer nods his head, agreeing. I don know what shes referring to, but I wouldn be surprised. This is Spencer we
e talking about.

”Partially anyway. ”. Spencer snorts, and I shake my head.

I…don even want to know what that means. The only scene I know I made was at my own welcome party. That was what…three months ago. It was…to put it lightly…a mess. Whoever stays after a month of being hired is given the lucky privilege to attend. I thought it was a way for the new employees to meet and bond, but when it came to the actual party…and my entire team was there, I concluded what the parties were really for.

I…now…I don know what about them makes Noah excited. During mine, he hung around at the beginning before he vanished. Working together at least made me a little antsy for multiple reasons. Being so working anywhere in an office building wasn really in my future preference…I wasn exactly ecstatic when I caved to Noah. Around January was when his…persuasion started. It was a work of art…..

I wonder if Noah knows a little more about me than I led on. It didn make sense for me to join this company, but wandering aimlessly…seemed more dangerous. College was a focus…a goal I had to aim for, but with my graduation looming, I felt…stressed. I needed something, and this seemed like an easy enough distraction. I graduated one day and then started here the following week. I can only imagine what Noah forged to get me hired.

A bachelors in recreation and leisure studies was what I settled on. It was perfect when I enrolled since it had nothing to do with my parents…outside of traveling. Still, I don imagine HR overlooking my absent qualifications…. Noah definitely knows something about me….. Now that I think about it, Faye didn seem all that surprised either. Len did, but my connection with Noah quickly crushed his curiosity. The next thing I knew, I was asking Noah for a favor…for him….. I have to try to remember to feel Faye and Noah out later.

Carla wiggles her arm on my shoulder. ”That spacing out of yours is dangerous. ”.

I sigh. ”I know. Theres a lot of things going on up here. ”.

Spencer snickers. ”Ill say. ”.

Im not taking that bait. He has a front-row seat to all my spacing adventures.

”Prez and VP are going to be there tonight. ” – I glance at Carla. Im tall, but she isn that far from matching my height. – ”They wasn at your welcome party. ”.

”Great. ”. Can say I care. We probably won see them, but Ive never seen the appeal of being in the presence of the company leaders. The few Ive had to deal with all look the same. CEOs, owners, presidents, VPs…the entire executive branch, they
e just a bunch of old men and women thinking they own the world. Its tiresome how untouchable they really believe they are because of the little money lining their pockets. The best part about running powerful, lucrative companies is displaying how easy one can be touched. I haven had to flex that power much over the years, but that could change at any given moment.

”Lets hang out at this place before its time to head over. ”.

I look up at the small building…karaoke? ”Really, Spencer? ”.

”The food here is so good, pluuuusss they have strong alcohol if you want to pregame. ”.

Carlas emphasis on pregame…I can feel her excitement washing over my shoulders……. ”Fine. ”. She releases me, rushing inside.

Some hours later, forget what Carla said about pregaming. We are totally drunk, but not so bad that we can sing and laugh…which we have been doing nonstop for…I don know for how long. Im seated at the table with Carla while Spencer is in the middle of one of his pop tunes…and hes killing it. Out of the three of us, hes the better singer/performer. Carla…what she lacks, she makes up with pure energy. I just…Im completely…Im the worst.

I don know any of the songs, and theyve made fun of me for apparently being musically illiterate. Music was vacant in my childhood. Its something I never used until I needed it, but still, in that case, its not something engraved in my soul. Blocking out storms is its sole usage for me. Headphones are a godsend.

For the past…x minutes, all my attention is currently on Carla and the cute girls on her phone. Ill never admit it to her out loud, but I can respect her…game. Carla can pull some fine women, but her ego doesn need that stroking….. She is another one fighting for the drivers seat of that ego bus.

”So come on, tell me? ”.

I don know what we were talking about. Theres this fit blond on the screen wearing nothing but a jersey! Im distracted, okay….. Ive been drinking and have reached that moment where physical contact is needed….. But no. I don want to touch this woman…. God, that snug jersey…no, I don . ”Tell you what? ”. I rip my gaze away from that poisonous screen. Its been at least three years since Ive touched a woman…and anyone other than Len….. Maybe I need to slow down on the alcohol….. I don know why but Carla is watching me with this sinister-looking grin. Its alarming because she usually has the loveliest smile Ive ever seen.

”I…I. ” – She frowns. Apparently, shes forgotten as well. – ”Well, never mind it. You said something earlier about high school. Lets go back to that. ”…..

Apparently, Ive been talking about my past. Thats a little unsettling. Im usually a locked chest when it comes to that stuff….. Being around these people for four months softened me? I shake my head. That can be. It must be because Carla is so freaking similar to my Faye…. Who I miss…. I grip my glass and toss whatever is inside down my throat. I can wait to see her.

”Um, you two children need to pay attention. ” – Carla and I give Spencer what he wants. – ”Look at that, another perfect score. I imagined more of a challenge, but look at this disappointment. ” – His gloating hits the mark, making Carla and I down more liquor. Winning doesn look good on Spencer, another member on the ego bus. – ”Lord, if I had known you two were so busted. ” – I don know why he felt the need to pause there! – ”I would have invited Tessa. ”…

I groan, refilling my glass…I don like it. Being suggested that Im somehow awful at something while Tessa isn …nope, I don like it. I wash the taste out of my mouth.

”Hoooow, dare you! ”.

Spencer laughs as Carla grabs a handful of chips, tossing them at him. ”Look at the board, Hun, the two of you suck worst than Daves spawns. ”…

That is even more of an insult than before. ”How is is it my fault that I don like music. ”.

”This isn rocket science, Sweety. Read the screen and sing, but you can even do that much. ” – That eyebrow of his raises. – ”I wonder how you even got rhythm. ” – I smirk at that. Spencer reads me like a book and glares at me. – ”Do not say it. ”.

I chuckle.

”I was just here for the drinks, but Spence. ” – Carla is in full competitive mode. – ”If you want to start this thing over, then, by all means, lets go. ”.

Spencer is already pulling up a song with his gaze still locked on us…I guess its supposed to be impressive that he doesn need to look. ”Challenge accepted, Miss Johnson. ”….

As he starts, I glance over at Carla. ”Please tell me you can knock him down a peg or two? ”.

”Hell no, we need an out. ”. Carla grabs her phone just as mine rings.

”Hello! ”.

”Hey, Haze. I don see you anywhere. ”.

Lens smooth voice instantly sets my body on fire. This is the real deal. Those women on that screen are nothing compared to what this man does to me. I ne – ”The welcome party! ”.

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