Engineer Laurie Fell makes friends at her new job, but her boss isn't one of them. She learns about Seth Valentine's coldness the hard way.
Chapter One can be found here:
My page on The Sims 3 website:
Chapter One can be found here:
My page on The Sims 3 website:
It was Laurie’s first week in the Valentine Mansion. Training never seemed to end. She always had five more papers to read and report on, safety procedures to memorize, new instruments to familiarize with. She barely had time to relax, let alone go apartment hunting in the city. Now that she had the job in Bridgeport, she needed a place to live. On Friday, Seth held a meeting to check on everyone’s progress. Laurie was relieved to learn that she wasn’t the only one who was terrified of her boss. When he spoke, all of the men sat straight up, their ears turned toward him, catching every precious word. When Seth asked a question, he always received a quick, concise answer. “Laurie,” he muttered, turning his gray eyes on her. “I assume you’ve gone through the whole safety handbook and passed the safety test. I have a project for you to begin on Monday.”
Laurie bit down on her bottom lip. “Actually, Sir… I’m sorry, but I haven’t finished the safety handbook just yet.”
His look of impatience made her sink into her chair a bit. “It’s been one week, Miss Fell. I don’t pay you to learn safety procedures. I expect that test to be done by tonight so you can start some real work.”
Laurie couldn’t believe she was being scolded in her first week. “Yes, of course, Sir--I’m sorry.”
Across the table, Dr. Pierce winced, as if Laurie had said exactly the wrong thing.
“Sorry doesn’t get me my time back,” Seth muttered, straightening a stack of papers in front of him. “That will be all for today.”
Laurie glanced around the room. Everyone began to pack their things. No one made eye contact with her.
Laurie spent the rest of her day with her nose in that handbook. She took it to her lab, her lunch break, even the bathroom. She read so intensely that her eyes strained; she reminded herself to pick up some aspirin later. “That was some tough love from Valentine today,” spoke a voice from the hallway.
Laurie glanced up to see a coworker leaning against the doorway. He had blonde hair and an impish smile on his face.
“Tough love?” she scoffed. “He practically strangled me in front of everyone. He’s so harsh!”
“Shh-shh-shh.” The man waved his hands, looking alarmed. He approached Laurie, his voice lowered. “This is really not the best place. You never know who might be listening.”
“Oh.” Laurie remembered how Pierce had also lowered his voice when talking about Seth. “Sorry.”
“No worries. You just need to get to know the place,” he said, stretching a hand out. “I’m Harry Lester.”
Laurie shook it. “Laurie Fell. That’s a nice offer, Mr. Lester. I’d really appreciate it.”
“You can close the safety book. I’ll give you all the answers to the test, later. How about we grab drinks after work? I can give you a run-down of everything.”
Laurie hesitated, uncomfortable with the idea. She wanted the advice Harry had to offer, but she didn’t want to respond to any advances at the moment.
Before she could reply, Dr. Pierce came to her rescue, his arms crossed. ”What are you up to, Lester?” he asked, though he seemed to know exactly what.
Lester was visibly annoyed. “Just getting to know our new coworker a little bit, here.”
“Yes, Harry was just offering to give me some valuable tips,” Laurie jumped in. “We were thinking of going to the bar after work, want to join us?” The look she sent Pierce was pleading.
He got the message right away. “That sounds good. Count me in.”
Harry pursed his lips in a forced in a forced smile. “Edwin, you’re such a good friend.” He walked out of the lab plotting Pierce’s demise.
At last, it was the end of the week. Seth could bid his workers good night and give their inferior minds some rest.
They weren’t the only ones who needed the break. Seth popped open a bottle of whiskey and poured it into a crystal glass. The meeting that morning had put him in a foul mood. He was already regretting the decision to hire Laurie Fell. When he’d reprimanded her, she looked so helpless and weak, a deer under the headlights. Why should he feel bad for it? If she did the same amount of work as everyone else, it wouldn’t be a problem.
He took a grateful swig from his glass. Theorems, circuits, reactors, sales, lawyers, contracts, incompetent new hires… his thoughts blurred more with each second.
He collapsed into his velvety furniture, draining the glass quickly. Alcohol turned so many people into babbling idiots. It slowed their gears, dulled the ability to think. That was exactly why he needed it. With Harry’s help, Laurie flew through the safety test that evening. After work, the three friends met up with Pierce at the bar. It was Friday night, and the citizens of Bridgeport were out and about.
Harry ordered drinks as soon as he was able, and turned to gaze at Laurie. “You look fantastic with your hair down!” he said.
Laurie sighed. “Thanks, Harry.”
Pierce stepped in front of Harry to rescue her, yet again. “So, you wanted to hear more on Valentine, didn’t you?”
“Oh, yes,” Laurie said, squaring her shoulders. “I’ve been dying to hear you guys talk about him out in the open.”
Harry peered around Pierce. “His Majesty does keep microphones around the labs, and he’s fired people for whispering nasty things.”
“Of course! Why am I not surprised?” Laurie scoffed. “Honestly, why is he such a prude?”
“He’s not that bad, you guys. You just have to know how to communicate with him. And you have to accept that no matter who you are, he’s never going to be nice to you.” Pierce explained.
Harry received his drink and navigated around Pierce to hand it to Laurie. “Yes, that’s true. Just because Valentine acts like he hates you doesn’t mean that he does.” He paused thoughtfully. “Actually, I should revise that statement. He hates everyone. It’s just varying degrees of hate. I bet he hates you less than he hates me."
Laurie drank. “Yeah, I suppose that helps.”
“You just need to look him in the eyes when you talk. Don’t act scared, he’ll run you over. And you broke the Number One rule today, by the way.” Harry held up his index finger. “Never apologize. He hates that. He figures if you’re really sorry, you’ll just work harder. He doesn’t place much value on words and promises.”
“So how much does Seth hate you guys?” Laurie asked, two drinks and a game of foosball later.
“He hates Edwin the least,” Harry claimed on the other side of the foosball table. “Because Edwin is almost as much of a prude as Valentine.”
Laurie laughed and Pierce grimaced. “I’ve known Valentine a long time. I practically started the company with him. We’re friends. He hates you the most, Harry. He’s come this close to firing you three times.”
“But I’m the loveable one. He can’t get rid of me,” rejoined Harry. Laurie and Pierce looked at Harry skeptically. He amended, “I suppose the fact that I’m brilliant and I do good work also has something to do with it.” It was a good night. The three friends stayed in the bar until closing time, singing songs from the jukebox and tossing around jokes about Seth Valentine. Harry continued to use bad pick-up lines, which Laurie tried to ignore or reject with grace.
He approached Laurie while Pierce made a trip to the bathroom. “I guess it’s time to head out,” he sighed.
“I guess it is,” said Laurie, looking sideways. “I had a really good time with you guys. We should do this again. As friends.”
Harry laughed. “This is never going to happen, is it?” Laurie grinned and shook her head. “You science girls! Fine, I guess I’ll stick to sane women!”
“You’re drunk,” she laughed. “Please be safe when you go home tonight.”
Butter sizzled against the bottom of a hot pan. Laurie enjoyed the perk of being allowed to cook in the Valentine kitchen. The aroma of melting cheese drifted into the air. If she couldn’t be comfortable in the labs, at least she could feel at home here. She was grilling turkey sandwiches, her father’s favorite back home.
Of course, as soon as she started to get comfortable, Seth walked into the kitchen. Laurie turned to see who had joined her, then swiveled back toward her food in the same instant. Her hands shook nervously. Should she say something? Should she let him be? Should she break the tension, try to get on his good side?
Many thoughts passed through her head as he walked past her, toward the sink. She remembered what Edwin said: Seth appreciated strength and confidence. Whatever the case, she knew the last thing she should do was apologize.
Her sandwich was done. Before she could stop herself, she buttered a fresh slice of bread and threw it into the pan.
“Hello, Dr. Valentine. How was your weekend?” she began with a strong voice. She didn’t want it to crack.
Seth glanced sideways at her. A minute passed, and Laurie didn’t know if he was even going to answer her.
Finally, a reply: “Short.”
Laurie chuckled forcefully. “I agree with that. Hungry?”
“Why else would I come into the kitchen?” said Seth, drying his hands.
Laurie finished the second sandwich and flipped it onto her plate with a spatula. “Then you won’t object to one of these.”
This time, when she met his intense eyes, she did not look away. Seth glanced between her and the sandwiches, as if there were a catch to her offer. She had to smile at his hesitation. “Do you not trust my cooking?”
“I don’t trust anyone,” Seth muttered. He knew the response was overdramatic.
Laurie couldn’t stop herself. “I’m sure the sandwiches are more afraid of you than you are of them.”
He sent her a long, mean stare, and Laurie resisted the urge to start apologizing again. “You’re a funny girl, aren’t you, Miss Fell?” he said sarcastically.
Laurie wanted to reply, Yes, I think I’m hilarious, but she decided that ending the banter was her best move at this point. “Apparently not.” She set the extra sandwich on the counter and said, “It’s yours if you want it. I can’t eat two.”
With that, Laurie took a seat and began to enjoy lunch.
As if rising to a challenge, Seth lifted the sandwich. Before taking a bite, he cast her one daring look. Laurie translated it into, If this isn’t breathtakingly delicious, I will fire you.
Laurie held her breath while he chewed. He swallowed and nodded a little. “Not bad.”
Victory! Laurie mentally high-fived herself for the halfhearted compliment. “Does this mean a raise?”
The moment she mentioned work, Seth reverted to his usual coldness. “You barely just graduated from safety training. You have performed the bare minimum requirement to work in my labs. Congratulations.” He began to walk out of the kitchen with her sandwich. “Now, make yourself useful.”
Laurie slouched. It was worth a try.
To be continued.
Mastermind Chapter 2
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