1. good order or management.

Camden unconsciously tapped her knockoff Louboutin heels on the tile floor, oblivious to the staccato rhythm she was creating.

After waiting down the street for about an hour, she had made sure to arrive in the office 15 minutes early for her first day of work. However, 45 minutes had passed and she was still waiting for someone to come and take her behind the frosted glass doors to the glorious future that awaited her as MXP’s new assistant to the Creative Director.

She wasn’t sure how she’d beaten out all the other candidates, but she wasn’t about to squander this opportunity.

Despite the warm temperature of the office, goosebumps covered her arms and sweat was beginning to form on her upper lip. Thoughts of being fired before ever starting her first day of work filled her mind. She wanted to ask the administrative assistant to check and make sure everything was okay. But a silent glare from the thin woman behind the high slate grey desk halted her train of thought and nervous involuntary movements.

Just then, a large man looming well above 6 feet, emerged from behind the massive door, holding it ajar as he quickly motioned to her.

“Are you ready?”

Camden’s stomach did somersaults the way it had when she was 6 and the day had finally arrived for her to visit the Magic Kingdom.

“Yes, sir!”

Her voice sounded shaky to her, but her smile was broad.

“Follow me,” the man instructed, moving his ample girth back through the doors and down the illuminated hall.

The sound of their shoes against the wooden floor reverberated in the hallways, becoming the backbeat to the soundtrack of her dream come true. Camden gazed at the famous photos of celebrities and historic moments MXP had crafted and captured. It was almost too much to take in. She was sure her mouth was dragging on the floor by now.

“I’m Alfred,” the huge man said.

“Now, I’ve reviewed your resume and portfolio that HR sent to me and have hopes for you, cupcake, but, unfortunately…”

Alfred looked Camden over, noting that with her fake heels on she barely scratched 5 foot 6.

“Well… I’ve had my hopes dashed before.”

Camden was about to ask what he meant when she saw an object soaring through the air from the corner of her eye before shattering against another beautiful wall. A group of wearied staff members and startled interns came rushing from the office that had launched the object, followed by a stream of expletives.

Now Camden’s mouth was really hanging open, but not from delight.

Alfred cleared his throat.

“Welcome to MXP,” he said. “Follow me.”

Alfred made an abrupt right turn down an adjacent hallway away from the profanity.

“What was that,” Camden asked tentatively.

“Oh, nothing…” Alfred waved his hand as if the scene had been normal.

“I think someone just forgot that we decided to stop replacing the water pitcher in Marta’s office two weeks ago.”

Alfred sighed again.

“I’ll have to get on that,” he said quietly, making a note in his phone.

“Don’t worry. We had a couple weeks in which Marta didn’t throw anything. No one was hurt and no one required stitches. We were actually extremely productive that week.”

Camden stopped walking abruptly and began to smile. She released tiny peels of laughter, shaking her head in relief. Alfred stopped short.

“I get it, you’re doing this because it’s my first day and this is some sort of elaborate MXP hazing ritual for new staff, right?” Camden let out a sigh of relief. “You almost had me worried, Alfred.”

Camden’s entire body shook with laughter until she took a second glance at Alfred. He wasn’t laughing.

“Marta’s passionate, but you won’t be working with her so you don’t have to worry,” he said, slipping his phone into his suit jacket pocket. “But we have extremely generous health insurance plan, should you be called into any meetings with her in the future.”

Alfred turned and continued walking down the hall. Camden quickly followed, her knees feeling like jelly.

“This is where you’ll be situated,” Alfred said, making a quick left and gesturing to an empty office with papers strewn about the desk and floor.

The lack of eutaxy was slowly becoming more apparent, splintering her dream into thousands of thin shards.

“Now, Desmond can get a little handsy, but don’t get scared.”

Camden’s head whipped around to see if Alfred was joking.

“Always remember to block with your left and swing with your right. Don’t be afraid to use your knees, if necessary. He’s a big man, but he’s usually fully inebriated by 10, so I’d suggest you keep your office door locked and your mace within reach. Understood?”

“Whaaa…” Camden could barely choke out a statement. What she thought was an opportunity of a lifetime had quickly devolved into a test for survival. A million questions flew around in her mind, as stray thoughts were quickly connected.

Now she understood why all of her interviews had been strategically choreographed around ritzy lunches outside of the office.

“We have a gym in the basement as well as access to a personal defense instructor, which I would suggest you take advantage of, given your stature,” Alfred said.

He looked Camden over once more and gave a silent sigh.

“I wish you well.”

Camden felt like she was being sent off to battle.

“You’ll find the mace in the supply closet next to the legal pads, please help yourself.”

And with that Alfred headed back down the hall.

“We have a meeting with Desmond in an hour,” he called over his shoulder without looking back. “I’ll come back and take you to the conference room, if you’re still here.”

Camden checked her phone. It was 9:45. She ducked into the office and quickly locked the door behind her, debating whether to venture out for the mace now or when Alfred returned.

She placed a shaky hand against her forehead.

“What did I get myself into?”




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