(Thursday 16th, April)
She sighed, eyes scanning over the words on the screen to make sure that everything was spelt correctly and made grammatical sense. At that moment in time, Brooke sorely regretted making that stupid deal with Victor. She reprimanded herself for being an idiot and rising to his challenge. She'd played right into his trap, and now she was stuck writing an unnecessary article about the company she worked for to satisfied a capitalist tyrant's 'inquiry' into the company's efficiency, which was absolute bull-crap. She looked it up, and this was not how he needed to found out that information.
But she would not give up and give him that satisfaction. She would write a kick-ass article like she'd promised. It's just, it turned out that writing an article on Loveland Publishing House was a lot harder then she'd initially thought, especially since Mr Heralds couldn't help her as her article was meant to be 'uninfluenced'. She read over a line and, realising it didn't make sense, she quickly fixed it only to realise the sentence had made sense and she'd just misread it.
Brooke let out a loud groan and fell back onto her bed, eyes closed, and arms stretched out. The papers and books of research she'd gathered bounced at the sudden movements of the mattress. She was not having fun, not one bit. Why had she agreed to have a meeting with her boss at LFG? If she had the Evol of time travel, she would go back in time and tell her boss that they didn't need LFG investment, LPH could find some other company. But alas, that was not her Evol, so she was stuck.
A tiny, fluffy paw began pawing at her nose, and Brooke giggled, opening her eyes. Haya was staring at her from above, yellow eyes curious and open, the light from the morning sun illuminating her. She let out a little meow and continued to paw at her owners face, seeking her attention. Brooke lifted her head and snuggled into the kitten's chest, sending her tumbling onto her side. The kitten meow and quickly stood up, pouncing over to her owner's shoulders and putting both paws onto it, enjoying the feel of the wool underneath them.
Brooke turned her head to look at the kitten and raised her hand, giving the tiny creature a good scratch under the chin. Haya removed her paws from her shoulder, and Brooke sat up, turning to face the kitten fully and continuing her affections, smiling peacefully. Haya was a very affectionate kitten, preferring to spend time with Brooke or just being with her then playing on her own. It didn't really bother Brooke, but it's meant Haya became a meowing annoyance whenever she left the apartment, making Brooke glad her apartment took up an entire floor. She watched the kitten begin to paw at the hem of her sweater.
At least the little kitten kept her claws retracted most of the time. She'd asked the vet about it, and he'd told her that while it was an odd behaviour, it didn't mean there was something wrong with her claws. The sound of her ring tone broke her out of her peaceful state, and Brooke turned, grabbing her phone and answering the call, not bothering to look at the caller ID, her attention back on Haya "This is Rosette."
"It's me" A deep voice answered, and Brooke frowned, immediately on edge and looking away from Haya. The voice didn't sound familiar.
"Me, who?" She asked, masking any suspension in her voice with playfulness.
"Victor." She blinked. Victor was calling her? But the deadline wasn't until tomorrow.
"Oh. What can I do for you, sir?"
"I'd like to ask you about something?"
"Okay?" Her voice was a little nervous.
"Don't worry, this has nothing to do with LPH's investment."
"I wasn't worried. I'm confident in my abilities." Pride laced her voice.
"Really? Because I'm not so confident in you." Brooke frowned at the doubt in his voice.
"I looked at your resume." Brooke blinked. Resume?
"I have a resume?" She heard a scoff.
"Obviously." Oops, she didn't mean to say that though out loud. "Average grades in school but a jumper career-wise. You have a bachelor degree in Art as well as Criminology and Criminal Justice but haven't pursued any career that uses those degrees."
"That's not true! I helped the police with a crime just last week." She stated matter-of-factly.
"...You have no sense of stability. Other than LPH, you haven't held done a single job since graduating, so I don't think you will stick around long enough to meet LFG's standards in the short-term." Brooke rolled her eyes. He was acting as if she was the one asking for an investment and not her boss.
But the man was right. She'd held lots of mini-jobs since graduating university, deciding to pursue her many interests instead of getting another career since her job as an author paid her well enough that she didn't really need another one. Plus, she enjoyed being an author. Though she was officially an artist and criminal consultant but they were more like hobby careers. Not that she was going to tell Victor that.
"Well, other than the career jumping, I am confident." Wow, that made her sound dumb.
"That sounded kind of dumb." She held in a sigh. Trust Victor to point it out.
"... Let's not talk about me, sir. Didn't you have something to ask me?"
"Remember what you said the last time you were at LFG?" Brooke frowned.
"Last time?" She recalled the meeting in her mind and went over the conversation they'd had, eyes widening when she found what he was referring to. "Oh, you mean the 'Time Freezer' comment."
"Obviously." She knew it had been rude, and now that she was thinking about it, the need to apologise washed over her.
"Yeah about that..."
"Why the apology?"
"It had been kind of rude. Sorry."
"So you do know the meaning of 'rudeness'?"
"I know it was brash, but I'd been surprised and it just kind of slipped out..."
"Don't dell too much on it. I've forgotten about it already." If that was the case, why was he calling?
"So this is not what you wanted to talk about?"
"Not bad! You're not as dumb as I thought." Brooke rolled her eyes.
"I just want to make sure you'll keep what happened the day of the car accident a secret, right?" She blinked. Was he referring to his Evol? Why would she tell anyone about that?
"Of course! We're in the same boat after all and who would I tell?" Well, there were a lot of people she could tell, but that wasn't the point.
"...Alright then. Get on with your article."
"I'm hanging up." Brooke went to say goodbye, but a sharp pain in her hip stopped her
"Ow!" She looked down to see Haya had her claws stuck in her sweater and was poking her skin. "Haya!" The cat looked up at her innocently and went to try and pull her claws out again. Brooke sighed and quickly pressed the end call button, not checking to see Victor hadn't hung up yet. She put her phone down and grabbed the little kitten gently, using one hand to untangle her claws, and held her against her chest, shaking her head at the mischievous kitten. "Trouble maker."
The kitten looked up at her and licked her chops, a sign she was hungry. Brooke glanced at her open laptop, seeing her word count was around 1900, about 4 pages, and decided she could use a break. Especially after that phone call with Victor. She got up off the bed and made her way to the kitchen. She placed Haya on the bench and grabbed her tiny plate-like bowl. She opened up the fridge, grabbed the opened tin of wet food from last night, and walked back over to the bench.
Haya sat down and watched her fill up her cat bowl, having been trained to wait until Brooke signalled she was done before going to eat. Brooke grabbed the jug full of dry food and poured a bit onto the wet food before signalling to Haya to eat. She leaned back against the bench arms crossed in thought. She'd promised not to tell anyone about Victor's Evol but forget to ask him not to tell anyone she was an Evolver. She sighed. She just hoped he didn't get curious about it when she went to meet him tomorrow.
(Friday 17, April)
Staring up at the giant building before her, Brooke took in a deep breath. She was back. After four days of tedious research, quick typing and painful correcting, she was back at LFG to give the CEO his pointless article. Because it was pointless and nothing he or anyone said could convince her otherwise. That's not to say she wasn't proud of her work because she was, very proud, in fact. It's just that it was utterly unnecessary stress causer that didn't really need to be written.
But it had been written and in under 5 minutes would be judge by a capitalist tyrant. Brooke let out her breath and adjusted her messenger bag before making her way into LFG. She headed for the receptionist's desk and got the woman's attention. "Brooke Rosette here to see the CEO." The woman nodded and started typing on her computer.
"Just head up to the top floor. He's currently not busy, so you're free to go in. Just be sure to knock." Brooke smiled and nodded, making her way over to the elevator. She got in and pressed the top button, before leaning against the bars and watching the numbers rise. She was the only one in the elevator, and nobody boarded on her way up. Brooke sighed and thought about the upcoming meeting. She wasn't nervous about her article. Brooke was confident in her work and would never hand in something she wasn't proud of. It's was just that Mr Heralds wouldn't be there so it would just be the two of them. And Brooke was afraid she'd let her mouth run wild.
She could admit that she wasn't the best at holding back insults towards people that got on her nerves. And Victor definitely did that. Normally, it didn't matter because Mr Heralds found it hilarious, and her editor, Milo, knew not to take it personally. But Victor was the CEO of LFG and a potential investor. She hadn't ended their first official meeting on a good note, calling him a jerk. Brooke sighed. While she normally had good impulse control over her mouth, Victor was one of those people that tested that control. The elevator reached the top floor, and Brooke took in a deep breath. She could do this. The doors opened, and Brooke stepped out, making her way towards Victor's office.
She stopped at his doors and raised her hand to knock when a loud feminine voice came through the door. Brooke frowned and lowered her hand, putting her ear up against the door. She heard Victor respond, voice deep and gruff. The feminine voice replied, anger evident in her tone. Brooke leaned back. It would seem they were having an argument. Brooke turned on her heel and made her over to a nearby seat. She only ever eavesdropped on the important conversations, and an argument between a quarrelling couple didn't count.
Brooke sighed and took out her phone, seeing she had a new text. It was from Tessa.
Hey, Bee. I was wondering if you could swing by the station and help me with a case - T
Brooke smiled. She loved helping Tessa out with her police work, it was one of the only things she could help the woman with anyway. Nyla had always been the tutor in their study sessions.
Sure, I'll come by when my meetings over - B
She was responding to a text from Milo when Victor's office door swung open. Brooke held in her jump and looked up to see a woman with curly brown hair off to the side and purple eyes covered in shades stomped out. She was dressed in expensive clothing and looked pretty pissed off. Her eyes locked onto Brooke and she wandered over. "This is the CEO's office. What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to give the man an article he requested I write," Brooke said, deciding not to lie to the pissed off woman. She rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, right. I don't want to hear your clumsy excuses." Brooke frowned at the woman's tone. Had she done something to upset the woman? "What's your name?" She asked, and Brooke smiled at the woman.
"I'm Brooke Rosette." The woman scoffed.
"So you're Loveland Publishing House's trump card? I heard your boss is a real tool." Brooke dropped her smile and levelled the woman with a frown. Nobody insulted Mr Hearlds, sure the man was strange and sometimes annoying, but he'd done a lot for Brooke, and she wouldn't let this woman tarnish his name.
"And I heard pissy floozies such as yourself had talent. Guess we were both wrong." The woman glared at her. Brooke would have been intimated if the woman was actually scary, but she just looked like an angry toddler.
"How dare you? Don't you know who I am?" Brooke put on a false, bright smile.
"Nope!" She said proudly, and the woman glared even harder.
"I'm Chik!" Brooke frowned. The name sounded familiar, but nothing immediately came to mind. She shrugged, and the woman huffed. "Whatever." She muttered then leaned in close, pointing her hand at Brooke. "I'm warning you. Don't harbour any unrealistic fantasies about Victor." Brooke blinked. What? "He. Is. Mine." With that, Chik strode off. Brooke followed the woman with her eyes, promptly confused. Had she done something to make it seem like she was interested in Victor? The idea made Brooke want to laugh. She was more likely to behead the arrogant prick then date the guy. Brooke shook off the interaction and stood up, making her way over to Victor's office.
The door was cracked slightly, and Brooke peeked through it to see the kind of mood Victor was in. He looked tired, hand resting against his forehead, a frown present on his lips. His eyes were closed, and his tie was slightly loosened. So not a good mood then. Brooke study the man. The light shining through the window made him look very handsome, despite his tired state. She could understand why Chik was interested in the guy. Brooke blinked and drew her head back. Of course, just because she could see his physical appeal didn't mean she was interested. He may be handsome, but he seriously lacked in the personality department. Brooke shook her head and banished those ridiculous thoughts to the back of her head. She then raised her hand and knocked.
"Sir, may I come in?" She asked, peeking through the door. Victor looked up, and his brows unfurrowed.
"Come in." He said, and Brooke made her way inside. She gestured at his tie, and he looked down, hurryingly fixing it. He then stopped. "When did you get here?" He asked, and Brooke smiled.
"Just as that woman was leaving." Victor frowned.
"You mean Chik?" Brooke nodded, hitting herself internally. How had she forgotten the woman's name, she had literally just insulted her?!
"Yeah, her." She said, rubbing her wrist behind her back, out of Victor's view. It was a nervous habit she couldn't break.
"Did she say anything to you?" He asked, and Brooke blinked. The woman had said a lot, but she didn't think it was necessary to tell Victor. If they were together, it's possible Chik would rant to him about it later.
"Nothing of importance." She said, which was the truth. Victor nodded, then stopped for a second.
"There is nothing between her and me. Don't go around spreading any rumours." He said, and Brooke frowned. Why was he telling her this?
"Why are you telling me this? I don't care about who you have the hots for." She said, and Victor raised an eyebrow at her, causing Brooke to flush slightly. She probably could have phrased that better. "What I mean is I don't really care for other people's love life, and I'm not a gossiper, so there is no need to worry." Victor nodded, then coughed.
"Why are you here?" He asked, changing the subject, and Brooke smiled.
"I've come to deliver the article you requested I write. " She said, taking it out of her bag. It was printed and ready to be read. She offered to him. He nodded in understanding.
"Ah, go ahead then." Brooke blinked.
"I'm sorry?" Victor frowned.
"Read it to me." Brooke frowned.
"Do I look like a primary school teacher to you?" Victor raised his eyebrows again and Brooke cursed herself internally. This is what she'd been afraid of! "What I mean is, I don't have time to read it to you. I have somewhere else I need to be." She smiled at him and Victor leaned back in his chair and study Brooke for a few second, gaze intense. Brooke met his gaze head-on, not backing down. After a minute, Victor opened his mouth.
"If you won't read it to me, you'll just have to come to the investment meeting on Monday." He said, and Brooke blinked. What was with this guy? Did he not understand that Mr Heralds was asking for the investment and not herself? Though, she really didn't want to read it to him and if going to an investment meeting meant she could get out of it, then she would. It's not like she had anything better to do on Monday, anyway.
"Fine." She said, and Victor smirked. It sent a wave of anger through Brooke that she only just managed to contain. Instead of insulting the CEO, she placed her article down on his desk. "If that will be all." She said, turning to leave.
"You should treat me with more respect," Victor said, and Brooke turned back to look at the guy. "I could be your new boss." Brooke smiled at the CEO, a hit of playfulness in it.
"No, you would be my bosses' boss. Your role as LPH's investor doesn't affect me in any way." She said, and Victor frowned, sitting up. "I'm just a writer." She said, and Victor stared at her, eyes searching for something in her expression. He then chuckled.
"I don't believe that."
"'I don't believe that' What does he mean he doesn't believe that? What does he think I am? A mind reader?" Brooke ranted, pacing back and forth, ignoring the confused look Tessa kept sending her way. "Stupid capitalist tyrant," Brooke muttered, and Tessa chuckled.
"Sounds like you had a bad day." Brooke scoffed then sighed. She was probably just overreacting, but she couldn't help it. The last time someone that said those words to her, her entire world had fallen apart. Of course, she knew Victor meant no harm, was probably just trying to rustle her feathers, but it had been hard to suppress the feeling of panic that had overcome her in that moment. So she'd told the man she had to leave and bolted out of his office without giving him a chance to respond. She would probably get an earful from Mr Heralds when he found out, but it was better than the alternative.
"Yeah, you could say that." Brooke then shook her head and smiled. "But it doesn't matter. What did you need help with?" Brooke asked, and Tessa frowned but let the subject drop.
"I was wondering if you could give me a profile of someone who would cause a car crash."
"Is this for the multiple car-crash that happened?" Tessa blinked.
"How'd you know I was investigating that?" Brooke smirked.
"Because Nyla actually calls me to talk about things." Tessa blushed and muttered something under her breath that Brooke couldn't catch. She laughed then answered the woman's question. "A profile like that is difficult. Technically speaking, anybody could cause a car crash and for many different reasons."
"I don't need specifics, just a basic profile that'll help with our investigation." Brooke nodded.
"Alright, I'll need everything you have on the guy." Tessa nodded.
"I'll have Gavin put something together." Brooke raised her eyebrow at the unknown name. "My partner." Brooke nodded her head then smiled playfully.
"Already giving your partner the harder jobs? Slacker." Tessa flushed.
"You know I'm no good at reading!" She yelled, and Brooke laughed. "Don't call me a slacker!" Brooke laughed harder, and Tessa blinked before realising she'd been played, and pouted. "Not funny." She muttered, crossing her arms, and Brooke laughed even harder. She didn't realise how much she needed to laugh and couldn't help wrapping Tessa in an appreciative hug.
Victor frowned at the completed article on his desk. He'd been lying if he said he wasn't impressed by Brooke's work. He could now see why she'd won so many awards for her published works. The article made him want to genuinely invest in the failing publishing house. To help it and see it raise from the bankruptcy it was currently suffering from. It wasn't the article that had Victor frowning, it was Brooke herself. She'd been different today without the pressure of her boss in the room. Delivering playful insults with no filter on her mouth.
Making her reaction to his final words all the more confusing. He'd enjoyed how feisty she was being. It had been a long time since someone had talked to him that way. He'd been actually having fun. So her reaction to his words confused him. He thought he'd saw genuine panic go through her eyes and he'd never seen someone leave his office so quickly. He wanted to call her and find out what it was about, but he didn't want to upset her even more. He hadn't been lying though. He didn't think she was just a writer and her response to those words proved that. He was going to find out who she really was...