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Theodore Davenport, James Holden
When Theodore Davenport decides to switch his mundane job for a career, he walks into Holden House Publishing with enthusiasm and determination to succeed. As he settles into his new role, makes new friends, and dreams of making it to the top, everything is going to plan.
Until he meets James Holden, CEO of Holden House.
James Holden hasn’t been able to stop thinking about his encounter with the timid man he met in a club bathroom last week, and when he discovers the one haunting his dreams is an employee, he can’t seem to stop himself from pursuing him.
Just a little fun – that’s what James tells himself. He can’t afford to care for someone who can never reciprocate, not once they find out who he really is. James believes nobody deserves the burden of being attached to him. He’s a complicated man. Damaged. Difficult. Demanding.
Is Theodore strong enough to confront James’ demons? More importantly, is James?
Please note:This book contains scenes of self harm, mental illness and suicidal ideation which may be uncomfortable for some readers.
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Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. I heard that somewhere once and it stuck in my mind, haunting me, ever since. I often toyed with its interpretation and, now, I have the answer.
The pain is there. It never leaves. Sometimes it’s bearable, but it’s always there. It’s pecked away at my soul all my life and, finally, it’s won.
It’s taken everything. I am nothing more than a hollow shell. There are no more pieces left to try and put back together. I have nothing else to fight with.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
Today, I opt to end the suffering. Today, I welcome the pain as it slices into my wrist, knowing it will be the last time. As I watch my tormented life seep from my body in thick, red spirals, a small smile crawls onto my lips.
My body starts to tremble and I lie back in the bathtub, closing my eyes. A rush of peace, contentment, washes over my dying body, cleansing my soul as I drift into the serene darkness, embracing the shadow for the first time in my life.
Beads of nerves roll around in my stomach as I walk into Holden House, the tallest building in the centre of Manchester. The first day in any new job is always daunting, but stepping into my first role in a publishing house pushes a further stab of pressure into my gut.
I’m met with a curious glance by a young, impeccably dressed, woman behind the long reception desk as I pass through the revolving glass doors. I walk over, holding up the I.D. card that dangles from my lanyard.
Her eyes hone in on it, squinting as she reads. “Good morning, Mr Davenport. Marketing is on the thirteenth floor.”
“Thanks,” I mutter, although I know where I’m going after my induction last week.
I fiddle with my collar as I ride the lift, eyeing myself up in the mirror on the back wall. My last job, managing a mobile phone shop, didn’t require me to wear a suit and I can’t help feeling uncomfortable. Restricted.
The lift pings and the doors peel apart. I step out onto the office floor, surveying my surroundings. A small lump forms in my throat as I wonder who to approach first, although you wouldn’t know by looking at me. I am a swan as I make my way to the middle of the floor; kicking and struggling beneath the surface, poised and confident above.
A hand lands on my shoulder, startling me. “You’re the new kid, right?”
I force a smile but inside I want to punch the fucker for calling me a kid. I’m twenty-seven years old; too old, in some people’s opinion, to be taking a job as an office junior. But working in this industry has been my goal since I was ten years old. Unfortunately, life got in the way, until now. I was kicked out of college for showing up drunk on more than one occasion and ended up working tedious jobs until I got bored and found something else. Perhaps things would’ve turned out differently if I’d chosen my own path, but I applied to study biology at college with the aim of becoming a doctor, because that’s what my brother did, my father, and my grandfather. It was kind of expected of me, but I just didn’t care enough about the subject to bother putting the effort in.
I saw the opening here by accident while surfing the Job Centre website and dismissed it at first, but it stayed in my head until I eventually convinced myself I’m not too old to go after a career rather than just a job.
I’m not just a reader, or a writer; I inhale written words like they’re my oxygen. It’s not a hobby. It’s a passion. People intrigue me. Life intrigues me. I see a story behind every set of eyes I meet, history in every voice. I’ll see someone wearing a smile and wonder what put it there. Words allow me to immerse myself in a whole other world. I get to become a different person.
So, that’s the reason I took this job. I want to see behind the scenes, learn the process of bringing someone’s imagination, someone’s dreams to life. I don’t expect to make a name for myself with my own writing. I do it for no other reason than I love it. I do it to stop my mind exploding. I do it because while I have a pen in my hand, I can be anyone I want to be.
This job is a more realistic version of my dream. I will complete the menial tasks. I will fetch coffee, stuff envelopes. I will learn. Grow. I will work my way up, and I will achieve a successful career helping others to accomplish their dreams.
“I’m Mike. Section manager,” the owner of the hand on my shoulder says.
I proffer my hand for him to shake and he accepts. “Theo,” I say, nodding.
“Let me show you to your station.”
Again, I nod, and trail behind Mike as he leads the way. My lips turn up a little as my gaze unashamedly hones in on his arse. I approve. Utterly squeezable, I think, before being dragged back into the room when he turns around.
“This is your desk. My colleague, Stacey…” He pauses to point at a smartly dressed woman, with a brown bob and thick-rimmed glasses, at the other side of the room. “…Will come and talk you through a few things shortly. But first, let’s see what you’re made of.” My eyes widen and my ears prick up, eager to get stuck in. “Coffee machine’s down the hall. White. One sugar.”
I fight the urge to scowl and nod instead. Mike claps my back and walks away, disappearing into one of the large, private offices. I don’t like him already.
I spend the rest of the day making coffee, filing documents, and being taken on a tour of the gigantic building by Stacey, who I’ve decided I like a lot more than Mike the Moron.