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The Difference Between Us (Opposites Attract #2)
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At least when it comes to finding Mr. Right.
I’m tired of men that only want one night stands or blind dates that are nothing but awkward and uncomfortable. I’m tired of avoiding inappropriate text messages and the constant disappointment of always meeting Mr. Wrong.
After all these years of dates that lead nowhere, I can admit that it’s me. I’m the problem. I’m shy and picky and cursed. Definitely cursed.
So I’ve decided two things.
The first? I’m giving up dating and relationships and men in general. Maybe, possibly, forever.
The second? I’m going to have to try harder to avoid Ezra Baptiste.
If I couldn’t hack it in the kiddy pool of dating, I certainly can’t swim in his deep end. He’s too successful. Too intense. He’s all man when I’m used to nothing but boys pretending to be grownups. He’s everything I’m afraid to want and so far out of my league we might as well be different species entirely.
So he’ll need to find a different artist to paint his mural. And a different graphic designer to help him with his website. He’ll need to find someone else to glare at and flirt with and kiss.
It can’t be me.
We’re too different.
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I walked into the meeting fifteen minutes late.
That’s when the murders began…
Nobody was murdered. Nobody did any murdering for that matter. It was only our weekly planning meeting, held every Monday at four o’clock, rain or shine, blizzard or earthquake, or zombie apocalypse. Because that was how my dinosaur of a boss rolled.
Every Monday at the same time, the entire staff of SixTwentySix Marketing gathered together in the sleek conference room eight stories above downtown Durham and went to war. Or that was what it felt like. My boss, Mr. Tucker, or Mother Tucker as I liked to call him, presided over the meeting at the head of the table. His firm fist pounded like a gavel as my colleagues and I battled over coveted accounts and lead positions while skillfully dodging less lucrative projects.
Because I was a minnow in a sea of sharks, guess who always ended up with the dud accounts?
A family insurance firm is in need of a new logo? Something updated and eye-catching, but also a straight-up replica of the same one they’ve used for eighteen years? I’m your girl.
A family dental office hoping to pull in new customers with some flashy social media graphics? Yep, I’m all over it.
A dinky Baptist church that basically needed someone to explain PowerPoint to them? Watch out world, I can explain the hell out of PowerPoint.
Which was basically what the pastor had asked me to do. “Please get Satan out of this program so we can use it on Sunday mornings.”
I was pretty much the go-to girl for all things boring and uninspired. But it paid the bills, and I had high hopes of moving up one day. For now, I was somewhat happy to pay my dues. I’d start with logos and promo pics, so that tomorrow I could move up to six-figure social media campaigns and citywide advertisements.
It was all in my five-year plan. Along with being on time to a meeting every once in a while.
My boss glared at me from his self-appointed throne chair, tracking my every step as I quietly tiptoed around the room in three-inch heels. So basically, not tiptoeing at all. I clunked clumsily on the bamboo floor, causing every set of eyes to turn my way.
Waving meekly from behind my planner, I ignored the smirks from my smug coworkers. They thought they were big deals because they had things like job security and savings accounts. I was just grateful to have a seat at the table.
I was the youngest designer at twenty-seven working at a cutthroat graphic design company and didn’t have a ton of perks. My coworkers resented me, my clients underestimated me, and my boss barely remembered that I wasn’t his secretary.
I kept waiting for the call into the corner office. Mr. Tucker would raise one bushy eyebrow and say, “We appreciate all you’ve done for us, Holly, but we’re going in a different, more punctual direction.”
Squeezing between two swiveling, leather chairs to take the only available seat, I set my planner on the table, hid my phone on my lap, and pulled a pen from hair. I crossed my legs at the ankles and leaned forward attentively—the consummate professional.
“So nice of you to join us, Mitchell,” he grunted.
My last name was Maverick. And my first name—Molly. But for some reason I’d never found the courage to correct him. It was borderline ridiculous at this point, but I’d let him get away with it for nearly three years now, so mentioning it to him after all this time seemed humiliating awkward.
Every time I got paid, I breathed a sigh of relief that at least human resources knew my name.
I flashed him a closed-lip smile and waited till he turned away before I brushed my bangs out of my eyes. Slumping just barely in my seat, I clicked on my pen and pretended to start taking notes in the margin of my planner.
To the Mother Tucker, it looked like I was an excellent listener. To my Erin Condren organizer it looked like Fourth of July at nighttime—a horizon full of exploding fireworks that were all shapes and sizes; metaphors for the current status of my spiraling career.
And I didn’t mean because of the celebratory sky. I was referring to the gunpowder and fiery explosions part.
Mr. Tucker began going over standing accounts. Different designers gave updates and reports for forty-five minutes. I focused on the details of my drawing so I didn’t embarrass myself further by falling asleep.
Finally, after so much ass-kissing from my coworkers that my own lips felt chapped, Mr. Tucker pulled out his ivory cardstock stationary. For as many modern advances as SixTwentySix Marketing had made in the last several years, Mr. Tucker was as old school as they came.
His idea of marketing revolved around magazine advertisements and call-based surveys. I wasn’t even sure he had an email account set up in his name. He’d started STS sometime shortly after Alexander the Great tried to invade India, and then named the company after his anniversary date so he would never forget.