By: Vi Keeland

“Oh. Okay. Thank you.” I had thought she was my interviewer.

A few minutes later the vice president of Flora Cosmetics walked in. It was the woman from the hallway bathroom—the one who’d seen me washing my armpits. Great.

I was glad I’d at least done it without unbuttoning my shirt. I tried to recall what we’d spoken about, other than the weather. I didn’t think there was much.

“I see you’ve cooled off.” Her tone was very business-like, not at all friendly like it had been in the bathroom.

“Yes. Sorry about that. The heat really hit me hard today.”

She shuffled some papers on her desk into a pile and fired off her first question without any further small talk. “So, Ms. Annesley, why are you in search of a new job? It says here you’re currently employed.”

“I am. I’ve been with Fresh Look Cosmetics for seven years. I started there right out of college, actually. I worked my way up from marketing intern to director of marketing during that time. I’ll be honest, I’ve been happy there for my entire career. But I feel like I’ve hit a ceiling at Fresh Look, and it’s time I started to look for other opportunities.”

“A ceiling? How so?”

“Well, Fresh Look is still a family-owned company, and although I admire and respect Scott Eikman, the founder and president, most of the executive-level positions are taken by members of the Eikman family—one of whom, Derek Eikman, was just promoted over me to vice president.” Saying it out loud still left a bitter taste in my mouth.

“So, people less deserving than you are promoted because of kinship? And that’s why you’re leaving?”

“I suppose that’s a big part of it, yes. But it’s also just time for me to move on.”

“Isn’t it possible that members of the Eikman family know the business better, having grown up in that world? Perhaps they are actually more qualified than other employees?”

What’s the bug up this woman’s ass? None of this nepotism is new. Hell, half of the Walmart execs are still blood-related to Sam Walton, and he’s been gone for two decades.

It was definitely not the time to add that I’d had too much to drink at last year’s company holiday party and slept with the then-director of sales, Derek Eikman. It was a one-time thing, a drunken mistake with a co-worker after a year-long dry spell. I’d known it was a mistake ten minutes after it was over. I just didn’t know how big of a mistake until two days later, when the asshole announced his engagement to his girlfriend of seven years. He’d told me he was single and unattached. When I’d marched into his office and told him off, he’d explained that we could still fuck even though he was engaged.

The man was a sleazebag, and there was no way I could work for him now that he’d been promoted to vice president. Aside from being a cheating pig, he also knew nothing about marketing.

“In my case, I’m relatively confident that I was the better candidate.”

She gave me a completely fake smile and folded her hands on her desk. Did I say something to upset her in the bathroom earlier? I didn’t think so... But her next question certainly jogged my memory.

“So tell me, what is it about your afternoon interview that makes the company seem superior? I mean, as a marketing expert, they must be doing something right to make you consider paying for a cab?”

Oh. Shit. I’d completely forgotten that I’d told her I was going to take a cab to my next interview—since that was the job I really wanted.

There was no digging myself out of the hole I was in after that. Even though, in spite of things, I thought I handled myself professionally, I could tell her mind was made up about me.

Just as the interview was coming to an end, an older gentleman popped his head into her office. “Sweetheart, are you coming for dinner tomorrow night? Your mother has been bugging me to get you to commit.”

“Dad, umm…Daniel, I’m in the middle of an interview. Can we talk about it later?”

“Sure, sure. Sorry. Stop by my office later.” He smiled politely at me and knocked on the door jamb as his goodbye before walking away.

My mouth hung open as I turned back to my interviewer. I already knew the answer, but asked anyway. “Daniel…Donnelly, the president of Flora Cosmetics, is your father?”