Hold Me - Anne Marsh



“HE’S A BASTARD. A really hot, completely insufferable, prick. He always fires half of the staff on his first day.” Hotly’s newest software engineer, Josie, slaps her palm on my desk, making my Melvil Dewey bobblehead dance.

I straighten the stack of books on my desk. They’re for show as Hotly’s archive consists mostly of television footage, but a book-less librarian would be like Barbie without her awesome shoe collection.

I should discourage Josie’s highly inappropriate work gossip, but the whole company’s been at DEFCON 2 since notice of the sale started circulating this morning. Startups get sold or close down constantly in San Francisco, but everyone’s twitching, wondering how it will affect them. I’ve quit or been fired so many times that I can’t bring myself to care.

Instead, I worry about Josie. “Are you hiding out here? So that our new boss can’t find you?”

Josie nods. “You work in the basement,” she says. “I figure he’ll start at the top of the building. Do you think he fires us in person or does he have people to do that?”

“People.” I say this with confidence because I’ve always been fired by a random Human Resources person; CEO spottings have been rarer than the dodo bird in my work life. I can’t imagine the new owner of our internet television channel will bother coming down to the corporate library.

“Maybe it would be better if he did it himself.” Josie looks agonized. “He’s hot and loaded. When will we ever get the chance to meet a guy like that again?”

“You make him sound like a baked potato with bacon and cheese. I don’t think this is a dating opportunity.”

“Dating opportunities have been limited.” Josie waves her hands as if fresh air will make everything clearer. “When is the last time you had a date? Or a second date?”

“Three months.” Although it was more than just a date. I hate that I can’t stop thinking about the guy I met over the summer. I’d feel even guiltier about ending it with him except that, eventually, I’d have screwed it up and then he’d have been the one to walk away. It’s always better to leave first.

Josie bounces back from a dejected slump. “If we’re still gainfully employed tonight, I’ll buy you a drink and we’ll work on your dating plan.”

“You’re on,” I say.

Since Josie’s only been my fellow employee for two weeks, she has legitimate grounds for her continued-employment concerns. Last in, first out is practically a workplace rule. Plus, rents in San Francisco are brutal and she shares a one-bedroom apartment with three other girls.

Since I’ve been working for Hotly.com for almost three months, I’m practically an old hand. As my family would tell you, this is a record for me. I’m a temp, so I bounce from job to job like a pollen-seeking bee. Except, in my case, I’m looking for a paycheck and some ephemeral something else. I’m currently organizing four years of internet broadcasts, along with a ton of scripts, props, contracts and other ephemera so that people can instantly put their hands on what they want.

I spent the first two weeks on the job sorting through about a thousand boxes and organizing backup tapes. It was like a treasure hunt—so much fun but also super dusty. So I’ve adopted the engineering wardrobe of blue jeans and an old button-down. Since it’s Friday—always the most popular day to fire staff—I’m also wearing a bright orange T-shirt with Hotly scrawled across my boobs. The girls are generously sized, so the letters have to really stretch to cover my real estate.

Josie twitches as the silence drags on. “Do you think he can possibly be as hot as they say?”

“Google is your friend.” I push my phone toward her. This is not the sort of search that should happen on the company network.

“What if he is?” Josie chews on her bottom lip. “Wouldn’t that make it really awkward working with him? Like, I’m supposed to say ‘yes, sir’ to whatever he asks. It’s a bad BDSM plot waiting to happen.”

“I don’t think we’re supposed to tie people up during company meetings.”

Naturally my head decides now would be a great time to start a porn strip starring the hot boss and the naughty employee. I blame my recent lack of non-solo orgasms.

The important question is whether I want to be the boss or the employee.

Women’s rights win, and I mentally flip the script in my head so that I play hot, bossy boss and Josie’s