Jocelyn (Sewing in SoCal #2) - Sarah Monzon



I was eight years old when I saw the movie Gone With the Wind for the first time. I remember the moment vividly: sitting on our threadbare couch (the only furniture in the matchbox-sized living room in our apartment), my little brother sniffling beside me, snot dripping from his nose, and Scarlet O’Hara silhouetted in front of the orange-hued sunset on the tube television as she boldly proclaimed, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

Something heavy pressed down on my breastbone at that moment—different from the hollowness in my middle that had been my constant companion for as long as I could remember. When Scarlet O’Hara made that vow, I mouthed the words with her…minus the lying, cheating, stealing, and killing addendum she’d tacked on.

That vow had led me to where I was that fateful day in July—sitting in a conference room on the sixth floor of an office building in my role as head of the budget analyst department of a top-tier finance conglomerate, despite the fact I’d never cared for mathematics and had a love/hate relationship with money. I loved the security money brought but hated what people would do to get it. Had I mentioned Scarlett’s willingness to lie, cheat, steal, and kill?

“That about wraps things up.” Jayden, the epitome of a Southern California surfer boy with his sun-soaked blond hair and perpetual tan, spoke from the front of the large oval teak conference table. He’d traded in his Rip Curl board shorts and Oakleys for an Armani suit and shiny Italian loafers, but I wasn’t one to speak.

My closet looked like it belonged to two separate women. On the left hung my tailored business attire, which transformed me into prim and proper Jocelyn Dormus—the woman people could put their trust in to analyze their financial well-being and facilitate a workable budget that would allow them to realize their monetary dreams.

The right side of my walk-in would trigger a blood pressure spike in my clients. Flowy Bohemian dresses with whimsical patterns and carefree material. Though there wasn’t even a hint of correlation, one glance at me in a billowing peasant top, my riotous natural curls confined in an artfully arranged headwrap, and my clients would assume I’d be just as loose with their money.

Tonya, the only other woman sitting around the massive table, poked a perfectly manicured nail in the air. I’d tried to be friendly with her—we women really needed to be allies and stick together in this male-dominated corporate world—but she was cut-throat and had a hard time believing I was for her and not against her. Sad, really.

“The corporate retreat?”

Ten pairs of eyes trained back on Jayden as I slammed my spine straight. I might have let some of the figures that had been droned on about for the last hour float around my head, but I wasn’t about to miss this announcement.

Jayden flushed under our undivided attention and rearranged a stack of papers in front of him. I kind of felt sorry for him, as I wasn’t sure he even wanted to be here. Were the waves of Tourmaline calling to him? Far be it from me to scream nepotism, but he was the CEO’s nephew and had thrown his cap in the air with an undergraduate degree in marketing only last year. The weight shifting didn’t give him a bearing of confidence and authority either.

Not that I had been jockeying for his position. To be honest, I’d pretty much reached the highest rung they’d let me climb to already, and it had cost me plenty of blood, sweat, and tears to get there. I was the minority’s minority. Besides Tonya, the only other female. Besides Sam Yo, the only other non-Caucasian. But I had the privilege to earn 61.6% of my white male counterpart’s wage, so there was that.

I flushed at the sarcastic thought and wiggled my toes in my Jimmy Choos. I’d bought the pumps from a resale app, but never would my younger self have imagined I’d ever get to a point in my life when I’d slip my feet into designer anything. So, yes, there were injustices in the world, unfairnesses that begged to be made right, but there were also miracles. And just being here in this sixth-floor room was one of them.

I willed Jayden—I really should start remembering to call him Mr. Weidel, since he was technically my boss—to speak another miracle. This would be my first corporate retreat with the company, since I’d only