A Life Less Ordinary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life Less Ordinary

by

Victoria Bernadine

 

 

 

This book is a work of fiction.  References to
real people, events, establishments, organizations, websites, or locales are
intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, are used fictitiously; and do
not imply endorsement or relationship of any kind between this book and the
referenced people, places or things.  If any person or organization feels their
intellectual property rights have been infringed due to such use in this book,
please contact Love of Words Publishing Inc. (
[email protected]
) for resolution.

All other characters and all incidents and
dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as
real.

 

A LIFE LESS ORDINARY.  Copyright © 2012 by
Victoria Bernadine.  All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used or
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the
case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews, or used
within transformative fanworks. 

Transformative fanworks (e.g., fanfiction,
fanart, fanvids, podfic) are permitted and encouraged so long as the transformative
fanwork is provided for free and includes appropriate disclaimers related to
ownership of copyright. 
Permission to create transformative fanworks in no
way implies an assignment of copyright or a waiver of moral rights in this
work.
 

For information, contact Love of Words
Publishing Inc.,
[email protected]
.

 

 

ISBN
978-0-9918102-0-8

 

 

 

m/d/y/#

12-10-12-0001

 

Table of Contents

Episode
1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

Episode 10

Episode 11

Episode 12

Episode 13

Author’s Notes

 

Episode 1
Minus Thirty-one Days

“All
I ever wanted was a life less ordinary.”

Manny
lay flat on her back, eyes wide, staring at the ceiling while she waited for
her clock to hit 6:00.  Another day of work, she thought.  Another day older
and deeper in debt.

She
had the alarm timed to the millisecond.  The jarring noise had barely begun
when she clicked it off.  She sighed then threw back the covers and got out of
bed.

She
padded into the bathroom, glanced without interest in the full-length mirror
that doubled as her shower doors and took her morning inventory. 

Plain
face?  Check.

Looking
tired? Check. 

Thirty
pounds overweight?  Check. 

Dark
circles under deer-caught-in-headlights eyes?  Check and check. 

She
shook her head at her limp, mousy hair and wondered when she’d gotten so old.

She
sighed in resignation then conjured up her Perfect Fantasy Man – or Harvey, as
she liked to call him – to give her a morning lift.  She cocked her head to one
side as she stared into the mirror and imagined him standing behind her.  She
smiled at the handsome man, and he smiled back, putting his hands on her
shoulders.  Everything about him was warm, in stark contrast to the cold shades
of grey in which she lived her life.  He had warm brown eyes, warm brown skin,
and a warm smooth voice that always reminded her of golden honey.  Today his
hair was black with greying temples, and yes, even that seemed warm to her. 

He
was perfect, everything she considered ideal in a man – and extra-perfect, of
course, because he was a fantasy.  Just the thought of trying to establish a
relationship with an actual man felt too much like work.

She
sighed and Harvey disappeared.

“Instead
I ended up in a rut – everything planned and executed to the minute.”

She
finished her shower and padded out to the kitchen wrapped in a worn terrycloth
robe just as the coffee pot finished perking her morning coffee.  She pulled a
white cup out of the cupboard, filled it and took it with her to the bedroom,
where she drank her coffee while she dressed and pulled her hair into its
habitual bun high on the back of her head.  At 6:45 sharp, she was back in the
kitchen where she rinsed out the cup and put it on the rack next to the other
three cups from earlier in the week; they marked the passage of time like scratches
on a prison wall.

She
walked out the door at 6:55 as usual, called good morning to Mr. Abinash from
next door, as usual, got into her car and drove to work.  As usual.  She walked
in at 7:37, called good morning to those of her staff already at their desks,
and settled herself in her office.

As
usual.

She
sighed silently as she logged on to her computer and realized she couldn’t
remember the last time she’d had a sick day or had come in late.  Even her car
and traffic and the sometimes-harsh Edmonton winters had given up trying to
throw off her schedule.

She
sighed again as she rifled through her stacks of paper, searching for the
information she needed to review before the staff meeting at nine.  The last
staff meeting before their new boss arrived at ten, and Manny went back to her
old position.  She’d enjoyed being the boss and thought she’d had a good chance
to win the promotion.  If she was honest with herself, though, she hadn’t
really been surprised with the decision to offer the job to Steph.  If she had
the energy, she’d almost wonder why she didn’t even care that much.

“I
told myself it was security.  But all I was doing was sleeping with my eyes
open.”

Manny
glanced up as her assistant energetically bounced in.

“Morning,
Manny.”

“Morning,
Roxie.  How was your evening?”

“Great
– went to that new Robert Downey Jr. movie -
rrrooowwwrrrr!
  Phil wasn’t
too impressed with my drooling though.”

Manny
laughed.  “I’d expect not.  I guess I need to go see it then.”

“Yeah,
sure.  When was the last time you actually went to a movie in the theatre?”

Manny
paused, considering the question then shrugged carelessly.  “Can’t remember,
actually.”

Roxie
shook her head in exasperated fondness and sat down in front of Manny’s desk. 
She leaned forward and lowered her voice.  “So, the new boss starts today?”

“Yep,”
Manny replied absently, reviewing the e-mails in her inbox.

“Are
you going to be okay with this?  I mean, you -”

“Of
course I’m okay with it.  Steph’s a nice person, bright, energetic, competent, levelheaded,
full of new ideas.  She may have a bit of a learning curve ahead of her, but
she’ll do just fine.  She may be just what we need around here.  Perk us up a
bit.”

“Yeah,
but you -”

Manny
took her hands off the keyboard and turned to face Roxie directly.  She gave
her a reassuring smile and calmly held her gaze. 

“I’m
okay with it,” she said.  “Really.  I didn’t want to be the boss anyway.”  She
paused then continued.  “Everything’s going to be fine.  You’ll see.  A new
boss will be fun!”

Roxie
grimaced cynically and Manny shook her head in mock disapproval.

“We
should get to work,” she urged gently.

Roxie
nodded and stood.  “Yeah, that at least never changes.  But Manny...”

Manny
raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“It
should’ve been you.”

~~~~~

Manny
couldn’t stop her mind from wandering during the staff meeting, finding Craig’s
voice even more monotone than usual.  Or maybe the information was more
monotonous than usual.

Or
maybe you just don’t feel the need to pay close attention since you didn’t get
the promotion.

Manny
raised an eyebrow as she glanced towards Harvey sitting across the table from
her.  He looked very handsome in a well-cut expensive suit and gold silk tie.

I
should still pay more attention,
she replied primly and turned her attention
back to Craig’s dry voice.

“The
quarterly forecast clearly shows -” he droned, and she mentally rolled her eyes
and glanced back across the table where Harvey grinned wickedly at her.  For a
moment, she allowed herself to get lost in his dark, mysterious eyes.

“Manny?” 

She
blinked and looked up at Craig.  “Yes?”

“What’s
your opinion?” he repeated.

“I’m
sorry – I was thinking of something else.  My opinion on what?”

Craig
frowned at her, obviously displeased.  “The budget allocations,” he snapped,
and Manny flushed and shifted uncomfortably.

Wonder
what he’d say if you told him your
real
opinion?

Shut
up.

~~~~~

Craig
preceded Manny into his office then stood behind his desk and watched as she
closed the door and sat down at the table.  He frowned at her.

“It’s
not like you to not pay attention in a meeting,” he said.

Manny
sighed and shrugged.  “Sorry, Craig.”

“This
isn’t about losing out on that promotion, is it?”

“Not
intentionally, but now that you mention it -”

“I’ve
already explained it to you.  We had no concerns that you could have done the
job.”

“That’s
a relief, especially since I’ve
been
doing it.”

Craig
gave her a warning look at her slightly sarcastic tone and continued, “We want
to go in a new direction.  We decided we needed somebody fresh, not burdened by
the years of history and ‘how things used to be’.  We needed somebody -”

“Young?”

Craig’s
lips tightened.  “New ideas, Manny.  Somebody with new ideas, to take your area
from the status quo to high achievement.”

“Our
status quo
is
high achievement.”

“Higher,
then.”  Craig paused and stared hard at her.  “Are you going to be able to work
with Steph?”

“Of
course.  I’m nothing if not professional and dedicated to my job.”

Craig
nodded, his eyes boring into hers.  “And I appreciate that.  I’d hate to think you’re
not a team player.”

Manny
flushed but held his gaze for several beats.  Craig seemed satisfied by what he
saw and nodded to indicate the conversation was over.  Manny walked to the
door, then paused and turned back to him.

“Craig? 
Do I have any chance at all of moving up in this company?  I mean, I’ve been
here for fifteen years -”

“There’s
always a chance, Manny.  You’ll just have to wait and see what comes up.”  He
gave her a thin smile, then sat and turned his attention to his computer.

Manny
left thoughtfully; she knew a brush-off when she heard it.

~~~~~

Manny
walked in her door, looking tired and feeling worn out.  She wondered ruefully
why the only thing not on a schedule was the time she could leave the office. 
She dropped her purse on the table and hung up her coat and keys.  With a tired
sigh, she walked into the living room and plopped into the armchair.  She
closed her eyes as Harvey walked out of the kitchen with a glass of white wine
and began to rub her shoulders.  He again looked impossibly handsome, this time
wearing a sweater and jeans.  She sighed in imagined bliss, and looked at him
with sad eyes.

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