6am and the office was still dark, deserted from the night before. Stacks of paper that I’d walked past the previous evening and abandoned coffee cups over the intern’s desks. It was the same day in and out. First to arrive and last to leave. It was wishful to think of a way out.
Many people would ask why on earth I’d want a way out. That it’s a dream to be in this position. But not me.
Lucy Creton, Co-CEO of Splash Magazine. The title still makes my stomach churn. It felt foreign, so distant from my character and life. Something I never thought would happen. Not yet. That is until Dad fell ill.
It fell on me to carry growing and looking after his legacy. Co-CEO because I wasn’t experienced enough to do things myself. Or perhaps the fact I was a single young woman, not that they said it. ‘You haven’t had enough training’ or ‘We don’t want you to be overwhelmed with work’, were spat at me again, and again. A punch in the face after the years of training I abided by, years devoted to my father and his wishes- in exchange for being able to pursue my own passions as an artist. The endless meetings I attended, business trips and conferences. The years of observing my father and being his right hand despite my own desires. They meant nothing to the room full of men in plaid suits. Being the only child, it was his wish for me to take over one day, but we never imagined it like this. Not this soon. Not in these circumstances. I never expected to see him like this. My days to be like this.
30-minute commutes to the office. 6am till whenever everything was ticked off for the day. On a good day 6pm, others midnight or 2am. Smoothing out office dramas. Dragging ideas out of the assistants and trying to work out the pile of documents, that never seemed to clear off my desk. Trying to keep the peep up in the office, faking a positivity and passion that I did not have, I wasn’t my Dad. Networking events, from galas to workshops, lunch meetings and reviewing business strategies. It was a lot, to say the least. Plus trying to squeeze in visits to see Dad meant my hours were spent. My art career vanished, far from my reach and a curt co-CEO who showed up and barely said a word, let alone took away some of the company stressors from my plate. The only relief was when I was able to see Dad and tell him I had everything under control. Even if it was taking everything out of me.
I sighed as I sat down at my desk, leaning into the back of the chair. I should’ve made a stronger coffee. Black moons underlined my eyes in the reflection of my laptop monitor. Today was going to be a long day. More coffee, necessary. I wasn’t going to get far without the constant rush of caffeine in my blood keeping me alert.
Emails first. Never ending the filling of the inbox, despite the fact I didn’t even receive any of the company emails, just the specific special ones to Dad. He really had a done a good job at making a name for himself. Or making lots of contacts. Both, I guess.
Oh yes, I forgot to tell you, Splash Magazine, what is it? The fastest growing sports magazine in the country. I can’t say I’ll ever understand it but I’ll always be proud of Dads small idea to where it took him. An engaging, current and accurate sports magazine that fit an empty gap in the market. Splash as an ex-swimmer he focused on water sports before opening it up to every sport and related topic. From nutrition tips, exercise ideas, interviews with high profile athletes, race reviews and everything far and in between. The magazines for die hard swimmers to runners to underwater hockey players. Dad had managed to appeal Splash to everyone.
I guess that’s where my creativity came from. We just expressed it in far different ways. Splash was a whole other world to my abstract paintings and delicate word presses. The thought of my art made me ache.
“Good morning,” I jumped. Samuel, my one and only co-CEO looked down at me, his throaty voice breaking the stillness of the empty office.
“Uh hi,” I was startled, “Hi, Morning.”
He nodded and strode over to his office, his glass door adjoining mine.
It was early for him to be here. It was generally just me and my inbox of emails till at least 7am. Then even the interns and other staff turned up before him. Distracted, I filed through emails, replying to some and flagging others for later.
“Lucinda,” He was back, “Do you want go over our strategy before the international pitch this afternoon?”
Once again, surprised, I nodded gamely.
“Yes, we should present as a united team,” I smoothed down my shirt with a shaky sigh, “I have ah,” I paused, “A lot to get done today however.”
His dark eyes held over me. Gray and stormy, much like him. With dark hair, dark eyes and a frown, he played the brooding and mysterious card quite well.
“Anything I can help with?” He said stiffly, his eyes still focused and intense at me.
“Oh,” I exclaimed, “No, no, I’ve got under it control. How about 12? That should give us enough time before the pitch.”
He nodded curtly. Turning to abruptly exit again.
“Samuel,” I called after him before my mind caught up with my mouth.
“Yes Lucinda?” His eyebrows were raised in question as he stopped in his path.
“Why are you here so early?”
It was the first time I had ever heard him make some noise close to a laugh.
“I took a leaf out of your book Lucinda. Is that not okay?”
“Merely curious,” I shrugged/
“Alright then,” He walked away.