Home > Secrets Vol. 3 (Secrets #3)(7)

Secrets Vol. 3 (Secrets #3)(7)
Author: H.M. Ward

“But there is. There is so much.” He turns and when he looks at me fear crawls up my throat like an icy hand. “I think it’s best for both of us if you complete your internship and seek employment elsewhere.”

“What?” It feels like I a sucker-punch. I sit there, pulling up the sheet to cover me.

“It’s for the best.”

Anger flashes in my eyes, but Cole doesn’t look away. Grabbing my clothes, I pull them back on hastily. “Fine.” My voice is flat. “I’m done with this. I’m done with you.”


I cried my eyes out for the rest of the night and it shows. Sophia Sottero looks like perfection next to me with my puffy eyes and dark circles.

She gives me a once over in my black skirt and white blouse. It was the same outfit that Cole told me was too formal for work. “Anna dear, you look like hell frozen over. If you want to work eighteen-hour days, you can’t stay up doing god-knows-what the night before. For the next three weeks, you’re mine. No one else. Understand? Tell this boyfriend he’ll have to wait, because I won’t have this.” She gestures to me like I’m disgusting.

Offense flows through me. I don’t look that bad, but I also don’t look perfect, which Sophia obviously demands. I nod, “Yes, ma’am.”

She puts her hands on her h*ps and says, “Good. I’m glad we understand each other. Now, go grab me a cup of coffee—two creams, no sugar—and bring it to my desk. You’ll do that every morning.” I nod, realizing I’ve been demoted to gopher.

Thoughts of Cole flood my mind as I try to adjust to working with Sophia. She’s anal OCD to the max. If I think about her too much she makes my eye twitch. Later that afternoon, another intern found me in the ladies room.

“You have been in here way too long,” she says zipping around the room, washing her hands and drying them before running for the door.

“What are you talking about? It’s barely been three minutes.”

She glances back at me, her dark eyes wide. “I know. Hurry up or she’ll bite your head off.”

After washing my hands, I emerge from the rest room.

“Ms. Sottero wants you in the shooting room,” says another intern. She glares at me like I’m irresponsible.

I head to the shooting room and kick off my heels as I walk through the door. Sophia looks over at me, her dark eyes darting to my feet and then back to my face. “Shoes are required at all times, Anna dear.” She sighs and walks toward me. “It appears that I’ll be unteaching what Cole has taught you. Assuming nothing, all right?”

I slip back into my shoes and nod. I don’t like the way she speaks about Cole. I sense some unspoken resentment there, but I can’t put my finger on what exactly. A bride and her entourage arrive a few minutes later. I become a coat rack. Then I help dress the bride, pulling corset strings and making sure she looks perfect. I fan her train. I bring her water. I do everything that Regina does. Sophia doesn’t trust me with the lights or the camera. I groan internally. This is going to suck.

Sophia snaps her fingers in my face, “Wake up, Anna. Really.” She scolds. “Fan her train again and give her back her flowers.”

When I hand the bride her flowers, I notice she’s fidgeting - which seems to irritate Sophia. “Is something wrong?” I ask.

“Yes, the top of my foot is itchy. I think it’s from the petticoat. It keeps tickling me.” She moves again trying to get the itch. When she can’t she looks up at me, “Could you do it?”

That sums up the rest of my first day at Sottero’s: scratching feet, fetching coffee, and being all around slave labor. Sophia is kind enough to remind me before I leave that this internship position is not paid.


It is late by the time I walk through the front door. Emma is sitting on the couch with Jesse. Surprised, I stop in my tracks and look up at him. “Hey,” I say.

Emma waves at me, “He came by about an hour ago. I told him to wait for you.” She pops a chip into her mouth.

Jesse stands and walks toward me. “I hope that was okay.” He says, uncertainty lining his face.

“Of course. It’s fine.”

“I saw the papers for the new internship come through the office. Actually, I was the one to enter them into your account. I assume things with the dean didn’t go well.”

“Hardly,” I say, taking off my heels and rubbing my feet. The idea of shoving those on again tomorrow sounds horrifying. “They scrapped my hours with Cole and made me start over.”

“I’m sorry Anna. I know how much you were dreading that.”

I try to sound like it’s a good thing, but don’t quite manage it. “It’s fine. I originally wanted this internship anyway. Life has a funny way of sorting things out. I just didn’t belong with Cole, I guess.”

Jesse looks up at me. We gaze at each other for a beat, before I look away. “Uh, let’s go back here to talk, so Em can watch whatever’s on TV.”

“I can leave. Damn, just say it Anna.” Em says getting up.

“Sit down, grump. Eat your chocolate. You’re acting like the PMS Troll again.” Jesse’s eyes go wide as I toss Emma a Hershey bar.

She catches it and laughs. “Sorry. And thanks.”

“No problem,” I say, and indicate Jesse should follow me. As he walks into my room, I say, “Now don’t get the wrong idea. The apartment is really small and for some reason you know more about me and Cole than Emma does.”

Jesse nods and looks around for a place to sit. He chooses the chair in front of my desk. “I didn’t think it was an invitation for a booty call.” He grins. “I’m not that dense.”

“And that’s why I like you.” I peel off my jacket as I talk and put my shoes in the closet. Jesse watches me. He dangles his arm over the back of the chair.

“So,” he says, looking at me shyly. It’s a very different gaze than the intense looks Cole gives me.

“So,” I reply and smile weakly at him. The corners of my mouth fall and my worries can be seen plainly on my face.

“It’ll be all right, Anna. You can do this. Think of the time with Sottero like trying to sit through Peters’ class if it was a short course.”

“That’s about the only thing that would be worse.” Professor Peters was so boring I never even noticed Jesse sitting in front of me. I had to drink two Red Bulls to keep my head from hitting the desk. Thinking about Sottero, I say, “She’s nothing like I thought she’d be. Cole let me shoot...on my own. Sophia has me getting her coffee and scratching people’s feet. Feet, Jesse.”

He nods sympathetically. “So, I’ve heard.” He pauses for a second, leans toward me. His gaze falls to the floor and then back up to my face. “You know, there have been some interesting remarks about her when all the internship papers are handed in.”

“Such as?”

He smiles at me, and I get the feeling he’s telling me stuff I’m not supposed to know. “Nothing you can’t handle, not after putting up with Stevens. Sottero can be thoughtless and pushy. The interns didn’t feel they really got a hands-on learning experience. It was more like going through the motions to get to the next phase of life. But on the bright side, Sottero’s name is gold. You’ll get a job when you’re done without a problem.”

Pulling off my thigh-highs from the toe, I wad them up and toss them on my bed before sitting down hard. “I had a job. It was a great job.”

Jesse asks, “It sounds like you miss it.”

“A little,” I glance up at him.

Jesse glances at his watch. “I should get going. I just wanted to stop by and make sure you were okay.”

I nod and stand. “Better. Today was definitely better than yesterday.” Yesterday, when Cole jerked my emotions around like it didn’t matter. Yesterday, when I finally gave up on him even though I didn’t want to.


Sophia snaps her fingers at me, “Anna, dear, we must hasten.”

Hasten? Really? Sophia Sottero is like Mary Poppins on crack. She smiles widely and makes everyone love her, well, everyone who doesn’t work for her. It seems like the interns scatter when Sophia is around. She’s constantly snapping her fingers and smacking people with newspapers and magazines like they’re wayward puppies. It’s getting on my nerves, but I made it through a week. Jesse was right. I can do this. The shorter time span meant longer hours each day, but it meant less days as well.

I jog toward her and she frowns at me, snatching the prop out of my hand, “Do not run.”

I smile and nod. I want to tell her that she’s friggin’ crazy and then quit, but I can’t. I deal with her the best I can. If I was stuck here permanently, I’d bash my brains in.

My mind drifts back to Cole. That night on his bed still floods my dreams and I can’t stop thinking about it—about him. Sophia is telling the bride how stunning she is and it sounds sincere, but she sneers when she turns to take the other camera in my hands. It’s clear she thinks the girl looks like a train wreck, but when she turns back around Sophia is all fake compliments. I get tired of this. Day after day, it’s the same thing.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)