Home > Primal Instincts_ Volume 2

Primal Instincts_ Volume 2
Author: Nicole Edwards

Journey Zeplyn
Another weekend was behind me. Whooshed right into the past because of too much to do and too little time to do it.
I had spent the majority of it sitting at my parents’ kitchen table with my laptop in front of me. Despite the fact my days and nights included nonstop thoughts of Creed and our encounter in the bathroom at Austere, I had managed to focus long enough to get my presentation to the point I was happy with it. The cats proved to be a decent sounding board, but after about the fifth time of reciting my proposal, they lost interest and disappeared as they were prone to do.
If someone were passing out blue ribbons for participation, I would’ve earned it because it hadn’t been easy. Nor had it been easy not to look at my phone a bajillion times to see whether Creed or Hawk had texted. They hadn’t, but as a wise poet once said, hope springs eternal.
While it might sound like I was a studious perfectionist, that wasn’t true. I did manage to sneak away on Sunday afternoon. It had been required for my sanity when I found myself alone and overwhelmed with the temptation to stare at my text messages, waiting for a new one. Instead of stalking my iPhone, I filled the time with a quick trip to the mall to buy a new outfit. Rather than invite Rhylee, which was usually my preference, I didn’t call to tell her. It felt wrong to be in her company when I was harboring these feelings for Creed, considering how she had reacted to him when they met. As it was, I didn’t know whether she had encountered him again after I left, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.
So I tackled the task on my own.
While my closet was full of items I adored, I wanted something new, something that would make me feel confident and assertive for my presentation to the VPs. My intention was to buy a formal business suit, but I changed my plans when I saw a long sleeve, black A-line wrap dress at the first store I went to. The knee-length number wasn’t at all what I intended and was likely the opposite of the business suit, but the more I thought about Creed’s high-handedness, the more ornery I became.
Of course, me being me, I’d spent most of last night questioning my purchase, but now, as I stood in front of the full-length mirror, admiring myself, I couldn’t figure out where my doubt had come from. I loved everything about the dress, from the way it hugged my body to how the two halves of the dress crisscrossed between my breasts, giving the illusion I had actual cleavage. The slit that ran high up on my thigh beneath the bow that tied it together was both demure and sexy. The fabric was heavy enough to keep the skirt from flapping wide so it didn’t show off much leg at all, but it teased with every step I took.
I put my hand on my hip and put my right foot forward, swinging it back and forth on the heel of my Louboutin Bombina spikes stiletto sandal. The shoes took the outfit from trendy to sexy with an edge. There was no way Creed would be able to look at me and not notice the wicked spikes and think dirty thoughts, which was exactly what I was going for.
I would admit Gem’s and Delaney’s cattiness had swayed my decision, too. People often saw me as the mousy little girl content to remain on the fringes. But people saw what I wanted them to see. I figured it had to do with my single-minded focus. In college, I had kept my nose to the grindstone and overtaxed myself with a dual degree, but I had known it would pay off in the long run. Princeton hadn’t been my first choice, but my parents were thrilled when I got accepted, so I caved to their urging. When I arrived on campus, I told myself I wasn’t there to make friends or to party. I was preparing myself for my future, and it had paid off tenfold.
All of that work led me to where I was right at this moment.
I couldn’t help taking another look in the mirror to ensure I was comfortable about the statement I would make. Up to this point, I’d relied on my sweet girl image to get doors opened. Sometimes it worked; often, it didn’t. But even I knew sweet would only get you so far, and thanks to Creed’s arrogance, I wasn’t feeling particularly sweet.
“You’ve got this,” I said aloud.
I’d never been one to seek attention from others, but I’d never wanted to hide in the shadows, either. After what I’d heard Gem and Delaney say, I wasn’t above playing to all my assets if it got me what I wanted. In this case, it could get me more than I bargained for with Creed, but I figured it was worth the gamble. I hadn’t stopped thinking about our encounter in the bathroom at Austere. He had exposed a side of me I’d suspected was there but could never quite tap into. Now that he’d uncovered it, I wanted to pursue whatever this was.
Getting through today was the first step.
I arrived at work an hour early because I wanted to take Cheryl up on her offer, seeking input on my proposal. As promised, she was already there. Since I arrived first, she gave me half an hour of her time, and by the time I walked out of her office, I was feeling even better. We had tweaked a few things, added a couple more, and despite the fact those militant butterflies were starting to make their presence known, I was ready.
The morning passed in waves of drama. While I finalized my presentation to send to Cheryl, I was entertained by the constant chatter as the team interacted. It started when Cheryl met with Delaney. Whatever took place behind that closed door evidently didn’t sit well with Delaney. She was grumpy for most of the morning, but her sourness faded shortly after a second meeting with Cheryl.
Then there was Gem, who decided they would do it on their own rather than seeking input from Cheryl. They had words, most of them pertaining to Cheryl pleading with Gem to do a mock presentation and Gem repeatedly refusing.
But the best part was when Wayne came in an hour late only to learn that the presentation had been moved and he would be going first since he didn’t have a doctor’s note. He bitched that he didn’t get to meet with three of the four product teams because time hadn’t allowed for it. When Cheryl asked him what time he was meeting with them today, Wayne told her he was planning to find time today, but he hadn’t actually set anything up. Cheryl politely reminded him that was his fault, not hers. Maybe if he’d been more proactive, she would’ve given him a reprieve. I don’t think it went over well because Wayne had been grumbling and cursing for the last two hours.
At noon, the butterflies in my belly went haywire.
By 12:30 p.m., they were on a full-blown rampage.
And at 12:50 p.m., as we were making our way to the third-floor conference room where we’d present to the VPs, they were doing an all-out assault on my nervous system.
“Have a seat at the back,” Cheryl instructed when we reached the door. “I’ll get your presentations set up. I’ll run them for you so you can focus on your talking points.”