Home > The Stopover (The Miles High Cl(8)

The Stopover (The Miles High Cl(8)
Author: T L Swan

Damn it, I should have worn bright lipstick. I’ll buy one on my lunch break. The doors open on the fortieth floor, and I stride out as if I don’t have a fear in the world.

Faking confidence is my superpower, and today I’m totally faking it till I make it.

Or at least die trying.

“Hello.” I smile at the kind-looking woman standing by reception. “I’m Emily Foster. I’m starting today.”

She smiles broadly. “Hello, Emily, my name is Frances, and I am one of the floor managers.” She steps over to me and shakes my hand. “Lovely to meet you.”

Well, she seems nice.

“Come through, and I’ll show you to your desk.” She walks off, and I peer into the huge office space. The tables are grouped into lots of four or six with partitions separating them from the others. “As you know, each floor of this building is a different arm of the company,” she says as she walks. “We have internationals and magazines from floor twenty down. Floors thirty to forty are news and current affairs, and above forty are television and cable.”

I nod nervously.

“The two top levels of the building are senior management only, and your security card won’t get you up there. It’s customary for new employees to be taken on a guided tour of the building, and Lindsey from human resources will come and get you at two o’clock this afternoon.”

“Okay, great.” I smile as I feel my confidence seep out into the carpet. God, this is all so professional.

“Most people start on level four and work their way up the building, so congratulations for starting on level forty. That in itself is amazing.” She smiles broadly.

“Thank you,” I reply nervously.

She leads me over to a group of four desks by the window and pulls out a chair. “This is your desk.”

“Oh.” I feel the blood drain from my face. I’ve totally bitten off more than I can chew here. I fall into my seat as panic begins to rise in my stomach.

“Hello,” a man says as he sits in the seat beside me. “I’m Aaron.” He reaches over and shakes my hand with a broad smile. “You must be Emily.”

“Hi, Aaron,” I whisper, feeling totally inadequate.

“I’ll leave you in Aaron’s safe hands.” Frances smiles.

“Thank you.”

“Have a great day.” She returns to reception.

And I stare at the computer on my desk as my heart begins to beat violently.

“Are you excited?” Aaron asks.

“Oh my God, I’m petrified,” I whisper as I turn to him. “I’ve never done this job before. I usually find the stories with my group.”

He smiles warmly. “Don’t worry; we all felt the same when we started, but they wouldn’t have given you the job if they didn’t think you could do it.”

I give him a lopsided smile. “I just don’t want to let anyone down.”

He reaches over and puts his hand on top of mine. “You won’t. This team is great, and we help each other.”

I glance down at his hand on mine.

“Oh.” He pulls it away as he notices my discomfort. “I’m totally gay and way too touchy, apparently. Tell me if I get in your space. I have no sphere of reference.”

I smile, grateful for his honesty. “Okay.” I look around the office as people file in. “How long have you worked here?”

“Four years. I love it.” He shivers his shoulders to accentuate his point. “Best job I’ve ever had. I moved from San Fran for it.”

“I moved from California.” I smile proudly.

“You here by yourself?” he asks.

“Yeah.” I shrug. “I got a little one-bedroom apartment. I arrived on Friday.”

“What did you do all weekend?” he asks.

“Freaked out about today.”

He laughs. “Don’t worry. We’ve all been there.”

I look around at the two other empty chairs. “Who else do we work with?”

“Molly.” He points to the chair behind me. “She doesn’t start until nine thirty. She’s a single mom and has to get her kids off to school first.”

I smile; I like that.

“And Ava—she’s just late because she probably went out last night partying.”

I smile.

He rolls his eyes. “She’s a deplorable party girl, and she’s never at her desk—always finds somewhere she has to be.”

“Hello,” a girl says as she runs up the aisle and sits down in her chair. She’s panting and holds out her hand. “I’m Ava.”

I shake her hand and smile. “I’m Emily.”

Ava is younger than me and very attractive, with a honey-colored bob and dramatic makeup. She’s trendy and very New York.

“Open up your computer, Emily, and I’ll show you through our programs,” Aaron says.

“Okay,” I reply as I concentrate on my task.

“Oh my God, Aaron,” Ava says. “I met the hottest fucking guy last night.”

“Here we go.” Aaron sighs. “You meet the hottest fucking guy every night.”

I find myself smiling as I listen to them.

“No, seriously, this time I mean it.”

I glance over at Aaron, and he smirks at me and rolls his eyes as if he’s heard it all before.

She gets to work, and Aaron goes through and explains the programs as I take notes. “At ten o’clock the stories will start coming in.”

I listen intently.

“We, as reporters, go through them and all say yay or nay as to whether it’s got legs and if we go and report on it.”

I frown. “But how will I know that?”

“We just vote yes for stuff that interests us, I suppose,” Ava says. “Obviously, news stories that are breaking are crucial, but it’s the other content that they pay us for.”

She reads an email. “For example, three coffee shops have closed down in one week within two blocks from each other.” She rolls her eyes. “Honestly, who gives a fuck? This isn’t news.”

I giggle.

“Here’s one.” Aaron reads out, “A driver has been clocked traveling at one hundred fifty-five miles per hour, and he ran a police stop sign. He was involved in a hot pursuit and ended up crashing into parked cars in Brooklyn.”

Ava nods. “Yeah, that’s good.”

“We’ll go with that.” He types something and puts the file into a saved folder.

“So how does this work?” I ask.

“We collect stories, and then we discuss collectively what each of us has done and put together a list of stories. You research your stories and have them in by four each day for the next day’s news. Then we send them on to Hayden, and he sends them to editing. Obviously, if a good story comes in, it will take priority over everything else, and it will go to live news immediately.”

I frown as I listen. “So we each get our own stories and leads sent to us?”

“Yes, by email. By others on this level.”

I glance around at all the workers surrounding us.

“We keep our finger on the pulse of what sells and what news really is,” Ava replies. “It’s the coolest job ever.”

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