The Office Party by Whitney G.



Prologue





Last Christmas





URGENT:

West Media Internal Memo





Dear Valued Employees,





The holidays are upon us once again, and I’d like to personally remind you that my company does not allow sick or vacation days during this time of year.





Since some of you have recently submitted requests to Human Resources for off-days around Christmas, allow me to reiterate what I said when I first hired you:





There is no such thing as an “off day” in December.





My definition of Christmas is a 14-hour workday.

& The Office Party is a mandatory event.





There are no exceptions to these rules, my top executives and I included.





I look forward to seeing you at the prep–ceremony, where our travel partner will reveal this year’s destination for our two-week, all-expenses-paid work retreat.





Be sure to bring whatever gift you purchased for your coworker(s) via the annual Secret Santa tradition.





Unless you want to be unemployed.





Sincerely,

Garrett West

C.E.O., West Media International





P.S. You’re very welcome for the generous opportunities that I provide for you.





~ The entertainment industry never sleeps, so neither do we. ~





ONE





Savannah





Last Christmas

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic





“Are you sure that your boss is okay with this?” My younger sister, Georgia, unbuckles her seatbelt once our plane lands. “I could’ve sworn you said that he never grants anyone the holidays off.”

“That’s the whole point,” I say. “I’ve planned this trip perfectly. By the time we spend the first two nights here, it’ll be too late for him to do anything about me missing the office party. The worst of the weather will have already approached the coast, and all flights will be cancelled. Especially since Teresa is supposed to be a category four hurricane.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Her eyes widen. “You assured me that hurricane season was over in November.”

“He’ll try to email me at that point, I’m sure.” I can’t stop talking. I’m too excited at the thought of getting away with this.

Getting the hell away from Garrett West.

I started the planning for this trip six months ago, and this surprise, off-season hurricane must be my Christmas gift from the universe. It’s my reward for making the fastest rise in the company within three years and successfully resisting the urge to strangle Garrett West to death.

As his top advisor, I know his routine like the back of my hand. I know that at this very moment, he’s on his private plane en route to Hawaii. He’s leaning back in his chair with that cocky smirk on his lips, sipping his favorite brand of Scotch. Minutes from now, he’ll analyze all the reports I’ve sent him, and then he’ll email me pages of “highly suggested changes” for no reason other than to make my life miserable.

“I’m sure he’ll wonder why I’m gone sooner or later,” I say aloud, smiling. “But I’m not allowing him to torture me with his ridiculous office party this year. During our flight, I set up a specialized responder for any question that he can possibly ask, so he shouldn’t notice my absence for a while.”

“Can you back up and elaborate on just how bad this hurricane is supposed to be?” Georgia asks. “That’s what I want to hear about right now.”

“I’ve never worked for someone who is so obsessed with his work,” I say. “You’d think he’s curing a disease with the way he talks to us. I’ve told you about his ‘’ before, right?”

“The hurricane, Savannah ... ” She narrows her eyes at me. “Start talking about the hurricane.”

“Like, who wants to share Christmas Day with the people who drive you insane during the workweek?” I shake my head. “Some of us actually enjoy going home to see our families.”

“I give up.” She stands to her feet, grabbing her bag from the overhead bin. “You know, in all fairness, you hardly ever come home for the holidays. And if you want me to be perfectly honest, you’re a bit of a workaholic, too. I still haven’t forgiven you for bringing your laptop to my graduation ceremony.”