I stare out the window of my suite watching the waves steal more of the sand. The darkness of the storm pushes into paradise, and I let out a long sigh knowing that today is going to suck. The bad weather and the lack of sleep I got last night are the makings of a dreary morning.
Already I’ve made a mistake. This is supposed to be a beautiful retreat and now we’re going to be swallowed by a hurricane. I really hope the weather reports are right about it blowing over quickly.
“A little rain never hurt anyone.” I jerk around to see Mary standing in the living room of my suite as if she appeared out of thin air. She has an odd way of doing that, and I haven’t decided if I like it or not.
“It’s six in the morning. How did you even get in here?” I ask, going back to looking out the window. She’s already dressed and ready to go with her short gray hair styled perfectly and her makeup flawless. She makes it all look so effortless, and I think of my own shortcomings.
“I knew you’d be up. You need me.” I glance over my shoulder, watching her walk over to the phone and call down for breakfast.
I do need her, and that feeling is foreign to me. Normally it’s everyone else that needs me because I’m the steady hand to guide everyone. Ever since Darian was finally recognized for his talents and his career took off, we’ve all been in the lap of luxury. Then suddenly I was thrown into a situation I wasn’t prepared for.
I have no fucking clue what I’m doing, and that’s been the story of my life lately. Now I’m doing it on a much bigger scale, and I’m anxious. When I’m home alone and I’m unsure, that’s one thing. This job, however, affects thousands of other people and could potentially affect millions more.
My stomach churns as my mind lets that number grow with each thought. I should get out of here and call my brother and tell him I can’t do this.
Thunder booms, and it jerks my attention away from the flood of thoughts. I couldn’t leave this place even if I wanted to. The storm reminds me it’s too late and I’m stuck.
“It looks like everyone made it here before they had to ground flights,” Mary informs me.
Lovely. Everyone is here to witness me falling flat on my face.
“Aren't we supposed to have breakfast downstairs?” I’m not hungry in the slightest.
“It can be hard to eat when everyone is talking to you, and you need a full meal. Come on.” She motions. “I want you to look at this. I made it last night, and I thought it would be good for you.”
I walk over and take the folder from her hand. I’ve always respected Mary, even from the moment my brother hired her as his right hand. The woman always knows what she’s doing, and I’m sure she’s guided him a lot too.
It’s weird to think that I’m her boss now, because I’m not bossing her around. Although to be fair, I’m not sure Darian bossed her around much either. Mary and the company got tossed into my lap when he decided to retire.
Me. The foster girl that took care of him and our foster twin sisters. We aren't blood—well, the twins are—but when we were all put into the same home, I pulled us together. I took care of us, and even though my little brother Darian might have only been a few years younger than me, I saw the greatness in him. I knew from the first day we met he would do something amazing, and he has. I just had no idea he’d then pass that responsibility to me. He acted like he didn’t have one doubt, and that faith is a big reason I’m here to begin with. I could have said no, but I didn’t.
I flip the file open and look at all the faces with names below them. Before I know it, I’m sitting down and reading through the pages of notes attached to the photos.
“You’re good with faces, and you’re better with watching people. So at the breakfast meeting this morning you won’t be eating, you’ll be observing. You’ll learn more than the notes I have here because that’s what you do, but I knew you'd like to see names and faces first,” Mary says as a knock sounds at the door. She’s right: I’m already relaxing, just a little, with this knowledge.
“Thanks,” I mumble as I keep on reading and she sets a plate down beside me. “Can I ask you something?” Mary looks up from the small laptop she has in front of her. “Was this a stupid idea? A retreat to get to know everyone?” I cringe. “Are people thinking this is a lame team-building retreat?”
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