Office Hate by Rachel Van Dyken




Prologue


Olivia

1 year previous



“Think of it this way. We graduate college in less than four hours, you’re going to end up becoming this badass marketing strategist, and you’ll never have to see him again.” Amelia patted me on the head while I glared at my nemesis across the huge gym of our private university.

Mark Huxley.

The bane of my existence since freshman year when I went to a frat party, and he gave me a bloody nose.

It wasn’t his fault.

I mean, not really.

If I really wanted to dissect it, I was partially to blame. I’d had a little too much wine, tripped over my own shoe, and he just happened to be coming out of the stupid bathroom with one of his many fans on his arm and lipstick all over his face.

He rammed right into me, spilling his beer all over my brand new Jordans, and then tripped over the girl still clinging to him, sending his elbow flying across my face as he tried to hold her up while I went sailing to the floor.

I remember blinking up at him and waiting for him to offer his hand. Instead, the girl on his arm stepped over me with her giant heels, and he chased after her like she had a magic snatch.

I had to recover all on my own.

And that wasn’t the first time we’d had a run-in.

We’d carried the same major, business with a minor in marketing.

So all the same classes, save one, archery, which let’s be honest, he and I and archery would have ended up in complete and total bloodshed.

“Seriously, though.” I crossed my arms and glared. “Why does everyone love him so much?”

Amelia gulped and tucked her short black hair behind her ear as the president of the university droned on and on about our guest speaker.

“He’s hot,” she finally blurted. “Sorry, I mean I have eyes, and his are so blue…”

It irritated me that God had gifted him with a perfect body to boot. I mean, if he was going to have that nice of a face, could he have at least had bacne? Weird toes? A thripple?

As if sensing my hateful thoughts, he and his friend Ryker both turned in my direction. Ryker smiled. He was almost as bad as Mark with his curly blond hair and green eyes.

He elbowed Mark, who chose that moment to smirk and then wink at me. The absolute nerve of that jackass!

“Sit. Down.” Amelia grabbed my arm. “You can’t take him. He’s twice your size, and you’ll just end up with another bloody nose.”

Wait, was I actually getting up?

He made me insane!

I was losing my mind during my own graduation ceremony!

I huffed, sitting back in my chair, ready to give him the finger when he finger waved at me like we were best friends, and yup, I was going to shove those fingers down his throat and yell something like, “Die, bitch, die!”

“…CEO of Emory Enterprises, Max Emory!” The dean was really hard up on this guy; he looked ready to pass out as he shook this Max guy’s hand and then gave him the microphone.

Max was really attractive for someone in his thirties. Huh, CEO before forty, he was living my best life.

I wanted that.

I deserved that.

I’d worked hard for that.

I chewed my lower lip, all memory of Mark forgotten as I zeroed in on whatever life advice this speaker was going to give us.

“It’s a pleasure to be here.” His toothy grin had several girls in the audience fanning themselves and making sighing noises.

Disgusting.

Give me the details on how to be a CEO, damn it!

Gimme!

“When they asked me to give the commencement speech, I knew that it had to be something special, something that you’d think back on, something…” He paused for obvious dramatic effect. “…that you would take with you for the rest of your life.” He chuckled. “And then I remembered my commencement ceremony, or lack thereof. The drunkenness, the nakedness, the sheer boredom of sitting on my ass for hours while some old guy told me how to live my life…”

As though cued up, people laughed.

“So I’m not going to bore you with inspiration on how making your bed means you’ll make better choices, or that if you work super hard you’re going to become a millionaire like me.”

More laughter.

“I wrote a book on success, and what I’ve learned is that a lot of it is luck. Yes, it’s hard work, but at the end of the day…you need to remember to never sign anything without reading it first. Always have a wingman, even if it’s a gecko. Never, and I do mean never, do a reality show where you’re the bachelor, and you have psychotic women thrusting their bosoms in your face, and above all…when you’re given a chance to do something epic—you take it. Feel me?” He laughed and then cracked his knuckles and went on. “You probably understood none of that, and that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Half of you are listening. Half are starving. Some didn’t even show up, so what’s the point. Am I right?”