Home > If the Sun Never Sets

If the Sun Never Sets
Author: Ana Huang

Chapter One

 

 

This was it. The moment she’d waited three years for.

Twenty-five-year-old Farrah Lin smoothed a hand over her skirt as she walked toward her manager’s office. Sweat dampened her underarms—thank God she’d worn black today. Sweat stains were the last thing she needed during a promotion meeting.

“Nice top.” Matt fell into step with Farrah, GQ-ready in a black Helmut Lang blazer and Diesel jeans with a smirk pasted on his handsome face.

Farrah flashed a tight smile. “Thanks.”

Like Farrah, Matt worked as a design associate at Kelly Burke Interiors. Unlike Farrah, he’d bypassed the junior grunt years and sailed straight into a mid-level role. All thanks to his godmother, Kelly Burke herself.

Farrah wouldn’t mind so much if Matt worked hard. He had talent, but he treated his job like it was a hobby he could pick up whenever boredom hit. Given the size of his trust fund, it was possible his job was a hobby.

Case in point: KBI had a one-hour lunch break rule, which Matt obliterated by skipping out for two or more hours in the afternoon on a regular basis. No one said anything, because he was Kelly’s best friend’s son and the apple of their boss’s eye, but his blatant disregard for the rules infuriated Farrah.

Then again, part of growing up was knowing when to keep your mouth shut. So, she did.

They reached their supervisor’s office. Farrah knocked and held her breath, both out of nerves and in an attempt not to inhale Matt’s overwhelming cologne. The man smelled like an Abercrombie & Fitch store on steroids.

“Come in.” The thick oak door muffled Jane Sanchez’s summons.

Farrah opened the door, and Jane gestured to the two brass-framed ivory leather chairs across the desk from her. “Take a seat.”

As Kelly’s right-hand woman, Jane ran a tight ship. She oversaw the nuts and bolts of all projects, managed client relationships and the firm’s twelve employees, and brought donuts to the office every Friday to celebrate that week’s wins. As far as managers go, she was great.

Nevertheless, Farrah’s sweat intensified. Nothing wracked her nerves like a Friday afternoon meeting with a higher-up.

“First, I want to thank both of you for how hard you worked on the Zinterhofer project. It was a tough one, and we all had to pull long hours to complete it on time. But I’m pleased to say Z Hotels is thrilled with the outcome.” Jane beamed.

Farrah and Matt smiled back. For the past ten months, they’d worked nonstop on the Z Hotels’ flagship property overlooking Central Park. Landon Zinterhofer, heir to the Z luxury hotel empire, had taken over the brand’s mid-Atlantic portfolio last year. His first order of business: modernizing the NYC outpost and broadening its appeal to wealthy young travelers instead of just the Old Guard of high society.

KBI rarely assigned two associates to a project—not when Kelly was the principal designer—but Z Hotels was their biggest client.

“That’s great!” Farrah’s skin tingled with pride. She may not have led the project, but she’d put a ton of time, sweat, and creative energy into it. Redesigning an entire hotel—including 253 rooms and dozens of public spaces—in ten months was no cakewalk.

Good thing Farrah thrived on challenges. Besides, Z Hotels looked fantastic on her resume, and the project was a straight shot to a senior associate position at KBI, five years ahead of schedule.

Well, almost a straight shot.

“However, we all know why we’re here.” Jane’s eyes turned serious behind her red-framed glasses. “Last year, I mentioned one of you will be promoted to senior associate pending exemplary performance on the Z Hotels project. Even though senior associates usually have at least eight years of experience, Kelly and I agreed you’re both talented enough to take on the increased responsibilities, and we’d much rather promote internally than hire externally. Z Hotels was your test.”

Farrah resisted the urge to grip her necklace. Instead, she clamped down on her chair’s armrests until her knuckles turned white. Beside her, Matt slouched in his chair, dripping confidence.

“You both did an excellent job and impressed us with your diligence, creativity, and commitment. I wish we could promote both of you, but we’re a small firm and we don’t have the capability right now.”

Get on with it already. Farrah appreciated the praise, but she was going to pass out if Jane didn’t get to the point soon.

“That being said, I want to congratulate—”

Oh my God, this was it. Farrah was finally going to get what she’d been working so hard for these past few years. She was going to be—

“Matt. You’re the newest senior design associate at Kelly Burke Interiors. Congratulations.” Jane adjusted her glasses, sounding unenthused.

A senior associate at the tender young age of—what?

Ice water replaced the blood in Farrah’s veins. She must’ve heard wrong.

There was no way Matt—who couldn’t keep the names of their vendors straight and who complained that reading blueprints gave him a “headache”—got promoted over Farrah.

No freaking way.

“Wow, thanks so much.” Matt grinned, not appearing at all surprised by the news. “This is such an honor.”

Jane smiled tersely. “It was Kelly’s decision. Matt, can you give me and Farrah some privacy? I need to speak to her alone.”

“Of course.” Matt patted Farrah’s shoulder on the way out. “Better luck next time.” He oozed condescension.

Farrah flip-flopped between the urge to throw up and the desire to clock Matt in the face.

No. You are not a violent person. Take a deep breath. In one, two, three. Out one—aaaargh!

Jane examined Farrah with a worried frown. “How are you feeling?”

How do you think I’m feeling? Farrah bit back her caustic reply and forced a smile instead. “I’m fine. I’m happy for Matt.”

Her manager sighed. “Farrah, you and I both know you’re supremely talented. That’s why we promoted you to a mid-level role so quickly after you joined the firm. You did exceptional work on the Z Hotels project. Exceptional.” She shook her head. “Please do not take this as a negative reflection of your work or your role here at KBI. You’re a valued member of the team.”

“But not valued enough to receive the promotion.”

Jane hesitated. “The final decision wasn’t mine to make.”

“I know. It was Kelly’s.” Farrah met the other woman’s gaze. “Tell me the truth. Did the fact that Matt is Kelly’s godson play a role in her decision?”

Jane didn’t answer, but the look on her face said it all.

Disappointment snaked through Farrah. She’d idolized Kelly since she was a teenager and had been over the moon about interning at KBI after she won the National Interior Design Association’s student competition in college. Sure, Kelly as a person was more aloof, competitive, and demanding than she’d expected—not exactly mentor material—but Kelly was also one of the top interior designers in America. She had to be demanding.

But Farrah thought Kelly valued talent. Hard work. Meritocracy. It was one thing for her to push up Matt’s promotion to a mid-level role. There were no limits on those. It was another for Kelly to promote Matt over someone who’d given the company everything she had these past three years.

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