Home > While We Were Dating (The Wedding Date #6)

While We Were Dating (The Wedding Date #6)
Author: Jasmine Guillory

 

One


   Ben Stephens was running late to work, clutching a cup of coffee, and about to get on the bus when his boss called.

   Shit. He’d meant to get to work early this morning because of that pitch they had later for a huge client, but he’d woken up in the bed of last night’s date and had to race back home, shower, change, and then get to work. He was honestly proud of himself for only running fifteen minutes late, and now this.

   “I hope I caught you before you left home,” Lisa said.

   He looked from side to side. Was he being watched? Was this a trick question?

   “Um, no, I’m on Muni, on the way to the office,” he said. Which was true! He was one step onto Muni by the time he said it.

   “Okay, well, go back home and get your car,” she said. “I know we were supposed to drive down to that pitch together today, but I’m stuck at LAX, along with everyone else who was supposed to be there today; if it was any other client we’d postpone, but if we do it for this, they’ll just give the ad campaign to someone else.”

   Ben was already off the bus and on the way back to his apartment.

   “So do you want me to do it alone?” He felt a burst of adrenaline at the thought of it. He was great at client pitches, and he never got to lead them at this ad agency. But this was a much more top-down agency than the ones he’d been at before, and while he’d gotten to work on some fantastic campaigns, he had a lot less autonomy.

   “We may not have a choice,” Lisa said. “We’re scheduled to be on another flight that leaves in an hour, so if traffic is with us, we may not be there too late, but you’ll almost certainly have to at least start it on your own. Can you handle it? I just emailed Vanessa and told her to meet you there; she’ll bring everything you need. You already have the PowerPoint.”

   He didn’t just have the PowerPoint, he’d written almost the entire thing, but they both knew that.

   “Sure, I can handle it, no problem. I know the vision for this ad campaign inside out.” Which was absolutely true. He’d done the bulk of the work for it, but he’d always known he wouldn’t play much of a role at the pitch today. He knew he would be there partly so they could look to him to fill in the blanks they didn’t know, and mostly to show the “diversity” of their ad agency.

   He could hear the relief in his boss’s voice.

   “I knew I could count on you, Ben. Even if promptness isn’t your strong point, your ability to win over clients is. And I know how hard you worked on this. See you soon, I hope. Text me if you need anything, okay?”

   He let himself back into his building and pretended he hadn’t heard that crack about his promptness. Especially since it was true.

   “Will do.”

   He changed into his lucky shoes, grabbed his car keys, and headed to his car. This ad campaign was top secret—it was to launch a splashy new phone, and they’d all had to sign the most draconian nondisclosure agreement he’d ever seen in order to even get to work on it. The client had already secured the talent—an actress who they were paying untold amounts of money to do this. His agency had done a bunch of work for them, but then, so had lots of other ad agencies—three of them were pitching today. Which was why he was now on 101 South alone, wishing that he could read through the PowerPoint as he drove.

   He wasn’t nervous about the actual presentation—his boss was right, he was great at that part. It was the pressure of having this huge pitch on his shoulders that made him want to study.

   He called his brother as soon as he hit traffic.

   “I need a pep talk,” he said when Theo answered the phone.

   “You do?” Theo asked. “This is Ben, right? My little brother? The one who always has a supreme amount of confidence in everything he does?”

   Ben managed to shift into a slightly-faster-moving lane.

   “Yes, yes, your brother, your only sibling. Now that we’ve gotten that over with—I have a . . . big work thing that I just realized I can’t tell you the details of, but trust me, it’s big. And I want to get it right.”

   He’d caught himself just in time before he told Theo everything. He took a very careful gulp of coffee. He definitely couldn’t spill today.

   “Okay,” Theo said. “Do you know your shit? Really, do you know it, inside and out?”

   He thought about how hard he’d worked on this.

   “Yeah. I really know it.”

   “Then you’re going to be fantastic, no matter what this is,” Theo said. “You’re going to kill it. You know that.”

   He did know that, actually. But it helped to hear Theo say it.

   “I sure as hell am.”

   An hour later, he pulled into the elaborate tech company campus and gave his name to the security guard. He grabbed his bag, crossed his fingers that Vanessa would be there soon, and walked to the big glass doors.

   After passing through a maze of security, someone eventually showed him into a conference room, where—thank God—Vanessa was waiting.

   “Oh good, you’re here,” she said. “I have the PowerPoint all set up on the laptop here, if you want to flip through it before I turn the projector on.”

   Bless her, yes, he did.

   They were the first presentation of the day, which the bigwigs at his company had lobbied for, because they all thought it was the best position. They were probably all kicking themselves now that they were stuck in L.A.

   He skimmed the presentation and took the opportunity to make a few of the edits he’d been outvoted on. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it his way. Someone brought him and Vanessa coffee, but unfortunately, no one brought them snacks. Tech companies had such good snacks, but they were always stingy about sharing them, damn it. And he hadn’t had breakfast. Oh well, this much coffee on an empty stomach would either make him keel over or give him all the energy he needed. He was excited to see which one it was.

   Finally, a group of four people walked into the room without ceremony.

   “Is this everyone from Legendary?” the guy in front asked.

   Ben walked across the room to greet him.

   “Just the two of us for now—I’m Ben Stephens, and this is Vanessa Hernandez. The rest of the team got stuck at LAX and they’re on their way, but we know your time is valuable, so we don’t need to wait for them.”

   Everyone sat down, and Vanessa cued up the presentation. And then the door opened again, and a woman stepped inside.

   “Hi, all—sorry I’m late. It took longer to get through security than I accounted for. I guess the front desk didn’t get the message that I’d be here today.”

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