Bounded by Mr. Campbell
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Ariya Stewart had always dreamed of finding the perfect job, and it seemed like fate had finally smiled upon her when she landed a position at Campbell Advertising. From the moment she stepped into the office, she was enveloped by welcoming vibes from her new workmates, a group of strong and talented women who exuded confidence and success. However, Ariya soon noticed an odd similarity among her female colleagues. They proudly bragged about their own one-night experiences with their boss, Christopher Campbell. It seemed that these encounters were almost a rite of passage in the company, a peculiar norm that Ariya couldn't fully comprehend…until she experienced the steamy night first hand. Yet, it didn’t just happen one time, however, every exhilarating night spent with Christopher was accompanied by the lurking danger of secrecy. Ariya knew that sneaking around corners and hiding their connection could only lead to trouble, waiting for the moment when Christopher would inevitably make a mistake and would shatter their lives and bring them to the brink of ruin. In the midst of her passion and desire, Ariya wrestled with her emotions and the realisation that her heart was no longer her own. Would their forbidden romance lead to a path of destruction, or could Ariya find a way to navigate the treacherous waters of love and power within the confines of Campbell Advertising? Only time would tell if their connection could withstand the storm that lay ahead.
Opulence was the initial impression that flooded my mind upon entering The Campbell. The grand fountain, reaching a height of fifteen feet, welcomed me with its soaring water jets and the gentle mist that brushed against my nose. Glancing to my left, I observed the Glison Lounge, where a well-dressed young man, donning a crisp white shirt and black slacks, graciously opened the restaurant doors from the lobby. On my right, the passage leading to the parking deck revealed its exclusivity to the Campbell Building, despite the presence of three neighbouring structures on the same block.
Tomorrow, I will traverse that very passage. However, on this day, my nerves about my first day's proceedings rendered driving inconceivable. Stepping away from the revolving glass doors behind me and setting my sights on the elevator lobby ahead, I ventured forth. Each stride I took propelled me into a vibrant and promising future. The upcoming stage of my journey awaited, yet before I could fully embrace it...
"Oh, I apologise."
I halted and redirected my gaze forward, avoiding eye contact with the tall, blonde woman I had almost collided with. "I apologise for that."
"No problem at all," she replied, extending her slender hand towards me. I couldn't help but notice her impeccably manicured nails, which evoked a sense of envy and intimidation as I shook her hand. "You must be new here. The lobby tends to throw everyone off on their first day."
"Thank you," I said, hesitating for a moment before looking up into her keen, bright blue eyes. I thought this woman was not only stunning but also intelligent. Every aspect of her appearance seemed perfectly crafted, from her arched eyebrows to the subtle smile that enhanced her lips. "I'm Ariya Stewart."
Her smile widened. "Well, it's fortunate that we almost bumped into each other. We can ride the elevator together. I'm Sherry Mckee. I’m the Human Resources Manager at Campbell Advertising and would be in charge of orienting you during your first few weeks."
I released her hand, trying to appear nonchalant. I had hoped to have a few minutes to compose myself, maybe fix my hair in the restroom before meeting Ms. Mckee. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Mckee," I said, pleased that my voice remained steady and I remembered my manners.
"Please, call me Sherry. We prefer a first-name basis in the office. It helps foster and maintain a creative atmosphere. Save the formalities for meetings with clients," Sherry explained, gesturing towards the fountain. I followed her as we made our way through the lobby and towards the elevators. There were a total of six elevators, transporting employees from various Campbell Enterprise subsidiaries to their respective offices.
Everyone appeared impeccably dressed and groomed, exuding an air of perfection. I glanced down at my own attire—a simple, modest pantsuit with an open jacket, complemented by a white button-down shirt. It was one of the seven similar outfits, all of which were the nicest clothes I had ever owned, thanks to the generous advance I received upon signing.
My brown hair was neatly pulled back into a bun, and I had spent an hour in front of the mirror ensuring that my makeup looked flawless. Standing next to Sherry and the other attractive men and women waiting for the elevator, I couldn't help but feel plain and ordinary. I focused my thoughts on the qualifications that had secured me the coveted position of Creative Assistant, attempting to keep my nerves under control. As the elevator doors opened, Sherry's words finally caught up with me.
"Will I be having meetings with clients?" I asked, observing Sherry stepping onto the elevator, and people around me also started moving.
"Yes," Sherry replied with another warm smile and gestured, "and if you want to meet your team, it's best to join the elevator now."
I nodded and entered, maneuvering between Sherry and another young woman just as the crowded elevator doors closed. Client meetings were not what I had expected. I had assumed I would be in the background, a cog in the creative team's machinery. No one had never mentioned client meetings.
As the elevator shot upward, my center of gravity shifted downward, as if caught in a sudden gust. The sensation was dizzying, and I felt disoriented when the elevator reached the first floor. I edged my way through as others started disembarking on their respective floors.
Sherry looked at me sympathetically. "It took me a year to get used to these. I still dislike riding in these elevators. Going down is worse."
I swallowed hard. Another young woman nodded in agreement with Sherry as the elevator swiftly ascended again. I would be stuck in here for fifteen more floors. Campbell Advertising occupied the top suite of floors in Campbell Enterprises, part of Mr. Campbell's personal offices.
After enduring the nightmarish elevator ride with three other passengers, all women and just as stunning as Sherry, they chatted happily among themselves as we stepped off the elevator and onto our floor. Quietly following Sherry to her office, I took note of the various people I encountered while walking through the corridors.
Everyone here was attractive. The majority of the staff were women, with a few men scattered around. Among the women, most were blondes, with a few vibrant redheads and dark brunettes—the deep, almost black shade of hair that I wished I had managed to achieve. My own hair was stuck with a light, lackluster color that passed for brown if you were exceptionally kind. The men were equally well-groomed as the women and exuded natural confidence.
Even the woman working in the mailroom, diligently sorting sealed envelopes, was beautiful. She had a curvaceous figure that stood out among the others. She smiled at me, dimples forming on her cheeks, and I couldn't help but reciprocate. I wondered if she offered that smile to everyone and whether anyone could resist its charm.
Sherry guided me into her office and motioned for me to take a comfortable chair in front of her desk. She settled into her own seat, and right on cue, her secretary entered with two steaming cups of coffee and a plate of sweeteners and cream. I thanked her and redirected my attention to Sherry.
During the morning, we leisurely enjoyed our coffee while she provided me with a rundown of the monotonous corporate details, which I had already heard during my internship at Lewis & Brown. Sherry's briefing was meticulous, and her voice maintained a pleasant and steady tone, making it easy to listen to her. We covered the fundamental office protocols, dress codes, appropriate conduct, as well as the significance of attendance and punctuality. Sherry familiarized me with emergency procedures and demonstrated how to access the business continuity system both from the office and remotely. She handed me her card, instructing me to keep it as my primary contact in case I ever needed to reach out to her about anything. Then she proceeded to explain the benefits package and when they would take effect.
"There is one more matter," Sherry said, leaning her elbows on the desk and fixing me with a steady gaze. "Christopher Campbell."
"I won't disturb Mr. Campbell," I replied. I presumed that working in the same office as Christopher Campbell must hold some allure. It seemed like he frequently appeared on magazine covers or featured in exclusive articles. "I imagine he has a packed schedule, managing his various companies."
Sherry smirked. "You'd be surprised," she said. Sitting upright in her chair, she continued, "Chris tends to roam around the office. The Advertising wing of his company is his favorite place. That's where he started and where he spends most of his time. It's his pride and joy."
I nodded, understanding the significance. "I'll make sure I stay focused and committed to my work, so that I..."
Sherry shook her head, indicating that I was missing something, something that she believed should have been evident. I reflected on my interview with Mr. Houghton and the conversations we had about my role in his team and the company. I couldn't pinpoint what I had overlooked or missed during those discussions. Sherry's gaze softened, and she smiled.
"Chris is always available," Sherry explained, using a gentle and direct tone that immediately conveyed its meaning. "Romantic involvements with him among the staff in this office are not uncommon. However, they are brief and casual affairs, as casual as such things can be. It's crucial that you understand from the beginning that these relationships won't lead to personal advancement. They are purely for pleasure and nothing more. There won't be any salary raises or promotions resulting from his attention. If you ever had the idea of leveraging such an affair for those reasons, I advise you to redirect your focus elsewhere."
Sitting with my hands in my lap, I restlessly intertwined my fingers, attempting to find the right words to convey my thoughts politely. Sherry's words carried a protective undertone, suggesting that she was not only concerned for me but also looking out for Mr. Campbell. I couldn't help but wonder if their connection was purely friendship or if there had been another young woman who once believed an affair would grant her special privileges. It occurred to me that both scenarios were plausible. Opting for a direct approach seemed most appropriate. "Men like Mr. Campbell is not my cup of tea," I asserted.
Sherry chuckled, her eyes gleaming brightly. "Oh, he most certainly is your type," she countered, her laughter subsiding but the mirth remaining in her gaze. "Chris is the kind of man who appeals to every woman. That's precisely the essence of men like him."
A knock interrupted our conversation as Mr. Kevin Houghton peeked into the room. I met him during the interview. He was an attractive man in his mid-thirties, sporting neatly groomed brown hair with hints of gray. Flashing me a smile, he turned his attention to Sherry. "Are we ready to meet the team?" he inquired, stepping into the office.
Sherry glanced at me. "Do you have any other questions for me?"
I shook my head. "No, I believe I'm prepared to begin."
Sherry extended her hand once again, and we both stood up. "Perfect. Then welcome to Campbell Advertising. I have no doubt you'll be a fantastic addition to Kevin's team."
Sherry escorted me out of her office, leaving me in the company of Mr. Houghton. He inquired about my morning and asked if I had any questions before meeting the team. I provided him with a brief summary of my discussion with Sherry, expressing my confidence and readiness—albeit part
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