Excerpt for Be My Own Valentine by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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There was a time in my life where I never put up with bullshit and I was trying really hard to remember it as I sat at my desk in work. It was actually difficult to recall…my last job? The job before that…? College? School? Shit…childhood…? I remember suddenly and with enough of a kick that the last time I stood up for myself was when I was a kid and I was being bullied over my new glasses. I’d whipped them off, thrust them into my friend’s hand and launched myself at the bully who had been tormenting me for weeks. That had resulted in a week’s suspension, my parents wrath and with me suppressing any urge to stand up for myself since then.

But, now, as I watch two male colleagues pat themselves on their backs in front of our boss for a presentation that I put together, that I masterminded, that I had worked nights for…my blood had started to boil.

“You look like you need to go here.”

I face my colleague beside me.


Sarah smiles kindly, handing me a small colourful flyer. “This.”

I scan it. “A massage?”

“Yeah, it’s a new place, opened up around the corner, why don’t you see if you can get an appointment for tonight or something?”

I stare at the information. Stress relief. Ultimate relaxation. Inner harmony. “Maybe.”

“No maybes.” She smiles softly. “You got royally shafted by dumb and dumber again, I’m so sorry.”

I sigh, utterly mortified that my tears are rising. Sarah notices, offering me the press of her hand. “Please don’t quit.”

I laugh. And so does she. “I won’t...not yet anyway.”

I end up getting an appointment in a couple of days time and when I mark it in my diary, I shake my head with the irony. I’m getting a massage on Valentine’s...I had been single forever and work had become my boyfriend.

And he was a cunt.

On the day of my appointment, I’m at my desk chewing a sandwich, watching the feed from a meeting overseas that I had been remotely invited to. I get a rough tap on my shoulder. I turn, finding one half of dumb and dumber there. I remove my headphones, pausing the feed.

“Graham.” I sigh.

“Alright Ashley?” He grins. The city bastard is nothing but Rolex’s and Gucci loafers. I’d been grinding in finance for nearly five years and he had swept in six months ago, rode other’s skill and hard work. I consciously take a breath. “Got a minute?”

“Not really.”

He grabs Sarah’s empty chair, turning it to face me and takes a seat. “I’ve got Dennis asking for last year’s proposed department merger with the chaps upstairs and he wants a projection based on if we actually went ahead and did it; I was wondering if you could do me a solid and put it together for me? I would, but you were there, I’m so new that it would take me ages.” He runs a hand through his model perfect hair. Hair that I’d like to fucking pull clean from his scalp.

I swallow back my shock. “Sorry, you want what?”

He rolls his eyes. “You’re supposed to be whip sharp Ash,” He laughs. “I said can you get me last year’s-”

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