It’s 1982, and rising star Vivian McKinley is determined to climb the corporate ladder of a growing paranormal security firm. With the help of Xavier Prince, President and CEO of Prince Charms, Vivian uncovers a plot to take over the business. The pair navigate office politics and machinations to prove a psychic vampire’s treachery.
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Copyright ©2021 Victoria Rogers
“Here, you look like you need one of these.” Jenny thrust a shot glass into Vivian’s hand.
Vivian shook her head, “No. Thank you. This is work.” She passed the glass back to Jenny.
Jenny made a face. “Vivian, dear, this is a party. Work ended the moment you stepped foot into this ballroom.”
“Not true. This is work. Everyone here is networking. Besides, I was just talking business with Xavier.”
Jenny’s brows shot upward. “First name basis, are we? Not Mr. Prince? At any rate,” she said, not giving Vivian the chance to answer the question, “look around. People are here to attend a party. The bar is already on its fourth bottle of whiskey.”
Vivian ignored her. “I’ve been promoted, Jenny. I’m now head of R and D!”
“What? Congratulations! That’s so exciting! Wait! That means you’re my boss? Holy shit, Vivian! I’ve never had a woman boss before. You get it, Viv. Make these men quake in their shoes. You’ve got to do a tequila shot with me, then.”
“Tequila? You want me to be sick? No, thank you. I’m fine. I should talk to John. Have you seen him?”
“Oh, yeah. He’s at the bar talking to Drew from sales.”
“Thank you,” Vivian replied.
“I will get you to do a shot before the night is out.”
“No. You won’t,” Vivian called over her shoulder.
* * *
John was exactly where Jenny said he was — at the bar enjoying a glass of cognac with Drew from sales.
“Vivian!” John bellowed, waving her over. “Saw you talking to Mr. Prince. Has he taken my advice?”
Vivian grinned. “If your advice was to have me take up the mantle, then yes. Yes! By the gods, John. I don’t know what to say. I haven’t had time to process this yet.”
John beamed and took her hand and patted it lightly. “I’m proud of you, Vivian. You’re going to go far. You’d be wasted in that shop, peddling basic charms.”
“I wouldn’t call my grandmother’s charms basic. She taught me all I know. She’d have a few choice words to say to you if she heard that!”
“I stand corrected.” He chuckled, belly bouncing with each percussive breath. “Drew, have you met Vivian? She’s now the head of R and D.”
The salesman laughed at first, but when John didn’t laugh in response he quickly sobered. “What? Where are you going, John? Is Simeon finally retiring?”
John shook his head. “No. I’m retiring, Drew. It’s time I spent more time with the grandkids.”
“Oh, come on. You’ve got a few years yet.”
“No, no. It’s time to go home. I can’t compete with these kids anymore. Vivian’s ward is one hell of a piece of work. I would never have been able to dream that up.”
“The psychic vamp ward? The one I’ve got people lining up to order? That was you?” he asked while looking at her, mouth agape.
John snorted. “Of course, it was her, she gave the presentation, didn’t she?”
“I thought… I thought she gave the presentation to…”
Vivian arched a brow. “To what, exactly?”
“You know, to, to sell –”
“She’s goading you, Drew. And I’d stop with that thought right now. Vivian here knows her stuff, and she’s going to put Prince Charms on the global map.”
Vivian could hear the clack of Drew’s teeth as he snapped his mouth shut.
“I think a drink is in order, don’t you?” John turned toward the bartender. “Three bourbon, neat.”
“Oh, I don’t think that’s –”
“Nonsense. This is a party, and if you’re going to hang with the old boys you have to play by their rules. Here, have a cigar.”
Vivian stared at the offered stogie.
“Might as well join us in smoking them. You’re going to be stuck in smoky rooms and end up smoking them anyway. It’s better firsthand.”
Vivian wasn’t sure she followed John’s logic on that one, but she reached out for the cigar anyway.
“That’s my girl. Now, here, you cut them like this.” He snipped the end of the cigar with a gold-plated cutter he pulled from his pocket. “And let me get that for you,” he said, flicking open his matching lighter.
She didn’t cough. She knew enough from her father that you didn’t actually inhale a cigar, unlike a cigarette.
John grinned as she exhaled like a professional. “Now.” He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “Time for bourbon.” He passed both her and Drew a glass and then held his aloft. “To Vivian, who’s going to shake the paranormal world so hard it won’t know what happened.”
Vivian expected everyone to sip their drink, but no, down their gullets the amber liquid went. She tried not to gag at the flavor. A whiskey lover she was not.
“It’ll grow on you,” John said with a thump on her back as if reading her mind. “Bartender! Another round.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Victoria Rogers is an award-winning podcaster, game designer, and storyteller known for their immersive worlds and strong female characters.
Witches, warlocks, gods, and spirits fill their dreams and stories. Consent and healthy communication are two major aspects of their work – after all, you can’t have what you want unless you ask for it.
Victoria can be found in the garden and in the kitchen making fruit wines, brewing beers, and infusing spirits. When not feeding friends, they attend tabletop gaming conventions and sit on storytelling and world-building panels, teach about online marketing, and produce live events.