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Fall of the CEO

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Diana’s head is pounding.

She has yet to open her eyes but she already knows that the sunlight streaming through her open curtains will surely hurt her. 

She feels around her bed for her phone and cracks open one eye to check the time. 9:02

The silk sheet on her bare skin is calling out to her and Diana sighs as she closes her eyes once more to get some needed sleep. It’s Sunday after all and she can’t be bothered to feel guilty for spending a lazy morning in bed. She does it so rarely that she sometimes forgets she can actually do nothing and enjoy it.

An incessant buzzing from her phone pulls her back from sleep and she groans as she fumbles to answer the call before it can go to voicemail.

She presses it against her ear only to be met by a very loud, Where on earth are you?” from Hannah.

Diana winces at the volume. “Bloody hell, Hannah, can you keep it down, please?”

“Where are you, Diana?” Hannah presses when Diana doesn’t say anything else. “You’re late.”

“Late to what?” She tries to remember if she previously scheduled a breakfast hangout with Hannah and Barbara and comes up empty. It should’ve been on her calendar if they planned it beforehand.

“Oh my god, Diana, are you hungover?” Hannah doesn’t even try to mask her surprise. She hears someone - probably Barbara - gasping in the background.

She pinches the bridge of her nose with her free hand. “Hannah, I said, please keep it down.”

“You are so hungover.” She hears an amused chuckle on the other end of the line.

“Remind me again, why are you calling me on an early Sunday morning?”

“Sunday? Diana, it’s freaking Monday! And you have a board meeting in like…an hour.”

Diana feels like a bucket of cold water just got splashed all over her. Suddenly, she’s very awake and the light streaming through the window becomes a symbol of her tardiness. She curses under her breath as she throws away the sheets and prepares herself for a shower.

“I will call you back.” Diana presses the end button even before Hannah can respond.

She mindlessly rushes through her morning routine like she never has before because to be honest, this is the first time ever since she took over her family’s company that she is running late. She notices the strewn items of clothing littering the floor – why are they there? –  but she has no time to clean the mess so she just makes a mental note to tidy up later.

Diana hates being late – aside from it being unbecoming for a Cavendish or anyone with manners really – because she firmly believes in respecting other people’s time. Yet now she’s running late and it’s all because of…

Diana stops, halfway through her car, mind going blank. She can’t even remember what happened last night.

She racks her brain for any memories and only comes up with brown hair and a strumming of disco lights.

Bloody hell. What was that?

She resumes brisk walking to her car and immediately drives off once she’s settled in. 

Dialing Hannah, Diana tries to remember what occurred last night that got her so hungover she can barely recall anything. She tries to focus on the images that she managed to salvage earlier but nothing else comes to mind and she curses whatever caused her to be in this state.

Hannah picks up on the third ring. “Where are you?”

“Ask me that again and I will end you.”

“Can you not? I know I’m your assistant but I’m also your concerned friend. I called you and made you realize it’s Monday today.”

Diana sighs. Her temper is already through the roof and she’s projecting it to her and Hannah knows this. She’s known Diana long enough to read her moods. “I apologize. I’m just a little…disoriented.” Disoriented is an understatement. She feels like she has temporary amnesia. She knows that isn’t possible, though.

“Well, good for you that I’m already preparing your morning tea. Will you be here in 10?”

“Five, give or take,” Diana says as she weaves through Blytonbury at 55 miles per hour. She knows she’s pushing it but she’s going to be late if she sticks to her usual 40. “I’m already nearby.”

“Damn, you’re fast.”

“I am almost late to a board meeting, Hannah.” Diana honks at a biker who swerves a little too close to her car. The brown haired biker waves at her, probably mouthing something and Diana rolls her eyes. “I woke up thinking it was Sunday, that’s humiliating enough as it is.”

“Well, you have 10 minutes before the lot of them start trickling in. I’ll have your files ready.”

“Thank you, Hannah.” She hears a grunt of approval before disconnecting and Diana all but speeds through the remaining distance between her and the company building.

She’s a little short of breath when she walks in the board room – she was tempted to run to the lift but remembered she had to maintain a collected exterior in front of everyone in the lobby – and she releases a sigh of relief to see that it is just Hannah and Barbara sitting there, quietly discussing between themselves.

“Good morning ladies,” Diana greets them. Barbara gives her a small smile.

“Good morning, sleepy head.” Hannah offers her a steaming cup of tea – made exactly the way Diana would have done herself – and Diana swallows the liquid down without thinking. It burns her tongue a little but her mind is running hundred miles per hour so she doesn’t even register the pain.

“You okay, Diana?” Barbara asks. “Hannah caught me up with what happened.”

“Thank you for asking, Barbara, but I’m fine. I just got confused with the day.”

“What happened to you?”

Diana rubs her temple. She can already feel the pounding in her head coming back now that the adrenaline from rushing is starting to fade. “I’m actually asking myself the same thing. I don’t remember much of what happened last night.”

Hannah bites her lip before quietly saying, “Maybe you should ask Amanda.”

Diana raises an inquisitive eyebrow at that. “Pardon?”

“Don’t tell me you can’t even remember you were with Amanda last night?”

If she is a fictional character, Diana will already feel steam coming out of her ears. Of course, if anyone got Diana into trouble, it will be Amanda. 

“Barbara, on your way down, can you please tell Ms. O’Neill to come into my office after my meeting?” Diana asks as one by one, the board members enter the room.

Barbara nods and takes her leave. Hannah, on the other hand, takes a seat on the chair close to Diana.

Diana takes a deep breath before putting on the Diana-Heir-Of-Cavendish face. She will deal with Hungover-And-Can’t-Remember-Last-Night Diana later.

 


 

Diana is going through contracts and memos when Amanda walks in her office without even knocking. She has been going through a lot of propositions for new projects and checking their budget. Going through her daily routine kept her mind off the things she can’t remember from last night and while it has been a nice distraction, she can’t help the feeling that something of importance happened. It bugs the hell out of her.

“Yo, Cav. Heard you summoned me?”

Diana closes her eyes, summoning patience and serenity, she can’t get answers if she snaps at Amanda. She gestures at the seat across her desk. “Please, have a seat, Ms. O’Neill.” She removes her glasses and looks Amanda straight in the eye before saying, “I will be straightforward. What exactly happened last night?”

Amanda puts her hands behind her head and leans back in the chair. “What do you mean?”

Diana can already feel her temper rising at the disinterest in Amanda’s voice. “Drop the pretense, O’Neill. You know exactly what I’m saying.”

“Did you drink Advil yet? It’s the next best cure to a hangover. Second to vodka.” Amanda gives her a sideways smile.

“Amanda!” Diana raises her voice ever so slightly and Amanda actually straightens up a little in her seat. As the heiress of the Cavendish family, Diana has been raised to be polite and be mindful of other people’s feelings. She’s never been known to raise her voice. But alas, certain situations require certain solutions and if raising her voice – despite being uncouth – can give her the answers she needs, then Diana will do it

Amanda puts her hands up in surrender. “Geez, relax. I was just teasing. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.”

“Today is not the day to be pushing my buttons, Amanda. I’ve already had a trying morning.” Diana rubs at her temple again. She’s done it enough times this morning to know that the act is not actually working in relieving her stress.

“Okay, grumpy. Look, I can only tell you what I saw, alright?”

Diana nods slowly, trying not to interrupt and order Amanda to just spill out her guts already. She’s being too domineering already and it does not sit well with her.

“Promise me you won’t fire me first.” Amanda is looking at her with a serious expression.

Diana sighs and rolls her eyes. Of all the things… “I have to provide legal grounds for termination; you know that. I can’t just fire you out of sheer pettiness. God knows I would’ve done that a long time ago if I could.”

“That’s not a promise.”

Diana’s eye twitches and she stomps down the blooming flare of annoyance. “Fine, I promise. Now, can you please get on with it?”

Amanda grins. “Okay. So, we went to Last Wednesday Society last night after I nagged you for, like, the hundredth time to have a drink with me. Trust me, that was no easy feat.” She shoots Diana a dirty look and Diana glares right back. “Anyway, I dared you to do shots with me and you said that –”

“A Cavendish doesn’t back down from a challenge,” Diana finishes for her. The memories of last night slowly coming back to her in little waves with Amanda’s narration. She can already remember more than just a hair color and lights.

They had shots of tequila. Lots of them. And Diana is a lightweight.

She’s already frightened of where this is going.

“Exactly! So, we had shots after shots after shots and I was already feeling buzzed when you said you needed to go to the bathroom. You insisted you could go yourself so I let you be. After that, I saw you –”

“I was dancing with someone.” Diana remembers it now, despite the memories still being blurry, she can now recall a few things that she did. 

A dimly lit restroom, stumbling through the dancefloor, bumping into someone, finding that someone was very attractive, losing her inhibitions, and proceeding to dance – grind – against that same person. Diana feels a blush starting to creep on her cheeks.

“Well, I guess you just needed me to jumpstart your memories?” Amanda raises her eyebrows.

Diana swallows the lump in her throat. She knows there’s more. She’s afraid of what the answer might be but the lack of knowledge will eat her alive. So she quietly asks, “After that, what happened?”

To which Amanda shrugs, nonchalant. Way too nonchalant. “I dunno.”

“Stop being coy, Amanda.” Diana narrows her eyes at her. “You and I both know that you know more than you’re letting on.”

“Fine. But remember, you promised not to fire me.” Amanda points a finger at her.

Diana simply nods. Her mind is already preoccupied with imagining all the things she could’ve possibly done last night.

“I came up to you to tell you that we should get going because you were obviously tipsy…” Amanda looks up at her before continuing, “…but you brushed me off and said you’re going home with your dance partner.”

Diana can feel the tips of her ears burning with embarrassment. She thinks of berating Amanda for lying – she couldn’t have possibly said that… could she? – but the only thing that comes out of her mouth was, “… what?”

Amanda puts her hands in defense. “Your words not mine.”

The pounding in her head is back with a vengeance and Diana gulps down the glass of water on her table. “Tell me the rest.”

“Diana…”

“Look, I obviously did some… scandalous things last night because you challenged me to do shots and you know I never back down from challenges.” She pointedly stares at Amanda. She knows she shouldn’t but she’s pissed at Amanda for letting her run wild last night and at herself because the last thing she needs is to dirty the Cavendish name with a scandalous night.

“The least you can do, right now, is to tell me the rest of the things that you know.”

Amanda looks defeated. “Okay, okay. I asked the girl you were dancing with if it’s alright for her to take you home. She said yes and so I –”

“You just left me to a stranger? Knowing full well I was inebriated?” If Diana was pissed earlier, she is fuming now. How dare she? Amanda should’ve been more responsible! What if something bad –

“I didn’t, chill! I asked to see her ID and she willingly gave it, which by the way, is a good sign for me. After doing a quick background check on her, I sat at the bar and just watched the two of you dance the night away. I wasn’t just gonna leave you like that, you know.” Amanda shrugs, peering at a stoic faced Diana. “I think you danced for like an hour and I noticed that you seem less buzzed and thought to myself, ‘well she can make right decisions now’ and so when you left with her, I knew my job was done.”

That is a too long of an explanation for a still hungover and reeling Diana. She latches on Amanda’s last sentence. “And your job being…?”

“Getting you laid.”

Diana cannot be blamed for the shrill sound that comes out of her. “AMANDA O’NEILL!”

She looks unphased by Diana’s second outburst. “Look, Cav, no offense, but you obviously needed it. Looking at you now, you obviously need more.” Amanda chuckles and Diana has had enough of this conversation.

“Get out before I find legal grounds with which I could terminate you.”

Amanda is out of her office in record time.

Diana sighs and slumps back in her chair. She remembers it now. And quite vividly.

Red eyes, brown hair, lithe frame writhing beneath her as her fingers danced on sweaty skin, Japanese curses falling from soft lips that –

She shakes her head vehemently, trying to clear her mind of dirty thoughts.

Diana knows she should’ve just gone through the day without finding out what happened last night. She was drunk when she first saw her but dear gods, she was enthralling and without Diana’s usual uptight and prim attitude (gone thanks to tequila shots), she lost herself to the sensual song and to the red eyes that never left her face once they landed on her. 

If Amanda was telling things accurately, then an hour of dancing would explain why Diana’s feet hurt last night and why she thought it was a good idea to invite her companion back to her flat…where Diana suggested they drink some wine before Diana accidentally spilled it all over her blouse and the next thing she knew there were clothes flying everywhere and kissing. 

Diana turns red as she remembers that there were, indeed, a lot of kissing, touching and moaning involved. 

And one thing led to another and…

Diana groans, already feeling disappointed in herself. 

She’s not a particularly brazen woman – save for a few times Hannah and Barbara got her tipsy enough to play juvenile card games that involved stripping – but she’s not a prude either. But Diana is the kind of girl who will not engage in such… audacious activities such as one night stands. Call her old-fashioned but she prefers to have at least some emotional attachments with her partner before engaging in intimate acts.

Everyone who is close to Diana knows she wouldn’t have done any of the things she did last night if she was sober. Being a Cavendish means being poised and in control and Diana has perfected it over the years. Yet one (racy) night managed to strip her of her dignity.

Diana can feel how her pulse has quickened and she drops her head in her hands, trying to fight – but ultimately failing – the onslaught of lascivious images her mind is throwing at her right now. She shouldn’t have asked Amanda about what happened last night. Now she’s going to suffer with flashbacks of – quite possibly – the hottest night of her life.

One that she already wishes won’t come back to bite her in the arse.