#1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken delivers a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy with this hilarious, standalone new adult romance.
Have you ever hated someone so much that you actually wondered if prison would be worth it?
And I had to bear witness to Mark's cocky smile for four miserable years watching girl after girl tumble in and out of his bed while he had nothing but scorn for me.
After we graduated college and, thank God, finally parted ways, I thought that I was done having to deal with the enemy. And then I got fired, sending me careening right into a local bar—and Mark's bed.
My nightmare came true as we both soon realized that we would be fighting for the same job at Emory Enterprises.
We had to live together under the same roof, and as the challenges got weirder and weirder, we got closer and closer—united by the trauma that is CEO Max Emory.
When I signed up for this internship, I envisioned coffee runs, not gecko sitting—long story.
Soon one thing led to another, and somehow my enemy quickly turned into my best friend.
But what happens when the games are over? Furthermore, how do I tell the guy I used to hate that he owns my heart when I wasn't even aware I'd given it away?
Prison time or Mark?
A few days ago, I would have chosen prison.
Now? He's all I see.
Release date: May 13, 2021
Publisher: Van Dyken Enterprises INC
Print pages: 182
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Office Hate: An Enemies to Lovers Romance
Rachel Van Dyken
1 year previous
“Think of it this way. We graduate college in less than four hours, you’re going to end up becoming this badass marketing strategist, and you’ll never have to see him again.” Amelia patted me on the head while I glared at my nemesis across the huge gym of our private university.
The bane of my existence since freshman year when I went to a frat party, and he gave me a bloody nose.
It wasn’t his fault.
I mean, not really.
If I really wanted to dissect it, I was partially to blame. I’d had a little too much wine, tripped over my own shoe, and he just happened to be coming out of the stupid bathroom with one of his many fans on his arm and lipstick all over his face.
He rammed right into me, spilling his beer all over my brand new Jordans, and then tripped over the girl still clinging to him, sending his elbow flying across my face as he tried to hold her up while I went sailing to the floor.
I remember blinking up at him and waiting for him to offer his hand. Instead, the girl on his arm stepped over me with her giant heels, and he chased after her like she had a magic snatch.
I had to recover all on my own.
And that wasn’t the first time we’d had a run-in.
We’d carried the same major, business with a minor in marketing.
So all the same classes, save one, archery, which let’s be honest, he and I and archery would have ended up in complete and total bloodshed.
“Seriously, though.” I crossed my arms and glared. “Why does everyone love him so much?”
Amelia gulped and tucked her short black hair behind her ear as the president of the university droned on and on about our guest speaker.
“He’s hot,” she finally blurted. “Sorry, I mean I have eyes, and his are so blue…”
It irritated me that God had gifted him with a perfect body to boot. I mean, if he was going to have that nice of a face, could he have at least had bacne? Weird toes? A thripple?
As if sensing my hateful thoughts, he and his friend Ryker both turned in my direction. Ryker smiled. He was almost as bad as Mark with his curly blond hair and green eyes.
He elbowed Mark, who chose that moment to smirk and then wink at me. The absolute nerve of that jackass!
“Sit. Down.” Amelia grabbed my arm. “You can’t take him. He’s twice your size, and you’ll just end up with another bloody nose.”
Wait, was I actually getting up?
He made me insane!
I was losing my mind during my own graduation ceremony!
I huffed, sitting back in my chair, ready to give him the finger when he finger waved at me like we were best friends, and yup, I was going to shove those fingers down his throat and yell something like, “Die, bitch, die!”
“…CEO of Emory Enterprises, Max Emory!” The dean was really hard up on this guy; he looked ready to pass out as he shook this Max guy’s hand and then gave him the microphone.
Max was really attractive for someone in his thirties. Huh, CEO before forty, he was living my best life.
I wanted that.
I deserved that.
I’d worked hard for that.
I chewed my lower lip, all memory of Mark forgotten as I zeroed in on whatever life advice this speaker was going to give us.
“It’s a pleasure to be here.” His toothy grin had several girls in the audience fanning themselves and making sighing noises.
Give me the details on how to be a CEO, damn it!
“When they asked me to give the commencement speech, I knew that it had to be something special, something that you’d think back on, something…” He paused for obvious dramatic effect. “…that you would take with you for the rest of your life.” He chuckled. “And then I remembered my commencement ceremony, or lack thereof. The drunkenness, the nakedness, the sheer boredom of sitting on my ass for hours while some old guy told me how to live my life…”
As though cued up, people laughed.
“So I’m not going to bore you with inspiration on how making your bed means you’ll make better choices, or that if you work super hard you’re going to become a millionaire like me.”
“I wrote a book on success, and what I’ve learned is that a lot of it is luck. Yes, it’s hard work, but at the end of the day…you need to remember to never sign anything without reading it first. Always have a wingman, even if it’s a gecko. Never, and I do mean never, do a reality show where you’re the bachelor, and you have psychotic women thrusting their bosoms in your face, and above all…when you’re given a chance to do something epic—you take it. Feel me?” He laughed and then cracked his knuckles and went on. “You probably understood none of that, and that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Half of you are listening. Half are starving. Some didn’t even show up, so what’s the point. Am I right?”
Who the hell was this guy?
“Some might remember the gecko part or the stay true to yourself part or the not signing anything part, and all of those are good life lessons, but I’m going to drop one major one, and then I’m going to drop the mic and let you guys get out of here so you can binge drink one last time before life fucks you.” Gasps were heard all over the stadium. “Nobody, and I do mean nobody, is owed anything. If you want it, you take it. That’s it, that’s my advice. If you want something, you take it, you work hard for it, and you own up to your own failures when eventually you don’t get what you want because ninety-nine percent of you will be working at some random job in the next year, with student loan debt up your ass, and wondering what’s so bad about living with your parents. But the one percent of people in here who want to tell me where to shove it, I look forward to seeing you change the world. The ninety-nine percent left, I suggest you learn how to coupon, so you can survive on something more than ramen every day. Welcome to adulthood.” He grinned. “I wish I was kidding. Also, I’m using this time to announce that Emory Enterprises is seeking interns for this summer. Whoever does the best—” he hesitated and then “—job will be offered a lucrative signing bonus, company car, and full salary in the best place where they fit in my company. Good luck to you all. And remember…life doesn’t owe you shit.”
He literally dropped the mic, walked off the stage, head held high.
And I’d never been more traumatized or driven to not be the fry girl. I would not be moving back in with my parents! They collected dolls! The creepy porcelain ones that look like they’re plotting your death. On top of that, both my mom and dad were exhibitionists! They’ve been arrested multiple times in the Walmart parking lot, and let me tell you, there’s nothing more traumatic than bailing your parents out of jail while they suck face. Even the police, who have literally seen it all, weren’t making eye contact with me.
That internship was mine.
And as if Mark could hear the challenge from the universe, I turned to see him lock eyes with me, one eyebrow quirked upward as if to say game on.
“Game on, you psycho,” I growled.
“Why are you repeating that over and over again?” Amelia whispered.
“Sorry,” I snapped, then looked back over to Mark only to see him still staring directly at me, his eyes mercilessly raking over my body as if measuring me up.
“He’s dead to me.”
“You’re scaring me.” Amelia laughed uncomfortably.
“Good.” I nodded my head, then leaned back in my chair and huffed. “Good.”
I’d been convinced that I was the perfect candidate for Emory Enterprises, only to find out that the waitlist had been hundreds of applicants long. So, for the next year, what did I do?
Exactly what he said I would.
The only job I could get was working at a car dealership as a fucking receptionist—yes, a male receptionist. Times are changing, okay? Lay the fuck off!
Part of my job entailed greeting customers and then calling over the loudspeaker for certain sales managers to come forward and meet their clients. Then I was privy to all the long waits with financial, where the salesman went back and bullshitted for at least an hour before coming back and “making the deal of a century” for their client.
Now, here’s the thing. I know some dealerships are awesome on customer service, and I have nothing against car salesmen; some of them make bank and really care about getting people into the right car.
But I wasn’t at that sort of dealership.
I was at Fancy Fred’s.
And across the street, my nemesis stood, at the Audi dealership, dressed in black every single day, wearing perfect makeup, heels, and somehow staring daggers at me across the parking lot as if she had won.
Which, technically, in the job department she had.
When I graduated with my business degree, I wasn’t really picturing the guy walking by me with day-old coffee in his mug and a tie with eyesores on it, as if his own clothing even knew it was rough waters over at Fancy Fred’s.
I’d imagined skyscrapers.
I had imagined driving that Audi not watching someone else sell them.
At least I wasn’t living with my parents. I guess in that area, I won, where Olivia lost. I heard through Ryker, who heard through his new girlfriend Amelia that Olivia hadn’t been able to afford her expensive apartment and, to save money, had moved home.
Which seemed odd since she had the better job out of the two of us, and I was the one living with a roommate.
Whatever. Why the hell was I so fixated on her anyway?
She’d always looked down her nose at me. Always. And in order to protect myself, I baited her, and man, did she take the bait, every single time.
Which entertained me to no end.
Hell, I made out with girls in front of her just to see that blush burn across her cheeks and her indignant huff.
Fuck, I was getting hard just thinking about it.
Nothing better than an erection at Fancy Fred’s while listening to soft adult rock for the last seven hours.
If a criminal decided to come in and take hostages, I’d probably be the first volunteer.
“Hey!” Fred—you guessed it, our owner—stepped out of his office, his thick white hair in disarray while his black glasses hung low on his nose. He was pulling out a hanky and blowing into it, then shoving it back into his black trousers before tucking in his matching black button-down as if he’d just had a quickie with the lady from finance.
Was he flushed?
I cleared my throat. “Sir, nice to see you today.”
“Yeaaahhhhhh…” He leaned so far over the receptionist desk that I shoved my rolling chair back. Huh, maybe if I spun in it, I’d pass out and wouldn’t have to have this conversation. “I’m gonna have to let you go, squirt.”
Oh yeah, and he called me squirt like I was ten, not twenty-two.
“Excuse me?” My eyes narrowed. “I don’t think I understand.”
“You…” he said slowly as he pointed his heavily jeweled hand in my direction, “are being let go.”
I gulped. Was I really getting fired from Fancy Fred’s? Really? “Can I ask why?”
“’Course, squirt!” He stood to his full height and clapped his hands. “Nancy over there has a girl in high school who needs a job. She’s half the price of your fancy college education, and I was gonna need to cut your hours anyway since things haven’t been so great around these parts with that damn Audi dealership moving in across the street.” He muttered a few more curse words, and I followed his gaze.
As if she knew I was getting fired, there Olivia stood, greeting a customer with a bottle of Evian and a drop-dead smile.
This was all her fault!
Or her boss’s fault.
Whatever… it had all started with her, hadn’t it?
And now it was ending with her.
I shoved my chair back. “I’ll just grab my things.”
I reached for my things only to discover the only object that was mine was the travel mug I’d brought from home with “this is probably gin” scrolled across it.
“Yeah,” I picked it up. “So, um…got ’em…” My wallet and keys were still in my pocket as I silently left my stupid ass job. Damn it, I didn’t even have a plant or box to carry out!
With a grimace, I unlocked my old Dodge truck and crawled in. What the hell was I going to do now?
Rent was going to be due soon.
And as much as I would have loved to move back in with my parents, they were divorced. My mom was in Palm Springs, my dad golfing in Florida. I’d been on my own since I was eighteen.
I slammed my hands against the steering wheel when a knock sounded on my window, scaring the shit out of me.
It was Fred again.
I turned on my truck and hit the electric window button. Fred shoved his head inside my space with that dumbass smile on his face again. “Gonna need the keys, squirt.”
“I’m not squirt,” I said through clenched teeth.
His smile didn’t even falter; he just shrugged. “You’re young, kid. You’ll land on your feet. Hey, maybe try the parts lot down the street. I heard they’re giving kids an extra nickel on top of the eight bucks an hour they pay if they can salvage extra equipment.”
“Yay.” I deadpanned. “A nickel.”
“Or two, if you’re lucky.” The man looked seconds away from roughing up my hair and slapping me on the cheek.
I dug into my pocket and grabbed the cool metallic key to the building. “Here.”
“Okie dokie!” He pulled back. “Chin up, squirt!”
I had a sudden image of me yelling, “I’m not squirt,” then tackling him to the ground as I punched the smile right off his face. The daydream was better than naked tits…” I shook myself out of it and sent the window sailing back up as I quickly pulled out of the parking lot, completely and utterly fucked.
“Lucky bastard,” I whispered under my breath. Mark was getting sent home early.
In the last year, I’d seen him greet customers, wearing whatever the hell he wanted, coming in an hour later than I had to and leaving at six when I had to stay until eight, which was ridiculous by the way, because most customers came in either during the day or right after work. Rarely did we have anyone I needed to greet at eight. Rarely was anyone even in the showroom other than some of the diehard salesmen who refused to go home even if it wasn’t their shift.
I squeezed the Evian bottle with my right hand, condensation dripping down the sides.
He’d lucked out.
He had gotten the easy job.
The one where he could probably eat at his desk and spike his own coffee and nobody would so much as blink, whereas I—
I adjusted my Spanx—again. And tried to take a deep breath. I had to wear black every day, and unfortunately for me, all my black dresses were a bit too small.
I blamed being single and using my parents’ Netflix and their Postmates account to deliver food, but really, I was stuck in a rut. I knew it. My friend Amelia knew it. It was just, this was not how I saw my life going.
I was driven.
And I knew that I was even overqualified at times, but the best jobs were going to people with experience or master's degrees. Nobody really cared about a business major and how good her grades had been through all four years of studying.
If anything, my lack of experience worked harder against me than if I had failed all my classes.
A little growl escaped my lips when Mark’s truck disappeared down the street. He was probably getting out early so he could hang out with friends, which he still had because he got off on time. Meanwhile, I hadn’t seen Amelia since last weekend, and even then, she was acting like something was wrong and kept checking her phone. She finally came up with this lame-ass excuse of not feeling well and left me alone at the bar to fend for myself.
Well, I guess I wasn’t totally by myself since Mark had stopped by to punish me with his good looks, killer smile, and all-around annoying presence.
“This seat taken?” He’d grinned.
I glared. “It was.”
“Hmm, looks empty, feels empty, seems like you’re all by yourself, Olive.”
“Don’t call me Olive. It’s not my name. Amelia just left because she didn’t feel good and—”
His expression darkened. “Let me guess she suddenly came down with something, oh… say around two minutes ago?”
“Yes.” How did he know?
His eyes pierced through mine as a slow lazy smile appeared across his face. “Interesting…”
“Nothing…” he said slowly as he reached over and downed the rest of my beer, setting an empty glass back in front of me. “See ya around, Olive.”
I swear I was shaking by the time he sauntered off.
My heart pounded against my ribs.
And for whatever reason, I wanted to run after him, climb his body like a tree, then wrap my legs around his waist. It would be a moment of pure sexual need fulfillment followed by his death.
I’d black widow him.
But I’d at least I’d know what all the fuss was about.
Nobody was that good at sex. Nobody.
“Olivia!” My boss Mathew came jogging down the hall in his perfect black suit with his dark hair swept to the side and his tanned skin glowing like he’d just got back from the beach. Could his sparkling white teeth be any more capped?
“Yes?” I met his gaze.
He was in his late thirties, had two kids, and a wife who was a walking poster for fillers. To this day, I still had no clue if she was older or younger than him.
“Glad I caught you before you left…” He motioned me into the downstairs finance office; it was empty as he led me toward the large wooden desk.
He sat in the chair behind the desk and smiled. “You’ve been doing a really good job, Olivia.”
“Wow, thank you.” I beamed, glad he appreciated all the little extra things I’d been doing around the place. Whether it be making sure the snack section of the waiting room was constantly full or water bottles handed out to the sales floor when it was hot, but I’d been trying.
“In fact—” He stood abruptly and moved behind me to close the one massive blind that overlooked the sales floor. “—I have a proposition for you…”
Proposition almost sounded like promotion! I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I sat straighter in my chair, my lips parting ready to accept, when I felt his hand touch the back of my neck as he leaned down behind me and whispered, “You want to move up the ladder…” He tugged a wisp of my hair as goosebumps of terror rose over my body. “Nobody has to know what you did to get the next opening in marketing…besides, most everyone’s gone home.” He moved to face me. His gross smile widened like I’d already given in when I was too busy freaking out and looking for an exit.
I slowly stood. “I’m not into doing sexual favors for a promotion, Mathew. Especially considering you’re married.”
“Oh, that.” He waved his hand dismissively, a bored expression on his face. “We have an open marriage. Very open.”
Disgusting. “Good for you.” I eased from my chair to the door and pushed it open a crack.
“You walk out of here, and you’re fired,” he threatened in a low voice.
“Guess I am, you asshole,” I muttered under my breath as I walked to my desk and grabbed my purse, lunch, and coffee mug.
Tears streamed down my face as I got into my parents’ Prius, ready to drive back to the house.
Guess I got off early like Mark.
Only I got fired.
And he still had a job.
Pissed, I made an abrupt turn off the main highway and headed toward the seedy bar Amelia and I frequented. It was a short drive, and in under two minutes, I made it to the parking lot, where I parked and cut the engine. In a full-on fury, I climbed out and slammed the door, stomping my heels as I crossed the lot and jerked open the door. Squinting until my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, I continued stomping my way to the bar, ready to rage at the bartender and use him or her as my therapist.
“Double,” I announced before the bartender could ask.
The bartender smirked. “Of?”
Could he tell I didn’t do this often? “Wh-whiskey.”
He sighed in annoyance. “What kind of whiskey?”
“Oh well…” I thought about it. “What kinds do you h—”
“She’ll have Maker’s Mark,” came a familiar voice behind me.
With a groan, I turned around to see my nemesis holding a beer and smiling at me like this was the best day of his life.
“Mark,” I said in a chilly voice.
“Olivia,” he deadpanned and then took the seat next to me. “What brings you to this side of town so early in the day?”
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