Authors: Reed, J.C., Steele, Jackie
novella to An Indecent Proposal)
the most important day of my life. They call me for an interview. Twenty
applicants, so I am told, and I’m one of them. I would do whatever it takes to
get hired. I need the money, and it's about time I finally got a job. But as I
step into the elevator, and the doors close behind me, the lights go out and
I'm trapped with a total stranger. Turns out he isn't just a stranger. Turns out
that guy is about to change my life.
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2015 by J.C. Reed & Jackie Steele.
All rights reserved.
Permissions by the authors must be granted before any part
of this book can be used for advertising purposes. This includes the right to
reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents are the product of the authors’ imagination and are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or
dead, is coincidental.
Out of all the dates in my life, Tuesday at 10 a.m. was
about the worst time disaster could strike. I was sitting in the waiting area
of LiveInvent Designs—the one place where I had been dying to get an interview
since finishing college.
Apart from me, nineteen other graduates were waiting for
their big chance, all dressed in immaculate, tailored business suits—the
kind I couldn’t afford. But what I couldn’t offer in expensive clothes, I knew
I could make up in hard work and dedication. I was a professional, and as such
I was determined to make a good impression.
I straightened up in my seat and smiled as one of the
personal assistants called my name. “Yes.” I stood and took a deep breath,
waiting for further instructions.
“Please take the elevator up to the thirtieth floor. Someone
will be expecting you.”
The thirtieth floor.
According to LiveInvent’s website, it was the place where
the big-shot strategists worked. Los Angeles wasn’t just home to some of the
greatest marketing companies in the United States; it was also the best place
to get started and to experience an environment of “what if,” not just “if
When I applied for a graduate position as a marketing
assistant, I had never even considered the possibility that one of them might
like my resume enough to want to meet me personally. But now it was happening.
My dream was coming true.
I brushed my hands over my gray skirt nervously and with
measured steps made my way to the elevator area, ignoring the people ambling up
and down the corridor in their immaculate expensive clothes, seemingly
oblivious to the outside world. They were probably used to their simple yet
sophisticated surroundings, with marble floors and beautiful peonies, and calla
lilies arranged in crystal centerpieces. The walls were adorned with polished
frames displaying awards and the company’s most successful projects showcased
like little trophies.
I stopped in front of the elevators, and sighed happily.
This wasn’t just any workplace—it was heaven. And I wanted to be a part of
it. Whatever it took.
This was my dream.
A bell chimed, and one of the three elevator doors opened,
giving me a view of a small but tastefully decorated space. Soft music was
playing in the background at a pleasant volume. As I stepped into the small
elevator, I bumped into someone.
It happened so quickly: my CV folder slipped out of my hands
and dropped to the floor. I squatted to reach for the folder when I noticed the
pair of black, expensive slacks. I raised my eyes slowly, taking in the custom
suit. No, it wasn’t so much the suit, but more the tall height, his black hair,
his broad shoulders, the sexy male fragrance he was wearing, that drew my
attention to him.
His Rolex suggested that he wasn’t an applicant. Probably an
Before I knew it, the bell chimed again. I rose to my feet
quickly before the doors closed again.
I pressed the backlit button embossed with the number
thirty. No need to check him out, not when I didn’t know if he wasn’t an
interviewer. Getting the job was more important than checking out the next hot
I turned my back on him, and mentally recollected my primed
answers to possible interview questions.
Breathe in, breathe
This was it…my big chance.
All my life I had worked hard for this exact day. Just a few
more seconds. And then I would give it all my best, because I just had to have
There was no possibility, no other option, no what-ifs.
If I wanted to make it in the business world and get out of
my outstanding debt, I had to go the extra mile. I was ready—more than
ever because any other outcome wasn’t an option.
My hands turned clammy from my increasing nervousness, and
my mouth went a little dry. I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I didn’t
register that the elevator had stopped moving until a little shake told me
something was up. I looked up from the floor, only to see we had stopped at the
twenty-ninth floor, and the doors had remained closed.
Seriously? Did we
to stop one floor below my destination?
I raised my eyebrows when the guy behind me began to press
the buttons on the control panel in an impatient manner. The music was gone,
plunging us into eerie silence.
Frowning, I turned to face him, wondering what the heck was
going on, but all I caught were blue eyes just before the bulbs started to
flicker. The lights flashed once more, then switched off, bathing us in
“What the—” I heard him cussing, his deep voice filled
For a moment, I held my breath, my heart pounding in my
chest as I waited for the lights to switch on again. A few seconds passed,
which turned into minutes. And still there was no light, no
movement—nothing to indicate we even were in an elevator.
I blinked in succession, blind in the pitch-black.
As my brain tried to make sense of the situation, countless
thoughts began to race through my mind. How long would it take until people
noticed there was a technical glitch and sent repairmen? How long were the
interviews scheduled to take, and if I appeared late, would I get a second
chance? And finally, how long would the oxygen last in such a confined space?
Just theoretically asking.
Not that we were going to be stuck for much longer. Or suffocate
anytime soon, because that would be a worst-case scenario. But it would only be
natural to know…just in case.
I wasn’t claustrophobic—actually, far from it. But
dark, enclosed spaces weren’t exactly my favorite place to be. And particularly
not those with no clear exit sign. The minutes continued to fly until I was
sure we had been in there for at least twenty minutes. Or maybe it just felt
I sighed impatiently.
“There must be an assistance button,” I said as I let my
fingers brush over the cold steel wall. My hand touched his, and an electric
jolt ran through me. I pulled back nervously.
“Sorry,” I whispered.
In the silence around us, I could hear his finger pressing
buttons every other second, as if that would make someone hurry faster. At
last, the stranger let out a frustrated sigh. Something rustled, followed by
I narrowed my gaze to focus in the pitch darkness, but my
vision didn’t sharpen to allow me to see contours.
Nothing stood out.
I groaned and braced myself against the feeling of
helplessness growing inside me. Not seeing anything while knowing there was no
window or door I could open was already scary. Combine that with the fact that
I had no idea if help was on its way, and the entire situation was turning into
a nightmare scenario.
The guy was probably just as frustrated as I was, because I
heard him shifting.
“What are you doing?” I asked as more rustling sounds
carried over from the floor.
“Trying to find my cell.” His voice came from beneath me,
which made me figure at some point he must have kneeled down—or assumed a
I wet my lips nervously.
A stranger was doing God only knew what at my feet. Now that
made it hard to ignore him.
For a moment, I considered joining him, and then the word “cell”
registered in my mind. Of course! A phone was the answer to my prayers.
“Shit. It’s not here. I must have left it in the car.” He
exhaled another frustrated sigh. “Do you have yours?”
“Not on me.” Which was kind of the truth. The day before, my
handbag, together with my purse and cell phone, had been stolen. Lucky for me,
my credit cards were maxed out to the limit, and my pre-paid cell had both a
lock and no minutes, so the loss was minimal.
“Okay.” His tone was surprisingly calm as he drew out the
word. “Let’s see if the emergency phone’s working.”
I jumped back as his hand reached over my chest, almost
touching the thin fabric of my top.
“Hello?” he asked. Silence fell. Holding my breath, I
strained to listen. The line remained dead. No voice, no white noise, nothing
to indicate anyone had been alerted to our situation.
My heart began to thump hard against my ribcage, and a thin
rivulet of sweat rolled down my back as realization kicked in that it might
take a while before someone was alerted.
“Can you try again?” My voice came so thin and raspy, I knew
I was close to having a panic attack.
“No point. Phone’s not working. Reception’s gone. We’re
stuck,” the guy said, almost bored. No panic. No whining. Just cool composure
with a hint of an annoyance, as if the entire situation was a mere
inconvenience he experienced on a regular basis. Unlike me, he seemed to
breathe just fine.
He sighed. “Let’s hope they won’t close off the elevator
area for the rest of the day,” he said to himself with…humor?
I swallowed hard.
If that was true, and we ended up stuck in there all day,
we’d never last. We’d run out of oxygen and—
Come to think of it, didn’t I read somewhere that people
could die within two hours when stuck in a confined space? And hadn’t we
already been stuck for some time?
A sense of foreboding settled in the pit of my stomach.
Something was wrong. Very wrong. I could feel it in the
oppressive silence and the fact that the stranger had stopped pressing buttons
and rummaging through his pockets. The air was getting increasingly hot, making
it hard to breathe. The rivulet turned into a layer of sweat covering my entire
back as I tried to force oxygen into my lungs.
In that moment, a loud thud reverberated from the walls,
followed by a short, faint shrill.
Oh, my god.
This wasn’t some technical glitch. It was a real-life emergency.
Something had happened. Something really bad. Faintly, I could hear hurried
steps, some of them pounding, but none of them seemed to stop near the
elevators. Everyone would forget about the two people stuck in the elevator,
because they had more pressing issues to attend to—like saving
themselves. The alarm continued to blare in the distance.
To my utter shock, a whimper escaped my throat as fear
“Oh, God.” My voice came high-pitched, reflecting the dark
thought that kept circling in my mind.
I’m going to die.
The thought hit me so hard a wave of dizziness rushed over
me. But, at twenty-two, I was too young for my demise, particularly because I
hadn’t even started to live my life yet. I had struggled through college while
amassing a vast student loan debt that had kept me strapped for cash for years.
How ironic would it be if the one job I had thought would be
the answer to my prayers might just kill me?
The thought of being stuck in a confined space, missing the
most important interview of my life while dying from oxygen depletion, was too
much. Suddenly, my breathing quickened, and my pulse began to race hard and
I realized the whizzing sound echoing in my ears wasn’t a
result of my frayed nerves but a noise coming out of my mouth.
“I think I’m having a panic attack,” I whispered.
“We’ll be all right,” the guy said, and this time I noticed
how smooth and deep his voice was.
Sexy, with the slightest hint of a rumble to it.
Maybe my other senses were sharpened in the darkness, or we
were indeed running out of oxygen and my brain was slowly starting to play
tricks on me, but in the confined space I could smell him clearly. Not just his
—the man who
couldn’t see me. The only person who would witness my untimely death.
“I’m not sure.” I choked on my voice. “What if no one
“What’s your name?” Sexy Voice said.
“Lauren, but everyone calls me Laurie,” I whispered.
Something warm brushed my shoulder, instantly raising goose
bumps across my arm, and trailed down my arm until it touched my hand. Strong
fingers clasped around my hand and squeezed, not hard enough to hurt me, but
the motion helped me regain some of my composure, and make me realize that I
“Okay, Laurie. This is likely just a temporary glitch. You
need to calm down.”
I’d opened my mouth to tell him that when the air whizzed
out of my lungs in a hot
sounded like someone was whistling, and not in a pretty way. And there I had
thought it was the sound of the elevator, when it had been me all along.
“I can’t,” I whispered. “I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m
To my dismay, I started shaking and my breathing came
“You’re hyperventilating,” Sexy Voice said, increasing the
pressure of his grip. “I need you to breathe with me. Okay, Laurie?” He inhaled
and exhaled deeply, his hot breath caressing my skin, and I realized just how
close he was standing. Under normal circumstances, too close for comfort.
Only, these weren’t normal circumstances.
Staring blindly ahead, I followed his instructions, inhaling
with him, holding my breath, and then exhaling again.
“Are you feeling better?” he asked.
I shook my head, even though he couldn’t see me, as tears
pricked the corners of my eyes.
“We can’t even call for help. If we’re stuck in here for a
whole day, we’ll die,” I whispered.
“No.” His tone was sharp. Defiant. “People know we’re in
here. Security is calling for help this instant.”
“You don’t know that,” I muttered.
“Trust me. I do.”
I wanted to believe him so badly my whole body hurt from the
effort. But, for some reason, his words rang empty and senseless. “People can
die in elevators. I read about it last week.”