Digging A Hole – Excerpt

Digging A Hole

The OHellNo Series Book #3

CHAPTER 1

“I can’t believe it. Sydney Lucas is a bigger loser than me.” I groan as I talk into my cell and yank off my blonde wig from the safety of my bathroom.

“Uh-oh. I’m guessing the interview didn’t go so well?” says Abigail on the other end of the line. She’s been my best friend since middle school and is the only person on the planet who knows what I, the infamously shy Georgie Walton, have been up to these past two weeks: an epic scandal in the making.

If I ever get caught.

Which I won’t.

“You guessed correctly. The interview was a disaster.” I sigh and turn away from my annoying reflection in the mirror, planting my ass on the marble counter. “I literally threw up on the woman’s shoes.”

“No. You didn’t.” Abi sounds like she’s going to laugh but holds back. She’s a good friend. She’s also a down-to-earth and timid-as-hell brunette like me. Only, I’ve been living a double life lately, thus the crazy blonde wig and hipster glasses.

“Did,” I say. “I had oatmeal for breakfast, too. It was a sticky mess—complete with theatrical heaving.”

“Wow, girl,” says Abi. “You’ve really upped your game; you only got nauseous at the last nine interviews.”

“Well, ten must be my lucky number, because after I heaved, I was so embarrassed, I nearly passed out, which then made me more humiliated so I just ran from the room crying. Which is why I’m done.”

“No. You can’t quit, Georgie. This is too important, and if you give up now, you’ll never believe you can stand on your own two feet.”

At this point, you might be asking if I’m mental, and maybe I am; however, the root of the problem comes down to one thing. I am deathly shy and have been since the age of five. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it started, but I’m fairly sure it began when I realized my family wasn’t your everyday American family. I remember going out with my mother one day and being followed by dozens of news trucks. “Georgie,” my mom said, “always be on your guard. They’re watching.”

“Who, Mommy?” I’d asked.

“Everyone.”

From that moment on, I’ve always felt claustrophobic, enclosed in some musty, dark closet, the cold walls suffocating me, making it harder and harder to breathe. That closet is the world. Yep. I’m totally mental.

“I don’t know, Abi,” I say, “I thought I could pull this off, yanno? But no matter what I do, I can’t get through a goddamned interview.” And if I can’t do that, then what’s the point of my life? To be a freakishly awkward woman-child who has to rely on her siblings?

No.

This is my life.

And getting a job is my chance to change how my family sees me—the timid, incapable twenty-one-year-old baby of our family who will never do anything more than stand in a shadowy corner, hiding from the world.

I know I am more than that. However, the words I think aren’t backed up with action, and every time I fail, my self-worth drops a notch. This moment is do or die. It’s win or lose. It’s my coming to Jesus.

Ugh. Only, I just threw up on his sandals. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

“I’m done, Abi. I thought pretending to be someone else would take off the pressure of being a Walton, but Sydney Lucas is just as bad at dealing with people as I am.”

Abi sighs on the other end of the phone. “Georgie, please don’t give up. You can land an internship. I know you can.”

“With who? I’ve tried every company with business internships in the Houston area.”

“Another position just opened up at PVP. You could work with me.”

My brother is actually the person who recommended Abi for the role. Palo Verde Pharmaceuticals is a multibillion-dollar company owned by my family and is ironically tied to the reason that I absolutely must stand on my own two feet. Simply put, my family’s billions in assets are in the midst of an ugly and very public legal battle. Okay. Let me rephrase. My siblings and I are suing my father for control of Walton Holdings, which owns twenty large companies.

Yep. You heard me right. It’s a kiddie coup. Only, we’re not kids and it has nothing to do with greed, but everything to do with money. Yeah. It’s complicated. Take the IRS tax code, triple that, and you’d have my situation.

Nevertheless, we cannot fail, which means it’s up to my siblings to win, and they must demonstrate the companies are in good hands if we run them. Sadly, we’re shorthanded of people we can trust. Every executive, government agency, greedy lawyer, vulture, and thief in a suit is trying to angle their way into this mess, hoping to influence the outcome and benefit their own interests. Bottom line: Oil is a big business. And my family is the oil business. In fact, we’re Texas oil, which makes us even bigger in our Texan minds. But it’s why I must step in and help. Running twenty companies is just too massive for my brother, sisters, and sister-in-law.

First things first, however; I have to show my older siblings that I’m capable so they’ll let me work in the family company.

“So how ’bout it?” Abi pushes. “Not like any of the employees will ever recognize you. You’ve never had anything to do with the operations, and most people only know your father and brother.”

I give it a little thought. Maybe she’s right. My father is the titan of Walton Holdings, so it’s mostly his face people associate with our family, followed by my brother, Henry, who’s all over the TV and sports magazines because he’s an up-and-coming NFL superstar. But more than that, he’s been given temporary control of my family’s companies during this time of crisis. Well, really, it’s him and his super-genius wife, Elle, who is the sweetest, nerdiest girl I’ve ever met. If you took a tele-transporter that was fueled by puppy breath and baby giggles, that would be Elle. Smart, cute, and amazingly compassionate.

“I don’t know,” I say. “I think at least the executives might recognize me. My dad usually has our family photo in the back of their annual company reports.”

“Which nobody looks at,” Abi argues. “Plus you’re such a hermit that any pictures of you floating around are obscured by your long brown hair, which you’re going to dye blonde and pull out of your face.”

“What about my wig and glasses?” I ask.

“Drop it. They look crazy suspicious—like a cross between Waldo and a floor mop.”

“Now you tell me.” I’ve gone on ten interviews with my “golden curls of seduction” wig and chunky glasses, hoping to look more outgoing and cool.

“I didn’t want to discourage you, but now I’m encouraging you; PVP is the perfect solution.”

Interning at a company I partially own? It sounds like a PR disaster waiting to happen. “I think I’ll keep looking.”

“Georgie, the final interviews are tomorrow.”

“And?” I ask.

“And let’s pretend you look for something else. Maybe you look for two or three more weeks and you still come up empty-handed. This position will be gone.”

“Abi, you’re not the hiring manager, so it’s not like you can just give me the job.”

“True. But I can put in a good word with Rebecca, my boss, and she can mention my praise to Nick Brooks.”

“Who’s that?” Not that it matters. I’m not changing my mind.

“The hiring manager. He’s the new VP of sales, a genius, and the devil incarnate. The worst human being I’ve ever—”

“Such a selling point. Passing,” I sing.

“You didn’t let me finish. He may be the biggest a-hole to ever walk the planet, but anyone who works for him is deemed an instant god—sky’s the limit for their future. I even heard that the team from his old job are all VPs at different companies now.”

An image of my father instantly comes to mind. He’s such an epic bastard that merely working for him and surviving is almost the equivalent of having a Harvard degree when it comes to résumés. Not that my father ever dreamed of allowing his children to attend such a “despicable” school in a place that isn’t Texas. “Texas made us who we are, and over my dead body will my children attend a university in some other state. It’s our obligation as Waltons to show pride in our institutions.”

Now, before anyone runs off thinking that he can’t be all that bad for his loyalty and love of state, let me translate what he really means: “We’re as rich as sin and more powerful than God because we have every politician, judge, and state agency in our pocket. We wouldn’t want to ruffle feathers by appearing unsupportive of our fine universities.” He expects us to play our public part because being a Walton is all about power. And keeping it. It also means that convincing a jury of my father’s mental incompetence will be impossible. Impossifuckingble. He’s got way too many allies. Still, we have to try. The alternative is losing everything to an insane yoga cult.

Yoga.

Cult.

There, I said it.

Yes, yes. #WTAF. What the almighty fuck? I’ll get to yoga-cult-explaining in a moment, but right now I’ve got to make a big choice.

“So this VP,” I ask, “how good is he?”

“If a Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar fucked a Twinkie and they had a baby, then you deep-fried that baby in donut batter and rolled it in a mixture of rainbow sprinkles and winning lotto tickets, you’d have Nick Brooks.”

“He sounds fattening.”

“Ohellno. He doesn’t sleep, and he expects his team to be equally immortal. You’ll drop ten pounds on the first day. We’ve already seen a thirty percent bump in sales, and he’s only been with the company a few months.”

Hmm… I’m starting to like the idea. I mean, my family’s companies—whether it’s oil, renewable energy, or pharma—depend on sales. So working for a big sales VP would not only prove I’m more than just a shy little girl incapable of contributing anything to this world, but I might learn something useful to help my family. But how the hell will I survive the interview?

“Please, Georgie? Please?” Abi begs. “We could eat lunch together every day. I can help you with anything that gets in your way, and you can help me.”

Abigail is shy but doesn’t need my help. She’s been finding her way just fine this last year, heading up several organizations at the university we attend here in Houston. Shyness may have brought us together, but she’s left me in the dust. Still, just knowing she’ll be by my side if I get the internship might be the lucky charm I need.

“Okay. I’ll interview,” I say, thinking I’m going to need to make an appointment for my hair tonight. My sister Claire, who’s a super-girly girl and summer-highlights addict, has someone on call—Fabiana—so I’ll try her.

“Yay!” Abi cheers. “I’ll text you the details.”

“Thanks, Abi. But please don’t get your hopes up.” I pause. “Well, unless you’re hoping I’ll pass out. Then your prayers might be answered.”

“Georgie, just think—”

“Sydney,” I correct. “You can’t forget to use my fake name.”

“Sorry. Sydney, just think positive.”

“Why wouldn’t I? Not like anything could possibly go wrong with using a false identity to work at a company I practically own.” And if you believe that, I have a unicorn to sell you.