Author’s Note: This picks up about 2 years after the last chapter of Generation 1. Irene Meadows is our heir! Also, there is mention of sex and lingerie pics, so if you’re not comfortable with that, don’t read or skip that part!
It was surprising how easy becoming an employee of Collier Enterprises had been. After I excelled at my internship, my manager ended up offering me a regular office position. It didn’t pay much and frankly didn’t require quite as much skill as the hiring managers pretended, but I had both a steady income and legitimate reason to be on the premises of Collier Enterprises for the duration of the workday.
Which was exactly what I aimed for. I wanted access to the company computers. If what Gerald and his information sources were saying was correct, any private information stored on the servers of this pharmaceutical company could only be accessed by someone who worked here and had the correct logins. So, if there was any proof of Collier’s theft, anything at all that hinted at his involvement with the burglary that took place at our house all that time ago, it would have been here.
Of course, either Lionel Collier was really meticulous about covering up his tracks and destroyed all proof, or the information was stored somewhere with even better security. Because, despite spending every moment that I had an ounce of privacy at my office scouring the system for traces of evidence, I was empty-handed.
I leaned back in my chair. It would have been too easy, of course, if the information involving illegal activities was stored where other regular employees could accidentally see it. After all, every office has a wise-ass who is really good with computers and loves to snoop around instead of dealing with the assigned work.
Of course, I wasn’t giving up. I meant it when I said I would find proof of Lionel Collier wronging my family. It wasn’t even about the theft anymore. Ever since my parents accused Collier of the theft, there has started a rumor that my mother was unstable and that my father was trying to make money by falsely accusing the CEO of Collier Enterprises. As a result, my parents ended up making less money with their sales, both from the garden and fishing.
I knew my parents were unhappy about the situation. Both Mom and Dad were honest people who worked hard for whatever they had in life and it hurt me to see their reputations tarnished in any way. So, while they disapproved of me working here, I knew I was getting closer to proving that they were in the right and that this man really was a liar.
The clock hit 2 and it was time to go home. Another day went by without any big finds. Of course, it was pretty difficult to scour the server freely with my other coworkers here in the office with me. At least, these people were pretty decent, when they didn’t try to talk to me too much. Well, usually they didn’t.
“Looks like that hot rocker boyfriend of yours is here again,” Lana alerted me. She took to calling him that after the first time that Micah showed up to meet me outside of work.
Of course, I wasn’t too happy about Micah showing up at my workplace. I both hated how all the female coworkers ogled him and how the fact that my boyfriend showed up at my workplace made me seem less serious. I knew that if I wanted to get access to any information more serious than what was available to employees in my current position, I would have to prove I was a diligent worker. I wanted to find what I was looking for as fast as possible, which meant that I had to get promoted faster.
Also, when Micah showed up here, it somehow made our relationship less private. Not that I was ashamed of him, quite the opposite, in fact. But ever since he started working with the other musicians, he definitely became even more into public displays of affection. And that made me miss all the private times we’ve had as teenagers.
Before making my way towards him, I made sure to lock my computer. It wouldn’t do for someone to snoop on me.
“There you are,” Micah pulled me into a kiss. “I thought you were planning to stay overnight in that tin can.”
“Oh, come on, I know I’ve been busy with the new job, but I haven’t been spending that long in there, have I?” I joked.
“Just kidding. Come on, let’s get something to eat, you must be starving,” he laughed.
On the way to the restaurant, he cranked the music up on the car stereo “So, what do you think?”
“Is that your new demo?” I paid more attention to the songs now.
“Sure is. Manager says it’s better than the previous recordings we’ve made. A bit more fine-tuning and polishing and we’ll be ready to go on tour. Man, that will be the life,” he sighed wistfully.
“Touring for long hours on a bus, staying at motels, having groupies chasing after you? Sounds like a win,” I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Hey, it’s the rock-n-roll lifestyle. Comes with the job,” he argued.
“It sounds so hectic,” I admitted. Yeah, hectic, that was what I meant to say. And somewhat worrisome to me. I knew how easy it was for a musician to get pulled into a destructive lifestyle. After all, wasn’t “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” the motto for many musicians? I was seriously worried about Micah going on these tours, but I didn’t tell him that. After all, being a rock star was his dream, wasn’t it?
“It’s hectic but at least it’s more interesting than being stuck in that tin can of an office for hours,” he made the same face he always had when thinking of my job. I haven’t yet told him of why I was working at Collier Enterprises. To say that he was surprised when I chose to work there after school would have been an understatement.
So, to put it plainly, we hated each other’s jobs. Oh well. Couples don’t always have everything easy. If our jobs were going to be our only problem, I could deal with that.
“So, have you been thinking it over?” Micah asked over a plate of food.
“Yeah, I have. I don’t know, Micah. Moving in together is a big step, isn’t it? Besides, I sort of wanted to be home until Gerald graduated. I don’t know if he’s planning to move out yet,” I admitted.
“What’s the difference? If he moves out or not, that is?” Micah asked.
“Look, my relationship has been somewhat strained since I’ve started working, so I’ve been trying to spend more time with them. To make up for working at Collier Enterprises. And if Gerald moves out after graduation, that means they’ll be left alone. I mean, Mom doesn’t have cancer any more, but she still gets sick a lot more than she used to. I think it’s the after-effects of her sickness…” I drifted off. My mother’s health was a touchy topic for me. I was sure that if the miracle plant was still available, she’d be perfectly healthy now, just like before. But of course, that wasn’t the case.
“You want to be around in case they need assistance or anything,” he realized.
“Yeah. I don’t think I could bring myself to move out just yet. I’d feel like I was abandoning them,” I admitted.
“That’s cool. I mean, I want us to live together, but I’d hate for you to move in with me in the wrong state of mind,” he realized.
“You’re really great, you know that?” Despite all the issues going on in our lives, Micah never failed to make my day.
“I try to be,” he grinned.
“So, what were you saying about coming over to your place?” I winked.
So, that was definitely something my parents didn’t officially know anything about. Of course, I was an adult and could sleep with whoever I wanted, technically speaking. But I was really not up for having that conversation with my parents, at least at this point. So, I never stayed with Micah overnight. But during the day, we have often made use of the fact that Micah’s place was conveniently private. Because for us it was usually a clothes-free zone.
I couldn’t really explain why I was going to so much trouble to keep our hookup times a secret from my parents. After all, they weren’t kids, they knew that I was in a relationship and that by my age, most people were sexually active. They probably suspected or even knew that I was as well. But the idea of having that kind of talk with them made me seriously uneasy. Maybe it was because I knew that my parents were both somewhat old-fashioned in these matters and waited until their wedding night. Because of the late tension in my relationship with them, I didn’t want to disappoint them with my other life choices as well.
But spending this time with Micah was just so nice…
I knew soon I’d have to make a choice about whether to move in with Micah. And while I would have been more than happy to wake up snuggled next to him every morning, I didn’t want to move that fast in my relationship until my life was somewhat more figured out. I wanted to have something solid on Collier Enterprises that would enable me to give proof of their crimes to law enforcement and possibly quit that job. I mean, Micah was right—an office job was not the kind of thing I wanted to spend my life doing, even if it was with a big company.
“So, new lingerie, huh?” he noticed “One would think you were wearing them just for me.”
“Maybe I am?” I smiled, snuggling up to him. A few more minutes until I had to leave.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why do you always get so annoyed when I show up to your workplace?” he brought up.
“Is it that noticeable?” I gave out a nervous giggle. “Well, you know me; I don’t like it when my coworkers get to know the juicy bits about my private life.”
“Why’s that? You aren’t ashamed of our relationship, are you?” he frowned.
“Not ashamed, no. But I must admit it really riles me up when my female coworkers start ogling you. Especially Lana.”
“So, you’re jealous?” he smiled. “You know you don’t have to be, right?”
“I thought you felt flattered when I was jealous?” I asked.
“Maybe a bit,” he admitted, smugly. “Leaving already?”
“Yeah, my parents are heading out to this weekend retreat thing tonight and Gerald is inviting his girlfriend over. You know, someone is supposed to be a mature adult around, or something of the sort,” I laughed, kissing him.
“Well, take care. I’ll see you soon, ok?” he wished me a safe drive back.
At home, things were mostly unchanged, although nearly two years have passed since the theft. Well, almost unchanged—our beloved dog Ursa has passed away last year and Hawk was now clingier than ever. So, we all made sure to give him lots of cuddles and belly rubs, since one never knew when an animal’s time was up. That was the sad part about having pets—their lives, while so wonderful, were much too short compared to ours.
Which of course, didn’t prevent Gerald from bringing in a street cat, whom he fondly named Murka, and who never missed a chance to show off how mighty she was. At first, we were all somewhat surprised, since he never showed an interest in cats, but she practically dotted on him and considered him the best thing since sliced bread, or in the feline case, probably tuna. And it was pretty entertaining to see feline antics around the house on a daily basis.
My parents soon wished us a happy weekend and were on their way. That meant it was time for business.
“Did you get down the numbers of the IPs from the computers at the office?” Gerald asked, taking place at his computer. In the last two years, we have not only rebuilt our house, but we had both gotten computers, Gerald for his writing and research, me—for work.
“They’re all here,” I plopped down my notes on his desk. He quickly entered the numbers into a search engine on his screen. “Any luck?”
“Well, it’s checking them right now,” Gerald explained, “But it doesn’t look like the servers we’re looking for are tied to any computer in your office.”
“Oh,” well that was a bummer. It took me some effort and time to scour up all that info. And now, it turned up to be useless.
“Hey, don’t feel too down. I can contact my friend from the board and together we can use the process of elimination to know where not to look. It’s still quite an important piece of information,” Gerald noticed my downfallen face.
“Yeah, it’s just not what we were looking for.”
It’s been a year since I’ve been working at Collier Enterprises and so far I haven’t gotten even halfway as far as I wanted to be. While I didn’t think finding proof of Lionel Collier’s shady dealings would be easy, I didn’t think it would be that difficult either.
Sitting down on my brother’s bed, I just wanted to curl up into a ball under the covers and hibernate for a week, until I felt in a better mood. Of course, that would be pretty immature of me.
“Hey, sis? How are things going with Micah? You never seem up for talking about your relationship,” Gerald began.
“Well, it’s a bit awkward talking about my romantic relationship with my brother. But really, things are fine. Pretty great, in fact. He’s been wanting us to move in together,” I admitted.
“And, you’ve been balking, haven’t you?” Gerald realized. “If it’s about me, then I’m planning to stay home after graduation.”
“Really? That’s good to hear. I wouldn’t be comfortable moving out if Mom and Dad were to live alone,” I breathed a sigh of relief.
“There’s more though, isn’t it?” my brother was ever the detective.
“Well, Mom and Dad would probably expect me to be married before I move in with someone. I wouldn’t want them to worry.”
“You know, they totally realize that you two have your rendez-vous hours, right?” Gerald laughed.
“Do they?” I laughed “I suspected so, to be honest.”
“So, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t mind if you two are living together. They’ll just be happy for you,” my brother smiled.
“Well, that’s good to hear,” I realized. “I will definitely give it a thought, then.”
“So, Katy is coming over tonight. You should join us for movie night,” he invited.
“Don’t you two want some alone time?” I wondered.
“Actually, she’s been curious as to why you two haven’t really been spending time together,” he admitted.
“Oh… I didn’t mean to come off standoffish,” I realized how it looked to my brother’s girlfriend. “I didn’t know she wanted to spend time with me though.”
“Well, yeah. I mean, you’re my sister and she wants to get to know you better. If you don’t mind, that is,” he explained.
“Not at all! Kate is a wonderful girl, as far as I know. It’s just, you know, I’m not that great at making friends,” I apologized.
An awful realization hit me—I was acting pretty much the same at work, wasn’t I? I almost never talked to my coworkers when I didn’t have to and they probably thought I didn’t like them. Well, that was pretty awkward. I definitely didn’t harbor any bad feelings for them…
“What’s wrong?” Gerald noticed my frown.
“I just thought that my coworkers must think I hate them, since I never really talk to them.”
“Maybe you should hang out with them a bit. Get to know them. Let them get to know you. You don’t have to tell them your deepest thoughts and secrets. But interaction with others is pretty important. Not just with your boyfriend,” he shouted out and ran from the room laughing.
“Aye, aye, captain!” I laughed. He was right—much as I was content sticking to my hermit ways, it wasn’t doing me any favors in life. It would just have to be something I worked on improving.
In the evening, when the three of us were watching a movie, I made sure to keep up the conversation with both Gerald and Katy. She really was a nice person and in many ways she reminded me of Mom. I could see why Gerald liked her.
It turned out Katy was pretty friendly and despite disavowing most electronics for personal use, was really into fashion and art. She was also very easy to talk to, as I discovered.
“You know, we should go shopping sometime,” Katy invited. “It’s fun and we can grab a bit to eat afterwards. And we can help each other pick out cute clothes! ”
“Sounds like a good plan,” I agreed. “I’d enjoy getting to know you better.”
“Same, same! It’s going to be a girls’ day out.”
That night after she left, I headed to bed with a sense of satisfaction. So, my job didn’t bring me any closer to getting to bringing justice to the wrongdoers, but I was making progress on a personal front. I was a loner by nature, but that didn’t mean I had to spend life as a hermit.