Second Chance Sugar Chapter One – Ali Parker

Second Chance Sugar Chapter One

Chapter One

Isadora

My pulse beat behind my eyes, reverberating in my skull, pounding to a steady beat.

Anger.

Betrayal.

Indignation.

The words finally spilled out of me, and I wished my voice didn’t shake as they did. “It’s not fair and you know it.” I lifted my chin, desperate to prove I was worthy of being taken seriously, but my father stared back at me, not even giving me the satisfaction of looking pissed off himself. He looked disinterested at best.

The meeting had been a disaster from the moment I walked in. My father’s icy demeanor had immediately set the tone, making it clear that whatever semblance of respect I had earned within the company meant nothing to him. Despite my years of dedication, hard work, and undeniable competence, he still saw me as nothing more than his daughter, someone to be overlooked and dismissed. 

I waited, hands balled into fists at my sides, for him to say something. Anything. But his lips remained unmovable, and his brows never so much as twitched. He didn’t give a damn. 

Then why should I?

“Fine.” I turned on my heel and marched out of the conference room. As soon as my back was turned, I heard the low whispers of all the men in the room. Let them whisper. Let them gossip. Let them have it all. I was done fighting for something I never had a shot at.“Isadora, wait!” My father’s voice had always been commanding, and this time, it made me flinch. But I kept walking.

He caught up to me nonetheless, his hand grasping my arm so he could turn me to face him. “You’re being irrational.” He lowered his voice and looked over the top of my head. All eyes were on us. “And you’re making a scene. Let’s speak privately.”

 “Irrational? You want to talk about irrational?” My voice rose with each word, fueled by years of suppressed frustration. Let them stare. “I’ve given everything to this company, to you, and what do I get in return? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

His expression softened, but it only served to infuriate me further. “Isadora, you know it’s not that simple. There are other factors at play here.”

“Other factors?” I scoffed, tearing my arm from his grasp. “Like the fact that I’m your daughter? Like the fact that you’d rather promote some incompetent yes-man over me simply because he’s not related to you?”

His jaw tightened, his own frustration evident now. “That’s not fair, Isadora. You know it’s not about that. And even if it were, nepotism is dangerous grounds for—”

“Stop.” The bitterness in my tone was palpable, but I didn’t care. I was tired of playing by his rules, tired of fighting for scraps of recognition that should have been mine by right. “Your reasons don’t even matter anymore.”

“I will not have you talk to me like this,” he said, fire in his voice. “You don’t get to question my decisions.”

“No one does, do they?” I snapped. “Whatever Clive Harkins says goes, right? Screw looking at a candidate for their qualifications and history. You just want to surround yourself with men that will kiss your ass! Well, I’m done.”

With a final glare, I stormed out, my mind already racing with plans for escape. Staying here was no longer an option. I knew I had proven myself, but it just wasn’t enough for him, and it never would be. The real shame was that I hadn’t accepted that sooner.

I retreated into my private office and looked around. There wasn’t much I actually needed to take home. Just my pictures and the cactus Sloane had given me. As it turned out, a cactus was about the only kind of plant I could keep alive, and not because I cared to, but because it was damn resilient. I frowned at it, wondering how long it had been since I watered it. Six months? Whoops.

I went to the copy room. Stacks of boxes filled with copy paper lined the wall. I grabbed one and dumped the reams of paper on the floor, no longer caring about the rules, and took the box back to my office, where I packed up my framed photos and a handful of office supplies that technically weren’t mine, but a girl knows good stationary when she sees it. Then I grabbed my purse, slung it over my shoulder, and carefully put the cactus in its sleek black pot on top of everything. 

“Isadora?” My curly-haired assistant, Lori, cocked her head at me when I came out of my office holding the box. “What are you doing?” She blinked rapidly and pushed to her feet. “Did your dad fire you?”

“No,” I said a little too forcefully. I cleared my throat. “I quit. I’m sure they’ll find someone else for you to work for. It’s been fun, Lori.”

“You quit?”

I continued my walk to the elevator. Lori’s heels clicked on the floors as she followed, fussing. Deep down, I wished my father was the one following my exit, pleading with me to stay. But he would never stoop so low. His pride would never allow it. 

“Are you really leaving?” Lori asked. 

“I am.” I stepped into the elevator and turned to face her, holding my box with the pokey cactus sticking out over the top. The poor woman looked like she’d been slapped. “Good luck, Lori. Thanks for everything.” The doors closed, but Lori’s mouth never did.

My dramatic exit was hindered by the fact my car service wasn’t expecting to pick me up until much later. I sent a quick text to my normal driver, Michael, and asked him to come and get me. I ordered a coffee from the shop in the building and waited. People walking by shamelessly looked at me. It was pretty clear what had happened. As I sipped my coffee, I shot daggers at them with my eyes, daring them to keep staring or mind their own business. If I could handle a confrontation with my dad, I could handle judgement from strangers. Fortunately, Michael was close and showed up fairly quickly. I carried my box to the car and got in. 

“Isadora, is everything okay?”

“Yep,” I replied. “Better than ever.”

“Okay. Where are we going?”

“Home, please.”

Home was a luxury penthouse on the Upper East Side. “Thanks, Michael.”

I nodded at the doorman and made my way to the elevator. When I walked into the empty apartment, that was when it hit. I was never home in the middle of the day. Usually my daughter was around, blasting her music with the TV on. I put the box on the table and went to the refrigerator to get myself something to drink.

If I sat with this too long, I was going to lose my mind. Not because I had to worry about money but because I didn’t want my father to think he had won. He assumed I was going to come crawling back to him. 

In his dreams.

I pulled my laptop from my bag and sat down. I wasn’t even sure where to look for a job. I decided to start with a few keywords in the search bar. Soon, I was blessed with a page of job search sites. 

“Here goes nothing,” I said with a sigh. 

Searching the listings, I wasn’t surprised to discover there wasn’t a job that paid a lot in an executive position. Just when I was beginning to lose hope, I stumbled upon a decent prospect—a listing for an executive assistant position with Graham Russell. 

I leaned in so close to the screen it hurt my eyeballs. “No. Freaking. Way.”

Graham Russell.

My heart skipped a beat as I read through the details. A rush of memories flooded back to me. Graham and I had gone to school together, and at that time, his father had worked with my dad. Well, for my dad. 

He was a couple of years older than I was, and of course, I’d had a crush on him. What young girl wouldn’t? He was downright dreamy. He was always the one I mooned over during those long summer months when he returned home from college. 

That last summer had been filled with reckless abandon and stolen moments of passion. I couldn’t forget that one night when the stars seemed to align just for us and we gave in to the undeniable chemistry pulsing between us. And then, just like that, he was gone, leaving nothing behind but my broken heart. 

And one other teeny life-changing thing.

Which reminded me, I needed to figure out what I was going to make for dinner. 

My mind went back to Graham and the weeks following his departure. I had never heard from him again, not a single word of explanation or farewell. And yet, despite the hurt and confusion that lingered in the wake of his departure, a part of me couldn’t help but hold on to the memories of that summer, to the fleeting taste of freedom and desire that he had awakened within me. 

I had been eighteen and ready to conquer the world. I thought Graham and I were going to be together. But he had left me alone and I had ended up right back under my father’s thumb. 

Until today.

Faced with the opportunity to reconnect with Graham after all these years, excitement and terror warred inside me. I started filling out the application online as a joke but the job seemed like a good fit. He would never even see my application. It would go to someone in HR. But if I got the interview, would it be with him? 

Will he be happy to see me or cold?

I hit send on my application quickly before I could second-guess myself. What if he didn’t remember me at all? What if he had moved on, forgotten about our summer together as easily as he had left? 

I didn’t want him back—why would I want someone who’d walked out on me without so much as an apology or goodbye— but I wanted to look him in the eyes and see what his reaction would be.  

After sending the application, I decided I should actually create a resume. If I was serious about finding something, I was going to have to get all my ducks in a row. While I was typing out my old job duties, an email notification popped up. It was an appointment for an interview for Graham’s job. 

“Wow.”

In a few days, I was going to face the man that broke my heart and gave me the best thing that ever happened in my life. My face felt hot suddenly and I forced myself to take a deep breath. I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. The job didn’t matter. I was just dying to know what would happen when we saw each other again.

Curiosity burned me inside. The only way to extinguish it was to attend that interview.  

I closed the laptop and got up to look for something to make for dinner. We ordered in a lot, but I had no excuse not to make dinner tonight, unemployed as I was. The rhythmic chopping of vegetables and the sizzle of food on the stove provided a welcome distraction from the thoughts swirling in my mind. 

Graham freaking Russell.

The door opened just as I was pulling the chicken from the oven. 

“Hey, Mom!” Sloane, my fourteen-year-old daughter, said as she tossed her backpack on the couch. “Something smells good. Did you order takeout?”

“No, I cooked.”

She narrowed her eyes at me. “But you never cook.”

I scoffed. “I cook sometimes.”

My daughter laughed and shrugged. “Okay, Rachael Ray. So what are you doing home so early?”

“Well, I had an interesting day.” 

Understatement of the century.

She snatched a cherry tomato from the salad I had prepared. “Interesting good or interesting bad?”

“I’ll say our lives are about to change,” I said, smiling. 

“Oh, man, are we moving somewhere terrible? Is this meal a bribe? Because it’s gonna take more than chicken to buy me, even though it really does smell good.”

“No, relax. The chicken has nothing to do with it. I no longer work at your grandfather’s company. In fact, I’ve applied for a new job and I have an interview in two days.”

Her eyes widened with shock and surprise. “Grandpa fired you?!”

“No, I quit.”

“Woah, really?”

“Yes. I’m done. I’m looking for a new job.”

She looked around our luxury home. “Are we going to have to move?”

I smiled. “No. We’ll still be fine. I work because I enjoy it. I don’t work because we need it.”

She let out a sigh of relief. “Okay. Cool. In that case, I’m starving.”

“Set the table, please,” I said and drizzled the lemon oil dressing over the chicken. 

Sloane had moved on the way kids could sometimes, but my mind was far from tranquil. Oddly, it wasn’t being out of work that was gnawing at me—it was my interview for Graham’s job.

  • Priscilla says:

    Sounds interesting. Can’t wait to see ending

  • Merci says:

    A great way to get me interested in reading this book.

  • Sylvia says:

    Interesting

  • Chris says:

    Sounds like this will be a great book

  • Faye says:

    Eager to read more. I’m hooked!

  • Merci says:

    Time to start reading a new book.

  • >