Savoir-Faire

"Oh, my God! I am so sorry!"

The dark brown stain spreads quickly over his pale blue dress shirt. Wincing, I reach for my napkin and pat him awkwardly on the chest.

He glares at me.

"Oh, well, um…here. Sorry!" I thrust the napkin into his hands, and with a blossoming blush forming, I turn around and hurry back the way I've come – into the nearest Starbucks. I can't survive a morning at my office without my decaf latte.

Of course, at my job, it is not an easy task to survive through work at all.

As I push open the door to the office building with my back (latte in one hand, stack of reports in the other), I ram right into the chest of some random guy. Thankfully, I'm able to get a hand on my latte this time—before it completely ruins his shirt. I mean, really. It's only a little stain. Yeah, one of those "little" ones that's actually kind of big.

"Sorry!" I call over my shoulder distractedly as I rush to get a spot in the quickly filling elevator. Panting, I manage to step into the small, claustrophobia-inducing room without accidentally slipping my heel into that stupid space between the elevator floor and the real floor. The last time that happened…well, let's say that they never did find Jackson's briefcase in the elevator's shaft.

Oh, yes. Jackson. On the outside, he looks like your nice, regular, hard-working, loyal husband type of guy. Square frameless glasses, always clad in a white button down shirt, khaki pants, and some "respectable" tie. Actually, respectable would be a really good word to describe Jackson Wilcox in general. He's my boss, unfortunately. I say "unfortunately" because Jackson (well, he would prefer I call him Mr. Wilcox) is the strictest person and the hugest workaholic I've ever met. He is constantly disapproving of me and, actually, everyone who works with me. Jackson's always making comments about how we're "too young" and "not responsible", which makes no sense, since he's only a year older than the oldest of us.

Okay, I think you deserve a little explanation here. You see, I work in one of those cubicles. You know, the ones on TV. Yup. That's us.

Anyway, there are four people (including me) in our division. And then, there's Mr. Jackson Wilcox, superior god, who is our boss.

First of all, there is Phoebe White, who happens to be my best friend. No, we didn't meet in kindergarten, and no, we didn't suddenly "click". Actually, I met Phoebe when I accidentally walked off with her cart at the grocery store. It was only when I started unpacking my groceries from the back of the car when I discovered an unfamiliar bright orange Prada bag.

Being a goody-two-shoes, I immediately found her license, and the next morning, I drove out of my way (approximately forty minutes, mind you) to go find her stupid house and give her back her tacky bag. You can imagine how pissed I was when she didn't even answer her damn door.

I continued to pursue Phoebe throughout the day, and quickly came to the conclusion that she had mysteriously died or been admitted into the witness protection system. Either way, I figured I wasn't finding her any time soon, so I stowed away the gaudy handbag and continued life as normal.

I was quite shocked when she turned up asking after a job at my office the next week.

I suppose Phoebe and I became best friends because we had to. We are really the only (somewhat) sane people in this entire building. The only other person I really associate with is Benjamin Likely. You know, that really hot guy that's always there in the middle of the drama. Plus, he's my sort-of-almost-maybe-I wish-boyfriend. The kind of boyfriend who sleeps over your house when it's convenient and corners you in your cubicle when he doesn't have a hangover.

Yeah, we pretty much just use each other. Such a loving relationship.

Phoebe hates the fact that I mess around with him. She thinks I deserve better. See, Phoebe hates Ben. Well, Phoebe hates a lot of people. She's a pretty hateful girl.

Anyway, Ben's the kind of person that will get along with you if you want him to, but will hate you if you hate him. He's kind of a pig (to put it nicely) and I've never expected him to stay totally faithful/interested/sober.

Everyone I know was shocked when I started dating (not really the word, but we're trying to stay at least PG 13, people) Ben. I guess I come across as pretty studious and sensible. I wear glasses, but only 'cause I don't feel like poking myself in the eye when I first wake up and I'm so delirious that I usually end up with my skirt on backwards or something equally as embarrassing. My typical outfit for work is some blousy thing and one of those skirts – the straight ones (if you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly a fashionista. Actually, I vomit just using that word…).

Phoebe, on the other hand, always shows up in some assembled look with a classy-yet-chic (her words, not mine) style. She's not as bad as Leanna, though.

Ah, Leanna. An enigma of a woman. Well, really, she's quite easy to figure out. She's one of your typical pretty girls who likes men and likes sex. We've got one of those Caroline Bingley/Elizabeth Bennett thing going on. For the sake of everyone around us, we stay relatively civil. But inside, I hate her (slut, anyone? Disgrace to the female gender?) and I think she thinks the same about me – she was after Ben way before I stepped in and one him over with my charm and wits.

Leanna walks into work in stuff that I think might be the role-playing secretary outfits she stole from a porno movie set, or something. It's like Amanda Tanen, but worse. Seriously. She used to be all over Ben (and honestly, him having a girlfriend hasn't really stopped her advances, or his responses) and she's even tried Jackson, but now he gets all red and can't look her straight in the eye. Leanna gets all pouty whenever his name is mentioned, so I don't think her pursuit went well.

Jackson disapproves of all of us, but there's only one person who really bugs him. That would be the loving sibling of yours truly. Little Miss Allegra Gray, my baby sister.

Allegra is a redhead, and has got that feminist/rocker chick/teenage rebel look going on, even though her twenty-third birthday is in only a couple months. Of course, I'm over two years older than her, but she freelances at our company sometimes. Actually, pretty much all the time. She'd be full-time if she wasn't afraid of commitment. And I don't mean in just the relationship sense.

But Allegra is really annoying (to everyone but Phoebe who adores her) – but she's purposely bothersome with Jackson. This is the only situation in which I actually feel sorry for him. I mean, she acts like she's fourteen with a driver's license most of the time, and she's his polar opposite. But Phoebe (mad woman) thinks they would be cute together. Jackson overheard this once and had a conniption.

Speaking of Jackson, the wonderful man himself is now leaning in my cubicle door.

"Ms. Gray?" Dude, you've known me for a year! It's Angelica!

"Yes, Mr. Wilcox?" Gah, now I feel like a hypocrite.

"Did you finish up those reports? Because, really, they were due last night and I extended—"

I cut him off. "Here. Is there anything else?" I suppose I shouldn't dismiss my boss like that, but is there any other option? Ben's coming around the corner and Jackson doesn't need to get in our way, if you catch my meaning…

Anyway, about an hour or so later, Phoebe shows up. She claims it's beauty sleep that keeps her coming in late, but Ben always retorts that it's obviously not working so she should just give up.

"Hey, Ang. Did you see that amazingly adorable guy by the front desk?"

Leave it to Phoebe to open a conversation with a ditzy discussion of the male gender. She has absolutely zero sense of feminism.

"No, actually, Phoebe. I did not. I do not constantly scan the room for cute guys just to fulfill unnecessary womanly attraction."

She laughs, backing up dramatically. "Geez, Ang, no need to go psycho chick on me. What's up with you?"

I sigh and rub my head with my thumbs. "When I tell you the answer to this question, I can guarantee you are going to squeal at a dangerous level of noise. I'm not sure if I should give you that opportunity."

Phoebe kicks my chair from where she sits on my desk, my computer shoved aside. "Oh, please, Angelica. I've been waiting for this all morning!"

I'm about to answer when Leanna comes meandering down the hallway, looking as if she's lost. "Can't find the copy machine?" Phoebe asks in a pseudo-nice voice. It's actually very threatening.

She turns and has this equally scary and fake smile on her face. "Oh, no, Phoebe. It's really alright." They keep those creepy rapist clown smiles on until Leanna's gone.

"Oh, my God, Phoebe. You just had this look on your face like you were the ice cream guy luring little kids into the back of your truck."

She rolls her eyes. "I just hate her. I'd like to bring her into the back of an ice cream truck and stuff her in the—" I clap a hand over her mouth as Allegra walks up. "Virgin ears!" I yell defensively when she gives me an indignant look.

My sister strolls through the door, rolling her eyes and taking a place on my desk next to Phoebe. "Whatcha guys doing?" She snaps her bubble gum loudly and props her bright green Converses on the back of my chair.

Phoebe flips her black hair over her shoulder very dramatically. "Allegra, we were just in the middle of a very important conversation. Your sister was just going to divulge some top-secret glimpse into the complex inner workings of her genius mind."

Allegra has a mock serious expression on her face. "Well, you know what this means, Phoebe."

"Of course. I understand what must be done."

"I'll get the ropes!"

"I'll get the gag!"

Allegra spins my chair around with some deft movement with her ankle. Phoebe holds it in place with two firmly planted Manolo Blahnik kitten heel clad feet. I'm not sure this was the best decision, because she has a skirt on that just rode up a good five inches.

"Tell us!"

"Come on, Ang!"

Oh, God. The whining has started. There's no safe end in sight.

"All right, God, would you two stop acting like a pair of four-year-olds!"

Allegra giggles girlishly.

"I think I might break up with Ben."

Phoebe squeals (as predicted) and practically throws herself into my lap ecstatically. Allegra is searching overtop the cubicles to make sure Ben's not in an eavesdropping-opportune spot.

"Excuse me?"

Oh, my God. He's back. From the dead…

Jackson is standing stiffly in the doorway, his eyes taking in the scene in front of him. Phoebe and me squashed into the chair and Allegra perched happily on my desk, my latte dangerously close to her bony elbow.

Allegra grins at him impishly. Phoebe scrambles off of me and straightens her outfit, giving Jackson a sheepish smile.

"Sorry, Mr. Wilcox. I'll—um—get back to work now—bye!"

She hurries off, winking at me over her shoulder as she marches off.

Very slowly, my sister slides off my desk. Without a word, she practically slithers past Jackson, who gets this that-was-the-most-humiliating-thing-ever-but-no-one-can-know look on his face and awkwardly looks at me.

"Ms. Gray, please try and work. I will not permit you to throw parties in your cubicle."

With that, he walks off without a backward glance.

Spinning my chair in circles, I quell the queasiness by staring at a central point of my office ceiling.

Oh, God, why me?