It Must Be True Then by Luci Adams (Excerpt)



A Year Later

Bailey, the one on the left, the one with “don’t fuck with me” eyes and warm coffee-colored hair cut short and sharp to match, looks up from her tablet. Her eyes are piercing. Emerald green. My nerves hit my stomach like a punch in the gut.

I give her a smile, then immediately regret it when I see her raise her right eyebrow. With that one look, I’m not only worried they won’t take me seriously, but I’m also panicking that there may still be a little bit of my pre-interview Pret almond croissant stuck between my teeth. I knew I shouldn’t have ordered it, but it was so tempting, and I thought a bit of comfort breakfast might bring me luck. Turns out it’s only churning in my tummy while I breathe in a way that hopefully hides the unwelcome swirling noises issuing from my gut.

Oh, why didn’t I check my teeth for bits on my phone outside? Rookie error. I pull my face into a position that hides my gums, just to be on the safe side.

“You’re probably wondering why my CV looks a bit empty,” I hear myself say.

Sorry, what? Did I seriously just say that?

Bailey’s eyes shoot up to me.

Well, she’s definitely wondering about it now.

I take a deep breath. Come on, Daisy, I tell myself. Just breathe.

“Well, what it really shows is that I’m a very dedicated individual,” I say confidently. There we are, I just need to not panic and I’ll be fine. “I’m a…” oh god, present tense. Slow down, regroup, then speak. “I was a senior data analyst, working for the same marketing agency for just over thirteen years. I got an internship as an office assistant at Branded straight out of high school and worked my way up. They were just a small independent PR firm back then—there wasn’t even a data department—but they got bought up by Everest—do you know Everest?”

Something about Bailey’s unmoving expression makes me think no, she does not know Everest.

“Well, they were one of the largest agencies in the UK—still are in fact—and since the merger, Branded has expanded its offering and is now seen as one of the advertising elites. I founded the Data Department myself actually. I realized that we could harness the insights of our social media posts in order to create better, more profitable campaigns. It was my old flatmate who gave me the inspiration to be honest, she’s a math professor over in…” I’m looking at their faces. They don’t care where my ex-flatmate teaches. Fair enough. “Well, a few online courses later, and what began as a side project became an integral part of the whole business. I specialize in social media insights, but I’ve been able to deep-dive into sales data too, showing cross-product correlations for clients that have helped them with their marketing.”

Bailey seems completely unimpressed and, quite frankly, bored, but at least Cara is smiling at me. I wonder if it’s in sympathy more than anything else. Perhaps she senses I’m a bit out of my depth here and is taking pity on me.

She’s the smaller one of the two, her hair long and curly but not too dissimilar in color to Bailey’s. If they’re playing good cop/bad cop, then it’s clear which one she is. But perhaps she’s too good cop. Maybe her purpose is to disarm. I reshuffle my tooth-hiding smile in an effort to regain composure.

“Well, my tenure there should show just how dedicated I can be. I’m not someone who just quits or walks out at the first sign of trouble. I’m a loyal employee, through the good times and the bad.”

Bailey turns back to her tablet and a small silence settles in the room.

After the first minute, I pride myself in riding out the wave. After the second, I feel my nose twitch. I’ve had enough time to think about what I’ve just said and realize how it must have sounded. In the third minute I suddenly feel the urgent need to correct myself, but I must stay strong. I must not do something stupid and say something like:

“You’re probably wondering why I left then, given I’ve just told you how loyal I am.”

Except I do. I say exactly that. What is WRONG with me?

It captures Bailey’s attention again alright. Oh jeez. This interview is not going well and all three of us know it. Plus, I now owe them an answer.

Suddenly my mind peels back. To two weeks ago.

To one of the worst moments in my life.


“It’s bad bitch o’clock,” I say, out loud.

Gosh, that’s unlike me.

I don’t usually say things like that. Only, I’m looking in a mirror, and I don’t usually look like this either, so maybe this just isn’t me anymore.

I switch my Spotify playlist to Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” for the third time this morning while my eyes trail up my half-naked body. Black stockings stretch up my legs, topped with lace roses clinging on for dear life to my newly shaved thighs. “Low-rise geo crochet thong-cut” panties wrap around my hips, which is the longest name possible for what is really just a thread of material covering the bare minimum needed to still qualify in the “knickers” category. My top half is only partially concealed by the small slither of fabric included in the “Elodie Corset and underwire brassiere,” and tying the whole outfit together (quite literally) is the piece de la resistance: the midnight black, FKME string bodysuit with detachable neck collar.

What it really is, is a logistical nightmare. The thing comes with no instruction manual and has more clips and holes than an IKEA shelving unit. But here it is, a geometric headache of strings that wrap around my body, centered by one long string that runs right up my chest and wraps tightly around my neck with the sole purpose of making me look “Sexy AF.”

I look across to my discarded girl boxers and perfectly regular underwired bra on my duck egg blue bed. That’s more me. Both of them are at least a decade old, but although their colors might have faded, they’ve still held the test of time. No holes means no reason to upgrade. Except, as I’ve discovered, the upgrade literally is holes. Lingerie these days is apparently the absence of lingerie. Who knew?

“It’s bad girl o’clock,” I say, and then—getting all flustered—switch off my music and correct myself: “Bad bitch o’clock.”

Lizzo said it, and she knows. So, come on. Confidence, woman.

Except, when I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a confident woman staring back at me. I just see me. Playing dress-up.

I think about taking it all off again, and I almost physically have to stop myself. Because maybe this is the new, improved Daisy Peterson.

The Daisy that’s going to leave the genuinely “sexy AF” Jackson Oakley absolutely and completely speechless in the ninth-floor boardroom when she strips down and guides his hands to NSFW places with a panoramic view of Soho below.

The one whose left bottom cheek appears to be considerably bigger than her right.

Wait, really? That can’t be a thing?

I check the mirror, sashaying left and right. It does, it definitely does.

Oh bollocks. I must have done a strap wrong.

I open the Instagram post I bought it off to cross-check.

When Bae’s mum thinks you’re the cutesy type, the caption reads, followed by multiple fire and devil emojis.

The post shows a beautiful, flawlessly smooth-skinned woman wearing what I am now. Her ass, of course, in this bodysuit, is out of this world. The dream bottom. The behind of all behinds. Probably photoshopped, but like, who actually knows? Some people might just look like that.

Luckily, the image shows me exactly where I’ve gone wrong.

With a delicate pop, I unclip the rogue suspender strap and switch it to its rightful side. Bottom evened out again, I take an awkwardly-shallow-based-on-corset-restrictions breath.

I quickly top it with one of the only non-pastel-colored outfits I own: a black pencil skirt I once bought to look uber-professional matched with a sheer white shirt, just clear enough to see the outline of the bodysuit below. Then I stuff a thick jumper and jeans in my backpack for after. Obviously.

I check the time: 6:01 a.m. I’m pushing it now, but I still stall by that mirror. Coat on, headphones in, ready. My long blonde hair, usually styled with zero effort, is pulled up in a tight ponytail for once, showing I mean business. My lips are stained with a new blood-red lipstick, the only shade appropriate for an inappropriate rendezvous. My freckles—well, they’re my freckles. There’s no hiding them. So, I pick up my keys and hit American Authors on Spotify before I open the door. Because that’s the kind of optimism I need to channel right now.

This is going to be the best day of my life.

* * *

“Have you ever been to the ninth floor?” Jackson asks me, from his sleek monochrome bedroom. It’s all sharp corners and up-lighting in here. He likes things clean cut.

I shake my head. Not that he notices. His blue eyes aren’t on my face. They’re lower, his words tickling my stomach as he imprints small kisses up toward my chest.

I hold my lips together purposefully.

Six months in and I know how Jackson likes it now. He gets straight to the point, always, and I’m exceptionally bad at doing that. Especially with him. You would have thought I’d have mellowed in his presence over time, but I can’t help it. I see those eyes and I stare at that sharp, clean-shaved jawline and I turn into a teenager all over again.

Maybe, partly, it’s because six months into seeing Jackson isn’t really half a year in his company. Jackson Oakley is a busy man. He time blocks, and I don’t just mean for work. He time blocks for gym. He times blocks for dinner. He time blocks for pub outings and after-work drinks and vacations. There’s not a night we share together that isn’t blocked in the diary by his equally efficient, promotion-worthy EA, because if it wasn’t there, it wouldn’t happen.

I see my initials pop up on his notifications sometimes:

Calendar Invite from Stephanie Chu

7:30 p.m.—Home-DP


Daisy Peterson that is, before anyone gets any other ideas. Little old me, at his flat, from 7:30 p.m. sharp.

It’s sexy. Aspirational, even. I can only focus on one thing at a time, and 90 percent of that time that focus is on work, but Jackson has juggling down to an art form.

But it means that half a year of seeing him is actually distilled down to only twenty-two evenings, and even then, it’s efficient: Drink. Small talk. Work talk. Music. Strip. Sex. Takeout. More sex.

Wild sex. Against-the-wall sex. Floor sex. Shower sex. Lying over his kitchen counter surrounded by takeout boxes sex. And I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined I’d have had so many screaming orgasms with a man so undoubtedly sexy as Jackson Oakley. I keep waiting for that moment when he turns around and realizes I’m not worth his time-blocked time. I get terrified that he’s going to book over me and my freckles with someone a little less “cartoon bunny rabbit,” and a little more “Megan Fox.”

So, no, six months in, I’m not over it. I’m still the girl trying to impress, and I get all nervous and mumble and go on tangents and … well … I don’t want to say anything to spoil the moment, not this time. So, I’ve learned instead to say nothing at all.

“It has a panoramic view of the city up there,” he continues, his nose tracing the curves of my body. “You can see for miles in all directions. The rooms are built for privacy. Early-morning meeting room, no one around to walk in on you. You can fuck to the sunrise.” Slowly he runs his tongue up to the base of my throat, nibbling at my ear and I can feel my whole body melt.

“What about it?” he asks.

I open my eyes to see him face-to-face, towering over me. My god this man is beautiful. Completely beautiful. So beautiful, I don’t even know how to answer. Because what he’s just propositioned is outrageous, right?

Sex? In public?

Worse! Sex at work! What if someone caught us? I’ve spent years trying to be taken seriously in my career, just imagine what would happen if someone saw us …

“I mean,” I stutter, unsure how to phrase this. “I’m not sure that…” I begin, but with a disappointed little laugh and a shake of the head, he rolls off me.

“I knew you wouldn’t,” he says, and I feel the atmosphere change instantly.

I physically feel the chill now his body’s not over me. I look over to him beside me, but he’s not looking at me anymore. Instead, he’s reached out to the bedside table to his phone. He switches on his emails, scrolling through for anything new that just came through in the last half hour.

Copyright © 2024 by Luci Adams

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