The brick façade of the building in front of her seemed ordinary and yet, imposing. Jess sighed, relaxed her hands and mentally prepared herself for her first job interview in eight years. She regretted not doing it years ago, but she’d never had the nerve to leave her small hometown newspaper. Now, it had become necessary to ensure her peace of mind. She swung her legs out of the car seat, stood up and smoothed away the wrinkles in her favorite teal suit. She took one long, deep breath to calm her nerves and walked toward the double glass doors at the entrance to Piedmont Today.
When she entered the reception area of the large regional newspaper, she gasped. Immaculate, she thought. Beige, stain-free carpet covered the floor. The tan walls were also spotless. Without a doubt, she could get used to working in this environment. Back at her office, she’d grown accustomed to the rumble of noisy equipment, loud voices and trashcans spilling over onto the floor.
“May I help you?” an older woman with salt and pepper hair asked.
She stepped over to the chest-high counter that stood between the receptionist’s desk and the waiting area. “I’m Jess McElroy. I have an appointment with Mr. Montgomery.”
While she waited for the editor to appear, Jess ambled over to the wall that was adorned with dozens of North Carolina Press Association awards. She counted the number of first place certificates. One, two, three, four, five, six…
Her body tensed, and she turned in the direction of the man who had called her name. With her hand outstretched, she stepped toward the tall, dark-haired man. “Mr. Montgomery?”
His handshake was firm, and he smiled. He had a nice smile that lit up his hazel eyes. “Please. Call me Parker. Mr. Montgomery is my dad.”
His sense of humor put her at ease. “And please call me Jess,” she said.