We Were Inevitable
We Were Inevitable
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- Choose your own adventure
- Choose your trope: enemies, friends, or instalove
- Choose your setting: USA, Turkey, or Germany
One way or another, Melody Critchfield is going to get her “happily ever after.”
A few years out of college, and Melody is overworked and underappreciated…but like the idealist that she is, she doesn’t mind. The nonprofit she works for is doing a lot of good in the world, so what does she care if it comes at the expense of her sleep, her relationships, or her mental health?
When an opportunity comes along to spend a year working for a partner organization, Melody is torn. Should she stay put, move to Germany to work at her dream job, or accept a teaching role in Turkey?
And that’s where you, dear reader, come into the picture. Melody’s choice is left up to you, starting with where she should be and what job she should accept. From there, more choices will come, down to which trope she should play out with her love interest. Will it be instalove? Friends-to-lovers? Enemies-to-lovers? Do you love the drama of a miscommunication or prefer to keep things a little more low stress?
It’s all up to you. Rest assured, Melody will find her happy ending. But how long it takes her to get there – and which route she will take – is entirely in your hands.
Start reading Chapter One...
Start reading Chapter One...
“It’s not that you don’t do good work, Melody. I just need to see more commitment from you. Do you really want to be here? Do you really believe in the mission of EduPowerment?”
Her mouth was totally dry as Melody Critchfield nodded her head. “Of course, Mr. Richards. It’s so important to me, what we’re doing here. I mean, creating opportunity for women around the world…that’s the dream, and I’m not exaggerating. I get so excited when I think about what we’re doing here that I can hardly contain myself sometimes.” She tried to stop herself from fidgeting as she stood in front of his desk. From the expression on his face, it was clear she was rambling. But she couldn’t stop, and she meant every word of it.
Mr. Richard’s lips raised at the corners, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. “That’s great to hear. You know, we often have issues retaining our newer employees, especially the female ones—I’m not trying to be sexist, it’s just the truth. It’s refreshing to hear from someone who gets it as much as you do.“ He settled back at his desk, the desk he had inherited from his mother along with her flourishing non-profit. “I’m just going to need to see that ‘belief in our mission’—” He’d actually lifted his fingers to make air quotes when he said that. “—translate into your showing up at work on time a little more regularly.”
“I understand, Mr. Richards, I really do.” Now Melody’s palms were sweating. Between that, the knot in her stomach, and her mouth that was getting drier with every word she spoke, she was experiencing the trifecta of an-authority-figure-is-expressing-disappointment-with-me anxiety. But she deserved it, and that’s what made it even worse. “I left my apartment with plenty of time to make it to work, but I just…I should have checked the news. I didn’t know that part of downtown was closed, even the sidewalks, but I should have left even earlier. I promise you it won’t happen again.” She’d sleep under her desk every night of the week if it meant avoiding another confrontation like this.
Mr. Richard’s approximation of a smile deepened ever so slightly. “I’m glad to hear it, Melody. It might seem unfair, especially considering that the circumstances were out of your control…but it’s about the principle of professionalism. Of committing to the task in front of us. We receive a significant amount of donations to do the work that we do, and it is imperative that we be blameless stewards with those resources. How would you feel if you donated a portion of your hard-earned paycheck to a charity, only to learn that their employees saunter in whenever they want and work only when it’s convenient for them?”
Oh shit. She hadn’t thought of it like that. On her detour that morning, watching the clock creep closer and closer to nine o’clock while she had to walk blocks out of her way had been bad enough when it was just her boss—and, of course, herself—that she was letting down. But thinking about the donors twisted the knife in her gut even deeper. Most of the donations EduPowerment received were small—a twenty-dollar bill mailed in by someone who had watched one of their documentaries, a tip jar walked over from the local café every month—and that made it even worse. It wasn’t like she was letting down a massive corporation—not that Melody Critchfield would do that in good conscience, either—but she wouldn’t be able to look any of her colleagues in the eye if she didn’t make this right.
“I’ll stay late tonight, Mr. Richards. And it really won’t happen again. You can count on me.”
He nodded. “I want to, Melody. Consider this a warning. Your first warning.“ He leaned in to the number like there wouldn’t be a second. “You can go now. Don’t want you missing any more work today.”
Melody peeped out a “Thank you!” that could probably only be heard by dogs and darted from the office, across the hall and back in to her cubicle. She was surrounded by clicking keyboards and quiet murmurs as her coworkers answered calls and did the business that kept EduPowerment running. None of them were taking advantage of their donor’s hard-earned money.
As her computer was coming to life, Melody removed the thermos from the cupholder at the side of her large, functional purse. Though EduPowerment provided coffee for their employees, she had brought her own every day since she’d started three years ago.
It was a good thing, too, because the last thing she needed on a day like today was to bump into Mr. Richards in the coffee room after the conversation they’d just had. No, today was going to be the perfect day for keeping her head down and working efficiently. She already preferred to eat lunch at her desk, but bathroom breaks would be kept to a minimum today, too.
A squeak came from the cubicle next door, jolting Melody upright and nearly spilling coffee down the front of her light blue chambray shirt in the process. “Chloe? Is everything okay over there?”
A blonde head popped up, wide eyes finding Melody’s own. “Better than okay!” she hissed. “Have you seen this email from Jacqueline? I’m so flippin’ excited!“ She waved her arm over the cubicle wall. “Come look at this email and freak out with me!”
Melody sighed. “What does it say?” She nodded her head towards her still-booting-up computer. She could understand how cutting-edge technology wasn’t a priority item in the budget of a non-profit, but she did sometimes wish for a slightly less ancient desktop computer. On her wildest days, she even dreamed of one that would run her design software without crashing every twenty minutes.
Chloe rolled her eyes. “That’s why I told you to come over here, silly! Just look at mine. It’s the same thing that was sent to you.”
Melody was shaking her head as she ducked into Chloe’s cubicle. The two of them had been working side by side since Chloe had graduated a year ago, and Melody was well versed in her quirks. Including her very annoying quirk of not taking no for an answer, even when all Melody wanted was to work without interruptions. Chloe was a copywriter in the marketing department, working closely with Melody, who had graduated to the responsibility of running EduPowerment’s marketing department.
“What am I looking at here?” Melody scanned Chloe’s screen, where at least six different tabs were on display at the same time. There was an online thesaurus, a Pinterest board, a blank document with a blinking cursor, and…
“What in the—?” Melody mumbled as her eyes landed on the subject line in Chloe’s email inbox. Congratulations! You’re invited to apply for EduPowerment’s Generosity Exchange program. As she continued to scan the body of the email, a few key phrases jumped out at her.
“Generosity Exchange year-long overseas exchange program…sharing talent with our sister institutions and schools…your exemplary performance…uniquely qualified…work with the marketing team at Deutsche Lebenshilfe in Dresden…instructional position at English-language university in Izmir…positions are competitive, respond with your order of interest…”
Melody looked at Chloe with wide eyes. “Are you shitting me? Is this a joke?” She glanced at the clock at the bottom corner of Chloe’s screen. “It’s not April Fools’ Day, is it?” Shaking her head, she backed away from the desk. “No, there’s no way. This isn’t real, and even if it is, it’s not going to happen. I’m not going to waste my time thinking about it, especially when there’s important work waiting for me and I’m already late to get started.”
Chloe blinked slowly, her jaw agape. “Are…are you doing an impression of a workaholic with no sense of adventure? Because if so, it’s spot on, Mel. You’re not even going to read it? Let yourself dream a little bit about spending a year in another country?“ She took her mouse in hand, spinning the wheel to scroll through the email. “There are partner institutions all over the world, Melody. Surely one of them sounds like fun to you…”
Melody bit her lips between her teeth. The problem wasn’t finding a location that called out to her. No, she’d known where she’d want to go—that is, if she was actually going to act on this foolish whim—the second she’d seen that city name cross her field of vision. That wasn’t the problem at all.
The problem—and she felt awful even referring to it that way—was that she couldn’t go, no matter how much she might want to. The projects she was working on here…who would take them if she left? What about her future at EduPowerment? Sure, this sounded like an exciting opportunity, like study abroad for the working professional set…but did you really come back from a year of studying abroad still on track for graduation? Racking her brain, Melody was pretty sure at least one of her college neighbors had needed to take summer classes to make up for the general education courses that hadn’t been offered at her exchange school junior year. And what even was the equivalent of summer courses when you were already working full time?
Turning to Chloe and taking her hands in her own, Melody forced a smile. “It sounds like a great program. And I think you should definitely do it. I’ll even help you with the application process or selection process, or whatever it is.”
A frown crossed Chloe’s face. “Are you really not even going to consider it?”
Melody took a breath, reminding herself that she knew what was best for her. She knew what this situation required of her.
To get back to work and put away dreams of moving abroad, turn to page 75
To think a little longer about applying for the program, turn to page 117