Career Fair

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Bethany Cooper was feeling old, lonely and depressed. This was partly due to the hundreds of college students milling around her in the atrium of the Prentiss College Student Union. For her, they were a reminder that she had recently turned 36 and that her prime years were well behind her.

She felt this way every time she attended one of these career fairs, and since her firm, Sullivan Thomas Wealth Management had recently decided to expand, she’d been to three in the past six weeks. And it was always the same. She’d sit or stand behind her table, smiling at students as they streamed by, occasionally handing out job or internship applications – the firm had recently launched an internship program – or the new recruitment pamphlets they’d had printed up.

Unfortunately, Sullivan Thomas wasn’t a very well known firm outside of the high-end financial service sector, and most of the students passed her by with hardly a glance. It probably didn’t help, she knew, that she looked like the dowdy middle-aged housewife she was, while all around her, other firms had recruiters who were almost as young as and often more attractive than the students they were soliciting.

The tall, leggy blonde just across the way represented a manufacturing firm that Bethany knew was having financial difficulties and offered lousy benefits. Yet she was constantly surrounded by a horde of young people, mostly, but not all, boys. Next to her were a young black man and a red-headed girl in a fairly skimpy dress, recruiting for a second-rate regional bank that was unlikely to hire more than a half-dozen applicants in total this summer from all the colleges where it recruited. Yet this pair too was mobbed by students, joking and laughing with the bank’s representatives.

In a way, it was funny, because if the students knew the kind of money to be earned at Sullivan Thomas, or the sordid goings on beneath its staid, conservative veneer, they’d very likely kill to work there.

But they didn’t and so Bethany just stood staring out into space and musing about her lost youth. She was extremely jealous of these students, who were no doubt having the times of their lives at college and whose futures spread out before them in a limitless vista.

Having come from a conservative Christian family, she had gone to a conservative Christian school, and from which both she and the only boy she’d ever dated had graduated just two weeks before their wedding.

For her, there had been no crazy parties or late nights carousing around campus. She had never skinny dipped in an apartment complex pool or streaked across campus in her underwear. She’d certainly never had any wild sexual experiences or done any kind of drugs other than the occasional glass of wine.

“Excuse me.” The voice brought her mind back to the present. A young man with a ridiculously pathetic beard was looking at her. “Do you have any internship applications?”

“Certainly,” she said, smiling at him. She handed them to him and was about to explain the program’s details, but he just took the forms and walked away. She sighed, watching him blend into the crowd.

She sat down on the folding chair the college had provided. In general, sitting down is a bad idea in such a situation; it tends to draw less attention. But Bethany didn’t really care. She knew what kind of students the firm would want, and that kid hadn’t been one. The kind they wanted wouldn’t be drawn to her table, not while she was manning it, anyway.

Sullivan Thomas’ leadership would want students who were bright and ambitious, of course. But they would want more, even though no one had ever said as much. They’d want attractive young people with open minds and active libidos who would fit in well in the firm’s hyper-sexualized culture.

Bethany could still remember her very first week there. She’d been hired as a human resources assistant, the same position she’d held at a Christian non-profit. In hindsight, she couldn’t fathom why they had chosen her, knowing her education and work history.

She’d regretted taking the job just days into it. She had already seen a number of employees flirting with each other, telling risqué jokes, giving massages and even playfully patting each others’ butts. Then, on her very first Friday, she wandered into the filing room and saw Bill Wentworth, their chief financial officer, with his hand up his much younger secretary’s skirt. They were kissing, and the woman was thrusting her hips against Wentworth’s hand and moaning loudly. Bethany had never seen anything like it before.

She’d immediately reported it to her boss, Mrs. Baldwin, who assured her she’d look into it. But Bethany never heard anything more about it and it never seemed like anyone had gotten into trouble. A few weeks later, one of her few friends at the firm told her that it was common knowledge Wentworth was carrying on with his secretary. It was also well known, to everyone but Wentworth at least, that his wife was also seeing the casino oyna secretary, although neither knew of the other’s relationship.

Of course, eventually he found out, having walked in on the two women in the Wentworth pool house. The scheduled golf game that should have kept him away for hours had instead been cancelled. But even that had worked out, because instead of divorcing, the couple invited the secretary to move in with them. The only response the firm’s two older, male founders had to this obviously inappropriate behavior was to congratulate Wentworth on his good fortune. Both he and the secretary still worked there.

At the time, Bethany had been appalled, but now, leaning back in her chair, she could almost smile at the memory. It no longer bothered her; none of what went on did anymore. Sure, she didn’t like the dirty jokes and but as no one ever hit on her or offered massages, she turned a blind eye to such behavior. Besides, she had long ago figured out that management wasn’t going to do anything about it anyway. Even when she’d been promoted to HR director two years ago, she’d not bothered trying to change anything.

She had been the quintessential good Christian girl when she’d started at the firm, although deep down she had never really bought into her family’s brand of religion. Her parents lived as if they’d been born Puritans and had somehow time traveled to the late 20th century. They were dour, cheerless people and, especially after her older sister rebelled and fled the family home, had kept Bethany on a very short leash. Lacking her elder sibling’s courage, she had acquiesced and as far as she could see, had gained nothing from doing so.

Unlike her co-workers, she lived a boring life, with a boring husband, eating boring food and, most frustrating of all for her, having very boring sex. Or at least she supposed it was. She had only ever been with her husband, but from the illicit stories she’d recently started reading online, she figured she was missing out on quite a lot. Even more so now that sex between them had all but stopped.

“You look upset.”

The words startled her and she actually jumped a little. Looking away from the group of students at whom she’d been unconsciously staring, Bethany turned to find herself face to face with what looked like two refugees from a modern day vampire movie.

The girl was tall and thin with straight black hair cut into a stylish bob. Her face was a pale white with long black eyelashes and her lips were painted blood-red. But it was her eyes, which were an almost indescribable shade of grey, that caught Bethany’s attention. They seemed to pierce right through her, holding Bethany spellbound for a few moments.

“Seriously, are you okay,” the girl’s male companion asked.

He too was tall and likewise sported straight black hair, swept back from his forehead and falling almost to his collar. His deep-set eyes were blue and his nose was long and thin. His face was sharp and angular and his body, from what Bethany could see, was thin and rangy.

“Yes, I’m fine, thank you,” she said rising and extending her hand. Although she didn’t see either of them as good candidates for Sullivan Thomas, she didn’t want to be rude.

“I was just distracted,” she explained.

“Yeah, they’re kind of annoying,” the girl said disdainfully, casting a look at a crowd of fraternity and sorority members a few tables away. The boys were dressed in khakis and brightly colored polo shirts while the girls wore sundresses or mini-skirts and blouses.

Her visitors, in contrast, were clad mostly in black. The boy wore black jeans and a ragged black sports coat over a grey t-shirt with the logo of a band Bethany had never heard of. But at least he was fully clothed, Bethany thought, as opposed to the girl.

She wore a loose-fitting black tank top that afforded a good view of the sheer black bra she wore underneath. Her top was tucked into a very short, black leather mini-skirt, short enough in fact to show that she was wearing black fishnet thigh-high stockings, which disappeared into calf-length black lace-up boots.

“Can I help you,” she asked politely.

The girl looked at her strangely. “Yeah, I was wondering about working at Sullivan Thomas.”

“Oh.” Bethany’s tone must have betrayed her shock, because the girl gave her a sharp look.

“Is that surprising?” she asked, pursing her lips.

“I’m sorry. It’s just, well to be honest, you seem perhaps a little edgier than most of the employees at our firm. Not that you look bad or anything. I like the look. It’s just that, well, you know, stuffy financial institution and all.”

Of course, the only thing really stuffy about Sullivan Thomas was its dress code, suits and ties every day for men and pantsuits or below-the-knee skirts and dresses for women. The dress code was very much at odds with the firm’s behavioral norms, but it was necessary for the industry they worked in. She couldn’t see either slot oyna of these two fitting in to the firm or the industry.

“That’s okay. Believe it or not, I actually clean up really well,” the girl said with just the hint of sarcasm in her tone.

“And she’s an honors double major in finance and economics,” the boy said proudly. His companion smiled sweetly up at him.

“Well, in that case, here’s some literature and an application,” Bethany said, holding out several documents to the girl. She might as well give them to somebody. “I’m happy to take your resume as well. Sullivan Thomas is actually a very welcoming environment.”

If only she could tell her how welcoming, especially to such a pretty girl, Bethany thought to herself. But she didn’t dare do so.

“Great,” the girl said, stuffing the paperwork in her massive black cloth purse. “I’ve researched a little about Sullivan Thomas and I know it’s a good firm, very well regarded. I’ve got to run to class, but maybe I can come back and talk to you about what it’s like to work there?”

“Sure, I’d be happy to,” Bethany said, wondering how much the girl knew about the firm. “I’ll be here till four or even a little later if needed.”

“Thanks,” the girl said and the two black-clad forms disappeared into the mass of students, leaving Bethany to ponder exactly how much she should reveal about the inner workings of her office. Obviously she could discuss salary and benefits, dress code, attendance and work hour policy and such. The less formal aspects of its culture might be a little more difficult to explain without scaring her off.

Gradually her unhappiness, which had ebbed when she felt she might actually be able to help someone, began to reassert itself. Soon, Bethany was convinced that she wouldn’t see the girl again anyway and once more took to brooding about her lost youth and the disappointment of her present life.

It was a topic that had been bothering her for some time; attending the career fairs just amped up the feelings. When she and Steve had first married, she thought she’d been happy. But now, she couldn’t say for sure that such had been the case. With the wisdom of age and the benefit of hindsight, she could see that much of what she’d done in her life and how she’d behaved had been to please her parents and so-called friends while reducing the possibility of conflict and stress in her life.

Even as a teenager, she sometimes, in the privacy of her room, questioned the tenets of her faith and fantasized about what it would be like as a normal high school student, sneaking out on weekends to see different boys, going to parties, smoking and drinking. Those feelings continued into her college years, but she repressed them, just as she repressed the little voice in her head that had warned her against marrying Steve. He’s not your type, it said, he’ll never be able to truly embrace life or help you to do so.

And that had turned out to be true. He was supportive of her career, certainly, perhaps too much so. In her early days as Sullivan Thomas, when she had wanted to flee what she termed “that den of inequity” he had adamantly argued against it, saying that they needed the money too much. And that remained true even now, as his one-man accounting firm barely netted a third of her salary. That rankled him, but not enough to stop him from going out and buying a big screen TV and gaming system, never bothering to consult her.

Now, he spent most of his free time watching television or playing games. He ate too much and drank too much beer – something he’d never done in college – and the resulting weight gain combined with his loss of interest in sex or any other shared activities left her lonely and morose most days.

She realized she no longer loved him and doubted that he did her. But she also didn’t have the strength anymore to leave him and she had resigned herself to growing old while trapped in an unfulfilling marriage and a mundane life.

Now, instead of resenting her co-workers for their sins, she envied their lifestyles. She no longer wanted to leave Sullivan Thomas; part of her wanted to join in the illicit activities. When she’d first started, there had been a few men and a couple of women who’d very subtly hit on her, but at that time, she still held to her righteous indignation. Now that she might be more amenable to it, she had no takers and lacked the courage and confidence to take the initiative.

Over the years, she had put on some weight, although not nearly as much as Steve. And she had never been one to use much makeup or wear revealing clothes. Her shoulder-length brown hair was worn in a plain, simple style and her outfits were chosen to hide her body, not flaunt it.

These thoughts were doing nothing for her mood. She wondered whether it would be ethical to pack it in early and head back to the hotel, perhaps order room service and maybe even a bottle of wine – she rarely drank but lately had been considering changing canlı casino siteleri that – when another student walked up. The girl was slightly shorter than Bethany with long curly strawberry blonde hair, a cute little nose and ruby red cheeks that seemed to glow with happiness.

“Hi,” she chirped brightly at Bethany, holding out her hand. “I’m Emily.”

Bethany smiled broadly. She couldn’t really help herself. Unlike her previous visitors, who’d matched her dark mood in their dress and demeanor, this girl was like a ray of sunshine poking through the fog of gloom she had been wrapped in all day. She was instantly smitten with her.

“I’m Bethany. So glad to meet you,” she said, really meaning it too. “What can I do for you?”

She beamed at the girl and her eyes unconsciously drifted up and down the coed’s body. Emily was striking, to say the least. A few misguided, narrow-minded individuals might call her fat, which besides being rude wouldn’t be remotely true. She might have been ten, maybe fifteen pounds over what some might say was her ideal weight, but she carried it extremely well. A more apt description would be curvy, or, more accurate yet, voluptuous. She was the embodiment of, as her grandfather used to put it, being built like a brick shithouse.

She was clad in a knee-length red dress that showed off her curves to maximum appeal. It was cut to showcase her décolletage and Bethany found herself briefly staring into the cleft formed by two massive breasts before moving her focus up to look into a pair of twinkling green eyes.

“Well, my friend suggested I come by. I’m a finance major and we read up on Sullivan Thomas and I just thought I would check it out. She also said you were really helpful,” Emily said with a broad smile.

Bethany couldn’t imagine this girl not smiling. She just was one of those people who seemed to exude a joie de vivre, which in Emily’s case was underlay by a very strong sense of decadent sensuality, with her wide, inviting hips and full, pouty lips. Bethany could easily picture her as a Renaissance Venus, reclining on a day bed, wrapped only in a strip of transparent red gauze, a seductive smile across her face.

“Great. I’m glad I made a positive impression on someone. But I haven’t had many visitors, so I can’t imagine who that would have been,” Bethany said.

“Oh, you’ll remember them. A couple, both dressed in black. They sort of look like the decorations on top of a Goth wedding cake,” Emily laughed. “They’re my friend Anabelle and her boyfriend, Paul, although everyone calls Anabelle Raven. I’m sure you can guess why.”

“Right, they did drop by. She said she might come back after class, but I know you students are very busy,” Bethany said. She handed Emily the same documents she’d given Raven earlier. “Here is some literature on our firm. It really is a great place to work.

“And,” she leaned in to whisper to Emily, “You’ll make a lot more money with us than at some of these other places that are drawing so much more attention.”

“Good to know,” Emily said, winking at her. “Do you enjoy it there?”

“I do,” Bethany responded, which wasn’t completely true. Although the pervasive culture of sexuality no longer bothered her, she often felt excluded and alone, which to some extent is the natural fate of a human resources director.

But she wanted Emily to have a good opinion of the firm, although if asked, she would have been unable to articulate exactly why this was so. So she tried to sound as enthusiastic as she could.

“It’s a very good work environment,” she continued. “I mean, it’s a conservative financial firm, so there’s not the kind of relaxed atmosphere you get at some of your tech firms. But there’s also no yelling or berating of employees. It’s strictly forbidden. And management is very committed to providing professional development opportunities to all staff.”

“That sounds great. I think that’s so important, professional development, I mean. And I like that they treat their employees with respect. I won’t work anywhere where someone feels that can berate me or treat me like a child,” Emily said firmly. “Life’s too short to put up with that kind of thing.”

“Exactly,” agreed Bethany. “And we are also very generous with performance and annual bonuses, so keep that in mind as well.”

“Well, thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Bethany. It was really nice meeting you.” Emily held out her hand and Bethany took it.

“It was truly my pleasure,” she told the young coed, looking her directly in the eyes and smiling as warmly as she could. “It’s so nice to meet such an articulate, smart and beautiful young woman.”

Bethany blushed, partly because she couldn’t fathom how she came to call Emily beautiful to her face, and partly because Emily gave her a smile that she couldn’t quite interpret, but one that struck her as a little bit lascivious. And was it her imagination, or did the girl give her hand a soft stroke with her fingers as she released it? She certainly held it for perhaps just a second or two longer than was normal. Bethany felt a tingle run through her body, starting from her pussy, which she began to suspect, might be getting somewhat moist.

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