Meet executive assistant Shari Nance: She's smart, sexy, talented--and excitingly fed up. . .
Shari is past done with letting her uber-incompetent boss, Corinne, steal her ideas and get the big bucks and promotions. So, why not pose as Corinne, work a major ad account, and prove who's the real talent? And if that means competing with a rival agency's top executive, well, Shari can't wait to take him on. But when the man turns out to be Tom Sexton, her boss' ruggedly-sexy boyfriend, his agenda has the kind of sizzling moves Shari can't trust or resist . . .
"Fast moving, laugh-out loud funny and smart." --RT Book Reviews
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I'll Be Your Everything
By J. J. Murray
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2012 J. J. Murray
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAn elderly white woman with a fancy camera around her neck waits alone at Tillary and Jay in downtown Brooklyn. I wish I had a digital zoom camera like that. At first, I think she's a lost bird feeder from one of the nearby parks because she wears a brown wool jacket, matching frumpy hat, and brown corduroys. But she's out here at 7:30 a.m. in this gross, misty, dirty, frigid weather that screams, "Brooklyn is too cold for people to function in November."
Tourists are getting as hardy as the trees in Whitman Park.
She steps in front of me and asks, "Will this bus take me to Times Square?"
I want to tell her that any bus will take you anywhere eventually, but she seems so needy. I squint through my misted glasses at the oversized blue sign. B51. I rode that bus once and hated it. A bus is no way to see the world unless you have a window seat and the person next to you isn't big-boned. I didn't have a window seat that day, decided to save my money and the hassle of feeling like a sardine, and haven't ridden a bus since.
"It might take you to Times Square eventually," I say to the tourist, wiping mist from my lenses and returning my glasses to my face. "But don't take my word for it. I don't ride the bus enough to know."
"You ride the subway instead?" she asks.
Also once. Not a good time. Though I'm five feet tall, slim, and can squeeze into just about any tight space, that trip on the subway gave me major claustrophobia. The fumes, men in suits oozing thick, cloying cologne, little bruises on my booty from slamming into the poles as more people crowded my little body, the intermittent darkness—not my idea of a good time. I kind of miss the booty bumps caused by some random briefcases held by some of the men supposedly reading the Times. I never knew briefcases could get so fresh.
"No, ma'am," I tell the tourist. "I walk."
She cocks her head to the side. Maybe she's hard of hearing. Either that or she has to move her head occasionally to focus a wandering eye. "You walk?"
"It's only a few miles."
To MultiCorp, America's number-one multicultural ad agency fifteen years running, and that's why I'm walking. I can afford to walk. I've been an administrative assistant at Multi-Corp for five years. I know. Five years is a long time to be kissing anyone's booty. I've had a couple of bumps in pay, and I even earned a bonus last year, an IKEA gift card that I redeemed for a storage combination with three bright pink buckets that hold whatever comes out of my pockets: keys, receipts, Post-its, and change. But mostly, I survive the daily grind. Walking keeps me in my $1,500-a-month apartment that has a "window of fice" (a cherry desk and my laptop), a narrow kitchen with a skinny oak table and two skinnier oak chairs, and a view of the Statue of Liberty if I put my face flush to the window and squint just right after the sun goes down.
"Well, thank you anyway," she says, stepping back.
"Anytime." I turn to leave then remember my Virginia-born manners. "Um, enjoy your visit to Brooklyn."
The woman leaps in front of me. "I'm in Brooklyn? I thought this was Manhattan." She points in a westerly direction. "Isn't that Central Park over there?"
Manhattan was my favorite Woody Allen movie. I can afford to rent that. I work in lower Manhattan, and I even like eating Manhattan clam chowder, but I could never afford to live in Manhattan or anywhere near the big ad agencies on Madison Avenue like Young & Rubicam, Doyle Dane Bernbach, and Harrison Hersey and Boulder.
"No, ma'am. That's Whitman Park. This is, um ..."
How do I make her feel better without confusing her and ruining her vacation? Wait. She's touring Brooklyn, which she has mistaken for Manhattan, in November. What kind of a vacation is that? At any rate, she seems lost enough as it is. Nothing I say is going to make her feel any better.
"This is Brooklyn Heights," I say. Sort of, but not really. It's complicated. You have to live here. "Tell the bus driver you want to go to Times Square, and he'll hook you up." Again, eventually. I don't tell her that she'll probably have to switch buses during the craziest time of the morning in Manhattan.
"I was so sure that was Central Park." She still points over toward Whitman Park. "It looked just like it does in the movies. I got some wonderful pictures that look just like they came from that Law & Order show. Is Manhattan far from here?"
There's a loaded question. I want to tell her that it takes forever to get to Manhattan and stick around. "It's only a few miles," I say. It's only a few miles as the crow flies, but there are few straight lines around here.
I check out her shoes. Comfortable black Brooks walkers. I love her corduroys. Her whole outfit is a statement. What that statement is, exactly, I don't know.
"We could walk together," I tell her. "It will only take half an hour or so, and it may even be faster than taking the bus."
The lack of trust inherent in out-of-town people whenever someone from Brooklyn stops to give them assistance. I was the same way when I first arrived and spoke good, southern English to people who sometimes spoke English. I now speak Brooklynese with a slight southern twang. I squinted a lot back then, too.
The Good Samaritan in the Bible just went on and did his thing. I should just grab her arm and get her some exercise. But I had home training, and I don't twist anybody's arm—not even my own.
"I work on William Street in lower Manhattan." Seventeen floors up. "A few blocks from where they're building the Freedom Tower."
No bells. She blinks.
"Um, near where the World Trade Center used to be."
A bell. She nods.
"William Street is about ..." Again, how do I make her feel better for mistaking Brooklyn for Manhattan? Can it be done? This situation is why people write online blogs. "It's about a cab ride from Times Square."
"That close?" she says.
Wow. And I thought I was naïve and spatially challenged. "Yes. That close."
"Well, I think I'll wait for this bus anyway. Thank you for your help." She steps back.
I continue walking.
At least she said thank you. So many people don't. Especially ignorant people, but ignorance is bliss, and she sure seemed quite happy to wait in her version of Manhattan on a rainy Friday morning in Brooklyn.
What people don't know about the world or where they're going keeps them happy.
Bliss is being lost in America.
I doubt anyone will ever quote me on that one.
Chapter TwoAll this brings me to my job again. Why do I think so much about my job? Oh yeah. I have to pay $1,500 a month for a four-hundred-square-foot "space" in downtown Brooklyn in a skinny silver rectangle made of glass, metal, and concrete that rises fifty stories into the gloom. On a clear day, you can even see the ocean from the Beach, an outdoor space on the fifty-first floor. The Brooklyner—they brainstormed about half a second when they named the place—is kind of like a shiny graduation pen stuck into a big brown and black asphalt pencil holder. I still have my silver graduation pen from high school. It worked for about two years before the ink ran out seven years ago. Crazy, but I have a graduation pen on my desk at MultiCorp that reminds me that I'm twenty-seven. It does look good on my desk, though. It reminds me to stand tall and shine brightly every day.
Even if I'm out of ink.
All the leaves have given up and jumped to their collective deaths over at Whitman Park. I wish it wasn't raining. Those piles of leaves would be fun to kick around with old Walt Whitman himself. But I'm walking late because I helped Miss "Isn't This Manhattan?" take the bus she was going to take anyway before I tried to help her.
Some people just need full confirmation of their foolishness.
That quote is going up on my fridge.
What was I thinking about before? Oh yeah. Ignorance being bliss. What people don't know about the products they buy won't hurt them—until the recalls and the lawsuits, I suppose. That happens way too much these days. The only things recalled when I was a kid were cars and cribs, and now car companies are becoming extinct and cribs are houses and penthouses of the rich and infamous. I'm sure there's something ironic about that. "Cribs" cost more than cars these days—at least on MTV.
What a conflicted job I have. I help advertise products that people don't really need or want—at first. "We create the need and the want" is MultiCorp's grandiose and overexaggerated slogan. If we were doing ad campaigns for milk, flour, eggs, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion, Blended Beauty Curly Frizz Pudding for my BB3 spiral curls, hiking boots, and used paperback books, I could see the point of advertising, but ... no. Most of the products MultiCorp represents aren't necessary for anyone. No one really needs the products we promote, and in a way, all advertising does is confirm the American public's foolishness.
Maybe I'll put that quote up at work. I doubt anyone will notice.
All this foolishness does give me a job, though, and for that I'm thankful to almighty God, especially in this economy. Working at MultiCorp is like stepping onto the stage of a wonderfully absurd comedy most days. No. It's an absurd comedy every day because the ad account executives take everything so seriously. "We have to sell this overpriced, shoddily built, ozone-killing, ice cap-melting, and lawsuit-begging whatever-it-is if it's the last thing we do!"
I trip a lot at work. It seems we do "the last thing" daily while promoting the "next big thing" that, again, no one really needs.
I'm finally hiking up to the somewhat level part of the Brooklyn Bridge, about two miles to go. Whenever it snows, I try not to follow in the footsteps of others. A few years ago, sixteen inches of snow fell, and I was the first person on the bridge. I wonder if anyone followed in my footsteps. I wouldn't recommend it because I have small feet. During that snowstorm, the wind blew so much that I experienced complete whiteout for the first time in my life. It was as if I were floating in a sea of cotton.
It was kind of peaceful, actually.
Man, I am running a few minutes behind. I better start power walking.
Today the air smells like a cross between cat litter and cheap wine with a hint of seagull poo and a trace of old pennies. How many times has this bridge been bought and sold? I think this just about every time I walk across, and I still don't have an answer. Foot traffic is light at 8 a.m. today. It must be the rain. Thank God for Gore-Tex and my blue North Face waterproof jacket. I once used umbrellas on rainy and snowy days until I lost or forgot about five of those umbrellas at work when cloudy, wet mornings turned into clear, starry evenings. I wonder where lost umbrellas go. Not inside somewhere, obviously. I hope they're not out wandering aimlessly in the street. Maybe the black ones show up at movie funerals and the red ones show up on insurance ads.
But back to ignorance. If ignorance is bliss, does that make the opposite true, that knowledge is pain? It has to be. It has—
"Hey! Stay to the left!" I yell at the bicyclist who veers into and out of my "lane" and speeds past. The nerve! Man, that's got to be the same guy who has buzzed me a few times before. Jerk!
Nice booty, though.
Where was I? Oh. It has been a royal pain for me to take classes online to get my MBA through Long Island University and to hold a full-time job—and live in downtown Brooklyn. And to walk twice across the Brooklyn Bridge every day. And to take time out to help clueless tourists who think Whitman Park is Central Park because it looks just like it does in the movies. And in just three years—man, that's a long time—I'll have that MBA, and I'll use it to do exactly what I've been doing, probably. If MultiCorp wasn't paying for half of the tuition, I wouldn't be trying to get my MBA at all because there are so many people who have MBAs out there who are still looking for jobs. And even if I get the chance to interview for something better, I can hear the interviewer say, "And where did you get your MBA, Miss Nance?" Um, LIU. "Next!" No, I would beg, I was on the Brooklyn campus of LIU! That's the nicer campus!
Knowledge is pain.
I'm halfway across the bridge now, and I'm catching up to a bottleneck of people. Five years ago, there was only a smattering of people walking. Now, there are literal human traffic jams, because of the economy, I suspect. It's getting windy, not that I have much hair to muss or that I care if it gets mussed. I've gone completely natural since coming to Brooklyn, and my hair is finally growing out.
There's a whiff of the ocean in the air today. Might be the Long Island Sound. Or a fish market. Not much boat traffic today either. Where's the sun? Not that it matters to me. I'm shady enough as it is. I could just use a little golden sunlight today, you know? That would make me happy.
Now, what do I believe about happiness and bliss? I believe that bliss is an uncluttered heart and an open mind. So far I've maintained both. I'm kind of lonely about the heart part, though there is a guy down in Virginia named Bryan who has been after me since we were kids, but Bryan's there, I'm here, he's somewhat happy there, I'm somewhat happy here, case closed.
Until he comes to visit again. I used to like it when he came to visit. We're friends first and lovers every once in a blue moon, but his last few visits weren't much fun. We had spent the day at Coney Island, and there he was on his knees on the hardwood floor in my bedroom later that night. I thought he was going to propose and effectively ruin our friendship, so as soon as he said, "Shari Nance," I tackled him and started kissing on him. I didn't give him a chance to finish. That was the only time the neighbors complained about the noise. I may be small, but I can shout. Bryan might have been asking me to turn off the light or to help him find his shoes. He might have been asking me to fix him a sandwich, I don't know. But he was on his knees in my bedroom, you know? Not many men ask for a freaking sandwich when they're on their knees and vulnerable like that in a woman's bedroom.
That was three months ago. Since then Bryan has been pestering me in e-mails and during phone conversations to "come home where you belong." I blame my parents for that. They used to say that to me, too. And he keeps saying "home" as in, "Shari, it's time for you to come home before that place makes you crazy" and "The folks back home miss you so much" and "Girl, you need you some home cooking." This is my home now, I told him, and if you really want me, you will come to my new home. Home is where the heart is, right? So if Bryan's heart is with me, then he should come up here and stay here with me in my home.
I might have confused him with all that because he hung up on me.
And I wasn't mad.
I'll bet he felt me shrugging my shoulders all the way from Brooklyn.
He didn't call me for a week, and when he finally did call, he told me that he was planning to visit me for the Thanksgiving holiday. To do what? I asked. "To be with you, Share." He calls me "Share," as if we're still in middle school. Having a visitor would be nice to break the monotony that is my life, but the holidays are such a romantic time of year, and I'm worried he'll drop to his knees, say, "Shari Nance" again, and I'll be too far away from him to knock him down before he pops the question. Not that I would accept. It's just that I don't want to give him an answer that would ruin our friendship.
Always keep men ignorant of your intentions. It makes them crazy, and they pay so much more attention to you, as if they're trying to earn something.
Speaking of ignorance ...
If ignorance is indeed bliss, then using my earlier definition, ignorance is an uncluttered heart and an open mind. That's kind of edgy. So that means the opposite of ignorance—knowledge—is a cluttered heart and a closed mind.
That is so true!
And that's the wench I work for.
Excerpted from I'll Be Your Everything by J. J. Murray Copyright © 2012 by J. J. Murray. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Being from NY, when I think of Brooklyn, I think of drama. And Brooklyn, NY hasn't seen drama like this! This isn't the type of drama that ends up on the eleven o'clock news, either. It's the type that ends up on a reality TV, on You Tube, or on your e-reader, while you struggle to keep reading well past your three-thirty A.M. bedtime. In I’ll Be Your Everything, JJ Murray definitely comes out of his comfort zone, giving his readers a novel that was completely unexpected. Shari's dedication, hard-work ethic, creativity, and desire to beat the odds turns this character into "Everywoman" or "Manywomen." Unlike, many women, however, Shari actually decides to do something about it. She impersonates her boss, takes over a multimillion-dollar account, and manages to destroy the agency that treated her like a field slave for years. All this in a few pages! As she schemes to find a way to steal her boss's unearned “limelight,” in hopes of getting the spotlight to shine on her for a change, she manages to snag Tom, her boss's boyfriend in the process. And boy does the spotlight shine on Shari for a change! The relationship between Shari and Tom isn't the usual slow-roasting, kind, passionate, love that builds between two broken people that come together to feel whole. Both Shari and Tom start out with that kind of love and that lasts for all of a few nanoseconds. Once they realize what they have between them, they fall hard. Their love takes two shakes and a twist, and it turns into a gritty, real, resilient romance, between two head-strong individuals. These are lovers who know what they want and are willing to railroad any and every one to get it. And speaking of railroad, boy, do things go full steam ahead, much like the number 4 train roaring through Brooklyn. Overall, it's a fun read, fast-paced, and a wonderful trip through Brooklyn.
This book is sensational! I really wasn’t expecting any of what I read, and it just made me smile for days after I read it! Amazing book from start to finish! Awesome job J.J. Murray, can’t wait for your next book.
I have to say that I was extremely disappointed in this book. After reading 'The Real Thing' I thought that it would have been much better. I just felt that there wasn't enough of the building of the relationship. They just met and a couple of weeks later, they are married. I mean don't get me wrong, I love the fact that Shari is smart and beautiful, but this is a love story, not a how to on how to sell a product. It's also very slow, I almost couldn't get past the first couple of chapters. I honestly feel really bad about writing this review but I have NEVER felt like reading a book was a huge waste of my time until now.
This is probably the best J.J. Murray book I have ever read. It was one of feel-good books that makes you believe in love. I love the characters and even though everything happened so fast (a week to be exact) it just felt so right. One of the most amazing books that I have every read. The perfect novel that just makes you smile and rejoice when its all said and done. It was truly pure bliss and I enjoyed every second of it. Worth the last few hours that I spent reading nonstop.
Murray books take some getting into. She writes well, but takes a long time getting to the good stuff. I liked this book. It is a great read once you get past the first 2 or 3 chapters. N~~~~