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Excerpt for Olivia. Loving Formula. by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Olivia


Loving Formula



England.

Present day.


‘Olivia Preston! Welcome to Mangalarga! We’re delighted to see you!’

Olivia smiled broadly at the tall exuberant presence of Philippa Cragg the head of marketing at, Mangalarga Auto Group, the newest and most rapidly ascending competitors in Formula One.

Olivia couldn’t help but absorb some of Philippa’s enthusiasm and she felt like her entire body was buzzing with excitement. Her heavy bag, laden with camera equipment felt light on her shoulder and she felt like skipping as Philippa led her to her new office. This was the gig of a lifetime, this is where it all began and she was so ready.

‘Here we are,’ said Philippa, showing Olivia to a light airy office with floor to ceiling glass looking out onto the smart stone courtyard and beyond at the fields of Northamptonshire.

The Mangalarga complex was state of the art and Olivia appreciated the expensive design features of the offices, the accommodation and leisure facilities. She’d already had the whistle-stop tour of the fifty meter pool and gym as well as the g-force swing trainer that taught the drivers to cope with the physical demands of Formula driving. She’d merely glanced at her new accommodation where she’d dumped her bags to unpack later, but what little she’d seen had been highly sophisticated.

‘What do you think?’ said Philippa, running her finger along Olivia’s new glass desk.

‘It’s beautiful,’ nodded Olivia, looking around at the neat space, she paused momentarily and then Philippa tipped her head back and laughed.

‘I’m being naughty,’ she chuckled, turning her back on Olivia she walked across the compact room and pushed open the adjoining double doors revealing a huge studio with tons of rigging for lights as well as the latest in backdrops and laser projectors for computerized editing software.

Olivia gaped as she took it all in. She placed her bag on the floor and took center stage in the perfectly white floor spinning with her arms open as if she were bathing in a waterfall of cash.

‘Oh, I’m so pleased you like it,’ said Philippa, clapping her hands. ‘Now then, we have a meeting in twenty-five minutes with the rest of the marketing team but first I want to pop by the CEO’s office and introduce you to some of the main people you’ll be working with.’

‘Oh,’ said Olivia, suddenly a little bit concerned about introductions and gate-crashing the CEO’s meeting.

‘You’ll be fine,’ said Philippa, reading her thoughts. ‘Come on,’ she promptly marched toward the door and Olivia followed, tidying her long loose hair as she went. She pulled the sleeves of her cardigan down and fastened a few buttons up in an attempt to look less casual. Philippa led the way down a long hallway and across a huge glass atrium which took them through a security barrier and then toward an attended door which the young man opened when he saw Philippa arrive.

The door opened slowly and Olivia held her breath as she realized it was a large meeting room and it was a very large meeting. Everyone was there. The team managers, drivers, designers, mechanical team and trainers, and they all looked at her as she followed Philippa into the room.

The CEO and owner of Mangalarga, Benjamin Rudder, stood to welcome them in and appeared to be ahead of the intrusion and smiled warmly. ‘You must be Olivia,’ he nodded.

‘Yes,’ said Olivia, trying not to let her lip quiver with nerves. ‘Pleased to meet you,’ she stepped forward to shake his hand. He was young she thought for such a high profile position, no more than forty and good-looking. The rest of the room’s occupants sat quietly watching the introduction unfold, until Philippa took over.

‘Everyone, this is Olivia Preston our new team photographer, this is her first day so we’re on a flying visit but we will be making proper acquaintances throughout the week. Anyway, let me do a quick introduction …’

Philippa went around the large table reeling off names and the roles of each person at such speed that Olivia’s mind was whirling. There was no way she would remember them all and she was doing her best to make eye contact and nod and smile at everyone. They were all men bar one female driver whose name she only just caught; Danielle. Olivia smiled at her and Danielle returned the greeting in kind unlike some of the others who appeared lukewarm at best.

‘And this,’ continued Philippa, as she introduced the man seated next to Danielle, ‘is Andy Briers …’

Olivia’s heart nearly stopped as she clapped eyes on Andy for the first time. He looked at her and the smile she had harbored suddenly diminished as she realized she was staring straight into the cool blue gaze of her one night stand from three months ago.

Oh shit! ‘Nice to meet you,’ said Olivia, doing her utmost to reapply the smile and cover her waver.

He continued to gaze at her and then a slight smile crossed his lips but his eyes were not convinced. ‘You too,’ he said.

Philippa rocketed around the table with the rest of the introductions and much to Olivia’s relief she and the CEO did all the talking until they were finally clear of the room and back in the hall where Olivia finally felt able to breath normally.


~



Oh my God. How the hell had she got through the first day alive?

Olivia had managed to do a little bit of work but her head was pounding by five p.m. She’d spent most of the day worrying about her introduction to the people in the CEO’s office that she was primarily going to be photographing, including Andy.

Damn that man; when she’d met him at the party months ago he’d told her he was a driver! She’d assumed he was a chauffeur or at the least a cab driver not a bloody Formula One ace! Urghhh, what was she going to do? What was he going to do? He really hadn’t looked pleased to see her which she couldn’t decide if it was a good sign or a bad sign. Would he tell everyone that they’d slept together? If he did it was seriously going to undermine her credibility straight off the starting blocks, and she needed a level playing field to prove herself. What should she do? Ideally she needed to have a quick word with him just to win him round and make sure they agreed to keep their one night stand quiet from everyone.


Where on earth was her other suitcase? Olivia glanced around the apartment floor where she’d dumped her bags earlier that morning. She hadn’t had time to inspect it properly but now she took the time to take it all in.

Like much of the Mangalarga complex it was designed tastefully using the most of natural light and state of the art technology. Olivia played with the voice command blinds and lighting and then commanded the TV on and off settling for some mellow music piped through the multi-room speaker system. She hadn’t noticed at first, but then she looked about at the personal items here and there and realized the apartment was inhabited and began to panic that she’d been shown to the wrong place.

The door opened and in came Danielle, the woman she’d met at the CEO’s meeting.

‘Hi Olivia,’ said Danielle cheerfully. Her hair was wet and her cheeks were glowing from exercise.

‘Oh, hi Danielle,’ said Olivia surprised. ‘I er, I must be in the wrong place?’

‘No,’ Danielle shook her head. ‘We’re sharing I’m afraid. I’m not high enough up the food chain to warrant my own apartment, and I don’t earn enough yet to buy, so you’re stuck with me.’

‘Oh,’ said Olivia. She smiled even though she was a little bit disappointed that she wasn’t going to be on her own. She wasn’t good at sharing and at twenty-nine she felt a little bit too old to be roomies and hang out with the girls.

‘I’m not that bad,’ said Danielle, reading the look on Olivia’s face.

‘I’m so sorry,’ rushed Olivia, she was getting off to a terrible start on her first day. ‘I didn’t realize I was sharing, it’s great honestly. I could do with the company.’ Olivia was starting to run out of steam, it had been a long day and she knew she’d put her foot in it.

Danielle tipped her head back and laughed. ‘You’re very sweet Olivia. I’m sure we’ll get on fine. ‘Come on I’ll show you your bedroom, and then we’ll order pizza and I have a few beers in the fridge. We have three restaurants and two pubs on site, a dry cleaners, doctors and a supermarket of course.’ Danielle laughed at Olivia’s surprise. ‘A-ha, looks like you haven’t had the grand tour? I’ll show you the ropes Olivia but first let’s order those pizzas hmm?’


Olivia decided she really liked Danielle, she was twenty-two but mature beyond her years although she still had an innate playful nature.

They ordered pizza and managed to find only two small beers, so after Olivia had had time to shower and change from her work clothes into her trusty jeans and a slouch t-shirt they headed out to look around the Mangalarga complex.

Ironically there were no cars on site except in the visitor car park and way off in the distance at the track where the Mangalarga fleet was stored. Danielle drove a little electric buggy for them and they toured the flawless complex.

‘So, I’ve shown you all the offices, you know how to get to the training track and the main garages, you know about the different apartments and then there’s the ‘high street’ of course: doctors, supermarket, the gym. All that remains is the pub. Shall we?’

Olivia laughed, the buggy Danielle had selected was open top and she was sure that her hair was all over the place by now but she didn’t care, she felt elated as if on the adventure of a lifetime.

‘Of course,’ she said. It was nine p.m. on a Friday night, why wouldn’t she be at the pub? She walked with Danielle after they’d parked up and entered The Crown not expecting such a vibrant atmosphere.

‘Wow,’ said Olivia, surprised by the amount of people there. The traditional façade outside belied the contents inside as Olivia discovered it was super retro, and like the rest of Mangalarga, extremely high tech.

‘Where did all these people come from?’ Olivia looked around at the various customers trying to work out who they could be.

‘Well there’s four hundred employees, with about one hundred living on site. Most people drink here before heading home. Oh yeah,’ nodded Danielle, ‘Benjamin Rudder has thought of everything. He even pays for people to get home or there’s spare accommodation for those that have had a few too many.’

‘He certainly has,’ nodded Olivia, still taking in their surroundings.

‘Let’s get a booth and I’ll tell you the rest,’ said Danielle. She pointed Olivia in the direction of a red leather booth and left her alone while she went to order at the busy bar.


Olivia reflected on her busy day and wondered how she had got so lucky? She was sure it was purely down to chance, fate, or whatever you wanted to call it.

The studio she’d been working for in London had called her in a flap to say that their best photographer had had a nasty accident involving a pedestrian on his way to a gala dinner in Greenwich and could she fill in? It was a fundraiser for orphaned children with high profile guests so Olivia had to get it just right. It wouldn’t do to have pictures of guests knocking back Champagne and caviar; it wasn’t the right message to send. Instead Olivia had taken pictures of guests in reflective states, or deep in conversation. She’d used special effects and while the chairman was making his thank you speeches she’d hooked up her camera to the overhead projector which ran a slide show of her efforts behind him.

Despite being exhausted Olivia had stayed for a glass or two of wine by request from the chairman and that was when Philippa Cragg had sought her out. Philippa had been there representing Mangalarga of course and came to Olivia’s side to congratulate her on her unique style. Before Philippa dashed away, as she often did, she made sure she had Olivia’s full verbal resume as well as her contact details and salary aspirations. By eleven a.m. the following Monday morning Olivia had landed her dream job with a substantial salary, travel subsidies, and free accommodation. She knew the scale of what she was taking on, Philippa had been quite clear about the job role in terms of long working hours. Olivia however didn’t know a thing about Formula One!

Organic Olivia, she reminded herself, as an artist it was her job to bring Mangalarga to the general public as well as the die-hard fans of Formula so it was best she walked in as an outsider; another reason she felt sure why Philippa had chosen her. A woman’s vantage point might shake up the perspective of Formula, show it in a different light, make it accessible to people who would never have thought of loving Formula before.


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