MAXWELL WESTON was the last thing on my mind the next morning. As always, I went to the lab at the crack of dawn. I had to cut the follicles off the gorilla samples and put them into a cocktail of proteases so they'll be ready for my college student assistant to come run them through the DNA sequencer later. I lived for mornings like these, the quiet of the lab before the rest of the staff arrived. It was just me and my precious horde of hairs that Jennifer, the post-grad, had collected last summer from Nigeria.
I was expecting Dr. Alexeev to pick me to go this year. I deserved it. My paper on the sexual selection of Cross River Gorillas was chosen as a keynote paper for the Lesting seminars this year. This hadn't been done before by any member of this lab. Most scientists didn't care about gorillas unless they had something to do with humans and human diseases.
The truth was, I started out as an AIDs researcher before I got roped into studying my giant, black, fur-babies. That's the way science was. Sometimes you click with a certain mentor, and then you end up working in that field. And no one could inspire dedication like Dr. Ramona Alexeev. If she didn't go into environmentalism, she could probably have used her powers of persuasion to start a cult or something.
"So, she's going to talk about gorilla penises because she hasn't seen a human penis in years?" I overheard Andrew asking the rest of the lab last week when my paper was accepted. He was always blunt like that when he was jealous. "I'm sure Scarlett is going to do a great job. They say — those who cannot do, teach."
That morning, I was fuming. I was sure Andrew had something to do with my biography, suddenly disappearing from my department roster overnight. Andrew maintained our department website, and I wouldn't put it past him to do something dirty like that. He needed to be the best all the time.
"Hey, what are you doing here, Mrs. Weston?" Joey asked as he finally waltzed into the lab at eight am. "I thought you were going to quit this life and sail away on your superyacht."
"Oh, stop it with that nonsense. Is Andrew here? Why is my name off the department roster?" I asked as I busied myself by spraying down every surface with 70% ethanol. Those who made a living doing DNA sequencing were obsessive about cleanness. In that regard, I was practically Walter White from Breaking Bad.
"It wasn't Andrew. He was in a turkey coma last night. I took it off," Joey said as he started firing up his laptop while taking a leisurely sip out of his giant cup of Dunkin' Donuts ice coffee. He took a massive bite of a jelly donut and then started talking with his mouth full. "Dr. Alexeev was paranoid that you were going to give Weston your real name, and he would google you. We're lucky you were always so camera shy. The department photo is the only one we found online of you. She had me set a completely fake Instagram and Twitter account for you under your alter ego as a Friendly's waitress."
"WHAT?" I yelled. I marched over there and snatched the jelly donut out of his mouth. Bits of powdered sugar went everywhere. I winced. Joey really shouldn't have been eating in the lab. But then again, I supposed that wasn't the worse thing that happened here. The college volunteers were probably smoking marijuana here. Maybe, later on, they can snort up the powdered sugar and save me some work cleaning up.
"The kid is worth at least a couple of hundred million dollars," Joey whined. "That is, even if he's just a figurehead of the board of directors of Weston Industries. You need to take this wife thing seriously. Just think of what all that money could do for your Cross River Gorillas. You'll be a bigger environmentalist than Leonardo DiCaprio!"
"Dammit, a Friendly's waitress?" I asked with an exasperated sigh. "You could at least made me a Red Lobster waitress. Does a person who scowls as much as I do work at a place called Friendly's? Also, what the hell is Mrs. Weston doing working like some commoner? Shouldn't I be managing charities or something?"
"Dr. Alexeev insisted. This way, you can tell him you have your own life, and you're not dependent on him. Tell him you looooveeee your job, and you would never give it up for the world. Men like him are paranoid about gold-diggers, but they also hate career women. You should have a job but a non-threatening one."
Oh my God, now we were asking Dr. Alexeev to create a girl who was attractive to a mid-20-something-year-old-man. It surprised me she didn't make me an Instagram thot on top of it all.
"Wait, wait, seriously? Does anyone really believe this crap?"
"Oh, God, yes. You're letting your Harvard graduate side show." Joey brought his voice down to whisper. "And, just a word of advice, if I were you I would stop talking about that insignificant fact unless you want to be a walking limp-dick factory."
I rolled my eyes. "Are male egos really so fragile?"
"Yes, it does matter," Joey said as he typed something into his computer and pulled up an article in the Wall Street Journal about Maxwell Weston. "Your husband's dearly departed mother was working at a strip club before she met his good o' dad. Maxwell won't date you, never mind marry you if he thought you opened a book in your life that doesn't contain pictures in it. All the girls he's ever been tied to, and let me tell you, I've done plenty of research into Page Six on this matter — are all stiletto-wearing goddesses. If you go around talking in big words and telling him about your ideas to change the world and stuff — he's going to go running for the nearest strip club in Times Square."
"So, you're saying I need to dumb myself down to get him to like me?"
"Yup," Joey said as he rummaged through his hole-ridden sack and drew out a spankin' new iPhone. "This is for you to take to your husband at the hospital today. His old phone shattered when his Porsche flipped yesterday. Dr. Alexeev got the phone company to replace it, but despite her best efforts, they wouldn't tell her what he had talked to Bobby about."
"I have to go now?"
"Yup," Joey said. "And put something on that shows some cleavage. God, you look like you found your clothes at a consignment store for nuns."
"Great, not only do I have to change the way I talk, I have to change my clothes too?"
"Welcome to dating in your twenties in New York City," Joey said. "It's more dangerous out there than among the Silverback Gorillas in Nigeria."
YOU ARE READING
Fake It All the WayRomance
When Ph.D. candidate Scarlett is forced to play loving wife to her mentor's playboy son, the last thing she expects is to fall for the fantasy herself. ***** Scarlett Rong has ded...