**I hope everyone is staying safe and dry during this storm! As I head home (Philly) it's definitely bad down that way. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, see you Friday! xoxo**
Luckily since it was the week of Thanksgiving, it was pretty easy for me to slip out for my interview with Gathr on Tuesday morning. I fed Elena the same excuse I had given Colleen about a doctor's appointment and found myself ensconced in a cab on the way to Gathr's "offices" Tuesday morning.
As the cab carried me across town, I took a few minutes to shoot off some work e-mails and refreshed the inbox impatiently, waiting for Alice to confirm that she'd seen the list of things I'd left at her desk for her to do while I was gone. I swear, sometimes having an intern was more work than not having one. Since she was off Thursday for Thanksgiving, she was supposed to be coming in at 7:00 to make up for the time off. But knowing Alice, I was doubtful she'd saunter in before 10:00.
When the cab stopped at the address in Murray Hill I peered out the window at the building, perplexed. It looked just like a house. I paid the cabbie and stepped out onto the street, smoothing my outfit. I'd chosen an Anthro sweater dress with a simple blazer and low booties, since Jeff had stressed that it was casual. Plus, this way I could just shrug off the blazer and didn't have to change before heading to work to avoid any suspicious glances from coworkers.
I took the four short steps up to the massive doorway and surveyed the available options. Luckily, one was labeled "Gathr" so I buzzed up.
"Hello?" came a husky voice from the small, rusty box. This particular house had seen better days.
"Hi, my name is Danielle I have an appointment with Noah and Luke?" I said.
"Oh, you're early. Come on up," the voice responded. I heard the loud buzz and opened the door, simultaneously checking my watch. It was 7:56, I would call that right on time for an 8:00 appointment- but whatever floats his boat.
I started up the stairs before halting.
"Shit," I said aloud. I appeared to be in an old townhouse that was broken down floor-by-floor into apartments. But he hadn't told me which floor to come up to. I figured that the door had to be labeled, so I continued up the next flight of stairs. A long hallway stretched in front of me, wooden boards creaking in places that had been stepped on thousands of times before today. The door on my left was unmarked, and I didn't hear a single noise coming from beyond it so I walked past. At the end of the hall I was relieved to find a second door - much newer and solid-looking than the first one, marked with the words "Gathr" in brass letters. I rapped on it twice and stepped back when I heard two heavy footsteps approaching from the other side.
The door swung open, and I swear to the gods above us that my ovaries exploded. Was this a male model they hired to open the door? He had dark hair, nearly black, that hung in waves down his forehead and grazed his eyebrows. Several days' worth of scruff adorned his chiseled jawline and under his lightweight sweatshirt I could see hints of some serious muscles. So not the start-up nerd I was picturing.
"Hello, you must be Danielle Fitzgerald" he said, and I detected an Australian accent lacing his words. As if he had come here ages ago with a thick down-under accent, but years of living in the US had softened and molded it until it turned into a hybrid Aussie/American dialect.
"Hi," I managed to squeak out. I stepped across the threshold and extended my hand to him, praying it wasn't covered with sweat.
"I'm Luke," he said, shaking my hand firmly and leading me further into the airy space. They had converted an old apartment into their offices and painted everything white - floors, ceiling, even the doorknobs. It gave off a chic vibe- and you could still see the shape of old wooden floorboards and beautiful archways beneath the white. There were a few random desks, all with two-screened Macs on top. The whole room looked like it could house no more than a dozen employees. There was a kitchen off to the right, which still clung to the sense that it belonged in someones home. On the left wall, the company's logo was blown up and layered on. I instantly loved the space.
I turned my attention back to Luke, who was watching me take everything in.
"This is great," I said, loosely gesturing my arms out at the room.
"Thanks," he said, nodding in agreement. "It's not much but we've made it our own. Start ups, ya know?" he shrugged and gave me a melt-your-fucking-panties smile. If he had asked me in that moment to quit Platform just to carry his child, I would have done it.
"So," he said, leading me towards the back right corner and gesturing towards a conference-like set up. He took a seat on one side of the sleek table, and I sat down across from him. "Noah should be here soon," he said, interlacing his fingers behind his head and leaning back. I desperately tried to keep my gaze on his face, and not check to see if maybe this pose was causing his sweatshirt to raise up. His dark eyes studied me and I felt like I should say something - ask an intelligent question, comment on the speedy growth of their company that I'd picked up from my google searches - but my brain and my mouth had stopped working together.
"How long have you and Jeff known each other?" I finally heard myself ask.
He smiled, as if recalling the memory of how they met. "A long time," he said. "Too long. We went to school together."
Before he could say more the door to the office opened and another guy walked in, making a beeline for us. I felt my face redden - was everyone employed by this company hot?
"Hey man," the stranger said, clapping Luke on the back. "Sorry I'm late, traffic was a mess." He draped his coat on the back of the chair next to Luke and turned his attention to me. "You must be Danielle, pleasure."
I took his extended hand and tried to reciprocate the firm shake. He hadn't said so, but I assumed this to be Noah. He was light to Luke's dark, and not nearly as jaw-droppingly handsome, but he was definitely cute. His dirty blonde hair was cropped close, showing off his wide green eyes. Maybe I had been watching too much Gilmore Girls lately, but his looks reminded me a lot of the every swoon-worthy Logan.
"So, what have you two covered so far?" Noah asked, sitting down and opening up a notebook.
"Nothing at all, I was just about to dive into things," Luke said. I pasted on a smile and looked at the two guys expectantly.
"Well, Dani," Noah took the lead, and I fixed my gaze on him. "I'm not sure how much information Jeff gave you, but we're looking to bring in a sort of public relations, social media, marketing person to spearhead our outreach efforts. We haven't come up with a formal job description, or even a title for that matter. But we know we want someone young to fit in with the demographic - everyone employed here is under 30. And we want someone who will go out and hit the ground running. Bring out-of-the-box ideas to the table, and act on any opportunity they see."
I absorbed this, nodding my head when appropriate.
"You work at that magazine now with Jeff, right?" Noah asked.
"Yes, I'm currently the Community Manager at Platform - that's how Jeff and I met. Although as you obviously know, he left about a week ago to start here."
They both nodded at this. "Yeah he's already proving to be a great addition to the team. Not sure how he even ended up at a magazine with his degree," Luke said, speaking the words I'd been wondering myself ever since Jeff had told me about his background in Engineering.
"Why are you considering leaving Platform?" Luke asked.
"To be honest, it wasn't something that I was really thinking about until Jeff approached me with this opportunity. I was recently promoted and have really been so swamped with new responsibilites that I haven't had time to consider a four-day weekend, let alone a new venture," I gave them a small smile, and was relieved when they both chuckled.
"But from what I've seen and read, this seems like a great company. And Jeff is a good friend so I wanted to sit down with you guys to learn more," I heard the 'good friend' lie slip out of my mouth so smooth that even I almost believed it.
Noah nodded and continued, "Well like I said, we just need someone with the right ambition. Gathr is pretty unheard of so far, but we want to change that. It's all about finding someone who will be a good cultural fit, more than someone who knows the ins and outs of a start up."
We talked for another half an hour about the ways I'd grown Platforms digital presence, and about their visions for Gathr. It was hard not to feel passionate about this company after hearing Noah and Luke talk about it. They filled me in on stories of it's growth from simple idea, to prototype, from the investors they'd gotten on board and finally to where they were today. They'd covered a lot of ground in the few months since it's inception.
"Well Dani, it's been great meeting you," Luke said, standing up and stretching out his kinks.
"You as well," I followed suit and stood, shaking his hand.
"I think I can speak for both of us that we'd love to meet you again," Noah said, and even though I had no clue if I was interested, I felt a wave of excitement wash over me at their approval.
Luke nodded. "We have a small project we can send your way - just a few questions, situational problems, that kind of stuff. If you're interested in taking this to the next level, I'll e-mail it to you today."
"That sounds great," I said, trying to convey my enthusiasm via my over-eager grin.
"I'll walk you out," Noah said, coming around the table and falling into stride beside me. "I have to run an errand anyway."
"Okay," I said, as we headed together towards the door. We navigated the narrow hallway in silence and emerged into the warm morning together.
"Are you headed to work?" he asked, shielding his eyes from the sun to peer down at me. His green eyes looked even brighter in the sunlight.
"Yeah, it's not too far so I think I'll just walk," I said.
"I'm headed up to midtown too, do you mind if I walk with you?" he asked. It felt weird, since a minute ago he had just been grilling me on measuring the ROI of social media but I nodded.
"Of course," I said, and we headed uptown together. "Where are you headed?"
"Just a quick coffee meeting, 47th and Lex," he said. "Are you staying in town for the holiday?"
"No," I answered. "I'm from Philly originally and my family is down that way. You?"
"Hanging in the city, my family is on the West Coast so it's kind of tough to get away for just a day or two," he said.
"Where out west?"
"San Fran," he said, smiling as if just the name of the city could cheer him up.
"I love it there. I've only been once, and I was about 15 but I remember it being gorgeous."
"Yeah it's an amazing city. But then again so is New York," he said. "I don't get home as much as I want to. I just booked a week over Christmas, so that will be the first time I've been back since March."
"That's tough," I said. "I'm lucky that my family is just a quick train ride away."
As we approached 47th, I felt dismayed that he was leaving. It was refreshing to meet someone new, who I knew nothing about. As we got to the corner, I noticed a petite blonde watching us. Her gaze fixed on me, as if assessing the situation. When we got closer, her whole expression changed as she bellowed out Noah's name.
"Noah!," she said, enveloping him in a hug while keeping her gaze on me. "You're late," she scolded.
"I know, sorry, meeting ran late," he stepped aside to introduce me. "This is Danielle, one of the candidates for our marketing position. Danielle, this is Anna."
"Hello," I said, shaking her leather gloved hand. She returned my greeting with a narrow smile.
"Shall we?" she said, turning her attention back to Noah.
He nodded, "It was great meeting you Danielle," he said. "Here's my card. Luke should be e-mailing you the project but if you ever need.. anything."
I took the card from him, "Thanks."
He followed Anna into Starbucks, his hand on the small of her back. I wasn't sure why I felt a pang of jealousy at the duo I knew nothing about.
I continued uptown, my head overflowing with information. This company sounded really exciting and it was a chance to be a part of something potentially huge. However, if it failed I'd be back to square one. I also knew nothing about marketing a start up. Plus, I was already attracted to both founders. That seemed like a recipe for trouble.
I dug around in my bag for my phone, intending to skim any work e-mails as I walked. I was greeted with two texts and a missed call from Elena.
8:40 a.m.: Hey are you almost here?? There's some secret staff meeting happening at 9.
8:55: Just tried calling you - come to the south side conference room when you get in. I think this has something to do with that shady call you overheard Colleen on last week.