Pilot Episode – Short Story

I am actually enjoying participating in random short story contests on Freelancer, partly because I get to post them here when I don’t win (silly, but true). This entry was a little bit more challenging than the last. A Swiss luxury cosmetic brand was looking for a pilot episode (700 to 1000 words) for future episodes of their serial online novel which would help promote their products and have characters their customers could relate to. They wanted the protagonist to be likeable, charismatic, lead a desirable avant-garde lifestyle, differentiate herself from her peers, travel regularly in style and luxury and lead a global, urban lifestyle. I figured, hey, I am a female architect and I feel like I could tick all those boxes (in a fictional world where we actually make good money, obviously) so…you guessed it…my story was about a female architect on site. Which is probably why I didn’t win, heehee. Well, this was my entry. Hope you like it more than they did.

Pilot Episode 

“That’s definitely not going to fit.”

Annie cocked her head and examined the enormous claw foot bathtub which sat in the hallway. The tub was a thing of beauty with a matt ruby exterior, gilded gold feet and a shiny porcelain interior. It complemented the other fittings in the bathroom perfectly, something Annie had obsessed over for weeks to get right. But there was no way it was going to fit through the doorway.

“I wish I could say this isn’t our fault but…”

The remark came from the frowning foreman who stood to the other side of the bath scratching his stubbly chin.

Annie’s brow rose slightly in disbelief. She had been expecting a snarky comment about how she should have designed the hotel suites with smaller practical tubs. But, at the same time, she wasn’t completely surprised.

Joe wasn’t like most builders she’d met. His clear grey eyes never seemed to miss a thing and he actually seemed to think about resolutions to problems before offering his views. She couldn’t count the number of times she had sighed with frustration on other building sites where nobody cared to hear her design opinions. The way her comments were dismissed, you’d never guess she had studied for nearly a decade to qualify as an architect.

“What’s done is done, eh? I think we need to rip out part of the wall and rebuild it afterwards to avoid wasting more time. It’s a good thing you insisted we set up the showroom flat first. We can’t possibly get rid of this lovely bath because of one oversight.”

He winked and Annie felt herself blush. Try as she may, she couldn’t stop herself from reacting like a school girl whenever the man standing before her showed her any sign of warmth. It had to be those eyes. They twinkled when he smiled, hinting at a cheekier side to the lean dark haired man. Or maybe she had a thing for stubbles.

No, it was definitely his eyes.

Annie tried not to dwell on the wink as they finished their inspection and headed back to the site office in silence. She quickly stripped off her hard hat, high vis jacket and steel toe cap boots. She hated the utilitarian boots as they always hurt her toes, but health and safety always came first. Besides, hard hats and stilettos didn’t really go together. Shame the hats never did her curly brown hair any justice. She loosened the braid she held her hair in to fit under the hat and fluffed it gently with her fingers.

When she looked up, Joe was watching her intently. If he felt any guilt at being caught, he certainly didn’t show it.

“You know, we always go for drinks on Fridays after we clock off. Maybe if you schedule your site visit next week for Friday…”

Was her foreman asking her out on a date? Albeit one that sounded like it would involve sitting through a few rounds of drinks with the rest of his site team. Or was she reading too much meaning into his crooked smile?

Friday…urgh, no.

“I can’t. Not next week anyway,” she added hastily when his smile faltered. “I’m off to Monaco. It’s kind of a busy period for me.”

She had designed a boutique hotel there about a year ago and the grand opening was finally taking place. As tempting as spending time with him in a dark little pub sounded, she had to go on the trip.

“But I’ll be back in London the week after. Maybe ask me again then?”

Even though she had a rule of never mixing business with pleasure, she felt she had to let him know she wasn’t slamming the door in his face. It was only when his smile returned that she glanced at her watch. Jeez, was that the time?

She was supposed to meet a client rep from the Stirling project in an hour and the unexpected tub dilemma meant she was officially running late. She also knew she had to freshen up before she left. The client’s office was in Mayfair and would probably have much better changing facilities, but she couldn’t risk further delays on the tube line and arriving there even later than she feared.

Annie rushed to the tiny female cubicle at the back of the office, pulled out her handy pack of (insert face wipe product name here) and took off the layers of dust and sweat that had caked on to her skin over the past hour she had spent walking around the building. A tub of (insert face cream product name here) followed and then (insert application of other product names here), before she quickly applied her trademark plum lipstick to finish off the look. She had a pair of stilettos in her bag which she planned on slipping on at the client’s office, but something made her pull them out of her tote bag and swap her ballet pumps for them.


Joe probably hadn’t intended to be heard when she returned to the office and she struggled to suppress her grin. He had never seen her any other way but barefaced; she usually went straight back to her own office after each site visit. The transformation wasn’t too dramatic but she knew it always had an effect. The way he was staring at her, she wished she could stay a little longer and see how much more interesting this little site visit could get, but her meeting beckoned.

There was also the tiny niggling fact that he worked for the hotel owner.

Business and pleasure. Urgh!

“See you in two weeks?”

Maybe because Joe’s question came out as a whisper, Annie found herself winking suggestively. “You bet.”

Once she was safely off the building site, she let out a sigh, chuckled and then swapped her heels for her practical flats before running all the way to the tube station.

Two weeks. No time at all.

  1. I personally think it was a great short story.

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