Authors: Xavier Neal
By Xavier Neal
© Xavier Neal 2016
Cover by Angie Merriam
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without authorization of the Author. Any distribution without express consent is illegal and punishable in court of law.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Dedicated to The Universe...Thank you for allowing me to always be free in my form.
I am not a member of The Babysitter's Club. Don't bother asking me which one I was most like growing up. I didn't enjoy those books as much as the other girls my age. They were busy hoping that one day they would get the call that some kid, a couple years younger than them, would want to color pictures and make nutritional snacks, while that was the reality I went home to every day. Stupid books. Do you remember those covers? It's okay to shudder. They were pretty bad.
“Mrs. Harding, I...I don't think I understand.” My head shakes profusely. Bumping into the red leather seat, I catch myself before I can fall over completely. “I'm not a childcare provider.”
Anything fragile in my hands is an automatic disaster.
“And he's not exactly a child,” she informs, reapplying her hot red lipstick in the mirror behind her office desk. “He may
like he's still the six year old who doesn't think I know he's the one who spilled juice on my white leather chase that summer, but he's actually a full grown adult with a small parental grudge he refuses to let go.”
My mocha shaded face scrunches. “Grudge?”
Oh yeah. Sure. Let's add that to this nightmare. Does he have a cocaine addiction too? Maybe an addiction to hookers? I mean since we're throwing terrible shit into this situation like some sort of crazy stew made by witches with an ax to grind, might as well go big or go home.
She hums past my question. “Tuck never stays in one place for too long, especially not this city, which is why I need
to insure he stays in town for the next eight weeks.”
“How long does he normally stay in town?”
“Day. Two. Week tops.”
“A w-w-week?” I try to lunge forward and bump my hip on the arm of the chair. “What do you mean a week tops?”
“What else could I possibly mean?” She questions pouting her lips at her reflection. “Oh! Speaking of, next week, I wanna try that seaweed beauty wrap I was telling you about yesterday.”
“Already written down.”
Right alongside the other outrageous requests. Wanna know what else she wants to do next week? Go in for a nipple reconfiguration. That's right. She wants to pay some doctor to see where her nipples are, then discuss where they might end up in ten years to decide if she wants to have them fixed
She spins around to face me. “My sister is getting married and the one thing she wants most is for her son to be there for the send off party. Think reception before the actual ceremony sort of thing. They're doing a private destination wedding on some small island in the middle of the ocean. You know, one of the ones that's hard to remember but is extremely exclusive?”
No idea. I've never left the country or even the state for that matter. Hell, I didn't even go to the beach until I was in college. Ooooo, let's not talk about my overly sheltered existence at this time. I've got a crazy woman to accommodate.
“And while it would be no big deal for us all to go that's not what she wants.”
Of course it wouldn't be a big deal for them to charter private planes. Between personal family and the one she came from, they've got more money than even professional shopaholics could spend in one life time. My boss and her older sister are the daughters of Bill and Bethany Frost, the owners of The Frost Luxury Hotel. It's the second largest hotel chain in the world. And just in case you don't think that's enough cash worth gawking over, I guess I could add, Brandi, the eccentric woman who signs my pay checks, is married to the one and only NFL legend Brett Harding, parents to Brendan and Bennett Harding the twin quarterbacks who basically take turns winning the Superbowl. To put it in basic, every day terms? They sneeze money. Oh. And then wipe their noses with money before throwing the money into a trashcan of gold lined with money trashcan liners.
I hug my tablet closer to my body. “How exactly am I supposed to keep him here?”
“By any means necessary,” the casualness of her answer further twists my grimace. “Do you think I should have a diamond encrusted bikini this season? I like the idea of shimmering when I come out of the water.”
See what I mean.
“Between your bronzer and your choice of exotic lotions, you always carry a shimmer.”
She gives me a brief smile then another glance at the vanity mirror behind her glass office desk.
Wouldn't peg her for a day over forty, right? She's fifty-one and her equally flaw free sister is fifty-two. While they have naturally amazing genetics, let's just say the phrase nipped and tucked would be an understatement. I'm not really sure which parts are her own any more. I told you what she's doing next week, didn't I?
“You'll need to pick up Tucker from the doctor.” She turns her body back my direction, crosses her legs and leans back. “He's probably being checked to make sure he didn't pick up some new age version of crabs or something as equally disgusting.”
Remind me to bring extra hand sanitizer.
“I'm renting him a condo just a little bit outside the city. Not too far from here. You'll be responsible for transport as I do not wish to have him giveaway another Mercedes because he felt inspired to relinquish material possessions and of course because I don't want to give him an easy escape route.”
Confused, I question, “I'm sorry, is he a guest or a hostage?”
“Bit of both,” Mrs. Harding quickly answers. “Let's say a little column A, a little column B. You'll basically be
at his beck and call,
What a fun way to make this all so much more horrific!
“Your main responsibility will be Tucker for the next few weeks, but you can continue to answer some emails for me, shoot me my schedule, grab my green tea lattes between meetings. All the basics. I actually plan to take it easy while he's here. There's no pressing project on the board, but God do you know how much I would
to get one of Tucker's projects displayed at the hotel here in town? If he wasn't so stubborn about everything. You know sometimes he really is just a giant six-year old, one pout away from needing to sit in the corner. It's like he hasn't considered what an honor his grandparents would consider it to have their artistic genius grandson's work in
greatest accomplishment....Well, next to me and Britt of course.”
I echo my forced agreement, “Of course.”
“Do you think I should switch color schemes? I feel the red leather is clashing with my new cheetah print curtains?”
Take a good look around this place. Where is the color scheme at all? We've got a glass desk, with a giant vanity mirror behind it. Red leather chairs, brown fur carpets, a portrait of her in just panties covering her chest while straddling a mechanical bull and her boys’ football memorabilia sprinkled throughout. Oh! Don't forget the damn cheetah print curtains. Craziest thing in the office is obviously her. Believe it or not she's head of the art division for the company. She decides what art work to put in the hotel lobbies, the rooms, and throughout, that will give guests the ideal luxury experience.
I clear my throat. “I think-”
“With you taking this mini vacation from me, maybe I should take a mini vacation from you. Oh! That's a brilliant idea! I'm sure Brett would love to do something with the children before they all go back to their respective corners of the globe.”
Should I ask her about compensation? Like if it'll change or there'll be an increase? No. No. No. Never mind. I think that's how her last assistant wound up a used shoe sales woman. Yeah. I said used...
“Money is no concern. Whatever Tucker wants, use the card I gave you to ensure he receives it. As far as you’re concerned, consider the amount of money I pay you every week, tripled for the next eight and if you successfully keep my nephew in town, I'll throw in a bonus that'll make you blush.”
Don't get too excited she's not finished yet.
“However if Tucker manages to leave and slip through your fingers before that send off party, you're fired.”
I stumble over my response and my feet another time, thankfully catching myself with her desk right beside the Marilyn Monroe bobble head. “F-f-f-fired? Did you say fired?”
She leans back in her chair and cheerfully nods. “Don't break her. I've had people thrown out by security for less.”
Terrifying...yet I knew that.
“And yes. Fired. That would kill me. I have a very soft spot for you, you know that.”
“Sure. I've always felt I-”
“But I'll replace. You're replaceable. All my assistants are. Something else you should never let slip your mind. Do you remember how you got this job?”
In a quiet voice, I sigh, “Your last assistant-”
She squeaks, “That's what I said!”
“Daniel was supposed to bring you a pumpkin muffin and he brought a banana one instead.”
What I should probably add is pumpkin muffins in the middle of May are extremely hard to come by. But that's Brandi's policy. You make happen what she wants or she fires you to find someone else who can.
“Please don't make me have to get rid of you. It would definitely cause at least one wrinkle and it's wrinkle free season.”
There's a season for wrinkles?
“Now, I'm gonna call Brett. I'm thinking we take the family to the Grand Caymans.”
I push a strand of hair behind my ear. “Reports say, Fiji is actually really nice this time of year as well.”
A joyful gasp comes out of her. “Oh June, that's a wonderful idea! Fiji! I like Fiji. Like the cabana boys better there anyway. Their white shorts are tighter. Besides I like the little umbrellas in my drinks and they always remember to do that.”
Ha. Would you look at that? She listened to me for once.
“I've sent directions to Tucker's doctor's office to your phone.” She motions her hand to shoo me out of her office. “Go. Go. Don't wanna miss him. Would hate to fire you today.”
Unwillingly, I spin around on my heels and head out of her office.
Would hate to
fired today. Let's just recap, shall we? I went from personal assistant to the head of the Art Division of Frost Luxury Hotels to glorified nanny? No. It doesn't matter if he is the son of a billionaire. I'm a babysitter for the next eight weeks! Ha, I'm so glad I worked shit hours at an art supply store so I could make sure some pouty playboy has everything he needs. As if it's not hurtful enough to know after four years of art school, the best I've ever been able to do in this field is become an assistant to a woman who wouldn't listen to my opinion if she was drunk, high and desperate for ideas. I can't believe this. I can't believe if I don't do whatever
wants for the next eight weeks any future career in the world of art will disappear. It's hard enough trying to make it in the fickle industry without your boss being able to black ball you if her dog doesn't have the right color bows in her hair. Ugh. Welcome to another day in the shadows of existing.