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Chapter One: The Interview
For such a young woman, Haley Saunders quite frankly looked beat down by life. She was of average height but obviously malnourished. Her brown hair appeared badly in need of a wash and cut. Despite the girl continuously tucking it behind her ears, greasy strands frequently ended up drifting into her eyes during the interview. She had an attractive enough face though the dark circles under her eyes and gauntness of her cheek bones made it hard to judge the potential for just how attractive she could be.
She was dressed in a pair of jeans that had seen better days as had the yellow blouse she wore. Both were at least clean though. Her shoes were a different matter. They were scuffed and worn and appeared to be covered in a coating of white dust.
Her nails were clean but appeared to have bitten to the quick. Her fingers were long and graceful looking. The kind of hands you’d expect to see on a concert pianist and not a homeless girl.
Lacey Summers studied the file put together by her investigators. The girl had no criminal background, which was a big plus. Though she never graduated from high school she had at least gone through the effort of getting her GED. She’d been homeless since the age of fifteen, so that at least showed initiative on her part.
She had also picked up enough Spanish living on the street to be considered fluent.
She’d scored well on both the aptitude and general intelligence test she’d taken. The psychological profile she’d underwent said she was remarkably well adjusted considering the traumas she’d undergone in her younger years. It also said she appeared to relate and empathize with others. It did indicate possible issues with trusting men on a personal level but stated she showed no issues with interacting with them.
The medical report from the Internal Medicine practice we’d sent her to said she was in overall good health. It stated she was unable to have children due to the removal of her uterus when she was a young teenager. The issue apparently resulted from a poorly performed abortion in a illegal back alley clinic that ruptured her uterus. She was only thirteen when this happened. The pregnancy was the result of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather.
Her drug screening showed no history of drug abuse. A big plus as far a Lacey was concerned. She’d had issues in the past with staff members who’d abused drugs. She felt she was no longer capable of trusting anyone who used. Not in her personal life and certainly not in her business one.
She would need a place to live. The shelter she was currently living in would be completely inappropriate. That wasn’t an issue as Lacey had the guesthouse out back just sitting there empty. It was a bit much for one person but if she kept the girl close it would give her a chance to keep an eye on her. It also wouldn’t hurt to have her close by for business matters.
She would also need clothes for both business and personal use. Lacey had already accounted for that expense when she’d decided to go this route. She’d budgeted for both clothes and initial grooming costs knowing that whichever girl she chose would need them.
Ms. Saunders was by far the best choice she’d encountered. The others were either too old, showed indications of drug abuse, or appeared to lack the basic intelligence to do the job. Her only negative was her age. At nineteen years of age most girls still had a lot of growing up to do. Everything Lacey had discerned so far in the interview indicated that Haley’s difficult life had served to force her to an early level of advanced maturity.
“So Ms. Saunders, I won’t bother asking why you want the job. That much is obvious. What I would like to know is what makes you think your qualified for it?”
For what seemed like the hundredth time in the interview so far, Haley tucked her hair behind her ears and said in a matter of fact manner, “Well skills wise I’m not. But I do pick things up quick and I’m intelligent enough to understand most concepts I’m presented with. I get along with people, including those that are difficult. You meet a lot of those types in the homeless community.”
Lacey noticed for the first time the girl had beautiful green eyes. They really lit up her face when she was engaged in conversation.
“Boyfriend? Girlfriend?” Lacey asked.
The young woman shook her head, “No, no one. My lifestyle really hasn’t been conducive to having relationships. They’re too risky.”
“How so?” Lacey asked more out of personal curiosity than anything else.
The girl shrugged her shoulders and said, “It’s just the nature of the streets. People living there have to look out for themselves first and foremost. I’ve known a few girls that have tried it and in the end, they were all taken advantage of. Some people might have a regular hookup they see but it’s just a means to an end type arrangement. Not a relationship in the traditional sense.”
“And you?” Lacey
The girl looked down at her fingernails and for the free spin first time answered without making eye contact.
“Sex has never brought me anything but pain and hurt. It’s not something I’d ever seek out.”
Sensing the change in the girls mood Lacey tried to get the interview back on track.
“Your Mother, she died?”
Haley nodded her head, “Yes, breast cancer when I was eleven.”
“And no brothers or sisters?” Lacey asked.
Looking back up and once again making eye contact again Haley answered, “No, I was an only child.”
Lacey was impressed with this girl. She was well spoken and more intelligent than several of her previous PA’s despite lacking a college education. She appeared energetic and motivated as was made evident by her completing a series of math and English courses at community night school. That showed a level of commitment to improve her lot in life that most her peers lacked.
“Alright Ms. Saunders, one final question,” Lacey asked, “I call you at three o’clock in the morning and tell you I need you to personally go by the office right then and pick up a file I need to complete a project. What do you do?”
“In this hypothetical do I know how to drive and own a telephone? Because otherwise you’re going to be awfully disappointed”
Lacey smiled, “You have both plus access to a vehicle.”
Haley answered without hesitation, “I do it. The job description made it clear this job entailed being at your beck and call twenty-four seven. As long as what you’re asking me to do isn’t illegal, immoral, or puts me in physical danger, I’d do it.”
For the first time during the interview Lacey looked over at her father. He’d sat there the entire time looking at the newspaper and appearing to show not the least bit of interest in what was happening. Lacey knew though that he’d taken in every word spoken. He looked up at her briefly and gave the slightest of nods.
Lacey stood up and held her hand out saying, “Congratulations Ms. Saunders, you’ve got the job if you want it.”
Haley stood up and took the hand offered her way saying, “Thank you Ms. Summers. Thank you very much. You have no idea what this means to me. I’ll work hard and I won’t let you down.”
Having read the extensive background report her investigators had put together, she thought she knew exactly what it meant to her. She kept that to herself though and said, “You are very welcome Ms. Saunders. And for now on outside the office you can call me Lacey. What would you prefer to be called?”
“Haley is fine, or Hales, that’s what some of the girls I live with call me. I don’t mind it too much. Whichever one you prefer.”
Lacey picked up the office phone and mashed a button. A few seconds later, she said, “Janet, can you come in my office a minute?”
Haley turned to see an obviously pregnant blonde enter the office holding her hand on her considerable belly.
Lacey stepped out in front of her desk and said, “Janet, this is Haley. She’s the new trainee that will be replacing you. Haley, this is Janet. She’s the best PA I’ve ever had and her shoes will be very difficult to fill. For the next six weeks Haley, I need you to absorb everything Janet tells you down to the minutia. As she’ll likely inform you I can be very particular about the way I like things done. Starting Monday you will be shadowing her exclusively so make sure you take lots of notes.
“I will Ms. Summers” Haley answered.
Lacey turned to Janet and said, “Tomorrow morning I want you to use the driver and pick Ms. Saunders up at her shelter. From there use the company card and take her shopping for clothes and shoes. Make sure she has an assortment of things appropriate for the office. That includes undergarments as well. Make sure they know she’ll need several of the outfits on a rush job. Then get her whatever she needs in personal wear. Go ahead and schedule her a salon appointment with Phillipe. Hair, nails, and whatever else she needs done.
“You’ll need to schedule her for evening driving lessons with David and see to it that she gets her license.”
Turning back to Haley she said, “When you leave the shelter in the morning, make sure you bring anything you want to keep. You won’t be going back there. You’ll be moving into my guesthouse tomorrow afternoon. I’ll see to it that the fridge is stocked and everything is in working order before you get there. Do you have any dietary restrictions? Food allergies?”
Haley let out a little laugh and said, “No Ms. Summers.”
Curious, Lacey smiled and asked, “Okay, what did I say that was funny?”
Haley shook her head and replied, “Well, before I got in the program and a regular bed at the shelter I spent two years sleeping on the streets. During that time I often had to eat out of garbage cans. It just hit me how far I’d come I guess.”
Chapter Two: Going Shopping
Haley sat in the back of the Mercedes and couldn’t believe how fortunate she was. It wasn’t quite winning the lottery, but almost. bonus veren siteler Just getting the job was big. Given time she knew she was disciplined enough to acquire the rest. To just have it given to her was almost too much.
She had been so impressed with Ms. Summers. She’d come across as very intelligent and was obviously a successful businesswoman in her field. Haley had to admit she was a beautiful woman. She couldn’t be sure of her age but thought at worse she was in her mid-thirties. The way her obviously tailored clothes had fit her showed she took care of herself. Haley knew girls fifteen years younger than her that didn’t look near that good. Her confidence was also highly attractive, although she couldn’t let her mind go there. This was her boss after all.
“Any questions?” Haley heard Janice ask.
Haley turned to look at the mother to be. “Yeah, are you going to make it another six weeks?”
Janet laughed and rubbed her belly, “We’ll see, I’ve got another two months until my due date though so I should make it. This is my first and they say those usually go to term if there’s no issues.”
“You know what you’re having?” Haley asked.
Janet smiled and said, “You know when I asked if you had any questions, I really meant about Ms Summers or about the job. And it’s going to be a girl by the way.”
“Aw, congratulations,” Haley said, “and about the job I have a million questions but I’m sure you’ll cover most of them as we go.”
“And about Ms. Summers?” Janet asked.
Haley considered the question momentarily and asked, “Okay, what possessed her to go this route in hiring an assistant?”
Janet smiled, “I wondered if that would be your question. That was my question to her as well when she told me what she planned to do. She’d been married for about seven years when her husband was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She loved him dearly and it was a big loss to her. They’d built their business together and obviously achieved a good bit of wealth and success. On his deathbed he told her he had one regret, that he’d never been able to use his privilege to lift someone else up. He asked her if she would do it for him, you are the result of the promise she made.”
“Wow,” Haley said, “that puts a whole new level of pressure on me to succeed now. I mean I can’t let her down after hearing that.”
Janet reached over and patted her knee saying, “Don’t sweat it too much. The job really boils down to learning to anticipate Lacey’s needs. Once you get to know her that should be simple enough. The real trick is learning all her little quirks like the way she takes her coffee and what she likes and dislikes on her salads. The little things like that. Other than that, your main job will be to make sure she stays on schedule and to be her gatekeeper. She’s a really good boss to have. Tough but fair in the way she handles her people. Not somebody you’re likely to get close with mind you. She’s always been a tad standoffish in that regard and seems to have retreated more into her shell since the death of her husband. Still, she’s the type of boss that will care whether you’re happy in your job.”
Haley felt for Ms. Summers. She knew what it was like to lose someone you loved unconditionally. Someone you depended on. Losing her mother had a profound effect on her life. And not in a good way.
The car slowed and came to a stop in front in what appeared to be the warehouse district. Haley must have looked confused.
“Yeah, I know. You thought we were headed to a store for clothes. And we will when we shop for your personal clothing. Your business wear is another matter though. As her personal assistant your a direct reflection of Ms. Summers so you need to look the part. Antonio is her personal tailor. He does a lot of work for people in wealthier circles around the city.” Janet explained.
Haley just shook her head, “Tailored clothes, this day just keeps getting more and more surreal.”
Janet smiled at her reaction and led her to a large gray door. She pressed a button on the intercom and then looked up at a camera staring down from the corner of the building. In answer a buzzing noise sounded and the lock on the door sprung open. Janet turned the knob and opened the door.
Haley followed her into a small waiting room where they were quickly approached by a tall, skinny brunette. She struck Haley as very graceful in the way she walked. She had a beautiful face with delicate features. Her hair was tied up in a bun highlighting a long, graceful neck.
“Hey Minka,” Janet said in greeting, “this is Haley. She’s the young lady Lacey spoke to Antonio about. She’ll be taking my place once my maternity leave starts so she’ll need a full wardrobe of business attire, undergarments, and matching shoes as well as a couple of evening gowns for dressier functions. The usual turnaround will be fine on most of it but she will need several of the business outfits on a rush for Monday. I hope that won’t be a problem.”
Minka deneme bonusu veren siteler looked at Haley and seemed to be sizing her up. She twirled her fingers at the young woman wanting her to spin around to give her a complete look at her body. Haley obliged her though it made her feel a bit uncomfortable.
“We can do this,” the tall woman said in a decidedly eastern European accent, “Come with me.”
They followed her through another door and down a short hallway. There they went through another door and into a large work space. In it were rows and rows of fabric on spools. There were at least a half dozen individual work areas with people working at them manning sewing machines. Off to one side was a round pedestal standing in front of a grouping of mirrors angled as to give multiple views of whomever stood on it.
Minka turned to Haley and said, “Strip to your underwear and stand on the pedestal.”
Haley looked quickly at Janet as if for approval of what she should do. Janet gave her a quick nod that she should do as she’d been asked. Reluctantly and a bit embarrassed, she began to strip down to her bra and panties.
Janet was shocked when the girl had removed her clothes. Hidden underneath the baggy clothes was admittedly a very nice body. Yes, she was far too skinny with ribs showing underneath two tear shaped mid-sized breasts. Despite her needing to add a few pounds she still had an enviable shape with a nice, round bottom. As would be any woman late in her pregnancy, Janet found herself envious of the young woman’s figure.
When she stepped up on the pedestal a small, older man appeared. He was dressed in a white dress shirt over which he wore a black vest and dark dress pants. His complexion and dark hair made Haley wonder if he wasn’t indeed Italian as his name indicated.
Minka relayed Janet’s instructions and then grabbed a clipboard as the older man wasted no time going to work. Only then did the older man seem to take notice of Haley. He walked around her studying her build.
“You are always this skinny?” he asked with an Italian accent.
Haley blushed. She wasn’t used to having her body critiqued and this was the first time a man had seen her this undressed since… well she didn’t really want to think about that right now.
“Well, my diet hasn’t been all that great the last few years,” Haley answered shyly but with a hint of defensiveness to her voice, “I’ve been homeless and food wasn’t always easy to come by.”
The man said nothing. He just removed a measuring tape from around his neck and began taking Haley’s measurements. As he called them out, Minka wrote them down without comment.
When he was finished he looked up at Haley and said, “I put a few extra stitches in. You put on a few pounds you come back and see me. I take them out.”
Janet arranged to have the clothes delivered to Haley making sure they knew she’d be living behind the main house in Lacey’s guest house. Antonio then kissed both her cheeks and patted her prodigious belly before turning to head back into his office.
When they’d settled back in the car Halley looked at Janet and said, “Well that was different.”
They then headed to a large department store where they spent a couple of hours with Janet and a young sales rep helping the young girl to pick out a dozen or more outfits that could be mixed and matched for casual wear. Janet then asked the young sales rep to show them to their bathing suits.
As they followed the young woman Janet explained, “Working with Lacey you’ll often find yourself doing business sitting by the pool. Whether she’s at home or on the road it’s something she regularly does. I think the environment helps relax her and keeps her from getting too stressed.”
They helped her settle on a more conservative one piece to go along with two bikinis. One was far more risque than anything Haley ever would have bought on her own. Janet explained to her that Lacey would often take advantage of the European beaches when they traveled.
“Trust me,” Janet said with a knowing smile, “that suit will be conservative compared to what you’ll see over there.”
Janet had the sales rep remove the sales tags from one outfit telling the girl that Haley would be wearing it out of the store. They then proceeded to the shoe department where Janet selected a couple of pairs of sneakers and several pairs of flats to wear with her casual outfits. She then surprised Haley by announcing to her that she’d need a pair of running shoes.
“Lacey runs every morning at five-thirty before heading into the office. Usually a five mile loop and she doesn’t like to do it alone. I haven’t been able to do it in awhile obviously so Katy, her secretary, has been meeting her every morning to cover for me. That job will fall to you once I’m gone so you’d better get in shape,” Janet teased.
Haley just stared at her a bit exasperated, “I guess so. I mean other than running away from a couple foster homes and one or two homeless wannabe Lotharios that took a liking to me, I haven’t really done any running.”
Janet gave the driver the name of a restaurant and looked at Haley while patting her stomach and saying, “I don’t know about you but I’m starving. This little girl seems to take up more than her fair share of calories.”
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