After promising Marty that we’d go shopping tonight, I head to my car. Pulling the seat forward, I toss my books in the back. When I go to push the seat forward, it won’t move. It’s not as cold today, but still—standing in a parking lot alone is asking for trouble. My track record for getting robbed is shamefully high. I yank the seat, but it’s stuck. I climb in the backseat and put all my weight into it and pull, trying to force it into an upright position. There’s a cracking sound and then seat comes free and falls back into place. I try to squeeze between the seat and the door so that it doesn’t get stuck again, but I don’t fit. So, I’m forced to climb through the bucket seats, head first, and I pretty much fall oui the door. I stand, brush myself off, and jump into the car. I lean back before grabbing the seatbelt. The crappy old seat holds. I half expected it to snap off.
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I start my magic car and head toward Miss Black’s. When I arrive, the place is bustling with people. I’ve never seen anyone here before. There are workers at desks. I hear a woman talking on a phone saying something about insurance for employees. Shocked, I stand there in the door way to the office with my mouth hanging open. It takes this many people to run a brothel? The phones ring nonstop. It’s like the call girl call center.
Miss Black spots me from across the room She’s standing at an aged man’s desk, handing him a file. An irritated look flashes in her eyes and she quickly walks toward me in her tailored suit. She tucks the remaining files under her arm. “May I help you?”
Nodding, I look at her. “Yes, I believe so.”
“Very well, come with me.” Miss Black has perfect posture, even in those heels. She walks in front of me and I follow her back to her office, where she closes the door. “It is extremely unprofessional to arrive unannounced, Avery.”
“I’m sorry,” I say taking a chair. I sit on the edge of my seat and place my hands on her desk. Miss Black is leaning back in her seat, legs crossed. “I needed to discuss something with you.”
“I’ll allow it this time, however, in the future, if you want to speak with me, it has to wait until you check in on the weekend.”
“That’s just it. Since things got messed up the other night, I wouldn’t be checking in and I didn’t want to wait for you to call me. I decided that I’m not cut out for this.” My heart is pounding as I speak. I try so hard to keep my nerves off my face. My hands rest perfectly still on her desk. There is no tremor in my voice. “I’m withdrawing my application. Thank you.” I stand, like I’m going to wall away.
Her little speech about what a rare commodity I am is my only card to play. I’m totally bluffing. I need this job, but I want it on my terms. I step towards the door and reach for the knob. Miss Black doesn’t say anything until I’m ready to pull the door open.
“Wait,” she says. I stop and turn to look at her. “Please sit.” Miss Black straightens in her chair and leans forward, her eyes tracking me as I walk back toward her and sit down. “The other night was an anomaly. That is not the usual course of events. In all my time doing this, that is only the second time I’ve had to intervene. I apologize that it made you question your choice to work here. There are other clients who have been on our roster longer, that have a proven track record. I would
I cut her off, “I’m not interested. The thing is, I didn’t feel threatened the other night and while i’ might have broken your rules, he didn’t make me feel like a prostitute. I didn’t expect that to happen. I was the idiot who followed him outside. He wasn’t the one who broke the rule. I did.”
Miss Black looks at me with her dark eyes. The tips of her fingers press together one by one as she watches me from behind her desk. “You’re not telling me something. What is it?”
“I’ll consider staying, if I was given a second chance with that client. I won’t leave the hotel this time. I’ll do my job, and you’ll get your money.” My throat tightens as I speak. My heart is racing so fast. This scares the hell out of me. The whole thing, and here I am telling her what to do. For all I know, she has those beefcake ninjas locked in her closet and they’ll bust out and break my face for suggesting such a thing.
Miss Black stares at me. I don’t breathe. Mytongue is between my teeth to keep me from spewing her with nervous chatter. Her index fingers press together and then she taps them three times, like she’s deciding something. “So, this is about money?”
“And… ” she prompts.
“And I didn’t think I could do this, but afer the other night, I know I could follow through with him”
“Even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could get him back. We exchanged some terse words after the event.” Miss Black taps her desk. She glances up at me.
I rush out what I wanted to say. “Just tell him If he refuses, then I’ll consider someone else. Are we agreed?”
Miss Black isn’t stupid. She leans toward me and says, “Something else is going on here, of tha I’m certain. However, I’m not one to blow a business deal over suspicion. I’ll ask him, under the condition that if he says no, that you’ll continue working for us—that you’ll trust my judgment when I select another match for you.”
I didn’t want this part. I suck at lying. I can’t just yes her, she’ll see it in my eyes. My stomach twists as I extend my hand toward her. “Deal,” I say, and we shake on it.
I agreed to be with another man if Sean won’t have me. I hope to God that he says yes.