I woke up feeling slightly groggy and with a gnawing suspicion that I was forgetting something. I said my farewells to my bed over a few minutes spent coaxing myself out of it. I had just sat in front of my computer when mother knocked and said, “James, dear, your father and I want to discuss something with you over breakfast if you don’t mind getting ready. The cinnamon rolls are almost done.” I salivated at just the thought of those utterly delicious rolls of pure joy and hurried to get ready for school. Both of my parents were already sitting at the table, eating, when I entered the kitchen, and there was already a plate with an enormous roll waiting for me. The sweet frosting was still dripping down the side, and I started devouring the roll without a moment’s hesitation. “Son,” father started, “I want you to know that you’ve done far better at running your own business than I expected. I realize that some of your recent profit is, in part, little Aaliyah’s work, but hiring the right people is important in business as well. I’m proud of you.” I swallowed an amazing bite of cinnamon roll and smiled, looking up at him. Then I saw plainly on his face the word “but”. “Your mother and I never truly planned on making you pay for college all by yourself. We’ve had money aside for that for many years now. I just felt that you needed to have a little job experience. At any rate, I don’t really want you to spend your last free summer working all the time. Spend time goofing around with your friends, and tell me when you decide which college you’re attending. You haven’t told us of any acceptance letters yet.”
I started counting jobs in my head. This was the end of the month! Graduation would be this coming Sunday! I had completely forgotten to apply to college. “Umm… well… I think I really should just keep working. I honestly like my job, so much so that I might not have remembered to apply anywhere.” Father was not pleased. Mother looked a bit worried and said, “Well, you have been very busy. I’m sure some places will still be taking late applications. Just get on it tonight.” Father was definitely not pleased. He didn’t say anything, just took another bite of his cinnamon roll and opened his book. Breakfast was silent clear through my second cinnamon roll. Then mother told me that Regina had called and wouldn’t be stopping by this morning. She had to be at the school early, probably preparing something related to graduation. I put my plate in the dishwasher, told my parents goodbye, and took off with my bag. I actually did the driving today, instead of letting Mila drive herself. I felt like cruising around for a bit while I thought things through. I knew college was generally necessary to get a good job, but I truly was perfectly happy doing what I did. I doubted I could actually go out and do all the jobs myself too late into life, but I didn’t see any reason I couldn’t expand. Aaliyah had told me several times that she was turning down jobs regularly due to scheduling. Maybe I could get someone part-time to help with the missed jobs, and then hire other people down the road.
I realized that college wasn’t just about academics. There were also numerous groups and activities with other students, but I wasn’t into drinking and was making new friends with my work. I wouldn’t know Ai, Mai, Emma, or Aaliyah if I hadn’t started my business, and I would miss them if I went away somewhere for college. I wasn’t entirely sure what I would want to study even. Just like when I started my business, I couldn’t think of a single job that would allow me such freedom and diversity. Other than working my butt off in an attempt to pay for bills that kept popping up, I got to set my own hours. I rarely was doing the same job twice. This week I was already I had been a camp assistant, a sparring partner, and a babysitter. My chain of thought was interrupted when Mila said in her Romanian accent “Boss-man, sir, Jarod is calling. Shall I put it on the speakers?” I told her to do so and said, “Hey, Jarod. What’s up?” He replied “Running a bit late. Mind picking me up?” I told him that I’d be there shortly and hurried over there. He was wearing the glasses from his tablet and waving his arm in front of him. “Even knowing that you’re playing with your toy, you look absolutely ridiculous.” I told him. He shrugged and got in the car without stopping whatever he was doing with his hand. “So what do you have going on there?” He made a couple more motions and said, “Care if I get Mila to show you?”
After I assented, Mila took over driving while I watched the images projected on the screen. He wasn’t playing a video game as I had guessed. “So I was working on my car the other day and decided that I wanted to switch her over to electric. I made some three-d models of my baby and have been playing around with different ways to incorporate the engine in Mila on my Mustang. I know I’ll be ruining the collector’s value of my ‘stang, but I’ve been drooling over the geekiness of Mila since Aaliyah and I made her electric. I figure the kiddo might help me out if I beg enough, especially since I’m not wanting the fancy weaponry. I’d just like some of the sweet tech.” explained Jarod. When he asked what was on my mind, I said, “Now this,” while pointing at the rather amazing modelwork Jarod had done. “Yeah, but what about before? You seemed a bit off when I called.” I explained to him how breakfast was and how I wasn’t planning to go to college, which carried us into the school. We had to split off to homeroom before he had much of a chance to reply. When I sat by him in first period, he said, “I’m in,” and gave me a nod. “Huh?” I asked, being a bit confused. “I’ll do it. I’ll be your trainee, employee, secret agent best friend beast! Working together will be awesome! We’ll be able to hunt supernaturals and earn money on the side!” he exclaimed. I only hesitated for a second before smiling, proffering my hand, and saying, “Welcome to the team!”
After receiving a picture message from Aaliyah that very clearly showed her wearing her secretary glasses, I realized that Jarod told Aaliyah the news through his tablet. She was “requiring verification of the new hire,” so she could begin “paperwork.” After I confirmed things for her and answered some questions, I realized that Jarod may find himself with a ridiculously oversized contract coming his way. I sent Aaliyah a message saying that Jarod would like a paper copy of any necessary contracts for his records. Then I sat back and smiled, hoping to see his face when he received the thing. Father might not consider such an act to be an “appropriate business expense,” but this was my business. My business needed fun. The day seemed to be flying by, probably due to no one paying much attention to anything school related. Then Jarod asked me what I was doing Friday morning. “Umm.. not skipping school on the last day, if that’s what you’re after.” He laughed and said, “Tomorrow’s the last day, not Friday. What do you have planned? I need to pick something out for Aaliyah’s birthday party.” My mouth literally dropped open, and I checked my schedule. Aaliyah had booked me for the last half of the day as her “party assistant.” No wonder I didn’t remember getting an invitation. I felt like a horrible boss and a horrible friend. “Looks like I’m free till one. Let’s hope we can find something amazing.” What does one buy the little princess?