When Jarod had mentioned the “new guys,” I didn’t expect one of them to be a girl. Brandon and Brenna Underhill were already casually chatting with Emma when Jarod, Aaliyah, and I walked into the kitchen. I didn’t get much of a chance to speak with them at first, since Aaliyah was “dying of starvation.” I started searching through various cabinets to try finding a mixing bowl, but the size of the kitchen was working against me. “Boss-man, sir! What are you doing?” asked Aaliyah. “I need pancakes! Staaaarving… Mila, please show the boss-man where the mixing bowls are and bring up my favoritest of all pancake recipes before I waste away.” she continued. I shut the cabinet in which I was searching and found that the next one over was illuminated in a pale blue. I found the pancake recipe displayed on the counter when I set the mixing bowl I picked on it it. “Well, that’s definitely handy. Does Mila do all the mixing as well?” I inquired. “Though Mila is perfectly capable of running a mixer, you really should take some pride in your cooking, boss-man, sir. Truly great cooking should have your good wishes in it!” stated Aaliyah. I rolled my eyes and sighed loudly for her benefit.
“The little shrimp has a point,” said Mai. “Who are the redheads,” asked Ai, “and why isn’t Marco cooking?” Aaliyah, who was feigning death on the countertop, replied “Seriously! Read the memos! Marco has a daaaaaate.” I then realized I hadn’t done any training with the twins yet today and started to form an apology when Brenna said, “I’m Brenna, and this is my brother, Brandon. We started working for Best Friend For Hire two weeks ago.” Jarod then said, “Wait. You two have been here for two weeks? I only met you last week.” Brandon explained “Umm… well.. we moved here two weeks ago. The umm.. secretary.. said we needed to get through the introductory training courses before starting, and Brenna made a stab at reading our contract for a few nights. Marco had been bringing our meals to our rooms, so I guess we just never ran into each other.” Jarod shrugged and then asked “So where have you been parking?” Brandon spoke up again, saying, “The employee lot. Is that wrong?” I started laughing, causing everyone to stare at me. “Yep. He’s finished cracking.” stated the twins simultaneously.
“No-no. I’m fine. Really.” I told them. Then I said, “Sorry. Aaliyah is just so well-organized that the rest of us can’t seem to keep up at times. Despite owning this place, I didn’t even realize there WAS an employee parking lot. I truly am sorry for being a bit of an absentee boss. I… umm.. well, I lost someone close to me, and have been feeling off for a while.” Brandon nodded and said, “Hey, it’s cool, man,” while Brenna said, “Sorry for your loss. Brandon and I have been fine. We’re used to being on our own. We’re just happy to have gotten such a sweet gig. My clients have been great so far.” Brandon nodded and said, “Yeah. It’s awesome. Umm.. who cleans the gym, btw? I kinda left my towel on the bench in there, and it was gone when I went back for it.” I looked over at Aaliyah who sat up and waved her arms around as she exclaimed “Ghosts!” before making more ghost sounds. Brandon mouthed “Okay” as his sister laughed. I replied “Yeah… Honestly, I don’t know who does the cleaning. I haven’t met the maids yet, so they do appear rather ghost-like.” The twins looked from me to each other and back before saying, “You have maids!? Why have we been doing our own cleaning?”
My list of failings seemed to be growing, which wasn’t helped when the Mai said, “Let us help you cook, so all of us don’t end up starving to death like the twerp.” I hadn’t even started mixing the ingredients together and found that the recipe was now missing. “Mila, will you bring the recipe back up?” She replied “Sorry, boss-man, sir, but the evil twins are strictly prohibited from seeing the most prized recipes of the princess. I’m incapable of displaying the recipe anywhere they are looking.” Ai huffed and said, “Fine. James, fix the batter. We’ll do the cooking.” Aaliyah pointed out that helping with breakfast didn’t get the twins out of fixing lunch later, but they pointedly ignored her. “So Brandon,” started Emma, “your sister has the cutest abilities to change her hair, eye, and skin colors. What can you do?” I had to scoop a piece of eggshell out of the batter after hearing that, but Brandon just said, “Yeah. I can’t lose the red, but I can do this.” The eggshell fell off the spoon and back into the batter as I saw his jaw become more square. Then his arms began to elongate and to get thicker with muscle. “Wow,” said Emma, “That’s so cool! Can you actually lift more?” He shrugged and told her “Yeah. A fair amount.”
When I looked over at Jarod, he seemed as surprised as I felt. He cut in and said, “Yep. You two will fit in around here perfectly.” Brandon smiled and Brenna asked “So Jarod. What abilities do you have?” He smiled and said, “I’m pretty good with cars, video games, and giving James a good slug when he’s not looking.” I could see Brenna mouth “Oh” before Aaliyah stuck her face in the way and told me “Boss-man, sir, the batter isn’t preparing itself. Do you REALLY want to keep us all staaarving?” Seeing water in her big, blue eyes, I actually did feel a bit bad and started working at getting it done in earnest. How was a person not supposed to get distracted when finding out his employees could do such remarkable things though? Aaliyah cringed and grabbed my hand when I accidentally spilled some salt into the bowl. She then pinched a little out of my measuring spoon and tossed it over her shoulder. When she saw Mai peeking over at us, Aaliyah grabbed a wooden spoon and shook it at them, as if such a tiny girl could be remotely intimidating. She really couldn’t help being so adorable all the time. When at last the batter was complete to Aaliyah’s satisfaction, I was allowed to pass it off to the twins.
Aaliyah shook her head negatively when I offered to lift her down, but thanked me all the same. She crossed her little arms and pointedly watched the twins as Mai started pouring batter on the griddle while Ai waited to start flipping. I walked over to the large table and sat next to Brandon, who currently had enormously wide hands and an equally wide mouth. “I can’t do tea parties at all. Those tiny glasses don’t work for my hands, and sipping seems ridiculous.” he commented, making Emma giggle. He turned to me as his body returned to normal and held out a hand before saying, “Nice to officially meet you, boss. I hope my sister and I live up to your expectations.” I shook his hand and told them “I have this feeling that you two will have a knack for adapting to our clients’ needs, perhaps even transforming your role in the business entirely.” Brandon smiled and rolled his eyes as his sister laughed. “So James… are you seeing anyone?” Brenna asked, taking me off-guard. She was blushing and seemed surprised at herself. “Umm.. well.. no, but I really need to get caught up on some things before I even consider attempting to date.” I explained, hoping not to offend her.
“I was just curious,” she said, “I wouldn’t haven’t been surprised if you were already married with a kid on the way, since you’re doing so well and all.” I was a bit taken aback. Brenna was pretty. Beautiful even. Talking about dating seemed wrong though so soon after Regina. I really should have given her a chance. “Brenna, do you even need to use makeup ever?” asked Emma out of the blue. “Flip it! Ugh.. too slow. That side’s slightly past done now.” exclaimed Aaliyah from her perch on the counter. I started watching Aaliyah protest the twins’ cooking as Brenna and Emma discussed beauty products. Jarod got Brandon talking about video games shortly thereafter though. Brandon mainly was into MMOs, so I asked if he tried Ancient Tribes of Earth yet. “Nah.” he started. “Money’s been a little tight, since our dad died. I’ve been sticking to the free ones. Is it as good as all the hype suggests?” Jarod started expounding about how amazing the intro was, but then said, “I haven’t had much time to get very far over the past few weeks though. Business is busy. I don’t think James has even tried it yet, despite making money off it.”
“Oh wow. Are you on the company’s board or something?” Brandon asked me. “No. I just invested in it thanks to Aaliyah.” I replied. “Oh. Cool. I’m surprised she even knew of it. Then again, I didn’t actually believe her at first when she claimed to be your secretary. She seems so, well, young.” he stated. I told him “I can’t believe it at times either. She’s easily the most brilliant person I’ve ever met and volunteered to work for me after I babysat her a few times.” He gaped and said, “You babysit your secretary? That is so… different. If she really wrote that contract I signed, I completely understand though. I didn’t bother reading past ‘sign here’ and ‘initial here’ after seeing the size of it. She could probably get a law degree easily.” I laughed and told him “I think she already has one along with her multiple doctorates. ‘Brilliant’ was an understatement on my part.” Brandon stared at me in disbelief. He suddenly glanced down, so I followed his gaze to find Aaliyah looking up at him with a heaping plate of pancakes. “I also wrote Ancient Tribes of Earth. Playing for free is in your contract. Just go to Best Friend For Hire’s website to download your copy. Pancakes?” Looking at the diminutive girl, I easily understood how someone could underestimate her. I took months to start understanding the vastness of her abilities. Brandon and Brenna would surely get there in time as well. Aaliyah had chosen them well.