After realizing that the silver Altima wasn’t going to stop, I stepped in front of it, perfectly willing to pay for the damages if I happened to get hit.
“What are you doing!? That’s dangerous!” exclaimed Iris as she jumped out of the car. Her light brown hair was in a loose ponytail. She was wearing a loose, black sweatshirt under a jacket and loose blue jeans, a unique choice for an interview. Judging by the widening of her eyes as she stared up at me, she probably recognized me now.
“Sorry. I didn’t want you to miss the house. You’re Iris Storm, correct?” I asked.
She nodded but said nothing as her mouth worked open and close a few times.
“I’m James Michael Somerset III. Ready for the interview?” I asked.
“Well I… I guess?” she asked, looking back at her car.
“If you need a minute, we can step inside out of the cold.” I assured her.
“Would that be weird? I mean if I change clothes. I didn’t expect you to be standing out here.” she blurted. Then, looking around, she asked “Is this really even the business? Looks more like a mansion. I didn’t see any pictures of it on your website. I shouldn’t even have applied. I’m sorry. I’ll go.”
“Nonsense. We’re both here, let’s get inside and start this interview. I’m sure whatever you brought to wear would have been marvelous, but there’s no need to change. I half-expect some of my friends to still be in their pajamas.” I admitted.
“Pajamas? You have friends living with you?” she asked.
I gently touched her upper back and guided her toward the door as I said, “We at Best Friend For Hire are all friends, though not everyone who lives here works for me. I understand that you graduated early and wanted to get working to save for college.”
“Huh? Yeah. How did you know?” she inquired.
“I do read applications that make their way to me. There has also been a background check already, so any information that wasn’t in your application is from that, such as your tendency to literally shock your brothers.” I told her.
“Wh-what!?” she asked.
“I would advise you and Mick to be more careful out in public, but that quality will help you fit in here.” I insisted.
“Who are you!?” she asked, coming to a stop.
“As I told you, my name is James. I’m the owner and chief executive of Best Friend For Hire. You do understand what we do here, correct?” I asked
“Umm… You act as people’s friends.” she guessed.
“Working here, your job will be to take on whatever role is necessary to be the best possible friend for whoever hires you. You’ll be required to do some studying here specifically for your job, but you can also study on your own toward degrees instead of attending the university as you had planned.” I explained. “If you ever intend to step up from part time to full time, you do have that option. A room is already set aside for your use if you ever decide to move in or simply stay the night. We also have a company truck that we use to help clients and employees move.”
Shaking her head, Iris said, “I’m confused. Am I already hired?”
“Sorry. I’m completely terrible at giving interviews. Simply stated, my company needs more people, and I didn’t see any red flags in your profile. If you’re interested, Mila will show you to where you can complete the paperwork, not that we really use paper for much.” I explained. Hearing Emma running toward us, I sighed.
“James! Who is she?” she asked.
“Iris, this is Emma. Emma, Iris. Please be warned that Emma will quite likely try to hit on you. If you need to file a complaint, Mila will assist you.” I stated.
“Hey!” exclaimed Emma, punching my arm. “Don’t listen to the man-slave. He’s just jealous that I stopped flirting with him after he got engaged.”
“Have you?” I asked.
“Obviously!” she insisted without a hint of honesty behind the word.
“Can I give her the tour?” she asked, ignoring Iris’ bemused expression.
“I’m taking Iris to fill out some forms, but I can notify you when she’s finished.” stated Mila as she stepped up to us.
“Iris, this is Mila. She runs the house and numerous other things. You’ll quite likely get her confused with my fiancée at some point, since they look nearly identical. The maid outfit should help you tell them apart, since Alma wouldn’t ever wear one.” I explained.
“She might if you ask nicely.” teased Mila. Turning to Iris, she said, “This way please.”
I started walking to the ballroom, but Emma grabbed my arm.
“Can I keep her?” she asked.
“No. Sorry, but she’s straight. My secretary’s background checks are incredibly detailed.” I told her.
I felt her grip loosen, so I hugged her shoulders. “I’m sure we’ll find you someone eventually, assuming you don’t find someone yourself first.” I assured her. “That being said, please let people get hired before you hit on them.”
“I’m not that bad. This was just a special case. I bet she skates.” insisted Emma, nearly bouncing.
“If not, you can probably get her to try. Maybe you could teach her how to use the zoomies.” I suggested.
“That’d be fun!” exclaimed Emma.
“I imagine you’ll get along just fine. She’s very much the outdoors type, so I doubt even Ancient Tribes of Earth will keep her inside for long. Just don’t scare her off. We actually have been turning away a fair number of potential clients lately.” I explained, unable to tell Emma how many times Aaliyah let me cheat this past week to help multiple clients simultaneously.
“Jaaaaaaaaames!” exclaimed Kayla, running up to me.
“Yes?” I asked.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” she told me.
“Didn’t mean to…?” I encouraged.
“I was going to the kitchen, and I scared some girl that was here. Mila told me to slow down, but I didn’t listen. I’m sorry. I didn’t know someone was here! Are you going to make her forget now?” she asked, staring up at me with wide-eyed excitement.
“Mila will give a perfectly satisfactory explanation, won’t you, Mila?” I asked.
“I didn’t explain a thing, master.” she replied.
“You’re taking after Aaliylah.” I stated.
I heard a smile in her voice as she said, “Thank you, master.”
Looking back down to Kayla, I said, “Please mind Mila’s instructions in the future, but there’s no harm done. Iris will be working here.”
“Oh! I’ll go apologize then!” she exclaimed.
I quickly lifted her off the ground before she ran off. Handing her to Emma, I said, “Why don’t you wait to give the tour with Emma a bit later? Iris has forms to fill out.”
“Okay!” she exclaimed with a grin.
“And make sure to get back to studying afterward. I’ll know if you don’t.” I warned her.
“Yes, sir.” she replied glumly.
“While we’re waiting, want to come with me to get a few zoomies?” offered Emma as she set her down. “James said we can show them to Iris.”
“Sure!” exclaimed Kayla, running with Emma toward the garage.
I hadn’t actually meant for them to show her those today, but I was confident Emma would handle things well. Changing my mind about logging into Ancient Tribes of Earth, I went instead to Alma’s wing, wanting to enjoy a bit more of her company before I needed to head out. She’d probably chide me for not giving a proper interview, since she’d surely ask how it went. I doubted I would have even seen the application if Iris wouldn’t work out, so I wasn’t too concerned. Things would work out just fine.