“Hi, Maple! Glad to have you here. I’m James Michael Somerset III.” I told her, reaching out to shake her hand.
She looked from my face to my hand and then quickly shook it, saying, “Pleased to… meet you.”
She stared at my hand as she gripped it, obviously shocked and forgetting to release it. She didn’t understand why her ability wasn’t working.
“Mind touring the yard as we talk?” I inquired.
“Uh… no. Not at all.” she told me, quickly releasing my hand.
Since she was wearing heels with her suit, I decided to stick to the sidewalk, taking her around past the garage and then by the gardens between the kitchen and Dani’s wing.
“What about my company attracted your interest?” I inquired as we walked.
She thought for a few steps and then said, “I first heard about your company through a friend of my mother, Melissa Robertson. She hired someone named… Emma, I think.” Maple looked at me questioningly, relieved when I nodded. “Emma really impressed her and mentioned the business has a wonderful educational program as well.”
“Yes, we have a deal with the Institute of Autodidacticism to provide a fine education in whatever fields interest you.” I replied. Then I pointed to the kitchen’s gardens and said, “We also employ an incredible chef for those who reside here. Marco’s cooking is absolutely incredible. Emma insures that he receives the best produce all year round. In addition to being an active best friend, she’s the groundskeeper.”
“Wow. Is everyone that busy?” inquired Maple, looking worried.
I smiled and said, “Emma makes keeping the grounds in order look easy, but no one is busier than they want, despite how Brandon might complain. Iris Storm, for example, works part-time and still lives with her parents. Everyone else just submits what hours they’d like to work, and the schedule is made based off their availability and the availability of work suited to them that week.”
“That sounds amazing. How do the benefits work then?” she asked.
“If you work here, your medical needs are fully covered. There are also paid vacations, such as an upcoming trip to France. You’ll be quite welcome if you join us. I’ll make sure you can get a passport in time if one’s needed.” I informed her, knowing she had one from her trip to Italy last year.
“What!? Really!?” she questioned, stopping and staring at me.
I nodded and said, “Of course. Retirement packages are based off what you earn over your time with us, but I assure you they’re quite lucrative. You also will have access to all training utilities here. Past the bend and far off to the left is an employee gym. There is also a large pond we like to use for swimming if you prefer swimming outdoors. If you enjoy video games, you’ll have access to all games from Global Princess Entertainment.”
“Sorry, but can we go back a minute? The medical benefits. Were you saying you cover insurance entirely?” she inquired.
“No. We provide complete medical services that are better than you’ll find in general hospitals.” I explained, not wanting to say too much just yet.
Her eyes widened as she listened. “But… how does that even work? I mean… say I was on a job, got injured, and was rushed to a hospital… how would I get help?”
“We’d cover any medical fees and get our own people involved as soon as possible.” I assured her. Stepping forward again, I warned “Everything is spelled out in the employee contract, but teams of lawyers can get lost in that thing.”
“Got any of those on hand for employees?” teased Maple.
“Yes, actually. My secretary covers most legal matters and might as well be a team.” I replied, amused as she stopped again.
“Sorry.” she muttered, walking again. “My dad’s not going to believe this.”
“Both of your parents will be welcome to see the place if you do decide to join us. We just like a little forewarning is all. Marco is rather particular about having food prepared just right for everyone. How do you feel about magic?” I inquired.
“What?” she asked, stumbling just after.
I carefully caught her and waited for her to get her balance. Then I said, “Some might say that looking into the past of whatever one touches is magical. How do you feel about it?”
“I… umm…” she mumbled, obviously startled.
“Watch.” I told her as I pointed ahead. The spells I created made mist form, spelling the words “Magic is real,” Fire burst through the mist and wrote “and you have it.” Water sizzled, forming around the fire and extinguishing it. The water froze after shaping into the words “How do you feel about magic?”
Maple’s eyes were bulging and her mouth hung open. I waited and watched as she took in what she just saw. Residual energy slowly accumulated on her as she watched the history of something she wore. She wasn’t touching anything else, and she had to be in contact to see the history.
“You know what I can do?” she asked, a quaver in her voice showing her nervousness as much as the other tells.
“Yes.” I stated.
“How?” she inquired.
I smiled and told her “The background checks we run are far more detailed than most. I know how crazy that sounds, but it’s true. You’ll find many things are different here, such as most of us using magic. Some of your potential coworkers can transform their bodies. One needs the blood of others to survive. Two people living here are impossible for most to kill. Work for me, and your world will seem to change as you learn more about others who, like you, possess superhuman abilities.”
“But…” she whispered as she stared down at her own hands.
“Here. Touch this.” I told her, taking off my watch and handing it to her. By this planet’s reckoning, the watch was only a week old. I had been very careful where I wore it, so Maple would only glean what I wanted her to know. She’d see around the house, my friends, my wife, and my daughter, but she wouldn’t see anything about clients or other planets.
She gingerly took the watch and rubbed it between her fingers. More energy poured off her. “Your friends love being around you.” she stated several minutes later. A smile slowly spread across her face. “I want to work here.”
“Excellent. You’re hired.” I told her. “I’ll show you the rest of the grounds, and then we can head inside to introduce you to everyone who’s home. Welcome to Best Friend For Hire!”