After a signature and a handshake, I escorted my newest client to the door. It was easily the biggest account I'd ever landed. My team and I had a lot of work ahead of us to make sure they were happy. It was our first state-wide campaign, and a steal from a competitor. If we pulled it off, it could mean big things for the company.
I turned around to see Holly holding up two slips of paper. "Two calls while you were in your meeting. I referred one of them down to Wes because it was social networking, and the other to Carl because it was print. Emailed you the contact information so you can follow up."
"Thanks, Holly. You can go ahead home for the day. I appreciate you staying late."
She smiled, and I was once again struck by what a beautiful young woman she'd become. Her hair caught up in a blonde ponytail, she looked every inch the career woman in her white collared top and knee-length black skirt.
"I didn't have anything better to do, and I can use the money."
"Well, you should have something better to do. You forget that I can see your apartment from my front window. You need to get out and meet some people. It's summer. Go to the beach. There's more to life than work."
She stood up, smoothed out her skirt, and offered a crooked grin as her eyebrows lifted. "Look who's talking. See you tomorrow."
Best decision I've ever made in my life, I thought as she walked around her desk toward the front door. I certainly hadn't considered that possibility when she walked in looking for a job two years earlier.
Both of the assistants I'd hired quit on the same day with no warning right as our call volume was going through the ceiling. I was furiously calling temp agencies when one of my graphic designers whom I'd pressed into answering the phone walked in and said someone was looking for a job.
I knew she was young as soon as I saw her. She didn't have a resume - didn't have much more than an out of state driver's license that showed she was seventeen. Desperate, I gave her a chance.
To my surprise, she caught on quickly, and sounded remarkably professional when she answered the phone. We got through the day, and more than one person told me to hire her before she realized what she was getting into.
Something was nagging at me, though. She had been less than forthcoming in the brief interview I'd given her, so I called her into the office at the end of the day. I confronted her, telling her that I was considering hiring her on a permanent basis, but she was going to have to answer a few questions first.
The last thing I expected was that her mother had thrown her out three months earlier, and that she had been bouncing from shelter to shelter the whole time. My heart nearly broke as the story emerged - reluctantly at first - and then in a tear-filled gush.
I offered her the job - which I came to find out she did so well simply from emulating what she'd seen assistants do on television, of all things - and something more.
One of the furnished apartments in the rental property I owned across the street from my house was empty. If she was going to be working for me, she needed a proper place to stay. I also gave her an advance on her salary to be repaid in small deductions so she could buy food and clothes to get started.
It was all conditional on her taking night classes to get her high school diploma.
Two years later, she had her diploma, had paid off the loan, and had convinced me to let her do housecleaning for me to help her save for college.
All on top of becoming the best assistant I could have ever hoped for.
The reminiscing made me smile as I packed up my briefcase to head home. The new client did mean that I was going to have to give up my regular weekend retreat for a while. I made a mental note to contact a couple of friends at the nudist camp, so they wouldn't wonder what had happened to me over the next few weeks. It was tough to think about giving up the prime summer hours of freedom, but my team had already agreed to cancel vacations if we landed the account. I could do no less.
I just hoped everything would be wrapped in time to make the big end of summer party at the camp.
As usual, I'd dragged my work home with me. Two weeks into the push for our new client, there were designs, slogans, and ideas aplenty for me to review and make decisions on. I had never liked doing that at the office, with all the distractions.
I did have a distraction that evening, though. Holly had come over to clean the spare bedroom, bathroom, and sunroom at the back of the house. It wasn't that she was loud or interrupting me, but rather her attire.
I had nearly choked when I answered the door to see her dressed in a pair of short-shorts and a tight tank top. I suppose it made sense, considering how hot it was even in the evening. The heat wave had my air conditioning working overtime to the point the electric bills at the office were becoming alarming. Even the walk across the street from her apartment had to be sweltering.
Somehow, I held back my surprise as I let her in. I'd never seen her dressed in anything so revealing before, and it shocked me to the core. For her part, she didn't act as if it was anything unusual, and went straight to work after a brief greeting.
I couldn't get the image out of my head, and it was making it difficult to concentrate. For one thing, it was strange that she'd caused me such a stir while dressed - if barely - when I usually spent my weekends around people who were completely nude. The camp attracted its fair share of young women every so often, so it wasn't simply her youth.
For another, the tops and blouses she wore to work hid all evidence of her breasts. The tank top hid almost nothing, giving me my first real impression of the small, firm globes topped with tiny points. If she was wearing a bra, it must have been as thin as tissue paper.
Somehow, I pushed through, making notations on the material my team had delivered in recent days. I sat back and sighed as I finished, squeezing the stiff muscles in the back of my neck while I thought about pouring a glass of wine.
"I wondered if you were ever going to take a break," I heard Holly say behind me.
I turned around to see her holding a glass of wine, which she then held out to me.
"I was just thinking about pouring a glass."
"I know. You're a bit predictable when you're focusing on a project." She smiled and winked, the gesture so inherently sexy that I nearly fumbled my glass. "Almost done, so I'll be out of your hair in a little bit."
"Thank you," I said, raising the glass.
"Cheers," she responded, and then giggled as she returned to her work.
I caught my eyes drifting toward her barely covered, taut bottom swaying as she walked away. I quickly averted my eyes and took a long pull of wine.
Once she left a short while later, I switched to whisky.
Fortunately, Holly was dressed as usual for work, and the previous night's shock soon wore off. The place was abuzz, and I only realized it was lunch time because my stomach was growling. A look at the clock left me a little confused, so I buzzed Holly and asked, "Did I miss whoever was taking the lunch orders?"
"No, you didn't miss him."
Assuming that everyone must be too busy to think about organizing a lunch order, I decided to call for something. I was just reaching for the phone when the door opened.
"Lunch is served," Holly said as she walked in the room carrying a plate.
"What's this?" I asked as she sat it down. The roast with vegetables certainly hadn't come from any restaurant.
"You're not taking care of yourself," she chided as she sat down flatware next to the plate. "So, I'm going to make sure that you at least eat something good."
"You made this?" I asked, not even knowing that she cooked.
"Yes. Try it."
I picked up the fork and cut into a potato, swirling it through the broth before taking the bite. It was good - excellent in fact. "This is wonderful, but you don't have to, Holly."
"I want to. Enjoy. I'll pick up the plate when I leave."
She went back to her work, and I was hardly one to argue. The scent was making my mouth water and my stomach growl even louder. It was more than a cut above what I'd been ordering in, and it made me wonder how she'd learned to cook so well when her relationship with her mother was so poor.
Unfortunately, the pleasant respite was over when I cleaned the plate, and I had to return to the grind. Once again, I lost track of time, though I was catching up on a few other matters, because my team was busy with revisions for the new client. So, Holly surprised me again when she walked in.
"I'm heading home for the day. Was it good?" she asked as she picked up the plate.
"Excellent. Thank you, Holly."
"You're welcome. Don't bring anything for lunch tomorrow or order anything, and don't stay too late. I know this client is important, but you're not going to be at your best if you don't get enough rest. Goodbye."
Naturally, I wondered what had brought her gesture on, but there was a fairly obvious answer. She'd come to me with virtually nothing, and I'd taken her under my wing, helping her get on her feet. She was simply repaying me for what I'd done for her over the last couple of years. It was yet another quality that bode well for her future. She wasn't one to take without giving back.
.... There is more of this story ...