A Beauty Uncovered(2)

By: Andrea Laurence

 “And he won’t come out here to get it?”

 “He does, but only when he feels like it. He communicates mostly through the speakerphone or the computer. He tends to email and instant message a lot throughout the day. The drawer works best for anything else. That’s how you’ll give him his mail and exchange paperwork with him. When he’s done with something, he’ll slide the drawer back to you.”

 “Like Hannibal Lecter?”

 “Something like that,” Agnes said. She sat back down at her desk, where Sam would be working for the next month, and folded her hands. “Okay, now that the legalities are handled, we have to have a chat.”

 Sam took a deep breath. The last half hour’s discussion had built up a nervous tension that drew all her muscles tight. Now that she’d signed on the dotted line, she wasn’t sure if she really wanted to know what was so closely guarded. And yet her curiosity was burning at her. “What have you gotten me into, Agnes?”

 “Do you think I would’ve worked here for as long as I have if the job was terrible? I have had horrible bosses and he isn’t one of them. I adore Brody like he’s my own son. You’ve just got to learn how to handle him. He’ll be less…prickly…if you do.”

 Prickly. Sam didn’t like that word. She preferred her bosses to be without sharp, biting barbs. Of course, having a sexy, charismatic boss had only led her to heartache and unemployment. Maybe a prickly, distant one would be better. If she was rarely in the same room with him, she couldn’t possibly have an affair and get fired.

 Sam turned to one of the video cameras. She was uncomfortable having this discussion knowing he might be listening in. “Is he watching us on those?”

 Agnes looked at the camera and shrugged. “Probably, but there’s no sound. He can only hear us on the speakerphone unless you yell through the door. Right now, we’re able to speak candidly, so I’ll tell you the big secret. Mr. Eden was disfigured in an accident a long time ago. Part of his face was damaged very badly. He’s very self-conscious about it and doesn’t like anyone to see him. He also doesn’t want anyone to know about his injury. That’s the main reason for all the mystery. No one can know he’s scarred like he is. When and if you do see him face-to-face, it’s best if you go on like you don’t even notice it. Keep the surprise, the disgust, the pity inside. It might be hard at first, but you’ll get used to it.”

 She wasn’t supposed to, but Sam couldn’t help the pang of sympathy she felt for her new boss. How lonely it must be to live like that. It sounded horrible. It made her want to help him somehow. It was just her nature.

 Her father had always called her “Daddy’s Little Fixer.” Sam’s mother had died when she was in second grade, but being only seven hadn’t stopped Sam from stepping up to be the lady of the house. She was never much of a nurturer, but she got things done. Socks with holes? Mended. No money for groceries? Macaroni Surprise for dinner.

 If someone had a problem, going to Sam would guarantee it would get dealt with quickly and efficiently. Even if they didn’t think they had a problem, she would fix it. That’s why her two younger brothers referred to her as “The Meddler,” instead.

 But how could she help Mr. Eden if he kept himself hidden away? “Will I even see him? It sounds like he doesn’t come out.”

 “Eventually, he will. Grumpy, like a hibernating bear. But his bark is worse than his bite. He’s mostly harmless. Mostly.”

 Sam could only nod while she tried to absorb all of this. Agnes continued on, telling her about the various tasks she was responsible for. Aside from the basic secretarial stuff, she was also expected to run errands for him.

 “I pick up his dry cleaning? Doesn’t he have a wife or something to do that?” she asked as she looked over the list Agnes had typed up for her.

 “No. He’s single. When I say you and I are the only ones to see him, I mean it. You’ll pick up coffee for him in the morning. Sometimes I get his lunch, but most times he will bring his own or have something delivered to the lobby, which you’ll have to go get.”

 The man really didn’t go out in public. It was mind-boggling. “How can someone live their life without going outside? Without going to the store or the movies or to dinner with friends?”

 “Mr. Eden lives his life through his computer. Whatever he can do from there, he will. What he can’t do, you do for him. You’re more of a personal assistant than a secretary. He doesn’t pay a premium salary for you to sit around filing your nails and answering the phone.”

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