I slip into the office space quietly, and suddenly, I’m even more anxious than I was before. My heart is pounding hard in my chest, and I’m finding it hard to breathe all of a sudden.
I’m immediately greeted by complete silence that is punctuated only by the soft rustling of paper. I notice the wispy sounds are coming from a woman seated at a desk just a few feet away, her face slightly obscured by the desktop monitor in front of her.
Her head is slightly bowed, her eyes focused on whatever she’s looking at in the folders on her desk. It’s almost as if she didn’t hear me come in, but somehow, I doubt it.
I contemplate announcing myself, but for some reason, I think better of it and refrain from doing so.
As the silence continues to stretch on, my eyes leave her seated figure and glance above her to meet something I find even more odd.
My brows arch in question at the sight. I look around and turn behind me to find the same vibrant, multicolored wallpaper spread across all the walls of her office.
I know it’s called the Rainbow Escort Service, but actual rainbows sprinkled all over the head boss’ office is not something I was expecting when Nicole gave me the run down last night. I guess she decided to leave out this very interesting detail.
The woman at the desk finally raises her head and looks at me—and her stare shocks me into perfect stillness.
She must be Mindy.
Even from this distance, she seems so ruthless, with a very obvious, no-nonsense attitude. It’s almost as if she’ll kick me out if I so much as breathe the wrong way. Now that I think about it, she’s actually kind of like a younger version of Vito. I swear, they could totally be related.
She only looks at me for a few seconds before her attention goes back to the paperwork in front of her.
“Have a seat,” she says without looking at me.
I comply without a word, watching her closely as I take a seat opposite her.
Even without her eyes on me, she looks like she could pounce on me at any given moment. She has this dangerous demeanor about her, like she could do some serious damage without so much as lifting a finger.
Her expression is serious and all business as she continues to look through her pile of documents.
She doesn’t speak or look at me for several moments, so I’m caught off guard when her voice comes through again unexpectedly.
“Green tea or fruit juice?” she says.
I raise my brow, a bit confused by her words. “I’m sorry?”
She finally looks at me squarely, and her expression turns somewhat bored.
“Green tea or fruit juice?” she repeats.
Somehow, I get the distinct feeling she’s one of those people who doesn’t like repeating themselves.
“I assume you’re old enough to drink either,” she adds sarcastically, but there’s no humor in her eyes or her tone that tells me she’s just being friendly in her own way.
I wave my hands around. “Oh, nothing for me, thank you. I’m fine.”
“Pick one,” she says sternly. Her statement is definitely a demand. She doesn’t care if I’m not thirsty. Maybe this is part of the interview process?
“It’s rude to decline refreshments from your host,” she says in that same bored tone, as if she expects me to know all this, like it’s common knowledge and I’m clearly not getting with the program.
I clear my throat uncomfortably and shift in my seat. “Uh, I guess I’ll have fruit punch, then. Thank you.”
“You don’t hesitate when someone asks you what you’d like to drink. It shows indecisiveness and a lack of assertion; two qualities I abhor and don’t tolerate at my agency.”
She eventually speaks into some sort of intercom system set up at her desk. “Ivy, bring in a glass of fruit punch for the newbie and a cup of organic green tea for me,” she says.
A voice on the other side comes through. “Yes, Mindy.”
I recognize the voice as the girl from earlier; the one who brought me to her office. She must be her personal assistant. She must also be one hell of a tolerant person to be able to work so closely with this Mindy character from what I’ve seen of her so far—and considering how little that is, that’s saying something.
“Uh, um…okay,” I say, unsure of how else to respond to her statement. I’m not even sure if that was advice or constructive criticism or an insult. Somehow, I feel like it’s the latter.
“Enough with the ‘uhs’ and ‘ums’,” she scolds. “They show a lack of confidence, indecisiveness, and a lack of assertion.”
Her expression becomes even more bored but her tone signals that she’s getting irritated. Less than a minute after the request is made, Ivy walks in, bringing a tray with a cup of tea and a glass of fruit cocktail juice with her. I can’t help but notice that the cup and glass both have a rainbow graphic on them.
She sets the drinks down on rainbow-themed coasters in front of each of us along with brightly colored paper towels, each motion of her hands swift and graceful.
Rainbows are obviously big around here, and I find it weird as hell, but I make no mention of it.
“Thank you,” I smile at her, thankful for her presence, despite however brief it is. I really need a buffer from this Mindy woman right now—even a temporary one.
Unfortunately, Ivy’s presence is extremely short-lived. She leaves as quickly as she entered the moment she sets our drinks down.
Mindy keeps flipping through pages of various documents, and I keep waiting for her to ask me questions and start the interview. I mean, really, what kind of interview is this anyway?
I take a sip of my fruit punch, and I can’t help but think that this Mindy woman packs a lot more punch than the drink in my hand despite her dainty appearance.
“Take off your glasses,” she says suddenly, never breaking her gaze from her files.
I hesitate slightly, but I’m not about to make her repeat herself for a second time.
I pull my glasses off, feeling strangely bare as their familiar weight leaves my face and slides off my nose.
She finally looks at me squarely, giving me her full and undivided attention. Her eyes are a deep grey hue and kind of like the color of dark ash, and they narrow at me as they turn to slits as she continues to observe me—which actually feels more like she’s scrutinizing me, but I let her continue to assess me in silence although I don’t think I’ve felt more uncomfortable before.
Actually, I take that back. The only other person I’ve felt this uneasy around is Dexter Frost.
Ugh. Why am I even thinking of him at a time like this? Heck, why am I thinking of him at all? I really need to stop. I know I keep saying that, but I really do.
“Stand,” she commands.
I comply without hesitation this time.
She cocks her head slightly to the side, bringing her index finger up and moving it in a circle. I can only assume that she wants me to do a three-sixty spin for her, and as uncomfortable and nervous as that makes me, I still do it without question.
I feel her eyes continuing to assess and scrutinize me even as I do whatever else she asks me to do. I try to evade her gaze as much as possible, doing my best to keep my heart from leaping out of my throat.
Abruptly, she goes back to looking at her documents.
“You’ll be attending a high profile event this Saturday where you’ll be assessed,” she simply says. “Your performance there will determine whether you get hired or not. And since Nicole is the one who referred you, you’ll be going with her as an extra.”
She signs one of the documents, and her pen makes a harsh, stroking sound as it glides over the paper.
“I’ll also leave it to her to fill you in on the details,” she continues. “Wear contacts instead of your glasses, let your hair down, and since you’re a newbie and this is a one shot deal, it would be in your best interest to wear something that will get you noticed, specifically by the male attendees. Remember, you only get one shot to impress me, so make it count,” she adds firmly.
Holy crap, is this woman serious? I’m not gonna lie, that’s a lot to ask of—
The performance! It’s this Saturday! There’s no way I can miss it.
“This Saturday?” I say, worry betraying my voice. I’m sure she can heart it too. “I can’t this Saturday, I have an engagement that I can’t miss.”
She simply shrugs. “Well, that’s too bad then. You either figure out how to make it work for you, or you can look for work elsewhere.”
Her tone is so nonchalant and straight-up uncaring, as if she’s completely unbothered by any difficulties I or anyone else might have.
I have so many questions bubbling up and ready to pour out of my mouth, but I don’t want to push it. She seems like a very impatient person and I don’t want to test what little she seems to have.
The “interview” is a lot shorter—and a hell of a lot more bizarre—than I had anticipated, and before I know it, my time with Mindy is up and I’m being escorted out of her office by Ivy and then out of the building by the kind bellman.
The whole time I keep thinking that this is definitely the strangest interview I’ve ever had—and probably ever will have—in my entire life.