1. Sweet

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There wasn't a single speck of dust here. Not even a fragment floating in the air; air that smelled of citrus. The marble floor beneath my feet glistened so brightly that I was confident I could see my reflection in the stones if only I dared look. But I didn't. I was much too intimidated by my circumstance to do something weird like that. I'd never been in such a colossal flat before. Truly, it was like a house. Within a house. Rising over three floors, the penthouse was massive and filled with antique – probably expensive – art.

My blue eyes darted toward the floor-to-ceiling windows on my right. Through them, I saw a marvellous view of London city from my current seat in Kensington. A massive patch of green texture interrupted the view. It was that of Hyde Park, with beautiful trees climbing toward the sky.

"Listen, Ivy," Janice said with a tone of patience and sympathy. Steering my eyes back to her, I found her smiling at me. Janice Bradford was my best mate's girlfriend, now pregnant with his child. It had been an accident, but Freddie was over the moon about it. Therefore, I was, too.

I'd always liked Janice. She was authentic. An alpha female that wasn't afraid to take charge and state her opinions, without fear of repercussion. Ever since we'd met, she often organised the most entertaining events for any occasion she could.

Her beautiful ginger hair was tied into a tight high ponytail, and her pale blue eyes were of such lightness that they often resembled glaciers. She had no freckles, but plenty of small moles scattered across the pale skin of her neck. Janice wasn't a stereotypical beauty. She was an intriguing beauty. It was the drive in her eyes – the will she exuded – that was most alluring about her. That, and her intense load of charisma.

I wasn't much like her. I was a shy girl. Always had been. Giggly and sometimes a bit childish in my sense of humour, I was a dreadful idealist and an incurable romantic. I was also inherently clumsy.

Why had I applied for this job again? Right. Because Freddie had begged me to. And he was right. I didn't want to go back to pouring pint after pint. I hated my current job. I hated the clientele that were much too free with their groping hands, I despised their foul mouths, and I couldn't stand the stench of them. In all fairness, I'd wanted to bathe them in bleach on so many occasions that I'd lost count. Of course, there were a few regulars that I adored, such as Jimmy and his son Daniel, but they, as well as the joy they provided, fell into the shadows in the face of all the sexual harassment I had to endure.

Janice continued, "This job is extremely demanding, and I don't mean to be rude, but you don't really have the credentials to be eligible. You've worked as the assistant manager of Harry's pub for the past two years, so that's something. You've also completed one year of studying business management at King's College London, but since it's not a full degree, it doesn't count for much. Being a personal assistant is trying in itself, but especially to a man like Alexander Winton. He's very kind, but his life is incredibly fast-paced. If you can't keep up, you'll never be able to catch up again. You'll essentially be his maid and his wife, at the same time. A modern slave, of sorts."

I nodded and fiddled with my fingers. She was clearly not going to hire me, and I didn't blame her for it. In all likelihood, she had probably interviewed a row of men and women already, candidates that had much more experience in this field than I.

"Yeah," I mumbled. "Don't worry about it, Janice. I know you scored me this interview as a favour to Freddie, and I really appreciate it. I also know I'm punching far above my weight thinking I can handle it, so it's okay if you hire somebody else. I won't be offended." 

Sure, I'd be gutted, because the salary was astonishing and I could really use the money to pay down the loan for my mother's treatment. And even after having paid for that, I'd still have a few coins left over to save up so that I could re-start my course in business at King's College London sometime in the future.

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