Chapter One | Thief

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It makes no difference whether or not John Mayer is an asshole. But when "Daughters" plays and your dad says, "I don't like this," the song takes on an entirely different meaning.

And of all things Zoë should have been upset about the morning of her job interview, an adult contemporary hit from the early two thousands shouldn't have been foremost in her mind.

Being worried she had the right building would have been a better occupation. While the building looked fine (more akin to a regal old house — one of many stretching down the block — than an office), once someone buzzed her through the front door without having uttered a single word, she had to follow the music through a deserted foyer to find the reception area.

The next concern could have been the seven other candidates waiting in a round of hard, uniform chairs in reception. One guy wore a suit, like Zoë; the others squeaked by in thinly-veiled business casual. Zoë had at least ten years on all of them.

Someone had taped cables for the receptionist's computer from an outlet in the foyer along the carpeted floor to her desk. The music came from a small radio beside the curtain-less floor-to-ceiling window. It had been years since Zoë had seen an FM radio.

The receptionist smiled behind her antique desk and paper-thin computer monitor. "Hiya!"

"Hi." Zoë tugged her suit skirt. "I'm Zoë Benton. I have a ten thirty interview with Seeoban?"

The receptionist narrowed her eyes. "Seeo...?"

"Seeobhan?"

"I don't recognize that name."

That was the next thing she should have worried about: asking for the wrong person or butchering an Irish name.

Zoë pulled out her phone and displayed the confirmation email. "She said to ask for her? This is Blue Arch, right?"

"Aye! Siobhan!" The receptionist laughed and handed Zoë a loaded clipboard. "It's pronounced Sha-vawn. Fill this in and hand it back to me. I'm Nicola, by the way. If you have any questions, give us a shout."

Zoë took the clipboard to an empty seat among the others, who must have been feeling solid after witnessing all that.

The song made it hard to concentrate.

Be good to your daughters. Why was a message like that so difficult to get behind? It wasn't like the lyrics were buried behind screeching guitars or a grating voice. Mayer's voice was arguably smooth and pleasant, his guitar work delicate and accessible.

It wasn't that her dad was any stranger to music. He regularly cranked up The Beatles and Billy Joel and even Coldplay. The first time he'd wrinkled his nose at Daughters, Zoë laughed because it had to have been a joke.

John Mayer wasn't even cancelled then.

Zoë finished the form and returned the clipboard.

She'd expected her dad to switch the radio back with a little wink, but they listened to sports radio for the rest of the car ride. The next thing he said to her was, "help your mother with the dishes," like she hadn't just spent the last half hour wondering what she'd done to disappoint him. She'd been too embarrassed to tell anyone what was wrong, even though they asked for the rest of the day.

"Zoë Benton?" A woman, also younger than Zoë, and in a more expensive suit, called from the doorway.

Zoë smiled, rose to shake the interviewer's hand, and followed her to a cramped, windowless office. The desk held only a computer, no phones or personal effects.

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