Buy Me, Sir(7)

By: Jade West

Janet. Our line manager’s name is Janet, but should I call her Miss Yorkley? Janet or Yorkley?

“Sit,” she says, and I hope I don’t have to choose.

We sit. My hands are in my lap. My heel tapping.

I really want this job. Need this job. For Joseph, and for me. For my shot at smelling Alexander Henley’s seat. For my shot at smelling Alexander Henley himself. Please God.

“What’s your secret?” Janet Yorkley asks.

Sonnie looks at me, and I guess I have to answer for us both. “Sorry?”

“Your secret.” She raises an eyebrow. “You must have one. Canteen’s never looked so good, so they tell me, and our staff survey showed the floor-seven toilets as ten out of ten for cleanliness. We never have ten out of ten, for anything. These people just cannot be pleased.” She leans forward. “But you’ve managed it, two newbies in the crappiest floor of this building, and you’re the ones who got us a perfect score. So, what’s your secret?”

“We, um… we work hard…” I begin.

“No shit,” she says, and there’s a smile on her face I haven’t seen before.

I dare to smile back, but I don’t think she sees, because Sonnie is leaning forward in her seat, and rolling back the cuffs on her crappy blouse.

“This,” she says. “This here, this is what gets those toilets clean.”

Sonnie’s hands are rough. Her skin blotchy and tired.

Janet stares at her, and I wonder if she’s made the wrong move. “You should use the standard issue gloves,” she says. “Health and safety. It’s in your induction booklet.”

“Health and safety don’t get them cubicles shining, Janet. Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

I nod. Because I think I should. “We do what it takes. Everything must be perfect, just like you said in our induction.”

“I know what I said.” She sighs. “But this is a cleaning job. I can’t say there’s many of your ilk in this building that give much, if any, consideration to perfect. They just do what needs doing and watch the clock until they can leave.”

The thought is in my head. Just like that. I guess they just don’t want to smell Mr Henley bad enough.

Sonnie nudges my foot with hers and I know she’s thinking it too.

“Thanks,” I say to Janet. “For the recognition. It means a lot.”

She laughs, just a little. “I didn’t get you in here for the recognition, Miss Martin. I got you in here to give you a promotion.”


I can’t stop the grin. “You mean we’re off floor seven?”

“You’re too good for floor seven,” she says. “None of the senior executives use the canteen anyway. It’s for the juniors and the admin staff.”

Sonnie’s eyes are nearly as wide as her smile. “So, where are we…”

Floor eighteen, floor eighteen, floor eighteen. I daren’t hope.

“Floor sixteen,” Janet says. “Senior conference suites. Where the top executives really will see your magnificent handiwork, so make sure you get it right.”

I nod. Sonnie nods. I try my best not to feel disappointed.

“Thank you,” I say. “We won’t let you down.”

“You’d best not.” She stands and gestures that we’re free to leave. “Because Mr Henley conducts his meetings there, and if there’s one thing you need to know about Mr Henley, it’s that he demands perfection. And you’d better deliver.”

There’s a bloom in my chest. A hope. The faintest, most beautiful little flicker of hope.

If it’s perfection Alexander Henley demands, then I’ll deliver.

I’ll deliver anything he wants.

Chapter Three


Dean jokes that we need champagne, not the chipped mugs of coffee we clink in my tiny cramped kitchen. He tells me he’s happy for me, that it’s a job well done, says that maybe they’ll give me a pay rise big enough to make up for the extra bazillion stairs I’ll be climbing up every day to get to floor sixteen.

He looks good today, his cropped hair a dark shadow, his brows heavy over bright blue eyes. A tight white tee under a loose checked shirt. Torn jeans and bare feet. Bare feet always look good on a man.

It’s when Dean says he’s happy for me for the tenth time that I know something’s up.

It’s in his smile.


More like a grimace as he raises his mug. Again.

I put mine down on the draining board. “What is it?”

He shrugs and the smile doesn’t even flinch. “What’s what?”

I poke my head through to the living room to check Joe’s still playing with his picture book, and then I fold my arms. “Don’t give me that. You look like you’re trying to hold in the shits or something.”