Sweet Little Thing(8)

By: Abbi Glines

Why did Jasper get to make that decision? Who was he that he could tell his mother what to do? And how did she expect me to make myself less attractive?

I had no mirror down here, but I could look down and see the knee length khaki shorts and white polo shirt that Portia had given me for my job. Nothing about this outfit was attractive. I reached up, touching my hair that was pulled back tightly in a ponytail. Some of the girls by the pool looked like a stylist had done their messy updos. The girls weren’t really clothed anymore, but when they were, their bikinis had been sexy and expensive. I couldn’t possibly stand out in a crowd like that. They saw me and knew I was the help. There wasn’t any way I could make myself less attractive.

Sighing, I sank down on the edge of the bed and kicked off my tennis shoes. My feet hurt every night because the shoes Portia had given me were a size six and I wore an eight. After running around all day and not even getting a break for lunch, my toes were so cramped that the pain from setting them free took my breath away.

My stomach rumbled and I looked toward the stairs knowing there was no way I could get food and go unnoticed. My feet ached more than my stomach did. I’d make sure to eat breakfast before I had to start my day tomorrow.

It was almost midnight. I’d be up again in six hours. The shower was beside the washing machine. It was inside a claw-foot tub that had a wraparound curtain. Standing up, I winced and hobbled over on my sore feet to turn the warm water on. A good cry would make me feel better, and the hot water would feel wonderful on my feet.

When I finally laid down in bed, sleep came fast. Faster than normal.

Luckily, I wasn’t so exhausted that I slept past six, when I was supposed to be up. My stomach was growling when I opened my eyes and I figured that was what had woken me. With a good long stretch, I wiggled my feet. They were still sore but better after rest. The idea of putting the too small shoes back on made me grimace. It was early and no one would be awake until at least nine. I could head upstairs in my socks. My breakfast would be so much more enjoyable if my feet weren’t cramped up.

I dressed quickly, pulled my hair back in a ponytail, brushed my teeth and headed for the stairs. This was my favorite time of day. It was the only time I had to myself that I could enjoy. Now that Jasper and his friends were here for the summer I’d look forward to my early mornings even more. Especially if yesterday was any indication of how he planned on spending his summer.

Portia had bragged about Jasper to her friends that visited, and acted like him being home was a wonderful thing. Then he’d arrived and it all changed. She completely changed. The woman who had been distant and unfeeling seemed scared of her son. That made no sense to me. I was missing something and I wanted to know what.

Before I walked into the kitchen, I heard a cabinet close. Who the heck was in there this early? Portia didn’t stir until after ten o’clock on most days. I doubted she’d ever seen six in the morning. Ever. In her life.

I peeked around the corner to find a girl with messy dark brown hair. A large guys T-shirt was the only thing covering her body. She was on her tiptoes looking in the cabinets. I assumed she was one of Jasper’s guests from last night. Which meant I had to help her. She was ruining my quiet morning.

“Can I get you something?” I asked as I walked all the way into the kitchen.

She dropped to the flats of her feet and spun around to look at me. “Oh. It’s you. Yeah, I need some coffee and food. I’ve got work in an hour. Do you know how to call a cab around here?”

Work? She worked? “Uh, I don’t know about a cab but you could Google it on your phone. I’m sure you could use an app for a car service too. Those come here.”

She sighed. “Yeah, that’d be great if I had a phone with an app, and those car services require bank cards attached to them, and I don’t have one of those either. I have ten bucks. And that ten bucks has to get me to my apartment so I can get dressed.”

This girl didn’t sound like one of Jasper’s friends. At least, not one of the Ivy league, trust fund types I’d met so far. It was interesting that she was here.

Unable to help myself I asked, “Where do you work?”

She walked over to the fridge. “I nanny for Auden Elswood’s younger siblings. His father’s second wife is twenty-seven and they have two-year-old twin terrors. A boy and girl. That’s how I know this crowd since you’re obviously trying to figure me out. Now could you point me to food?”

“Oh, yeah. I was going to make myself some eggs and bacon. You want some?”