Copyright ©2020 Penny Hooper
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the author.
Penny Hooper has asserted her right under Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This story may contain sensitive themes that some readers may find difficult to read.
These themes include, but are not limited to:
Scenes of a sexual nature
Rape / sexual abuse
“Mrs Mark?” I heard someone call. My head shot up from my mobile phone.
Miss! For the last time, it’s Miss! I thought from within my panic.
I groaned and stood up from the uncomfortable plastic chair that I was sitting on and walked extremely nervously towards the two beady and judging eyes that were staring at me.
The woman who owned the eyes held open the looming door for me to walk through. It was the same door that people before me had walked through and had eventually reappeared looking scared shitless but with a mix of relief that the torture was over. I trudged through it self-consciously and into the room that laid in wait.
I woke up feeling fine this morning. Better than fine, I was excited. I knew I had this meeting, it had been circled on my calendar for weeks. I counted down the days. I deliberated for hours, if not days, over what to wear. I had my hair cut the weekend before. I’d even had my nails painted, not something I was too keen on doing. It was a waste of money in my opinion. But I wanted to look the part. Have every chance of acing the day. I told myself over and over that I would ace the interview and I would finally get a job in a hotel. A job I have wanted for years!
But after watching those worried and upset looking faces pile out of the room I was about to enter, my confidence slowly disappeared. These people looked way smarter and even more confident than I am before they entered. I was way in over my head.
Especially when I had this obnoxious woman finally give me the usual up-and-down look like she had given all the others. Maybe the casual yet slightly formal look wasn’t the best look to go for?
After the hours I had spent in front of the mirror, risking running late for my interview, I had finally decided on this look. I had gone through a number of dresses; from really smart dresses to dresses with those girly plaits in them. I tried a dress with a cardigan, a dress with a blazer. Until I realised it was a little cold and wet today in London, and tights didn’t seem to be working for me. So, I settled on trousers instead. But smart trousers looked too smart, jeans looked too casual. My expensive black shirt I got from a Debenhams sale that was now two years old, also looked too formal—I looked like I was about to go to a funeral. My pink blouse seemed too girly and gave the wrong impression. Even plain t-shirts looked too casual. It took me three hours to finally decide.
I walked in, nearly tripping up as my heel caught the edge of a carpet tile and I stumbled into the room. I felt the palms of my hands go instantly sweaty.
I was being stared at by three faces. Silently judging no doubt. One of the faces was of a woman with pursed lips and glasses with a thick rim hanging onto her thin nose, her hair was short and wiry, as if attempting to look young and hip but failing miserable. Next to her was a slightly younger person, a man this time, but still much older than myself judging by the greying hair on the sides of his head and his thinning hair on top. I would have said he was in his late forties. But the other man had caught my attention; he was handsome. A thick square jaw, cleanly shaven, piercing blue-grey eyes under a small mat of dirt-blonde hair. He also wore a curiously wicked smile on his face as if he was amused by my appearance.
You and me both fella.
I stole a glance at myself in the reflection of the large mirror wall behind them. I looked stupidly under-dressed suddenly. I should have gone for a dress. Or maybe my trouser suit that I had left discarded on my bed. I was wearing black jeans, purple court heels and a plain black t-shirt with a deep purple blazer over the top. My long brown hair looking a mess because I had been sat running my sweaty hands through it nervously.
“H–hi,” I stuttered, when I realised no one was saying anything. Maybe it was up to me to start this interview? Maybe this was part one of the test? Had I failed already?
“Mrs Mark, it says here that—” started the older man with the greying and thinning hair. He looked down at some paperwork in his hands as he spoke.
“Miss,” I corrected confidently, interrupting him speak.
The man looked up from the paperwork and glared at me. I felt my palms getting sweatier. “Excuse me?” he frowned at me.
“I–I’m not Mrs Mark, I—” I started, but got interrupted.
“You’re not Mrs Mark?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at me. “Then, who are you?”
“No, I mean, I am, but I’m not—” I got interrupted again.
“Deborah called for Mrs Mark, why have you come into this room if you are not Mrs Mark?”
“No, wait, you misunderstood!” I panicked. This was going terribly wrong already. “I’m single, I’m not—”
“That’s good to know,” the young handsome man suddenly said. I glanced at him and saw he now had a large grin on his face. I gulped. Was he grinning at me?
Yeah, probably because I am an idiot for even thinking I could get this job.
“Look, whoever you are I suggest you—” the woman started, but she got interrupted. Not by me though.
“What’s your name?” asked the handsome man, sitting forwards on his desk and curiously staring at me as if he was talking to me and ignoring the others in the room. I felt suddenly warmer than usual. His bright grey-blue eyes were gazing right into mine.
“It’s Miss Mark, not Mrs.”
The woman and the older man both sighed in union as the young man gave out a hearty laugh.
“Why didn’t you say that then!” snapped the woman.
“I tried…” I sighed.
“You just assumed she was someone else, Mirren,” said the handsome man, sitting back in his seat, looking casual yet confidently business-like. But his searching eyes had not left my face. “You just assumed that she came in here after someone else’s name was called and didn’t give her enough time to actually explain. In fact it is our mistake for wrongly assuming she was married, it can actually be highly offensive.”
The older woman sat up straight suddenly and looked visibly upset that she had been caught out being rude to someone, even the other man looked a little taken aback, his face even went a little pale.
“But she did just stand there and stutter!” the woman named Mirren started to defend herself. “All she had to do was say that her name was Miss Mark and not try and hit on the men in this room by telling them she’s single!”
“I don’t think—” the older man started, but got interrupted. This time by me.
“Excuse me!” I snapped. I knew this interview was pretty much ruined now anyway, so it was pointless trying to be nice to these people, and I certainly wasn’t going to let them get away with insulting me! “I walked into this room feeling a little self-conscious. I’ve been looking forward to this bloody interview for weeks. I really want this job, so I was a little nervous!”
“Dressed like that?” the woman whispered and snorted a little, after composing herself from being spoken back to like that. I don’t think she intended me to hear her.
“I’ll admit; looking at how overly dressed you lot are, and the other unsuspecting idiots out there, who have dressed in suits, I do feel just a tad underdressed and out of place. But I didn’t want to be one of those in-your-face suit dressed women in high heels trying to show off my tits to get the job”—I realised too late that my voice was getting louder—“but after meeting you, I feel that actually I’m not right for this job, and my full and undivided commitment would be wasted here in this company and I’d rather find another hotel that accept me for my experience and drive and not because I wore a suit that I’d be stupidly uncomfortable in anyway!”
I span round and went to leave the room without another word, but something else got my attention; the carpet tile I nearly tripped on, it was clearly poking up looking frayed and menacing waiting for its next unsuspecting victim to trip on it. I wondered how many people had already nearly tripped over this obvious health and safety risk. “And for fuck sake, sort these damn carpet tiles before someone trips and hurts themselves!” I finally stormed out of the room without another word.
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