Belle was excited. She checked her watch and raised her eyebrows in surprise. Not bad! For once she was early. Twenty minuets early in fact, but she had no idea what for.
All the temping agency had said was they needed a well presented young lady with a spare three months. Well that was her; she had given up her ridiculously boring job at the “Local News” and after saving a bit of money up was looking to try something completely different.
Although she didn’t hold high hopes, they had barely given her any information on it.
“This job” they had told her, “would be the perfect distraction” and that’s all she needed to know about it to be interested.
Belle pulled out her mirror for one last look before walking in, Chocolate brown eyes stared back at her, she was an attractive girl, people were always telling her, she didn’t see herself as dazzling as such but more than one boyfriend had told her, her looks were bewitching, it was a good word, it sounded unique. The stylish waves to her dark shinny hair complemented her clear and soft complexion. At twenty six however Belle didn’t particularly care about her looks, they hadn’t helped her find a man or anything that resembled a perfect relationship, and that was what she really wanted out of life right now.
She rubbed off a bit of her makeup, looking made up and beautiful had lead her down the wrong road in the past, Belle wanted to book this job on her personality.
Pushing open a thick set glass door her heels clipped across the foyer, there wasn’t any kind of reception so she headed straight over to the lifts. Gabriella Knight, 12th floor, was stencilled in calligraphy on a small pearl coloured sign.
The lift flew up to the twelfth floor. The doors swished back opening out on to a gorgeously plush apartment, Belle’s eyes scoured the open area, and there was no one there either.
Unsure of what to do with herself she smoothed down her skirt and sat on an expensive red leather sofa. Her heart was in her throat, this was without question the most beautiful office she had ever seen in her life, and with all her temp work she had seen a good amount. The area was like someone’s home; it was an apartment, minus the bed. In its place were two huge desks with laptops and nothing else, where was all the mess, Post-its, pens and pencils?
This place was immaculate, she supposed minimalistic was the correct term. Intimidating was more like it! Sofas, exactly the same as the one she was sitting on, were artfully scattered across the large expanse of space. Next to the three sofas were misted glass coffee tables covered in magazines, from FHM to Home and Garden and Yachting Monthly. The place took her breath away; it was overlooking the beautiful City of London. Belle craned her neck slightly desperate to walk over to peer out from the floor to ceiling windows, but not bold enough to move from the sofa. She could just about make out the Millennium Eye across the river Thames however. Wow, this had to be worth an absolute fortune.
A slim lady emerged from the kitchen, stopped dead and stared at Belle, her eyes trailed up and down her body and Belle could feel the blush rising up her neck, wishing to God she hadn’t rubbed off all that make-up after all.
“Well” drawled the lady. “Your pretty, that’s a better start than the last one!” she exclaimed.
“Come, sit honey and talk to me.”
Belle followed the pointed scarlet red nail to the other sofa and took a seat. This woman was immaculate, head to toe designer wear, it was obvious, and glossy blonde hair; she looked about forty, an incredibly good forty however.
“I’m Gabriella,” the lady said. “Not ‘Gabby’, not ‘Ella’ but Gabriella, ok honey?”
Belle nodded not really sure what else to do, she had been about to stick out her hand to
shake but Gabriella didn’t look like a hand shaker, she couldn’t place her accent either it was a sort of upper class English with an American drawl.
“I’m Isabelle Quinn,” she smiled “but most people call me Belle.”
“Well Belle, I don’t know how much you know about this but I started this company and I expect hard workers at all times if this is going to happen?” She stared at Belle again holding her gaze, looking inquisitively at her.
“So have you ever dated a rich guy?”
“Um, Pardon?” Belle stumbled.
“Well an affluent man then, ever dated one?”
Belle’s mind flew to Graham, No! She pushed him out of her mind; he was the last person she ever wanted to think about again. It still hurt like hell and whenever the idea of him surfaced. It felt as though she was drowning in sand, with the sharp rock fragments filling her, scratching her. It was difficult to breathe, on top of all that she still had this overwhelming urge to throw things at his head!
“I have” she started carefully “A little while ago, I guess he was pretty rich”. Sickeningly disgustingly rich she thought, and still a complete idiot.
“Well that’s good then, I like my girls to have a bit of experience behind them so you know what you’re talking about.”
Belle’s mind started working overtime, taking in her surroundings, plush apartment…experience, what the hell was this job? Glancing down at her bag she considered making her excuses and leaving.
“Well let me take you through this, have you heard of Match.com?” Gabriella went on without waiting for an answer. “We here are a class above, I don’t care what your opinion is on Internet daters.” She leaned in a little closer, “lets be honest here I used to see them as a little sad and lonely” her laugh tinkled out of her petite frame “but that my dear is what you would be here for.”
Gabriella went on. “I would need you to wheedle out the men wanting, shall we say, quick intimacy or a boost, and the girls in it for the money. All I want here is couples interested in finding love.”
Gabriella sighed and raised her perfectly formed eyebrows in an arch.
Belle let her continue
“Honestly, most girls are in it for the money and most of my naughty men don’t mind saying they are rich to attract a gorgeous woman, so sometimes this just works for them They aren’t my ideal candidates but their joining fees help me to turn a blind eye!” She laughed again. It was a captivating laugh, one that sounded like lots of little wind chimes.
Belle couldn’t make up her mind if she liked Gabriella or not, she gave off an intimidating but warm vibe at the same time. She was obviously in to her appearance but evidently worked hard for it. Belle was naturally pretty and because of that had never had any problems with finding men, in fact quite the opposite she always had them around her but seamed to choose the wrong ones! It was because of this there was the need for her to give off a nice, proper image to attract decent men. After years of seeing girls tarted up, fake nails, fake hair sometimes even fake boobs she saw the idiots they ended up with and no matter how rich or famous they were it really wasn’t what Belle went for. She got the impression that Gabriella used to be one of these girls, she still gave off the done up slightly fake but bubbly, innocent impression but underneath Belle could see she was a clever woman who had worked to get where she was.
“So honey” Gabriella interrupted her thoughts bringing her back to her interview.
“You haven’t said much, how does ‘MillionsMatched’ sound to you?”
MillionsMatched, Belle paused as her brain ticked over the revelation of the name. Oh I see! How funny, was this place actually a dating website for people with stacks of money? As if they need any help. This was not what she had expected at all. On first sight she had assumed it was perhaps a small time woman’s magazine, or perhaps Gabriella had an online business selling vintage jewellery or something to pass the time whilst her husband brought in the money, she felt guilty now for stereotyping her so badly. Her mind was whirring with questions.
“So what would I actually be doing here?” she asked staring around the apartment in a new light. She started noticing the tale-tale signs she had missed before, profile pictures of different men and various comments on the walls under pictures of couples getting married. It was modern but full of character – this could actually be pretty fun.
Gabriella smiled raising her eyebrows again.
“Well honey, match people up, make me happy and spend the money you make on what ever you want. It’s a good job. We mainly have a chat with both the guys and the girls see what they really want to get out of all this and then set up some dates for them. We provide a good service and end up with happy customers” she gestured to the wedding pictures of smiley glamorous couples.
Belle felt Gabriella’s eyes settle back on her in a more serious gaze. As she started to talk again.
“There are a few rules and such but the main rule is one I have to trust you with?” She stopped and stared at Belle as though waiting for a response. Belle felt the colour rise up her neck.
“Well” she gestured, “can I? Can I trust you?”
“Oh sorry yes, yes of course” Belle spluttered not realising it wasn’t a repetitive question.
“You cannot make dates for friends, yourself or your family with these men, okay?” She went on without waiting for an answer again “Some of them will try it on but if you want to stay working here then you keep to my rules, okay?”
Belle nodded not really knowing what else to say. It sounded great to her though. Talking to single millionaires all day. She understood she wasn’t going to be allowed anywhere near them relationship wise but to be honest did she really want to be going out with people, millionaires or not, that have to advertise themselves on line? No thank you. She looked up at
Gabriella with a grin on her face.
“I’m in” she said, this could be pretty fun!
Gabriella clapped her hands excitedly, her expensive bracelets jingling.
“Ooh Isabella, sweetie. I am glad; you’re the most normal girl I have seen so far. Let’s start
you on Monday and we’ll take it from there.”
Belle strolled out of the building smiling; the fresh summer warmth instantly wrapped itself around her body and the heat of the sun shone down as though it was smiling right along with her. Even her life challenging stiletto heels seamed to be effortlessly finding their way
through the impossible nooks of the uneven cobbled streets. Finally something in her life
seamed to be going right, this job was going to be interesting to say the least.
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