When Ivy first got her part time job in Nantucket, she never had any unrealistic thoughts. She knew from the start that it would be a challenge working at her aunt's bed and breakfast. She only wished that she had been warned about something like this.
As she worked like a busy bee behind the front desk, all dolled up in a rose pink dress, the phone call came. Happy and chipper as her usual self, she picked up with a flourish and hugged it to her ear.
"Thank you for calling Nero's," Ivy greeted in a sing-song voice. "How may I help you?"
She heard a tired sigh on the other end.
"Hi, yes," a woman replied. "I have an issue with my bill. Your hotel charged our credit card... twice?"
Ivy frowned upon hearing this and immediately set to work on the computer. "Twice? Oh my! Alright then, ma'am. I understand. If I can just have your name, I'll look you up in our system and we can solve the problem for you."
There was a short pause. Ivy cocked her head, squeezing the phone against her shoulder and ear, waiting for an answer. And when the woman finally did, she was suddenly less civil than Ivy had hoped or expected.
"Solve it for me!?" she snapped. "Yeah, you'd better 'solve' it! Your crappy little hotel already stiffed us for our room, so there's no way we're paying for that twice! Our money's too good to be swindled by the likes of you! The very least your joint could've had was a freakin' bar!"
Bed and breakfasts don't usually have bars, do they? Ivy mused. She prudently didn't voice her opinion.
Nevertheless, she straightened up in her seat, rolling her shoulders. She was determined to see her job through. It was impossible to pick the character of her customers, agreeable or absolutely insufferable.
"I'm sorry for the dissatisfaction, ma'am," I apologize, "but if I can just have your name and the date you stayed—"
"That's the problem!" she interrupted curtly. "I was charged on two separate dates. My name is Emma Finch and my husband and I stayed there on April 4th. We got another charge on there for the 20th, and I want this fixed!"
"Yes, ma'am. I understand, ma'am. I'm searching for it right now, ma'am…"
Ivy took a deep breath, reigning herself in. The computer screen gleamed back at her, and she searched through the database. She found both of the dates within seconds and scanned the names listed on them. And her heart clenched.
"Okay... I see the problem here," she slowly replies. "You did indeed stay here on the 4th of April. I'm showing that someone by the name of Joe Finch stayed on… the 20th."
There was a moment of dead silence. She swallowed nervously.
"What?" Emma replied quietly. "But he was…"
Ivy's heart plummeted straight into her stomach. Because she knew something that Emma didn't. There was another name is listed on the screen with Joe's for the April 20th stay, but it was someone by the name of Laura. And it was a weekend stay.
"Um…" I answer hesitantly. "Um…ma'am?"
"I... see," Emma said, her voice becoming unstable. "You've been… very helpful. Thank you, miss. I'm sorry for... the mix-up."
"You welcome, ma'am," Ivy answered, through clenched teeth. "No need to apologize. Is there anything else I could help you with today—?"
Emma didn't hear a word. At that very moment, she must have dropped the phone on the other end but never hung up. Ivy was treated to screeching, yelling, and a cacophonic symphony of vulgar and profane combos that she could never have—for the life of her—thought up herself. Quickly and awkwardly, she hung up with a trembling hand and tried to return to her work.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay, Ivy. It's all over now. Bitter breath out, sweet lavender in. That's it..."
Almost as soon as she had calmed herself, the phone rang again. Reading herself for another call, she put on her bright face and forcefully grinned from ear to ear.
"Thank you for calling Nero's. How may I—"
"I want to talk to your manager, you cheap little whore!" Joe bellowed. "You stupid little wench… you just flushed my marriage down the toilet, and I am going to sue your-hole-in-the-wall inn for all it's got! Do you understand me? Do you!? DO YOU—!?"As Mr. Finch continued screaming into the phone, Ivy slowly placed the phone back on the receiver with a tiny click. She got up from her comfortable seat—eyes wide and mouth shut tight—and walked away from the desk. She knew her aunt would understand if she took her coffee break right then and there...