Asa’s POV. (Ace-ah)
Urgent: Live-in tutor required for 17-year-old student.
Requirements: A level qualifications in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Desired: A Level Business studies.
Period of employment: Until September.
Starting date: Immediately.
“Seriously, Ace, it’s perfect. You have all four A levels.”
Bridget, my best friend, encouraged me to apply for the job. The salary is crazy good, and I’ll be honest, it’s the only tempting thing about the job. I don’t particularly want to live in the middle of the countryside for the whole of summer. But to have free room and board plus pay, I can’t really turn it down.
At the moment, I’ve returned from university and I’m back living with my parents, until I decide what to do with my life. This job is the perfect opportunity to make some money for my own place, and it gives me a few more months to decide what I want to do.
I sent an email expressing my interest and I attached a cover letter, references and my CV. Only two hours after sending it, I received a reply from Gideon Donovan, inviting me for an interview the next day.
That’s how I ended up here, pulling up to the very regal gates of an extremely long driveway. I give my details through the intercom and the gates buzz open. It took me almost two hours to drive here from my parents’ house, and it seems like it will take me another ten minutes to get up this bloody drive. This family must be loaded, there are acres of land here.
Eventually, the driveway curls around in front of a mansion. Three storeys high and adorned with gargoyles and urns, it looks like a national heritage site.
I park out front and nervously retrieve my handbag and blazer from my car. I sort myself out, making sure I look presentable for my interview. I’m fifteen minutes early. I climb the four steps to the double front doors and ring the bell. A few moments later, one of the doors opens. A man who looks to be in his late twenties, early thirties, stands in the doorway.
I’m momentarily stunned by his attractiveness. He has dark brown hair, calculating grey eyes and a face so beautiful that he could easily have a career in modelling.
The stiffness in his posture makes me think he wouldn’t make a good model. He’s too tense.
“Hello, I’m Asa Marquez. I have an interview at ten o’clock,” I introduce myself nervously.
The man looks me up and down with a stern gaze. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Marquez. I’m Gideon Donovan, I spoke to you over email,” he responds with a smooth, deep voice.
He offers his hand to me, and I shake it, loving the feel of his warm skin on mine.
“Please, do come in.”
He steps to one side to allow me to enter. I step past him and get a waft of his mouth-watering aftershave.
The foyer is huge. My shoes tap against the black and white tiled floor. The noise echoes around the cavernous room and make me very conscious of my own footsteps.
Mr Donovan leads me down a corridor and shows me into a room that, I assume, is his office. He walks behind the executive desk and gestures for me to take a seat. I put down my handbag and sit down in one of the plush chairs in front of the desk.
Mr Donovan leans forwards, resting his elbows on the shiny surface. “So, Asa, what made you apply for this position?” He asks casually.
His voice might sound nonchalant, but I can see the intensity in his eyes. I feel breathless and nervous all in one. I reach into my handbag and pull out a folded copy of my CV. I place it on the desk and Mr Donovan takes it.
“Well, as you can see, I have all of the required qualifications for the post. I took my A-Levels three years ago and they are still very fresh in my mind. I tutored some of my friends during school and enjoyed it. I feel I am very capable and well-suited for this job.”
Mr Donovan scans the paper and then looks back up at me. He nods and a small smile appears on his lips.
“Good.” He leans back in his chair. “And you’re happy to stay full-time at the manor? You can obviously go home at weekends.”
I nod quickly. “Yes, I am fine with that.”
“Perfect. Let me fill you in with a little more information about the post.” His face turns hard, and he looks away from me, staring out of the window instead.
“My younger brother, Wesley, is the student you would be tutoring. When he was sixteen years old, he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. He managed to complete his GCSE’s and start his A-Levels, but then he was pulled out of school for treatment.”
I try to keep the shock off my face, but my eyes widen. “Gosh, I’m so sorry.”
Mr Donovan nods stiffly and looks back at me. “He is returning to school in September for his second year at Sixth Form. I would like you to tutor him for the next three months, get him up to speed before school starts.”
I lick my dry lips and smile. “I can do that.”
He asks me some more questions, testing my suitability for the role. I can’t tell how it is going because he is so enigmatic. But it must be okay, because he finishes the questioning session with ‘Perfect’.
“I will take you upstairs to view the living arrangements and you can meet Wesley. If all goes well, we can discuss the contract when we come back down.”
Mr Donovan stands up and leads me out of the room. I follow him silently up the stairs. My lips are parted in awe. This house is incredible.
He shows me to a flat, which is embedded into the rest of the house. There’s even a lock on the ‘front’ door to enter it. The flat consists of a bedroom, en suite, living room and kitchen. It’s small and cosy, but so much more than I was expecting.
I compliment Mr Donovan on his gorgeous home. He takes me down the hallway, stopping outside a wooden door that has a ‘KEEP OUT’ sign stuck to the front of it.
I thought it was just a movie cliché that teenage boys put those signs on their bedroom doors, but apparently not. Mr Donovan knocks on the door and opens it. I cautiously follow him inside.
The bedroom is decorated navy blue, giving it a dark feel. The curtains are closed and only the bedside lamp is on. A teenage boy is lying on his unmade bed. He’s wearing basketball shorts, an over-sized t-shirt with ‘ACDC’ written on the front, and a beanie pulled down so far, it covers his eyebrows.
He’s engrossed with his video game, his eyes glued to the TV screen and his fingers working frantically on the controller.
“Wesley, I have a candidate for the tutor position with me. Could you please pause that and introduce yourself?” Mr Donovan asks with a clipped tone.
Wesley drags his gaze away from the screen long enough to look me up and down. He nods in greeting and turns his attention back to his game. “Hi, I’m Wes,” he says disinterestedly.
Mr Donovan sighs heavily. “Shut that thing off, now.”
Wes rolls his eyes but puts the game on pause.
“Introduce yourself properly,” he orders his brother.
Wes looks at me with a bored gaze. “I’m Wes. Nice to meet you. What’s your name?” His tone is robotic and rude.
“I’m Asa, lovely to meet you, Wes,” I respond.
He looks me up and down and then looks back at the TV.
“Is there anything you’d like to ask, Asa?” Mr Donovan asks, irritation clear in his voice.
“Nope,” he answers, popping the ‘p’.
The phone in Mr Donovan’s pocket starts vibrating. He curses under his breath and pulls it out. “I’m so sorry, I have to take this. Please excuse me,” he says quickly. “Wes, talk to Asa.”
He hurriedly leaves the room and shuts the door. I suddenly feel very uncomfortable. I awkwardly look around, taking in the band posters and random things on the shelves, like a Rubik’s cube. Wes presses the play button and continues his game. I walk over to his bed and watch him play. Looks easy enough.
“Can I have a go?” I ask him.
He pauses the game and looks up at me in surprise. He trails his eyes up and down my body and smirks. “I don’t think you’ll get it,” he comments.
I raise my eyebrow at him. “Alright. Let me play and, if I beat you, you have to give me a chance because I can tell that you’ve already written me off,” I wager him.
Wes smirks. “If I win, you have to leave.”
I shrug. “Deal.”
“You’re on. But you’re not gonna beat me.”
Wes gets the other controller and hands it to me. I kneel down on the carpet by his bed and roll my shoulders.
Let’s do this.
I press the buttons needed and my eyes flick back and forth on the TV, following my character’s movements. In three minutes, I’ve beaten Wes’ character.
Piece of cake.
“What? How? Do you have this game at home or something?” He demands to know.
I laugh, I can’t help it. “My best friend has three brothers. I was round hers a lot growing up, they taught me some stuff. If you’re lucky, I might just show you how to win,” I tell him confidently and wink at the end.
Wes just stares at me. “Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a little impressed.”
I grin at his admission. “Good. Now, tell me why you weren’t going to give me a chance.”
Wes grimaces and throws his controller down onto the duvet. He shuffles up higher on his bed and rests his back against the headboard. I realise that his beanie isn’t pulled over his eyebrows, he has no eyebrows. It must have been the chemo.
“The first guy my brother interviewed was a fucking boring, old git. He could have been a headmaster or some shit,” Wes explains. “All of the women he’s interviewed so far have done nothing but try and get into my brother’s pants. They’ve pretended to be interested in me and tutoring but have spent all their time flirting with my brother. It makes me sick.”
Guilt shoots through me. Here I am, lusting after his brother like every candidate before me. “That sucks.”
“Yeah, it does. Especially when a couple of them did trial days and I genuinely thought they were gonna help me, and they couldn’t give a shit about me.”
I can hear the hurt in his voice. He might be a seventeen-year-old boy, but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the feeling of hurt when you’re being used.
“Well, I promise, I won’t be like them. I’m here for you and you only,” I tell him. “Besides, I bet none of the other candidates could kick your ass like I just did.”
Wes snorts and shakes his head. “No, they couldn’t.”
“Exactly. I promise to tutor you, both in your subjects and on your Xbox, as long as you promise to give me a chance.”
He smiles and nods. “Deal.”
I grin at him. “Good. We’ve got this, Wes.”
His brother returns into the room and looks between us, obviously surprised that we’re both smiling.
“I like her,” Wesley tells his brother.
Mr Donovan can’t keep the surprise and happiness off his face.
“Perfect. Asa, you’re hired.”