I hear my name filter through the loud chatter of the crowded coffee shop.
I tuck my phone under my arm and stride up to the counter where my large latte is waiting for me. I take a small sip and sigh.
Still not hot enough, I think to myself. I guess I’ll have to add another annoying adjective to my coffee order.
I take my triple shot, no foam, plain latte and cross the crowded coffee shop again to the door.
Outside the air is chilly with dampness as I walk across the street to purchase a copy of The New York Times from the news vendor stand.
“Hey Ali,” I say to the short Pakistani man who runs the stand. “Any good news today?”
“Of course not, good news doesn’t sell papers,” he says as he takes the bills from my hand and gives me the change.
“I guess you’re right about that,” I say as I unfold the paper. A large photo of Jett Abrams, Founder and CEO of Alastair Holdings LLC, graces the cover. I scan the headline about his corporation acquiring a new ride share company. “Good lord, what’s this guy going to buy next? The Statue of Liberty?”
“If they could sell it, they would,” Ali states as he picks up his phone again.
“Right,” I chuckle again, Ali is on a roll today. “Well, see you tomorrow,” I say before heading off towards my office.
I chug my latte as I listen to my heels click on the sidewalk of New York City. I adore living and working in this vibrant place. A far cry from my midsize hometown, I find the tight box we all live in refreshing. The rich and powerful are forced into close quarters with the working class and everyone is simply trying to find their way without running into each other. Every morning in the city feels like fresh opportunity to me.
New York City is full of people just like Jett Abrams: powerful, rich, and full of needs. That’s why my boss and friend, Tim McCray, started a matchmaking company, but instead of finding the upper echelon romantic interests he finds them their perfect personal assistant. It sounded far-fetched at first, who would pay a ridiculous amount of money for a company to find something as simple as a personal assistant?
It turns out, a lot of people would. Completing background checks and interviews is just one aspect of Tim’s groundbreaking services at DYAD Services. He literally uses personality tests and extensive matchmaking skills to find these people their perfect personal assistant. Guaranteed. If a match isn’t made in six months, they get their money back. If it is, they pay Tim a hefty fee and hire the PA on to their team. In the five years since Tim started DYAD, he’d completed over 250 “matches” and kept a nearly flawless record while doing so.
I’ve known Tim since our college dorm days at NYU where we became instant friends. Everyone around us assumed we’d eventually get together but we both knew our best relationship was as colleagues and friends. In fact, I introduced him to his wife Mae a year after we graduated. Around the same time, he offered me a job at DYAD and I’ve been with the company ever since. My position is to train potential PAs and prepare them for the demand of a job as a personal assistant to the rich and famous. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I graduated with a business degree but I was excellent with people, even spoiled rich people, plus I’d invested in DYAD early on so I was a partial owner.
Of course, some clients were more challenging than others. One such client was a rapper whom we realized actually needed an older woman figure to be his personal assistant. She was able to gently push him to fulfill necessary engagements and chastise him for drinking himself in a stupor the way a grandmother would. Another was a young fashion designer who was actually looking for more of a friend, someone to join her entourage and fit in with her group. Both situations took months to find the right fit but we prevailed in the end and were paid thousands of dollars for the successful match.
Unfortunately, we were already halfway through our six month guaranteed timeframe when we’d hit a wall with none other than Jett Abrams. I’d received an email late last night that he’d let go of Emma, our latest PA graduate who had attempted to tame Mr. Abrams. In fact, Jett Abrams had already temporarily hired and permanently fired seven potential assistants. Frankly, there wasn’t anyone left to send. I knew the personality and style of every client and every potential assistant and there were no more matches to be made. We had had difficult clients before but this may be the first time we had to admit defeat to ourselves.
I stroll into the office and immediately feel the tension coming from Tim’s office. I set my stuff down on my desk then grab my coffee and approach his door.
He is pinching the bridge of his nose when I gently knock.
“Come in,” he says without looking up. He plants his glasses back on his nose and puffs his cheeks out when he sees me. “Aria, what the fuck are we going to do?”
“Good morning to you too, I see you have kept your optimism,” I say cheerily as I sit in a chair in front of his desk.
“I’m full-on panicking, join me won’t you?” He fires back sarcastically. “In any other situation, I would say we just aren’t going to make this one work but he named us in that Time Magazine interview last month and if everyone knows we failed to meet his contract, it’ll be everywhere.”
I sigh and nod.
“I understand, but we’ll have to weather it. You know as well as I do, there’s no one else to send,” I say.
“I do have another idea…” he says. My eyebrow goes up as I take a sip of my now-cold coffee. “What if…we send you.”
I nearly spit out my mouthful. I swallow and scoff.
“Very funny,” I say laughing as Tim narrows his eyes at me.
“I’m serious,” he says. “We get new applicants all the time. We just need to placate him until the right one comes in.
“Jesus Tim, I thought we were friends. You really have no respect for me at all, do you?”
“On the contrary Aria, you’re literally the only person who can pull this off. Hear me out,” Tim gets up and starts pacing. “As we wait for the right applicant, you can shmooze Mr. Impossible while also learning how he works. Then when his future assistant comes along, you’ll be the perfect person to train them.”
He stops pacing and places his palms on his desk.
I cross my arms.
“Plus…I’ll split the fee down the middle with you. If you’re keeping track, that’s a $30,000 bonus.”
My heart skips a beat. That would go a long way to securing my grandma’s future.
Tim raises an eyebrow as he sees his words sink in.
Is he right? Can I make this happen? The thought of sucking up to Jett Abrams, a man who literally exudes arrogance through his power, wealth, and sex appeal makes me want to vomit. He’s used to getting everything he wants, am I prepared to be that support system for him? It’ll mean long hours, ridiculous requests, and mountains of patience.
Suddenly my grandmother's sweet face appears in my head. I’d been working hard to help her stay as healthy and independent as possible but this bonus could be my ticket to getting her an in-home caregiver, something we both need. If I don’t at least try, I know I’ll regret it.
“Ugh, fine, I’ll do it,” I say.
Tim stands up and claps his hands.
“Yes, I knew you’d come through,” Tim says. “His endorsement could be huge Aria. We could potentially franchise, go public with an IPO, the possibilities are endless.”
“I understand what’s at stake,” I say even though my heart is doing somersaults. “We have one problem though, what if he knows I’m not a PA and realizes I’m there to dissect him?”
Tim sits down again and leans back in his chair.
“If anyone can play a role, it’s you,” he says. “Plus, it sounds like this guy is too busy looking in a mirror to see what’s in front of him.”
I roll my eyes.
“Fine, I’ll think up some stuff. I assume you want me to start right away?”
“Please,” he says.
“Alright, email me the details,” I say.
Back in my office, I slump into my chair and rub my temples. This is not how I expected this week to go. I take a few deep breaths, sit up straight and open my laptop. Time to bury myself in research about Jett Abrams.
Jett Abrams, 36, is the only child of Alastair and Eleanor Abrams. Alastair was a successful executive who succumbed to cancer when Jett was in high school. He left Eleanor enough for her to live comfortably and pay for Jett to attend Harvard. When Jett graduated he had a healthy inheritance waiting for him which he immediately used to start Alastair Holdings in his father’s name. He invested in many of his Harvard classmates' projects and quickly skyrocketed to the upper echelon of wealth and notoriety. Coupled with his supermodel looks and Jett’s place on the A-list was cemented.
Perhaps unfortunately, Jett’s private life was somewhat rocky and controversial. He was painted as a rich playboy early on as he was spotted with a new model on his arm at nearly every public outing. Tabloids placed him firmly in the same category as Leonardo DiCaprio and Jon Hamm: perpetually playing the field with ever younger counterparts. Then, suddenly, he was seen cavorting with Lena Dixon: supermodel, heiress, and makeup mogul. She was more than a Victoria’s Secret Angel, much more. The two became an instant power couple and before long they were engaged. It seemed Lena was the one who could tame Jett Abrams and their wedding would be better attended than a royal wedding at Buckingham Palace. Then, after a year of wedding planning, Lena was seen without her engagement ring. Both of their publicists confirmed their split and the public ran wild with speculations. It’s widely believed that Jett couldn’t handle monogamy and wasn’t ready to settle down but this hasn’t been confirmed by either party.
I sigh and rub my temples again. How is it only 10am and I have a headache?
I spend the rest of the day preparing to be away from my desk for the next several days to weeks. Obviously, I’m hoping the right candidate walks in the door tomorrow but realistically, it could be longer and then he or she would need to be thoroughly trained. In the meantime, I do my best to prepare mentally for the challenge ahead. And that includes a few drinks.
I duck into a small, low-lit bar a few blocks from my office at 5:30PM. I spot Katie and Len at a bar top table in a corner. My mood is instantly a fraction happier upon seeing my best friends. Katie smiles brightly as her normal chipper self, Len has a small smirk in place as his he gives me a small nod and lets his eyes wander through the bar.
“Hey guys,” I say as I stride up to them and remove my coat.
“Wow, you look…depressed,” Katie says. Len nods again.
“Yeah, what’s wrong hun?” Len asks.
I sigh and drop into the chair.
“I am in for a rough couple of weeks. Did you order for me?” I ask.
Just then a waitress appears with three martinis on a tray and I breathe a sigh of relief. After she leaves they turn to me again.
I take a big gulp and plant my chin in my palm.
“Jett Abrams,” I say.
“Ahh, he fired another PA?” Katie asks.
“Yep, and guess who gets to be his next one?”
Len and Katie swap glances.
I point to my own face.
“Right here,” I say.
Both of their eyebrows go up.
“What? But you’re not a PA?” Len says.
“Yeah, but we don’t have anyone else, and Tim thinks I’m the one who can tame the beast and then train someone else to take over,” I say.
“So say no, it’s just one client,” Katie says, shrugging.
“A smoking hot, rich client but yeah…” Len says, wiggling his eyebrows.
“I’m not going on a date with the guy, I have to be his personal assistant. It feels like I’m an undergrad working a shit job again…” I down the rest of my drink.
“I know hon, I’m just saying at least you’ll have something nice to look at while you’re getting coffee,” he says. “Plus, maybe he has a single friend?”
“My life is about to get very busy, the last thing I need is to attempt to date again,” I say. It had been about eight months since my long-term boyfriend, Gray, and I broke up. Our relationship was so explosive and toxic by the end that I had zero desire to disrupt my happiness and hadn’t so much as been on a single date since.
“Well, if he has any gay friends, maybe you can remember one of your besties is single and ready to mingle?” Len says with a wink. Katie giggles and I roll my eyes.
“I’ll try to remember to think about you while I’m fetching coffee and polishing shoes or whatever demeaning tasks he’ll undoubtedly dole out,” I let out a frustrated sigh. “Can we talk about something else? My head has been spinning all day.”
“Well…I have a date on Friday,” Katie says.
“With who?” I ask.
“Remember that bartender who asked me for my number last week?”
“Oh the cute Mr. Vanilla?” Len says.
“He wasn’t vanilla!” Katie protests.
“Sweetie, that’s okay! You’re vanilla too,” Len says. Katie looks slightly offended and slightly amused while I laugh. The knot in my stomach loosens, this is exactly what I needed.
Katie and Len are polar opposites and I am somewhere in the middle. Despite how different we all are, we have been close for a few years now and I couldn’t imagine weathering everything with my grandmother without their support.
I would need them now more than ever. In just 12 short hours, I’d be walking into Jett Abrams office and, and I had a feeling it was going to be a bumpy ride.